The Under-Rated Maturity and Depth of Pokemon

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The Under-Rated Maturity and Depth of Pokemon

Postby J_Faulkner » Wed Dec 30, 2009 10:21 pm

Over the last decade, the Pokemon anime series has undergone a deluge of criticism from both anime fans and non-anime viewers alike. Critics often attempt to tear it to shreds on the basis that it is too imature and lacks any depth. How it is nothing but a marketing exercise designed to steal money from the younger generation. How it gives anime a bad name. How it encourages materialism and wastes the time of school-children.

This is a myth.

Those of us who are perceptive already know that the first series of Pokemon is markedly different from the later series. The animation is different, the story-lines are more mature, the characters portray surprising depth for an anime aimed at young kids (say 6-12 yrs old) and there are episodes that provoke questions among children and adults alike. It is a little-known fact, obscured by the blind hatred of critics, that the maturity drops off like a cliff in the second series, as the creators slowly bowed to commercial pressure.

In this thread, I will cast a critical eye over the first series of Pokemon and establish its under-rated maturity and depth.

******************************************************

Episode 1: "Pokémon, I Choose You!"

It is contradictory - and somewhat shocking - that the first episode in an anime geared supposedly towards brainless "fun" should be so dark.

People say that Evangelion series subverts the common otaku's notion of an anime in its latter half. In a similar vein, the first half of the first episode of Pokémon appears to be just like any other brainless childish anime ... but it serves to set up a second half that crushes any preconceived notions.

In the first half, we see Ash Ketchum from Pallet Town starting out on his quest to become a Pokémon master. However, note that this apparently simple-minded plot actually hides the dreams of Pokémon creator Satoshi Tajiri, who is also the writer for the anime series. Ash, or Satoshi as he is known in Japan, wants to become an expert in the art of capturing and studying Pokémon, which includes bug-types such as Caterpie. In reality, Satoshi Tajiri wanted to become an entomologist, when he was a child.

It is readily apparent that Ash in Pokémon is Tajiri's avatar. This remarkable insight, which no doubt escapes the average critic and anime fan, bears upon the plot of Pokémon throughout the series in subtle ways, which I will touch upon in due course. Suffice to say for now that it is no coincidence that Ash achieves one of his greatest epiphanies in the presence of Butterfree.

The first twist in the plot comes when Ash wakes up late and becomes forcefully saddled with an unruly Pikachu as his first Pokémon. Ash tries his best to befriend his little companion, but all to no avail; his impatience becomes all too evident, angst etched in his face. As the plot develops, Ash winds up in terrible trouble as he mistakenly angers a fearsome Spearow flock, which chases both Ash and Pikachu through fields, bushes and rivers. It is in this sequence of events that we have the iconic scene where Ash borrows Misty's ill-fated bike. Also, in a nod to the cruelty of nature, the Spearows are shown to graphically maul Pikachu. This is evolution and survival of the fittest at its finest, and thus this scene betrays a surprising sense of depth and maturity.

Ash rides his bike with a crippled Pikachu, riding for his life with a flock of vicious Spearows in hot pursuit. This is a desperate situation and to add to his worries, rain starts to fall and hinder his peripheral vision. Then disaster strikes! In a chilling turn of events, Ash falls from his bike ... surely now his fate is death. In a quite incredible scene of existential pain, Ash stares aghast at the Pikachu lying beside him, which was about to die. This emotional rollercoaster reaches heavenly proportions when Ash decides to use himself as a human shield to protect Pikachu - in other words, to sacrifice his own life for an animal that he barely knows. This is true compassion. This is true courage. This is not what you'd expect from a kid's cartoon.

When one shows compassion and courage, amazing things can happen. And it is no different in Ash's diabolical situation. Pikachu's erstwhile blase attitude towards Ash is transmogrified into deep respect, its heart revitalised by the pure bravery in Ash's heart, and it leaps to Ash's defence as the Spearows dived at Ash with crushing force.

The Spearows are killed with a brutal electric shock.

This episode brings the dog-eat-dog nature of reality to young children. Fight or die.

