Name: I absolutely love this line’s name scheme of Abracadabra Alakazam. While Abra on its own is nothing to really write home about, it’s really clever and cute when connected with at least Kadabra’s name.
In Japan, it’s known as Casey, which is just too normal of a name to English ears for me to think it fits at all. It’s just awkward to call a Pokemon “Casey.” Being fair, it’s based on the famous ‘psychic’, Edgar Cayce, but it doesn’t change how it sounds to me.
Fun Fact: In the English beta, it was known as Hocus, as in Hocus Pocus.
Design: I’ve always found Abra oddly adorable. Sure, it’s a little weird with its big brown shoulder pads and rat tail, but there’s something about Abra’s face and mannerisms are really cute to me. Probably helps that it’s always napping.
Sprite-wise, R/G looks a bit demonic.
Gold looks really cute the way it’s got one eye peeking open.
Crystal’s animation is SUPER adorable the way it’s swaying its feet and twitching its tail.
What is Emerald doing?
What is D/P doing?
What is platinum doing?
What is HG/SS doing?
Love Gen V because it’s constantly floating in midair.
Everything else is fine.
Abra’s shiny is one of many ‘Let’s just turn down the saturation of the Pokemon’s colors and call it a day’ shinies. As expected, it’s blech.
Oddly, the one exception here is FR/LG where the shiny is, for some reason, darker than the base sprite.
Dex Entries and Backstory: Abra sleeps 18 hours a day to store enough energy to recover from the strain of using its psychic powers. If it fails to get 18 hours of sleep, its psychic powers will start to fail.
It usually responds to sensing any form of danger by teleporting. You must clear your mind and not be perceived as a threat if you want to catch one. Sometimes, it will create illusion copies of itself to further distract threats. It hypnotizes itself to allow it to teleport from danger even when it’s asleep and will teleport to another location once every hour to avoid danger.
When it awakens, it is not aware of where it was sent via its teleportation powers while asleep, usually causing it to panic when it wakes up.
Design-wise, Abra is a mixture of foxes, possums and cats with the idea behind its abilities and moveset being inspired by psychics and mediums.
Name: Continuing on with the cool naming scheme, we have Kadabra. I actually like Kadabra’s name the best out of the trio.
That being said, it also has my least favorite Japanese name of the trio – Yungerer. It’s based off of Uri Geller, the illusionist who popularized spoon-bending as a ‘psychic’ ability. Yungerer is very awkward to say. It’s like someone was trying to make up a name on the spot and just kinda mumbled near the end.
Fun Fact: Also following beta!Abra, Kadabra would have been named “Pocus.”
Design: Kadabra looks pretty cool. I like the star they added on its forehead. I do not, however, care for the bulbous tail. It’s just a bit too weird for my tastes.
Sprite-wise, Gen I and most of II are perfectly fine with nothing of note, but Crystal is hilarious. The perspective makes it look like Kadabra is trying to feed the viewer. “Open up the tunnel, here comes the train! Choo-choo! Num nums!”
I really don’t have much to say about anything until Gen V where the animation looks really funny again. It’s like it’s trying to wash a window with the spoon.
Kadabra is another Pokemon where the gender difference is only barely noticeable. I honestly wouldn’t have noticed unless I looked it up. The females have slightly shorter mustaches than the males. Why wouldn’t they just get rid of the mustache entirely? Did they think it would look too weird?
Basically same situation as Abra and just as boring.
However, instead of being darker in FR/LG, the sprite in that game has a muted purple where the brown should be, which I like.
Dex Entries and Backstory: There are a lot of weird details about Kadabra.
Kadabra possesses strong spiritual powers via the alpha waves it emits. It becomes even more powerful when it closes its eyes, when it’s in danger or when it gets a headache, which is very Psyduck-esque. Only those with powerful psyches can effectively train this Pokemon. When its getting ready to evolve, it stores psychic energy in the star on its forehead.
People close to Kadabra when its using is psychic powers tend to develop headaches. Likewise, electronic devices malfunction and clocks run backwards in its presence when using powerful psychic moves. Weird shadows also appear on TV screens when Kadabra are nearby. These shadows are said to bring bad luck.
