Disturbing Implications of the Pokemon Universe


The Pokemon world is a universe that has captivated the imaginations of countless children, and likely will continue to do so for many decades to come. While the cartoons and games are fun and innocent, at least in terms of presentation, when you look at the nature of the Pokemon universe, there are a lot of disturbing implications about the world in which they live. The Pokemon world is a dangerous and unsettling place, which we will explore below…

10. 11-Year -Old Children Are Routinely Sent Out On Their Own To Do Dangerous Things 

In the Pokemon universe, it is perfectly routine to send small children out on their own to have an adventure and start growing up. According to popular games, your character usually starts out at the tender age of 11, gallivanting all over the region capturing Pokemon, battling some very, very bad people, and just generally riding a ruinous path through the whole area. 

The strange part about this is that no one seems to find this at all strange or inappropriate. In fact, everyone thinks it’s perfectly normal for children who haven’t reached puberty to be, instead of going to school, heading out into the wilds attacking animals and putting them in cages — with no supervision, adult or otherwise. It would seem that either these parents are remarkably foolish, or they simply don’t care that much about the well-being of their kids. While some may suggest it’s simply a different universe where the same rules don’t apply, it is established that there are plenty of very bad people and dangerous situations. 

9. Their Enemies, In Groups Like Team Rocket, Are Actually Also Just Children As Well 

When many people watched the anime, they first assume that Jessie and James are adults, perhaps in their mid-20s, trying to terrorize this kid and steal his Pikachu. We learn in one of the later episodes that they are actually just about 17 (although there is some debate as to their actual ages, most sources suggest they started out with Giovanni as children, whatever age they are when we meet them in the anime), and have been tricked by Team Rocket into doing their dirty work — and there is reason to believe they are not the first underage Pokemon trainers he used for his own purposes. The truth is that Giovanni, the mysterious leader, seems perfectly content using runaways, orphans, and the like, such as Jesse and James, to do the worst of his deeds. 

Giovanni is quick to criticize, but offers little praise, something that is common among abusive fathers. He positions himself as a parental figure to vulnerable teens, and then uses that influence to get them to steal Pokemon for him, so that he can become more powerful. Giovanni is all too happy to use child soldiers, and law enforcement doesn’t seem to have much power to stop him. 

8. The Most Prized Occupation In Their Universe Basically Amounts To Legalized Dog-fighting 

Many people have pointed this out before, but it is still important to bring up anyway. Some people try to explain it away by saying that the Pokemon only faint, and that the nurses are able to revive them later. However, despite this, the Pokemon still go through a lot of pain and suffering to battle for their trainers’ ego, profit, or both. The anime (and all material) glosses it over by simply not mentioning the comparison at all and acting like the whole thing is perfectly normal, but in the real world, the entire thing would be considered insane. 

If Pokemon were real, people would likely keep them as pets, teach them to be guard animals, research them, put them in zoos, and basically do all the other things we do with animals today. However, just like today, our societies around the world would likely not condone pitting animals against each other in combat, and those who wanted to do so would likely have to be underground. In the Pokemon universe this type of cruelty is publicly aspired to, praised, and allowed and encouraged by law. 

7. Trainers In The Game Capture Gods And Guardian Protectors And Stuff Them In A Tiny Ball 

While we can sort of accept a lot of things about the Pokemon universe within their own rules and logic, such as keeping the Pokemon in tiny balls in the first place — they have science fiction technology of course — what can be harder is accepting some of their own story themes, which upend a lot of common sense and logic. In nearly every game, there are legendary Pokemon which guard various important points or shrines. In the many movies, these Pokemon are established as basically being either gods or demigods, and being the creators and guardian protectors of the Pokemon universe. 

And you plow ruinously through their shrines, upend all of their protections, beat them to a pulp, and then force them into a tiny ball, only allowing them out to fight for you. The idea here is just kind of absurd, not only that you could catch a god in the first place, but that the game acts like the entire idea is so commonplace and normal. In fact, in the newest Pokemon games for Nintendo DS you can fly through ultra wormholes, and go hunt for legendary god Pokemon to squash forcibly into a tiny sphere. 

6. Pokemon Were Once Said To Have Sat Down At The Same Table And Ate With Humans 

In one of the more recent Pokemon games, there is a throwaway line that left a lot of people speculating, and that the creators agreed did mean what people thought. Essentially, the line claimed that Pokemon and people once sat down and ate together, more like friends than a master and servant relationship. This brings up some disturbing questions, such as how smart Pokemon were at the time, and where their IQs are now in comparison. 

We know that Pokemon are sentient enough that they are much smarter than animals in the real world, but not generally really that smart — perhaps as smart as very young children. However, if Pokemon were slowly relegated to subhuman status and enslaved over time, and discouraged from human speech if they are capable, would they have slowly lost some of their intelligence, and become more like child slaves, unable to even fully comprehend the horrors they are now forced to live, day in and day out? 