It can clearly be seen that this anime is no mere child's play but has important lessons that apply to reality. The strained relationship between Ash and Pikachu illustrates, on a psychological level, the mental immaturity of Ash and how he lacks the patience to nurture the animal instincts within that has to be harnessed with patience and care. The wild beast from within has to be tamed. On a societal level, this relationship represents the strained relationship between man and beast, which has resulted in the unsustainabiliy of many of Earth's ecosystems. Thus, Pokémon, in just its first episode, highlights the psychic pitfalls within and the practical problems without with equal clarity.

Another key message from the first episode is that you don't always get what you want, yet with faith and courage, events could turn out for the best. Ash did not plan on getting Pikachu, but it turned out to be the Saviour that prevented his untimely death. This is a classic warning against greed. Materially, you may not achieve your heart's desires, but spiritually, you can be fulfilled. This has subtle links to the dangers of materialism in modern societies operating under Super-Capitalism, and alludes to the Great Refusal of Marcuse.

The existential dread felt by Ash when stood alone with the breath of mortality brushing his face echoes that described by Existentialist authors. Thus, this episode teaches the viewer that life is not just about happiness, but about diving to the depths to experience the riches of the unconscious mind. Yet Ash does not go crazy. In fact, filled with an almost supernatural spirit, he momentarily filled the archetypal role of the martyr and was rewarded with a second chance to live - a spiritual rebirth.

Already, we see the surprising depth and maturity of Pokémon with respect to biological, psychological, philsophical, political and religious thought.
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Postby ObsessiveMathsFreak » Wed Dec 30, 2009 11:26 pm

For what it's worth, my own opinions on this are that one does not create a $5 billion dollar franchise by producing a product devoid of merit or substance. As has been mentioned numerous times elsewhere, children are not stupid nor unresponsive to quality in content, and if they appreciate something then that thing generally has merit; sometimes beyond what it is given credit for.

Your comment about Tajiri's early interest in entomology actually brings a lot of things about Pokemon into focus. While it is impossible to ignore the commercial intent of the franchise, it must also be acknowledged that the concept of Pokemon draws on many aspects of biological classification, and indeed the more general desire to explore, explain and organise complex systems. If even one future entomologist or biologist who found their earliest interest in systems emerges from the Pokemon phenomenon, I don't think it can be said to be a vapid hobby.

As a series, the Pokemon anime always seemed to me to actually promote the notion of achievement through effort. An unusual thing in an age which instant gratification is king. Despite its commercial aspects, the series promotes the idea of aspiring to a goal "Becoming a master", yet makes it clear that such goals can only be achieved through constant effort and gradual improvement. In this sense, it never seemed to me to be an altogether negative influence on young children. Obviously, it was a primarily commercial enterprise with the goal of selling as many plastic toys, electronic games and trading cards as possible; but can it really be said that the entire undertaking had no more merit than the collection of Transformers or Teenage Mutant Turtle toys? I think important lessons were being carried across here.

I think that the series had, in and of itself, intrinsic merit beyond that of its commercial message. Indeed, without such merit, it could not possibly have captured the minds of so many children as it did. Children do respond to quality and depth, and it is possible for a series aimed at them to possess these qualities in this context. If we write off children's entertainment as devoid of merit, then only content devoid of merit will be made as children's entertainment.
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Postby Defectron » Wed Dec 30, 2009 11:27 pm

Critics often attempt to tear it to shreds on the basis that it is too imature and lacks any depth


That's not why I dislike the show, the reason why I dislike it is that almost all the characters on the show are damned irritating, especially those doofus's in team rocket.

For what it's worth, my own opinions on this are that one does not create a $5 billion dollar franchise by producing a product devoid of merit or substance. As has been mentioned numerous times elsewhere, children are not stupid nor unresponsive to quality in content, and if they appreciate something then that thing generally has merit; sometimes beyond what it is given credit for.


I dunno, I've watched a lot of childrens programming...and a lot of it is pretty damned bad.
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Postby BrikHaus » Wed Dec 30, 2009 11:58 pm

I'm shocked to see that this isn't a NAveryW thread.

