First Pokemon was the subject of a class action lawsuit in which some
parents allege that the cards promote gambling. Now Nintendo is halting
production of a card because of a symbol that resembles the Nazi
Let's address the gambling issue. I guess those parents never collected
sports cards, or their kids prefer Pokemon to baseball. I purchased at
random a pack of Topps "1999 Major League Baseball Cards Series
2" at my local supermarket. "Win Home Town Tickets!" it
screams on the wrapper, along with "Randomly inserted: Nolan Ryan
Reprints" and "Plus Refractors." Flipping the pack over,
what do we see? There are special or "chase" cards that are
not a regular part of the set. The odds of winning a Nolan Ryan
reprint is 1: 18, (the best set of odds for this particular pack) an
All-Topps Mystery Finest Refractors 1:144 and the biggest odds of all, a
Nolan Ryan autograph-1 in 31,107 packs. Contrast that with the Pokemon
cards, where the odds of getting a holographic foil is 1 in every 3
packs, substantially better than any of the chase cards in the Topps
baseball pack. So where's the people banding together against baseball,
football and all the other sports and saying that they promote gambling?
Why haven't sports cards been banned?
And while we're at it, let's take a walk down my street to the
boardwalk. Fun for kids, right? Wrong! Walk into any arcade and what do
we see? Slot machines! Put in a nickel, a dime, or a quarter for a
chance to get some tokens redeemable for prizes. It's not guaranteed
that one will get any tokens back, however. Sure sounds like gambling to
me. And yet parents continue to take their kids to these arcades.
And where does this one 9-year-old kid come up with $2000 to spend on
cards in six months, anyway, as reported in "The New York
Times"? That's more disposable income than I have as a working
thirty-year old, and I like Pokemon! Do the parents know where all this
money is coming from? Do the parents care?
Now Nintendo is halting production of two cards because they carry a
"manji," which resembles the Nazi swastika. The manji is a
mirror image of the Nazi symbol, and means good fortune in some Asian
cultures. Never mind. One person is calling for Nintendo to make a
contribution to a Holocaust group. And yet, as the director of the
Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, a Jew, stated, "This has been
used throughout Asia for thousands of years and has nothing to do with
Nazis or anti-Semitism. There are plenty of things out there that people
should be offended about. Put your indignation into some more productive
and appropriate fight."
He's right. For all the dumbing down of the cartoon since it was
transplanted from the original Japanese, there are a lot of redeeming
qualities about the Pokemon show. Ash, the 10-year-old main focus of the
show, learns about himself, his friends, and about life in his quest to
be a Pokemon Master. Brock, who accompanies him, single-handedly raised
his ten brothers and sisters after his mom died and his father ran off.
Misty, the third person in this group, tries to uncover her own
self-worth and be her own person, rejecting her claim to fame as one of
the Sensational Sisters of Cerulean City.
Enough is enough. Take charge and take control instead of pointing
fingers and assigning blame. Sit down, watch a few episodes, look at the
cards, and discuss with your children and us "older kids" the
latest craze that is Pokemon. You may be pleasantly surprised at
what you find out, both about Pokemon and your children.