We’ve done a bunch of Pokémon-related stuff at TheGamer by now. It’s a property with a seemingly infinite amounot of subject matter that can be probed. Mario is Nintendo’s icon without question, but I don’t think he even has as much appeal as Pikachu and the other cute critters in the Pokémon pantheon. Do you regularly watch a Mario anime every week, or play his trading card game, or run around in the real world collecting Marios? No. Maybe we should be doing those things as a society. I'd be down for another crack at a Mario cartoon even if it weren’t an anime. I don’t know about the other two examples, but the point is Pokémon is beloved by all and makes money hand over fist.
Just by myself, I’ve published six articles, which tackled everything from problems with the series that fans overlook, hacks for the games, comics, the worst spinoffs, and more. It’s easy to write about and I have fun doing it. So again, we’ve written a lot here, but there’s one thing we haven’t delved into: comparing the games to the anime. As popular as the cards are, the two biggest selling points for Pokémon is in regards to the games and show. That’s why it seems like a logical choice to compare the two because even though they share a name. Things that fans, like myself, can get upset over. That’s why I hunted down these twenty-five priceless memes for your evening entertainment.
Gotta Catch ‘Em All. It’s a slogan as memorable as “Lets-a-go”, or “It’s dangerous to go alone take this” in terms of famous video game quotes, or catchphrases. It was so important to Nintendo’s marketing of Pokémon that they promoted it on the box for the first six games in the West. In order to sell the gimmick, they needed to hit hard that that was the goal of the games and in order to make it to that goal you had to trade with friends or buy multiple copies. In terms of marketing, it was pure genius. While it’s still the catchphrase for the series they stopped putting it on the box starting with the Game Boy Advance generation for some reason.
Now even though the slogan is all over the anime too, Ash couldn’t be more oblivious. Not counting movies, or TV specials there are now over 1000 episodes as of April and there are over 800 Pokémon. How many has Ash caught in this time frame? Less than one hundred! Either Ash has never heard the slogan, or he’s a terrible trainer. The obvious answer is yes, he’s a terrible trainer, but we’ll get more into why later.
Let’s continue from where I left off regarding Ash’s skills as a trainer. Ash isn’t terrible. He’s super friendly to his Pokémon and legitimately wants to be the very best like no one was before, but he’s also too arrogant and lazy. He’s gotten every badge during his gym battles one way or another, which boils down to luck a lot of the time. Has he ever won a legit tournament? Nope. I understand why the writers can’t have him catch every Pokémon and why he can’t win. It just wouldn’t be interesting if he literally were the best.
I want to be the very worst.
On the contrary, the games make you into a winner easily. They are not without their challenge, but if you even mildly prepare yourself for battle, you’ll stand out victoriously. A game where you lose all the time wouldn’t be that interesting and or rewarding. They targeted for a younger audience as an introduction to RPGs after all. It’s not Dragon Quest in terms of difficulty although maybe it should be. Technically, the Pokémon series should be thanking Dragon Quest since they more or less introduced monster catching as a thing in video games with Dragon Quest V in 1992.
In terms of Pokémon skills, Nintendo plays it pretty fast and loose when it comes to power and usefulness between the show and the games. Take this meme for example. Jigglypuff’s special technique is “Sing” which will lull a Pokémon to sleep for a set number of turns. It all depends on the Pokémon and its resistance to sleep, but we’re looking at a few turns here max so a couple minutes at best in real time. In the anime, Jigglypuff’s melody is god tier in terms of effectiveness.
In episode 45 “The Song of Jigglypuff” Ash and pals meet the pink puffball for the first time and it is desperate for someone to hear its singing without going to sleep. When everyone eventually falls asleep it draws all over their faces, angry like a true diva. Later on, they make it to Neon Town, which is a parallel to Las Vegas. It’s a city that never sleeps so the gang gets the idea to stage a performance for Jigglypuff, thinking someone will stay awake, in order to make it happy. Unfortunately, that theory was wrong because everyone in the city falls asleep. That is some powerful medicine. With powers like that, I could get rid of sleep aids.
