Here's my latest pet project: a deconstruction oneshot written in the style of a columnist's article. I want to give my utmost thanks to Bay and Redwood Alchan from Glacidia for their help with this story. As a warning, there's implied Pokemon abuse in this fic, so if you're squeamish about that, don't read. As a disclaimer, I don't own Pokemon or anything associated with it. And as a thought, please tell me what I can improve. With those words, read on if you wish:
To the students of the Violet Pokemon Training Academy,
Pokemon and humans have been together for countless centuries. We’ve achieved extraordinary things together; our technology would not be where it is without the progress we’ve made with Pokemon. It has gone so far as to be a coming-of-age for most young boys and girls to go out and get a Pokemon of their own. It is a concept known as “training”, and the people who participate are “trainers”.
We’ve glorified the concept for hundreds of years. The dreams and aspirations of most young children are to become the most powerful trainer in the world, and it seems to be rooted in the adult psyche as well. That is why most people will not want to hear what is in this article. I won’t extol the virtues of trainers and the training of Pokemon. What I will do is tell you the cold hard facts that you don’t want to hear, that the ones who succeed don’t want to tell you: this is a brutal, cutthroat business that picks off everyone and anyone who can’t handle the awful truth (i.e., you).
I can see those smug smirks on your faces right now. I can hear you saying how crazy I am, how I don’t have a clue about what I’m talking about. You couldn’t be more wrong, and I guarantee that if you have the guts to read the entire article, you won’t be smiling afterward. Are you still with me? Then read on:
Now, you children probably know the drill by now: get your starter, catch more Pokemon, collect all of the badges, challenge the league, and beat the champion. I get it. Here’s something that your teachers don’t tell you in trainer’s school: out of every one-hundred trainers, thirty-three will die on their journey. Yes, that’s right, you heard me right. Die. It’s not even the wild Pokemon that kill them; despite your teachers ranting about how dangerous they are (and rightfully so), wild Pokemon account for only twenty-four percent of all trainer deaths.
No, most of them die because they didn’t bother to learn proper survival skills. About fifty-five percent of all trainer deaths result from three main causes: starvation, dehydration, and exposure to the elements. Young trainers will often make the mistake of not spending enough money on survival supplies like canned goods, bottled water, a tent and sleeping bag, a multi-purpose knife, supplies for their Pokemon (that means food and health-care items, kids), and – if they don’t start out with a fire-type – supplies to make fire. Instead, they tend to blow their money on pokeballs and other luxuries. Apparently, catching that rare Pokemon that they’ll probably never see is so much more important than living to see another day.
Another twelve percent will die from other people who want what they have. These bandits will rob them blind, sell their stolen Pokemon on the black market (or kill them for food), and murder them as an afterthought. If they’re lucky, they’ll leave enough of the victim for their loved ones to identify. If they’re not, there won’t be enough of them to fit in a matchbox.
The rest of them will die from other natural causes: falling off cliffs, drowning, eating poisonous plants, etc. But if you’re careful, you’ll avoid all of these pitfalls and become a successful regional champion, right? Wrong again, kids.
About half of the trainers who start out on their journey quit before they get their first badge. Very few of them decide to go back into training. They get homesick and miss their loved ones. They get tired of having to rely solely on themselves and their Pokemon. That’s why there are very few – if any – ten-year-old champions. They simply aren’t mature enough to handle being by themselves. The ones that are at the league are most likely prodigies, and even they’ve contemplated quitting at one point or another.
But you’re not one of those trainers, right? You think you’re mature enough to handle the pressure. You think that you know everything. Let me tell you something right now: I haven’t told you anything about what comes next. Right now, you don’t know anything about being a trainer. Not – one – bit.
So you’ve gotten yourself a few badges. So have a lot of other up-and-coming trainers. It’s only going to get tougher from there. You’ve still got a fairly good chance at dying, especially in cities with heavy gang presences (i.e., all of the large cities in every region). Your Pokemon are getting tougher, but so are the Pokemon of other trainers. So, how do you get an edge over the competition?
You might say, “I don’t need an edge. I’m good enough to beat anyone.” You’re just lying to yourself. Trainers only take themselves so far; if their Pokemon are weak, they will eventually fail. So how do they gain an edge in battle? Unless they happen to be extremely-motivated prodigies who have Pokemon that are just as motivated, they’ll either have to get stronger Pokemon, train for very long periods of time, or resort to other “means”.
