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Gogoat: A great Pokémon, or the greatest Pokémon?
Actually, it's about ethics in ...
Video games
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Pokémon (often simplified to Pokemon when typing the accent is inconvenient; frequently mispronounced as "Po-KEE-mon", "Po-KUH-mon", or worse, "Po-kee-MAN") is one of the most successful and popular Japanese media franchises in the world, featuring cute (or sometimes ugly) creatures beating the crap out of each other to the point of being knocked unconscious. It started in 1996 with the first set of video games, developed by Game FreakWikipedia and published (and later translated) by Nintendo for the latter's Game Boy portable gaming console (though the games didn't get an English-language release until 1998); it has grown to include many games, manga, movies, and an anime series which has been running for 15 years and counting. One equally long-lived manga series, Pokémon Adventures, includes multiple volumes based on every non-spinoff video game in the series. (There are other manga series, but they tend to feature plots focused on specific video games, such as Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum in Pokémon Diamond and Pearl Adventure!'s case, rather than on all of them as with Adventures.)

One anime episode resulted in several hundred children having seizures, and another showed a man inflating fake breasts in order to win a swimsuit competition.

Sadly, it took until Pokémon #638 until the designers finally recognized the error of their previous ways and based one of the glorious creatures on a goatCobalion.[note 1][note 2] And again in Generation VI, they gave us a true, Grass-type, non-legendary goat simply called Gogoat.


Being an international phenomenon, a lot of these are colored by the cultural lenses from the parties plus ignorance of Japanese culture. It's a good study on how cultural differences aren't apparent until these sorts of things crop up.

"Pokémon Shock"[edit]

Unlike other media hysteria, this one is founded on a grain of legitimate concern, though it was still massively overblown. There is one episodeWikipedia of Pokémon: The Series that can seriously be hazardous to your health. "Dennō Senshi Porygon" featured explosions in which the entire screen alternated very quickly between red and blue. On December 16, 1997, when it was aired on Japanese television, 685 people were sent to the hospital.[1] This was dubbed "Pokémon Shock" and caused hysteria, resulting in some guidelines being put in place for the use of flickering images in animated cartoons. The episode itself has been altered to use less harsh flashing lights. One lesser-known casualty is that Porygon and its evolutionary family members, despite not being responsible for the violent flashes, have not since appeared in any newer episodes of the series (aside from extremely minor cameos). In a later follow-up, researchers determined only a small fraction were diagnosed with photosensitive epilepsy.[2]

Pokémon is satanic[edit]

Some Christian fundamentalists have stirred up a Satanic panic claiming the series promotes witchcraft, occultry, and claims of blasphemy.[3][4][5][6][7][8] In particular, they've latched onto the fact that the franchise features Pokémon "evolution," concluding that the series promotes the theory of evolution[6] despite the fact that the concept of "evolution" in Pokémon is completely different from the actual theory[9] and more closely resembles stages in the normal growth of an organism — most notably insect metamorphosis (the creator of Pokémon, Satoshi Tajiri,Wikipedia had a fondness of insects when he was a kid and collected them as a hobby; the aspect of catching wild Pokémon in the games was intended to allow people in more urbanized areas to have what is essentially a virtual version of his hobby). Despite such moral panics, the Vatican has so far found Pokémon to be highly acceptable,[10] although the existence of Lord Helix may temper that in the future.[11]

Actually there's a very similar game series with Satanism and occultism in it, it's called Shin Megami Tensei, but no one bats an eye for these. Probably because it wasn't exported from Japan for a long time and the first game released in North America was a spin-off action game for Nintendo's failed Virtual Boy system called Jack Bros. Additionally, the series is marketed for a much more mature audience, with many games not recommended for those under 16. Also, the newer games are much lighter and softer (e.g. the Persona series) than the older ones, with a few notorious exceptions having been released lately for the handheld Nintendo 3DS (Namely the Devil Survivor series, Soul Hackers, Shin Megami Tensei IV, and Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse, the last of which actually pissed off some people... but those were Hindus[12]).


