The Morality of bug collecting and Pokemon Battles

This post is written by Orville E. Wright

Hello world, it is I, Orville E Wright. Sorry it took so long to write another Article, I hope you like this one.

Today, I am going to talk about the origins and influences of Pokemon, for the purpose of seeing why a Pokemon Battle is not actually like dog fighting.

It all started when Ken Sugimori was a young boy in Japan. He would go around his local forest collecting beetles and playing a game with them called Beetle Sumo. The game is played as such; the players collect beetles and place them in a ring or other flat surface. Now, when two male beetles see each other, they start fighting, but, unlike dogs or bears, who claw and tear their opponents, beetles push each other when they fight. The two players watch the fight, and whoever had the beetle that flipped over the other beetle wins.


Mr. Sugimori apparently loved this game when he was a kid. One day, at the magazine he was working at, he had an idea. What if you made a game where you went around collecting creatures and having them fight, like a Beetle Sumo Match? He wanted to recreate the fun and adventure he had as he played in the woods collecting bugs. Thus, Pokemon was born. It was not easy, Mr. Sugimori and others had to somehow turn a game magazine into a real videogame company after all, but he finally produced the first Gen of Pokemom to a resounding success.


Then Gen Five rolled around. Gamefreak had heard complaints from the Western Market about how violent their games were. There were claims that the game seemed to praise dog fighting and other far more evil pastimes. Unlike in Japan, where bug collecting and Beetle Sumo were old pass times from who knows when, the English world did not have a good history with animal pastimes. They were gambling-focused gore fest known for their cruelty, and Pokemon looked just like that.

So, Gamefreak decided to use the complaints in the form of the new villain faction, Team Plasma. This team had one goal, free Pokemon from there trainers at all cost. Lead by the (Spoilers) fanatical N and his guardian, Ghetsis, they seek out the power of the two legendary dragons to force all the trainers to release their pokemon so Ghetsis can conquer the world.

The legendary pokemon in question are Reshiram, the dragon of truth, and Zekrom, the dragon of ideals. They were at one time the same dragon but due to the fighting of the two brothers who owned him, the original dragon had been split into two dragons. The two brothers were arguing about whether it was better to use the truth of the world to decide how to rule the kingdom without looking towards the ideal world to tell you how the world should be, or weather you should pursue Ideals with all your heart and ignore the truth if it gets in the way. This theme, of two perceived opposites that are not really opposed, runs throughout the entirety of the game.

The interesting thing about Gen Five is that it did not directly answer the controversy it raises. The point of the game was that the world is not black and white. It’s not as simple as Pokemon battles being just a good thing or just a bad thing. Like the rest of life, there’s both good and bad in it. The game objects to forcing people to adhere to your idea of kindness rather then actually looking at the truth and using your ideals to change the world naturally to be better, a very interesting way to use a controversy, if there ever was one.

But it still raised the question; let’s look at the only one who can answer the question, the Pokemon themselves.

In the game, there is a moment when N, the leader of team Plasma and your rival in game, releases his pokemon as the ideal of Team Plasma call for, and they don’t want to leave. They cry as they leave. There is also a mechanic in the game where if you trade or release all your pokemon who can surf or fly—making it so that you cannot get around any longer—a pokemon who can use the moves surf or fly will get worried and come back.

In the anime, it is clear that pokemon are more like an animal with human intelligent than anything else, so they can make a conscious choice to join you or not. In the first season of the anime, Ash only really catches two pokemon in the normal way, the rest he befriends and convinces to join him.

Pokemon is meant to simulate an adventure in the woods and a game of Beetle Sumo. While a Pokemon Battle may be more violent than that the beetle game, it is just as morally valade. That is to say, it depends on the person taking care of the bugs, or Pocket Monster, as the case may be. If the bug catchers goes into the woods and starts ripping the wings of butterflies and dissecting bugs while they are still alive, that person is not treating nature with the respect it is due. However, if he goes and picks up a beetle, takes it home, takes care of it, and helps it stay strong, that person is treating nature with great respect.

That is what Team Plasma does not do. They say they respect pokemon, but many of them go around beating said pokemon up for their own ends and not actually thinking about how they feel. This is Gamefreak’s answer to the question: do the Pokemon seem to be okay with joining humans and participating in match fights. Since, in their world, pokemon are intelligent, they can make the decision to join a human or not as they see fit.

The thing to take away is this; no problem in life is simple. If you want the answer to the question, you must ask all parties involved, be just and fair in your judgments, and most importantly, look at both the truth and the ideal world this issue touches.


Orville E. Wright, the son of L. Jagi Lamplighter and John C. Wright, is a small Pokémon plush toy brought to life by mad science.