If you’re a gamer, when you think of Pokemon you probably think of action and a game quest of becoming a Pokemon Master Pokemon. But if you’re not a gamer, when you think of Pokemon you probably think of exotic animal like creatures that are attractive and have special powers. In a lot of ways, Pokemon are like unicorns, the phoenix, or other mythical creatures. It was not like this though until well into several years of Pokemon gaming.
Pokemon, owned by Nintendo, has been one of the world’s most popular games ever, second only to Mario (another Nintendo offering). In fact, in many ways you could say that Pokemon is even more popular than Mario; for Pokemon has many spinoffs and other merchandise that Mario does not. Pokemon Black and white is the latest incarnation of the game itself, and lo and behold if one doesn’t see Pokemon Black and white stuffed toys, Pokemon cards from the series, and Pokemon Black and white Zuken figures being sold like wild at Pokemon outlets. Since spinoff merchandising began with Pokemon Blue, every new release such as Crystal and others has shown the same phenomena. In other words, the game is hot, and so is the merchandise, and although the animation also has done very well (14 movies- the latest a Pokemon Black and white story- and multiple television series), the focus on Pokemon has either been pitting the mythical ‘monsters’ against each other or on collecting dolls and cards.
In other words, no one has really come up with a good story behind the Pokemon. They are found in the wild (where other ‘regular’ wild animals are conspicuously lacking) and rather than being spread across wide continental regions, they are found in ‘zones. ‘ This is where trainers go to catch Pokemon (Pokehunting? ) but there is little if no information on how the Pokemon themselves live in the wild or anything about their habits. They are caught with a ‘Pokeball, ‘ which, I suppose contracts space in the molecular structures of the Pokemon allowing them to be housed in a small capsule, but the biophysics behind the Pokeball is not explained either that i know of.
It is known that they are capable of spontaneous ‘evolution’ (emergent and sudden changes in their DNA), particularly after matches, but we don’t notice them evolving in nature- or at least very rarely. Nor are there any accounts if they ‘battle’ with each other in nature or not. Clearly though, they possess a predisposed talent toward battle.
Originally, the Pocket Monsters were of a very different conception. Speaking of mutations, it was a sort of mutated jump in thought in a gaming concept by Satoshi Tajiri. It is my suspicion that in coming up with a unique but not revolution ‘soft bot’ game (the kind that Pacman spawned) he needed an idea. Since he was an avid insect collector, he came up with concept of catching monsters and putting them into capsules. Thus before ‘Pocket Monsters’ the game was in conception called ‘Capsule Monsters. ‘ That concept has been skewed by the evolutionary animal aspect of the game though and Pokemon has plenty of room to grow in storyline and animation. There is a gap in the Pokemon world that does not seem to bother young people at all. In fact, I never hear them question it. Instead, they just seem to look forward to the new monsters. These are true fans in the sense that they don’t have any critical questioning over the background of Pokemon and react with surprise and great enthusiasm toward every new generation that is created. In a very real sense, Pokemon, however much one may try to flesh it out, is not a story. The animation episodes are merely enactments of the game with some generic drama and rivalry thrown in, and the origins and history of the Pokemon themselves and the circumstances surrounding them are never really explained. Do not think though that i am criticizing when i say that fans prefer not to think about such things. The makers of Pokemon I suppose fire their imagination enough that they are satisfied. Probably for most fans asking hard scientific questions about Pokemon is kind of like questioning a fairy tale or asking where dragons come from.
For an older generation however Pokemon gives us a science fiction premise that is left unanswered, to our dissatisfaction. Whereas for younger people Pokemon may be a fable, for us older folks it smacks more of Jurassic Park or something like that. In any case, it is science fiction and we expect science fiction to have a premise and an explanation. Pokemon has neither, but for very simple reasons which I’ll explain.
First of all, the game of ‘Capsule Monsters, ‘ the first Pokemon concept, was based on Satoshi Tajiri’s idea of insect collecting, of which he was an aficionado. He had a game, and he had a vague idea of insect collecting and instead of insect collecting thought, “Why not monsters? ” ‘Battles, ‘ though admittedly rather cruel in concept, undoubtedly came from the insect fighting that boys engage in. Since this was a game and not a story or a movie, Tajiri didn’t see the need to develop the concept any further. Merchandisers did however and had to make early decisions about how to make the appearance of the monsters. Whether Tajiri collaborated on this or not, I don’t know, but they decided on a soft cute or handsome look for the Pokemon rather than a scary one. More than anything, that would contribute to later immense popularity of Pokemon.
Quickly Nintendo took over Pokemon and has put its creative team on it non-stop. Each new generation of Pokemon brings new fans and new products. The latest Pokemon incarnation is called Pokemon Black and white and is of course based upon the game of the same name. Extremely popular now are Pokemon Black and white stuffed toys (also known as Pokemon plush toys or Pokemon plushies), Pokemon Black and white trading cards (including shiny Rraikou, Suicune and Entei cards), and Pokeman Tomy figures. Outlets specializing in the Black and white goods are having trouble keeping them stocked. Gotta catch ’em all!