Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Pokémon (Japanese: ポケモン Pokemon, pronounced Poh-Kay-Mon) 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 creatures within the Pokémon games. The franchise has 386 unique monsters that lie at the heart of the Pokémon series (388 including currently known Pokémon from future games, and 390 including the glitch-based Missingno. and 'M Block).
The Pokémon games are strategy games with a small RPG element which allow 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. Pokémon battles are based on the non-lethal Eastern sport of fighting insects; the Pokémon never bleed or die, they only faint. The game's catchphrase used to be "Gotta catch 'em all!", although now it is no longer officially used. (In an "in-joke" used in the English version of the Pokemon anime movie "Destiny Deoxys," Brock says this as he catches hot dogs from a machine as he grabs the wieners in mid-air.)
The Pokémon characters have become pop-culture icons, with a Pikachu balloon in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, thousands of merchandise items, and in 2005, a theme park in Nagoya, Japan. The satirical cartoon South Park spoofed Pokémon in Episode 312, entitled "Chinpokomon", in which the bosses behind the creation of the toys were revealed to be Japanese ultranationalists bent on avenging Japan's defeat in World War II.
Because of the unprecedented popularity of the franchise, Nintendo formed a subsidary company called The Pokémon Company to handle the franchise. The subsidary 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 subsidary called Pokémon USA, of which a minority owner is 4Kids Entertainment, the international distributors outside Japan of the popular Pokemon anime series.
Main article: Pokémon (video games)
The Pokémon franchise originated with a series of Japanese video games created by Satoshi Tajiri for the Game Boy. The first games in the series were the RPGs Pokémon Red and Blue (Red and Green in Japan). 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 all the different species of Pokémon, (150 at the time, 151 including one that could not be obtained during regular gameplay) and to do this players had to trade for Pokémon not available in the version they had.
Main article: Pokémon (anime)
There are two Pokémon anime series based on the video games. The first, and the more familiar one, Pokémon or Pocket Monsters tells the adventures of Ash Ketchum (Satoshi in the original Japanese version) as he travels through Kanto, the Orange Islands, and Johto to become the greatest Pokémon Master. The saga continues into Pocket Monsters Advanced Generation (in Japan) where Ash and company travel to Hoenn, a southern region in the Pokemon World. The English version is currently in its seventh series, called Pokemon Advanced Challenge suceeding Pokemon Advanced Generation (not to be confused with Pocket Monsters Advanced Generation which contains the Japanese equivalents of both the English Advanced Generation and Advanced Challenge series.
The second, entitled Shūkan Pokémon Hōsōkyoku, 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. Although this series has not aired outside of Japan, an English version is in the works, under the title Pokémon Chronicles that will air on Kids' WB in the fall of 2005.
Main article: Pokémon (card game)
The Pokémon Trading Card Game was first introduced to North America in 1999, and in Japan at an earlier date (exact date unknown). It is a collectible card game based off the famous Pokémon video game. At the time, 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.
Manga released in English
- Pokémon (The Electric Tale of Pikachu a.k.a Dengeki Pikachu), a shōnen manga created by Toshihiro Ono. It was divided into four tankōbon, each with four separate titles in North American and the English Singapore versions: The Electric Tale of Pikachu, Pikachu Shocks Back, Electric Pikachu Boogaloo, and Surf's Up, Pikachu. The series is based on the video game and anime.
- Pokémon Adventures, a shōnen manga based on the video games.
- Magical Pokémon Journey (a.k.a. Pokémon: PiPiPi Adventures), a shōjo manga
- Pikachu Meets the Press (newspaper style comics, not released by Chuang Yi)
- Ash & Pikachu (a.k.a. Satoshi to Pikachu, not released by Viz)
- Pokémon Gold & Silver (not released by Viz)
- Pokémon Ruby-Sapphire and Pokémon Pocket (not released by Viz)
- (not released by Viz)
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
Main article: Pokémon Live!
A live action show called Pokémon Live! toured the United States in late 2000. It was based off of the popular Pokémon anime, and was well-liked among 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.
Some Protestant Christian groups in the United States believe Pokémon to be Satanic in origin. 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 daemons. 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 allegedly denies the most extreme and fundamentalist versions of 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 practise Asian spiritual and mystical concepts. For example, some practise martial arts, which some Christian groups denounce as pagan. The game world also incorporates Asian traditions about elemental forces.
