Episode 73: Back to Academia

Weird to believe how I am without classes or a job and I still find myself too exhausted to keep up with the blog. At least I’ve got gym and grad conference as legit responsibilities. Today I had a pretty productive meeting with my main advisor who has given me the thumbs up on the current draft for the dissertation proposal. I’m still working out the details but there was this awesome little moment that I want to flesh out in this post so indulge me imaginary intended reader as I use complex vocabulary to further develop what may just be the cornerston of my academic career for the time being.

The bullet point version of the dissertation goes as follows.I am focusing on notions of authorship in the context of serialization through the scope of different media. That little mouthful took us a good five minutes to reconstruct after its initial utterance so that it could be recorded and built upon. Let’s really look into what exatly each of these three different things in academic and common.

Author is a pretty loaded word that goes beyond the writer of a particular literary work, though both terms are often interchangeable. This is the person who ultimately becomes the entity responsible for a literary creation. Accountability, possession, and origin of anything is a hot button issue that makes academics think way too much and any group of friends argue on cue over a particular topic. Consider a sports team and who is responsible for the success or failure of a season. Is it any one athlete, the coach who provides the strategy, the trainers that make sure everyone is healthy, the owner who is actually paying for everything. You can say that it’s a team effort but one tends to highlight the individual for the sakes of showering praise or scapegoating. Authors can be the one person taking on a literary endeavor single handedly not knowing where it’s all going to end up, like a Forrest Gump who just starts running and keeps going for years not sure about what he or she has ultimately accomplished. Others have editors which have your best interests for but for which one personally still takes all the credit or blame. It reminds of a leader like a President who can get a committee of experts on something to bounce and suggest ideas but ultimately the leader is the one calls the shots and is responsible. At other times it is like a team with a lot of overlap of responsibilities where each person contributes something to the final literary output, though some roles stil have precedence over others. Movies for me have the most weird teamwork necessary where lines of individual authorship is heavily blurred. Actors, writers, directors, producers, editors, post production people, and many other individuals place their own fingerprint on the job and help make it happen, even if the viewer only gets to witness the final product and not the process. The recognition falls heavily on your headliners and stars , who are the ones that make the big bucks even when a lot of contemporary cinematography is very much steeped on after effects through CGI who are the the ones that ultimately make the intended visualization take shape. While I am very uninformed about the current protests of VFX personnel towards their being snubbed or whatever in the Oscars, this has helped bring an interesting argument over authorship and accountability of a film to the foreground of viewers and has made my research take an interesting step.

A lot of people have written about authorship in different media, I just ordered a book off Amazon that is specifically about that. What makes my stuff unique and quasi original within my niche academic field is the context of serialization. I have written about serial literature in a myriad of different ways at conferences, papers, homework, and blog posts so no need to go into further detail about it here. For authors, it means that there identity is dynamic and fluid through the publication of their work. You can easily make a clear chronological distinction of the author as a person before and after the publication of his/her work. However, serialization provides an extended window where we get insight into the narrative process through the author doing his work. Not to blow my own academic horn but there’s a line in my thesis that I think best illustrates this point, and the fact that I am paraphrasing myself is blowing my mind. If as Dante Gabriel Rosetti once said the work is a moment’s monument to the author, then work being serialized shows the construction of a collection of such literary monuments through each individual installment and how each connects towards a cohesive narrative gallery.

Wow that sounded even better than maybe the original. That or the exhaustion is kicking in. Signing off.

Episode 72: Dempsey Rolling with the Punches

Today the URI Grad Conference people have done some amazing work when it comes to organizing craziness together for the sake of panel acceptance and grouping. Also, I almost killed a few PCs during an assault on their newly acquired island fort. So much shenanigans. Ok, enough personal stuff, time for serial boxing amazingness. I’ve been waiting a while to talk about what is one of my new favorite animes of all time: Hajime no Ippo aka Espiritu de Lucha. It was one of those cool animes in the early turn of the millennium that got a decent Spanish dub for Mexican and other latino audiences but never really made it to mainstream American viewership like a DBZ or Naruto. It also made a big impact in the Philippines and other South East Asia/Oceania parts of the world where it influenced a lot of boxers, including Donaire who actually did the title character’s signature super move.

