I’m a simple man.
I have seen a few television shows in my day. As a young man, I developed a special connection to two shows that became pop culture phenomenons. Those shows were, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, and Pokemon. Whether or not you’ve watched them, you certainly know of them. Their toys have lined the shelves of every major shopping outlet for over a decade. You have seen their playing cards as you’ve reached for Burt’s Beeswax, or the latest trashy copy of Cosmo. Truly, there is no escaping these characters.
Today, I would like to take you on a journey filled with passion, controversy, and corporate greed. This may repel the women from me even further, but it’s a chance I’m willing to take for the truth.
Pokemon- In a world much like our own, there exist special creatures known as Pokemon. These creatures have unique abilities in a number of different categories, including: water, earth, fire, electricity, and psychic. Certain individuals set out to become Pokemon trainers. This means that they intend to catch these creatures and train them in order to improve their fighting abilities. Pokemon trainers battle each other out in the open, and also in structured tournaments. In the original video game, and show based on the video game, the main character named Ash sets out to become a Pokemon Master. He will achieve this by accomplishing three specific goals: Catch and train teams of Pokemon, defeat the leaders of various Pokemon gyms who specialize in a particular type of Pokemon, and defeat the Elite Four masters to become a true Pokemon Master!
In this world of Pokemon, there are 151 recorded species. These are listed in what is called a Pokedex. It is critical to understand that one of the driving forces in the video game and show is to “catch ’em all”. The show made it a point to test your Pokemon knowledge before and after each commercial by giving you an outline that you had to identify. With 151 Pokemon, this was difficult but reasonable. So, to summarize, you catch and train as many of the 151 varieties that you can in order to defeat the Elite Four and become a Pokemon Master. Very good.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers- In a world much like our own, astronauts accidentally open an ancient seal on the Moon, which unleashes the evil witch, Rita. Rita is hell-bent on conquering Earth, but another ancient and powerful being rises to meet the challenge. His name is Zordon. Unfortunately, he is only a giant head, so he needs the help of others. He chooses five “teenagers with attitude” to fight Rita and her evil minions. Their names are, Jason, Billy, Trini, Zach, and Kimberly. Zordon equips each of them with the ability to “morph” into super human fighters known as Power Rangers. Along with this new power, they are also given “Zords”, which are dinosaur-like massive robots. They have the ability to combine into a man-like super robot called the Megazord.
So, the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers exist to fight Rita. Pretty simple. Pretty satisfying premise for a 7 year old.
The Great Cheapening: Or, Selling One’s Soul to Make a Buck
I remember seeing an advertisement for Power Rangers Zeo. I thought, “What the hell is a Zeo?” You see, Power Rangers Zeo was the series that followed Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. With it came new characters and costumes and a new villain. Emperor Zed replaced Rita as the head villain. I tried to watch it, but how could I when everything was different? The things I used to care about were gone.
Then came Turbo.
Then came Power Rangers in Space.
Then Power Rangers Lost Galaxy, Lightspeed Rescue, Time Force, Wild Force, Ninja Storm, Dino Thunder, S.P.D., Mystic Force, Operation Overdrive, Jungle Fury, RPM, and now, Samurai.
Pokemon operated under the premise that there were 151 Pokemon.
Here they are.
Then something changed. Suddenly, Ash was in a new region called Johto, and suddenly there were 100 new Pokemon!!!! What? Where were these Pokemon during the thousands of years before Ash started training? But, it doesn’t end there. Ash then goes to another region and, what do you know, 135 new species are discovered. Now there is something like 490 different species. Hey, I thought there were 151! Somebody lied to me.
Here’s a more updated poster.
Pokemon and Power Rangers are guilty of the same crime. They both forsook their original stories and characters in order to stay popular. Now, I understand that they exist to make a profit. I know this. But other artistic creations have existed with the same end goal, and retained their integrity. It is possible to remain true to the characters and premise that make a franchise great, but only when profit is not king. The fact that Pokemon and Power Rangers sold out tells me that their creators care more for worldly gain than long-term artistic value. For this reason, I identify these profit hounds as enemies to our society. If art is not contributing to the good of society in some way (even a very small way), and it is only existing to rob our children of their time and our adults of their money, it should be destroyed.
Pokemon and Power Rangers should no longer exist.