Why I Was Pokemon's Greatest Villain

Going into Pokémon Black and White 2, I had high hopes for the game. This wasn't for the new aspects of the game like Pokéwood (Pokémon Hollywood) or even the chance to explore new areas of the world. No, the thing I was most excited to see was the return of Team Plasma.

In each Pokémon game since the original, there is some organisation of criminals who are trying to capture Pokémon for nefarious purposes — mainly world domination. But in the original Black and White, we have Team Plasma, whose goal is to free all Pokémon from their trainers.

On one level, Pokémon battles can be looked at as a glorified version of non-lethal dog fighting. After all, humans train these generally peaceful animals to fight — and win fame and fortune for it. So right off the bat an argument against animal cruelty could be used to support Team Plasma's actions.

Of course, that view discounts the game-changing fact that Pokémon have language. And I don't just mean language between those of the same species. It seems that all Pokémon understand English to some degree (or else how could you command them in battle) and, moreover, some of them are even capable of learning and speaking English. At that point — the point where you can truly communicate with them — they are no longer intelligent pets; they are people. They are people that you catch in the wild, trap in a tiny cage, and force to fight for your amusement.

This is what Team Plasma is trying to stop — not animal cruelty but the enslavement of a race of people.

But Pokémon battles are the least of what Pokémon do in the human world: The entire world's economy is based on them. They are everything from nurses' aides to miners, actors to construction workers. Sure, humans often work alongside their Pokémon, but there's one major difference: humans can quit and return home whenever they want.

In the original Black and White, Team Plasma is run by a teenaged boy named "N." Raised alongside Pokémon who had been abused in their captivity, he wants nothing more than to free all Pokémon from their bondage and return them to the wild. To do this, he sends Team Plasma from town to town, asking people to give up their Pokémon voluntarily. And when this fails, he seeks to become the Pokémon champion (though his Pokémon are volunteers that he releases after each battle) and strives to befriend a legendary Pokémon in the hope of becoming famous enough to convince the masses to free their slaves.

So N is clearly the good guy of this story, right? He seeks, through peaceful means, to free an entire race from slavery — though, admittedly some of his underlings' motives/actions are not so pure.

And where does your character come in? Are you the Malcolm X to his Martin Luther King, Jr — taking a more violent path to free the Pokémon? Hell no. You are the one trying to stop him. And as N is undoubtedly a hero by pretty much any definition of the word, then you must be the villain of the story.

Oh sure, your character claims that his/her Pokémon are friends, not slaves (and your Pokémon agree). But honestly, when was the last time you forced your friends to live inside a little ball you wore on your belt and only allowed them to come out when you needed them to fight. Just because slaves are happy being slaves doesn't mean they aren't slaves.

In any other game N would be the hero — and probably the player character — but in Black and White, I got to watch my well-meaning (but still villainous) character slowly corrupt N and convince him that slavery is OK if we're not bad masters. It was horrible, terrible — and an utterly fantastic twisting of morality.

Though you may not agree with my interpretation of the characters, I loved that Black and White had enough moral ambiguity to allow me to interpret the game that way. So I was definitely looking forward to more of the same in Black and White 2.

What I got, on the other hand, was a new Team Plasma whose new goal is not the freedom of Pokémon but to...

...take over the world.

Well, it was nice while it lasted.

Pokémon White Version 2 and Pokémon Black Version 2 were released on June 23, 2012, in Japan and will be released in PAL territories on October 12, 2012.


Comments

    Well, now there are two Team Plasmas.
    One lead by Ghetsis, who want pretty much what they wanted in the first game.
    And another lead by the guy with the stupid glasses.
    He's the whole take over the world kinda guy.

    I liked the fact that in Pokemon White (the version I have) N gets Reshiram and I got Zekrom, it fit really well as it highlighted his (albeit misguided and manipulated) purity with my character's status as the "black knight." Black and White was the first time I've really felt invested in the actual story of a Pokemon game. I was surprised and highly satisfied by the angle White took.

    I think Pokemon Black and White have to be my favourite Pokemon games in terms of the story they told.

    Richard, I beleive you should clarify that with your rather biased article that the whole 'Pokemon Liberation' goal was just a front maintained such that Ghetsis could work on his own goal in secret.

    Had N and Team Plasma been more effective this would have worked perfectly, as everyone would have released their Pokemon, then Ghetsis would have been able to fly in and take power as the only remaining Pokemon Trainer. However, many members of Team Plasma did not even share the beliefs of their 'Leader', N, such as those who forcibly stole and abused Bianca's Munna.

    That is why there is two factions in B2W2; the members who actually believed in N remain in their white getup and help you for the most part, while the ones loyal to Ghetsis became their own group - Neo Plasma, if you will - whose aims are pretty much Ghetsis' original goal of ultimate power, except this time they're more brutal about it. Spoilers below.

    BEGIN SPOILERS
    Ghetsis no longer cares about achieving his goal the peaceful way, he just wants it whatever it takes. To that end, He even enslaves Kyurem, and forces it to kill the player - not battle, KILL - only failing because N returns to save the player, albeit losing his dragon in the process.
    END SPOILERS

    Also, your whole spiel about Pokemon having language and whatnot originates mostly with the anime, which is non-canon to the games. While some Pokemon do have near- or even super-human intelligence, the fact remains that Pokemon have no organised society and are thus ineveitably the "other animals" of the Pokemon world. And that assumes the Pokemon world is our world, which, being a fantasy RPG, it is really not. Stop trying to apply real-world adult logic to a fantasy kids game.

    did you not pay attention to the part in black and white 1 where N's dad only wanted pokemon and people seperate so he could take over the world and plasma where environmental extremists just like peta.

    It's an interesting argument, but as people above has said it falls flat when you put it in context. Plasma are essentially the Pokemon version of PETA, acting to unreasonable extremes in defense of their values. And then of course is the fact that the whole 'wanting to free Pokemon to save them' thing was a front to weakening trainers as a means to take over the world.

    The subject has a lot of potential to be touched upon, but as with all divisive ideals it needs to be handled from a moderate, and dare I say more complex stance, not a black-and-white 'it's completely right or completely wrong.'

    in all seriousness i wouldnt be surprised if theres a whale-achu or something that you have to harpoon.

    in all seriousness i wouldnt be surprised if theres a whale-achu or something that you have to harpoon.

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