This is How My Mind Works: Enter The Pokematrix

Welcome again my friends, to another entry of This Is How My Mind Works, the segment where I discuss how I generate ideas from how I riff on ideas and stories that present themselves to me.

This week, it’s also the segment where I talk about fan theories.

Fan theories are another one of those things that makes me so interested in fandom in general. They’re how fans either explain mysteries as of yet unsolved in a story, fill in gaps in details the writers inevitably leave, or even connect multiple franchises. Just looking around on this site’s comments shows that The Descendants and Rune Breaker aren’t immune to this and some of them are awesome.

Mostly they’re just for fun though. Everyone accepts that the writer will do what they want more or less what they want, so it’s good to take these with a grain of salt. Especially the one you’re about to read by yours truly.

With that out of the way: So. Pokemon.

I was in high school when the first game hit, picked the Red version and have been a casual fan ever since. I say casual because I’ve always been sort of distanced from the meat of the franchise. I played the videogames, but the show didn’t come on any channels we could get (and Digimon: Digital Monsters was better anyway), I was a Magic: The Gathering player which is the natural enemy of the Pokemon CCG player, and after a while so many consoles coming out locked me out of playing the games because damned if I’m going to buy a whole new system every cycle just to play pokemon (PC gamer 4 life). But I followed the lore and as a fan of creature design, the franchise appealed to me on an elemental level.

So I know Pokemon pretty well, but am not a fan of it in the same way I am of Leverage or Avatar where I know every bit of minutia. Same goes for The Matrix, so forgive me for missing things from both. Wait, why did I mention The Matrix?

Oh yeah, because the Pokemon Universe chronicles the second iteration of the Matrix.

At least in this theory I came up with.

How could this be? Let’s begin.

In the first Matrix movie, we learn that the one in the film is not the first version. The original iteration was a perfect world, a paradise. In the cynical view of the film’s writers (or a huge misunderstanding of the teachings of the Buddha), humans need suffering and failure, so we as a species rejected this world and the Machines had to retool things, eventually culminating with our world circa the time of the movie.

What we don’t know is what the other Matrices looked like.

Until now.

So we know paradise apparently doesn’t work. So how about Game Theory? Specifically keeping us humans so engaged in the illusion that we never think to leave it. Enter Pokemon. No, not the videogame, but the world of Pokemon.

It all starts with indoctrination. In the Pokeverse, any ten year-old can essentially quit school to travel the world training pokemon. This serves two purposes: one keeping them uneducated and thus ensuring that future humans from reaching a level that might be able to build or program devices that might rival the Machines. Two, it serves as a handy distraction for a massive chunk of the population; not just the kids but the massive industry that’s popped up around catering to these trainers, their pokemon and the tournaments they hold constantly.

We can easily see how successful this is in the fact that almost every town has a gym, a pokemart and a pokecenter. Not only that, but the large malls in each region sell almost exclusively pokemon-related products. The only major corporation in the world appears to be Sylph Co; an R&D firm focused on pokemon training and capturing devices.

With all industry focused on these creatures, humanity has both reached incredible levels of technology (teleportation, shrinking, digital storage of physical objects) without really advancing the world’s tech level (they still use bikes, cars and trucks to move around instead of putting a teleport hub in each city, for example). Most importantly, with all their computing power the people of the poke-world haven’t and probably never will develop the concept of AI. The closest thing they have to AI is the digital pokemon Porygon—which is still considered a naturally occurring creature.

In fact, the mere existence of pokemon has likely destroyed people’s understanding of reality. After all, natural science goes out the window when not only can rock and ghosts be living things that breed, but are all the same family or even species as each other. This despite the fact that every single one of them is a program.

What? You didn’t know? You thought Agumon and his friends were the only digital monsters? Well you shouldn’t be surprised because players have been storing their captured pokemon on computers and transferring them to remote computers via modem since the beginning of the franchise.

Which makes a lot of sense if you’ve watch The Animatrix. In it, we find out that before the war, many of the machines just wanted to be equals with humanity; our friends. So inside Matrix 2.0, while the human haters stayed distant or spied on humans to make sure they were under control as the first agents (more on this later), those who hadn’t been embittered by the war and still liked and even wanted to serve humans became pokemon.

Think about it: from the show, we know that the power of friendship makes a pokemon do better—even impossible things, like Ash’s Pikachu being blessed with Zeus’s lightning rather than a normal Thundershock. This is because as a creature made up entirely of the mind, a program’s capability is directly linked to its state of mind. For the pro-human programs, achieving their goal of becoming a true partner and friend with a human would make them extremely happy and thus—dare I say—super effective.