I only recently got into Hajime no Ippo through the magic of Youtube where I saw several cool fights but was able to catch all of the episodes with the surprisingly good Spanish dub. Here’s an amazing scene of the protagonist just unleashing armageddon with his fists to see if I can encourage any of you into watching the show. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RaG4hC_JBR8 (FYI, I’ve tried that move against imaginary opponents and you get tired and dizzy super fast so be careful) The premise is fairly simple, take a shy kid with tons of perseverance but no real drive a chance and something to be passionate about and he will be amazing. Along the line you have your grumpy old man coach, the broody rival who is a prodigy but you can stand toe to toe with, the arrogant super dude, and a couple of funny dudes for comedic relief. After that it’s just sprinkle in some rivals along the way which you ultimately befriend and a love interest and you’ve got yourself a cool show. What made it awesome is that you really witnessed a progression of skill and strength by the main characters. Ippo also has to go through a ton of training montages along the way which makes the whole that much more epic if you ever want to pick a few good punch techniques along the way. The whole anime really emphasizes the importance of cultivating your natural talent through a rigorous work ethic.

One of the cool things about having your protagonist being a wide-eyed optimist that suddenly stumbles into a particular sport is that you can have exposition about basic rules occur without hesitation, even if it is accompanied by a facepalm of disbelief. This allows for the average reader who is not familiar with al the intricacies of rules and traditions to learn alongside the hero in a fairly believable manner. The problem lies in that somewhere down the line (there have been around 4 years of actual story time elapsing between the first and last shown episode) it becomes far-fetched for these seasoned veterans to talk about the rules amongst themselves so new readers or ones that don’t remember something they saw a long time no longer have that issue. Ippo was able to belay that effect in its new season/incarnation through the introduction of Itegaki, a new character with tons of talent but no real world experience in the ring.

Plotwise, the show revolves around titular protagonist Ippo Makanouchi, a schoolboy who desperately wants to know what it’s like to be truly strong. He gets bullied constantly until he meets Mamoru Takamura, an almost inhuman beast of a man who is destined to become world champion. The future champ takes pity on him and ultimately gives Ippo a conduit for all his desires in the form of learning how to box. It takes him several months of training just to get in the door of the gym and get beaten up by his soon to be rival. He has to work hard for every match and takes every opponent seriously, eventually becoming their friends. His perseverance and fighting spirit have no equal and his up close and personal style ensures that any and all victories happen via KO rather than some decision. He is short and meek in everyday life but is menacing and downright scary once he enters the ring.

As he develops into a champ, the story shifts into showing parallel careers grow, including that of his many rivals, and his gym mates. What ends up happening is that there are too many characters to properly follow that inevitably syphon attention and narrative progression from our hero. The anime tries to control this to only some of the more important rivals but the original manga apparently just goes crazy with this kind of thing. It’s been consistently published 1989 and has over a thousand installments, which considering the medium is damn impressive. This means that the story is super extensive but a lot of it has been compacted into the anime, at least until the events of up until the epic match between Takamura and Bryan Hawk, though rumors of a new season coming this year are give me hope that the story will continue. For all intents and purposes, there is no way that the anime will ever catch up with the anime unless you pretty much ignore  bunch of characters and skip over some of “the less relevant/exciting” storylines.

As a serial, you can get to see some interesting moment of temporal perception. Training montages that span weeks or months are one or two episodes. Particularly gruesome fights that take less than an hour can span five or six episodes. Inevitably, you have to encounter a cliffhanger ending in between rounds, or maybe with the hero on the ground with only a few seconds before he gets counted out for a TKO. Maybe because I had pretty decent accessibility to all the episodes I didn’t mind these ending all too much, though I did fast forward through a few of the clip shows. Still, this is a show I greatly recommend to pretty much anyone willing to listen to me. So if you enjoy watching a kid overcome obstacles (and being made fun of for having a huge penis, damn it Japan) give it a shot.