The Brock in the games and the Brock in the anime couldn’t be farther apart. Video game Brock is barely a character at all. He’s your first step on your goal of becoming a Pokémon Champion in the first games. That is to say, he’s the first Gym Leader you will face. He even makes an appearance in Pokémon Gold and Pokémon Silver if you continue back into Kanto after defeating the Johto circuit. He’s an iconic part of the series, but he’s not much of a well-defined character in terms of personality.
Why the anime then decided to single him out to become friends with Ash is beyond me. In a way it kind of makes sense. He’s the first Gym Leader and Misty is the second, so yeah, I can see why they would go with the first two. What I don’t understand is why they made him into a love-crazed fool like this meme points out. At the end of the day, you can just shrug your shoulders and blame it on anime. Brock is a thousand Japanese tropes rolled into one. I guess raising your gang of brothers and sisters for years while your father is away will do that to a person.
What came first? The chicken or the egg. It’s an age-old riddle we will never solve and the same quandary can be applied to Pokémon. What is Pokémon? Should it be classified as a video game with various spinoffs, or is it an anime with assorted media tie-ins? Nowadays it’s hard to distinguish, but technically it began as a video game and sort of exploded after that. There’s a core set of games with spinoff titles too, the anime, toys, board games, comics, and so much more. It prints money!
It’s the name of the game.
Let’s get back to the naming dilemma. The joke for this meme is that both Ash Ketchum, the protagonist of the anime, and Red, the default name for the original trainer from the games, both have terrible names. Now I’ve heard plenty of people named Ash before, but not so much Ketchum. It’s a funny pun based on their motto “Gotta catch ‘em all” which is funny, but also pretty silly. As for Red I’ve also seen that name tossed around in reality, but considering it’s Red because the game is called Pokémon Red, well, it just feels uninspired. In the grand scheme, it doesn’t really matter though.
Continuing on with naming conventions, your rival in the games is often referred to as Blue for his attire and because that’s the opposite of Pokémon Red i.e. Pokémon Blue. In the English releases one of his default names is Gary because fans of the show may want to call him by this counterpart. You can name your rival, and yourself, whatever you want so long as it’s within seven characters. I know I can do the math. Stink Boy is longer than seven characters, but whatever. The point is people like to goof on his name and call Gary a lot of ruder, explicit names that can’t really be repeated here, but it’s pretty obvious.
And why shouldn’t you call him by an awful name? He is your rival and not in a friendly way either. Sure he never tries to physically do your character harm, but he’s so smarmy I just want to punch his lights out. Why does he even act so smug in the games? The anime Gary has a right, somewhat, as he seems to actually be a good trainer, or at least better than Ash. Is the video game version just riding on his grandfather’s coattails? Whatever the case may be, he deserves every insulting name he gets.
One of the most problematic mechanics I’ve had with the Pokémon games since day one has been in regards to the limited move sets. No matter what Pokémon you train they can only have four moves. It’s been that way for over twenty years now and it’s about dang time it changes. For that matter let’s get rid of random encounters as long as we’re talking about dated RPG mechanics. At least they’ve made strides with the former, but it’s annoying to fight around with move lists especially when you need HMs to finish the games and thus have even less room for the skills you really want. More on that issue later.
This is even more excruciating knowing that the anime seemingly has no limits. I mean, Ash’s Pikachu learned Iron Tail for crying out loud! It’s not like any Pokémon can learn any move, but at least it’s more realistic. Do you honestly expect me to believe that any Pokémon can learn and forget Tackle, or that a bird Pokémon like Pidgey doesn’t know how to use Peck when it has a beak? These are obvious, biological moves, so come on video games. Get with the program already.
To go along with my move argument let’s delve further into HMs. They are kind of like abilities you acquire in a Metroidvania, or I guess we should just say Metroid since this is Nintendo. These HMs, or Hidden Machines, can be taught to Pokémon in order to reach new areas previously inaccessible before. Flash can light up dark caves or dungeons so you can actually see where you’re going. Fly can be used to fast travel around to previously visited locations. Surf lets you sail around open waters. I mean, you get the idea. While cool in concept because you only get four moves per Pokémon it makes you waste a move just so you can continue playing the game.
What’s the deal with all these HMs?
