Pokémon (Japanese: ポケットモンスター Pocket Monsters; ポケモン Pokémon for short) are 721 known species of magical, strange creatures that inhabit the World of Nintendo. Inherent to them are several fantastic powers not demonstrated by normal animals, such as manipulation of electricity and fire. For the most part, Pokémon are shown to exist instead of animals in their world, although animals are still found there and mentioned in several places.
Many Pokémon are known to evolve from or into other Pokémon, a process that typically makes them larger and stronger, and could be seen as the equivalent to "growing up". Pokémon typically know several techniques that they can use in battle or elsewhere, either to defend themselves or their Trainer, or to perform a task. Most Pokémon are known only to say their names.
In the gamesEdit
Pokémon have been, from the very beginning, spoken of as friends and partners to the humans of the Pokémon world, used to help with various tasks from constructing buildings to exploration. Many people in the Pokémon world take Pokémon with them on a journey to gather Badges and compete in the various Pokémon Leagues as Trainers, using them in battles against Pokémon both owned by other Trainers and found in the wild.
Across the five generations of games, Pokémon are typically found in one of three manners: encountering them in tall grass, going fishing for them, or trading with an NPC. These are often joined by several more ways in which to encounter Pokémon, such as surfing on water, headbutting trees, or using the Poké Radar.
In the games, Pokémon are no more than fragments of data, identifying certain characteristics inherent to them. As the games have progressed, more data is added to each Pokémon, typically to reference new features introduced in games of the new generation.
The methodology for construction of Pokémon data changes across generations.
In the animeEdit
In the anime, Pokémon are shown to be creatures with distinctively more human-like qualities than normal animals, with several even able to speak. Some Pokémon have the ability to speak the dubbing language instead of their own names, such as Meowth of Team Rocket.
The anime takes a clear stance of right and wrong on the use of Pokémon: Trainers such as Ash Ketchum are shown to treat their Pokémon with respect, as partners and friends, while evil organizations like Team Rocket are shown to use Pokémon as tools, keeping them in cages -- a stark contrast to Ash and his Pikachu, who he keeps on his shoulder, rather than in a Poké Ball, because of its own preference.
The anime has given a more in-depth history of human interaction with Pokémon than is given by the games: Poké Balls, for example, have not existed forever, and are in reality an apparently recent development, with one owned by a young Professor Oak being shown to be vastly different than ones used in modern times.
Prior to the invention and mass-production of Poké Balls, people tended to use hollowed-out Apricorns, native to the Johto region, to capture Pokémon, while even further back, Pokémon were not known as "Pokémon" at all, but as "magical creatures" (Japanese: 魔獣 majuu). In these times, many Pokémon were apparently feared because of their powers, sometimes so great that the most powerful of these monsters passed into legend and were often seen as deities in their own right.
Interestingly, Ash and his friends, through their interaction with history in Arceus and the Jewel of Life, seemingly invented the term "Pokémon" to refer to these creatures. This, however, creates an ontological paradox, as their knowledge and use of the word comes only from its wide use in their future time. What may remain true is that the term came into practice elsewhere on its own.