5. Alakazam Has An IQ Of 5,000, But Is Still Expected To Obey An 11-Year-Old Child 

There are a lot of Pokemon where the implications of owning them make little sense at all, but Alakazam in particular really boggles the mind. He is a very slim Pokemon, fragile physically, but incredibly powerful mentally. To this day, even with a mind boggling amount of Pokemon, he is still one of the most powerful psychic Pokemon in the game. However, more to the point, his pokedex entry states that he has an IQ of 5,000. Now, this is just an absolutely insane IQ, and makes us wonder what exactly is going on in the Pokemon world. 

With an IQ like that, Alakazam should be running the entire world, fixing everything and telling people the solutions to their problems. His intelligence is off the charts. Instead, Alakazams routinely end up in the hands of 11-year-old trainers who boss them around, and even end up causing them to get beat up and faint in trainer battles. This Pokemon should be smart enough to understand the indignity it is suffering and do something about it with its awesome psychic powers, but it does not. 

4. The Pokeball Is Basically An Incredibly Tiny Cage, Meaning Pokemon Are Almost Always Crated 

One of the more disturbing things about the Pokemon universe that we don’t think about much of the time, is just how much time Pokemon really have to spend locked inside that pokeball. Now, the creators have said the pokeballs are comfortable, but they have also said the Pokemon are conscious inside. So, even if it is comfortable, they are still in a cage and conscious of that fact. Now, anyone who has ever owned a pet knows how animals get the longer you keep them caged, even if you give them food and water. 

Except for coming out to train, battle, and an occasional bit of fun, Pokemon spend most of their time crated and don’t get much fresh air. From this perspective, Pikachu’s stubbornness makes a lot of sense, as no one wants to spend all their time in a cage. This could also give yet another reason Pokemon like Charizard disobeyed so much in the anime — they felt resentful at not having enough time spent outside, to enjoy the real world and move around freely. Nobody has ever liked being caged long-term, and nobody ever will. To their credit, the game designers state that it would be very comfortable and like a high end hotel room, but it is still a cage — just a very fancy, extremely comfortable cage. To put it in perspective, locking a human in a high end hotel room would still be locking them up in a cage. 

3. Mewtwo Is Smart And Seems To Learn A Valuable Lesson, Then The Idea Is Abandoned

In the first Pokemon movie, Mewtwo steals a bunch of Pokemon from trainers, makes clones, and then makes them fight each other… to death. In the end they don’t actually die, but only because Mewtwo learns a valuable lesson. Mewtwo learns the values of love, peace, friendship and not beating each other to a pulp for no reason, and frees everyone from his psychic control and goes off to live in Mewtwo peace. However, the entire plot of the movie looks incredibly silly in hindsight considering the anime and game creators have completely stomped over that entire message. 

The message of the movie was basically that Pokemon fighting was ridiculous and wrong, and then the movie ends. This would be fine if they intended to end Pokemon forever, but obviously with its popularity that was not in the cards. This means that Pokemon has continued on since, with Ash and the gang being there for Mewtwo’s dramatic actions and speech. And they learned… nothing. Well, we suppose this shouldn’t be too surprising. Humans do not seem to respect Pokemon much in this universe, so the fact they don’t seem to care what Mewtwo had to say is just par for the course. 

2. The Healing Systems Are Seemingly Godly, But People Still Age And Die 

In the Pokemon universe, someone needs to answer for their incredibly godly medical technology. Even in the anime, where things are a little more “realistic” than in the video games, your Pokemon are healed almost effortlessly after getting beat up pretty bad. Pokemon can be near death and summoned back to full health before you know it. However, while Nurse Joy and her Blissy can seemingly fix anything that has happened to a Pokemon, the anime and game don’t really seem to get in depth as to whether humans have it as good or not. 

Part of the question would lie in how the technology is supposed to work. It could be that it simply uses some kind of advanced sci-fi healing ray, but it could also be using some kind of digital technology. Some explanations say the Pokemon are turned into data when they go into a pokeball, so perhaps the nurse simply returns the Pokemon to the pokeball, and restores all of their data. This would raise the question of if you could keep your Pokemon alive almost forever in that manner, and whether a pokeball could potentially be used to digitize a human. 

1. Was There A Genetic Bottleneck Somewhere? Why Are There So Many Joys And Jennys? 

We learn that the reason there are just Officer Jennys and Nurse Joys isn’t because they are the same person, but because they are all distant cousins of some kind. Now, we know in real life that the real reason behind all of this is that the artists wanted to make things really simple, and they were just being silly. However, if we take it seriously in universe it has disturbing implications. For starters, it seems that this family must be some kind of powerful cult, because it has a stranglehold on two very important professions. We see seemingly nothing but the two of them working in law enforcement and the medical field, so why is no one else in those fields? 

The possibility is that there simply aren’t that many people to fill the jobs, so an influx of people who all knew each other and had similar backgrounds good for the job helped fill things up nicely. However, that would suggest that at some point, there was a mass extinction event where a lot of people died, and people had to inbreed in order to survive, creating so many almost identical Nurse Joy and Officer Jenny cousins. This could also perhaps explain how the Pokemon became enslaved. Perhaps many of the Pokemon died, and a lot of the rest went into hiding. In that environment, many humans may have forgotten how the two used to live together, and eventually things became the way they are in the Pokemon universe today.

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