From its official beginning in June 2007 to the final episode in February 2011, the English version of Diamond & Pearl underwent several changes. When DP began, we were still transitioning into the Pokémon Company International dub, and for those of us who stayed with it and gave it a chance, it was well worth it. Whether it was cringing at the opening rap theme in DP's first season (10th) or Team Rocket's disruptive randomly-placed self-awareness¹ throughout, over time, those imperfections would eventually be forgiven with the focus instead on the far fewer edits, particularly visual, thanks to TPCi. The new voices that began only one season beforehand in the Kanto Battle Frontier (9th), in Diamond & Pearl, had gradually become established, familiar, and permanent...and most importantly to me, synonymous with the longtime favorite characters I had only come to love more during this era.
Diamond & Pearl was a perfect combination of new and old, with unique and continuing stories that defined both its new characters and those I've known forever...
I feel that I reached a higher level of fandom than ever before in the Diamond & Pearl era.
Pokémon fan art had been around for years, but this was the first time that I was inspired, and it became an outlet for both admiration and expression as my fondness for our already beloved characters grew stronger. It was actually during my first fandom 'rebirth' during the animé's fifth season (Master Quest) that I considered writing Pokémon fan fiction, but it wasn't until the eleventh season (DP Battle Dimension) that I decided to follow through with powerful new ideas I couldn't ignore, and from that came a connection with our hero Ash, with all of our heroes, on a level deeper and more personal than I had ever felt before...a connection that, as a writer, I can only describe as the same emotional bond I developed with the original characters I created for my own Oak Branch Woods novels.
While my interest in Diamond & Pearl centered mainly around the animé, I was also able to enjoy the Pokémon games more than ever before with my first handheld DS which allowed me to experience both the main and post stories of Diamond, Platinum, and HeartGold in full, logging hundreds of hours of gameplay and collecting event Pokémon (I had played the earlier games at home on our GameCube w/Gameboy Player). But the best games were from the Pokémon Ranger series, with Shadows of Almia (2008) being my favorite of them all; though only a partial tie-in to my favorite episode "Pokémon Ranger and the Kidnapped Riolu" (the story was really all about Ash, you know), it was the game's unique storyline and characters that made it every bit as enjoyable, familiar, and real as the animé.
While I was always devoted to the message relayed through my Pokémon site, it was the impact of Diamond & Pearl that not only reflected in the new effort I put into We All Live in a Pokémon World... in the continuing defense of Pokémon, but my regard for the series can be found throughout. As stated on the site, I could never afford to be much of a Pokémon collector, but during the Diamond & Pearl era, it was so nice to see so many Pokémon items in stores again, after the comparatively minimal Ruby & Sapphire era. And while I may have only added a few Sinnoh region items here and there to my collection, and though I'm always holding out hope for official subs, Diamond & Pearl is the only one in which I own the entire animé series collection of episodes and movies to date, English dubbed.
I made a sad discovery during this era, in that some of those who had been Pokémon fans as long as I have had abandoned Pokémon; while I continued to embrace both the present and the future, others longed only for the past, and didn't hesitate to make their displeasure known throughout the online community. I suppose some good came out of it though; the animosity toward Ash, the animé, and the DP era specifically only made me love them more.
I admit that it was hard to have to say good-bye to Diamond & Pearl when it finally ended, something I had never experienced in all my years as a Pokémon fan, always eagerly following the progression of each new series. But with a love of all things Pokémon past, present, and future, it is that same devotion and enjoyment that will endure as the journey continues through Black & White, and beyond...
Memories are pearl. Friendships are diamond.³ Memories are made of bliss.4
"Yes, Pokémon has been around for 10 years. We've seen hundreds of Pokémon and witnessed hundreds of battles. But things are just starting to get good."
-Pokémon Top 10 Handbook (2006)
¹Term I generally use for the extremely annoying occurrence in which fictional/animated characters acknowledge that they are fictional and/or animated. On Pokémon, this occurred often in the earliest seasons and then again in Battle Frontier and Diamond & Pearl, usually consisting of on-screen references to current or previous 'seasons', references to the viewing audience (as Pokémon is a non-interactive show), references to animators/writers, acknowledging the length of episodes, 'Diamond and Pearl' [direct gaming] puns, and ironic use of the word 'cartoon'. The term originated on Star Trek, and often refers to when holo-characters realize that they are in fact holo-characters (which usually leads to ship-wide malfunctions and havoc!)
²From "Zoroark: Master of Illusions" (movie 13)
³"Memories are Pearl. Friendships are Diamond."; Japanese title of the final DP episode (DP190**)
4"Memories are Made of Bliss"; English title of the final DP episode (DP189**)
**The English version of the series did not include the recap episode "Strange Creatures! Pocket Monsters!" (DP120)