Pokémon Is One Of The Creepiest Dystopian Societies Ever

Pokémon Is One Of The Creepiest Dystopian Societies Ever
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For 20 years, Pokémon has had the reputation of a cheery kid’s franchise. But under the veneer of Ash and co.’s adventures, there lies one of the most sinister dystopias around. To celebrate Pokémon‘s 20th birthday (and its newest games), here’s a few reasons as to why the Pokénation is much more terrifying than you realised.

Yes, It’s All Basically Cockfighting

Let’s get the most obvious one out of the way: the core of Pokémon is about wild animals being enslaved and then pitted against each other in violent combat for both fun and profit. Not only are these fights vastly popular spectator sports for the public, but the best Pokémon trainers are held in the highest regard and are lauded with titles and prize money. Every little kid dreams of becoming a Pokémon master when they head out on their adventures. Speaking of which…

It’s Traditional to Send Pre-Teens on Dangerous, Country-Wide Treks

Ash is only 11 or 12 (more recent protagonists in the games were aged up to be around 14 or 16) when he’s sent off on his merry way by his mum to go be a Pokémon trainer, with nothing but the clothes on his back, some Pokéballs and a Pokédex. He’s basically kicked out of the house to go not just fight wild animals — and let’s bear in mind that there’s some legitimately messed up Pokémon out there in that tall grass — but traverse across an entire country, arid deserts, active volcanoes, treacherous waters, in a bid to be the very best, like no one ever was. If that wasn’t bad enough, this is almost seen as a coming of age, rite of passage thing in the Pokéverse — the protagonist’s parents and other adults throughout the games often fondly recall the days when they too were forced to leave home on a nightmarish survivalist trek.

City Infrastructure Is Centred Solely Around Pokémon Battles

It’s less obvious in the anime series, but take a look around your average town in the Pokémon games and you come to realise some very odd things. Where are the schools? The hospitals? Government buildings? Financial institutions? Basic civic planning is worryingly absent from human society, but you can be guaranteed that every town has a Pokécenter, a Pokémart and (almost every town) a Pokémon Gym. The basic needs of the populace don’t seem to exist, but if you want a Pokémon battle, you’re catered for. You’re the only thing catered for.

Pokémon Champions Might Actually Be the Government

There’s the occasional mayor of a town in the TV show, but outside of that, there doesn’t actually seem to be any governing bodies for each Pokémon region. So who’s paying for everything? Who pays for infrastructure and highways between towns? Who pays public sector employees like Police Officers and Pokécenter nurses? (And more on them in a bit.)

Considering there’s no real government on the show, and considering how every town is set up to cater to Pokémon battles, the most obvious choice is that each Region’s Elite Four and Gym Leaders are some sort of regional government… which means people rule based on their Pokémon-fighting skill, and nothing else. To paraphrase Monty Python, the ability to know when to deploy Squirtle is no basis for a system of government.

Nobody Questions the Cloned Civil Servants

It’s a long running joke in Pokémon that every Pokécenter is staffed by a Nurse Joy, or how every police department is made up of Officer Jennys — but never does anyone stop to question how there are so many of them running about. They can’t be identical twins, as there’s so many of them. Are they cloned creations from the original Joy and Jenny? Androids? Ordinary citizens who undergo plastic surgery to become the idealised poster child of their respective industries? No matter which way you slice it, the answer cannot be good.

Pokémon Are Indentured Slaves

Who else is part of the workforce aside from Joy and Jenny? Pokémon, of course. Pokémon are put to task at a variety of jobs: Gogoats are used as a Taxi service in Pokémon X/Y‘s Lumiose City. Chanseys are used as medical assistants. Pokémon are members of the Police force. They’re used to perform manual labour, like Rhyhorns and Machamps. Hell, part of the Gym Leader Lieutenant Surge‘s backstory is that he served in the Army, flying fighter planes that used Electric Pokémon as a power source, confirming that Pokémon even play a role in the military — in at least a support role, if not as active combatants.

It’s not just that Pokémon are used in this way, it’s that even in these jobs they’re never in a position of power. Chansey reports to Nurse Joy, Officer Jenny deputises Pokémon, Construction Pokémon report to a human site manager. And yet not only do they never get promoted into management, we’ve never actually seen them get paid, either.