And also, Teh Lizand Befizore Tizime.
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Re: The Under-Rated Maturity and Depth of Pokemon

Postby Eva Yojimbo » Thu Dec 31, 2009 12:12 am

:facepalm:

J_Faulkner wrote:This is true compassion. This is true courage. This is not what you'd expect from a kid's cartoon.
This is pretty basic and maudlin drama and moralizing that you find in all kinds of children's programming. As for the rest of your post it just seems to me like you're taking dramatic archetypes and making something out of them that couldn't have been further away from the series' intentions. FWIW I haven't seen the series in ages and have only a vague recollection of the first series/season but your attempt at elucidating its "depths" didn't inspire me to give it another look in the slightest.
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Postby J_Faulkner » Thu Dec 31, 2009 12:45 am

ObsessiveMathsFreak wrote:For what it's worth, my own opinions on this are that one does not create a $5 billion dollar franchise by producing a product devoid of merit or substance. As has been mentioned numerous times elsewhere, children are not stupid nor unresponsive to quality in content, and if they appreciate something then that thing generally has merit; sometimes beyond what it is given credit for.

Excellent point - there must be something that grabs hold of children for a franchise to be as ultra-successful as Pokemon.

ObsessiveMathsFreak wrote:Your comment about Tajiri's early interest in entomology actually brings a lot of things about Pokemon into focus.

I think this is probably a key fact behind Caterpie being one of Ash's very first Pokemon. It could even be argued that Tajiri tried to relive his wish of becoming an insect expert through the first series of Pokemon. However, he had to let go of his dream in reality and in the series, this was symbolized by Ash letting Butterfree go to pursue its individual existence. Very, very subtle.

ObsessiveMathsFreak wrote:While it is impossible to ignore the commercial intent of the franchise, it must also be acknowledged that the concept of Pokemon draws on many aspects of biological classification, and indeed the more general desire to explore, explain and organise complex systems. If even one future entomologist or biologist who found their earliest interest in systems emerges from the Pokemon phenomenon, I don't think it can be said to be a vapid hobby.

It is noteworthy that Pokemon can be seen to encourage children to take up an interest in animals, since many of the Pokemon are based on real organisms. I totally agree that Pokemon is certainly not a vapid hobby, in moderation of course.

ObsessiveMathsFreak wrote:As a series, the Pokemon anime always seemed to me to actually promote the notion of achievement through effort. An unusual thing in an age which instant gratification is king. Despite its commercial aspects, the series promotes the idea of aspiring to a goal "Becoming a master", yet makes it clear that such goals can only be achieved through constant effort and gradual improvement.

I think this is a prominent theme throughout the first series, and what is even more remarkable about the ending is that Ash failed in his dream to win the Indigo League and hence failed to "become a master". Yet he learns to accept that and move on with the inner belief to better himself and with the realization that winning isn't everything. This is in marked contrast to the second series, where he did not suffer the existential fear of failure he felt before the start of the Indigo League; rather, Ash seemed to be inured to such fear and eventually won the Orange League - how hum-drum indeed.

ObsessiveMathsFreak wrote:I think important lessons were being carried across here.

Agreed.

ObsessiveMathsFreak wrote:If we write off children's entertainment as devoid of merit, then only content devoid of merit will be made as children's entertainment.

If we write off a unique global phenomenon like Pokemon, which it was in the context of children's entertainment, we will write off a real opportunity to unearth the conceptual jewels that can potentially unite children - and by extension, people - of all races, which could be used to promote harmony and unity.

Eva Yojimbo wrote:This is pretty basic and maudlin drama and moralizing that you find in all kinds of children's programming.

What is remarkable is that the themes of death, sacrifice and existential dread appeared in the very first episode, and is portrayed in such a dark and sombre atmosphere, permeated with haunting music and a beautifully moving speech by Ash. Which other children's cartoon can you give that matches this? If you cannot, then Pokemon is indeed a shining example of maturity and depth in children's entertainment, and asks serious questions for adults too.

Eva Yojimbo wrote:As for the rest of your post it just seems to me like you're taking dramatic archetypes and making something out of them that couldn't have been further away from the series' intentions.

Explain the reasoning behind this. Otherwise, I think my analysis is completely legitimate.

Eva Yojimbo wrote:I haven't seen the series in ages and have only a vague recollection of the first series/season

Well, there you go. If you have only a vague recollection, how can you argue against what I've written?
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Postby Eva Yojimbo » Thu Dec 31, 2009 4:25 am

J_Faulkner wrote:What is remarkable is that the themes of death, sacrifice and existential dread appeared in the very first episode, and is portrayed in such a dark and sombre atmosphere, permeated with haunting music and a beautifully moving speech by Ash.
Why didn't you title this thread "the underrated maturity and depth of Pokemon's first episode"?

