THE ECONOMY IS DRIVEN BY ANIMAL ABUSE, SUPPORTED BY CHILDREN
When taken at face value, the game does a pretty good job of making you feel like a big, damn hero of the region. You’re the strongest trainer (somehow), and you find Pokemon so rare and powerful that they’re called “Legendary” and it’s usually doubted that some of them even exist. You’ll take out organised paramilitary groups that will, on occasion, literally try to bring about Armageddon. When you’re a young gamer, you can easily go with the flow of it all without questioning much because you keep the Pokemon.. “place” running. It’s this feeling that keeps us coming back to the franchise as adults, either out of nostalgia or long-living fandom.
Even as a kid, however, it’s pretty apparent that making Pokemon fight each other is probably an awful (but awesome) thing to do. It just isn’t until we outgrow the intended age group for the game that we realise why it is you’re still playing it at the age of twenty-three. Players are indoctrinated into loving the game the same way as the children in the Pokemon… country? We’re all being systematically brainwashed into thinking making animals fight each other isn’t just rad, but wholly necessary.
Pokemon trainers starting their journey at a young age isn’t just the “tradition” it’s portrayed as in the series. It’s done for a very important reason: Convincing children into following an unwholesome ideal is far easier than convincing adults. Especially when it inspires an inappropriately warm-heartedness towards making animals knock the stuffing out of one another.
We see it all the time in the real world in kids who grow up with, and subsequently carry into adulthood, religious beliefs and political views. The difference here is that, unlike in the real world, the entire world depends on that single societal construct. The economy of the Pokemon… “continent?” It’s supported by the blood thirst and glamour of a Pokemon trainers life, with everything from Pokemon Centers, Poke-Marts, Gyms, and even the League itself being centred around Pokemon Battles.
Department stores and service-based businesses that don’t directly contribute to Pokemon violence are still geared towards supporting Pokemon trainers. Movies are being produced about Pokemon battles; radio stations tell you where you can catch certain Pokemon. The monolithic Pokemon industry is built on foundations of mind-warped children and tortured Pokemon, and all of it starts with sending an unwitting child on a journey into the heart of candy-coated-darkness.
How could the world have possibly reached this point? What about the world governments or at least the governments of this… province? (Seriously, what do you call this place?) Certainly they would have put a stop to the animal cruelty? Or child protective services stepping in to prevent children wandering around a continent of their own? Who’s in charge of this place?
THE GOVERNMENT OPERATES IN SECRET BECAUSE YOU ARE GOD
You could be forgiven for believing that the Pokemon world is run by the Pokemon League since you rarely come across police stations in the franchise, and there are no government buildings either. A congressional building, some kind of parliament, infrastructural authorities, and even public schools are all missing from the Pokemon world, so who else but the Pokemon League would run things?
So we have a… State? Wait, you know what? It’s Pokemon Japan. We’re calling it Pokemon Japan because it’s even confirmed that it’s based on Japan, it couldn’t possibly be anything other than a Pokemon Japan. So despite Pokemon Japan being a land mass large enough to be considered a country in its own right, there’s a lack of infrastructural evidence of there being a standing government (elected or self-imposed).
But that doesn’t mean that no government exists at all since various agents, purportedly acting on behalf of different authorities, have made appearances in some of the games. There was Looker, the drunken foreign stereotype from the International Police who appears in Platinum. There’s also the home-grown vigilantes Dexio and Sina, who operate under the guidance of Professor Sycamore and gallantly arrive just in time to watch you wrap things up and then take the credit.
So clearly there is some authority out there, in drips, drabs, and other questionable volumes, attempting to clean up messes that look as though they might spill over to the rest of the planet. So, without this central authority, how is it that Pokemon Japan (and possibly the rest of the world, unless Pokemon Japan is as isolated as Real North Korea) remains essentially the same from Blue and Red to X and Y? It’s because this highly idealised lifestyle is ruthlessly maintained by a brainwashed child that’s found one of the scattered Legendary Pokemon.
