I’m not really a Pokémon guy, but this song will echo forever in the farthest corners of my memory. I suspect most millennials have this song embedded in their collective subconscious, in the same way most people in Generation X know all the words to the theme from Gilligan’s Island. It ain’t easy to escape pop culture.
Pokémon is a media franchise with a weird acute accent that no one actually pronounces. It’s all about kids setting out on adventures, befriending cute critters known as Pokémon, and overcoming obstacles in their journeys to become the best they can be.
I’m far from the first person to point this out, but Pokémon is actually rather grim.
Of course, Pokémon wants to be a fun adventure. However, when you begin to think about it, the series can be easily deconstructed into something far more sinister.
The original story of Pokémon starts with a single mother turning her ten-year-old boy out of her home. This child is given a dangerous monster, a Pokémon, as a
slave pet. He immediately confines his new friend in a tiny ball, releasing it only to pit it against other Pokémon in violent battles. In some of these, the child forces his Pokémon to attack unsuspecting local wildlife; in others, he picks fights with other kids, beats their Pokémon senseless, and takes their money.
savage bully young hero wanders the world alone, despite being a vulnerable child whom any adult could easily harm. This foolhardy ten-year-old braves illness, injury, stormy weather, extreme cold, dark caves, biker gangs, and hordes of Pokémon, which he either beats into submission or captures, converts to data, and stores on a dusty computer somewhere. He also tries to bring down an entire syndicate of dangerous criminals.
This all sounds pretty bad, right? It gets worse. The hero of Pokémon isn’t a lone psychopath, endangering himself in his relentless quest to assault and capture innocent creatures. He is doing exactly what his society expects him to do. The world of Pokémon revolves around the endangerment of children and exploitation of animals.
Yes, I’m taking Pokémon way too seriously, and deconstructing it in ways its creators (probably) never intended. I actually kinda like Pokémon, though it’s far from my favorite thing in the world. (That would be coffee.) Nah, I just find it interesting how quickly such a cheerful story turns grim when viewed from a certain point of view.