J_Faulkner wrote:Which other children's cartoon can you give that matches this? If you cannot, then Pokemon is indeed a shining example of maturity and depth in children's entertainment, and asks serious questions for adults too.
Winnie the Pooh had some pretty dark, somber, and even melancholy atmospheres. I remember the episode where Rabbit was forced to let Kessie, a young bird she had saved and nursed back to health, go so she could fly south for the winter or something like that. I cried every time I saw that episode. I'd much rather invest my "shining example of maturity and depth in children's entertainment" in Winnie the Pooh than I would in a series founded on its marketing. I mean, the video game preceded the series for Pete's sake and it had a built in catchphrase for tapping into kids' innate sensibilities for collecting everything of something they love (granted, not the first piece of media/entertainment to do this, but it's an obvious gimmick).

It's just as likely the thinking went something like: "we need to give these characters a powerful introduction so kids will care, so let's throw in some drama about Ash not wanting Pikachu but then later coming to care for him so their attachment will inspire the attachment of kids and those kids will tune in every week to see Ash catch'em all!".

J_Faulkner wrote:Explain the reasoning behind this.
"A key message is that you don't always get what you want, yet with faith and courage events could turn out for the best." - you mean, "when life gives you lemons, make lemonade"? Yeah, that's a really uncommonly expressed theme in all forms of fiction including children's literature.

J_Faulkner wrote:If you have only a vague recollection, how can you argue against what I've written?
Because much like Dessie's analysis of MD Geist I don't have to have seen it to recognize that you're taking archetypal concepts that appear in almost all fiction and focusing on them as something deeply intended to exist in this particular work. For instance, you could take the point you make about "greed and materialism" and apply it to Team Rocket and, oh yeah, every single villain in any children's work that has villains. What I want to know is how Pokemon expresses these things in any kind of unique or profound way.
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Postby Sailor Star Dust » Thu Dec 31, 2009 4:40 am

J_Faulkner wrote:Which other children's cartoon can you give that matches this? If you cannot, then Pokemon is indeed a shining example of maturity and depth in children's entertainment, and asks serious questions for adults too.


If you mean anime, the original (Japanese) version of Sailor Moon comes to mind, particularly the infamous final 2 episodes of Season 1.

If you mean where can you find such themes in the first episode of a children's program, I'm sure there are some other ones out there, though none I can think of off the top of my head.
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Re: The Under-Rated Maturity and Depth of Pokemon

Postby chazthesilencer » Thu Dec 31, 2009 5:10 am

J_Faulkner wrote:things

Your time wasn't completely wasted, that was an amusing read.
Wouldn't mind hearing a little more.

Anything you'd like to share regarding ep14? or that damned ep39 :boohoo: ?

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Re: The Under-Rated Maturity and Depth of Pokemon

Postby master_lloyd » Thu Dec 31, 2009 6:36 am

J_Faulkner wrote:The Spearows are killed with a brutal electric shock.


Pokemon don't die. They 'faint'.
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Postby J_Faulkner » Thu Dec 31, 2009 11:56 am

Eva Yojimbo wrote:Why didn't you title this thread "the underrated maturity and depth of Pokemon's first episode"?

Because the analysis of the first episode I gave is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the true complexity of the first series of Pokemon. It is fully within my capabilities to give a detailed exposition of all the episodes, but of course, time is not so forgiving. However, I might do analyses of more episodes and/or bring out the big themes using more detailed arguments.

Eva Yojimbo wrote:Winnie the Pooh had some pretty dark, somber, and even melancholy atmospheres. I remember the episode where Rabbit was forced to let Kessie, a young bird she had saved and nursed back to health, go so she could fly south for the winter or something like that. I cried every time I saw that episode.

Yes, but the nature of a Western cartoon is that you don't get continuity across episodes to the same degree as something like Pokemon. You cite Rabbit letting a young bird go, but from the way you described it, this occurs in one episode. Contrast this with when Ash let Butterfree go. Ash caught Caterpie in episode 3, nurtured it through its metamorphosis phase, saw it emerge as a beautiful and elegant Butterfree, risked dying in a capsized ship to hang on to it, and then subsequently had to let it go in a gut-wrenching scene full of pathos in episode 21 - that's a gap of 18 episodes! This just crushes the Rabbit scene, where the bird isn't even shown to go through two transitional stages in its life history, and hence the bird develops a far weaker emotional bond with Rabbit and with the viewer.