The legendary Pokemon are often God-like in their power and abilities, sometimes actually having played some role in the creation or shaping of the world, and are ironically seen as paragons of the ideals that Pokemon Japan is built on. If a child spends a significant part of their formative years on an awesome adventure with super-powered monsters, propaganda from the Pokemon League, and the voices in their head encouraging them, by the time they find one of the legendaries and beat the villains they’ll already be sucked into the system.
When it comes to policing the people, everyone seems pretty cool with just dumping the role of judge, jury and executioner upon the shoulders of an underage pre-teen with more power than someone of their relative youth and inexperience should ever wield. That’s probably because the police comprise entirely of Officer “Squirtle Dispenser” Jenny in Pokemon Yellow and the ineffectual security guard Pokemon trainers that at least resemble police and whom you can battle at night. In this crazy world, the law is a twelve-year-old with a level 100 Mewtwo.
And who’s going to speak up against a child with such a zealous belief in their way of life that they’ll beat a terrorist group to a pulp, single handed, with the God-like physical manifestation of those beliefs? Those same “terrorists” that the player beats, that’s who, and they get beaten harder than a red headed step child. They’re terrorists, and terrorists need to be stopped because what they’re doing is totally morally reprehensible. Right?
CHANGING THE WORLD MEANS BEING A TERRORIST
Think of every nature or animal activist group you can and then imagine them partnered with animals that can summon fire, water, electricity and any other number of chemical reactions out of thin air; the resulting mess is roughly what happens when a new “Team” group starts up in the Pokemon world. Some of the “Team” groups from the Pokemon series, most notably Team Rocket, have criminal roots that they put to use to achieve some pretty unscrupulous goals. The leaders of these groups all go to extreme lengths to accomplish some pretty shady shit and that makes it easy for us as players to hate them. The rest of their membership, however, seem to be mostly misguided activists who have been lured into a cult, usually by a charismatic leader whose Utopian vision is outshined only be the insanity that burns in his eyes.
Team Plasma may have frozen the face of the Earth, unleashing a weaponised, demigod, dragon Pokemon in the process, but it was with the intention of freeing Pokemon from their abusive masters; at this point, this is an ideal we should all be able to get behind. Team Flare dug up an aeons old doomsday machine to kill all Pokemon and most of humanity, but only because the world was becoming over-populated and they foresaw the suffering that would come when an overburdened society ran short on resources.
The problem is that these groups, as extreme as they are, represent the only real difference in political or social beliefs and values in Pokemon Japan. The grunts just act like stupid, naive college age kids who didn’t know any better when signing a petition/waiver and got swept up in a cause they didn’t fully understand. This makes sense since you never really see any grunts who appear to be much older than their late teens/early twenties and, considering how fast their Pokemon hit the ground, probably weren’t prepared for combat.
They stick around because there’s no other choice for them if they have any kind of conviction in their goals. With no established government, bureaucracy, or democracy through which they can legitimately enact change in the world, the Team groups are their only hopes.
Regardless of whether or not they are prepared for combat, they’re going to experience it before the end. Do you want to see a world where Pokemon and Humans are partners and equals? Do you want to change the universe fundamentally to make a better world? Then take your Pokemon, burn off the face of some townspeople, and march into the gaping mouth of oblivion! If you hope to make any difference in the world, then extremism is the only option Pokemon Japan allows you.
Pokemon is a very long-standing series; the first couple of games were released in Japan in 1996 making the franchise almost old enough to drink in every country in the world. It’s not unusual for a few rumors, theories and other scuttlebutt to come and go about something that’s been around for so long. The amount that is out there is incredible, the fact that some of it is credible is frightening.
If the Pokemon world wasn’t designed this way intentionally and what we’re doing, as a fan base and an audience, is just filling the gaps between the lines with whatever dark implication that first springs to mind, then we’re probably terrible people. No matter how terrible we are, though, at least we didn’t force people into extremism and then use child soldiers to fight them.