Evil in Pokémon is mundane.
Pokémon has used its villains to explore serious topics like climate change and social inequality. Most of them however are cartoonishly evil and quickly dispatched. This is especially true of the second Generations of Pokemon games Pokémon: Gold, Silver, and Crystal (and their remakes). Their main villain is Team Rocket, a Pokémon mafia whose desire for wealth is matched only by their comical incompetence.
What these games hide just beneath their surface however is a villain so foul, so wicked, so utterly irredeemable that he must conceal his depravity behind a veneer of nobility and status to prevent public outrage. A malefactor, working behind the scenes of the Pokemon world to exert dominance and violent control on the whole region. A black-hearted fiend claiming and monopolizing power and status. I am referring, of course, to Pokémon League Champion Lance.
The Dragon Taming Tyrant
Lance is a bully. Worse than that he actively endangers the lives of his fellow men. There is an unspoken agreement in Pokémon, as there must be in a world where everyone has access to fire-breathing dragons and birds made of knives: Pokémon never threaten people directly. Pokemon only ever battle amongst themselves. At least, that was the deal before Lance forces his Dragonite to unleash a Hyper Beam at point blank on some poor soul, sending him flying across the room. Hyper Beam is a 150 power move—one of the strongest in the game. What’s more it uses the Level 40 Dragonite’s beefy 97 Special Attack stat or a whopping 124 Attack stat in the original games.
“Wait a minute!” I hear you eagle eyed readers say, “Level 40? But Dragonair can only evolve at level 55!” That’s correct: Lance’s Dragonite, in fact all three Dragonites he uses in his Championship bout, are Tournament Illegal Pokémon—unobtainable in an ordinary game unless hacked in. To make matters worse, it was a plot to make Magikarp evolve prematurely with a special radio wave that Lance sought to stop when he made his Dragonite assault the Rocket goon. Lance is a hypocrite, along with everything else.
Hypocrisy, Cruelty in Equal Measure
His hypocrisy doesn’t end there. Lance never misses a chance to moralize about caring for Pokémon, but his own actions show utmost cruelty towards them. After raiding a secret Team Rocket base to deactivate the aforementioned radio signal, Lance and the player discover a machine powering the frequency charged by six captive Electrodes. After a cursory glance at the machinery, Lance proudly declares, “We have no choice. We have to make all the ELECTRODE faint.” This, of course, is a lie. The player can capture all three Electrode, and give them a loving home with a trainer who will nurture and raise them. This means nothing to Lance, whose bloodlust eliminates the possibility of a peaceful ending for the poor, abused Pokémon.
These examples shed light on the utter depravity of the Johto League Champion. This supposed “protector of the innocent” is nothing more than a thug, using ill-gotten power to abuse and batter the people and Pokémon who stand in his way. We can only hope that one day, Nintendo and Game Freak will give us the closure we deserve and see this villain brought to justice.
Thumbnail image from Comicbook.com