Pokémon Is Surprisingly Good at Writing Villains

Pokémon as a franchise has had some pretty memorable villains throughout its lengthy run. Team Rocket -- specifically, Jessie, James and Meowth -- rank as some of the most iconic adversaries ever faced in anime, if only for how fun and lovable they are. However, what a lot of fans neglect is that the franchise also features some more compelling antagonists. The Sinnoh region introduced Pokémon Hunter J, a genuinely murderous antagonist who nearly kills Ash.

However, when discussing great Pokémon antagonists, the conversation inevitably turns toward the movies. While some villains are more than a little generic in looks, their actions ultimately spurn some genuinely compelling conflicts.

How the Pokémon Movie Villains Differ From the TV Villains

Ignoring the obvious exception of Pokémon Hunter J, the majority of recurring villains in the anime either trigger comedic hijinks or feel like overly distant threats. Giovanni, despite being the leader of Team Rocket and thus implicated in every Rocket-related disaster Ash faces, doesn't encounter Ash and friends directly until the special Mewtwo Returns. Villains appear as either one-off episodic threats or distant terrors.

The antagonists in the Pokémon films, however, tend to be far more direct and have broader-reaching impact. They will often act in ways that deliberately or accidentally throw off the balance of nature, resulting in cataclysms that have much larger consequences. This results in even the boring villains becoming compelling due to their general impact.

With his baffling motivation and vague personality, Lawrence III is arguably one of Pokémon's worst villains. However, Pokémon: The Movie 2000 is often regarded as one of the franchise's best films in part due to his impact. His actions cause the anger of the Legendary Birds, which throws the entire universe out of balance. Lawrence III barely appears in the second half of the film, but his meddling is felt throughout.

Pokémon Film Antagonists Are More Compelling

On one hand, the villains having a far-reaching impact is one component all the core Pokémon films share. Many are also compelling characters, either being threatening to the point of genuinely scary or tragic to the point of being intensely sympathetic. Villains like The Iron Masked Marauder in Pokémon 4Ever and Grings Kodai in Zoroark: Master of Illusions are compelling antagonists who act ruthlessly. Their behavior is purely selfish, vile, and absolutely threatens the lives of those around them. For a child-friendly show like Pokémon, they're significantly darker antagonists than one might normally expect.

A great example of a sympathetic antagonist comes in the third Pokémon film, The Spell of the Unown. Molly Hale is a young girl who taps into the cosmic, reality-warping power of the Unown to rewrite reality. The entire story showcases this incredibly powerful and equally dangerous threat, yet it all stems from a fragile, emotionally unstable girl.

Of course, one of the most iconic adversaries of all is Mewtwo, the ultimate Pokémon capable of using his psychic powers to obliterate the whole world. While foreshadowed in the original anime, Mewtwo came into his own in the very first Pokémon film, Mewtwo Strikes Back. He set the precedent: Pokémon movie villains are incredibly intimidating, capable of ending lives, sometimes sympathetic, and raise the stakes of any story to potentially world-ending levels.

ban from sevent deadly sins
About The Author