Posted: August 30, 2020 | Updated: October 25, 2020

Tenth Anniversary Concert Chatot

“Whether I was nostalgic or moved by the music, tears flowed.”

Ah, 2006. A year that was, in more ways than one, a milestone for the Pokémon franchise. The revolutionary DS titles Pokémon Diamond & Pearl landed in stores after years of development and ever-building public anticipation, and proved to be a much-desired commercial and critical success.1 Yet this release party was only one in a tapestry of Pokémon festivities spanning 2006. You see, Diamond & Pearl’s release coincided with the 10th anniversary of the franchise as a whole. Had it really been a decade since that original pair of Gameboy games took Japan – then the world – by storm: the first step on a spectacular journey that ultimately saw Pokémon crowned biggest multimedia franchise in the world? It had. Reason, certainly, for humbling pause and the uncorking of much sake. All of 2006 was proclaimed celebratory, and The Pokémon Company studded its calendar months with “a mountain of 10th anniversary advertisements”, to borrow the words of blogger torogamer.

GameFreak co-founder Junichi Masuda had been present at the creation. In light of the many generations of Pokémon games that GameFreak developed under his auspices,2 it’s easily forgotten how much of Masuda’s early work revolved around sound engineering and audio design. In fact, he originally joined GameFreak not to oversee game development or to even code, but simply to compose video game music: a task he tackled with aplomb for the 1996 Pokémon Red & Green. A man of many talents, Masuda scripted custom software called “Sound Driver” to handle all of the games’ audio needs.3 While we don’t know exactly how this program worked, it presumably replicated the Gameboy’s idiosyncratic way of producing audio – a process beautifully analysed by Retro Game Mechanics Explained here – and thereby allowed creators to fiddle at length with its repertoire of bleeps and bloops. All 151 Pokémon cries were created this way. And: drawing from a childhood affinity for classical music,4 Masuda himself coalesced Gameboy noises into what are now iconic Pokémon melodies. The universally acclaimed Pokémon Red & Green soundtrack was entirely his creation.

Why am I telling you this? Well! GameFreak participated enthusiastically in the celebrations surrounding Pokémon’s 10-year jubilee. Now with audiophile Masuda at the helm, it was perhaps inevitable that paying tribute to the sound of Pokémon Red & Green should be put high on the commemorative agenda. A limited-edition Red & Green soundtrack CD came out, its tracks remastered from the original MIDI files. But the company went one further. In late 2006, GameFreak teamed up with a complete classical orchestra – I’m not sure which, unfortunately – to deliver a series of fully-fledged Pokémon Happy Birthday Concerts5 where the Red & Green soundtrack was performed to a live audience. How is that for a celebration? Who exactly pitched this (costly!) project is unclear, but it would not surprise me to learn that Masuda himself proposed it. Either way, Junichi obtained creative control, leading him to blog in apparent delight: “In producing this concert, I was given free reign [sic] and I could pursue my vision freely.”6

Altogether four anniversary concerts would be held across Japan, and looking back, the initiative was ahead of its time. Anno 2006 video game OST concerts were far from commonplace, even in heart-of-otaku-culture Japan. The renowned, world-touring Pokémon Symphonic Evolutions shows (link) were a decade away, and videogames themselves, too, were still locked in a struggle for mainstream societal acceptable as a credible entertainment medium. For an orchestra – the embodiment of classicism – to perform something as “delinquent” as a Gameboy game soundtrack bordered on the heretical.7 Masuda, however, understood the emotional force of “[g]ame music played by an orchestra”, entrusting to paper the sincere expectation that it would help the audience appreciate “the power of music very much, such as its beauty, excitement, and powerful sounds.”8

The larger objective, then, was explicit. Much more than self-congratulatory pats on the back – look how far my work has carried us! – these orchestral concerts were an exploration and expression of what video game scores could mean to people, even do for people. Masuda felt – correctly, as time would tell – that exposure to orchestrated video game soundtracks could serve as a gateway to fans’ broader engagement with classical music. Masuda had no experience whatsoever putting together a music liveshow, but this did not deter him. Guided by the principles of interaction and participation that Masuda adhered to all his career, he put together a concert that touched the audience’s hearts, elicited tears of joyous nostalgia from Poké-veterans, and impressed upon at least some of the attendant younger generation a newfound appreciation for classical music and for the tunes of the Pokéverse, past and present. As Masuda himself reflected: “[T]his was a new attempt and I was not used to it. But it was a very fruitful challenge which let us have a wonderful time.”

