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Government System in Pokémon Fanfics

Discussion in 'The Authors' Café' started by DreamSayer, Jun 15, 2018.

  1. DreamSayer

    DreamSayer Dreamzone Trainer

    As we all know, Gamefreak has made the concept of a ruling body in Pokémon game regions pretty vague and somewhat nonexistent, which somewhat makes the Pokémon League the default form of government.

    That can be problematic when you think things realistically because The league being in charge of the workings of a nation is like Fifa or the Olympics ruling countries In our world.

    So, I'm asking whether you go out of your way to introduce, implement or hint at a higher form of government other than the Pokémon league, or you just use what you're given and make a sports body in charge of countries.

    This also brings up the question on how the international police functions exactly. Are they controlled by a multi county alliance like the UN? And is the Pokémon League overseeing them? If then what happens when an evil minded person becomes Pokémon champion?

    How will a government really function within the lore of Pokémon?
  2. Dragonfree

    Dragonfree Just me Staff Member Moderator

    I'm not sure I agree with the assessment that the Pokémon League is the default form of government, or in any way implied by canon. It's pretty common fanon, to be sure, but I don't recall anything in canon actually suggesting the League is anything other than the top authority on the sport of Pokémon training?

    Personally, I assume there is a pretty standard government behind the scenes, but since politics are pretty boring for the target audience and irrelevant to the canon storylines, they understandably just don't go into it. I mean, my fanfic also has nothing to do with politics and thus never mentions the system of government as far as I can remember, but I'm assuming they've got a standard representational democracy going on. The Pokémon League does clearly play a bigger role in society than real-world sports organizations, but I'd chalk that up to the fact Pokémon training is so ubiquitous and important to society, more than to them actually being the government.
  3. Negrek

    Negrek Lost but Seeking

    The question of how exactly the Pokemon-world government runs is definitely an interesting one, and one that I don't think the canon's touched on much at all. Like, clearly there are police officers around (who are perfectly happy to throw down with kids when they're supposedly on duty), but idk, has anybody in any of the games ever mentioned, like... taxes? Certainly not any sort of elections or politics.

    As far as fan interpretations go, I've definitely seen the League-as-government angle, although when people go that route it's usually to portray it as a corrupt or dystopian system. Actually, I think about the only time I've seen any real mention of government or politics as such is for dystopian fics... Like, it's common for "Unova where N won" fics to have some kind of evil government thing going on because, well, how else are you going to get people to give up their mons? In those cases the government is separate from the League for obvious reasons.

    For my own stories, where it comes up, I view the League as separate from the government. It's a very powerful corporation, and it probably does have undue influence on the government, but it doesn't have any official legal power. Some of the positions in the League did evolve out of traditional government positions, like gym leaders by tradition were guardians of their particular cities, with the most powerful pokemon at their disposal. In some cases they were also the ruler/top government official of the place, but not always.

    I could see someone going the "League-as-government" route, though, for sure. I get why most people don't touch on government stuff too much in their fics at all, though it can be fun to speculate on how, if at all, the apparently super peaceful, prosperous, and technologically advanced society that pokemon presents could work.
    unrepentantAuthor likes this.
  4. straydelta

    straydelta Noodlebirb

    I think it's almost impossible to visualize what the government in the Pokemon world looks like simply because it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. What kind of world can allow children to run around with wild, dangerous creatures unsupervised? What kind of utopian world do they all live in that they can all just walk around the country and buy things without money, and no jobs? Do we believe their parents are simply funding them the whole time? Why does it seem like adults have jobs, but kids just run around battling Pokemon and not gaining an education to do said job? Is there some point where kids have to stop running around and go to school?

    At best, going on a "Pokemon journey" seems to be a rite of passage for most 10-year-olds, much like getting a permit to drive at around the age of 16 in the US, or getting to vote at the age of 18. It marks a huge turning point in a person's life. Maybe that's the point of these journeys? A sort of sink-or-swim mentality? Go out, kid, have fun with this little yellow rat - maybe you'll live, maybe you'll die, but by the end of it, you'll have grown into a mature, capable young adult? (And perhaps that's what Trainer Schools and other things are - alternative options to this adventure for the non-adventurous types). After all, I think we see a hint of this with Bianca and her dad in BW - he refuses to let her leave home because he's afraid of the danger.

