//…Or, Lo thinks too much, drinks too much, and cares about children’s videogame mafias a little too much, so here’s a think piece nobody asked for about why Rocket deserves less schtick than it gets.
I know for fact that other Rocket RPers have experienced the same vaguely annoying thing I have: your character is out there being their intimidating self, only to get flooded with snarky replies from characters blatantly disrespecting your Rocket muse’s threat-level. There’s a reason I feel the need to have a rule about taking Rocket at least semi-seriously. I don’t mind a little IC ribbing, or characters ICly underestimating or doubting the power members of the now washed-up organisation might hold—but sometimes it’s SO prevalent in the community that it feels like people trying to force their own fanon notions about Rocket unto other players…and, by extension, the notion that your muse poses no challenge and is guarenteed not to stand a chance against theirs, regardless of whether they play another Team boss, or generic Pokémon trainer #51,828. cough POWERPLAYING cough… At very least, it gets boring having your muse run into the exact same smarmy conversations over and over.
Here’s a handy rundown of where I think these conceptions spring from, and how Rocket is (or at least was) no less a force to be reckoned with than any other team.
Jessie & James =/= gameverse Rocket If I had to pick the number one cause fans don’t take Rocket as seriously as the other teams, I would place 80% of my blame on THIS terrible twosome. For some of us, the English localisation of the Pokémon anime was our primary introduction to the series at large. Mention “Team Rocket” to anyone who grew up at the height of the 90s-early 2000s Pokémon craze, and they probably know about Jessie, James and Meowth even if they never played the GBC games or watched the anime in much depth.
We all know Jessie & James are a pair of comic relief fuckups, but they’re so culturally prevalent that I’m certain their ineptitude has coloured people’s opinion of Rocket as a whole…even though even anime Rocket can be a real and genuine threat when the plot calls upon it. Mewtwo Returns? Domino? Come on!!
I mean seriously, gameverse Rocket is actually a prime bunch of assholes They murder Pokémon, terrorize entire towns, control entry to entire cities, and kick what might be Kanto’s most affluent corporation out of their head offices just because Giovanni decided he wanted to put his greedy hands all over the Masterball tech Silph was developing. Think about that for the moment: if the city-based headquarters of a real life tech giant were forcibly taken over irl, it would be considered a major terrorist incident. Considering Silph likely has mad security and the headquarters is such a landmark in Saffron, to pull off something like that would require considerable manpower and disregard for whatever opposing forces stand in your way. Same can be said for the Goldenrod Radio Tower takeover.
Pokémon Origins was also golden for showcasing Rocket’s cruelty and making them feel like a heavyweight threat, even in the face of maintaining the team’s trademark comic relief in the silliness of its grunts.
The child protagonists are actual prodigies Yes, Rocket was defeated by a child. On two separate occasions, no less (three if you count Sevii). Egg on their face, amirite? But then, so were Magma and Aqua. And Galactic, Plasma, Neo Plasma, Flare, Skull, and Aether… Sure, on the surface it’s laughable (not to mention downright humiliating) for entire mafias and extremist groups to be toppled by minors, but consider this: Red and Gold/Kris/Ethan/Lyra…none of these kids were your average Youngster toting around a Rattata.
If any of these teams were so flimsy that any old novice trainer could waltz in and take them down, why were they not vanquished by the police long before they reached the point they could commandeer a radio tower, fuck up the environment, or provoke Poké-satan into saying “enough of this shit” and dragging them to Poké-hell? And if not the police, what about the Elite Four or the rest of the League? Is everyone just lazy? Why does it take a child to topple giants? Because the protags are blank-player-self-inserts fan-fucking-tastic at what they do and have a proficiency as Pokémon trainers that allows them to face literal gods. Youngster Joey, eat your heart out.
Rocket “did it first” Yup. No getting around it: Rocket set the bar for every antagonist team that followed it. By now we’re used to the slightly hairbrained schemes (yeah Maxie, you go and detonate that land-locked volcano. What could go wrong?), and the irreverent and klutzy mooks who drop keys, let the player character slip by while they argue over whose shirt is whose, and go down in a couple hits when you fight them. But by now these are all part of the formula. You almost don’t notice it anymore, but since Rocket’s quirks were new, it sticks out in the minds of the fans that this supposedly fearful mafia-like group employed bumbling fools who blurted out about the secret entrance to their base because the MC looked at them funny.