It happens that in 2001, Saudi Arabia briefly banned the Pokémon franchise completely, claiming that the series defames the name of Muhammad promotes Zionism.[13][note 3] Some fundamentalist Muslims also claimed "Pokémon" means "I am Jewish," showing complete ignorance of the fact that the series originated from Japan (and that "Pokémon" is a contraction of "Pocket Monsters" — Poketto Monsutā — when written in Japanese). Why the Saudi government still allows games such as Yu-Gi-Oh, a card game which has actual Jewish references,[14] remains a mystery for the ages.


Pokemon "Jynx" prior to the change.

The Pokémon Jynx's design and appearance has been heavily criticized by cultural critic Carole Boston Weatherford, who described Jynx as representing blackface after seeing the character's depiction in the anime.[15] Due to complaints, Gamefreak modified her appearance and now depict Jynx with purple skin instead of black, though criticisms from and similar sources have persisted. Jynx was likely inspired by ganguro,Wikipedia a Japanese fashion where women tan heavily, bleach their hair, and apply large amounts of makeup, instead of a black stereotype.[16]


For some reason, PETA has had no issue over a game where wild creatures are captured and forced to battle.[note 4] They then released a "parody" game on the day of release of Black 2 and White 2, proving again that they don't do any research.[note 5][17] When Pokémon X and Pokémon Y were released, PETA released another abomination parody game named Pokémon Red, White and Blue that tries to connect Nintendo to McCruel McDonald's and mocks dual-version release and the idea of a third version for Arceus knows why.

Team Rocket joins the Khmer Rouge[edit]

The Tuol Sleng genocide museum in Cambodia banned Pokémon Go due to players trying to catch Pokémon in former Khmer Rouge torture centers. Similar occurrences have happened in Nazi concentration camps and Hiroshima bombing memorials.[18]

Hitler and Pokémon Go[edit]

Slavoj Žižek considered Hitler to be the greatest Pokémon Go player of all time,[19][dead link] which is not really surprising considering that Slavoj Žižek is a raving loon.

Pokémon Black and White(Washing)[edit]

June 2019 saw a rather heated controversy arise over one Japanese artist's depiction of the new Pokémon character Nessa with slightly lighter skin than she actually is depicted as. A few overreactions in response on Twitter caused artists to take matters into their own hands by depicting Nessa either as straight-up white or pitch-black, culminating with one artist's drawing of her as a monkey.[20]


See the main article on this topic: Loot box

Like many other video games, Pokémon has jumped straight into this controversy. Pokémon Go's eggs have been criticized for basically being loot boxes.[21] Pokémon Unite, which was developed by TencentWikipedia (a huge controversy in and of itself due to the company's connections to the Chinese government) has been criticized for its pay-to-win mechanics[22] and also contains gacha mechanics (basically lootboxes) as do a number of other Pokémon mobile games.[23][24] The problems with including these gambling mechanics in games aimed at children and that are also very popular among neurodivergent people who are particularly susceptible to lootboxes[25] have not gone unnoticed.


Other lesser known "controversies" include right to publicity infringement,[26] Nazism,[26][note 6][note 7] materialism,[27] and gambling.[28][13][note 8]

Other weirdness[edit]

In 2011, long after most people other than PETA had stopped complaining about the series, Republican Presidential hopeful Herman Cain killed his chances of being president (again) by quoting the theme song from the second Pokémon movie in a speech, referring to the writer for said line as "a poet".[29][note 9] Some analysts have noted that the decision might not have been as bold as many people thought; by then he had already lost most of his support, it was in fact his concession speech, and much like poor Kadabra he had already been accused of wearing the Number of the Beast.[30] Besides, Ronald Reagan lifted the phrases "evil empire" and "freedom fighters" straight out of the opening crawl of Star Wars...