Image credit: inside-games

You’re forgiven for thinking such an outreach mission implied large-scale, even mass commercial happenings, but that wasn’t to be the case. Likely as a factor of cost and / or logistics, the Happy Birthday Concerts were limited to four performances, first in Tokyo on October 26, then in southernly Kyushu on November 5, before going back up to Hyogo (next door to Osaka) on November 12 and ending in snow-capped Sapporo on December 10.9 These were effectively private affairs, and attendance was free for the lucky few. So how did one get to attend? Ah! Club Nintendo members who had registered at least one Pokémon game were free to apply, as were all Pokémon Daisuki Club members. Considering how the Daisuki Club alone had a million-plus members by late 2006, the chances of striking it lucky were infinitismally small! The application window was September 8 to September 25, 2006, 3PM JST; winners were announced day later, September 26. Each winner would be allowed to bring one guest – in the case of minors, the guest had to be a parent or other caretaker. A mere 1775 individuals were ultimately chosen for a total of 3550 guests distributed to capacity across the venues (650 in Tokyo, 1000 in Kokura, 850 in Hyogo, and 1050 in Sapporo).10

Considering this exclusiveness, and staging of the concerts at what can only be described as a transitional time for Pokémon (see here), it is remarkable how well-documented they are. Much more than official sources, we have a dozen or so thrilled and blogging fans to thank for this. By and large, attending guests seemed to have been aware of the milestone momentousness of the occasion and their tremendous good fortune to be present. These blogger-fans took abundant photographs where they could – cameras off during the concerto! – and chronicled in often vivid detail their visceral, emotionally-charged experiences. (Alas, these concerts occured before the age of live-streaming – how great would it have been if the whole world could have tuned in?!)

Image credit: akanetendou (anniversary “cake” and panel); inside-games (flower arrangement)

It is thanks to this extensive documentation that we know, for example, how the fortuitous winners were greeted by an exquisite flower arrangement in the lobby. Immediately opposite the entrance, visitors found a large tub-like ornament reminiscent of a huge anniversary cake – except this one wasn’t filled with pie, but adorned with brightly coloured fresh flowers. A decorative print with cheery (and cheering) prints of Pikachu, Plusle and Minun and lots of very Hoennish trumpets sat on top, reading “10th Anniversary ポケモンはっぴーバースデーコンサート”. Nearby on a raised altar-like platform was laid out a lavish collection of luxurious bouquets, in turn set in front of a broad four by two metre framed painting (or digital print) that depicted the Diamond & Pearl Poké-cast, both its characters and many of its iconic new Pokémon.11 Clearly, no expense was spared. Looking at pictures of the full scene, it calls to mind the sumptuous offerings normally made to some Taoist deity ahead of an important milestone, as if to say: ten more years of good Pokéluck, please!

Image credit: bokotokinuge (top); akanetendou (bottom)

Elsewhere in the lobby, guests could admire six inflatable live-sized Pokémon statues: the three of Venusaur, Charizard and Blastoise to represent the Kanto generation that started it all, and Diamond & Pearl’s starters of Turtwig, Chimchar and Piplup to bridge to the present. Attendees received a gift bag embellished with a Turtwig print. Inside they found a brochure with key facts about the concert, some fun information tidbits, as well as instructions on how to obtain a certain special gift Pokémon. Suggestively, the gift bag also contained Pokemon-imprinted paper castanets. In a trademark Masuda design, was the audience expected to participate?

This much seemed obvious to blogger encalyptus, as they climbed the steps of the steep-sloping, two rung Kokura venue that was apparently a little rickety and run down: the stairs had been crudely mended with duct tape in places. (Why Kokura instead of Fukuoka, they wondered.)

