Pokémon

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Image:Pokemon logo.jpg

Pokémon (ポケモン Pokemon, / pronounced 'poʊ.kɛ.mɑn/, although frequently, and even intentionally mispronounced /poʊ.ki.'mæn/), is a video game franchise, created by Satoshi Tajiri and published by Nintendo for several of their systems, most importantly the Game Boy. It has been merchandised into anime, manga, trading cards, toys, and much more. The name Pokémon is a portmanteau of the words "pocket monsters" (ポケットモンスター Poketto Monsutā), which is its Japanese name.

Pokémon is also the collective name for the fictional creatures within the Pokémon universe. The franchise has 386 unique monsters that lie at the heart of the Pokémon series (391 including currently known Pokémon from future games). These figures have grown from the 151 monsters - including the almost unobtainable Mew - from the original games.

Contents

Origins

Image:Pokemon logo.gifThe concept of Pokémon evolved from insect collecting, a simple pastime many Japanese children (including Pokémon's creator, Satoshi Tajiri, as a child) had enjoyed in the past. The Pokémon games allowed players to catch, collect, and train pets with various abilities, and battle them against each other to build their strength and evolve them into more powerful Pokémon. The Pokémon creatures never bleed or die, only faint.

The game's catchphrase in the English versions of the franchise used to be "Gotta catch 'em all!", although it is now no longer officially used.


Generations

All of the licensed Pokémon properties overseen by the Pokémon Company are divided roughly by generation. There have been four generations, defined by the Pokémon which appear therein. Each of these generations has been first introduced in a pair of Pokémon video games for the Game Boy or its successors (including the Nintendo DS), beginning with Pokémon Red and Blue. Each generation introduces a slew of new Pokémon and a handful of new general concepts, usually without replacing any old Pokémon or concepts.

These generations are roughly chronological divisions; a handful of Pokémon from a subsequent generation appear in the anime, manga, or trading card game before the main Game Boy games which demarcate the generation are released, but the anime, manga, and even (of late) the card game divides itself into sagas or generations by the same scheme as the games.

Some of the general concepts were introduced elsewhere, before being introduced in the games. Two-on-two battles appeared in the anime long before appearing in the games, and Pokémon Abilities are similar to Pokémon Powers, introduced long before in the Pokémon Trading Card Game

First generation

Introduced in Pokémon Red and Blue. It introduced the original 151 Pokémon, as well as the basic concepts of trading and battling Pokémon. In Japan the first generation was Pokémon Green and Red instead of the American Red and Blue.

Second generation

Introduced in Pokémon Gold and Silver. This generation introduced an additional one hundred Pokémon, as well as the concept of equipping Pokémon with items, breeding Pokémon and baby Pokémon. Two new Pokémon types, the Steel and Dark types, were also introduced.

Third generation

Introduced in Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, this generation added another 135 Pokémon, as well as Pokémon Abilities (always-on special innate abilities), Pokémon Contests , and two-on-two Pokémon battles.

Fourth generation

Slated to be introduced in Pokémon Diamond and Pearl for the Nintendo DS. A handful of new Pokémon from this generation have made cameo appearances in the seventh and eighth Pokémon movies (Pokémon: Destiny Deoxys and Mew and the Wave Guiding Hero: Rukario, respectively), as well as promotional materials for Pokémon XD and Pokémon: Fushigi no Dungeon Blue & Red.

Video games

Image:PokemonRed.JPG Main article: Pokémon (video games)

The original Pokémon games were Japanese role-playing games with an element of strategy, and were created by Satoshi Tajiri for the Game Boy. These role-playing games (and their sequels, remakes and English language translations) are still considered the "main" Pokémon games, and the games which most fans of the series are referring to when they use the term "Pokémon games."

These games have sold over 100 million copies to date, not counting the ones released for home consoles (such as the Nintendo 64 and the Nintendo GameCube). This makes it the second biggest-selling games franchise ever (after Nintendo's Mario series).