Still, most people (including other Asian Christian congregations) believe these claims to be nonsense, and note that they are spread as urban legends. While this criticism has been a widespread phenomenon in the United States, little about it has been committed to print. It would be incorrect to state that the Christian religious community has an official opinion on this, but its widespread nature makes it a legitimate topic of study.
Pokémon has been criticised by some members of the Jewish community for its use of the swastika, the most widely known symbol of Nazism. Nintendo says that this is a matter of cultural misunderstanding, as the swastika used to be used in East Asian cultures as a symbol for "good fortune" by the Buddhist religion. If a Japanese map of any major city is examined, little clockwise swastikas, or "manji", where Buddhist temples are located, can be seen. Many Jewish groups hold that it is inappropriate to use this symbol on children's toys.
The manji was shown only on a Japanese version card and was excluded from the North American release with due consideration of the cross-cultural issue. However, these Jewish groups attacked the Japanese version distributed in the U.S. by unauthorized import. As a result of this controversy Nintendo stopped using this symbol even in the Japanese version.  This raised a public backlash in Japan for being intolerant towards the symbols of the Buddhist religion for the sake of avoiding controversy. An image of the controversial card may be seen here.
Many Islamic religious speakers in the Arab-Muslim nations of Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt hold that Pokémon is part of a "Jewish conspiracy" to corrupt Muslim children. They claim that the word "Pokemon" is a Japanese word which means "I am Jewish." This claim is patently false. One Saudi Arabian Sheikh (Sheikh Abdel Moneim Abu Zant) has written "The Pokémon craze is a Jewish plot aimed at forcing our children to forgo their faith and values and to distract them from more important things such as scientific ambitions." The Anti-Defamation League has spoken out against these conspiracy theorists. 
In November of 2000 it was reported that Uri Geller, an Israeli psychic-magician who claims to bend spoons with his mind, sued Nintendo over the Pokémon "Yungerā" (ユンゲラー or "Yungeller"; "Kadabra" is the English name of this Pokémon) which he claimed was an unauthorized appropriation of his identity.   The Pokémon in question has psychic abilities and carries bent spoons. The name is a pun; the katakana letter 'n' (ン) looks quite like the letter 'ri' (リ) (the translation of Mr. Geller's name into Katakana would be 「ユリゲラー」 or "Yurigerā"). Geller sued for the equivalent of 100 million dollars, but lost.
A parents' group once unsuccesfully sued Nintendo of America and other manufacturers of collectible cards (such as baseball card makers), claiming that the collectible nature of randomly purchased cards constitutes illegal gambling.
Two other parents also set up a site named Pokémon Kills(formerly at www.pokemonkills.com) after their autistic son choked to death on a clear rubber bouncing ball containing a small Pokemon figure. They claimed that if Hasbro had made the balls slightly larger, kids would not be able to choke on it. The domain now is used to advertise a ghostwriting service.
Another choking hazard incident included a Kids Meal toy sold at Burger King. The toy had two pieces, and the top red lid piece could easily fit over the mouth of a child, causing suffocation. Burger King issued a voluntary recall of the toys in exchange for a small fries.
Although Pokémon was originally intended for younger children, it also has made an appeal to teenagers. Some older North American children and teenagers shun the Pokémon franchise, seeing it as made for a younger age group. A few claim Pokémon shouldn't be recognized as anime, but as children's TV. Today in North America, Pokémon is often claimed for young children only, although Pokémon is thriving in all age groups in Japan.
Voice actress for former character Misty, Misty Watlered, will be coming out with a solo album in mid-2005. She wrote the first single, "Ocean Limit", in honour of her Pokémon character.
- List of Pokémon
- List of Pokémon episodes
- mon (monster)
- Poké Battles
- Poké Ball
- Pokémon Adventures
- Pokémon (anime)
- Pokémon (card game)
- Pokémon evolution
- Pokémon types
- Pokémon Games
- Pokémon Europe
- Pokémon Japan
- An interview with Satoshi Tajiri
- The Pokemon Park in Nagoya, Japan; opened in 2005 in conjunction with the World's Fair in that city
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