Concert brochure. Still from: era404, “PERAPPokemon Happy Birthday concert”

All four concerts kicked off with an audiovisual opening ceremony. On a giant projector fastened above the stage, a video was played back. The montage looked back on Pokémon’s decade of success in games, trading cards, manga, anime, and feature films.12 After that, the concert’s MC, one Ms Mayuko Takada (「高田万由子」), took the stage to… I imagine whip the audience into a state of excitement, insofar as they weren’t quivering with anticipation already! GameFreak’s Junichi Masuda appeared next to deliver some fine words ahead of the performance. (As a side note, that Masuda put himself in the programme as a speaker, mandating him to travel to all four venues in person, on weekends no less – Kokura and Sapporo are 1000 miles apart overland – shows how much these performances meant to him.) No attempt was made to document his full speech, though surviving snippets make it clear his message touted familiar themes of community and (global) connectivity. Blogger “error-astray” quoted Masuda as voicing his ultimate Pokémon goal to see “players … exchange with people all over the world”.13 He therein highlighted the role of the newfangled Global Trade System, or GTS, for error-astray duly noted how “the GTS is a form of that [connectivity].”14 (Hmm. Where have I heard this before?) Masuda himself, too, referenced this event on his personal blog, recording his closing words for posterity as: “The world of Pokémon keeps expanding. Please look forward to it!”15

The final preamble to the concert was an instrument introduction led by the “really cool” conductor, a Mr. Shigeaki Saegusa「三枝成彰」.1617 The audience, many of them children, was made familiar with the sound of each instrument through small solo performances. Apparently this part dragged on rather long, some 30 minutes by inside-games’ estimate (“half of the first part”, according to blogger bokotokinuge), and akanetendou hilariously noted “many sleeping children” in the audience. Clearly they couldn’t be roused by fact that some performers humourously played tunes from Super Mario to introduce their instruments.18 Either way, this playful homage to the Mario franchise proved to be the source of some interesting confusion over the years (see end of article).

For the musical programme itself, we are indebted to two sources: inside-games, who attended the Tokyo performance, and aforementioned blogger “error-astray”, who logged a hastily penned mini six-partner with post titles like “Admission”, “First Half”, “Break”, and “Second Half” that suggest they were updating their blog in real-time as the event happened.19 Both sources are in total agreement, and it’s thanks to them that we know the concerts’ full playlist. (The not-preserved complementary brochure presumably also listed the complete concert tracklist.)

First movement: Opening Theme
Second movement (Routes): Route 1, Mount Moon, Route 2, Route 24-25, Route 11, Biking, Surfing
Third movement (Towns): Pallet Town, Pewter City, PokeCenter, Recovery, Cerulean City, Vermilion City, Lavender Town, Celadon City, Cinnabar, Rocket Hideout, Gym

As you can see, Act 1 consisted entirely of songs from the Pokémon Red & Green soundtrack. The projector screen positioned above the orchestra was again put to good use, as it now showed stills of Red & Green corresponding to the track being performed. For example, the iconic Route 1 tune showed the player sprite lumbering along ledge-filled route between Pallet Town and Viridian; when the orchestra played the foreboding Mount Moon theme, the Ash character was shown navigating the labyrinthine depths of its eponymous mountain, and so on. It’s unclear whether the second and third movement were effectively medleys, or if short interludes were placed between tracks.

Anniversary castanet. Image credit: akanetendou

When Act 2 commenced after the break, Masuda had a pleasant surprise in store for the audience. Remember those castanets? Blogger akanetendou tells us that, in an unexpected interjection to the regular programming, “[u]sing the castanets from earlier, the Pewter City theme was performed in a collaboration between the audience and the orchestra.”20 The premise was that if the audience participated enthusiastically, a costumed Pikachu, Plusle and Minun would appear. (Recall their countenance on the anniversary “floral cake”!) Which of course they did. There was “great excitement”, noted bokotokinuge. Sadly, an in-concert no photograph policy means that no pictures exist of this grand happening. The paper castanets turned out to be not quite adult-proof, and bokotokinuge’s broke before the play-along ended.