Episode 71: The Problem with Combat in Serials

Not gonna lie, last night I got distracted by Binding of Isaac and didn’t have the energy to go longer on the computer and post something. My bad. I’d try and make up for it with a post worth breaking up into two things due to sheer length but as long as we’re being honest I don’t think I can pull that off either. Weird nerve pain has come back with a vengeance to the point that I am unsure how long this post will be or even if I can keep up the titular topic before I go off into an agony filled rant. Keep it together kid and let’s get this thing done. Sports and organized style fights are divided in temporal dimensions (except for “vale tudo” style fights, avoid those like the plague and don’t ask me how I know that) for a lot of valid reasons.

The first being standard human limitations. No one, not even the best marathon or soccer players out there, can perform at a proper level without some sort of break. You still need to be in amazing shape to keep up for those interludes, except in a few scenarios, but for the most part you need those breaks to avoid full out exhaustion. Secondly, breaking up the action into more digestable and enjoyable bits is good for readers/viewers who can take a break to discuss the action with other onlookers without being that douche in the theater that talks throughout the entire movie. Sure those breaks are also good for advertisers and the progression of rampant consumerism but they are good to help separate the action and help increase anticipation until things start up again.

Televised and live events go until they are finished but their depcition in other media through works of serialized fiction go at each medium’s prescribed lengths. A good serial will have plenty of cliffhangers so you will probably find that a match or a fight will get to it’s most amazing part before the end of a particular installment, thus making you wait for the resolution, and more importantly, the promised action. Manga and anime take a lot of criticism because they purposely delay important fights so much through the use of flashbacks and othe material that can be considered filler. Just try and get through an episode of DBZ where a significant percentage of time isn’t used in deep introspection, going over what everyone already knows, or powering up/screaming. The only way to avoid this is to limit your combats to only one installment but that shortens the amount of action you can give; plus, you have to make sure that your precombat stuff is good enough to make it’s own installment without too much trouble. With a movie you need to have your climactic battles occur in the actual film beginning to end. There’s no way you can end Rocky on Round 5 against Apollo Creed or anyone else. People would scream and declare shenanigans all over if you do that in a movie. In TV shows you have some more leeway but having any kind of competition taking place over more than a few installments ultimately decreases the extra anticipation and tension that comes with a “to be continued”  with an unexpected overtime or something of that degree. Comic books, especially the really epic stuff like a Death of Superman really needs multiple installments, especially if amazing splash pages are being used throughout. The problem comes with most of the medium in that you have too many installments spanning a particular event and outside of getting your hands on an omnibus edition your levels of narrative accessibility are kinda low.

Webcomics are designed to be short installments so unless you like your battles in the curbstomp or anticlimactic variety you need to practice your patience to see how any one fight may turn out. Consider the example of Order of the Stick, that had a full out war for months of installments. Hell the Darth Vaarsuvius saga took less than 24 hours and revolved around one character and that took a long time to show. Both of these chapters had several extra length installments but they just weren’t enough. And don’t even get me started on Goblins, those poor guys have been way too long on all their separate dungeon crawls. As cool as any one fight might be, you need to be careful as an author that it does not overpower the rest of the story to the point that everyone forgets the main plot unless it’s the climactic super special epic actual finale. There you are expected to go balls out with action awesomness. 

Episode 70: The Power of the Montage

You can’t have a sports movie, show, comic, or whatever (much less a boxing one) without a training montage. It compresses the portrayal of time while still showing it’s rapid passing. The formula is pretty simple. Show your protagonist trying to do something complicated, perhaps a routine of exercises or a particular skill, he can’t really finish or if he can he is exhausted afterward. You then show him doing other things, just as tiring but with the same result. All the while you do some editing to show how time is elapsing. Go sunrise to sunset, grow a beard, buckets upon buckets of sweat, anything to visually demonstrate that the few secons on screen are actually a lot more than that. The hero will then start doing some even more complicated , but this time he is not that tired. In the end he does something insane and is now triumphant.

Te montage is powerful because it allows the narrative to continue moving forward at a proper pace without dragging down the action. Sometimes you can literally concentrate chronological progression, like with DBZ’s hyperbolic time chamber, where one day outside = one year inside. In boxing and other sports, it helps fast forward between the down time that takes place between actual matches. Consider that even crazy boxers that will take anything at the professional level have like four matches a year tops (I’m looking at you Donaire, you Hajime no Ippo lover you). The only other moment where time fast forwards without actually showing the characters doing anything is doing the recuperating downtime if the story takes place without some form of magical healing.