Eva Yojimbo wrote:I'd much rather invest my "shining example of maturity and depth in children's entertainment" in Winnie the Pooh than I would in a series founded on its marketing.

a) You haven't justified how Winnie the Pooh is as mature and deep as, or more so, than Pokemon.

b) You haven't justified that the series was founded on marketing.

Eva Yojimbo wrote:I mean, the video game preceded the series for Pete's sake

So? The Pokemon were based on the video game designs, as were some of the characters and settings. But the plot of the anime is far, far removed from the linear and emotionless path followed in the video game.

Eva Yojimbo wrote:and it had a built in catchphrase for tapping into kids' innate sensibilities for collecting everything of something they love (granted, not the first piece of media/entertainment to do this, but it's an obvious gimmick).

a) Kids don't have an innate sensibility to collecting everything.

b) All anime have some marketing aspects, including Evangelion (e.g. design of female pilots).

c) You really have to look at what happens in the anime and not just focus on a single catchphrase. Ash catches no more than about 10 Pokemon in the entire first series out of a possible 150 or so Pokemon, and furthermore, lets one of his beloved Pokemon free to pursue individual happiness. This makes a complete mockery of the catchphrase and teaches kids to be moderate in their ambitions, and to respect having relatively few deep bonds in contrast to many superficial ones. In fact, one can say the catchphrase "Gotta catch them all" is a brilliant trolling tactic by Tajiri to lure in gullible kids, only to crush their materialistic ambitions afterwards.

Eva Yojimbo wrote:It's just as likely the thinking went something like: "we need to give these characters a powerful introduction so kids will care, so let's throw in some drama about Ash not wanting Pikachu but then later coming to care for him so their attachment will inspire the attachment of kids and those kids will tune in every week to see Ash catch'em all!".

You'd have a point if the rest of the series was shallow, but it clearly is not (e.g. see points to chazthesilencer below). The introductory episode was not an exception among shallow episodes, it is an episode that sets a trend for the rest of the series, in terms of depth and maturity.

Eva Yojimbo wrote:"A key message is that you don't always get what you want, yet with faith and courage events could turn out for the best." - you mean, "when life gives you lemons, make lemonade"? Yeah, that's a really uncommonly expressed theme in all forms of fiction including children's literature.

I don't think you've quite grasped the complexity of the first episode. Ash was not just making lemonade, he was dicing with death. He put his life on the line for a Pokemon that would not have been his first choice, and trusted in whatever fate had in store for him in the pivotal act of sacrifice. He did not know that he would even be alive to make the metaphorical lemonade and this is a far stronger existential message than you are claiming, and this message, in its serious form, is certainly not prevalent in all forms of children's fiction (e.g., shitty slapstick cartoons such as Tiny Toon Adventures).

Eva Yojimbo wrote:Because much like Dessie's analysis of MD Geist I don't have to have seen it to recognize that you're taking archetypal concepts that appear in almost all fiction and focusing on them as something deeply intended to exist in this particular work.

a) As I've shown above, it's not clear at all that the archetypal concepts I've described are present in almost all fiction, and especially children's fiction - this will become even clearer as we look at later episodes (e.g., see below).

b) Pokemon could be more complex than MD Geist.

c) I'm much better at analysis than "Dessie".

Eva Yojimbo wrote:For instance, you could take the point you make about "greed and materialism" and apply it to Team Rocket and, oh yeah, every single villain in any children's work that has villains. What I want to know is how Pokemon expresses these things in any kind of unique or profound way.

This is just a strawman of my exposition though. For example, I highlighted the unique way in which sacrifice was portrayed in the first episode, through a man-beast relationship that has subtle links to the unsustainbility of ecosystems. I highlighted how the dubious nature of greed and materialism was manifestedly profoundly through a narrative that involves faith, courage in the face of a real possbility of death, existential dread and the emergence of a Saviour. I showed how psychological immaturity was portrayed through the unique man-beast relationship. I expounded upon how the main character's affinity for bug-type Pokemon seems to be driven by the creator Satoshi Tajiri, and how this could later lead to a (possibly unconscious) playing out of Tajiri's wishes in anime form.