There are products that are made entirely for battling. You likely know the minerals: protein, iron, calcium, zinc, and carbos. There are also temporary boosters like X-accuracy and Dire Hit. You want to know another thing that they have in common? They’re all illegal in competitive battling. Minerals are only supposed to be used for recovery, not to boost a Pokemon’s power or stamina. The others are steroids for Pokemon and should never be used.
It doesn’t stop the idiots from trying, but they’ll eventually get caught. In case you’re thinking about cheating, I want to warn you of the consequences. If a trainer’s Pokemon is caught with performance-enhancing drugs, the Pokemon is permanently banned from participating in any competitive battle and its trainer will have their license temporarily revoked. The trainer is also banned from league competition for three years, and all of their Pokemon – even the ones in their PC – are tested as well. For each Pokemon that tests positive, another year is added to the ban – and if every Pokemon tests positive, the ban is permanent.
I must also mention the synthetic minerals: Health-Up (HP-Up), Power-Up (PP-Up), and the infamous “rare candy”. If you use one of these on even one of your Pokemon, you will be banned for life – and in the case of rare candy, you will be jailed for five years without parole. Rare candy forces a Pokemon’s body to grow in an unnatural way, which has the nasty side effect of shortening the Pokemon’s lifespan. It’s considered to be Pokemon abuse by every respectable region.
On an average of every one-hundred trainers, thirteen of them are caught cheating. I hope to Mew that you aren’t one of them.
Ah, so you’ve gotten your badges and you’ve managed to carve out a career as a trainer. Congratulations. Do you want a medal? Sorry, but you’re not special in any way. You’re most likely a journeyman trainer (or a so-called “ace trainer” in the slang of the younger generation). You’ll compete in a few minor tournaments, maybe actually win one or two, but you’ll never succeed when it comes to the major tournaments. You’ll never successfully challenge the league. You may not realize it yet, but even you have your limits.
If you have enough potential (and if you’re lucky), some gym leader might make you a gym trainer. You’ll get an annual salary of approximately $10,000, which is good enough to live on. Sure, you’ll never make the million-dollar-per-year salary that the top trainers earn, but if you’ve made it this far, you’re better than ninety percent of the other journeymen, and that’s not a bad accomplishment in the least.
However, you probably aren’t that talented. You might be good enough to earn a living, but you’ll have to take another job as well. And after being on the road for so long, you’ll probably burn out four years into your true career as a trainer, like a good eighty percent of all journeymen trainers. You’ll take the other job you have. The money should be good enough to live on (if you make smart investments), you’ll still have your Pokemon to help you, and you won’t be in as much danger.
If you’re deluded enough to continue on without another job, you might receive an injury sometime in your career from some sort of accident or whatnot. If it’s as bad as mine, said injury will be permanent; I still use a cane to this day. I persisted and eventually became somewhat successful. You probably won’t if you don’t have the motivation, talent, and experience that I do. If you persist, you’ll likely end up like the other ten percent of journeymen trainers and wander the region as lost spirits, desperately searching for a way to better their lives. It’s a dismal existence, and if you choose that path, you’ll regret it every day for the rest of your life.
Out of all of the trainers who get this far, only three percent of them become stars…and their struggles are far from over.
You all have heard of the rags-to-riches story of Sidney Morris, right? The media's shown it around the world so much that it's almost sickening. Raised by a single father who abandoned him when he was fifteen, Sidney was little more than a street punk when he first became a trainer at that age. He had no guidance, no money, and no true friends until Steven Stone, the regional champion, took an interest in him. He started winning, and his father and friends came back, not to say that they were sorry, but to ask Sidney for money. He cut ties with all of them, successfully won the Hoenn tournament, and became an Elite Four member. It gave him fame, but it didn’t give him happiness. Don't believe me? Look up any one of his interviews. I guarantee that he's said those exact same words.
Not every successful trainer is as lucky as Sidney Morris. They are much more likely to become like Curtis Wilder. Ah, there’s a name you’ve never heard of. You should have; at one point, he was just as successful as Sidney, if not more so. Oh, I’ll tell you about him anyway.