If you need to learn a very specific skill, the montage is key if you want to show it’s perfection (even when the hero can somehow already do that after witnessing it once). A lot of times you can even show the training montage through flashback if you have already established that the character has been doing some pretty crazy stuff. The problem with this sequence is that it does not show growth of character before the main conflict, which raises the level of confidence in the reader as well. If you just show people getting stronger without showing the process, especially when it comes to superpower like moves, it really just leads to people declaring shenanigans.

Now I’m pretty exhausted so how about I just show you some of my favorite montages for you. Here’s the one I mentioned in yesterday’s post Rocky IV in parallel training glory, which has a cool nature versus technology dichotomy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-8hOKNbtxg

Also, here’s a ridiculously meta example from Order of the Stick. Make sure to pay close attention to each panel before reaching the end. The act that it’s titled “Eye of the Tiger, baby” should make it pretty clear. http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0391.html

Keep training my faithful random readers. We may never be asked to avange our loved one or become champions of a particular sport but it’s important to be in shape, just in case. Also, make sure to get a catchy tune to make the time go even faster.

Episode 69: Learning Roman Numerals with Rocky

You probably already have the Rocky theme running through your head on the very mention of the name so might as well just put this video of the whole damn soundtrack in the background while reading.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UuWRhHca-AU

If there were ever a culprit as to why people want to run up a flight of stairs and then jumping in celebration it has to be the Rocky movies. I actually read up on a bit of the history behind the movie and was mesmerized. Sylvester Stallone is pretty iconic in his titular role but you don’t consider his acting to be amazing. The guy speaks weirdly and his face just doesn’t seem to move right. Well, apparently Sly was actually born with an odd condition which paralyzed part of his face and lead to his slurred speech. The guy was dirt poor for a long time before he got the idea to write a film about a struggling boxer that was suddenly given a chance to turn his life around with a shot at the title. That’s right, Sylvester Stallone actually wrote the screenplay for the original Rocky. He openly refused any offer that would not allow him to act in the film. He eventually accepted an offer that basically gave Sly almost no money but accpeted his demands and the rest, as they say, is history. It gets even weirder once you find that he directed a bunch of the other movies in the series.

Rocky the movies was amazing as a serial in that it successfully pulled what I like to call a “Bad News Bears” ending. In that movie, the titular kid’s baseball team that lost in the championship game. Rocky trains like Hell, changes his entire life, and goes against a champion that had underestimated him from the beginning. The result of the fight is secondary towards our hero, who just wants to be with the woman he loves after going blow for blow for 15 rounds, showing that the destination is secondary to the physical journey of the entire film. You need to force your ear just to clarify that Apollo had won the split decision but Rocky didn’t care about the victory or the rematch.However these would be the catalysts to have sequels over the next few decades becuase there was always another battle worth fighting.

Rocky II now had the interesting challenge of making another fight between the Apollo and the Italian Stallion but having to stretch it out for the two hours or so of the film. We get a lot more development of the relationship between Rocky and Adrianne so there is character growth but the key to a successful sports film is to show a progression of physical acumen alongside emotional growth. Apollo was taking his opponent like a serious contender and actually trained for a fight to end all fights in this one. Rocky had already trained like a Spartan before so you needed to show something more than just another similar training montage. Then came an interesting idea for his fight. You see, Rocky is a south paw, aka he fights left handed (honestly can’t remember if he or Sly are actually left handed but it’s a pretty valid tactic), but Micky the trainer develops a game plan that literally changes Rocky’s entire stance on fighting. He was now to fight the entire match right handed until he was given the signal to return to his natural style. The battle was just as bloody and brutal as the last one but the epic simultaneous punch in which Rocky narrowly avoided the double KO was magnificent and cemented him as a champion with little doubt in the minds of anyone.

