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Pokemon is Mental Crack!

by Durandal

"We have outgrown the need for 'things'."
- Captain Jean-Luc Picard
Star Trek: The Next Generation

Pok|é•mon (pök' e män) n.
a pseudo-animal that can only pronounce its name, and which is nevertheless invariably more articulate and intelligent than the humans who share its world

Verba Dicet Durandus.

If you live in a country with electricity, you've seen Pokémon advertised. If you don't, how are you reading this?

To cover all bases, though, I'll give a brief description...

The characters described in the Pokémon television series, movies, video games, trading cards, toys (etc.!) inhabit a world where, rather than dogs, cats, chipmunks and llamas, the food chain is made up of Pokémon. These stylized cartoonish beings are of a rather cuddly nature, even when they wield deadly weapons. They also seldom seem to prey on humans.

They also use their own names as their animal call.

Example: "Ekans", a snake type Pokémon, is most often observed to hiss the word "ekans" at its victims. (Yes, I am aware that the word "ekans" is "snake" backwards. Some sort of attempt at wit on the part of the executives who translated the lore from Japanese.)

Nobody has ever been able to explain to me, to my satisfaction or otherwise, how this situation occured. Or how the Pokémon are classified by the Earth-like animals they most ressemble, when no-one has ever been to our Earth.

But all of these logical considerations could be dismissed if the show (my primary source of exposure) had any merit at all - but it doesn't!

Case study:

Ash, his friends, and their collection of Pokémon are traipsing through the bush. They come across a Charmander - a little orange quasi-lizard with a flame on the end of its tail. It lies, shivering, in the rain. When it refuses to be moved, Ash & Co. conclude that that someone has ordered it to remain there. Who would do such a cruel thing?

Later, Ash & Co. are lounging at the PokéCentre (sort of a ski resort for Pokémon trainers) when they hear another trainer bragging to his friends.

TRAINER: "Yeah, I had this Charmander, but it was so weak, it couldn't beat even the weakest of opponents. I left it on a rock somewhere. It's probably still there now! Ha ha ha!"

All of this is delivered in a clipped, inflectionless manner reminiscient of Kabuki theatre, but still manages to convey a corny attempt at an Australian accent. Ash, filled with righteous indignation, turns to his friends.

ASH: "He must be the trainer who left that Charmander we saw out there!"

Bravo Ash. The most eloquent line in any given episode is "Pika!".

The show is completely transparent: it's about merchandising! Worse than the Ninja Turtles (who at least had some merit to their show) and worse than the Power Rangers (who didn't go as far with the merchandising) is the Pokémon franchise. A quick glance at POKEMON.COM shows several articles, all merchandise-oriented.

I remember a time when cartoons, despite being aimed at children, where at least clever; and believe me, I didn't graduate from their target audience that long ago!

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