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When you think Pokémon, you tend to think cutesy creatures fist-fighting and zapping each other with lightning until one of the creatures is “knocked out.” Also, you may think of widespread, real-world epileptic seizures and perhaps the moral complications of a world in which the local fauna are pitted against each other in fighting leagues, used as slave labor and also happily eaten, despite their astonishing intelligence, but maybe that’s a story for another day.

What you probably don’t associate with the series is a devastating intercultural war that has wiped out nearly the entire adult population, yet there appears to be some rather compelling evidence that that’s exactly what happened in the Pokémon world directly before the adventures of the first game…

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Over at PBS’s Idea Channel, host and geek hero Mike Rugnetta explains a long-held fan theory that the reason there are barely any fighting-age human adults in the Pokémon world is because the events of the first few games in the series take place directly after an enormously devastating war that has killed off nearly the entire adult population of Kanto, the game’s setting.

A surprising amount of the evidence presented is fairly compelling. At least one major character, Lt. Surge, specifically mentions a war in the game’s dialogue—meaning a war of some kind legitimately happened in the game’s canon. You’ve also got the initial fact that there are basically no fighting-age adults presented in the game outside of a few gym trainers, who perhaps could have been given some sort of occupational pardon from a draft or who could have been involved in research roles studying Pokémon (who Lt. Surge specifically mentions were on the front lines of the war—one apparently “saved his life”).

Mike also mentions that a massive war—sure to leave a significant impression on the culture—might explain why Kanto’s people are so obsessed with fighting and training. Many major child characters are also either orphans or have no father figure, including main character Red, who appears to live alone with his mother. Additionally, the theory rightfully points out that Kanto lacks a lot of basic infrastructure; the whole world is made up basically of houses, gyms and hospitals, which could suggest some kind of massive-scale devastation just prior to the events of the first Pokémon games. Plus, the theory would lend a broader purpose to the very goal of the game—”catch them all”—with the suggestion being that Red and other collectors’ task is to gather information about the Pokémon in order to determine which species survived the war.

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The video, doing its due diligence, also presents some counter-arguments, primarily that if there really had been a massive war just prior to the game’s events, there probably would be a lot more in-game characters talking about it. But it’s also worth noting that Japan’s pop culture is steeped in war references and a lot of Japan’s most recognizable media franchises either explicitly or implicitly reference war and its real-world effects on Japan and its culture, so the idea that a vaguely referenced but canonical war took place in the Pokémon universe isn’t out of the question.

Now, in great Idea Channel tradition, we’ll turn it over to the peanut gallery. What do you guys think? What are the odds the events of Pokemon were spurred on by a devastating war? Does the theory hold water, or is it a little, er… Farfetch’d?

H/T: Kotaku US
Images: YouTube/Idea Channel