    In that sense, I'd see the League as more of a huge cultural aspect to each region, rather than a political one - though I would say that in small towns with gyms in them that their Gym Leaders might become de facto leaders, or it wouldn't be uncommon to see a lot of overlap - such as perhaps Elite Four members taking up roles within government.
    DreamSayer likes this.
  5. unrepentantAuthor

    unrepentantAuthor A cat who writes stories

    There's no reason to believe that the Pokémon League has any role as a state body. I don't know why people have this idea, I don't think it's implied anywhere. Certainly it's absurd to think that a ten year old would be given public policy decisions because they won some pokémon battles.

    Government is just one of those things left unmentioned in the franchise because it's not relevant. I mean - we should be making reasonable inferences about why things do or don't show up. A moving van features in the Hoenn games despite there being no roads: well, why would Game Freak make graphical assets for roads and put them in if it makes no sense for the protagonist to use them? Or where the anime is concerned, why aren't Ash's finances covered in any detail? They're not important, it's a waste of screen time.

    In my own personal canon, I've made the creative decision that Kanto, Pokéworld is actually Kanto, Japan and so on, with each region roughly corresponding to its real world counterpart. Vermilion City is a fanciful nickname for the port of Yokohama for kids on a combat sport tour of the region. Therefore the government of Kanto, Johto, Hoenn and Sinnoh is the same unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy we know as Japan. I don't focus much on that, though, because my protagonist is a cat and doesn't know what 'government' means.

    Regarding everybody going on a journey as a right of passage when they're ten, that part of canon has always been a little weird to me because it's quite clear that not everybody does that. I feel like the NPC trainer class that really represents people on pokémon journeys is the Ace Trainer class. Everybody else is doing their own thing, happens to own a pokémon, and humours you. Culturally speaking it's also bizarre to us for children to be allowed to adventure off alone - Ash has one or more capable adults with him pretty much all the time but that's by pure chance. we could assume that the setting is utopian, or we could assume that Ash and the game protagonists are actually unusual - we only uncommonly see any similar league-challenge trainers besides rival characters anyway. I tend to do the latter. I'm prepared to stand corrected on that last point, but I still feel as if it's reasonable to assume that millions of kids per year don't go gallivanting around the land unaccompanied.
  6. Venia Silente

    Venia Silente [](int x){return x;}

    As others have said including in the OP, it's pretty obvious the idea that the Pokémon League is the Government™ would be like FIFA being the government and that simply makes negative six sense. Besides, the anime at least has mentioned town mayors among other things, and concepts such as prison exist, so there certainly exist layers and levels of government somewhat similar to our own.

    I think this is the basics of it. Pokémon training is an activity that functions much like a sports or a hobby with similar interoperations going on How often when you go see a tennis match at the stadium or go to a museum excursion in school do you get to meet a councilman, let alone the Mayor or the Governor, and see what are they doing?

    Politics is there, subyacent to much of what happens in the Pokémon world but still subyacent. What else is going to regulate the whole idea that eg.: Trainers just wander around entering into people's houses?

    Why the best kind of government of course! This is a world where children go out to explore the world at the age of ten on what appears to be government dime, tutored by their peers who have attained empirical experience, and doing the whole drifter trope smiting local evil and taking names while at it, and with how much social activity and economical activity would Pokémon training as a sport push in such a world, it's not difficult to see why.

    Government-wise for my setting I have them just be somewhat similar to our own. There's Presidents and Emperors and God-Emperors and then there's everything going down the ladder to the little Councilman who just wants to make sure the town is not running out of water and stuff. Regions tend to function closer to what would be states in a Federal system, subordinate to a larger "National" concept: for example, I have it that Kanto, Johto, Rota and at least one fanon region are part of an unity that would be similar to "Poké-Japan", whereas regions like Unova, Orre and cross-fanon ones I work it like Angela and Domino would be part of a different unit closer in concept to "Poké-United States"; in some other cases regions would be large or independent enough that they would comprise their own little countries like ya know, lovable Lichtenstein or awesome and never forgotten Denmark as would be the case for eg.: Kalos and Suocé, my main fanon region.

    Pokémon being such a transversal aspect of the world, Pokémon training is regulated by mostly orthogonal world organizations at the level of what would be UNESCO for our world, except with better jurisdictional reach and even then there's also stuff like the Pokémon Rangers. Such organizations would have regional off-shots in some cases but would still largely operate by promoting a common Standard for training practice. Legal issues that crop up when a random youth is journeying across a region are probably addressed by a board composed of local government officers and representatives of a Pokémon Training union or fiscalization body, and for all but th weirdest or more harmful cases they never reach an actual court or a police file.

