How do you think “fainting” came about in the Pokemon universe and what is its purpose? I might be stretching things, but it seems to be some sort of specific process that’s different from being knocked unconscious, due to the way ALL Pokemon, even ones that are totally different – dragons, starfish, floating magnets – faint in the same way, and faint in the same way in response to a wide variety of totally different attacks.
I mean, it’s a gameplay convention. In the anime, as far as I can recall, no one ever says “[Pokémon] fainted,” they say “[Pokémon] is unable to battle,” and referees will make that call in response to a variety of events – often it happens when a Pokémon actually loses consciousness due to the stress of battle, but sometimes a referee will call a match because a Pokémon gets put to sleep, or paralysed, or frozen. And then if you look at the fainting animations in games like Pokémon Stadium, well, they’re not all the same. This video has some good ones. I think my favourite is Jynx – her body vanishes and leaves her hair behind like a wig. Porygon’s body actually falls apart – something similar happens with Pokémon like Magneton. Slowbro kinda looks over his shoulder at Shellder and goes “we done?” and Shellder is like “yeah, we done” before they both collapse. So basically I think “fainting” is just a catch-all term used by the games to describe what’s actually a fairly wide variety of different kinds of debilitation in a way that doesn’t take up a prohibitive amount of space and time.