The first games in the series were Pokémon Red and Blue' (Red and Green in Japan, followed by a Blue, and a special edition Yellow version). These games were nearly identical, save for the fact that each version had a select group of Pokémon that the other version did not. The ultimate goal of these games was to catch at least one member of all the different species of Pokémon (150 at the time, 151 including one that could not be obtained during regular gameplay), and to do so, players had to trade for Pokémon not available in the version they had. While battling monsters is nothing new to RPGs, many players found themselves nearly addicted to finding, fighting, and capturing every Pokémon in the game. Another, perhaps easier, goal was to finish the game's storyline by becoming the Pokémon League Champion. This was done by collecting eight Gym Badges by beating the eight Gym Leaders and then defeating the Elite Four, plus the current League Champion.

Each generation of Pokémon games so far has followed a pattern of two complementing versions followed later by at least one other version with some extras. Pokémon Red and Blue were followed by Pokémon Yellow (in Japan, Red and Green were followed by Blue which was subsequently followed by Yellow). Gold and Silver were followed by the exclusively Game Boy Color version, Crystal. The Game Boy Advance first saw the release of Ruby and Sapphire. The most recent full fledged game has been Fire Red and Leaf Green which are remakes of Red and Blue. A third version of Ruby and Sapphire, called Pokémon Emerald, was released on May 1, 2005.

The series has also diversified into various spin-offs, such as pinball games, virtual pets, simulated photography, and racing. A handful of these spinoffs are remade in subsequent "generations"; for example, Pokémon Pinball: Ruby and Sapphire is very similar to Pokémon Pinball but with newer Pokémon, and Pokémon Stadium 2 is largely identical to Pokémon Stadium but for the compatibility with Pokémon Gold and Silver.

The most recent game to be released was Pokémon XD for the GameCube. It came out on October 3rd, 2005. A number of Pokémon games are currently in development. They include:

Appearances in Super Smash Bros.

Two of the most popular Pokémon, Pikachu and Jigglypuff, were chosen to appear as two of the 12 characters in Nintendo's party/fighting game Super Smash Bros., which was released in 1999 for the Nintendo 64. Pikachu appeared as an initially available character while Jigglypuff was an unlockable one. The pair returned in the 2001 GameCube sequel, Super Smash Bros. Melee. They kept their positions, Pikachu was still an initial character while Jigglypuff was still an unlockable character, but two new Pokémon also appeared (joining Jigglypuff as unlockable characters: Mewtwo and Pichu.)

In both games, many different Pokémon can be used in a match by throwing the Pokéball item. A randomly-chosen Pokémon is released from the Pokéball, using one of its attacks to affect other players.

In Super Smash Bros. Melee, the player can collect many different trophies of a variety of characters from numerous Nintendo games, including several Pokémon characters.

The next Super Smash Bros. game expected to feature Pokémon will be on the Nintendo Revolution in which Nintendo has already announced the new Super Smash Bros. Revolution. However, details of this game are still relatively unknown.

Pokémon on the Nintendo Revolution

Pokémon for the new Nintendo Revolution has currently not been announced by Nintendo. However, Nintendo has produced a demo for the Nintendo Revolution (exclusive only to major game related companies such as GameSpot and IGN) known as the "Big Pokémon Hunter" game where the goal was to zoom with the controller and find different Pokémon. The review of this demo is currently available at GameSpot as well as many other sites.

Anime Series

Image:Hoenn-group ash may brock max.jpg Main article: Pokémon (anime)

There are several Pokémon anime series based on the video games.

The Original Series

The first, and the more familiar one, Pokémon or Pocket Monsters (often referred to as Pokémon: Gotta Catch Em All to distinguish it from the later series) tells the adventures of Ash Ketchum (Satoshi in the original Japanese version) as he travels through Kanto, the Orange Islands, Johto and Hoenn to become the greatest Pokémon Master. This series is based on the first and second generation games.