    All this however deals only with human government. Pokémon being sapient creatures organized at various societal layers and some of them even having urbanizations in their own way, there'd also be a lot to talk about what a "government" for a Pokémon colony or a more macro ecosystem would be like, and in my fanon some Pokémon do organize themselves in province-like structures ruled by their own and working with a bare minimum set of laws and which are commonly called Sovereignties.
  7. Gen82

    Gen82 Active Member

    If I ever make a story that fleshes out the role of the government and the league then the league would be more like a guild system. Trainers would get jobs at the league that there pokemon could do and the league would collect a fee. This and ticket sales for their events would be how the league and the trainers would make their money.
  8. Psychic

    Psychic Really and truly Staff Member Moderator

    I'd agree that I don't think a region's Pokemon League will necessarily be their primary governing force. That said, I imagine the region's league members are probably has the most powerful "officials" that the characters of most Pokemon fanfics are going to meet!

    Still, I think there's room to construct the League that way - Pokemon is such a huge aspect of many of the regions' cultures, with Pokemon journeys being a rite of passage for children, one that most people feel shaped them, and Pokemon being a large part of everyday life. I think you could interpret it so that a large part of the government's job relates to the relationship between humans and Pokemon. In that universe, the Pokemon League could be one branch of government, or a governing body that has so much influence and power they may as well be.

    Currently, my favourite headcanon is Cutlerine's, where the Indigo League is pretty much the government iirc. While I'd probably just be vague about the League's actual governmental power in my own fics, I've integrated a lot of her ideas into my headcanon. The leagues of each region subsidize Pokemon training to ensure every kid has the opportunity (should they/their parents accept) to go on a minimum one-year journey. It isn't glamorous, but you can develop basic "adulting" skills, and costs are kept low. They make money from taxes, and there is a small fee for tickets to Gym battles and tournaments (though most money is made at the concession stand). People buy into it because their own journeys were so meaningful to them, and they want every kid to have that. As a culture gets more concerned about safety in more modern times, the government makes it mandatory for trainers to carry trainer cards, that can be used to track them as they check in at Pokemon Centers and Gyms (trainer cards coming wholesale from Dragonfree). The Pokemon Champion title gets you a seat at the table and a voice, but not necessarily any actual power.

    I am not a political expert, and don't pretend to be, so if you want to portray the League in this way, I think it's doable if you want to put in the research. But like I said, I don't think many fics focus too much on government stuff, and I don't think every fic needs to be concerned with how their universe's government works. I still enjoy thinking about it, though! (Hm, now I need a thread on headcanons for how training actually works...)

  9. U.N. Owen

    U.N. Owen In Brightest Day, In Blackest Night ...

    Canonically, we've had monarchies because AZ was the immortal king of Kalos. Personally, I like to believe the leagues as sporting events. Could you imagine your election be based on some kid beating the champion? Neither can I. It dystopian fics, the moment you start putting though into the implications, it stops being dramatic and ends up being hilarious.
  10. Marika_CZ

    Marika_CZ Well-Known Member

    AND THEN THERE WERE NONE! - Sorry it was too tempting :p

    That is exactly the reason why I would have never thought of Pokémon league as governing body of Pokémon world, and why it honestly surprised me some people thought of them that way. I always thought we don't see goverment in Pokémon games simply because they are not needed in that story/experience. And Pokémon league being pictured as big deal happens because the games revolve about Pokémon training and defeating the organisation's strongest representative.
    unrepentantAuthor likes this.
  11. buskalilly

    buskalilly Well-Known Member

    My rule of thumb with anything Pokemon is that unless its specifically made canon, I assume it's the same as the real world. So Pokemon's Japan has real-world Japan's geography, Diet, Emperor and everything apart from where the canon explicitly deviates.

    Also, even if Pokemon's Leagues and Champions don't hold official power, I assume it's pretty hard to argue with whoever has the most powerful dragon in their pocket.
    unrepentantAuthor likes this.
  12. Rediamond

    Rediamond Middle of nowhere

    People tend to ignore the possibility that the champion could be the Head of State, but not government. Maybe it still holds some military or nominal political importance, as gym leaders have both appeared to combat revolutions (BW) and generally been implied to have some significance in local life. Either way, the Head of State option lets them technically be in the government without any more duties than shaking the hands of visiting dignitaries and sometimes making a speech.

