Pokemon - morally ambiguous?

My wife and I recently started letting our 7-year-old daughter CB watch Pokemon. I’ve heard of the show for years, but never really got into what the plot was all about.

Since my daughter figured out the DVR, she’s recorded every episode that comes up. I’ve watched a few, and was a little disturbed.

A ten-year-old - Ash - wanders around the world with two of his pre-adult friends. (yeah, that happens :rolleyes: )

They have Pokemon (kept in tiny containers until needed) which they train to fight other trainers’ Pokemon in judged contests.

Isn’t the latter what Michael Vick got sentenced 2 years’ prison time for?

The cartoon isn’t bloody per se, but Pokemon are injured after their battles and have to be treated.

It seems to promote that animals (Pokemon, dogs, whatever) are just tools for us to use however we see fit. Sure, the human characters seem to love their Pokemon, but they’re also just as willing to send them into battle against stronger foes.

Seriosly rethinking CB’s programming choices. :dubious:

The first, and really, the only, thing you need to know about Pokemon as a parent is that it’s exclusively a phenomenon of the 7 to 10 age group. As soon as she’s old enough to grasp who Hilary Duff is (or to fall madly in love with Horses, or Your Choice of male bubblegum popstar), you’ll be slack-jawed with amazement at how fast the Pokemon cards disappear under the bed and the Pokemon DVDs get shuttled to the bottom of the heap.

So, don’t worry about it. It’s a phase. Really. And perhaps more so than most other kid phases.

[ul][li] A nine-year-old wanders around the world with a tin man, a lion, and a scarecrow. Yeah, like that really happens.[/li][li] People train dragons to fight for them by belching fire at floating “threads”.[/li][li] Hobbits are injured after their battles and have to be treated.[/li][li] Timmy treats Lassie as a tool, to use however he sees fit. [/li][/ul]


Fantasy is fantasy, and normal kids “get” that. CB doesn’t seriously believe that it’s possible for a ten-year-old to wander the world and not have to go to school and such, any more than she seriously believes that a nine-year-old could wander the world in the company of a tin man, lion, and scarecrow.

And it would strange to her if the pokemon weren’t injured after their battles and needed to be healed, because she knows that’s how things work: you get hurt when you fight. I would say that actually that’s a more useful lesson, for her to have it reinforced that “war” comes with a cost–people get hurt.

Hearing a story in which shepherds, cops, or soldiers send dogs into danger doesn’t predispose a kid to grow up to torture dogs. And a story in which every human character, even the sympathetic ones, treat the horses in their care as tools doesn’t produce a warped kid.

Those kinds of stories actually help foster a sense of empathy in the kid. She empathizes with the huskies struggling through snowdrifts, and with the horses pulling carriages. Pity and terror are awakened, not a bad thing, because it shows a developing imagination.

Really, she’ll be fine.

Vick taught his dogs how to send fireballs and lightning bolts at each other? :eek:

What bothers me more than the prizefighting is wondering what the people in the Poke-verse eat, when the “monsters” are clearly intelligent: they can communicate cross species, at least one learned to read and speak human language, and they’re shown to be able to plan fairly far ahead even in non-combat situations. Even a good number of the vegetation is sentient!

I can’t say much about the show, as I’ve only been forced to watch part of one…but I guess it’s not made for parents.

My kids (grade one) recently started coming home with requests to trade Pokemon cards and trying to inform us of the benefits of each kind and what makes them good. They don’t really get it.

We thought we’d get a pack for each of them so they could see the purpose of the different sections and how the game is played. We’d hoped to foster some sense of value to the different cards and make sure they understood the process. We failed…maybe when they are older. The card game at its simplest is difficult to explain, and at its most complicated is terribly involved.

Around the same time we ‘inherited’ a Pokemon game for Nintendo handhelds. I’ve been playing it to gain insight…yeah, that’s the ticket…into the mystique. It’s cock-fighting without the blood and a thousand more variables. The fights are actually quite antiseptic, as the loser ends up fainting.