The spoon that it somehow gains upon evolution actually has a purpose – it amplifies its alpha waves by about twice as much. If it happens to lose the spoon, it will lose half of its power. The spoon has to be silver, it cannot be gold, which is a weird thing to note. Who even gave a Kadabra a gold spoon to test that theory? Also, does that mean it doesn’t get a spoon upon evolution – it needs to be given one?
It will levitate in its sleep and uses its tail as a pillow, which is pretty cute.
The weirdest note about Kadabra, however, is that it’s rumored to actually be a psychic boy who couldn’t control his powers, fell asleep and woke up as a Kadabra. But then, what’s an Abra?
In regards to design, the only animal trait it seems to retain from Abra are some fox-like features. But what we really need to discuss is the Uri Geller controversy. I had vaguely remembered reading something about Uri Geller being upset about Kadabra being basically an unauthorized parody of him many years ago, but I never really read much on it. Now that I have, holy shit, I had no idea this situation actually caused Kadabra to be basically banned from Pokemon for nearly 20 years!
Alright, so I mentioned that Kadabra’s Japanese name, Yungerger was based off of Uri Geller. It doesn’t really look that way in English (Romaji) but in katakana it does. Yungerer’s name is written like this ユンゲラー (Yu-n-gu-raa) while Uri Geller’s is written like this ユリゲラー (Yu-ri-gu-raa). Additionally, there’s the fact that Kadabra holds a spoon – spoon-bending being what Uri Geller was most famous for.
It wasn’t just that Kadabra was based off of him that set Geller off. He also claimed that the star and squiggly lines on Kadabra’s body were offensive symbols that were tarnishing his likeness – the star being an ‘occult’ symbol and the squiggly lines being ‘similar’ to the nazi SS lightning bolt symbol.
First of all, that’s a very simple star. Even if Kadabra is a psychic Pokemon, you can’t just say every single star shape is an occult symbol. If so, a lot of drawings and doodles I made as a kid must’ve been subconsciously supporting the occult.
Second, I can see how those lines look kinda similar to the nazi lightning bolt SS, but only if you ignore that there are three lines. With the third line, it looks much more like the universal symbol for steam, as in something hot. I literally have that exact same symbol on top of my microwave.
Apparently no one else was in agreement with Geller about the symbols because if they were indeed considered occult-ish or nazi imagery, they’d censor it just like they’ve censored other cards and Pokemon with similar issues.
Even if you don’t buy those explanations, these symbols do have practical reasoning. They’re based on symbols shown in Zener cards, which are cards that were used to experiment with ESP.
He was also angry that the Pokemon was “aggressive” and “in one case, evil.”
Thing is, Uri Geller seems to have been pretty lawsuit-happy back in the day. He has a long and storied track record of suing or threatening to sue people who piss him off. For instance, he sued a watch company, Timex, for showing someone psychically bending forks and other items, but failing to stop a Timex watch. In that instance, he was fined $149,000 for filing a frivolous lawsuit.
He also considered suing IKEA for having a furniture line with bent legs called “Uri,” and filed a complaint (that was rejected) with the Broadcasting Standards Commission of the UK against a show called Secrets of the Super Psychics. The show explained and showed how tricks such as those performed by Geller were done practically. His argument was that it was “unfair treatment” to show how these tricks are done when certain people, such as Geller himself, assert that they’re real powers.
Then there are the other lawsuits that his Wiki page didn’t even mention.
His lawsuit coup de gras was certainly his push against Nintendo for Kadabra’s existence. According to Geller, he was Christmas shopping one day when he discovered an Alakazam card….Yeah, I think there was some mixed signals here at first. He does describe an Alakazam card (Stating the Pokemon used two spoons, not one) but he uses Kadabra’s Japanese name to make the strong connection to himself. He also claimed there were two versions of the Pokemon – one good and one “evil,” which isn’t true for either Kabadra or Alakazam. There IS a “bad” Alakazam card – known as Dark Alakazam in the west – as well as a “bad”/Dark Kadabra card that did exist back then, but the thing is those are Team Rocket cards. Those Alakazam and Kadabra are only “bad” because Team Rocket made them bad.
