I’m an original pokemon junkie.
I grew up with Red and Blue, felt dissatisfied with Gold and Silver, and didn’t even bother with Sapphire and Ruby after a cursory glance through the new pokedex left me feeling glum.
It wasn’t until I started watching the cartoon series that I started to question the Pokemon universe. Even so, it wasn’t until I began writing my own Pokemon fanfic that I actually applied critical thinking to the problem.
What I realized is this : Pokemon is horrifying.
Pokemon are “pocket monsters” – critters (large or small, cute or scary) which can be captured using the technology of a palm-sized pokeball. Once captured, the creature is kept in the ball except to be released so that it can be forced to fight against another creature (using elemental or physical attacks until such time as one or the other creature “faints”).
The creatures level up and will periodically evolve into a larger, more powerful creature – sometimes forced to do so by their “trainer” (in quotes because I’ve yet to see any real training in-game) using elemental stones.
In the game, everything’s just pixels and cute little sprites – but once I saw the cartoon, I watched pokemon who didn’t want to fight, pokemon who hated being in pokeballs, pokemon who refused to listen to their masters, and pokemon BADLY injured by battles. Trainers capturing GOD pokemon and sending them into battle as easily as they might a caterpie or a weedle!
I saw trainers with the same uncaring attitude that I’d felt when playing the game – who used their pokemon for tools and thought nothing of storing unwanted pokemon in computers, or letting pokemon faint because they could just be revived again at the next town.
I also saw the relationship between pokemon and trainers who loved them. I saw true friendships and the way that pokemon and humans could build a better life for each other.
I set out to write fanfic and immediately hit upon a problem – I couldn’t sympathize with a main character who would deliberately send her pokemon into meaningless battles for glory’s sake.
I thought about this problem for a long time before coming up with a solution …
… I sent her back in time.
Back to a time when there was such a thing as a wild raichu. Back to a time when towns were small and roads between them fraught with danger. A time without pokeballs and pokemon centers. A time when getting too close to a litter of nidoran would set off a bellowing, enraged nidoqueen.
And most importantly, to a time when roving gangs of outlaws with trained pokemon would raid these townships, and the only way the townsfolk could fight back was by having more powerful pokemon with their own trainers.
A time when pokemon battles meant the difference between civilization and anarchy.
That history could easily lead to the current Pokemon universe. Battles became less bloody and more of a contest. Contests for territory became contests of skill. Contests of skill became a spectator sport. Advances in technology allowed pokemon to be viewed as equipment rather than teammates.
The Games Keep On A’Comin
Formulating that history allowed me to enjoy Pokemon again, even though the newest games have some truly gag-worthy pokedexes and they STILL haven’t made the awesome Pokemon RPG that I JUST KNOW IS OUT THERE SOMEWHERE.
If they build that RPG, part of me really hopes they build it in the history that I constructed. I think I’d have a lot more fun being a pokemon HERO than being a pokemon MASTER.
Have you come up with any reasonings or justifications that work for you?
Anyone else who HAS had a crisis of conscience yet still gets a little giggly every time you see a Pikachu in a window or on a website? (Because I totally do. Guilt or no, the original pokemon had some of the cutest critters ever devised.)
Alternately, what’s your favorite pokemon? (Vulpix/Ninetails, I love you!)