Pokémon celebrates its 25th anniversary on Saturday and the hype around the “pocket monsters” has been unbroken since the first release for Gameboy in 1996. The 20th video game in the core series was launched in 2019, but the anime also has more than 1,000 episodes of TV shows and an extremely popular trading cards business under its belt.
The Pokémon brand is the world's most valuable media franchise with estimated all-time sales of $100 billion. The games centered around collecting monsters (“Gotta catch 'em all”) have developed into a veritable media and merchandise gold mine over the past 25 years and helped parent company Nintendo through many a crisis.
Another Japanese franchise places second in the ranking which is otherwise dominated by U.S. and U.S.-British collaborations. Hello Kitty racked up sales of $84.5 billion worldwide since its inception in 1974. U.S. dominance in the ranking is partly due to the Walt Disney Company, which occupies ranks 3 thru 6 with homespun and acquired brands Winnie the Pooh, Mickey Mouse, Star Wars and the Disney Princesses empire. Also among the top 10 most valuable media franchises are the Japanese children's book series Anpanman ($44.9 billion), the Marvel Cinematic Universe ($35.3 billion), Super Mario ($34.6 billion) and the wizarding world of Harry Potter ($32.2 billion).