Could the most infamously blacklisted Pokémon of all time be hiding under that Pikachu costume?
When images first surfaced of Mimikyu, one of the new Pokémon available in Pokémon Sun and Moon, I thought it was pretty creepy. After all, it’s basically a Pocket Monster of unknown form hiding under a Pikachu disguise, with sloppy, even deranged scribbles taking the place of the series mascot’s facial features.
But then came Mimikyu’s self-introductory character song, which revealed that it’s really lonely, and hopes that by imitating Pikachu it can make itself more likeable. This is even confirmed in Mimikyu’s bio on the official Japanese Pokémon website, which reads.
“Mimikyu actually gets lonely very easily, and after seeing that Pikachu merchandise has been popular since 20 years ago, decided to change its appearance to resemble Pikachu’s in order to make friends.”
A recent episode of the Pokemon Sun and Moon anime TV series, though, shows that Mimikyu isn’t always so sweet and kind. As a matter of fact, the Ghost/Fairy-Type actually seems to be harboring a lot of animosity towards Pikachu, causing onlooker Meowth to remark “Pikachu’s appearance is what Mimikyu hates most of all.”
なずなず (@7272_Gyu) November 24, 2016
This is sort of a shock. Whether or not you’re a fan of the Pokémon franchise, there’s no denying that Pikachu is one of the most loveable examples of character design in any form of media, so what’s Mimikyu’s beef?
Fan theorists have locked onto one possibly pertinent point of data. Remember how Mimikyu’s bio mentions it knows that Pikachu merchandise has been popular for the last two decades? What if the reason it knows that is because Mimikyu itself has been around for 20-odd years? In other words, what if Mimikyu isn’t an entirely new species of Pocket Monster, but one that’s masking its identity?
The question then becomes which classic Pocket Monster could conceivably bear a grudge against Pikachu. As partner to main character Ash, Pikachu has been involved in taking down plenty of rampaging legendary Pokémon, but those major antagonists seem too great in size and power to don a Mimikyu disguise in plotting their revenge. No, Mimikyu’s true identity would have to be someone smaller and with less brute strength, but yet who could still feel like its life was ruined by Pikachu.
Someone like Porygon.
If the anime series is your primary contact point for the Pokémon franchise, don’t feel bad if you don’t recognize Porygon. While it’s a proud member of the group of 150 original Pokémon, and appears in every generation of the video game series, the anime has blacklisted Porygon since 1997, when he was given title billing in the episode “Cyber Solider Porygon.” Among those outside the fandom, “Cyber Soldier Porygon” is more commonly known as “That Pokémon Episode that Gave Over 600 People Seizures in Japan.”
The incident was taken very seriously by Japanese society and media, and the anime’s producers haven’t let Porygon appear in an episode since, ostensibly to avoid bringing up painful memories of the frightening chapter of Pokémon history. Except, here’s the thing: the seizures were triggered by flashes of light that occurred when Pikachu used a lightning attack to blow up some missiles. If any individual Pocket Monster is to blame, it should be Pikachu, but instead Porygon is the one who’s been sitting in the anime penalty box for roughly 20 years.
「ポケモンショックが起こったのは？」 『約20年前1997年だね』 「ミミッキュがピカチュウを真似始めたのは？」 『…20年前だね』 「もひとつ質問いいかな」 「あの事件でピカチュウの代わりにアニメから消されたポケモン… twitter.com/i/web/status/8…—
グリミア (@Grimmia_0810) November 24, 2016
Following Porygon becoming a television pariah, Pikachu has continued to bask in the adoration of the viewing audience. Did this impact Porygon’s psychology, making it believe that its own existence was something to be ashamed of while simultaneously granting Pikachu an aura of infallibility? Did this cause it to initially try to take on Pikachu’s identity, only to eventually come to resent its idol after 20 years of stewing in this warped line of thinking?
Fans who think they see a connection have pointed out that when Mimikyu appears in the anime, Team Rocket member Jessie reacts by shouting “Finally, we’ve found you,” which implies that she’s been anticipating the meeting for longer than one would expect if Mimikyu were an entirely new type of Pokémon. There’s also the fact that the Sun and Moon games include a scene where the player is given a Porygon, and in the room where the hand-over takes place, there’s a Mimikyu, or perhaps a Mimikyu costume, sitting idly in the corner.
💮妹子💮 (@imoco819) November 27, 2016
Skeptics will no doubt argue that the whole thing is a tad too dark for the ordinarily optimistic Pokémon anime. But on the other hand, Sun and Moon handlers have shown a fondness for including elements that function as payoffs to extremely lengthy setups, as well as an implied willingness to show the passage of time in-universe, so maybe Mimikyu really does have a secret identity under that outfit.
Follow Casey on Twitter, where he’s wondering if Pikachu’s infallibility qualifies him to become Pope.