When Act 2 started in earnest, a static image of Diamond & Pearl was displayed on the projector screen, replacing the synchronous Red & Green stills.21 Red & Green’s fast-paced battle tracks made up the fourth movement. Then, to close out the concert, select Masuda compositions from the newest games, Pokémon Diamond & Pearl, were performed.22

Fourth movement (Battlefield):23 VS Wild, VS Trainer, VS Gym Leader, Pokémon League, VS Rival.
Fifth movement (Diamond & Pearl): Lake Crater, Wild, Uxie/Mesprit/Azelf, Trainer, Galaxy Boss, Dialga/Palkia.

All in all the concert was about two hours long – time that passed in the “blink of an eye”, reflected attendant blogger bokotokinuge.24 In a sentiment that would have pleased Masuda, the Sapporo concert inspired 33-year old boko to recount how his own early exposure to classical music drove him to later join a brass band in junior high, remarking that hopefully, this concert would do for children in the audience what the Sapporo Symphonic did for him. Certainly, the much younger akanetendou seemed impressed by the power of classical music, dubbing the orchestra’s work “cool and nice”. 25 That’s practically euphoria for a teenager. In any case, boko wasn’t the only adult to be deeply stirred by the anniversary concert. (Boko euphemistically suffered from “tear glands that broke open”.) Nintender wrote candidly how “hot things seemed to spill”; kcmksc admitted that “tears came out without permission”, to the puzzled bemusement of his son. The concerts’ evident emotive power is perhaps the reason why so many felt compelled to blog.

PokeCen Pop-up Store. Image credit: inside-games

Commemorative CD package. Image credit: akanetendou

When the guests had recovered from this tugging at the heartstrings, they found an abundance of souvenirs available for purchase from the PokéCenter pop-up store set up in the venue lobby. For those itching to transfer their emotions into memorabilia, the shop carried some unusual items like boxes of sweets shaped like a Christmas tree and even Pokémon-themed towels. The ultimate limited-time keepsake, however, was unquestionably the “Pokémon Happy Birthday CD with Pamphlet” (¥800).26 While the CD its name suggests that it might contain a live (or rehearsal) recording of the orchestral concert, this was not the case. Rather, the CD held Gameboy Midi-style chiptune versions of the Pokémon Red & Green tracks performed by the orchestra,27 plus five unreleased remix bonus tracks, like this Pokémon Techno and this majestic synthrock Gym Leader medley (ジムリーダーカ). These remixes are all officially crafted by Masuda himself, by the way, which shows just how versatile he is as a creator of music. I’ve not been able to find a live recording of any of the four 10th anniversary concerts, and for this CD not to hold it is, I think, a tremendous wasted opportunity.28

Concert brochure showing Chatot instructions. Still from: era404, “PERAPPokemon Happy Birthday concert”

Before heading home with their heads still full of Pokémusic, guests were reminded not to forget to download the special Chatot event Pokémon given out to mark the occasion. With the October 28 Tokyo concert taking place just a month after the release of Diamond & Pearl, this was Generation 4’s very first event distribution. The parakeet-inspired Pokémon itself had been known to Pokéfans for some time. While freshly introduced in the Sinnoh region, Chatot had made its debut some months prior in Summer 2006’s Manaphy-centred feature film where it was cast in the role of the villainous antagonist (a pirate) his essential aviary companion.

So why was Chatot chosen for the concert? Well! Oricorio didn’t come into existence until XY, making Chatot the nearest Pokémon to a songbird by default. Chatot’s signature ability in and outside of the games is Chatter, which allows it to take the sounds it has learned, rearrange them into its own melody, and then parrot them back. In the games, this means Chatot can be given a custom cry by speaking into the Nintendo DS microphone to record a short audio clip. Pokémon RNG’ers will be highly familiar with this process: the variable pitches of Chatot’s cry are a commonly used tool to read a game’s current PRNG state. But I digress. Concert Chatot was distributed with a blank cry to copies of Diamond & Pearl, likely in hopes the audience might discover its unusual skill and record a concert fragment as the bird’s chatter! Which some guests absolutely did, in turn creating a modicum of inadvertent confusion in the event collecting community. More on that in a moment.

