Pokémon: Dangerous trend or harmless fun?

By Sarah King
Amalgamated Academy
Bay Roberts, Newfoundland

Parents, guardians and teachers all over the nation are asking themselves that very question. It must be difficult when a 9-year-old child races home from school, flops down in front of the television to the battles and violence of Pokémon.

Indeed, many children are trying their best to "catch 'em all" in the form of the popular trading cards. Many schools have found it necessary to ban all Pokémon items in efforts to keep the peace. In many cases, the trading of cards has gone to extremes, sometimes reaching the level of fist fights, biting, hitting, or scratching. Some children have even resorted to theft in order to get the "Dragonite" card that would complete their collection.

The poster for
Pokémon: The First Movie

Pokémon itself is the brainwave of Satoshi Tajiri. As a young child, Tajiri collected bugs and insects from his village just outside Tokyo. Pokemon, he says,"is a way for children of a new generation to have a chance to collect insects and other creatures the way he did. In 1996, he presented his idea to Nintendo for Game Boy. Many companies refused to take part in his deal. They felt that Game Boy technology was out of date. Nintendo released the game anyway, not
expecting much in the way of results. To young Japanese boys, however, Game Boy was the way to go. Since CD-ROM's and Sony Playstation's were new and expensive, the forgotten era of Game Boy was now within their grasp. The Pokémon game grew.

The basic principle behind the three editions of Pokémon (Red, Blue and Yellow), is to "catch 'em all". The 151 species of Pokémon are scattered throughout the three versions. In order to capture all the Pokémon, you must complete all three versions. Pokémon Gold and Silver editions will be available sometime in 2000 with the promise of 260 species.

There have been tragedies from the onset of Pokémon fever. During one of the first animated shows, over 700 children in Japan were stricken with seizures after watching the ever popular Pikachu during battle. Apparently, the flashing lights and swirling colours made for seizures. The problem was fixed, however, and to date, no further problems have ensued from the TV

However, there have been many injuries sustained from the trading of Pokémon cards. Children in Montréal and New York have been stabbed after refusing to trade cards with other students.

It's up to you: is Pokémania dangerous or will it just fade away along with its predecessors Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The Power Rangers?