You might eventually notice that the soundtrack you may be hearing does not include Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” which is basically synonymous with the Rocky franchise. Interestingly enough, the song doesn’t show up until Rocky III. Here, Mr. T shows up as Klubber Lang to dethrone Rocky of his high horse and makes him lose his championship, his trainer and father figure through somewhat inducing a heart attack on the geriatric Micky just before the match, and his fighting spirit. Such emotional destruction was necessary in order to prevent our protagonist from becoming another boring invincible hero that did not feel challenged. He had to reconstruct his identity by going back to pugilistic basics, thanks to his former rival turned coach Apollo. If there’s on thing I enjoyed about the series is that they never demonized the Apollo and just made him a cocky bastard but ultimately one that redeemed himself in the spirit of competition. You get nothing of that in Mr. T and just see him as a current Mark Henry run at WWE where the only satisfaction comes from inducing pain. Rocky was clearly meant to win but I just never liked the way it happened. He basically out punched Lang in a few rounds, rather than out smart through superior style and footwork, like all his training montages showed him doing. Neither of the matches were struggles of grit and determination like in the first two movies but rather straight up beat downs.

Rocky IV has come up before in the blog as the movie that basically saved America from the Cold War and the greatest fourth installment ever. Killing Apollo in the first few minutes was a shock and boy did everyone freak out. Rocky now had to come out of retirement to avenge his friend and rival, killed by the almost inhuman Ivan Drago in a friendly match at a fundraiser. Where Klubber was brash and cocky, Drago was cold and methodical, almost like a robot following orders. Rocky not only had to get back in shape but do it in very literal enemy territory as the match and training took place in Moscow while his son was still in the States. The greatest training montage perhaps in recorded history takes place in this movie and I recommend it to everyone. The final match was another war that does not disappoint. The cool thing was that Drago became a bit more human as he became angrier and eventually chokeslammed one of his handlers before ultimately getting knocked out. Rocky then does a pretty good speech about the importance of competition without actual war and how he actually respects and appreciates Russia for having the match and letting him come here.

Rocky V is a film that is best left forgotten by the fandom and is usually left out of the conversation of the series. Basically, Rocky has serious neural issues immediately after fighting Drago. They return home only to find that his accountant had pretty much stolen all his money. Rocky and his family are now destitute and he can’t even fight to change that. Rocky then becomes a trainer for an up and coming boxer who is ultimately very forgetful ( I think it’s Tommy the Machine Gunn or something stupid like that). Anyway, the crux of the dramatic tension lies in that Rocky is ignoring his family to train Tommy and alienating his now adolescent son in the process. Near the end, Tommy signs with a Don King ripoff and leaves Roky high and dry because it turns out that he was greedy and unappreciative. Then they get into an argument and Rocky beats him up on the street. No seriously, that’s the movie.

Several years later we get Balboa the unofficial Rocky VI  where the now AARP Rocky is grasping at straws for the world he once knew as his son  is now a businessman and his wife has died a while ago, probably cancer. He owns a small restaurant and things are kinda ok but he decides that he wants to do something more with his life. He starts training again and even gets his certified by the local boxing commission to fight again. In the meantime, we have Mason Dixon (basically an expy of Floyd Mayweather) the current champion that wants to prove that he has a place among the legends like the Italian Stallion and takes his return to the ring as stealing his spotlight. Out of nowhere, Dixon decides to have a match against Rocky, who is like 60, and he accepts. What follows is pretty much the same thing as the first movie, even with pretty much the same ending. They shot an alternate ending that shows up in the DVD extras where Rocky won but I don’t think that finale would have been true to the spirit of the series. Rocky defined success through personal achievement rather than public glory and accolades. The moment he decides to basque in his own success his world and dreams crash down. This is a man that gets to the mountaintop in every film but has to climb to an even higher peak on every installment. Subtracting the fifth one, Rocky shows us how the idea of another movien in the franchise might seem farfetched but it’s execution keeps us comning back for more. With that said, please don’t make another one. Sly can easily beat me and a bunch of other people to a bloody pulp but Rocky just needs to enjoy his golden years.