Wilder, born in Olivine, was also raised by a single parent: his mother. He was a true prodigy and highly-motivated, since they owned nothing except a small, dilapidated house. He caught his own Pokemon, went on his own journey, and promised to send most of his earnings to his mother to help pay the rent. Wilder quickly rose through the ranks. He was personally one of the most talented and gracious trainers I’ve ever faced. He went through the Johto Elite Four like a hot knife through butter. He won two consecutive regional tournaments, which is a feat that only three others have ever accomplished. He could’ve been the greatest trainer of all time…but fate wouldn’t let it happen.
While he was out on his journey, his mother had spent most of the money he had earned on frivolous luxuries for herself. Every last dollar he had given to her was gone. When she demanded that he give her more, he refused. She sued him and won almost everything based on a technicality. Wilder had to sell all of his Pokemon to breeders in order to pay his court costs. Because of one selfish woman, the dreams of a young man were shattered. Because a good man put his faith into the wrong person, he lost everything.
One year after the lawsuit, Wilder’s remains were found in the old ninja hideout in Mahogany. Whether by accident or design, he had triggered one of the explosive traps. Only six people showed up to his funeral. I was one of them.
Curtis Wilder was barely twenty-one at the time of his death. He wasn’t the first famous trainer to self-destruct, and he most certainly will not be the last.
So, are you getting doubts yet? I haven’t even gotten to the best part. I’ve talked about you, the future trainer. I’ve talked about the struggles that you may or may not face. But what about the struggles that your Pokemon will face?
Oh, you forgot about the Pokemon, didn’t you? You forgot that your struggles are theirs, that their struggles are yours. The trainer who is truly successful is the one who works with their Pokemon in unison, understanding how they feel. If you are abusive or neglectful toward them in any way, you will regret it somewhere down the line. Remember this, kids: if you kick the Pokemon, the Pokemon will most likely bite back - and they will not stop until you are no longer a threat to them.
Do you know how some Pokemon are bred? No, I didn’t think so. The honest daycares are good, but the shady ones commit some of the most gruesome crimes that could possibly be inflicted upon a living creature. Rare candies are the least of your concerns when you send your Pokemon to a daycare center that has not been approved; you should be more concerned about seeing your Pokemon alive and unscathed. And don’t even get me started on the potential for abuse.
Did you know that Pokemon also burn out? No, kids, Pokemon are not tools of war. They are not machines that do your bidding. Some of them may last a little longer than others, but Pokemon can also receive permanent injuries…and die. It’s a sad fact of life; nothing lasts forever. Even the most beautiful summers pass into harsh winters.
All the years of accumulating cuts, burns, poison, and paralysis, along other maladies, takes a toll on their bodies. They grow old like we do. They’re still able to battle, but they can’t take the beating that they took when they were younger. They tire more easily. Their overall health deteriorates over time to the point where not even a Pokemon center can repair the damage that was done.
I pray that you will never have to learn this the hard way.
So, you’ve read through almost all of it, have you? Hopefully, you’ve got a pretty good idea why I detest most aspects of training. Is there joy to be had with Pokemon? Definitely. Am I telling you to not get a Pokemon? Of course not. But should training be the ultimate goal for every child? No.
If you’re having any doubts about going on a journey or if you’re not sure if you can be a trainer, here’s my advice: don’t. Go to a real school. Learn something useful. Train to be a doctor, a financial advisor, or something else that people will need. Celebi knows that we never seem to have enough of those. And if you’re still interested in becoming one, then volunteer at the local center or something. See what those trainers and Pokemon go through on a daily basis. After that, I dare you to look me in the eye and honestly say that you want to be just like them.
If you don’t want to listen to me or if you’re arrogant enough to think that you can ignore common sense, go right ahead and become another statistic out of many. Start your journey. Don’t bother to read this. It’s not like I can make you listen to reason. I just want you to know that I won’t hesitate to crush all of your pathetic hopes and dreams when you get to me. You can count on that much.
To those who do listen to me and know that they want to be a trainer, I will impart one more piece of advice: take good care of your Pokemon and treat them like family. They’re not just your partners; they are the only true friends you will ever have in this world. Keep a close watch on them and cherish every moment…because you don’t know what you have until you can never get it back.
My best regards,
Pryce W. Taylor, Mahogany gym leader.