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From Academic Kids

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Pokemon_logo.jpg
The Pokémon logo.

Pokémon (Japanese: ポケモン Pokemon, pronounced Poh-Kay-Mon, although it is frequently mispronounced "Poh-Kee-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 fictional creatures within the Pokémon games. 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 secret one, Mew) from the original games.

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The logo with the "Gotta catch 'em all" slogan.
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, but the Pokémon never bleed or die, 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 in mid-air.)The games have sold over 100 million copies to date, not counting the ones released for consoles.
Pikachu, numbered 25 in the national , is probably the most well-known Pokémon.
Pikachu, numbered 25 in the national Pokédex, is probably the most well-known Pokémon.

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. Shows such as the Simpsons have made mild references to Pokemon and other anime in their cartoons.

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, which a minority owner is 4Kids Entertainment, the international distributors outside Japan of the popular Pokemon anime series.

Contents

Video games

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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 and a subsequent special edition known as Blue). 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 each and every one of the Pokémon in the game. Another, perhaps easier, goal was to finish the game's storyline by becoming the Pokémon League Champion by collecting eight Gym Badges and defeating the Elite Four.

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 (Pokémon Green was available in English via import but had many swear words from the translator) 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.

There is currently a Nintendo DS sequel, (Pokémon Diamond and Pearl), as well as a Gamecube game entitled Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness in development.

Anime

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 (often referred to as Pokemon: 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, and Johto to become the greatest Pokémon Master. For the English language release, Pocket Monsters was split into four separate series spanning five seasons.

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, beginning Pokemon trainer in this series. Again, for the English release, Advanced Generation was split into separate 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. 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.

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

Currently, Advanced Generation can be seen on TV Tokyo, and the English Advanced Challenge adaption can be seen on Kids WB in the United States, YTV in Canada, and Sky 1 in the United Kingdom. Housoukyoku originally aired on TV Tokyo but has since ended its run, while Chronicles can only be seen in the United Kingdom on Toonami UK as of May 2005. Sunday is seen only on TV Tokyo, with no English adaptation planned.

Card Game

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. 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.

The trading card game also spread to schools around the world, with news reports stating about their confiscation from classrooms.

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

Pokémon Live

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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.

Controversy

Religion

Christianity

Some Protestant Christian groups in the United States believe Pokémon to be Satanic in origin.[1] (http://www.cephasministry.com/save_our_children_pokemon_booklet.html) 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 practise martial arts, which some Christian groups denounce as pagan. The game world also incorporates Asian traditions about elemental forces.

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, but most mainstream sects of Christianity are utterly indifferent to Pokemon.

The alleged outcry was enough to move the Vatican 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

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 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.

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. As a result of this controversy Nintendo stopped using this symbol even in the Japanese version. [2] (http://www.adl.org/presrele/Mise_00/3511_00.asp) 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 (http://www.geocities.com/swastika_webring/pokeswas.jpg).


Islam

A few Islamic religious speakers in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt hold that Pokémon is part of a "Jewish conspiracy" to corrupt Muslim children. They claim incorrectly that the word "Pokemon" is a Japanese word which means "I am a Jew." 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 denounced these theories. [3] (http://www.adl.org/presrele/IslME_62/3791_62.asp).

Lawsuits

See also Jynx and Kadabra for specific lawsuits regarding these characters.

ANA  (JA8962), in Pokémon special colors, landing at London () Airport
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ANA Boeing 747-400 (JA8962), in Pokémon special colors, landing at London (Heathrow) Airport

Miscellaneous

A mammalian oncogene was named "Pokemon" [4] (http://www.mskcc.org/mskcc/html/54387.cfm) (no "é") 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.

See also

External links

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