PokéMyths: Combat in Kanto
Let’s get serious for a moment, PUCLonians. There are several constants in this world we live in. There will always be stupid people, there will always be an endless amount of Zubat in Dark Cave, and war shall always plague us. As human beings, we gravitate towards it. We don’t know why, we just do. Because of this, war has been a topic ever present in the world of video games. I’m about to launch an all-out offensive on your childhood and prove to you that even your journey in the world Pokémon was preceded by a tragic bout of violence.
Well, I hope that ominous opening hasn’t propelled anyone to feel too down. But this week does bode a slightly more serious subject. Despite this, I’ll try to keep it entertaining. So let’s not put it off any longer. This is a critical examination of one the more disturbing myths in Generation 1. The myth in question is the insinuation that there was a full-scale war in Kanto at a time not far off from the beginning of the mythos.
There is no better place to start than the beginning. And I mean the very beginning, as in your very first home in the Pokémon universe. That’s right, that small house in Pallet Town. Only in a world created by Nintendo could it make sense to have a family of two living in a house composed of one bedroom and a kitchen. That one bedroom was occupied by Red, the protagonist. As Red, you would exit his room to the kitchen. Your father was nowhere in sight and your mother made no mention of him. It was a seemingly somber situation.
You’re mother seems to be oddly submissive to you. Not to sound sexist or anything, but she does indeed spend 100% of her time in the kitchen. It’s like you are the man of the house, a 10 year-old boy is pretty much in charge. You are free to come and go as you please, and not one person questions it. But, then you see your neighbors. Their house is home to only two people, a boy and his sister. This young man’s name is debatable; some call him Blue, Gary, or even Green. But, for this article, I’ll refer to him as Blue (as he was in the games). Blue and his sister Daisy both live together in their home. Daisy, being 18, should be in charge of the house. But, like Red, Blue leaves his home unquestioned at the age of 10. And Blue didn’t seem to have parents at all, just an eccentric grandfather.
The grown men in Kanto had a small variety of roles in their society. The men were either senior citizens, Gym Leaders, or, most commonly, thugs (there was also a large number of fishermen for some inexplicable reason). So, the region is mostly inhabited by children, many of which make no reference to their parents. Bikers and immoral jackasses (not a real trainer class) outnumber any other type of trainer and there are a huge number of professional criminals. In fact, the most profitable organization in the entire country is the criminal syndicate, Team Rocket. Giovanni, the leader of Team Rocket, seems to be a stereotype of an Italian mafia don. Just say that name, Giovanni, the sound of it alone evokes vivid imagery of dining at the Olive Garden. Speaking of which, Kanto really is a melting pot when you factor together the Italians, the native Asians, some French (S.S. Anne), and even a few Americans.
There is one American, in particular, who has fed into this theory more than any other. This man is Lt. Surge, the Gym Leader of Vermillion City. His official title, according to the gym’s sign, is “The Lightning American.” Upon confronting Surge in his gym, he makes numerous references to “the war.” He says that, as a Lieutenant, his life was saved by his electric Pokémon. This is odd considering that, at the time of this game’s release; the last war that had involved Americans on Japanese soil had been over 50 years ago. So, it is pretty clear that this is not a nod to a real world event. But, this is a hint to an event that happened in the game’s canon, preceding the events of the first Generation. This is a possible confirmation that Kanto was either conquered by an invading force, or the region survived an invasion attempt.
Another huge indicator that Kanto was once a war-torn region is the high concentration of hospitals. Every single town has a hospital (PokéCenter) of its own. This is rather unusual; at least for American society (I know little of the health care of other countries). In our country, we mostly see a hospital or two in each Parish, sorry for the colloquialism (I mean County, for the 99% of you that don’t use the Parish system). But, the point is that it is highly unusual for there to be such a large amount of hospitals in one place of such size. It has been theorized that many of these centers were erected as a response to the overwhelming wave of victims in need of medical attention, due to the war.
There seems to actually be a fair amount of evidence supporting this theory. Despite this, Nintendo has never directly addressed this accusation. Not that it’s surprising, not only is it a dark possibility, but companies rarely “comment on rumors or speculation” (though this doesn’t fall into the usual category of speculation) of any sorts. Still, it is a genuinely interesting concept and it would be fun to see it explored. Just imagine it, a new story preceding the events of Kanto that involves a more primitive form of using Pokémon on the battlefield. It would easily tie into this theory (even if it wasn’t directly related or immediately preceding the events of Red and Blue, perhaps slightly further in the past). The possibility is incredible!
The Verdict: Though it hasn’t been officially confirmed, I’d venture to say that this myth is valid.