Highly Advanced Technology Is Used to Better Humanity and Abuse Pokémon

It’s pretty obvious that the human societies of the Pokénation are very technologically advanced, even beyond ourselves. They have renewable energy sources (who needs fossil fuels when you’ve got Pokémon to generate power?), commercial-grade holocommunication devices, the list goes on. But the craziest technology is reserved for basically abusing domesticated Pokémon.

As the above video shows, Pokéballs operate by converting a Pokémon, a sentient being, into some sort of digital energy for transportation and storage — just think about the size of a computer we’d need to store the brain functions of a human, and these things are the size of your palm! But while some fan theories believe Pokémon stored in Pokéballs or on home PCs (yup, commercially viable computers can store oodles of living creatures as digital data) are housed in a sort of Star Trek-esque holodeck to keep them happy, there’s evidence to believe that this is not the case, and that Pokémon can still think and react to stimuli within the confines of a Pokéball. They have been shown communicating with trainers and receiving commands from inside the ball on multiple occasions, which when think about being disembodied and turned into a still-active nebulous consciousness inside someone’s pocket, seems horrifying.

The Human-Pokémon Relationship Is Completely Insane

So aside from the slavery and the technological abuse, the entire spectrum of relationships between humans and Pokémon is absurd. They’re beloved pets, work colleagues (although clearly below them in this regard), transportation, sportsmen, even a source of food, all at once. How do people even begin to comprehend all of that? Well, that’s because…

Society Is Indoctrinated to Believe Pokémon Want This

Yup. Despite the messed up nature of humanity’s relationship with these powerful creatures, everyone is a-OK with it because from a young age, it’s hammered into people that Pokémon just love to serve the human race. In the very first episode of the anime, Ash’s Pokédex reads an entry on Wild Pokémon states that wild Pokémon are extremely jealous of their domesticated counterparts — supposedly hence why they will attack a trainer’s Pokémon rather than the trainer themselves when you encounter them.

So if we take the tradition of sending every young kid out on their own Pokémon journey as a rite of passage, basically every kid is going to be told that by their Pokédex. And why shouldn’t they trust it? After all, it tells them so many wonderful factoids about Pokémon, this one must be true too. Scientists like Professor Oak influence all these young kids into thinking Pokémon are eager slaves, and anyone who questions that and wants to see Pokémon free — like N and Team Plasma in Pokémon Black/White — are branded criminals on the same level as actual terrorist groups like Team Rocket or Team Magma and Aqua.

But considering all the shit Pokémon have to put up with, maybe they do want it — or at least, over the centuries have come to accept this as their way of life. Which is just as chilling a thought to consider as well.

And It’s All Happening Under Our Own Noses

But here’s the real kicker: This dystopian nation apparently happily co-exists with the rest of our own civilised world. Remember Lieutenant Surge from earlier? Part of his official backstory is that before coming to Kanto he served in the United States military, and he’s referred to as “The Lightning American”. Another Gym Leader, Fantina, speaks French as her native tongue.

These two characters are the only ones so far with confirmed origins from outside the Pokénation, but they confirm that international relationships between it and other countries are good enough to allow immigration — and that the rest of the world is apparently fine with these animal abusing, technologically advanced nutjobs is incredibly depressing to consider.


  • I’ve always wondered what happens to all of Ash’s abandoned Pokemon from all the previous seasons that he never visits or tags in. No way Oak has enough land to accommodate all the ones he would be storing.

    The animal fighting theme is fairly obvious from the get-go though; it’s like how in X-COM 2 you essentially play terrorists.

    • The ‘box’ system in the games is pretty damn terrifying. Pokémon that don’t make the 6 limit cut get trapped in some technological void that’s only recently been invented by bill and they stay there forever unless you think to take them out.

          digimon are pokemon that’ve been abandoned in the pc’s for so long they’ve completely merged with the digital world, then they’re also free to take on whatever form they want when they join, or at least is kinda close to what they were before.
          They all keep the -mon moniker to remind them of where they came from & what they were

          Though, that then just begs the question; were there and/or what happened to the original inhabitants of the digital world when the superpowered mon came along

    • They are at professor oaks property, like a open farm or something. He does visit them from time to time but I guess they are just kept in captivity.

      • To be fair Oak stores a lot of Pokemon and not just for Ash; they only show Ash’s running around in what would be a fairly small farm relative to the number of Pokemon Oak must store for various trainers.

