Pokémon is a Japanese anime that was popular in Japan before it went overseas. It started as a game called “Pocket Monsters” (and that’s where Pokémon got its name “Pocket Monsters.” So Pokémon originated in Japan, though a friend of mine said that it is really more on Western than Eastern because 1. The opening and ending songs aren’t in Japanese, 2. The setting isn’t Japanese and 3. It’s like a new world but mixed with Western stuff. This friend of mine, I can say is right, yet I must say that it doesn’t really capture the whole thing about Pokémon. So as we dig deeper into this discussion, I would like to agree, though not fully, that Pokémon has Western influences, but in many ways, it still is very much Japanese.
1. The Pokémon figures are irregular.
If you are to look at a variety of Pokémon all at the same time (I’m referring to the old kind of Pokémon, namely the Pokémons in Kanto, Johto, Hoenn and Sinnoh, for I’m not really updated with Unova. . . ), not one of them look alike. This is due to their irregularity. If I may just ask, how often do you see a puppy that looks like Growlithe? Another example would be from Pikachu. If you’re this ‘alienated’ with Pokémon, Pikachu is an example of a Pokémon that breaks the stereotype of a mouse. If you’d look at Pikachu, and you look at a mouse, you would wish that all mice that you see at home look like Pikachu, and wouldn’t that be cool? Though, as we all know, (well as all the Pokémon fans know at least…) Pikachu is NOT the only mouse Pokémon. There is also who we call Rattata. If you are to look at the both of them, they may be the same specie yet totally two different kinds of Pokémon. With the examples given above, we’d notice that, most, if not all, Pokémons are actually seen in our common experiences as humans, which would lead us to the next point.
2. The Pokémon idea seems so complex yet so simple.
Simplicity is another Japanese aesthetic that we’d see in Pokémon. We may think, “Wow, Satoshi Tajiri (the one who created Pokémon), is such a complex person! I wonder how he did it. . . ”
Actually, if we were to see why he created Pokémon is because of this:
“ It started simply enough as a hobby of Satoshi Tajiri, who as a child had a fondness for catching insects and tadpoles near his home in suburban Tokyo. Over time, Tajiri decided to put his idea of catching creatures into practice, to give children the same thrills he had as a child.”
If you did read the passage above, it is proven that Pokémon is really an idea that is so simple, not really that complex.
3. Pokémons aren’t immortal.
If you had a chance to play Pokémon, you would notice that Pokémons aren’t immortal. (This is actually hard to experience in the TV series since after they (Pokémons) faint, and after the Pokémon battle, once the trainer sends them out, without bringing them to the Pokémon Center (the hospital or clinic for Pokémons) they are still very much alive. Though I would like to say that the fact that they fainted, most probably died during the battle, they’re mortal.)
4. The Pokémon types.
Japanese aesthetics also touches on nature. If you would look at the starting Pokémons, their types are based on nature: water, grass, and fire. (Though there would also be psychic, electric, ground, ghost, etc., which is not somehow related to nature [except ground], but there must be a reason why in the start of the Pokémon game, they only gave those 3 types and not the others, right?)
5. The Mystery.
In the TV series, it is Ash’s (the lead character) main goal to become the Pokémon master. In the Nintendo game, you are most likely to imitate Ash and become the Pokémon master also. Though, most who try to finish the game wonders how they can actually BE the Pokémon master. Though this was the only response we, Pokémon gamers, could get:
“It is the goal of Ash Ketchum, as well as many other Pokémon Trainers, to become a Pokémon Master, sometimes known as Champion Master. However, exactly what this position is and how one attains it is vague and never fully explained. This, however, is done intentionally, as explained by a Nintendo representative in response to an email sent to Pokémon.com‘s mailbag:
‘I’m very sorry, but the Pokémon Company does not answer questions of this nature. It is the intent of the Pokémon creators that such questions be left to the imaginations and interpretations of Pokémon fans, adding more excitement and mystery to the Pokémon universe.’”
To sum everything up, I would like to answer the question, “Is Pokémon more on Western or Eastern?”
Well, IN MY OPINION, Pokémon, is very much Eastern and I would like to put it in this illustration. Imagine the structure and the layers of Earth, the lithosphere (the outermost layer) and we can say partially (not more than 1/2) of the mantle, can be represented as the influences that made Pokémon quite western. Though the remaining of the mantle (around 7/10 of it) and the core, is the Japanese side. Since 7/10 of the mantle and the core (Japanese touch) weighs heavier than 3/10 of the mantle and the crust (Western touch), I could say that Pokémon is DEFINITELY more on the Eastern side than the Western. 🙂
Though if you’re wondering why the song goes “to catch them is my real test…” You already probably got the answer above. If you haven’t well, (DISCLAIMER: THIS IS SUBJECTIVE) it was Satoshi’s hobby to catch insects and made it a ‘test’ for us, Pokémon trainers, to catch Pokémons. 🙂 (Because how would you become a Pokémon trainer if you don’t have Pokémons or at least a Pokémon?)