Image credit: error-astray

Leveraging the Nintendo DS its onboard WiFi communication capabilities, Chatot was delivered wirelessly in a generation first. Before and after the performance, and during the intermission, that projector screen suspended above the stage broadcast the availability of Chatot, and directed guests to follow the instructions on the concert leaflet handed out at the entrance.29 Once in their seats, kcmksc’s son “started his DS immediately and got Chatot through wireless communication”.30 YouTuber era404 snuck in a pre-session Chatot redemption video despite a strict no-photography policy (see here). Pulling in Chatot like this required no additional steps, only that a player had advanced their game to Jubilife City and unlocked Mystery Gift.

So far, so uncontroversial. It gets a little trickier when we try and probe the inner workings of Chatot’s wireless delivery. How did they do it? I would love to state unproblematically that a standard “not for resale” Nintendo DS distribution cartridge was used to beam out the distribution signal. You know, like these. But evidence points to the contrary. Wrote our sole source, Poster #146 in 2channel’s dedicated Concert Chatot thread, on November 8 2006 (translated freely): “In Fukuoka, there was a staff member holding a DS in the venue, and these people made an announcement about the distribution of Chatot (it is being distributed, distribution is over, etc.). This DS has 2.5 times the length of normal DS software stuck in the card slot, and I think the tickets were distributed with this.”31 Over two times larger! Whatever it was that Poster #146 observed, no run-of-the-mill Gen4 distro cart matches that specification. Could it have been a GBA long devcart that was (re-)programmed to facilitate wireless distribution via Nintendo DS? Maybe. Or perhaps Poster #146 saw some kind of wireless signal booster used in conjunction with, after all, a standard distro cart. Kcmksc and era404’s redemptions were done from the auditorium, which must’ve been some ways removed from the lobby where staff stood waving their Nintendo DS. Clearly the wireless signal had range.

It goes without saying that no distribution cart for Concert Chatot has been documented. Japanese development cartridges rarely make their way into public hands. It’s likely that only a single Chatot distribution cart was ever made (plus, potentially, a secondary backup cart), for as opposed to the fellow 2006 early-day event Pokémon of Festa Magmar & Electabuzz and Contest Manaphy, this Chatot was not subject to a nationwide repeat re-release that required dozens, if not hundreds, of distribution cart copies to be manufactured and disbursed. One distro cart was all that was theoretically needed. And, once again unlike Festa MagBazz and WHF Manaphy, no photographs of the Chatot distribution system have surfaced.

The bird is the word. Image credit: mew1216

Back to the bird itself. Its moves of Mirror Move / Fury Attack / Chatter / Taunt were a standard learnset; the fixed Trainer Name of “コンサート” simply meant “concert”, while its fixed TID of 10286 reflected the date of the anniversary concert’s first performance. Interestingly, Chatot held a Soothe Bell (called Peace Bell in Japanese), perhaps to underline concert engineer Masuda’s view of the soothing and / or appeasing quality of music. I would have much preferred for Chatot to have held Mail bearing a personal message from Masuda!

As mentioned earlier, the bird came without a prerecorded cry. Some guests put two and two together and, perhaps encouraged by the MC, speaker-planner Masuda, or conductor Saegusa, recorded a scrap of music to their Chatot. The truly witty ones might’ve even captured the gag Mario themes played during instrument testing! Ah… Following Chatot’s release, the internet rumour mill suggested that the bird came pre-packaged with a Mario-themed cry, either its famous main jingle (as reported by gariusumarutexis) or the Mario “clay pipe sound” (土管の音), as reflected in the comments to kakeru05’s concert post (link). Which of course nobody could confirm, because trading out or depositing Chatot reset its cry. I absolutely love this urban legend, and while I very much wish it to be true, I’m afraid that as so often, reality was just that little bit plainer than the folktales would have it.

