Pokémon Blood and Iron

It’s not widely appreciated that Pokémon, the popular nineties computer game, was actually inspired by Pokémon Blood and Iron (ポケモン铁血), an 1869 recruiting and training pamphlet for boys being drafted into the beleaguered army of the short-lived Republic of Ezo.

In the pamphlet, different “monsters” and attacks are harnessed for different parts of infantry drill, in a metaphor familiar from East Asian martial arts – mantis style, great white ape leaps backwards, and so on. “Thunderbolt” practiced the firing action of a muzzle-loaded rifle.

Also notable is the exhortation to report spies and sympathizers for the Meiji restoration government – “Diligence and loyalty! All must be caught!”.

Little material is available online, although some of the few extant pamphlets can be seen at the Hakodate City Museum. Signage is, unfortunately, exclusively in Japanese.

Flag of the Republic of Ezo

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