To dodge this obstacle a lot of people, including myself, add a useless Pokémon into our lineups that can learn a majority of the HM moves. There are “lovingly” referred to as HM slaves. How does the show handle HMs? It doesn’t. Again, it’s an obvious answer. Do you think Lapras needs to be taught how to swim and carry people on its back? No! Do you think Scyther with its giant blades for hands needs to know how to Cut? No! Thankfully, this crisis has been answered with Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon getting rid of HMs so the argument now is moot, but it’s still worth bringing up for a joke.
I know what you’re thinking already. Tristan, Pikachu actually says its name in both the anime and games now. If that was indeed your thought congrats on figuring out the joke of this meme, but it’s only step one in a longer discussion. While Pikachu can indeed say its name instead of an incoherent sound bite in the games, that doesn’t transfer to any of the other Pokémon. And why shouldn’t it? I get that the games were limited by technology when the original Game Boy games shipped. They were worried about fitting all of the data into the cartridges because, again, chip sizes were small and expensive back then.
Now, game cartridges can hold a lot so I don’t buy that Nintendo can’t because of space now. Why have it for Pikachu and no one else? The simple answer is Pikachu is the mascot so in that regards I get it. I also understand that the TV universe and the games are very different works as I’ve debated through a number of these entries so far. It just seems puzzling to me. Pick a side and stick to it. Don’t bounce around otherwise it muddies the brand you’re trying to push.
Trading is what Pokémon was built on. That’s why it started with two separate versions and why it will always launch with two games until the end of time. The cynical reason points to money, but it goes beyond that. While cash is the blood that feeds all of us to get up in the morning for one reason or another, trading is also about building a community. You need friends in order to “catch ‘em all” because certain Pokémon only exist in certain versions. For example, in Pokémon Red players could catch Spearow at the beginning of the game whereas Pokémon Blue allowed players to catch Pidgey. Of course, you could just buy two copies for yourself if you have two systems, but that’s pretty sad.
Now, does trading exist in the anime? Yes, even Ash does it once but regrets it immediately. The real joke here is that he releases a lot of Pokémon throughout his journey for various reasons. He releases Butterfree to find love, Primeape to be a champion fighter, and so on. There’s a simple explanation for this too. In order to keep the show fresh, the writers have to have Ash catch a new Pokémon. If he used the same six Pokémon from the beginning of the series it would get old, right? Why not just have him trade though?
Breeding was first introduced in Pokémon Gold and Pokémon Silver. If you leave a Pokémon at the Daycare center that creature will gain experience depending on the number of steps you take. Sometimes if the two Pokémon you leave behind get along, they will produce an egg. The easiest way to breed is with a Ditto. Let’s say you have a Blastoise, but want to get a Squirtle in order to trade another trainer for a Bulbasaur. Well, you can breed a Ditto and a Blastoise together to make a Squirtle. It’s as easy as that.
It feels, looks, and smells like GAK.
Now we know breeding exists in the anime because that’s what Brock wants to become. It’s never really explicitly talked about though since it is a kid’s show. The joke here instead is the Ditto we see in the episode “Ditto’s Mysterious Mansion” wherein Ash and his friends meet Duplica and her Ditto who can’t transform without looking like, well, a Ditto. The best example is on the left of this meme. That is not what a Machoke is supposed to look like. It’s pretty derpy, to say the least. As for “Snu Snu” that is a reference to Futurama, which is a euphemism for doing it. Put it all together and it becomes a hilarious meme.
As I said earlier there have been over one thousand episodes of the anime and that’s not counting movies, specials, and so on. Yet, somehow Ash has remained ten for twenty years? Even if we’re generous and count every episode as one day, which is impossible, he would still be way past ten, like in his early teens by now. The simple answer is it’s a TV show so who cares about continuity. The anime breaks it all the time in way more ways than ignoring Ash’s age. That aside, I’m kind of tired of following him around.
Thankfully, each new video game Pokémon generation introduces new protagonists, new Pokémon, and new regions to explore to keep things extra fresh. Sure your player character is silent and has no personality, but I still value the change no matter how surface-level cheap it is. That’s not to say the anime doesn’t spice things up too because it does. A lot of the game characters make their way into his party for example. Maybe Ash has a secret elixir of life to make him young. Surely there’s a Pokémon with that ability, right? Just wait for the next generation to find out.
