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Magical Super-Creatures as Pets: The Ethics of Pokemon

Updated on June 1, 2009
PokeHeroes Ash Ketchum and Pikachu
PokeHeroes Ash Ketchum and Pikachu

Side Note...

I foolishly started this hub under the impression that I was the only one who had "thought twice" about the morals of the concepts in Pokemon.

Apparently most major religions have had a reaction to the franchise. More about this later.

I'll admit it: I am young enough to have been wrapped up in the Pokemon craze of the late-90s.

I had a few cards and did battle with my younger brother and his card collection. And I certainly had the GameBoy games (hell, I still play some Pokemon video games). I'm a dork, okay? I admit it.

But as I've grown and learned more about the world around me, Pokemon has become quite suspect. I mean, these kids, presumably about twelve years old, are going around collecting little "monsters." They keep them in tiny magic balls and let them out only to train them or engage them in battle. That's no way to treat a pet, not even a working pet! These kids are animal hoarders and are praised for it!

And it gets so much stranger...

Training and Battling

A Pokemon trainer begins training at around 10 to 12 years of age, essentially leaving home at this time to battle dangerous animals, alone, in the wild.

His protection against these fierce beasts? Well, he has a choice: a baby yellow mouse, a baby fire lizard, a baby turtle, or a baby plant-eating dinosaur.

With the exception of Ash Ketchum (the series' main character), whose first Pokemon walks at his side, trainers are encouraged to keep their new best friends in magical balls at their waist. These cuddly animals are released from their dark prisons only to attack other equally fuzzy and adorable creatures.

If a Pokemon's looking a little faint during a battle, the trainer gives him a drug, depending on what he thinks the Pokemon needs. So at least after he allows it to be poisoned, he'll shortly give it the antidote (if that's strategic, of course), right?

And when does a battle stop? When one Pokemon gives in and accepts defeat? Nope. When every Pokemon of one of the trainers faints in exhaustion.

These tweens then battle against -- that's right -- snyde adults who seem to get their rocks off by insulting the kids as much as possible. And the main bad guys, Team Rocket, are less mature than even the most annoying child trainer.

A little weird? I think so.


Not only are these pre-teens encouraged to beat their pets to a pulp (not that any of this violence is shown, of course), but they're also encouraged to collect as many as possible!

Why? To fill their "Pokedexes" with more names than their rivals can collect.

And when they're not training or battling with these collected animals, they deposit them into computers. (I have yet to understand the physics of this, by the way.) At this point, they never have to remember that Pokemon as even existing anymore because it will just survive forever in the computer. (Is this sounding to anyone else like Paris Hilton and her forgotten puppy in the closet?)

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Religious Morals

Pokemon is banned in Saudi Arabia as of 2001 for allegedly promoting Zionism (this is in direct opposition to Muslim doctrine).

Some Christians have been angered at the violent and occultic themes of the game. Most famously, though, some have opposed the Pokemon "evolution" from one form to the next, saying that it violates creation as outlined in the book of Genesis. (The Vatican, however, praises Pokemon for its imaginative gameplay.)

The Anti-Defamation League was outraged in 1999 that a left-facing manji (either the Nazi swastika or a sacred symbol, depending on the culture) appeared on two of the trading cards slated to be released only in Japan, claiming that they were anti-Semitic.

Children's Games

Many children's games, stories, rhymes, and songs become suspect as we grow up to truly understand the themes. I just want to know why, in Pokemon, adults are so ridiculously rude to children who are doing no harm to them?


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    • DonnaCosmato profile image

      Donna Cosmato 

      7 years ago from USA

      This is certainly an eye-opening look at what appears to be on the surface just another version of games like Bakugan or Beyblades. Thank you for revealing the darker side of Pokemon to the uninitiated. Voted up.

    • RachaelLefler profile image

      Rachael Lefler 

      7 years ago from Illinois

      What's funny to me is how it was called Anti-Semitic by some people and called Jewish in Saudi Arabia because the Normal Energy card happens to have a 6-pointed star. Extremists on both sides are equally funny.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      for some reason I thought looking up, "the ethic of pokemon" was a good idea. this, curiously, was one of few results that popped up.

    • profile image

      joshua d perez 

      9 years ago

      my dream become a pokemonmaster

    • profile image

      AnimePokemon Fan 

      9 years ago

      Thank you. I like this Post!

    • helenathegreat profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Manhattan

      Thanks for reading, Whitney! The more I thought about it, the weirder it became...

    • Whitney05 profile image


      10 years ago from Georgia

      Very interesting. I never knew this side of Pokemon.

    • helenathegreat profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Manhattan

      Sorry, mroconnell... I thought I explained the manji thing, but I guess I didn't. I'll go back and edit that right now. Basically, the Nazis took the manji to use as their swastika, but originally it was (and still is) a sacred symbol in Hindu and Buddhism.

      And you're right about my language. I certainly don't mean that ALL Christians have a problem with Pokemon! But there are different doctrines depending on the sect of Islam.

    • mroconnell profile image


      10 years ago from France

      Good topic to tackle. I don't get the Anti-Defamation Leage's case. What is the significance of a left-facing manji?

      You should probably be careful toward the end about generalizing language. "Some Christians" is a more accurate statement than "Christians" and "opposition to a Muslim doctrine" reflects that there are different Muslim doctrines and that nobody has enough authority to write THE Muslim view on Pokemon (what a ridiculous sentence).


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