Pokémon Is Really Dark

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.

Our 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.

6 thoughts on “Pokémon Is Really Dark

  1. 1st off Hi! I first saw you in a Moment with Dr. Wolf.
    2nd This ‘dark’ concept actually addressed several times. If you’ve played Smash Bros. Brawl Solid Snake in his Codec taunt of the Pkm trainer we get this little treat:
    Snake: “Pokémon Trainer… That’s the guy giving orders behind a Pokémon, right?”
    Colonel: “Right, and this Pokémon Trainer is controlling Squirtle, Ivysaur, and Charizard. They represent water, grass, and fire, and they’re all powerful.”
    Snake: “So he makes his Pokémon fight while he sits back and watches. Sounds like a good deal if you ask me.”
    Colonel: “It’s not like that, Snake. Those Pokémon wouldn’t know what to do if the Pokémon Trainer wasn’t there giving orders. In every battle, there’s a soldier doing the fighting, and a commander telling him what to do. By working together as a team, they accomplish much more than either could on their own. So let’s do this together, partner.”
    Snake: “…Yeah… Whatever you say, Colonel.” (getting the idea)

    So no Pkm battles aren’t battles to the death more of a duel to a defeat. Pokemon who become loyal to us trainers want to fight same as anyone who wants to wrestling. And they get as much if not more credit than the trainers. Our wining 6 teammates are in the Hall of Fame not just the trainer’s face. Heck if your a lousy trainer they won’t listen to you.

    Plus…you’d be surprised in what 10 year old could do. In universe there is said to be a class dedicated to teach kids all about becoming a trainer and getting a license much like hunting & driving. In the real world yes little kids could be harmed but in Pokemon with their friends at their side not even Team Rocket aka The Mob can stop you.

    If I may plug something on my Devaint Art page I’ve got a on going review/story of my playing of Pkm LeafGreen with some silly antics called Pokemon LeafGreen: Blue’s misadventure. And I bring up that very idea. The one character trait given to you the player is the reason why you are so strong while you beat your smack talking rival and even beat the Mob is because of one thing: You Care! Your Pokemon team aren’t just tools of War like Rocket says, they are your friends willing to fight them because they too know it’s the right thing to do.

    Plus not ever trainer battles some enter them in beauty contests, some even treat pkm like accessories in the latest fad. There ARE laws in place to prevent the abuse of pkm. There’s even places were it’s illegal to capture them because their endangered & are protected!

    Last thing, your not first to take Pokemon seriously, I know people who are like math experts to capture the ideal pokemon for their games. & Yes pokemon can be a little dark, Read some of the Pokedex entries. Also…Lavender Town…(shudders).

    • Welcome to TMTF! 🙂 I’m glad DRWolf’s video pointed you in our general direction. Working on that video with the good Doctor and Crowne Prince was a great experience.

      I know I’m not the first to take such a grim view of Pokémon; others have done the same. I just enjoyed putting my own spin on it. This blog post is only half-serious in its cynical assessment of the world of Pokémon; I know most trainers in the games treat their Pokémon as pals, not slaves, and battling isn’t all that vicious. I just couldn’t resist poking a little fun at a franchise so easily turned dark. 😛

    • I suppose all this makes Team Rocket the unsung heroes of the story, thanks to their determination to fight the (apparently twisted) establishment of Pokémon society. Prepare for trouble, indeed!

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