      • “Don’t worry Little Billy, your pet just went to live on Grandpa’s farm. There’s plenty of room for it to run around…”

  • I have to say as much as I enjoy playing the games if pokemon was real and people actually caught and used them to cockfight I’d completely against it. Does make me wonder why I play the games

    • Because your a well adjusted human with the ability to tell the difference between fiction and reality?

      • I can tell the different between fiction and reality. The question is more “Why am I playing for entertainment something that is morally indefensible?”. It’s part of the reason I don’t play GTA style games either. I just stopped to think for a moment “why would anyone enjoy playing a fantasy where you just do terrible things?”.

        • Lets inject a bit of grey into there and let me ask did you play mass effect or similar games and play a renegade style hero?

  • This sort of article comes out every time a pokemon game Releases.

    As for the Joy/Jenny thing, it’s a playful stab at the Hardware the original game came out on when all games copied the Shop Keeper and Inn Keepers across all the towns.

    The Protagonist is meant to represent the Player, hence they are aged at the Target Audience.

    I know I’m commenting in this thread but is anybody else bored of the Over Analysed kids Cartoon/Game?

    • As for the Joy/Jenny thing, it’s a playful stab at the Hardware the original game came out on when all games copied the Shop Keeper and Inn Keepers across all the towns.

      I always assumed it was just because they didn’t want to write a new cop/nurse every time they get to a new town. Like how Jessie, James and Meowth follow them around giving them an easy bad guy and a stable cast a six year old can follow. I guess it’s probably a little of both.

      I know I’m commenting in this thread but is anybody else bored of the Over Analysed kids Cartoon/Game?

      It’s getting a bit tired. I think a big part is that at this point no matter what the show/game we’re just hearing the same basic arguments repeated over and over getting lazier each time. This article for instance just feels like he’s unenthusiastically rotating between obvious points and dulled down points other people already made.
      Even when they’re making a new point it feels like they’re building it on arguments that have already been done to death. Taking observations from the Skeletor was the good guy argument and applying them to the Shredder was the real victim argument. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard one of these that felt like it didn’t work backwards from the point it’s trying to make. Unless you count stuff like the Frozen-Tangled sister theory but those are actual attempts to put a plausible twist on something rather than hunting things to intentionally take out of context.

  • ‘They’re beloved pets, work colleagues (although clearly below them in this regard), transportation, sportsmen, even a source of food, all at once. ‘

    how is this any different from real life animals?
    you got domesticated house animals, ox & horses for transport & work, even police dogs

  • What if you think of it this way; the entire universe is just a game, a program. That explains multiple Joys, Jennys and in the game, Bug Catchers. Why walking levels up your Pokemon at the day care, why Team Rocket would not just grab you and throw you out, or use guns, just throwing out a purple rat monster and when getting defeated just stand there for all eternity. Why all trainers stand there for all eternity. Why Ash doesn’t ever age, or worry about his father. Why you can insert TMs and HMs into Pokemon. Why you can fly on small birds and use escape ropes and start spinning somehow. Types and type advantages. The ability to breathe fire, shoot lightning, be able to live in volcanoes or be not having fins or anything that would help them swim yet they can swim anyway. Why you can catch the creators of the universe, time and space. Why children are the ones that can go out and adults don’t do anything. How something as doofy and heavy as Dragonite can lift off the ground with it’s pathetic wings. Why you cannot jump up ledges. Why there aren’t any casualties with kids handling gigantic dragons and fish. Why you never see Pokemon preying on other Pokemon. Why the world around seems so modern and yet is super high tech. Why you can name your character whatever name and nobody bats an eye. VIDEO GAMES. I am yet to see who plays them.

  • I figure there is some sort of addictive stimulus inside the pokeball..

    The pokemon only fight so that they can go back into the ball and return to the addiction. their love of the trainer could be akin to Stockholm syndrome, or to an addicts relationship with their dealer..

    So in essence Pokemon trainers are potentially like Pimps, subjugating another being for their own wealth or gains, and then rewarding them with something addictive that keeps them loyal..

    Maybe Pikachu is just being street wise and saying no to drugs..

  • Didn’t Team Plasma just steal Pokemon and use them themselves though? Kind of like what it seemed like Team Skull (and maybe Tema Rocket, unless they sold them) did?

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