 

Episode 68: Punch Drunk with Posts

This week I’m going to try something weird and never before attempted for this particular blog. Posts from now until Sunday will have a theme that anyone who knows me would not expect. That’s right, midnight snack serial is going to talk about sport serials with a focus on boxing. You may be wondering why is it that an almost pacifist would write about the depiction of pugilism but it goes beyond some glorification of violence that the zeitgeist keeps pointing at. I’ve never been a big fan of boxing, especially with martial arts out there that have more flair and finesse than punching without being punched back, but I recently had a chance to see some if it’s athletic intricacies. That and it seems to be the most common type of sport to be featured in serial format in many places all over the world and I’m a sucker for a good training montage.

Each of the upcoming days will explore different specific texts but today I want to talk about the generalities of this sport within its serial depictions. Boxing seems simple enough to the amateur eye. You have gloves that prevent injury and you punch someone else in three minute intervals until one person gets knocked out or if after a certain number of rounds no one does then they have judges giving points to determine the winner. What you don’t really get to see is the months of intensive training that each competitor has to endure just to survive a few rounds. I challenge you right now to go and throw punches at the air for three minutes straight, they don’t even have to be fast or with power behind them. (don’t worry the blog isn’t going anywhere in the meantime). Winded I assume? Now do that while moving around and someone trying to punch you back for three minute intervals with a short rest in between. Wow that seems exhausting just to think about. Each round is long enough to keep people interested with the possibility of something epic happening at any moment but short enough to avoid boredom (unless they are clinching the whole time). Consider other sports and how they can be split up into any individual moment. Baseball has innings but things are actually best divided by pitch. Everything stops until the ball leaves the hand. Football (of the American variety) is similarly discernible by plays that start with each snap. Basketball is slightly more amorphous as anything can happen until someone scores, there’s a foul, or a timeout is called. At least scoring is pretty common, as oppossed to soccer, hockey, rugby, or other sports that have no real pauses beyond huge time intervals. The action is not subdivided into more manageable segments which end and viewers can take a breather from the action and direct their attention elsewhere (like commercials). Boxing in fiction can focus on one round, fast forward over others, and might even end an installment at a critical moment in the bout itself. The limited quantity of rounds makes sure that viewers know that the match won’t extend beyond a particular time frame (no overtime here). However, because a knockout can realistically happen at any point in the match, it’s not like any round can be filler material. The tension of any particular round can be increased with a fall limit rule (if you fall X amount of times, even if it’s for a second, you automatically lose the match) and really emphasize the potential of a lucky punch that can be thrown by anyone.

As any serial, you can’t just have nameless characters show up to fight one another and then have it end. You need character progression and growth which takes place during the training period up to any particular match. You see their desires and ambitions, a fear they need to overcome or a skill that must be learned in order to achieve victory. Modern real life boxing televised venues attempt to recreate this familiarization through the use of interviews and clips from previous fights but if you show up to a local match you will be lucky to retain any info from the program, the introductions, and maybe some color commentary along the way. Serialization through fiction (especially anime and manga) can stretch time even further through the use of flashbacks to have more character contextualization. This can easily turn into filler material if you are interested solely in the action. The ability to show temporal perception go at a completely different from an actual pace of time elapsing is a powerful tool in fiction and in something as unpredictable as boxing it can help dictate a particular mood or tone for proper buildup and climactic struggles even in an already tense setting like being in the middle of a fight.

The next few days will have some of my favorite serials to discuss but if you have one that you want me to analyze then feel free to ask. I will be taking requests for what will most likely be the weekend posts. I’m counting on you, my single digit readership, to get me some good starting material.

Episode 67: Gotta Blog ’em All

The Gaming Con has come and gone and unfortunately many occurrences have come together to make it one of the worst in recent memory. But this post isn’t about complaining, it’s about crazy segues from random everyday occurrences to something I can talk about in a pseudo academic fashion. You see, one of the few things I did beyond manning the booth and running the beta test of a board game which I pretty much blatantly stole from other classics was an epic confrontation of block madness in Pokemon Puzzle League. The tournament is normally with Tetris Attack (the SNES version of the game) but the controllers were uncooperative so we decided to go the Pokemon and N64 route. A double elimination bracket turned amazing as after I finally defeated my rival in the summoning of trumpets of doom, I had to go against the champion from a few years ago and had to beat him twice in a row. I was able to squeek out a victory in the first match but the epic finale had him with a crazy comeback that led to another second place in tournament competition in a game which I have mastered over and over again. Still, it was a great event and it got me thinking about Pokemon as a serial in its different incarnations.