I’ve never understood the fascination with Shiny Pokémon. All they are are pallet swaps of the originals. Take Dragonite for example. Instead of orange and yellow he turns dark green. Cool? I understand that Pokémon is all about bragging rights, which is to say the rarer your collection the better you are or something. I don’t know. I like Pokémon, but I’m not a crazy fanatic. At least not anymore. I mean, Shiny Pokémon aren’t even more powerful.
On the other hand, I can get behind the idea of giant Pokémon. See, way back in season one there was an episode called “Mystery at the Lighthouse” wherein Ash and his friends come across, well, a lighthouse. It is here that they meet Professor Oak’s colleague, Bill, who is also a Pokémon researcher. In it, we see a giant Dragonite to which Bill explains it’s the last of its kind. That is the last time we see a real giant Pokémon. That is, unless you want to count “Island of the Giant Pokémon” which had giant Pokémon, but it was later revealed that they were just robots. The point is, giant Pokémon are cooler than Shiny ones in my book.
There are a lot more reasons why I think the Pokémon anime reminds me of a zany American cartoon like Looney Tunes besides Team Rocket. Let’s talk about Nurse Joy and Officer Jenny. Nurse Joy is the head of the Pokémon Center in every city and Officer Jenny is then the head of the police department in every city. How can that be possible? Are they clones? Well, they give a pretty lame albeit funny excuse. Every Joy and Jennie are related to those that come before be it cousins, sisters, or whatever. How a family can be that large with identical looking members is beyond me, but again, it’s a cartoon so who cares.
The families of Nurse Joy an Officer Jenny must breed like Buneary.
Now Nurse Joy isn’t specifically named in the games, but the sprite for each operator in the Pokémon Centers looks a lot like her. There are no sprites that call back to Officer Jenny though, and while it can be offensive to her anime counterpart, it makes sense. Ash deals with Team Rocket a lot more in the show so the plot then would need some sort of law enforcement to make sense of it all. That’s the only reason I can surmise at least.
I have yet another gripe against the Pokémon moves in the games and one I hope gets addressed in the upcoming Switch title. My dream is for it to evolve into an action RPG wherein you can control the Pokémon directly. I played a brilliant fan game called Pokémon Generations that imagined what it would be like years ago and have been dreaming of this in an official capacity ever since. The main reason is that it could better reflect the anime’s combat style. See, there’s more strategy than just choosing the opposing Pokémon type to earn a victory.
This meme is a perfect example. In the episode “Showdown in Pewter City,” Ash challenges Brock to a Gym battle. Pikachu’s attacks don’t work against Onix because, according to the lore, Ground-type Pokémon are immune against electric attacks. I guess that is unless it gets wet and then gets hit with electricity. It doesn’t really make sense, but hey, wouldn’t it be cool to apply this strategy to the games? Environmental weaknesses in the territory would be such a small, but cool implementation in the battles. I’d settle just for that action combat, but the strategy mechanics on top would be like a fine icing. I’ll keep on dreaming.
When Pokémon GO was first announced I was a little skeptic. How could a Pokémon game be fun on my phone? I had no idea it would sweep the whole world in the summer of 2016. It was astounding and will be some of my favorite gaming memories ever whether it be walking around a crowded park and running into like-minded Pokémon players, or walking around creepy alleyways with my friend after midnight. It was all good, but like I predicted it didn’t hold clout to be longstanding except for those hardcore fanatics still going out there. There just wasn’t that much game there.
Sure, it was neat to discover Pokémon in the real world, but it wasn’t real. It’s as close as we can get for now, but it’s not as exciting as seeing them for really real. Misty is right. It’s a cute little app, but nothing compares to the real thing. I’m not saying those that still play are wasting their lives because you should do what makes you happy. Unless that means something illegal. Anyway, of course, “real” is in relative terms since even the Pokémon in the anime are fake since it is just a cartoon, but obvious realities aside it’s still funny and true.