While it’s certainly understandable to be a little miffed that someone based a character on you without asking your permission, I don’t see how Kadabra is in any way insulting to his image or even really stealing it. Kadabra is a pretty damn good Pokemon. It’s a legitimately Psychic Pokemon, possibly born of a real (game lore-wise anyway) psychic boy, and it doesn’t look anything like Geller. It’s not particularly aggressive as far as I read in the Dex entries. It’s powerful, yes, but not inherently aggressive.
Geller wound up attempting to sue not just Nintendo in Japan, but also in the US, and he was considering suing in other regions across Europe, Latin America and Australasia. The lawsuit for the Japanese office was set for £60m and the lawsuit for the US was going to be $100m. The lawsuit was put forth in 2000, but it was dismissed in 2003. From what reports indicate, while the lawsuit was dismissed, there was a caveat in which Geller only agreed to stop pursuing legal action if they stopped producing Kadabra cards. It’s unclear if Geller demanded this as well, (Doesn’t seem to be the case) but they also stopped showing Kadabra in the anime in 2006 to stave off any possible further litigation from Geller, although they kept Kadabra in the games.
And, yeah, after 2003, there was never another Kadabra card produced, and Kadabra was basically quietly banned from ever appearing in the show or movies either. This kinda screwed up the TCG because Abra no longer had a means of evolving into Alakazam. A special version of Abra had to be printed with the ability “Ultra Evolution” that allowed Abra to skip the Kadabra phase and instantly become an Alakazam.
What I find especially silly about this lawsuit is that Geller took the reference as such an insult, but as far as I know he didn’t get a single lick of negative press or public reaction from Kadabra’s existence. He stated himself that reactions were incredibly positive. A store manager came out bowing to him, and “hundreds of children” begged him to sign their Kababra/Yungerer cards while chanting his name. The only reason he ever got any negative reaction from anything involving Kadabra as far as I saw was because he sued Nintendo over it and banned Kadabra from being a part of 2/3 of the main Pokemon media outlets for nearly 20 years.
Seventeen years later in 2020, Uri Geller had a change of heart. A recent outcry from fans as well as discussions with his granddaughters prompted Geller to realize how silly the whole situation was and see Kadabra as a tribute to him – not an insult. He sent a letter to Nintendo giving the green light to finally start reintroducing Kadabra back into the TCG. Kadabra was confirmed to be getting its first TCG release in 20 years in the Pokemon Card 151 set being released this June. This public and private go ahead also lead Kadabra into being formally reintroduced, albeit briefly, in the anime in 2021’s Pokemon Evolutions.
Good for Kadabra, and good for Mr. Geller. I hope Kadabra gets some cool cards and anime appearances in the future.
Name: In keeping with the theme, I like Alakazam’s name a lot. It’s also great in that it’s truly been built up to as a final evo name because the magic words are just like that. Abracadabra is the buildup, then ALAKAZAM!
In Japan, it’s called Foodin, which is meant to be “Houdin” I imagine since Harry Houdini was used as an inspiration for this one. There’s just no “Hu” sound in Japanese because that hiragana is pronounced “fu.” The name really falls flat for me. Even if I am more understanding and call it Houdin, it still just sounds weird to me.
Design: Alakazam does look cool, but I feel like I’m bordering on labeling it a lazy evolution. It’s pretty much just a bigger Kadabra without the symbols and tail and now with *drum roll* TWO SPOONS!
As with Kadabra, the female version of the line just has a slightly shorter mustache.
Also, I feel the need to point out that if any Pokemon in this line legitimately has an occult symbol on it, it’s Alakazam because it’s head is meant to be in the shape of a pentagram. (You can argue that Kadabra’s head is too, but I don’t think the sides are prominent enough to say that.)
Sprite-wise, R/G looks thoroughly unimpressed with the spoons it’s holding.
Crystal looks pretty funny because it looks like it’s taunting the player with the spoons. “Oooh look at yoooouuu. You don’t have spoons like meeee.”
R/S looks confused by his spoons.
Emerald also looks confused, but then the animation makes it clear that he’s figured out the spoons.
FR/LG makes him look bored af.
Not gonna lie, Platinum gives off more ‘maracas’ than ‘spoons.’