"Advanced Generation"

The saga continues into Pocket Monsters Advanced Generation (in Japan) where Ash and company travel to Hoenn, a southern region in the Pokémon World. Ash takes on the role of a teacher and mentor for a younger, beginner Pokémon trainer in this series. This series is based on the third generation games. After this series Ash will go back to his home region of Kanto and visit new areas around there with the current team and Misty will meet him through this part of the journey as they go to the Kanto contests and the Battle Frontier.

Spin-off Series

A spin-off series, entitled Shu-kan Pokémon Ho-so-kyoku is a spinoff of the first, and tells the adventures within the continuity of Pocket Monsters Advanced Generation, starring many of the recurring characters in Pocket Monsters. The English adaptation of this series, Pokémon Chronicles, combines the episodes from this series as well as various other made-for-TV specials (originally unrelated to Housoukyoku) that have aired in Japan but not translated for English release.

The Future

With the planned release of the fourth generation games for 2006, a follow-up to the Advanced Generation saga based on those games is expected. It is said to be titled Pokémon Ranger.

Others

There is also a television program in Japan titled Pokémon Sunday, a live action Pokémon-themed variety show hosted by the Pokémon Research Team.

English Language Adaptations

In the English language release, the original series was split into four separate series spanning five seasons while Advanced Generation was split into separate series. Two series from Advanced Generation have been aired, with the third series currently airing in the United States and elsewhere.

The English adaptation can be seen on Kids WB in the United States. In other countries the English language adaptations air on the following channels:

Housoukyoku originally aired on TV Tokyo but has since ended its run, while Chronicles can be seen in the United Kingdom on Toonami UK as of May 2005, Sunday is seen only on TV Tokyo and likely will not air in the US or Canada.

Card game

Image:Pokemoncard.gif Main article: Pokémon (card game)

The Pokémon Trading Card Game is a collectible card game based on Pokémon, first introduced to North America in 1999, and in Japan at an earlier date. Initially, it was published by Wizards of the Coast, the company most famous for Magic: The Gathering.

However, with the release of Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire Game Boy video games, Nintendo took back the card game from Wizards of the Coast and started publishing the cards themselves. The latest incarnations of the card games is known as Pokémon-e Trading Card Game, the cards of which (for the large part) are compatible with the Nintendo e-Reader.

In 1998, Nintendo released a Game Boy Color version of the trading card game. This game included digital versions cards from the original set of cards and the first two expansion (Jungle and Fossil), but also included several cards exclusive to the game.

Manga

There are various Pokémon manga series, four of which were released in English by Viz Communications, and seven of them released in English by Chuang Yi.

Manga released in English

Manga not released in English

  • Pokémon Card Ni Natta Wake (How I Became a Pokémon Card) by Kagemaru Himeno, an artist for the TCG. There are six volumes and each includes a special promotional card. The stories tell the tales of the art behind some of Himeno's cards (the tale of Persian from the Jungle set is particularly popular).
  • Pokémon Getto Da ze! by Satomi Nakamura
  • Poketto Monsutaa Chamo Chamo Puritei by Yumi Tsukirino, who also made Magical Pokémon Journey.
  • Pokémon Zensho
  • However, with the release of Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire Game Boy Advance video games, Nintendo USA took back the card game from Wizards of the Coast and started publishing the cards themselves.[21] The Expedition expansion introduced the Pokémon-e Trading Card Game, the cards in which (for the most part) were compatible with the Nintendo e-Reader. Nintendo discontinued its production of e-Reader compatible cards with the release of EX FireRed & LeafGreen.

Pokémon Live

Image:PokemonLive.JPG

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A live action show called Pokémon Live! toured the United States in late 2000. It was based on the popular Pokémon anime, and was well-liked among some fans of the franchise (in spite of some continuity errors relating to the anime). In late 2002, it was scheduled to tour Europe, but was cancelled for unknown reasons.