Overall, I would rather they weren’t involved or interested in the whole thing, but since it is popular on the playground what else can we do? (I realize that we could deny the existence, but they had already received various cards in the first 2 months).

The really annoying thing is the prevalence of similar games to which the kids do not differentiate. Backugon, Harry Potter cards, DragonballZ, Yu Gi Oh!, etc. all of which require a heavy investment and continue to develop new variations which are subtly different but need to be included to be up to date.

Maybe it’s like Narnia. In Narnia, there are talking horses and bears and such and non-talking horses and bears and such. Talking Horses and Bears and such get treated more or less like people. Those which don’t talk are treated like animals usually are.

What, nothing about the bossy redhead in a miniskirt and thigh-high boots?

Keep in mind that Pokemon are never seriously injured, much less killed. A Pokemon that loses a fight is “knocked out” and has to go rest. It’s the epitome of Bugs Bunny/Road Runner cartoonish violence, and one of the very few “fighting” cartoons where the fighters are never in real peril. As far as Pokemon trainers sending their monsters into battle, keep in mind that, in context of the Pokemon universe, it’s a game where the competing trainers are generally friendly, and once again, the monsters are never seriously hurt. They might as well be playing ping-pong.

father of boys, aged 8 and 5

No, in the show basically all Pokemon fight(it’s been a very long time since I’ve been interested in the show, but I can’t recall ever seeing Meowth, the talking Pokemon, battle).

Ash’s Pikachu is one of the most intelligent Pokemon on the show and it ends up participating in the vast majority of battles. And of course, for dramatic purposes, Pikachu usually ends up getting beaten on pretty badly before pulling out the win.

Pray they never get into Yu-Gi-Oh. (That is still on TV, right?)

The average kid knows the difference between reality and cartoons. I wouldn’t worry too much. There are far worse shows to watch.

Hey now…the first rule of Pokemon Club is you do NOT talk about Pokemon Club. :smiley:

In the games (and presumably the Pokemon Special manga), the Pokemon are rather less sentient, and quite happily eat each other.

In the anime…not so much. One has to either not consider that aspect, or else assume there are regular type animals hanging around somewhere, or everyone’s vegetarian. (With a handful of exceptions, the grass-type Pokemon don’t really resemble potential food-type plants.)

As to the OP, Pokemon are in a rather nebulous nether-region between person, pet, and work animal. But, one point all of those categories have in common - for moral, and practical reasons, you don’t mistreat them. This holds in the case of Pokemon, particularly in the anime.

In the pre-GBA games, by definition, any Pokemon the player uses will be a fighter, but in the anime, and even in the background of the games, there are Pokemon with non-violent natures, who will be entertainers, or assist their Trainers with their work, or simply be companions, depending on the nature of the Pokemon and Trainer - a little of this also leaked into the actual play side of the games in Generation III with the introduction of Pokemon contests - but you can still only groom your Pokemon as competitors, rather than workers, or non-competitive entertainers.

Battling, due to the nature of Pokemon, and the Pokemon/Trainer relationship is more like boxing than dog fighting. Something all involved enter into willingly.

In the anime, attempting to get a Pokemon to fight when it doesn’t want to will be frustrating at best, dangerous at worst - for the Pokemon, or, if it’s like Ash’s Pikachu or Charmeleon, for the Trainer. This is only shown occasionally - Ash’s misadventures with his more intractable Pokemon, mostly - but it exists as a background note in the series. Even if it’s not of the sort of nature to turn violent against it’s trainer, and doesn’t die, the games show us that causing a Pokemon to dislike you yields sub-par results in training, so even a Trainer who doesn’t feel a moral need to treat his Pokemon well has a practical incentive to do so.

Conversely, refusing to let a scrappy Pokemon fight is also intensely frustrating to the Pokemon, and bound to put a strain on the relationship between Pokemon and Trainer. This facet of things, I can only remember being addressed once - a Trainer adored her Pokemon (I want to say it was a Snubull, but it’s been too long since I saw the episode - it was small, and I think pink, but that only narrows it down to a handful) and didn’t want it to get hurt, so she never had it fight - it, however, wanted to fight, so it ran away repeatedly, until Ash & co. found it, and sussed out what it wanted, so its Trainer let it fight to its heart’s content.

