“We all live in a Pokemon World.”
These lyrics from the second series theme song really do encompass the franchise as a whole. That is one of the many things I adore about this multi-media phenomenon; everyone has a chance to be great. Trainers, professors, and other professionals can be of any age, gender, race, or size. I mean, you’re TEN when you leave home for your journey to greatness for Moltres sake! Everyone can be great and it makes me feel strong, brave, and talented with my darling Pocket Monster pals.
With this, Pokemon has always made women just as powerful and fantastic as the men in this world. Everyone is truly equal and has an equal chance. So, for my self-proclaimed Pokemon month on GeekyKool, I wanted to highlight some of the ladies that made history in the Pokemon world. There are numerous amazing ladies, so I can’t nearly name them all. These women are a staple or created a milestone in the industry.
Let’s introduce these intelligent and lovely Poke Gals!
Most Influential Women in “Pokemon:”
Back in the beginning stages of the recreation of the first Pokemon games in Japan, “Red” and “Green,” there is concept art of two males and the back profile of a female, each one with one of the three starters. One has a cap and looks like Red from the original games. The other boy has spiky hair, representing your rival, Blue. Although we didn’t see the girl’s face, she was labeled as Green. A female protagonist was not added to a game until years later.
Yet, Green, too determined to be forgotten. They made her a character in the Pokemon manga (which is very different and slightly darker than the games and anime). In her lore, she was kidnapped by a Ho-oh and raised by The Masked Man around age five or six. She was from Pallet Town, where Blue and Red live. Once she found out she could have gotten a starter Pokemon at ten, she broke into Professor Oak’s lab, stealing a Squirtle.
She is a Catwoman-like character; sometimes a foe, sometimes an ally, depending on the situation (always enticed by rare Pokemon or money, lol. She stole a few badges as well.) Green has a lot of spunk, charm, and cleverness. She acts this way in the manga during the original chapters, Yellow, and Gold and Silver arcs.
When the original games got remade into “FireRed” and “LeafGreen,” the Gameboy Advance was the main system and players could choose if they wanted to play as Red OR NOW GREEN! Her outfit changed and her personality too since she was now controlled by us, the player. This Green gets a make-over from a black dress to a sky blue tank top, red skirt, and white hat. This version of her is also in a couple more manga arcs.
Green is technology the first Poke Girl and she rocks it!
Ah, Misty is the definition for girl power to us 90’s/early 00’s kids. In anime terms, she was the only female of the group, cute, strong, independent, and resourceful, especially against her beauty queen sisters. She really brought the best out of Ash and their bickering rapport brought so much delight to our screens. And yes, Ash and Misty was my first ship before I knew what that was when I was 11. I will NEVER get over them not getting together! *Cries* #ashandmistyforever I am aware they don’t get together in the manga though.
Speaking of the manga, Misty travels with Ash in the “Electric Tales of Pikachu” series, but she is more…alluring, which doesn’t really fit her character or make her as independent as the girl us young women looked up to. Plus, she is 12, lol! But on a side note, this story is highly recommended as a whole, following the anime a bit. Yet, the series is hard to find.
This mermaid also was the first female lead to be in Pokemon movies (5 movies) and several specials and OVAs (the Pikachu shorts and Winter ones are my favorites), additionally making cameos in the spin-off anime series and a couple of side games/apps. She and Brock even get reanimated and come back to The “Sun and Moon” anime with Ash, them having flashbacks of their good times in the first Kanto series.
Even though Misty is a huge influence on the anime, she has even more status in the games. Misty is the FIRST female gym leader, ruler of the Cerulean Gym, the pentacle of water beauties, an enchanting force to be reckoned with. She also has been given upgraded designs over the years since the first generation is so beloved by all and keeps making comebacks.
Fun fact: My favorite Pokemon Trading Card set is The Gym Leader set with the original eight powerhouses and Team Rocket cards. I have all of Misty’s cards. The trainer cards for Misty are awesome. One, Misty’s Tears, had to be redrawn in the United States because, in the original Japanese, Misty is holding her Staryu, but the silhouette of her implies she has…nothing on. 0.o Ours has a Squirtle wiping her tears, which is also a cool design choice. If you ever see any of the gym leader cards, check them out. It’s a beautiful and fun piece of Pokemon legacy.
