Content Warning: While nothing NSFW will be shown in the following article, it will discuss serious topics such as pedophilia and child abuse.
On July 12th, Pokemon Masters EX had revealed summer variants for fan favorite trainers Gloria and Marnie to celebrate the season. This is the scenario I’ve dreaded the most upon the game’s announcement two years ago. Not only are summer variants a common practice in gacha mobile games, but to put it in a game based on a franchise where some of the cast are children, not to mention said franchise’s target audience being children, is a recipe for disaster regarding “those” type of people.
Gacha mobile games are exactly what it means, video games you play on your phone with a gacha system that requires in-game currency, which can also be obtain using real currency, to roll for whatever items or characters you need to progress through the main story. During seasonal events such as holidays, they add seasonal-themed variants of some characters with good stats and/or abilities for players to try and get, and on summer-related events, the variants are usually swimwear. These type of summer variants are seen as lowbro by some players because swimsuits are viewed as inherently sexualized and because most of these variants are women, it devalues whatever strong female character the game has into mere fanservice fodder for whales (a term used to describe hardcore mobile players) to gush over. But it wasn’t always this way.
A long time ago, before the early 20th century, swimwear use to look like your typical modest clothing, as shown from the above image. This was the cultural norm back then. Heck, even back in those days, it was illegal for us men to go topless in the beach and pool areas. It wasn’t until the roaring 20’s onward that people started to show more skin in their bathing suits, so nowadays, people will look you strangely for still wearing those old-timey swimwear. But alas, we also have to mention our society is dominated by the Male Gaze, in which everything is shown from a man’s perspective, and how anything it touches becomes sexualized, with swimsuits being one of its victims. And upon my research for this article, I’ve learned that even the old-timey bathing suits got sexualized back then. It’s because of this that we have a large amount of swimsuit variants of these female characters in gacha mobile games.
When Pokemon Masters was first announced in 2019, my worst fear was them also falling into the same summer trend Nintendo’s other mobile titles, Fire Emblem Heroes and Dragalia Lost, have followed to appeal to these whales. Unlike those two aforementioned titles, whose target audiences are much older, Pokemon is a franchise aimed primarily towards kids, which makes some of the characters in this game such as Gloria and Marnie also kids to appeal to them. Therefore, giving them swimwear variants will be seen as creepy in the eyes of older players because of their knowledge of how sexualized swimsuits are in our society. They also attract a far worse group: shotacons and lolicons.
For those of you unfamiliar of what shotacons and lolicons are, they’re essentially pedophiles who are attracted to fictional minors. Shotacons are into boys, and lolicons are into girls. Both are largely revered by society because of how much of a serious issue child exploitation and child trafficking are right now the real world and how much they have physically and mentally scarred many kids who were victims of such acts. Combine this with video games and the Male Gaze, you’ll have a PR disaster waiting to happen. These pedophiles will bring in the same arguments to defend their actions like “they’re not real” or “you’re the pedophile for thinking like that,” forgetting that any normal human knows the difference between fantasy and reality but also know that being attracted to fictional children is an abnormal behavior that could snowball its way to real children.
In conclusion, the recent summer variants in Pokemon Masters EX has only reinstated my worst fears for the game because of my knowledge of swimsuits being inherently sexualized due to the Male Gaze, Pokemon being a kid-oriented franchise, and the amount of pedophiles it would draw in because of those swimsuits. At first, one solution I had in mind was a complete ban of swimsuits for anyone under 18 so minors would have to wear those old-timey bathing suits, but as I’ve already mentioned about my research, even those got sexualized back then. Another solution was abolishing the Male Gaze, but I feel like just what happened to swastikas, once a vile group touches something innocent, there is no way to reverse it back to its pure form even if the group in question is no longer around. So now I’m fresh out of options on this issue, but I do hope that somewhere someone else has thought of a more concrete solution that will stop this mess once and for all.