Sailor Star Dust wrote:If you mean where can you find such themes in the first episode of a children's program, I'm sure there are some other ones out there, though none I can think of off the top of my head.

I think you've got to admit though that Pokemon's first episode was very heavy for a kid's show.

chazthesilencer wrote:Anything you'd like to share regarding ep14? or that damned ep39?

There is plenty to say about the complexity, maturity and depth of the later episodes in series 1 of Pokemon. Electric Shock Showdown (ep. 14) is noted for its sophisticated take on free will and personal identity, through the remarkable refusal of Pikachu to develop into a higher life-form even though it was handed the opportunity on a plate. Pikachu's Goodbye (ep. 39) is an elegaic episode that confronts the viewer with the uncomfortable truth of how far man has domesticated animals for his own needs, and again shows Ash's tendency to sacrifice his inner being for the perceived benefit of others, in a heart-twisting finale.

In addition, Brock man-handles a trainer in the episode with the stray charmander, and this raises the moral question of whether violence is ever justified in a dispute. In the Brock VS Ash episode, we see how social necessity often impinges on one's life and prevents one from achieving one's dreams, and through Brock's good-for-nothing father, the pain of losing one's parents. Pokemon Emergency introduces us to Team Rocket's poetic motto, which encapsulates the dynamic between good and evil, and thus marks out Team Rocket as an ambivalent force which oscillates between the two poles - this is symbolized by James's and Jessie's cross-dressing. Pokemon Shipwreck has a delightful narrative where Ash and friends negotiate a temporary truce with Team Rocket, which sees them save Team Rocket's life among other things, and thus scatters the notion of absolute evil in Pokemon - a subtle allusion to Asian religions perhaps? Tentacool & Tentacruel stands out for its outstanding portrayal of how rampant exploitation of an ecosystem can lead to severe degradation that results in long-term disadvantages for human societies, but also gives a ray of hope in that this can be avoided by keeping in touch with the needs of an ecosystem. Bye Bye Butterfree cements Pokemon as an anime with maturity and depth, by delicately interweaving Darwinian natural selection and scenes that symbolize the lost entomologist dreams of Tajiri-as-Ketchum. Haunter versus Kadabra poignantly portrays a schizophrenic gym leader who attempts to trap Ash and co. into her childish past, and shows how she was able to overcome her demons - a great introduction to deep psychological theory. Pokemon Scent-sation sees Ash launch a sensational attack on perfume and hence Capitalism. Pokemon Fashion Flash builds on this by promoting spiritual values over mere persona: a staggering message which directly contradicts the hypothesis that Pokemon is based on marketing. Holy Matrimony! is a scathing commentary on arranged marriages around the real world, and by showing James outright rejecting a life of riches, again promotes spiritual values over materialism, and solidifies spiritual values as a key component of the message of Pokemon. The Battle of the Badge shows, through MewTwo, the potential powerful reaction of Nature should mankind attempt to suppress it too much for its own devices, and leads to a tantalising plotline for the first movie to develop. Snow Way Out has a superlative scene where Ash's Pokemon show supreme altruism to keep Ash warm in an igloo overnight, completely disobeying his orders to go inside their Pokeballs; this alludes to altruism in animals such as chimpanzees. The Evolution Solution plays on sound evolutionary theory to showcase an example of how symbiosis occurs involving a Slowpoke, which causes it to become bipedal and obtain an advantage in the evolutionary arms race. Go West Young Meowth has a pessimistic narrative of how Meowth underwent a heart-felt struggle to learn to speak, to attract members of the opposite sex, only to have his soul crushed by his one true love falling for a shallow but physically stronger competitor and calling him a freak - this again alludes to the social hierarchy of real animals and how when one deigns to undergo pain for another, the other will not always reciprocate the time and effort invested, thus calling into question the idea of reciprocity in the psychology of morality. All Fired Up! shows Ash in deep contemplation the night before the Indigo League starts and shows how all of Gary's taunts throughout the series are affecting his sleep-patterns - this is a great way of highlighting sports psychology as used in e.g. the Thriller in Manilla. In Friend and Foe Alike, we are witness to the jaw-dropping plot-bomb of atomic proportions when Ash gets coldly knocked out relatively early on in the Indigo League, thus shocking the viewer into the realization that a "can-do" attitude does not always reap rewards - a delicious way of telling kids to grow up and accept the reality that failure is a tangible possibility.