The video games have a very different feeling over the cartoon in that every generation of games has a new adventure for your pixelated avatar to defeat champion trainers and capture some legendaries along the way. I stopped playing after gen 1 with Blue and Yellow in ’98, not because of hipster appraisals of any sort just don’t want to keep spending money on too many games, but right now they are at like gen 7 (the promise of a wild Eevee is tempting though). The game itself is a fairly standard PVE RPG with rock-paper-scissors style attack strategies with some possibilities of PVP. What made Pokemon unique was the mechanic of such a variety of available Pokemon and that it was impossible to get the coveted maximum amount of the original 151 without the help of other players (that or having extra copies of games with additional Gameboys as well). Each generation has added about a hundred extra pokemon in addition to a new adventure campaign, and even a new evil organization to pester you along the way. Sure there is a lot of valid criticism that this mechanic is just a cash machine for Wizards of the Coast but ludologically it is very interesting to see people come together towards a common goal for attaining the almost impossible goal of catching them all.

The show takes it in a very different direction and had the protagonist Ash with his faithful Pikachu and friends on a quest to capture Pokemon and defeat rivals until becoming champion. The problem comes in that pretty much every season does a big restart. Ash could have captured 100 different Pokemon but would head off to a far away land with just Pikachu and meet new people along the way. Pokemon are specifically intended to grow via a leveling up system so Pikachu should be stronger than anything else they come accross and yet Pokemon he has barely trained become better choices against expreienced trainers. With only one consistent piece trhoughout the different seasons (well that and maybe Team Rocket) if you miss a few episodes then you might wonder what the Hell happened to all the progress that was previously made and why does he keep releasing his Pokemon only for the best ones to triumphantly come back Chekov’s Gunman style just before an epic match (I’m looking at you Charizard). As a serial, the lack of growth makes it difficult to keep watching for any one season. However, the lack of complicated back stories makes it so that new viewers can hop in without being too lost, though the nostalgic effect of having Misty come back for one episode is completely lost on them.

The other cool thing about serials and specifically Pokemon is that when you don’t explain exactly how this world is different from the real world then a group of crazy/bored enough readers will craft something so inspiring that it has to be true. A few years ago I was introduced to the Ash in a coma theory, it only works for the first season or so but man is it mind blowing. A bit of a long read but if you are a fan or enjoy psychological analysis of characters then check it out.

http://cartoonoveranalyzations.com/2009/04/09/pokemon-explained/

There’s another crazy theory that makes everything slightly make sense. Can’t remember the original source but let me give you the basics. There is a reason why 10 year old kids are legally allowed to go out and capture Pokemon and there is a general lack of adult supervision. You see, there was a huge war in which the majority of the population died and various parts of the countryside were basically quarantined from each other. Consider the fact that there are almost no males over the age of 15 out there in the world. Brock’s dad actively avoided fighting and ran away, abandoning his wife and many kids in the process. Ash’s dad probably died at some point in the war. James was rich so he could grease enough palms to get out of a draft. Liutenant Surge is actually a freaking hero of the war and one of it’s few survivors. Every other adult male is pretty much very old, some kind of super hero, or a scientist. In the attempts to reconstruct society, they had to clone civil servants to make the place somewhat liveable. That’s why there are nothing but Officer Jennies and Nurse Joys in every city, each with a growlith and chancey respectively. New areas that no one else knew of and the discovery of new pokemon occur because quarantine and border areas are being phased out. Pokemon themselves were possibly the result of too much genetic engineering and weapons development but the aftereffects of the war made it so that these killing machines are somewhat domesticated and passive after a few years. Having this new generation go out and explore whil getting as many Pokemon as possibe prepares them for a new world and creates a system of checks and balances as even a kid could have enough power to rob a bank or stop a robbery. Society has glorified the practice and considers it a spot that bears watching and emulating. Team Rocket and their boss Giovanni do not want to give up the old ways and amass Pokemon to obtain power and maybe start a revolution with more bloodshed. The fan theory has very little information from the show besides some details here and there to support it but you have to admit that it is pretty cool and makes just enough sense before you actually start to question it yourself.