I Am An Adult Pokémon Fan

The little old one-bedroom apartment where I live by myself has very thin walls, and the windows have drafty casements. I can hear everything that goes on around me, such as some neighbor’s fifth daily play of ‘All of the Lights,’ or when some other neighbor is washing dishes by her own open window.

In the middle of the day on a Monday my neighbors could probably hear me yell ‘Girafarig.’

I didn’t mean for them to hear me. It’s just I was watching episodes of the Pokémon cartoon streaming on the Cartoon Network website, and before commercials they show a silhouette of a Pokemon and you’re supposed to guess who it is. A chorus of voices cheers out, “WHO’S THAT POKEMON?” and this time I cheered back, because I recognized the shape of Girafarig, which as you might guess is a fictional animal that looks pretty much like a giraffe with a cute face except its back half is black and has a large bulb on the end of its tail and the bulb has a face too. Giraffe-a-rig.

If you live in a city like New York you eventually stop worrying about who hears you and sees you doing what. Because there are so many people that you practically live in public, the idea of privacy is an illusion. But this time I felt kind of self-conscious, because most noises neighbors hear one another doing (cooking, vacuuming, music, television, acts of intimacy) are things that seem within the realm of normalcy, while being really excited about fictional animals is not.

But people who are Pokémon fans trade eagerly in the currency of interest in fictional animals – sometimes literally, as the primary object of the video game (the universe of which forms the spine of the ongoing 400-plus episode television show) is to “catch ‘em all,” to complete a virtual rolodex of available Pokémon. For the Pokédex. That’s really what it’s called.

And, I mean, you don’t just collect them. If I were to explain it in completely neutral, factual terms, it’d go like this: You play the role of a Pokémon trainer who leaves home to capture and raise wild Pokémon and strengthen them through battles with other trainers around the world. Different Pokémon have different elemental properties – on a basic level, fire, water and grass affinities, for example, that make them more effective when they are placed in combat against Pokémon weak to their affinity, like fire Pokémon being vulnerable against water Pokémon or water Pokémon being vulnerable against electric Pokémon. The object of every Pokémon game is to journey through the world assembling a very strong team of Pokémon whose abilities have been carefully selected during their statistically-complex growth process to complement one another so well that ideally they can defeat other people’s teams through that careful selection and through your wisdom as a strategic player. Ideally you also manage to find and acquire rare or ‘legendary’ Pokémon that are only available to find under certain circumstances or at the completion of certain challenges.


More From Thought Catalog

  • TheOnlySearose

    pokemonepisode.org has, quite literally, every single episode of Pokemon ever in the history of ever. Pretty swell way to pass the time ;)

  • http://twitter.com/FLYamSAM Denden

    Girafarig is Girafarig spelled backwards

  • http://twitter.com/raystraight Ray Straight


  • http://fastfoodies.org Briana

    I recently re-watched a Pokemon movie short where Bulbasaur, my favorite pokemon, picks up a crying Togepei in his vines, rocks him back and forth, and sings a “BULBABYE” to lull Togepei to sleep.

    I cried because it was so sweet.


  • http://www.facebook.com/TomSmizzle Tom Smith

    From the moment you mentioned “Who's That Pokemon!” to the end, this was running through my mind.


  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1363230138 Michael Koh

    Leigh, can we be friends. You and I can be Pokemon trainers together.

  • http://www.noahtourjee.com Noah Tourjee

    Professor JUNIPER? What did he do to Oak?

    • http://www.facebook.com/wingedthing Leigh Alexander

      all the countries have different professors, professor oak is from kanto, professor juniper (she) is from unova

  • Alex Allison

    you're lovely, leigh. i enjoyed the approach v. much.

  • http://profiles.google.com/ryan.russ.anderson Ryan A

    “Maybe if you’re the sort of person who still fleetingly considers mass-manufactured stuffed toys as in need of rescue, something in you will be attracted to the kind of game where someone shouts to their fantastical friend-for-life, I choose you.” That's actually really kinda sweet. :)

  • http://brianmcelmurry.blogspot.com/ Brian McElmurry

    This was cute and sweet. Deep also, in a strange way. I'm a huge TMNT fan. Do you like Dragon Ball Z on saturday mornings?

  • http://twitter.com/rislynsey christopher lynsey

    I love Pokemon.

  • Rza422

    I always use the pixar movies to rationalise playing 'kids Games' both have one level for kids and another that appeals to parents/adults. Most people get it. Feel free to try yourself…

  • Pfft

    jesus christ you people need to get laid.

  • brittany wallace

    i liked this a lot

    my brother sold most of my pokemon card collection last summer
    when i found out i almost killed him

    also, once i made a fake pokemon card featuring a made-up pokemon from my imagination. i sent it into one of those pokemon fan magazines, and they printed it under the fan art section

    first time i 'got published'

  • Kablaamee

    Digimon – Digital Monsters – Digimon are The Champions!

  • http://www.calvinmarkus.com long chode

    youre corny but i like you

  • http://rikeberhardt.com Rik

    Thanks, Leigh, I think this is the first Thought Catalog piece that I could connect to! I think I still play because everyone else stopped (well, that and I was already older than most when I started). Pokemon is where I go when the world gets too real and I can be a kid again.

  • Rachel Butters Scotch

    Can we trade Pokemon? I'm playing White right now. It's pretty much the best.

    • http://www.facebook.com/wingedthing Leigh Alexander

      i usually only trade srsly when i have all my gym badges and am making lots of copies, but yeah

  • BenV

    I hope you take this as the compliment it's meant to be, Leigh, but this is now my favorite piece of your writing. Thanks.

  • soulunsold

    I was about to say “Pokemon? In Thought Catalog?” But then I read the 3rd paragraph on page two, and understood. Gave me a pleasant surprise. Good job video game journalist person. :)

  • GimliGirl

    I am sometimes ashamed that I have fallen in love with Pokemon at age 27. My hubby bought me Black and himself white and has lent me his Nintendo DS to play it on. Now I'm not.

    • BenV

      That's so awesome! My wife and I getting them for our anniversary next week, haha!

  • http://www.upbsel.blogspot.com Alice May Connolly

    I use Pokémon as a screening/flirting mechanism when I wanna date someone.

  • shane

    i played a little bit of white and i appreciate that they're breeching the 'should we rly force pokemon to do shit 4 us' moral territory but i don't really see how they can satisfactorily answer it. because like, if pokemon were real i would not force mine to do ANYTHING except hang out with me all the time

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=674905536 Virginia Althen

    I made a full-body fleece pikachu outfit at university and still wear it quite a lot. whenever i put it on, it makes me happy. i grew up with pokemon and still enjoy playing and watching it. there’s no reason to be ashamed. ;)

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