Pokémon franchise

  • Developer: Game Freak Creatures Inc Nintendo Genius Sonority Ambrella Hudson Soft Intelligent Systems Chunsoft HAL Laboratory Tecmo Koei Bandai Namco Entertainment Niantic Labs
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Year: 1996 – 2016
  • Genre: Various
  • Platform/s: Various (Nintendo), iOS, Android

Pokémon features some implied queer themes, although the games are notorious for their binary limitations on gender, which are explored in the indie title This is Not a Game about Catching Monsters. In Pokémon Black and White, the ferris wheel rides have innuendo in the Japanese version, with Hilbert having his ferris wheel date with a hiker, and Hilda having hers with a Meido.

In Pokémon Black 2 and White 2, the ferris wheel dates return, with Nate having his with a schoolteacher who only got his job by passing as a woman. This dialogue about cross-dressing is censored in some later versions of the game.

Pokémon X and Y features a potentially transgender character, whose history has been removed in the English localisation of the titles. The direct translation of the Japanese refers to an NPC as being a 'Karate King' before a 'transformation'; in the English localisation, she instead says that she used to be a 'Black Belt'. More information about this potentially transgender NPC can be found here.

Pokémon GO features gym leaders Candela, Blanche, and Spark, and fans have considered all of these queer in some way. Members of the Pokémon community believe Candela is a lesbian, Blanche is a trans woman, and Spark is a trans man or asexual cisgender man, and he has also been depicted as a gay cisgender man by fan artists. You can read about this here. In addition, the game asks players to select a 'style' rather than a gender at the beginning of play.

Pokémon Sun and Moon implement a new character creation system, where instead of telling the professor if you are a 'boy or girl', you choose a picture for your passport (see below). This seems like a great new approach, until characters quickly begin using gender pronouns in dialogue based on the image picked, assuming the top row use he/him pronouns and the bottom row use she/her pronouns. When playing as one of the top row of portraits, there is a scene where your mother says that she is proud of her 'boy' for winning a battle with 'his' new Pokémon, and there is a comparable scene using she/her pronouns for someone playing with a 'girl' portrait. Arguably, this is worse than the original approach of simply selecting from 'boy or girl', as Sun and Moon make even more assumptions based on appearance, acting as though short hair and a determined expression means a person uses he/him pronouns, and a person with long hair and eyelashes must use she/her pronouns. This has been discussed at length at PC & Tech Authority.