Following the international release of Pokemon go, everyone under the age of thirty has once again gone f*$&ing bananas for the world of virtual pocket monsters. Gamers are leaving the house, making friends in real life and patronising local businesses in order to catch these clever amalgamations of ones and zeros, and the app is proving more popular than both Twitter and Tinder. But let’s take a second to appreciate just how well and truly screwed the Pokemon universe is.
First, it’s dog fighting. That’s literally it. You select the biggest, strongest animal you own and pit it against other animals for money. This analogy has been played out thousands of times before, but it’s always good to remind ourselves that, in the Pokeverse, every trainer is a terrible person by default. They actually have schools to teach people about fighting animals and fan clubs to support their favourites. Between that and the apparent ban on gambling that happened somewhere before Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, it seems that the Pokemon universe is actually being run by some shadowy, ultra-conservative government who believe that gambling is sinful and man has dominion over beasts. It gets even worse when you consider that N, the antagonist of Pokemon Black and White, wants to free Pokemon from this slave driving, dog fighting world and somehow he’s still the bad guy.
But what can we expect from a world whose entire economy is based on battling Pokemon? The only jobs seem to be animal fighting, animal testing, selling animal products or healing animals that lost. There is literally no other industry within the Pokemon universe. No jobs, no prospects, no money (which explains why Red’s house only has one bedroom). You can’t even be an officer Jenny unless you are born with the right face, or are willing to undergo what I can only imagine is horrifically painful cosmetic surgery. Just try and imagine Ash Ketchum as an adult; what’s his job? Gym Leader? Head of the Elite 4? Has he been doing the same thing day in day out since he was ten, until he inevitably snaps and puts a gun in his mouth?
But even if Ash doesn’t kill himself, the Pokeverse doesn’t have very long left. All of the characters (Excluding N) use Pokemon, even if they don’t battle them. That is not a sustainable environmental model. Think about it; here in the real world, we endanger species by accident, without training millions of children to systematically hunt them down. What about food? Do the characters eat Pokemon? This article by Time suggests they do, which means that millions of Pokemon have to be bred and slaughtered just to keep the world running. Those eggs you like hatching so much? They could be someone’s breakfast. Enjoy your Piri Piri Pidgey, Murderer.
But the real problem with the Pokemon universe isn’t the job market, or the trainers, or the (presumably) gargantuan suicide rate: it’s evolution.
In the Pokemon universe, there are two possibilities.
Possibility A is that Pokemon were never meant to evolve. It’s possible that through genetic tampering, humans have forced living creatures through an evolution which would normally take hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of years. We know that they have the technology (think Mewtwo and Porygon, as well as Pokemon stones), and it would also explain why Pokemon like Scyther and Onix ‘developed’ evolutions.
The implications of this are horrific. It would mean that, dissatisfied with simply mistreating and fighting animals, humans played God to make sure they had the strongest, smartest animal armies that they could. Why? To take over the world. The third gym of the first game is manned by Lieutenant ‘LT’ Surge, a former soldier-turned-gym leader. In his dialogue, Surge specifically mentions that his Pokemon saved his life in ‘the War’. War? In the Pokemon Universe? This implies that any government has to be run by the people with the strongest Pokemon or, as they are also known, the people who are really good at abusing animals. These are not the sort of people you want in power.
Possibility B is that evolution happens naturally in the Pokeverse. The implications of this are that, since Pokemon only evolve through experiencing battle, the ONLY reason for Pokemon to exist is to fight each other. They are under constant threat of attack from each other, and as soon as a wild Pokemon becomes stronger than the rest it will kill them and probably eat the remains. The only reason Ash’s Pokemon tolerate him is because he can make them stronger, allowing them to slice through their friends and families like a farmer reaping wheat. That would explain why Charizard turned into a douchebag when he evolved, as he had already reached peak badassery, and also why Team Rocket always lose and resort to stealing; Weak Trainers lose battles, and Pokemon stay away from them. We already know that there are super-intelligent Pokemon, so it’s even likely that the Badge system, gauging a trainers experience, is a fake method of control that Pokemon allow humanity so they will keep creating evolutions until the Pokemon are powerful enough to take over and massacre every single human. Or maybe they’ll just keep the humans in balls and make them fight, because they have a sense of humour.