The pleasures and pains of Pikachu

Jordan, Tim (2004). The pleasures and pains of Pikachu. European Journal of Cultural Studies, 7(4) pp. 461–480.



Pokémon is a phenomenon that has enticed children throughout the world. The essential components of the Pokémon universe are introduced first by outlining the logics of life in Pokémon and then by presenting the main components through which these logics are realized: videogames, cartoons, cards, movies and merchandising. These five components and associated logics are then outlined as a form of branded hyperdifferentiating capitalism. In Pokémon, everything that seems single in fact multiplies, producing innumerable opportunities to define commodities that are yet held together by the Pokémon 'brand'. This aspect of Pokémon is carried mainly by the videogames and cards. A second axis of Pokémon is then explored in the potential it offers for children to explore their emotional development both in and out of family life. Here, numerous resources are found through which the inner subconscious development of children can be explored using Pokémon characters and stories as metaphors. This aspect of Pokédmon is carried mainly by cartoons and movies. In conclusion, it is noted that although Pokémon offers resources-that may participate in the emotional development of children, these resources are also intimately tied into commodification.

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