Everything else looks fine.
Alakazam’s shiny has a leg up over its pre-evos in that it actually looks like a shiny and not just a bleached out Pokemon. That being said, the shiny for Alakazam is just okay. The dark brown parts are replaced by magenta, and that’s….fine, and the yellow parts are replaced with a goldish yellow that looks more bronze in Gen III.
Gen II’s shiny is a bit weird because they also change the yellow parts to a gross sewage green.
Mega Alakazam is pretty damn cool. It doesn’t try to do too much like a lot of Mega evos do. It has a wizardly beard, a cool jewel (even if it is called an ‘organ’ eugh) in the center of its forehead, and *even more drum roll* FIVE SPOONS!
I also, for some reason, like that it interlocks its toes instead of sitting cross-legged.
Even its shiny is a little better because it has purple in place of the dark brown parts instead of magenta.
(I don’t know why the main artwork for Mega Alakazam also has purple areas. It’s supposed to be brown.)
Dex Entries and Backstory: Alakazam is insanely powerful and smart. It is said to have an IQ of 5000, it can outperform a supercomputer and it never forgets anything that it learns. It closes its eyes to help it focus, and its brain never stops growing. Its brain eventually reaches a point where it’s so heavy that it uses its psychic energy to hold its head up instead of its muscles, which is insane. It is noted that it has extremely weak muscles, likely as a result of being too reliant on its psychic powers.
We actually have an origin of Alakazam’s spoons. They’re said to be created by Alazakam’s psychic powers, and both spoons are entirely unique.
A funny and sweet note about the spoons is that, if an Alakazam truly trusts you, it will give you one of its spoons. If you eat anything with it, it is guaranteed to be delicious.
Mega Alakazam has lost all of the strength in its muscles and transferred all of its energy into its psychic abilities, which explains why it is always floating and never stands or walks anymore. A mere glance from a Mega Alakazam gives it complete knowledge of your entire life, which is also insane.
Its psychic abilities have now reached precognition capabilities. It can predict every move an enemy plans, which makes me wonder how anything fights a Mega Alakazam…………Hm.
As for inspiration in design, the only things I haven’t mentioned yet are that its horns, long mustache and talons are said to be based on Chinese dragons, which is cool if true, and that it may be based on goats, which are also symbolic in the occult. I, personally, don’t see the goat thing. It does have horns, but they’re not shaped like a goat horns.
And that was the longer-than-I-expected-to-write Abracadabra Alakazam line! I’ve never been a massive fan of this line, but they’re pretty cool in their own right. Gen I was kinda lacking in the (purely) Psychic Type department, and Alakazam was my favorite non-Legendary purely Psychic Type back then (With Mew and Mewtwo taking the first and second Legendary spots, respectively). I liked Kadabra a lot too. While Abra is really cute, all it knows is Teleport, and catching one was a massive pain in the ass back then.
Next time, it’s everyone’s favorite slightly unnerving humanoid bodybuilder Pokemon evo line, Machop, Machoke and Machamp.
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3 thoughts on “My Poke-Pinions #63-65: Abracadabra, Alakazam!”
I learned a lot about the Abra line here! I have a fondness for them because like a lot of people, Kadabra/Alakazam was my MVP in Gen 1.
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Alakazam was always so OP for me back when I played Fire Red. I made him my main and never looked back. I remember being a bit disappointed when I saw the Pokemon movie and he lost to Mewtwo so much. I mean I knew he was legendary but was still hoping Alakazam could put up a fight. Always had a soft spot for that guy
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Wow, this was mind-blowing about Kadabra! I had no idea he was canceled in the anime and the cards. The Uri Geller controversy is new to me even though I knew who he was back then when I did a worksheet about his psychic fraud activities when I was in school as part of a literacy activity textbook. I almost forgot about the Golbat Manji controversy and I remember it being censored when it was released. The Abra line could be a case of the dub names being better than the original Japanese versions. Casey? Really? Really?! When I saw Kadabra’s Japanese name, I thought it would be a reference to Carl Jung to play of the mental aspect with him being a psychologist and psychiatrist, but that wasn’t the case. I definitely learned a lot from this post!
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