The Insanely Dark 'Pokemon' Universe We Could've Gotten
Enjoying Pokemon is like eating a hamburger; it's all fun and games until you think about how many Tauros were slaughtered to make it. And Takeshi Shudo was the guy at the barbecue who won't stop talking about factory farming conditions. He was the co-creator / head writer of the Pokemon anime, and writer of the first three movies. Few shaped the narrative around these tiny monsters more than Shudo, right up until he unexpectedly passed away in 2010.
But if the Pokemon executives (or Pokexecs) had let the writer have his way, this cartoon for children would've tackled some pretty complicated implications head-on, resulting in a much darker Pokemon universe in which Ash and Pikachu have to deal with mental illness, Planet Of The Apes-style revolutions, and straight-up apocalypses. Here are but some of his out-of-the-Pokeball ideas ...
All The Regular Animals Have Gone Extinct
Pokemon come in all shapes or sizes. Some look like an undead ghost balloon that abducts children, while others just look like a pigeon. Which raises a question: Are there actual pigeons, or any other "normal" animals, for that matter, in the world of Pokemon? Not according to Shudo. And he should know, since he killed all of them.
Officially, there are no animals in the Pokemon anime-verse, only Pokemon and humans. And before you start on how you totally saw several non-Pokemon animals (and a very convincing cow costume), Shudo would remind you that every bird or cat in the series was drawn against his wishes, and is therefore non-canon.
But since the Pokedex describes Pikachu as a "mouse" Pokemon and Meowth as a "scratch cat," he couldn't pretend they never existed at all. So on his personal blog, Shudo offered a compromise: All the animals did exist once, but then they conveniently went extinct. A message he wanted to reinforce, in perfectly sane fashion, with an episode wherein Pokemon trainers battle the reanimated skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus Rex.
So how does Shudo explain what happened to the non-monstrous critters? You'd think they were just Darwin-ed out of existence by Pokemon (mouse vs. mouse that shoots 100,000 volts out of its cheeks isn't exactly a fair fight), but that doesn't seem to be the case. Instead, Shudo wrote that some people still have old photographs of animals, meaning they managed to live side by side with their superpowered counterparts from the prehistoric age until sometime after we invented the camera. I
f anything, that makes their mysterious fate even more disturbing. Not only was their extinction a shockingly recent event, but every single animal went the way of the dodo in a matter of decades. Is there an undiscovered Pokemon out there who knows the move "Extinction-Level Event"? If so, it is clearly super effective.
Pikachu Leads A Slave Revolt Against The Humans
Pokemon aren't mindless animals. Hell, some are even clever enough to become detectives. So according to Shudo, it should have been only a matter of time before these pocket monsters staged their own Poke-worker's revolution.
Shudo had an idea for the plot of the fourth Pokemon movie, with Pokemon rising up against humans (so now you know why he didn't get to write that movie). Inspired by Spartacus, Shudo wrote that he wanted Pokemon to have their own revolution, refusing to keep spilling each other's blood for the entertainment of their cruel human masters. And leading the Poke-rebels in their bid to free themselves from bondage was none other than Ash Ketchum's Pikachu. The movie would have even featured a scene in which Pikachu turns on his underage master and the two fight one another (our money's on the sentient cattle prod over the 10-year-old boy).
In the end, the impending civil war is prevented by Team Rocket's Meowth, who serves as a human-to-Pokemon translator so the two factions can hash it out with words and not Body Slams. This was the closest Shudo ever got to planning a happy ending.
Pokemon Was The Dream Of A Dying Ash
Since children don't like change and animators don't like to spend ten months redoing designs, it's common for cartoon characters to simply not age. But that wasn't good enough for Shudo, who felt that the show needed to address that plot hole ... and in the most depressing way possible. So he wrote an ending for the entire series which explained why Ash always stayed the same age: It had all been a dream.
At the end of the show, it was to be revealed that whole world of Pokemon was nothing but the elaborate fantasy of an older, mentally ill Ash living in a completely mundane world. That reveal gets even more depressing when you realize that even in his wildest delusions, the guy still couldn't win a single tournament. Talk about low self-esteem.
Abraham is a Mexican lawyer when he isn't doing law stuff he writes comedy! You can say hi to him on Twitter here.
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