LTRP Note: With the recent Pokemon Go craze, we thought this article from 1999 by Berit Kjos about Pokemon was very timely and needed. For those who aren’t sure if Pokemon Go is OK or not, do a search on the Internet to read some of the scary stories happening to people. We linked to one of them below Berit’s article.
By Berit Kjos
Who are the strange little creatures from Japan that have suddenly become global super-stars? Most kids know the answer well: They are called Pokemon (short for POCKEt MONster and pronounced Poh-keh-mon), and they have stirred up some mixed reactions.
“We just sent a letter home today saying Pokemon cards are no longer allowed on campus,” said Paula Williams, a second-grade teacher in Danville, California. “The kids know they’re supposed to be put away when they come in from recess, but they’re often in the middle of a trade, so they don’t come in on time. In the more extreme cases, the older kids are getting little kids to trade away valuable cards . . . . It drives a teacher crazy.”1
It concerns parents even more. “Recently, my children were given a set of Pokemon cards,” said DiAnna Brannan, a Seattle mom. “They are very popular with the children at our church and elsewhere. I was instantly suspicious but couldn’t discern the problem. We have since been told that they are stepping stones to the ‘Magic cards’ that have been popular for the last few years, which we do not allow.”
She is right. For instance, children exploring some of the most popular Pokemon websites 2 will find links to a selection of occult games. At the site for the Wizards of the Coast (makers of the Pokemon and Magic cards), a click on an ad for “Magic the Gathering” brings Pokemon fans to promotions such as this:
“A global games phenomenon, Magic: The Gathering is to the 1990s what Dungeons and Dragons was to the 1980s, but with the added dimension of collectibility. Here is the official reference to the biggest new teen/young adult fantasy game of the decade, complete with full-color reproductions of every existing Magic card.”
THE POKEMON MESSAGE. The above websites gives us glimpse of the mysterious little creatures called Pokemon. Ponder the suggestions in this greeting:
“Welcome to the world of Pokemon, a special place where people just like you train to become the number-one Pokemon Master in the World!”
“But what is a Pokemon, you ask. ‘Pokemon are incredible creatures that share the world with humans,’ says Professor Oak, the leading authority on these monster. ‘There are currently 150 documented species of Pokemon. . . . Each Pokemon has its own special fighting abilities. . . . Some grow, or evolve, into even more powerful creatures.. . . Carry your pokemon with you, and you’re ready for anything! You’ve got the power in your hands, so use it!'” 3
What if children try to follow this advice? What if they carry their favorite monsters like magical charms or fetishes in their pockets, trusting them to bring power in times of need?
Many do. It makes sense to those who watch the television show. In a recent episode, Ash, the boy hero, had just captured his fifth little Pokemon. But that wasn’t good enough, said his mentor. He must catch lots more if he wants to be a Pokemon master. And the more he catches and trains, the more power he will have for future battles.
So Ash sets out again in search for more of the reclusive, power-filled, little Pokemon. His first step is to find the “psychic Pokemon” called Kadabra and snatch it from its telepathic, pink-eyed trainer, Sabrina.
Or so it would seem to a first-time viewer not familiar with the contradictory themes. Actually, Ash doesn’t try to “catch” Kadabra, an evolved version of the Pokemon Abra. In spite of the prodding to increase his inventory of Pokemon warriors — and in spite of the constant reminders to “catch them all” — Ash was merely trying to win a standard battle. With the ghost Haunter on his side, it should have been a cinch!
But Ash underestimates the power of his opponent. When he and Sabrina meet for the fight, both hurl their chosen Pokemon into the air, but only Abra (who becomes Kadabra) evolves into a super-monster with a magic flash. Haunter hides. “Looks like your ghost Pokemon got spooked,” taunts Sabrina.4 Click here to continue reading.
Pokemon Go is Dangerous – Someone’s story