So, chazthesilencer, I cannot for the life of me understand why people such as Eva Yojimbo still dare to question the depth and maturity of the first series of Pokemon, when it clearly smashes most if not all other children's cartoons, and probably a lot of so-called "adult" series too.

The first series of Pokemon is quite simply a gorgeous fusion of scientific and theological concepts, a wicked anomaly in a world of shallow children's cartoons based on marketing.

master_llyod wrote:Pokemon don't die. They 'faint'.

This is a common misconception: Pokemon faint in the game, but in the series, Brock clearly says that a stray charmander can die. This adds an extra edge to the anime, such that it more faithfully reproduces the game of life and its corresponding philosophical issues.

EDITS: grammar/refining the analysis
Last edited by J_Faulkner on Fri Jan 01, 2010 12:14 am, edited 6 times in total.
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Postby Xard » Thu Dec 31, 2009 12:00 pm

b) You haven't justified that the series was founded on marketing.


Pokemon anime etc. products were made solely to market the games which are the "original" Pokemon. Jimbo is right about this

umm, carry on
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Nice, Xard. That's nice.

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Postby J_Faulkner » Thu Dec 31, 2009 12:03 pm

Xard wrote: Pokemon anime etc. products were made solely to market the games which are the "original" Pokemon. Jimbo is right about this

Did you even read what I just wrote? If you watch the first anime series, several messages directly contradict the hypothesis that the anime was created "solely" to market the games. The anime has many other messages that are not related to profit-making.
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Postby Holy Diver » Thu Dec 31, 2009 12:13 pm

I'm sorry, but Pokemon being a mature and deep series? It's a show designed so that Japanese kids can relive the martial spirit of Imperial Japan in a candy-coated way, and so that Western children and their parents blow their money on shiney pieces of cardboard in order to brainwash them into becoming sleeper-cell Weeaboos that will take over the nations of the world and ensure the glorious supremacy of Japan for a new age!!!

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Postby J_Faulkner » Thu Dec 31, 2009 12:16 pm

Holy Diver wrote:I'm sorry, but Pokemon being a mature and deep series? It's a show designed so that Japanese kids can relive the martial spirit of Imperial Japan in a candy-coated way, and so that Western children and their parents blow their money on shiney pieces of cardboard in order to brainwash them into becoming sleeper-cell Weeaboos that will take over the nations of the world and ensure the glorious supremacy of Japan for a new age!!!

You're the sort of hater that has created a thick mist which surrounds the maturity and depth of Pokemon.

Note very carefully that you have not addressed any of my arguments in any way.
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Postby Holy Diver » Thu Dec 31, 2009 12:33 pm

J_Faulkner wrote:
Holy Diver wrote:I'm sorry, but Pokemon being a mature and deep series? It's a show designed so that Japanese kids can relive the martial spirit of Imperial Japan in a candy-coated way, and so that Western children and their parents blow their money on shiney pieces of cardboard in order to brainwash them into becoming sleeper-cell Weeaboos that will take over the nations of the world and ensure the glorious supremacy of Japan for a new age!!!

You're the sort of hater that has created a thick mist which surrounds the maturity and depth of Pokemon.

Note very carefully that you have not addressed any of my arguments in any way.


I'm not a hater, I was just making a poor attempt at a joke. Indeed Pokemon has its touching moments (episode 39 and Ash's dissapointment during the Championships are the first that come to mind), but over all it is just a show for children and is aimed at their emotional level.
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Postby Merridian » Thu Dec 31, 2009 12:58 pm

J_Faulkner wrote: Which other children's cartoon can you give that matches this?
Dragon Ball. Not so much DBZ (though there is an interesting—if unintended—contrast that arises between the two shows that’s worth noting on), but I’ve found many of the things you’ve described show up in Dragon Ball as well. There are tons of thematic differences as well—first and foremost in my mind being the teacher/pupil relationship emphasized during the first “season” of DB that I don’t believe ever really showed up at all in Pokemon.

The thing is that most of what you’ve highlighted are simply tropes that shonen anime/manga tend to emphasize anyway, and the few that aren’t specific to shonen (such as attempting to solve problems through means other than violence) are rather common to children’s programming.