“Team Rocket blasting off again!” Oh, good gravy, how many times has this trio tickled my funny bone?! Jessie was the nasty, pretty, overdramatic ring leader of this bumble of loveable idiots who always wanted to capture Ash’s Pikachu. She is the main villainess of Pokemon, still, even if not a successful one.
Even though they are the villains, there was something admirable about them. This team was loyal to the core Giovani, no matter how he mocks them. They also NEVER give up; that is perseverance to the max. Jessie never lets anybody get her down even at her worst times (she grew up very poor, heartbroken, and stumbled through life before Team Rocket). This lady is A QUEEN and owns it!
What else I appreciated about Jessie and James was their dynamic. Jessie walks all over James and he takes it, the comedy a riot. Yet, when it really counts, they are there for each other through and through (Meowth too, ha!) They are a dysfunctional family, but one nevertheless. Jessie and James (like their outlaw counterparts don’t give a darn about others) did not buckle themselves down to gender roles. Jessie often wore men’s clothing and James the girls. Man! He owned them! Yet, as a kid, the way Pokemon presented it, I never thought it was odd. I really respect both Jessie and James for smashing gender norms like that.
And yes, I shipped them together too. LOL! The manga might give you a clue to that too… 😉
Okay. I am a tad bias here! Sabrina is my favorite gym leader of all time and psychic my cherished type! A psychic with a powerful and creepy aura, she constantly gets voted as the hardest gym leader to face in the first generation/Kanto games and their remakes. Her three-episode saga in the anime is also one of the scariest in Pocket Monster history. For some odd reason, I loved it as a kid, still do.
I even, embarrassing to admit now, wrote fanfictions about me being Sabrina’s long, lost sister, also has psychic powers! HA! Sabrina inspired me to be a psychic trainer in the card game too and I adored her levels in Pokemon Puzzle League. I figured she needed some respect here.
Lorelei is the First Female Elite Four Member, the best of the best, ever introduced in Pokemon, and is the first one trainers encounter after they earn eight gym badges. She is as sharp, precise, and skilled as her ice Pokemon. Seeing a woman raising to the ranks is awe-inspiring.
She also makes an appearance in “The Orange Island” series (one of my favorites), under the name ‘Prima’ in English. She is very philosophical, easy-breezy calm, and loving to Pokemon…outside of battle. During matches, she is intellectual, confident, and almost cut-throat, tough on trainers, showing no mercy. Ice is beautiful but unforgiving, and she knows this.
*I also deeply respect Agatha, the ancient and amazing ghost Elite Four member of Kanto. Her wit, power, and attitude make her a worthy adversary. Also, she mentions her loathe on the gentle messages Professor Oak instills. This has piqued my curiosity for decades. Did they have a relationship and broke up? Grew up together? I want to know!
Introducing the second generation added tons of new, radical mechanics: 100 new creatures, shinies, breeding, day/night settings, and a new, wonderful region in the land of Johto. Like the first games, a year or so later, a third installment came into play to go along with Gold and Silver: this one known as Crystal. With Gold and Silver, Gold, a boy, was the hero and Silver the rival, similar to Red and Blue in generation one. But, in Crystal edition, the protagonist is a GIRL, the first RELEASED/PLAYABLE female protagonist, named after the game: Crystal/Kris. It was nice that she was in charge of this grand adventure.
When the remakes, HeartGold and SoulSilver (some of my favorite games ever because your partners FOLLOW you), Crystal/Kris returns with an updated look, yet this time, they had to make a male choice as a counterpart, which is the only time that has happened, the roles reserved. Once again, girl power showing its might, as clear as a crystal.
May is the female choice for the third generation games, Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald, and later their remakes, Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. This is the first time you can CHOOSE your gender, so May is symbolic of the player being fully equal like the rest of the franchise, everything coming full circle! What a victory! 😀 It is also the first time that the character you do not pick is your rival/friend. So, if you chose May, then the male protagonist, Brandon, is your hometown friend/rival. They have a great rapport in the games, which always gets me engaged. Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald are some of my favorite games of Pokemon ever and May adds the flavor the franchise needs to keep it fresh.
May also has a unique background as the playable character having her father around, the only game to do this so far. AND, not only that, Norman, her dad, is a gym leader! Pretty neat shoes to fill!
