21 Burning Questions About Civil Rights In The Pokémon World
When you think about it, the Pokémon world is a really messed up place. And not just because it encourages little kids to capture living monsters and fight one another with them—it’s because a lot of those monsters are clearly intelligent enough to understand what’s happening to them, and we totally ignore that because of how cute and cuddly some of them are. How are we okay with this as a society?
Thinking about this topic led us RIGHT down the rabbit hole—or the Bunnelby hole, I guess—and now we have some VERY uncomfortable questions about how Pokémon actually works.
What are PokéBalls like on the inside?
We know, everybody asks this question first, but considering Pokémon spend the majority of their time in captivity stuck in these tiny things, it’s valid. Are they bigger on the inside? Are there little mini amenities for the Pokémon inside? Are they merely trapped in stasis until they’re called upon later?
How do Pokémon know what to do when they’re released from their PokéBalls?
It seems like most trainers only let them out when they’re about to fight someone else’s Pokémon. Do they get any advance warning other than an “I choose you” before they’re dumped out to do battle?
Do Pokémon even like being in their PokéBalls?
Sure, Pikachu hates being in one, but Ash also didn’t ever have another Pokémon fight him to lower his defenses and THEN try to capture him. When a Pokémon stays in a PokéBall, isn’t that just them giving up?
Do Pokémon ever die in combat?
They must, right? They’re beating each other senseless on a regular basis, after all. What’s the protocol for when a Pokémon is killed? Is the trainer compensated? Does the offending Pokémon face manslaughter charges? Does it have to be put down, like when big dogs get out and kill other, smaller dogs?
Why do Pokémon recognize the authority of gym badges?
Remember how in the games, your Pokémon (especially ones that you traded with other players) would refuse to obey you in combat beyond a certain level unless you had the right number of gym badges? How did they KNOW exactly? What about gym badges makes these creatures more willing to take you seriously as a new owner?
How many Pokémon are sentient?
Plenty of Pokémon are able to communicate via human speech, and many others appear to have emotions and a capacity for rational thought. Are they cool with being captured and forced to fight one another?
Are all Pokémon able to talk with enough practice?
That is Meowth’s entire origin story, after all—in “Go West Young Meowth,” he was a wild animal who learned to talk and walk upright like a human in order to impress a Meowth with a human trainer. If he could learn to speak, what’s stopping Pikachu, or any of the other Pokémon in the world? Maybe they only say their own names because that’s the only thing people say to them?
Can sentient Pokémon vote or own property?
Can a Pokémon refuse to be owned after they’ve been captured?
What the heck is up with legendary Pokémon?
Not only are many legendary Pokémon sentient and capable of speaking, but they’re also godlike, genderless beings who are sometimes rumored to have world-creating powers. Seriously, entire creation myths are constructed around the legendary Pokémon—and you can catch and collect them. That’s kind of messed up when you think about it. It’s like if you found the world’s only living wooly mammoth and made it fight other people’s cows. Are they just… okay with that?
Speaking of which…
Do real-world animals exist in the Pokémon universe?
Though we don’t see them as prominently as we do Pokémon, we’re pretty sure that non-Pokémon animals exist. For example, in one episode Ash wears a cow costume—one that resembles a real cow and not the cow-like Pokémon Miltank. So cows must be a thing, right? Which brings us to our next question…
Do humans ever eat Pokémon?
Clearly they eat meat and fish, and we’ve seen more Pokémon than IRL animals in the world, so it stands to reason that someone would try to eat one once. Heck, domesticated dogs and cats are eaten in some cultures, so Pikachus probably are too. Modern Farmer even wrote an entire in-depth article about the possibility last year.
Do Pokémon ever eat humans?
Of COURSE they do. And they probably eat other Pokémon, too. There are all kinds of pokédex entries across the game franchise that talk about Pokémon devouring their “prey” in the worst ways imaginable. You know Weepingbell, the adorable gaping-mouthed Venus fly trap? According to the Pokémon Yellow pokédex, “When hungry, it swallows anything that moves. Its hapless prey is melted inside by strong acids.” People move. They move a LOT.
What are Pokémon even made of?
Sure, some of them are clearly organic animals who are capable of breeding, but some have much stranger origins that are related to human interference—like Grimer, which is a Pokémon made of living polluted sludge, or Banette, which is an abandoned child’s toy come to life to seek vengeance. There’s one Pokémon that’s literally a keyring, and its thing is that it steals people’s keys. Do humans have a responsibility to these creatures given that we’re directly responsible for their creation and evolution?
Why don’t Pokémon trainers have to pay for their Pokémon’s healthcare?
How does the Pokémon Storage System work?
When I was a kid, I used to think that the PokéBalls you sent into Bill’s PC moved through a series of tubes (ironic, I know) and came out the other side. But how do they actually transport and store Pokémon—digitally? Does that mean there are hundreds and thousands of trapped digitized Pokémon consciousnesses just stuck on the Internet at any given time?
Why are the gender ratios of Pokémon so strange?
Certain types of Pokémon have a 7 to 1 chance of being male, and other species have a 3 to 1 chance of being male. Why? Aren’t most animal populations closer to parity then that? Has the constant capture and trading of these animals permanently altered their natural population?
Why are some Pokémon available in ONLY one gender?
Ignore the fact that Sawk is literally just a blue dude in a karate uniform—he’s always gendered as male but is also literally incapable of breeding with any other Pokémon except for a ditto. How is that biologically sound? Would Sawk even exist without humans to force it to mate?
Are there any endangered Pokémon?
We know there are some ancient extinct ones because of the existence of Pokémon fossils. But these days most species go extinct because of human intervention, which is literally what the entire Pokémon world revolves around. Are there Pokémon you’re just not allowed to catch? Do the other Pokémon know that this is a possibility?
Why are Pokémon trainers expected to start so young?
Pokémon training appears to be a rite of passage for most children in the world, and Ash Ketchum started when he was just 10 years old. Why so early? When I was 10 I think I still wanted to be a superhero when I grew up. Shouldn’t they be learning math or a trade or something instead? Where are the schools in the Pokémon world?
Actually, why do people let their children around Pokémon at all?
Do you know how many Pokémon have Pokédex entries that mention lost or missing children? Drowsee eats children’s dreams because they taste delicious. Phuntumps are tree stumps possessed by the spirits of dead children. Drifloon resembles a balloon and sometimes children who hold on to it go missing. One Pokédex entry about Hypno says, “There once was an incident in which it took away a child it hypnotized.” Why are parents just letting their kids roam around in this environment? Are there no child endangerment laws in the Pokémon world? Are they completely without legal guardians at this point?