UNITED STATES –
The year 2016 is mostly remembered for the historic US presidential election. But there was another front page news story that has been all but forgotten, and unfortunately, so have its many characters that once made news around the world.
Groundbreaking, Then Heart-Breaking
Pokèmon Go provided a good living to millions of animated characters who spread themselves throughout the US to entertain and delight children, and adults who were young at heart, as they played the breakthrough augmented reality game.
At first, the need for animated characters to work the long hours required to fill neighborhood after neighborhood across the country with exciting play was a bonanza for qualified Pokèmon:
“You could work as much as you wanted in those early days,” said Jigglypuff, who has been sleeping recently in the aqueducts of Los Angeles. ” I had a nice car, took vacations when I wanted. It was pretty easy money and best of all, it brought a lot of joy to the kids.”
The game, downloadable as an app on your smart phone, was eventually played by more than 230 million people.
But then, in 2017, the bottom fell out.
The novelty of the game started to wear off. “No one was playing anymore and they started cutting Pokèmon. First by the hundreds. Then the thousands,” said Jigglypuff.
“You couldn’t get a job anywhere. I went from working double shifts, to every other day, and then next thing you know your contract would be up and you’d have to move on to the next town.”
Making Ends Meet In Video Arcades
For many Pokèmon, the transition from Pokèmon Go to other video games proved daunting.
“The typical Pokèmon character is very cute,” said Professor Sonny Wilbrandt, Chair of the Animation Department at The University of Santa Clarido, New Mexico. “But the proliferation of first person shooter games has made it hard for them to find work.”
“Lovable, animated creatures in primary colors are just not in demand in this era where most players want to unwind after work shooting zombies in the head with a 12-gage.”
Due to the lack of opportunity, Pokèmon Go characters have been forced to get by with odd jobs in pinball machines, vintage 1970s Atari consoles, and kid-themed restaurants.
“Used to be I wouldn’t set foot in a Chuck E. Cheese,” said Squirtle, one of the original 150 Pokèmon characters. “Now, I’d kill for a chance to work on one of their screens. It’s gotten to where I’ll take just about anything.”
Many people are unfortunately very familiar with the double-kidnapping and subsequent shootout with police involving KooblaTube, a minor Pokèmon character who wasn’t able to handle the stress of life on the streets.
“KooblaTube is a prime example of what can happen to an otherwise perfectly harmless animated character that is unable to cope when placed under extreme duress,” said Psychologist Manuel Sangrino.
Taking two people hostage after fleeing the scene of a stabbing in a Reno bar, the ex-Pokèmon character charged officers yelling that his arms were stronger than their guns, and was shot by police.
“The fall from popularity can be especially hard on vulnerable animated personalities,” said Dr, Sangrino. “And when you add drug abuse, easy access to weapons, and an unlocked car with the keys in the ignition, the outcome can be downright tragic.”
Heading Back To Japan?
For Jigglypuff, the long road has made him rethink his priorities.
“Like most of the characters, I’m originally from Japan and immigrated here for work when the game took off. It was a lot of fun back then – made a lot of friends, went to a lot of parties. But now, I’m thinking, maybe it’s time to leave.”
“Anime provides a decent living, and while it’s not as glamorous as working in America, at least you don’t have to worry about where your next meal is coming from. Besides, a lot of the same people who used to love us now talk about how foreigners are really messing up their country. They don’t say you’re part of the problem, but you get their drift.”
“Judging by the direction things are headed around here,” Jigglypuff said as he watched some people approaching from a nearby alley, “I think it’s about time for this Pokèmon to Go – back home.”
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