Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Daily Life of a Pokémon Trainer

Yeah, interestingly enough, that’s something that even the most dedicated of Pokémon fans know very little about. In the games themselves, it makes very little mention of distances or of time spent traveling, and the day-night cycle is based on the real world’s time. (The alternative is a system like that in The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, where a certain amount of real time, measured in minutes, caused an hour to pass in the game’s world.)

And I don’t blame them for that either; it would have little relevance to the game to have to worry about camping out for the night on the road to Hearthome City. But it’s also impossible that the minute or so that I spend biking from one major city to the next is as long as it takes in the game’s world. This is an adventure that would probably take many weeks or even months to complete; the game ignores those details to simplify the game play.

Okay, so the game doesn’t include many of the minutiae or logistics of actually traveling around on foot, and thus offers no real insights into the day-to-day life of traveling, training, and battle that a Pokémon trainer’s life would theoretically consist of. One would think, though, that we could look at the animated series for more on that, right? After all, there are eleven seasons and hundreds of episodes of Pokémon anime. Surely some of those offer more insights into what the daily life must be like.

And one would be right… mostly. Certainly, there are times when the anime definitely offers a better look. Brock is often shown cooking meals, and he’s just generally well prepared for traveling. (Good thing Ash became friends with him.) Also, Ash and Dawn sometimes do training sessions. (I wish that was possible in the game, to train without battling.)

There are, however, several problems with accepting the picture painted by the anime as the daily life of your average Pokémon trainer. Most of those have to do with the limitations of producing a show that needs to provide ratings and money. After all, it would be incredibly dull to watch an episode of the show that just had them walking along the road to the next town. Yet I have no doubt that most of their days consist of just that and very little else.

After all, from episode 469, Following A Maiden’s Voyage, (that was its title on the western side of the Pacific, anyway) to episode 516 (which wasn’t aired here in America), theoretically lasted a year. That 516th episode, for Ash and Dawn anyway, was a year after they started their adventure in Sinnoh. Now, fairly basic math then tells us that that’s 47 episodes (I’m not counting the 516th) covering the events of 365 days. More fairly basic math indicates that the vast majority of the time they spent traveling was time we didn’t see on TV.

The 516th episode, from what I can gather, was a collection of the highlights of the 47 episodes (and that year of travel) preceding it, but for Ash and Dawn, the 47 episodes could probably be considered mere highlights of a year spent walking through Sinnoh. What does a Pokémon trainer do on a day-to-day basis? If the only acceptable source of information is the games, anime, and movies, we have no real idea.

I do have a good guess, and that is: walking. After all, they don’t really seem to have any more advanced means of transport, and it’s a long distance from one city to the next. How long would it take any of us to walk from Baltimore to Washington D.C.? How about Washington D.C. to Los Angeles? As awesome as the life of a Pokémon trainer would appear to be based on the anime, there’s almost certainly a lot of less glamorous hard work, either walking or training, in between episodes that we don’t see.

There’s a lesson in there somewhere. Daily life as a whole has its moments, yes, but the majority of that day-to-day life is simply work. For another example, I can point to the TV and the Olympics that have been running for the past two weeks. Again, just from the competitions and the glory that we get to see, it looks like those athletes get to do some pretty neat things with their lives. Michael Phelps wins eight gold medals and becomes a major superstar, and the Chinese gymnastics teams win multiple gold medals from team and individual competition.

I wouldn’t want to be in their places, though. For all the glory and fame that they’ve received, and for all of the joy that I know they have from winning such honors, one would think that they lead such awesome lives. Yet I also know that they’ve spent the vast majority of their day-to-day lives training for this kind of event. The life of a major athlete is not all competitions and glory; if one were to randomly pick a day out of their life, I’d be willing to bet that it would be a day spent training and working out, preparing for the next meet. No glory, no accolades, just hard work preparing for the next major event.

Not every day has to be eventful; not every day should be eventful. I know that some days will be more interesting than others, and I know that some will be dull beyond belief. That’s the way life is. I’ll take joy in my moments of glory, and I’ll move on through the days of boredom. Above all else, though, I’ll remember that that’s the way it is. The day-to-day work can’t be avoided or skipped in the end.

Ash and Dawn have to keep moving onward, even if they’d rather laze around and have some mock battles in any given day. That might be more exciting than walking toward Pastoria City, but they do need to get to that city eventually, and the only way to do that is to walk. Phelps, and any pro athlete, can’t skip training often and still expect to win. Daily life may often be boring, but it can’t be dismissed.

1 comment:

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