Monday, June 3, 2013

You Can't Judge a Pokémon by its Type

The world of Pokémon is filled with an infinite array of creatures. Like humans, Pokémon come in a wide range of shapes, sizes and personalities. From the cute and brightly-eyed Jigglypuff to the fierce and destructive Gyarados, no two species of Pokémon are exactly alike. But does that mean that every Jigglypuff is cute and every Gyarados is destructive?

If every Pokémon in a species shared similar personalities, then Zubat would be inherently evil. These blood-sucking fiends swarm inside mountains, causing misery to any trainer foolish enough not to invest in Repels. Besides my hate-hate relationship with these Pokémon, many of the evil teams like Team Rocket use a high volume of Zubats. Team Rocket battles with about a total of 35 Zubats throughout your journey in Pokémon Red. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that Zubats are inherently evil. There are many factors that play a role in Pokémon selection. If Giovanni needs to quickly build an army of grunts to storm Silph Co, he's not going to have time to hand-pick Pokémon for each member. He'll probably hire some guy to walk into Mt. Moon and hurl as many Pokéballs as he can.
These things are evil in their own right.

To say that Pokémon selects their trainer based on personality is absurd! It's the trainer who throws out the Pokéball; Pokémon rarely "choose" their trainer. So why is it that we see certain Pokémon with certain types of trainers? Perception. It is not to say that a certain species of Pokémon have the same personality, but trainers perceive them to act a certain way.

If you're a Biker on Cycling Road, chances are you're going to pick Arbok over Teddiursa. Why? Because one is a huge snake who poisons foes with venomous one. The other is a tiny bear who licks honey off its palms. Likewise, Lass Andrea on Route 8 opts for a Meowth over Grimer. One is a cat who likes to play
with shiny objects. The other is a pile of sludge with eyes. While trainers in the games adhere to Pokéstereotyping, the anime tries at times to break the mold.

Biker Ernest is outcasted from the other Bikers for choosing a Teddiursa and Marill on his team.
Houndoom takes its design from hell hounds. The Pokédex describes it as the "Dark Pokémon" whose cry
Even Houndoom can be heroic
was thought to be that of the Grim Reaper. Burns caused by Houndoom are said to be everlasting. Houndoom has a less than pleasant description, but its appearance in the show have been fairly positive. In "Houndoom's Special Delivery", a Houndoom finds Misty's Togepi alone in a forest. Defending it from a Pinsir, Houndoom takes Togepi under its care until they reunite with Ash and friends. Even Houndoom, who are seen as vicious Pokémon, can be heroic.

On the flip-side, normally benign and innocent Pokémon can have a dark side. During the Sinnoh saga, Team Rocket encounters a Pokémon that eats all of their food, throws Jessie's clothes in mud, and lights Meowth's fur on fire. You'd think a naughty Gengar or Murkrow would be behind these misdeeds, but a Togepi!? It's surprising that this dastardly Pokémon is the same species as the one that was coddled by Misty during the Kanto and Johto journies. It gets so bad, this Togepi literally blasts Team Rocket into space. Still think Togepi couldn't possibly be evil? This will change your mind:

Pokéstereotyping is a serious issue in the Pokémon universe. Oftentimes, trainers choose their Pokémon based on perception rather than a Pokémon's real personality. Vilified Pokémon like Houndoom can be loyal, trustworthy and heroic. Likewise, cute and innocent Pokémon like Togepi can have a mean streak. Even Zubats, who frequently harass me in caves, might have more to them besides blood-sucking. So challenge yourself. If you usually pick the water-starter, choose fire. Instead of training a Growlithe, catch a Koffing. After all, you can't judge a Pokémon by its type. When you break Pokéstereotypes and train new creatures, you might even find your new best friend.       

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