SSD wrote: If you mean where can you find such themes in the first episode of a children's program, I'm sure there are some other ones out there, though none I can think of off the top of my head.
Batman: The Animated Series, though it should be noted that as incredible as that show was, it doesn’t lend itself to be compared against shonen anime due to its episodic nature and lack of recognizable ‘canon’—aside from the occasional brief references to previous events. However, it still plays with themes of death, loss (the whole Victor Freeze element), justice vs. vengeance (Batman vs. Two-Face debacle, most noteworthy in the two-parter that portrayed Two-Face’s “origins”), extreme individualism & anarchy in the face of organized cultural dynamics (almost anything regarding Joker, though if Greed & personal reliance were grouped under this category then Catwoman’s fluctuating ‘alliance’ is a rather interesting fluid symbol as well), the lunacy of the bureaucratic system (more of the Joker’s ‘territory’, but also some of the other “guest villains”), along with a whole slew of other things that I can’t remember at the moment. If compared against a show like Teen Titans, which featured more recent animation, greater emphasis on a more ‘relatable’ cast, and a heavier focus on in-series ‘canon’, I’d still say that TT falls pretty far short of ‘depth’ in this regard. Sure it’s got themes of accepting the past, but that’s really about it. Even subsequent Batman series have failed to live up to the 1992 Bruce Timm run IMO. Brave & the Bold is pretty cool from what little I’ve seen, but that’s more geared at introducing more of the comic-book ‘mythos’ to a broader audience so it’s littered with trivia “fanservice” rather than depth in this regard.

Holy Diver wrote: It's a show designed so that Japanese kids can relive the martial spirit of Imperial Japan in a candy-coated way, and so that Western children and their parents blow their money on shiney pieces of cardboard in order to brainwash them into becoming sleeper-cell Weeaboos that will take over the nations of the world and ensure the glorious supremacy of Japan for a new age!!!
:lol: No, that’s Naruto. Pokemon at least had really fucking good gameboy games.

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Postby ZapX » Thu Dec 31, 2009 1:06 pm

Merridian wrote:No, that’s Naruto. Pokemon at least had really fucking good gameboy games.

He's talking about this.

Also this thread is hilarious to me.
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Postby J_Faulkner » Thu Dec 31, 2009 1:14 pm

Merridian wrote:Dragon Ball. Not so much DBZ (though there is an interesting—if unintended—contrast that arises between the two shows that’s worth noting on), but I’ve found many of the things you’ve described show up in Dragon Ball as well.

I'd say that the age range of DB's audience has a higher lower limit than Pokemon, so the comparison is not totally valid. And OK, you've said that you can find many parallels, but you haven't actually listed these parallels. Does DB touch on symbiosis? Does it touch on arranged marriages? Does it touch on Darwinian natural selection in wild animals?

Merridian wrote:There are tons of thematic differences as well—first and foremost in my mind being the teacher/pupil relationship emphasized during the first “season” of DB that I don’t believe ever really showed up at all in Pokemon.

Teacher-pupil relationship is seen in Ash-Charizard, Brock-Ash, Professor Oak-Ash, Ash-Pikachu.

Merridian wrote:The thing is that most of what you’ve highlighted are simply tropes that shonen anime/manga tend to emphasize anyway, and the few that aren’t specific to shonen (such as attempting to solve problems through means other than violence) are rather common to children’s programming.

All very well saying this, but to prove the truth of your claims, you've got to show how all the things I've highlighted are commonly emphasized in shonen anime/manga, citing specific shonen anime/manga and drawing out specific similarities with the examples I've given for Pokemon. The same goes for other children's programs. It's simply not enough just to state some claims and say that they refute my arguments, I'm afraid to say.
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Postby master_lloyd » Thu Dec 31, 2009 1:22 pm

[URL=http://img13.imageshack.us/i/disappointdad.jpg/]Image[/URL]
Neon Genesis Evangelion (from the Greek Ευανγελιον, meaning "Gigantic robots piloted by mentally ill children")
Eva Facts:
-Gendo's final silenced line to Ritsuko was "I'm going to shoot you now."
-Nagisa Kaworu kills a kitten every time you masturbate.
-Kaji's first and last name was Kaji


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