Cultural Influence

Image:Pikachu.png

Pokémon, being a popular franchise, has undoubtedly left its mark on pop-culture. The Pokémon characters themselves have become pop-culture icons; examples include the Pikachu balloon at a Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, thousands of merchandise items, and in 2005, a theme park in Nagoya, Japan. The prone-to-offend cartoon South Park spoofed Pokémon in Episode 310, entitled "Chinpokomon" ("chinpoko" is Japanese slang for penis), in which the executives behind it were revealed to be Japanese ultra nationalists bent on avenging Japan's admitted defeat in World War II. Several shows such as The Simpsons have made references to Pokémon (among other anime series) in their series.

Because of the unprecedented popularity of the franchise, Nintendo formed a subsidiary company called The Pokémon Company to handle the franchise. The subsidiary handles everything from publishing the games in Japan to running the official merchandise stores, the Pokémon Centers. The Pokémon Company in turn has a U.S. based subsidiary called Pokémon USA, of which a minority owner is 4Kids Entertainment, the international distributors (outside Japan) (excluding Korea whose distributor is Daiwon C&A Holdings) of the popular Pokémon anime series.

Controversy and Criticism

See also Jynx (Pokémon) and Kadabra for specific controversial Pokémon designs, and Banned episodes of Pokémon for controversies related to specific episodes. A strong case can be made for Jynx being a parody of or homage to the Japanese Ganguro and Yamanba fashion trends, which were extremely popular when Pokémon was first released, but it can't be denied that blackface-influenced characters have appeared elsewhere in anime and manga - examples can be found near the beginning of Osamu Tezuka's early graphic novel, Metropolis and also can be found with Dragon Ball Z's Mr. Popo. In response to this controversy, in 2002, Nintendo changed Jynx's face from black to purple and its hands from blue to purple in Pokémon games, a change which would be reflected in the anime three years later in Advanced Generation.

As with other pop culture icons, Pokémon has received its fair share of controversy and critisism.

Religion

Christianity

Some Protestant Christian groups in the United States believe Pokémon to be Satanic in origin[1]. After the US release of Pokémon Yellow, there was a sudden widespread criticism of it passed through Christian congregations primarily by word-of-mouth. The claimed parallels between Pokémon and Satanism include:

  • Pokémon parallel demons. They are captured and must be invoked to perform tasks.
  • Magical "talismans" (gym badges) are necessary to control many of them.
  • "Magical" stones are used to evolve certain Pokémon
  • Pokémon "evolve." Evolution precludes literal creationism, therefore Pokémon denies some forms of Biblical interpretation.
  • Many Pokémon have paranormal or psychic powers. These powers are not derived from God and therefore must stem from Satan.
  • Many Pokémon embody or practice Asian spiritual and mystical concepts. For example, some practice martial arts, which some Christian groups denounce as gateway to pagan religions. The game world also incorporates Asian traditions about elemental forces.

Also, when the main theme song for the television show is sung in English, the lyrics "gotta catch em all" are alleged to say "I love Satan" or "oh Satan" when played backwards, which is known as "backmasking". This has left some Christians and Christian organizations believing that Pokémon subliminally encourages Satanism. However, backmasking in general is highly controversial and debatable, leaving room for much skepticism.

Still, most people (including many Asian Christian congregations) dismiss these claims to be nonsense, and attribute many of the alleged protests to urban legend. The surprisingly small amount of original protests (as opposed to reports of protests) seem to reinforce this belief. It would be incorrect to state that the Christian religious community is of a single mind in this matter, since most mainstream sects of Christianity are utterly indifferent to Pokémon.

The alleged outcry was enough to move the Holy See to comment, in an official statement on April 21 2000:

The Vatican has announced that the trading-card and computer-game versions of Pokémon are "full of inventive imagination," have no "harmful moral side effects" and celebrate "ties of intense friendship." Whether that extends to the TV show, His Holiness didn't say. The New York Post, quoting a Thursday story in The Times of London, says The Vatican made its announcement on its satellite TV station, Sat2000, run by the Italian Bishops' Conference.-from the New York Times

There are also allegations, particularly among Christians, against "Pokémon" citing liberal views on morality. These include the immodest dress of some of the female characters in the show, the use of the phrase "kick your ass" (in actuality, "kick your Grass", referring to a type of Pokémon) in the lyrics of a song in the show, though the phrase was later removed and replaced with different lyrics, and a certain character, ("James"), wearing women's clothes in several episodes of the show, giving some the impression that he is a transvestite.