Here’s a real brainteaser. Potions and other salves exist in the Pokémon anime. Ash, Brock, and the others have been seen using them, but only when the script demands it. Pokémon get hurt all the time, but the quick solution is to bring them to the Pokémon Center. Again, it all depends on the plot of the episode. In the games, it’s also free and an invaluable resource for your journey, but it doesn’t help in battle. Potions, on the other hand, do.
A potion makes a man a champion.
Now I know it wouldn’t make for very exciting TV if Ash and his opponent constantly used healing items during battle. Lord knows I’ve fought countless battles throughout the games where my opponent and I were at a standstill because no one could get the upper hand and we both had a lot of items to heal with. Not sure exactly who to side with on this one. On one hand, it’s more exciting in the show and the flow is better without items. On the other hand battles in the game would be too difficult without items. Like the battles I’ve fought, it seems we’re at an impasse for now.
One of the reasons why Ash and his friends don’t rely on potions could actually be a very simple answer: money. Somehow they are able to buy stuff occasionally, but where is the money coming from? Misty and Brock probably get residuals from their family via their respective gyms and Ash probably receives cash from his mom. If they can transfer Pokémon though computers then I’m sure money can be as well. Maybe they have debit cards. Er, that’s not the point.
What is odd is that Ash seemingly never receives cash after winning Pokémon battles like in the games. Now in most RPGs when you fight monsters they usually drop money and or items. Because it would be weird for Pokémon to carry cash, the developers had to think of a more clever way to earn dough, which is why the mechanic of trainer battles appeared. Logically it makes sense from that point of view, but it’s also kind of weird. I mean are these kids gambling on top of fighting with monsters? It can’t feel too good taking money from literal children, but hey this is a universe where ten-year-olds can adventure alone without repercussions so whatever.
One of the most baffling things about the Pokémon universe is the existence of gods, or that is to say, Pokémon with god-like powers and tendencies. They started out as just being referred to as Legendary Pokémon, but then gradually started to take on more powerful entities. Dialga is the master of time, Kyogre is the master of the sea, Palkia controls space, and so on. Then there’s Arceus, which according to the Pokedex seems to be like the literal God. “It is told in mythology that this Pokémon was born before the universe even existed.”
There are variations on that quote between each game, but they’re all basically the same. How then does it make sense for kids to be catching these things? In fact, when Arceus appears he sort of just lets the trainer capture him like it’s his/her destiny in Pokémon Diamond and Pokémon Pearl. That has to blow Ash’s mind. Why if he had the power of gods he could easily become the champion in no time. Poor kid. Based on experience though Pikachu is probably reaching that level. Just a few more jolts and he may become the Thor of Pokémon. Now that’s an Avengers movie I’d see.
There’s not an extra word spoken in this meme, but it’s still brilliant. In the games Professor Oak asks, starting with Pokémon Ruby and Pokémon Sapphire, if the character is a boy or girl. That’s because you can choose a gender so it makes sense. I mean there are real people I mistake for men, or women all the time when they are in fact opposites. Plus, with gender identity being a hot topic right now, you never want to assign a role based on pure looks. I doubt the writers at Nintendo and Game Freak were thinking that in depth about gender though. It’s a binary choice here and nothing else.
Gender is a bit more complicated than that nowadays...
That said it still is a pretty funny gag to make fun of. Here we have one of the most brilliant scientists in Kanto, nay, the entire Pokémon universe and he can’t tell the difference between a boy and a girl. I can see why the anime version of him would want to hide his face in shame. That’s the basic gist I got from this meme anyway. What will the other scientists think? Oh, the Pokémon humanity of it all!
Pokémon and Digimon will be forever tied together as one. They are both anime and game series starring young boys and girls who fight evil with monsters. That’s the basic premise around both media properties anyway if you had to boil it down. There are a lot of differences though. The biggest of which involves the act of capturing monsters and evolution. We all know that the goal of Pokémon is to “catch ‘em all” and that evolutions are permanent, right? Well in most cases, for the Digimon stories, characters are assigned a Digimon as a partner, which they can then help morph into bigger Digimon, but they are not permanent.
They basically evolve, or more like transform in this instance, into varying levels. There are Champion and Mega versions for example. Some even use Mega in the name, but not as much as Pokémon. They just went hog wild and literally ripped off this idea more than a decade later. It happens in the anime too, but only in special cases. Ash isn’t going around and Mega evolving his Pokémon willy-nilly. That’s why I can see him being ashamed of the games as we see in this meme.
