Karen Fukuhara’s lead role in Pokemon Concierge meant far more for the lifelong fan

Karen Fukuhara’s lead role in Pokemon Concierge meant far more for the lifelong fan

Pokemon Concierge star Karen Fukuhara explained what it means to be a part of the Netflix series as a lifelong fan of the gaming franchise, especially jumping in as the first female protagonist for the beloved IP.

When it comes to the world of anime, Pokemon is often one of the first franchises fans will name when listing some of the most iconic series of all time. After all, the original Pokemon franchise aired its first episode back in 1997 and has been releasing brand-new content on and off ever since.

However, Pokemon threw a spanner in the works for fans after they announced they would be moving away from Ash and the original anime, with the brand new stop-motion series Pokemon Concierge taking on the role of the new mainstay Pokemon animated series.

The first season of Pokemon Concierge released on Netflix in December 2023. The show became an instant success, so much so that it has already been greenlit for a second season. As well as its unique animation style, something that sets Concierge apart from the typical Pokemon mold is its protagonist.

Actress Karen Fukuhara, best known for her work in The Boys, Suicide Squad, and more, lends her voice to protagonist Haru.

During a recent Q&A at Supanova Melbourne, Dexerto asked Fukuhara how it feels to now be a major part of the Pokemon franchise. Fukuhara admitted that, as a lifelong fan, getting the call to be part of the project was a huge deal.

Karen Fukuhara on joining the Pokemon franchise having grown up a fan

“Pokemon was such a big moment for me. I grew up playing Pokemon on my Gameboy, I was watching the original one from Japan. I grew up on the anime so when I got the call to be a part of the project I just couldn’t believe it and it was such an experience.” 

Fukuhara added, “I got to work with Mary Elizabeth McGlynn who is a legend, she directed me on She-Ra and I love her. She has a very warm way of directing us actors and it’s full of compliments but she is just so good at it. So I was happy to be reunited with her.”


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And while her role in Pokemon Concierge might have been a childhood fantasy, Fukuhara quickly discovered her casting as Haru held an even larger importance. The actor further discussed the show and how she feels portraying the first-ever female protagonist in Pokemon.

The importance of Haru as being the first ever female Pokemon lead character

Karen Fukuhara’s lead role in Pokemon Concierge meant far more for the lifelong fan

Karen Fukuhara had nothing but praise for her Pokemon experience during her recent Supanova visit.

“Pokemon was wonderful, I loved the experience. I went to the offices in Japan to visit. It’s their first female lead in the Pokemon franchise and they had done a bunch of research on who is watching Pokemon. Where is it relevant and they realised yes, people that grew up watching Pokemon like me still love it. The new kids love it and still watch it and love seeing the new rendition of things.”

When elaborating on the importance of diversity and representation, Fukuhara noted that part of why Pokemon has typically been a male-dominated space lends itself to the franchise always being explored through the lens of its iconic male hero in Ash.

“A lot of the viewers were male and they wondered if that was because they’ve always had Ash. They’ve always had a male lead in the Pokemon franchise and so this is their first time having someone like Haru who is a female and is unsure and trying to work herself out.”

While introducing Haru to the Pokemon community may not instantly change the dynamics, Fukuhara is confident that the franchise is committed to diversifying its characters and protagonists. 

“They’re hopefully trying to connect with the larger female audience with this project and I thought that was really interesting.”

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