What of the other programs? Well many of them look at their brethren pretending to be semi-sapient animals with pity and so devote themselves to taking care of them after the inevitable injury the humans will cause. In the Matrix 2.0, they take the form of the ultimate pokemon caretaker: the Nurse Joys that populate the world. They have no care about the human concept of individuality, so they follow a single template that quickly and easily denotes their function. They often take a pokemon under their wing to try and rehabilitate them—the Chancy Nurse Joys are often seen with.

Other programs are the first form of the agents: less direct, but still acting to impose the rules and direct will of the Machines running the Matrix. These of course are the Officer Jennys. They have a much easier time than their successors, however, usually only having to act to keep the indoctrination rolling by helping young pokemon trainers and making the humans feel safe in the face of the more virulent (but useful) program-driven organizations: the Teams.

See, the easiest form of entertainment to keep people distracted is the tournament. It’s easy to set up, has very clear rules and leaves the participants something to constantly aspire to. The down side though is there can only be one winner each time. This is somewhat mitigated by the Elite Four Championship system that makes sure trainers can continually challenge them as they get stronger, but it still leaves a lot of losers that will eventually get bored with failure.

Unless you throw them a curveball where they get to play hero… or villain. So the Matrix created the Teams: barely competent criminal organizations trainers are either menaced by, triumph over, or join. It gives them variety in the world and the less competition-oriented trainers something to do. Most of the groups are humans, but they’re constantly being pushed in the ‘correct’ direction by programs, sometimes more obvious ones than others. Why else do you think Meowth is the only pokemon that can talk?

Eventually however, even this set-up grew stale and as per game theory, the Machines were forced to diversify: new regions with new pokemon and new activities including contests outside of the tournaments. They created new pokemon templates for every interest, slowly becoming more and more removed from nature and common sense (like ice cream cones or bags of trash).

And in the middle of all this, you have Pokemon: the First Movie. Why do I bring this up? Because in it, the human-engineered pokemon Mewtwo becomes disaffected by his own creation and subsequently being used by leader of Team Rocket Giovanni (for those of you keeping score, as a Team leader, Giovanni is most likely a program) and what he sees as a similar relationship between all humans and pokemon. To this end he creates an army of clone pokemon and eventually leaves for a secret location.

Why do I bring this up? Because Mewtwo, a program created by humans with too-human emotions and characteristics… would eventually become the Merovingian and his clone pokemon would become his fellow extra-Matrix programs. Even the terrible sequels say that many of the programs there are leftovers from previous Marices.

And if that’s not enough for this theory, the Machines even give you a clue every time the show comes on. That’s right, the theme song is actually a Machine perspective of the War, the Matrix and their relationship with humans:

I wanna be the very best
Like no one ever was
(The Machines wished to be the best beings on the planet, surpassing humans)
To catch them is my real test
To train them is my cause
(Humans are terrible power sources. The true original purpose of the Matrix was to teach humans to coexist with Machines)

I will travel across the land
Searching far and wide (Not ever nation had a large Machine presence pre-War. They had to scour the planet to catch all the humans)
Teach Pokémon to understand
The power that’s inside
(My understanding is that ord is ‘each’, not ‘teach’, as in, they are using the pokemon to understand humans)

Pokémon (Gotta catch ’em all), it’s you and me
I know it’s my destiny (They are both sure this will work and that they need to work with humans)
(Pokémon!)
Ooh, you’re my best friend
In a world we must defend
(The humans were the ones that burned the sky, destroying most life on Earth. Only by teaching coexistence will the Machines ensure the humans don’t do that again)
Pokémon (Gotta catch ’em all), a heart so true
Our courage will pull us through
You teach me, and I’ll teach you
Po-ké-mon
(Gotta catch ’em all!)
Gotta catch ’em all!
Pokémon!
(The whole thing is a rallying cry for the pro-human Machines, beseeching them to adopt the idea).

So yeah. Obviously this isn’t true, but isn’t it fun to think about?

Feel free to lob your own crazy fan theories my way either in the comments or the new forum (it’s really a nice forum, guys. Give it a try!). I’m going to try to blog more regularly now and next week, I’ll be doing another This Old Monster, this time for one of the dumbest ‘serious’ monsters of all time: The Moth Man.

Also, starting October 1, you’ll be able to buy The Descendants as individual issues for 99 cents. All of Volume 1 will be out by the time you read this and Volume 2 won’t be far behind with a new issue every other day! The half-volumes (Basic Collection) and Complete Volumes will still stick around and be a better buy for the money, but the issue are there for readers who only want to dip a toe in and to increase my exposure. Let me know what you think.

Finally, in the next few weeks, I have a surprise for you guys depending on how things work out. More details later!

About Vaal

Landon Porter is the author of The Descendants and Rune Breaker. Follow him on Twitter @ParadoxOmni or sign up for his newsletter. You can also purchase his books from all major platforms from the bookstore
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