Sleep is a valuable resource to us all. Without it, we would literally perish. While Sloth is considered a sin, many of us would enjoy sleeping in on those early workdays, right? I know I would at least. It’s about as natural as breathing. It’s debatable how many hours you need. It’s recommended to get eight, but some people need more or less. Our bodies are individual that way. Anyway, I like the fact that sleeping, and in turn nighttime, is a big part of the Pokémon anime. There’s a lot of plot devices that revolve around sleep.
The games, however, never implement sleep in any form. I guess technically you could say you sleep if you black out after losing in a Pokémon battle, but otherwise, that’s it. Beds exist in the games and so does nighttime. In fact, starting with the second generation of Pokémon Gold and Pokémon Silver, there are certain Pokémon that will only appear at night, which was a cool element. Mechanics aside how does it make sense for a ten-year-old kid to run around the countryside without sleep, let alone traversing through monster-filled fields without supervision? It’s an idea that can be questioned in a lot of games like the most recent God of War. In that case, Kratos is a god though so I can buy that more than the young adults in Pokémon not going to bed.
This meme is kind of like the ultimate version of a lot of the other ideas I’ve already gone over with the rest of these entries. It concerns rules in the Pokémon games and the anime. The property with the most rules is, of course, the game. Not just written stuff, but I’m talking about on a literal technical value. Rules are programmed into the games. For example, you can’t just throw two Pokémon out at once in a solo 1v1 type of scenario. What if you could though? What if the Switch version was more like Grand Theft Auto, which has a basic, set of rules you could abide by, or you could be a fiend like Team Rocket. Using two Pokémon in battle would get that trainer to tell on you, raising your bounty or something.
My hair is assaulting you!
Wow. I know I should focus on the joke of this meme, but that tangent felt very therapeutic. I needed that. Nay. We all needed that. It’s not going to happen, but man that would be a boss idea for the Switch game. Anyway, the anime seems looser about stuff, but there are pros and cons to each universe regarding rules. The best part of this meme is the Yu-Gi-Oh Abridged reference. Oh, you haven’t watched that? Correct that mistake right now.
Jesse, James, and Meowth are the notorious villains from the anime that pursue Ash and his pals in nearly every episode. They’ve been there since day one and they will continue to be a bee in their bonnet until the finale. I don’t know how though. With the money they spend on hair-brained schemes it’s a miracle Team Rocket isn’t bankrupt. Chalk that up to cartoon logic. They’re about as close to Looney Tunes as anime can get.
Team Rocket was present in the first games, but then with each sequel, they were traded out for new ones including Team Galactic, Team Aqua, and so on. It’s not that these newer bad guys don’t show up in the anime, because they do, but they are only around for a few big episodes, usually to make Jesse, James, and Meowth look nobler by comparison. Even though the trio is evil, they deserve a bone every now and again and these episodes tend to be some of my favorite. As to why they still want Pikachu, well, heaven only knows. All that electricity must have scrambled their brains by this point. Someday you’ll get a Pikachu of your own Team Rocket.
I’ve already mentioned that Ash fights Brock in episode five and following that Brock decides to join Ash. He wasn’t his first party member, however. Technically it was Misty although she wasn’t exactly close to him yet. See, in the very first episode, Pikachu gets attacked by a bunch of Spearow. Worried Pikachu won’t survive he stumbles into a stranger, Misty, and steals her bike in order to get Pikachu to a Pokémon Center faster. Along the way lightning strikes and burns the bike to a crisp just before the lodge. Once Misty catches up and sees her bike she’s rightfully angry, but lets up on Ash after she hears about Pikachu.
The reason she starts following him is that she wants a new bike. Obviously, Ash can’t buy her one, but why can’t Misty? She has to earn cash from her family back in Cerulean City? They have a gym for crying out loud. Doesn’t the government fund that sort of stuff? I guess it’s the principle of the matter, but regardless the video game version would probably find this shocking. Who cares about a bike when you have Gym Leader status? Although isn’t being a gym leader kind of demeaning? I mean they’re basically there to lose.