There are other Pokemon in unambiguous Trainer/Pokemon relationships whose trainers don’t make them fight - James’ Chimecho, for instance - but they generally don’t mind. It’s all about recognizing the Pokemon’s nature. (Meowth of Team Rocket is a very strange case.)

As to Pokemon in Pokeballs (Heh, balls </is twelve>), clearly, it’s not too terribly unpleasant for them, as their affection for their owners continues to grow while in them. But we don’t know exactly what it’s like inside one.

We do have enough evidence to convincingly speculate, however. We know, from Bill’s PC, and it’s variants and derivatives - and the existence of Porygon - that Pokemon (and possibly people) can exist as data. The visual effect of using a Pokeball - and the fact that the Pokeball is several times smaller than all but the smallest Pokemon (and even a Skitty would find a Pokeball-sized space a tight fit under normal circumstances) - we can safely assume that’s what’s happening inside a Pokeball.

As events outside the Pokeball effect the Pokemon inside - up to and including prompting evolutions - and effects of burns, or poisoning, continue to advance, we also know they’re not in stasis in there, and have some awareness of the outside world.

Now, we come to pure speculation.

My thought on the nature of Pokeballs, is that they put the Pokemon in a simulated environment similar to its natural habitat. Further, as the Pokemon in a trainer’s party can have an effect on each other, I propose that all a trainer’s Pokeballs are linked in a network, allowing them to interact with each other and the trainer.

Yes, I have given way too much thought to the subject of Pokemon.

Thread over, Tengu wins.

I’m reminded of the “Pokemon fans over the age of six” spot on the Geek Hierarchy. :stuck_out_tongue:

Fair warning from a parent who has Been There: Pokemon cards are a total money pit. You never buy “just one pack”, because it ignites the collector’s mania from the moment you begin, because all the decks have different cards, so there’s always the need for “just one more”.

My son, now a junior in college, has boxes and boxes of Pokemon cards under his bed upstairs. For years he spent literally ALL his allowance money on Pokemon cards.

He only stopped when he moved up to Yu-Gi-Oh cards, and then it was Magic: The Gathering cards, and now it’s D&D paraphernalia.

In retrospect, I wish we had set some limits for him, because that’s a lot of allowance money that was totally wasted on cards that quite frankly are never going to be collectible on eBay.

Keep in mind that the pokemon tv show is an adaptation of a video game, and therefore subject to the laws of video game logic. Little kids who play Mario Bros know that jumping on turtles won’t make them explode into coins, and that if you’re hit with a ball of fire you’ll suffer injuries beyond merely losing a health point. It’s a cartoon, so there’s no need to worry about any slippery slopes leading to real life dog fighting.

Oh, come now. Those will probably be worth almost what you paid for them in just two or three hundred years. :wink:

Is Pokemon still that big? I remember it beginning when I was nine or so with Red and Blue, but I had no idea that it hadn’t completely fizzled out by now.

What are you talking about? Those boxes of old Pokecards will totally make me rich someday! Right? Right?

Aw, crap.

I don’t know how big it is, now - I just play the games and occasionally watch the series if I’ve nothing better to do when it’s on - but it’s still chugging along both in Japan and North America with enough steam to support the video games (on to the fourth generation[sup]1[/sup]), tv series, and card game. (And there’s at least one manga still running in Japan.)

[sup]1[/sup] ‘Generations’ refer to which handheld the games are on - Gameboy, Gameboy Color, Gameboy Advance, or DS. Each generation added another region, another set of protagonists, and a lot more Pokemon to the Pokemon world. It’s also not a bad shorthand to refer to the equivalent waves of the TV series, but there are enough differences between the two to make the fit less than entirely snug.

Of course it’s cruel !