Aside from Ash and Pikachu themselves, there are few Pokémon characters more iconic than Nurse Joy as she is always there to take care of sick or injured Pokémon–but there is a secret darkness to her that was revealed upon her anime debut, and Pikachu proves it.
Nurse Joy is a both equally canonically important and hilariously meta within the Pokémon anime’s continuity. In the original video game, Nurse Joy was located within every Pokémon Center in every town and city the player travels to. While there is no in-world explanation for how one character can travel from city to city seemingly instantaneously, the anime has a perfect work-around for that phenomenon. Apparently, every Nurse Joy is just related to the other, despite the fact that they look like perfect clones of each other. While that mystery is certainly worth looking deeper into, that isn’t the hidden darkness being discussed today–as there is no mystery surrounding this one, but blatant Pokémon exploitation.
Nurse Joy Uses Pikachu Like Living Batteries
In Pokémon: Indigo League episode 2 (written by Ken Sakamoto and directed by Masamitsu Hidaka), Ash rushes Pikachu to the nearest Pokémon Center after the two had an unfortunate encounter with a horde of Spearows in the previous episode. While Pikachu was able to take down every single Spearow with a single shot, that expense of energy weakened Pikachu greatly, and he was on the verge of death. Thankfully, Ash came across Misty and stole her bike (much to Misty’s dismay) to get Pikachu to the Pokémon Center faster. It is here where Ash and fans alike meet Nurse Joy for the first time–and she is able to restore Pikachu to his full health. Unfortunately, this is also the first time Ash and Pikachu have a run-in with Team Rocket, who knock out the power of the Pokémon Center in an attempt to sneak in unimpeded and steal a valuable Pokémon being treated there. However, the power to the center didn’t stay out for long, as Nurse Joy had an entire room of Pikachu whose only job it was to power the Pokémon Center should this exact situation occur.
While it is convenient to have a group of one particular Pokémon type ready at the drop of a hat to power an entire facility, it is also criminally exploitative. It’s not like these Pikachu were specifically on standby to power the facility due to, say, a bad storm or something that could have been foreseen, Nurse Joy didn’t know that Team Rocket was going to knock out the power, yet these Pikachu were ready to power it up anyway. That means their entire lives are centered around sitting in a room, waiting to be useful should the power go out–which, in essence, makes them nothing more than living batteries.
Rather than contributing to a Pokémon trainer’s mission to be the best there is through fun competition, or even simply run free in the wilderness of their world, these Pikachu are treated like they aren’t even alive–like their only worth is the electricity they can create and harness. Nurse Joy doesn’t seem to care about the well-being of Ash’s or any Pikachu, just that they are a cheap and reliable alternative to emergency generators–proving that this sweet and helpful Pokémon healer, Nurse Joy, is actually a cruel, heartless villain.
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