Pokemon creatures draw a lot of their features from animals already here on earth, and some from myth. But that, as far as a story goes- in regards to the relationship between trainer and Pokemon- that is about as it. The real distinguishing feature of the Pokemon is its ability to fight in the arena- what kind of special power it possesses and how effective it is against particular adversaries.
For all the genetics and science fiction surrounding Pokemon, therefore, the real core of the phenomena goes back to the excitement of pitting animal against animal and wages bets on them. Of course, I am in no way implying that kids are gambling over Pokemon, I’m just saying that it is that sort of thrill that keeps the interest and excitement in Pokemon high. While a Pokemon’s exterior may be interesting (and certainly possesses merchandising value), aficionados of Pokemon are mainly interested in the type of Pokemon and what it can do; what power it has and how strong or effective that power is against opponents. Pokemon is a game of battle, not really a coherent story, though it is marketed as such.
This is probably the only area in which Pokemon has failed (although one seriously hesitates to look at Pokemon sales and see any ‘failings’). Among the spinoffs of course is the well known animated series and movies, not to mention the ‘manga’ or comics, as they’re more conventionally known. Both media have done well around the world, but only among kids. There is just not enough of a story or enough realism in these animated tales to capture the imagination of an adult. They are shallow and simple, and I conjecture that the only reason kids are drawn to them is because of their fascination with the mythological.
In short, Pokemon do have a distinct tie and resemblance to our natural world of flora and fauna, but that’s as far as it goes. There is no complexity to the Pokemon world, only a sort of machismo mixed- in classic Japanese fashion- with a strong element of cuteness and cuddliness. The premise is actually that a Pokemon is not a creature to be messed with, but the reality is that the relationship between Pokemon and human is far more complex.
This can be seen in the very profitable waves of Pokemon goods that are sold along with each new edition. Now we are in Pokemon Black and White era and anything being sold under that label is going like hotcakes. Referring to cuteness, particularly popular for all ages are the stuffed toys (Pokemon plush toys), pokedolls, and, particularly for boys, the Pokemon cards for the card game. While Black and White cards are becoming more common now, they are still the ones to have.