In the anime, May is also important because she was a starting trainer when she joined Ash. Ash was like a mentor to her, odd considering how goofy he is, lol! May also went a different route than a normal trainer. Generation three introduced Pokemon Contests, where Pokemon had to not only be good battlers but make their attacks look beautiful and appealing to a panel of judges. Trainers and Pokemon match in adorable costumes too. I sunk SO many hours into this in the game (this is the game I played the most, almost 100 hours). She represents the array of ways to be successful with your friends in the world of Pokemon, that we all have skills. Very empowering.
I am just going to come out and say it: Cynthia is a badass! She is the first female Champion, the best Pokemon master in her region (Sinnoh, generation four)! This blonde powerhouse is even top-ranking amongst the champions, one of the best. She and her Garchomp are forces to bow down to, with grace and bite.
Not only this, she is a Pokemon researcher just like her Grandmother, studying ruins and lore of the land. There’s more; this woman is a triple threat! Cynthia also helps you, the player, takedown Team Galatic. When Cyrus, the leader of the evil organization, opens up the portal to The Distortion World, where Giratina is, this bold champion follows you into this chaotic realm, giving you guidance. Beauty, brains, and bronze, Cynthia has all, the ultimate role model!
#9. Professor Juniper:
The Black and White games, generation five, was a fun installment in the franchise, being the first to have an actual sequel game with two new protagonists and returning characters as older, instead of just an updated version. It also introduced the first main female professor, Professor Juniper!* She specializes in the origins of Pokemon and is also a friend of Professor Oak’s (of course, I think all the professors are either his friends or former students of the old-timer, HA!) Her father, Cedric, was also a professor, studying the distribution and biology of Pokemon. Definitely, a good family to be a part of.
Juniper is also a teacher and believer in nurturing future female researchers. Also in this set of games is Professor Fennel, who studies dreams. The lovely Unova professor also takes on your childhood friend/rival Bianca as a researcher assistant. It is nice to see their progress under Juniper’s encouraging wings in Black 2 and White 2.
*Yes, I am aware there was Professor Ivy in the anime, but she was only in one episode although she did have an important role, HA!
#10. Hilda and Rosa:
Hilda is one of the two protagonists the players can pick to be, the female one, in generation five: Black and White. The slogan is ‘The start of a new beginning.’ Black and White in a way was a fresh start for the series: set in The United States, 150+ new Pokemon (the most at one time), a more mature, epic story, and a sequel. A cool mechanic was that both Hilda and her counterpart Hilbert are 16 according to Nintendo, the oldest protagonist in the franchise. I think this gave a fresh perspective, absorbing in the game more to make them a realistic age to be traveling alone. Hilda is smooth and cool, her dynamic with the other characters is fantastic.
Rosa, the girl lead of Black and White 2, is kawaii with the pork buns my beloved Sailor Moon is known for. She looks to be older as well.
NOTE: Rosa is the one that is at the top. I chose her because I think she looks the most like me, HA!
Serena is the female protagonist in the sixth generation games, “X” and “Y.” Like generations three to this one, there was a male or female lead to pick. Your rival, the one you didn’t pick, is also your friend in most cases too. Serena also has chances to be in Pokemon contests like Dawn in gen 4 and May in gen 3. So, why is she on this list other than the updated graphics?
I want to discuss the anime version of Serena in “X and Y.” First off, this series is incredibly animated and stunning in story. Serena is extremely sweet, a clumsy starting trainer, but she and Ash met each other when they were little at a retreat Professor Oak ran. She hurt her knee, and young Ash took care of it, making her smile. When they met again, an innocent crush came back, blooming again. I must admit, although I dream of Ash and Misty together forever, Serena and Ash have a darling relationship. She supports him until the end with kind words. There is just something pure and comforting when they have moments together. Even the one time she had to yells at him to slow down, Serena puts all her heart and soul into it, his actions breaking her as much as him, but her words were not hateful; just powerful and truthful. It is difficult to do that, support someone like that. When she dresses up and acts like Ash too is a hoot!