    I think the "it's just sports" defense goes a little far, though. A champion boxer IRL loses to a trained guy with a gun so there's no political reason to care about him. Same goes for even the best professional shooters. But a trainer with six supernatural apex predators or massive herbivores under their belt capable of crushing even relatively strong trainers with one Pokemon (as has happened repeatedly in the anime), then there might have been reason to respect that person in military terms. Especially in the era before mass production when individual knights or samurai could alter the balance of power for a good sized region. In my opinion, the regional champion could easily have become the Pokemon world's equivalent of a monarch or other noble. Most of them have probably been subjugated by legislatures, but the title might still have power. Alola gives some reason to support this theory with the kahunas clearly holding some, if not real, at least symbolic political power.

    With that said, the United States exists in guidance and the champions don't matter much. That has more to do with the U.S. not having a head of state/government distinction than anything.
  13. Marika_CZ

    Marika_CZ Well-Known Member

    Sorry I am going to disagree with you there.
    Not really? That is exactly what it is. Training Pokémon is depicted as freely optional activity. They even encourage this as a suitable/traditional thing for underage children. You do not need a Pokémon to become a doctor / cop / mayor / successful businessman.

    I could totally go with military power, but we are talking government / leadership here. At best, I could see a champion as a generalissimo (or ministry of defense) who reports directly to the ruler/president, but never ruler/president themselves.

    Uh, what gave you that impression? What we clearly see is that they are respected, make speeches, give field exams to novice trainers and they have vague religious influence (relatioship with Tapus and how they are chosen). None of this implies political power. I don't see them making decisions about housing, taxes, or creating new laws that average citizen has to obey?

    Anyway maybe I am pushing too much realism into a setting that was clearly designed to accomodate fun and adventures and not politics lol.

    These comments summarize how I feel about canon, but don't get me wrong -- If somebody goes out of their way to put research and effort into a fic where they elaborate in detail how such thing would be possible (how did the champion end up giving one a polotical power), I am willing to push my suspension of disbelief and give it a serious read!
    It just needs a very good justification as far as I am concerened, but it could be done.
    unrepentantAuthor likes this.
  14. Rediamond

    Rediamond Middle of nowhere


    I wasn't saying that training is a mandatory thing, but a lot of things that are quasi-military aren't mandatory. Given the confluence of celebrity and real combat power/documented role in dealing with crime, it makes some sense to view them as a part of the government. Not the head of government (Prime Minister), but some sort of a figurehead (the Queen). In the U.S., the latter role is perhaps best embodied by the First Lady. I don't see a reason to disqualify them from holding that position.

    I think divinely appointed figures/protectors of their islands are something close to head of state under the old divine right of kings and the role of at least the English monarch as head of church. Also, they picked a political title for them so... I'm not saying they make laws or anything (that's not the job of the head of state), just that they are the symbolic head of the government.
    Marika_CZ likes this.
  15. Marika_CZ

    Marika_CZ Well-Known Member

    Being celebrity and/or having combat power has nothing to do with politics, tho. And if we are talking about symbolic title / office... that could work, but checking DreamSayer's original post I thought the discussion was about who holds actual power and is in charge of decision making.

    I mean this wasn't about finding plausible reasons why Pokémon league / the champion could be official goverments (even if it was in name only).

    The discussion is about who has actual power, in case it is not Pokémon league in your universe right?
    Sorry just explaining why I have these diasgreements and why am I arguing the point. If we are talking justification of Pokémon league and champion, your explaination of symbolic title could definitely work.

    That could work for medieval setting. But the canon is clearly set in modern times.

    eh, I think kahuna was derived from a cultural title, not a political one? I might be wrong tho.

    And I never claimed that lol. I was just reacting to you talking about political power in general. If kahuna could issue new law -- now that would be a proof of them having politcal background and responsibilities (so maybe their boss could be "head of state").

    Anyway, I hope I don't give the wrong impression here. I don't see Pokémon league being involved in politics as far as canon is concerened - in my head the government is the same as in our world and Pokémon league is just equivalent of FIFA or NBA. (Yeah I know, it sounds kinda boring)

    But! I am open minded to fics that elaborate on the point and see it differently. With enough worldbuilding, AU setting or any writer's tools one could definitely make a universe with Pokémon league as the governing body, or even Pokémon league sharing it with some third party that would be essentially original organization created by the author etc.
  16. AScytherianWanker

    AScytherianWanker This is a tltle

    I'd establish that a normal form of government exists in the world. The league is just some organization for a sport (a rather bizzare one, at that), and would hold no power in international or domestic politics
    unrepentantAuthor likes this.

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