External links[edit]


  1. Yet there have been a plethora of sheep Pokémon over the years: Mareep, Flaaffy, and Whimsicott.
  2. Arceus, however, was goat-like. And also God. But stuck in a fence. There was also Abra, Kadabra and Alakazam who were also goat-like. And also Satan.
  3. It is speculated that this is because the symbol for colorless energy in the spinoff trading card game resembles the Star of David.
  4. In reality, only a couple of Pokémon have issues with battling.
  5. Their parody suggests that characters don't care about the well-being of their Pokémon, but in fact the player characters all do, and only villains are shown not caring for their Pokémon (with animated series protagonist Ash Ketchum suffering the most grievous character derailment of all the human characters, all for the sake of a shallow parody). This was in fact a plot point in the original Black and White games, proving that the PETA parody is obviously uninformed.
  6. See here, keep in note that the swastika (or manji as the Japanese call it) can have a completely different meaning and it's not always associated with Nazism.
  7. To be somewhat fair, Team Flare, the villains of Pokémon X and Y, are unnervingly similar to Nazis, right down to having invented a communication device called the Holo Caster (it's "holo" as in "hologram", but still, wow).
  8. Note that although the "gambling" (which actually involved game tokens and not the in-game character's money) was removed in the non-Japanese versions of HeartGold and SoulSilver, it was for the purpose of making it easier to release the games in Europe. For some reason, the video game-rating system there is extremely strict when it comes to gambling references: after all, New Super Mario Bros. DS, in a later release for the Wii U's Virtual Console, received a 12+ rating from the European age rating board, comparable to a T-rated game. (In case you were wondering, the gambling machines were replaced with a card game that resembles a cross between Minesweeper and PicrossWikipedia.)
  9. If he wanted to be profound and quote Pokémon, he should've stuck with this line from Pokémon: the First Movie villain Mewtwo: "I see now that the Circumstances of one's birth are irrelevant. It is what you do with the gift of life that determines who you are."


  1. Oh noes! It's Pikachu, Causing children to die be sent to the hospital!!
  2. Mikkelson, D. (August 8, 2007). "Pokeman Seizures".[sic] Snopes. Retrieved August 10, 2019.
  3. Religious Objections to Pokémon
  4. "Christian perspective on Pokémon"
  5. The Dangers of Pokemon!
  6. 6.0 6.1 Pokemon: What is it?
  7. "The Danger of the Pokemon Fascination"
  8. Some fundamemtalists claim that if you backmask the Pokemon rap, you'll apparently get "I love Satan!"
  9. The concept of Pokemon "evolution" fully explained
  10. That's right, the Vatican said it: There is no Satanic brainwashing in Pokémon
  11. Leave it to the hivemind of the Internet to create a cult out of a bloody fossil.
  12. Hindus are Pissed That Krishna is in Shin Megami Tensei IV: Final
  13. 13.0 13.1 Banned in Saudi Arabia, now I wonder if anyone has the guts to bring Pokemon Platinum into the kingdom now.
  14. "Qli" on the Yu-Gi-Oh Wiki
  15. Question of the Month (September 2009): Racism and Pokemon, David Pilgrim, The Jim Crow Museum, Ferris State University
  16. Pokémon Controversy, Bulbapedia
  17. If you really want to see it...
  18. Pokémon Go players banned from Cambodia genocide museum
  21. Pokémon GO's Eggs Absolutely Are Loot Boxes & It's Clearly Gambling, Laura Gray, Screen Rant 18 March 2021
  22. Pokémon Unite feels a little too ‘pay to win’ for some players, Tyler Colp, Polygon 30 June 2021
  23. Energy Rewards - Limit & How To Get, GameWith 26 September 2021
  24. Pokemon Masters is a 2019 gacha game designed to catch all your dollars, Daniel George, AppTrigger 28 April 2019
  25. Microtransactions Are An Accessibility Issue (The Jimquisition), Jim Sterling, 27 September 2021
  26. 26.0 26.1 Uri Geller sues Pokemon, claiming it defames his name!
  27. Pokemon the Movie: 2000, Pop Matters
  28. Lawsuit Slams Pokemon as Bad Bet for Addicted Kids
  29. We have to link to this again.
  30. 999 is awfully close to...