When it comes to the Pokemon franchise, people are likely most familiar with the video games and anime. However, there is also a long-running manga series called Pokemon Adventures that loosely adapts the stories of the games, following a variety of protagonists on their adventures in the world of Pokemon.
Since Pokemon Adventures is based on a children’s video game series, one would imagine that it would be fairly lighthearted. And while most of the manga is written with young kids in mind, there are certain moments that stand out as particularly strange or disturbing, especially for Pokemon.
Over 50 volumes of the Pokemon Adventures manga have been released to date, so reading through them all is no easy feat. However, we encourage anyone who wants to experience these moments organically to seek out the manga and check it out for themselves. Anyone who just wants to cut to the chase and see what the most disturbing moments are should read on, but take note that this article will be filled with spoilers.
The early days of the Pokemon Adventures manga are filled with more disturbing moments than later issues, with the very first volume having one of the most shocking moments in the entire series. During a battle with gym leader/Team Rocket member Koga, Blue’s Charmeleon literally decapitates Koga’s Arbok. In the Pokemon video games, Pokemon just “faint,” but in Pokemon Adventures, they straight up die.
Now, it’s worth pointing out that later volumes tend to retcon some deaths, but regardless, the image of Arbok being decapitated by Charmeleon is rather startling considering how family-friendly the rest of the Pokemon franchise is. Not to mention Arbok’s death wasn’t retconned for multiple volumes, meaning most readers were left to assume it was brutally murdered.
In basically all of Pokemon media, Giovanni is depicted as the evil leader of Team Rocket, the terrorist organization that comes in conflict with our heroes on multiple occasions. In Pokemon Adventures, Giovanni is even more evil than he is in the games and the anime, though. He proves himself to be capable of some rather heinous acts, like the time he killed a couple of Magmars by first freezing them with Cloyster, and then shattering them into pieces.
Pokemon Adventures is notable for consistently providing high stakes, and that means putting the main characters (typically children) in mortal danger quite frequently. Grown adults in the series attempt to murder the children all the time, usually by using the powers of their Pokemon. For example, Koga attempted to suffocate Blue using Grimer, and Lt. Surge attempted to both electrocute and blow up Red with Pokemon like Electabuzz and Voltorb.
Just like in the games, Red eventually makes his way to the Safari Zone, a special area where trainers can catch rare and exotic Pokemon. However, The Safari Zone in Pokemon Adventures is far deadlier than the one in the games, and sees Red have to fend for himself in the wild without the help of his Pokemon team.
Red’s time in the Safari Zone includes a fight against a Nidoking that sees Red blind it by throwing a rock in its eye, but an even more terrifying situation comes about when Red is captured by some Victreebels. The Victreebels plan on dissolving Red (along with some random animals and Pokemon) in acid to then feed his juices to Weepinbells to make them evolve. Yikes.
While Viz Media, the American distributor of the Pokemon Adventures manga, decided to keep most of the violence intact for the English translation, it ended up censoring other things, like the sexualization of underage girls. There are multiple occasions in the original version of the manga where young female characters are put in compromising or sexually suggestive situations. One example is when the character Green, who is presumably 11-13 years old, rips off her dress to reveal Pokeballs she had hidden against her breasts. Needless to say, that scene didn’t make it to the American version of the manga.
Team Rocket is depicted as mostly incompetent in both the anime and the video games, but the manga makes the evil organization a much more significant threat. In the manga, Team Rocket does a lot more than just steal Pokemon and “blast off again;” they also conduct horrific experiments on Pokemon. This results in Pokemon being abused to the point that they attempt to kill any humans they come in contact with, and the mere sight of Team Rocket can trigger their uncontrollable rage. Team Rocket is also responsible for the creation of the legendary Pokemon Mewtwo, and their poor treatment of the creature results in it distrusting everyone and attempting to kill anything that gets too close to it.
Villains in the Pokemon Adventures manga tend to have some rather ambitious motives, but few have matched up to the worldwide genocide that the Elite Four in the Kanto region want to commit. The goal of this baddie group is to essentially eradicate most human life off the face of the Earth, and it doesn’t get much more sick and twisted than that.
The ending of the Ruby and Sapphire portion of the manga series is full of shocking and disturbing moments, so it’s hard to choose just one. Basically, the end of the story arc includes the deaths of multiple characters, heroes and villains alike. Instead of all these deaths just being reversed like we’ve seen in the past, the mythical Pokemon Celebi instead transports Ruby and Sapphire to a different timeline where none of these deaths occurred. While this means Ruby and Sapphire can see a version of their friends again, it also means that the characters who died in the original timeline are still dead, and that particular timeline in general is doomed.
Earlier we mentioned how the Elite Four in Pokemon Adventures has the goal of committing mass genocide against the human race. One of the most effective members of that genocidal team is the dragon-type trainer Lance, who uses his army of dragon-type Pokemon to attack various cities in the Kanto region. This includes the destruction of a decent chunk of Vermilion City, and while no deaths are confirmed, one has to imagine anyone caught in the blast lost their life.
Lavender Town has long had the reputation of being one of the creepiest areas in the Pokemon series, complete with its Pokemon graveyard and creepy theme music. It’s safe to say that Pokemon Adventures does Lavender Town justice, because when the heroes visit there they come face to face with zombie Pokemon. This includes the reanimated corpse of a partially decomposed Psyduck whose eyeball is literally hanging out of its socket.