It took me a shameful amount of time to understand some of the concepts in this series and why they work. Part of it is due to the lack of context over the years, but Pokemon has been subject to controversy over the years, such as the concept of evolution and the fact that trainers battle their Pokemon. It wasn’t until Pokemon Origins happened that I understood Nintendo’s point of view on the subject.
Among the groups which have attempted to slander the concepts of Pokemon, PETA is one of the more notorious opponents of the series, mainly for releasing a satirical game known as “Pokemon Black and Blue” during the development of Black and White. While animal care and awareness is good, there are key differences between cockfighting and dogfights and a Pokemon battle. Most importantly, the animals in the aforementioned activities have no idea that they’re taking part in a fight governed by human beings. Often, they’re tricked into thinking that they’re fighting over a mate and placed in a ring. Pokemon, however, are aware that they’re in a battle, and any self-respecting trainer does what he can to take care of their creatures. They ensure that they’re fed and respected, and make intelligent choices in battle to protect them. Finally, in most cases, the Pokemon agree that the trainer and themselves are a team. You can easily see this throughout the main anime, when Pikachu will acknowledge that he’s up for the particular battle Ash is in.
Why battle then? Why not bring your Pokemon home and treat them as normal pets? Some people do so in the series. Trainers develop themselves and their Pokemon through purposely traveling through a particular country or a region of a country, allowing the adversity to make stronger individuals of themselves and their Pokemon. This includes other trainers who wish to do the same. This is especially apparent in Sun and Moon, where full-grown adults are amazed by the strength that an 11-year-old child has from traveling the region.
Competition and challenge are all apart of life, and this series embraces those truths to demonstrate the potential. Many of the greatest people in the real world achieved their abilities through constant tests and obstacles. Pokemon is simply a beautifully exaggerated example of what can happen when someone takes the challenge.