Judaism

Pokémon has been criticised by some members of the Jewish community for its use of the swastika, the most widely known symbol of Nazism, which they hold is inappropriate for children's toys. Nintendo says that this is a matter of cultural misunderstanding, as the swastika has been used in East Asian cultures as a symbol for "good fortune" by the Buddhist religion for thousands of years. Even today in Japan, the swastika is not necessarily associated with Nazism, and most Japanese maps still use little clockwise swastikas, or "manji", to indicate the location of Buddhist temples.

The manji was shown only on a Japanese version card and was excluded from the North American release. However, these Jewish groups attacked the Japanese version distributed in the U.S. by unauthorized import, even though the manji symbol is reversed (i.e., clockwise rather than counter-clockwise) in relation to the swastika or Hakenkreuz used by the Nazi party, colloquially and incorrectly termed simply "the swastika" in the West. As a result of this controversy Nintendo stopped using this symbol even in the Japanese version. [2] This raised a public backlash in Japan for being intolerant towards the symbols of the Buddhist religion for the sake of avoiding controversy.

Islam

Pokémon has only belatedly made its way to the Islamic world, at this point, in Saudi Arabia. Few Muslim officials now claim that the word "Pokémon" means "I am a Jew" in Japanese, and believe the toy craze is part of a Jewish-Zionist conspiracy to turn Arab children away from Islam. The driving point behind this factor is the belief that the trading card game promotes gambling with cards. This declaration is been made official by Mufti, the most influential conservative religious group in Saudi Arabia. In most other moderate Islamic countires it poses no threat.

Despite assurances from the Nintendo that the trade name stands for "Pocket Monsters," the video games and related items have been stripped from store shelves in Saudi Arabia and turned away at ports. Schools in Saudi Arabia have set up collection points to turn in clothing decorated with Pokémon figures.

A fatwa, or religious edict, issued by a Saudi sheik urges all Muslims to beware of the game, noting that most of the cards bear "six-pointed stars, a symbol of international Zionism and the state of Israel."

Health

Main article: Banned episodes of Pokémon: Electric Soldier Porygon

On December 16,1997, 685 Japanese children were admitted to hospital with convulsive epileptic seizures. It was determined that the seizures were caused by watching an episode of Pokémon,「でんのうせんしポリゴン」(Dennou senshi Porygon, or "Electric Soldier Porygon"). In this particular episode, there were bright explosions with rapidly-alternating blue and red color patterns. It was determined in subsequent research that these strobing light effects cause some individuals to have epileptic seizures, even if they haven't had any previous history of epilepsy. As a consequence, many video game makers (including Nintendo) added warning labels to their video game products (or made pre-existing labels more prominent), warning that exposure to video games may trigger seizures in individuals vulnerable to photosensitive epilepsy. [3]

Miscellaneous

Image:Ana.b747.pokemon.arp.750pix.jpg A mammalian oncogene was named "Pokemon" [4] (no aigu accent on the e) by its discoverers. This name is apparently an acronym for "POK Erythroid Myeloid ONtogenic" factor (a cancer causing agent), so the name could be either a backronym or simply coincidence. The name has since been changed to "Zbtb7" officially.

See also

Miscellanea

Regions

Criticism

External links

Official Websites

Fansites

Other Websites

Wikibooks has more about this subject:

da:Pokemon de:Pokémon

es:Pokemon fi:Pokémon fr:Pokémon he:פוקימון id:Pokémon ia:Pokémon it:Pokémon ja:ポケットモンスター ko:포켓몬스터 la:Pokémon nl:Pokémon no:Pokémon pl:Pokémon pt:Pokémon simple:Pokémon sk:Pokémon sv:Pokémon tr:Pokémon zh:神奇宝贝

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