What I also admire about Serena is when she had her first real loss for her first Pokemon Showcase (they are basically like contests) because her Pokemon was too decorated and tripped. She accepted it with a smile, but ran off on her own with her Pokemon and balled her eyes out, feeling the crush of her failure, like she let her Pokemon down. As she sobs, her Pokemon surround her, comforting her, loving her. They all worked so hard and that is what devasted Serena, teaching kids that sometimes, even with hard work, you don’t win. Now, as a symbol of needing a change, Serena chomps off her long hair and gets a new outfit. In Japan, when someone chops their hair off after a hard event, it is either a sign of apology, a symbol of a break-up, or a need for change, a big moment of your life. This whole scene was so powerful and gave me a lot of respect for Serena. Plus, she gets to give Ash a smooch! 😉
Lusamine is the founder of The Aether Foundation, a too pristine white building that states it protects Pokemon. However, SPOILER ALERT: there is a hidden agenda there that the protagonist of generation 7 (Sun/Moon/Ultra Sun/Ultra Moon) finds out about and has to stop. She is pretty, elegant, and slightly intimidating. So, surprise, surprise, she ends up being a bad guy after all. Lusamine is the first female head villain in a main series Pokemon game. Some say that since they are not the focal team (That belongs to Team Skull,) Lusamine is not an official villian. I disagree. She does horrible things and has damaged her children, who you become friends with, mentally, all for her obsession with creating a beautiful world with only cute Pokemon. She also uses Nebby (a legendary sweetie her daughter steals away from her mom to protect. It is where the classic meme: ‘Nebby! Get in the bag’ comes from, LOL!) All of this to capture the powers and trust of the Ultra Beasts, alien-like Pokemon that she finds alluring and beautiful. Again, I disagree. She is crazy, lovely, calculating, and sharp, making her a real threat and shows that men don’t rule the evil industry.
This red-hair maiden of energy is the granddaughter of the Galar Region (generation 8, Pokemon Sword and Shield) Professor Magnolia (also an important female figure,) is working hard to take her place one day as her assistant. Her dream is to discover the mystery of the hero who saved Galar, you helping her along the way as you meet her in your hometown.
Sonia is a huge help to you on your journey and you her finding artifacts on the true stories of what happened to the hero who saved the region. Her sarcastic, but the uplifting tone is fun, making me want to be her friend. I am madly in love with her heart hair decore! All her work for Professor Magnolia, her own research, and protecting Galar from a dark threat (the driving scene in the anime where she and Goh outrun it is radical) all help her dream come true, her grandmother giving Sonia her own lab coat. Sonia then gives you her own research tasks in the DLC, where you help find legendary Pokemon (The Regis are one group example). She and her loyal Yamper tries to adjust to frozen tundra. HA! She is a young, strong, independent woman, a role model for the modern format of Pokemon, making her dreams come true while honoring her grandmother’s legacy.
#14. Delia Ketchum:
Last, but not least, is Delia Ketchum, Ash’s mother! This 29-year-old (Oh God; I am three years older than her *faints*) angel on Earth is doting, kind, and nurturing. She is a star for mothers everywhere, taking care of everyone who comes through her door like they are her own. How she raised Ash on her own and is his biggest fan warms my heart like of her beyond tasty homecooked meals. Yet, she is a real parent through and through. She is also a role model for being a single parent and loyal spouse even though her husband has been MIA as a trainer since Ash was around four (depending on the background.) She can do it all: cook, clean, make clothes, sew, garden, act, model, find a friend, and even raise Pokemon (the episode in Sun and Moon when she battles using her cherished Mr. Mime is hardcore epic!)
Also, the third Pokemon Movie: The Spell of the Unknown, is one of my favorites. How gentle she is to little Molly about losing her dad, even though Ash is in trouble trying to rescue her shows the power a true heart has. IN ADDITION, I secretly want her and Professor Oak to get together although there is a huge age gap. LOL! I know; I’m strange.
I also have to say THANK YOU to these two fantastic women from my childhood: Veronica Taylor (who voiced Ash, Ms. Ketchum, and May in the first eight seasons of Pokemon. I also met her; she is a peach!) AND Rachel Lillis (who voiced Misty and Jessie the first eight seasons of the series). These ladies shaped my nerdy life and entertained the Pokemon generation! <3 <3 <3
Go capture the beauty and fun of the Pokemon World, trainers! Stay geeky! 🙂
Educator of young minds by day, super nerdy savior of justice, and cute things by night, Morgan Straughan Comnick has a love for turning the normal into something special without losing its essence. Morgan draws from real-life experiences and her ongoing imagination to spark her writing. In her spare time, she enjoys doing goofy voices, traveling to new worlds by turning pages, humming child-like songs, and forcing people to smile with her “bubbliness.” It is Morgan’s mission in life to spread the amazement of otaku/Japanese culture to the world and to stop bullying; she knows everyone shines brightly.
For more information about Morgan and her works, check out her website, which also has links to all her social medias: http://morganscomnick.com