  1.  Every bit as revolutionary as promised, the games’ local and universal WiFi functionalities immediately began to transform the Pokéworld’s trading and battling landscape. (Read about it here!)
  2.  Masuda variously directed and produced all mainline Pokémon games since 2003. For more about the man, see also Duck and Beetle.
  3.  Source for this program’s name is Bulbapedia, which in turn does not cite its source. See:
  4.  Masuda is a competent trombone player.
  5.  『ポケモンはっぴーバースデーコンサート』
  6.  Official English Entry 61, November 14 2006,
  7.  Delinquent being the term that Pokémon creator Satoshi Tajiri’s father used to describe his son’s obsession with arcades and video games. An obscure reference, I know.
  8.  Official English Entry 61, November 14 2006,, translated from: “音楽の美しさ、楽しさ、圧倒的な迫力など音楽の力を存分に楽しんで貰えると思います。”
  9.  Precise venues were: Miel Parque TOKYO (メルパルクTOKYO), WelCity Kokura (ウェルシティ小倉 九州厚生年金会館), Hyogo Performing Arts Center (兵庫県立芸術文化センター), and WelCity Sapporo (ウェルシティ札幌 厚生年金会館).
  10.  None of the triplicate official announcements made by, Club Nintendo and the Daisuki Club were archived, but thankfully for this particular event, that’s not an informational detriment. Both historical info-sharing site Wakwak and Pokémon encyclopedia reported on the event, the first seemingly verbatim, the second through a translation. See:; and The unarchived, erstwhile announcement resided at:; Club Nintendo’s page was: Any supplementary art is lost.
  11.  Dimensions from kcmksc.
  12.   Professional writer inside-games and blogger akanetendou both state this unequivocally, as does “haishin”, who was able to recall the video’s playing 14 years later. Apparently it made a great impression. Akanetendou’s ameblo blog at; inside-games’ report at; and Haishin’s recollection website at:
  13.  増田部長にとっての究極のポケモンとは「世界中の人々との交換が出来ること」, at:
  14.  それを形にしたものがGTS。
  15.  「これからもポケモンは広がり続けます。期待してください!」Hidden Power of Masuda – Director’s Columns, Entry 64, December 13 2006
  16.  Words of blogger akanetendou.
  17.  Inside-games writes that in Tokyo, Masuda and the MC led the instrument introduction. I would suggest that changes were made to this aspect after the first performance(s) to better hold guest’s attention, but Tokyo was the first of four concerts! I’ve yet to find an explanation for this discrepancy.
  18.  Source for this is inside-games.
  19.  See his string of entries from October 28, 2006, suggesting he was also in Tokyo:
  20.  そして、第二部スタート。。。さっきのカスタネットを使い、「ニビシティのテーマ」を会場のお客さんとオーケストラとのコラボで演奏(ぇ)
  21.   Source here is error-astray.
  22.  As these concerts took place just two months after the release of Diamond & Pearl, not all bloggers recognised all of the DP tracks. My personal favourite Diamond & Pearl theme, “Lake“, composed by Go Ichinose wasn’t performed. (This was a Masuda show, after all!)
  23.  バトルフイールド
  24.  It ended 10 minutes before the scheduled time, at least in Tokyo. There was no encore. Source is error-astray.
  25.  やっぱね、いいね、クラシックは♪。なんか、かっこよかったし、素敵でした(^^)
  26.  The CD package was also available as a points-based prize from the Daisuki Club minigame “Answer Quiz! Pokemon Sugoroku”. See:
  27.  kcmksc erroneously says 25; the number 24 matches the concert’s R/G programme.
  28.  Should you want to check out all the tracks, the full album is – surprisingly – here:
  29.  See image inset. The stage screen text read: “ワイヤレス通信でプレゼント中
  30.  席に着き、長男は早速DSを起動して、通信でペラップをゲット
  31.  “福岡では会場内にDSを手に持ったスタッフがいて、この人たちがペラップ配布についてアナウンスを
    このDSには通常のDSソフトの2.5倍程度の長さのソフトがカードスロットに刺さっており、これでチケットを配布していたのではないかと思います。” In: 〔激レア〕配布ぺラップ〔コンサート〕, at: