Recently, the new episode of Twilight Wings focused on Hop and his bond between Wooloo. This made me think, how do kids under 10 have pokemon? Bonnie has Dedenne, Hop has Wooloo, and I’m pretty sure there are others. Would there be any law about this? Also, how do you think it will work if the kid won’t become a trainer?
Well, the anime has said you become a trainer when you turn 10, but the games have also had trainers who are pretty clearly younger than the player (who in Red and Blue we usually assume to be about 10) from the beginning. There also seem to be people who have Pokémon companions but aren’t trainers (like, think even of Professor Oak’s opening monologue in the very first games; trainers are just one of several groups of people who live alongside Pokémon); you could probably weasel your way around a lot of rules if, say, your family has a Pokémon pet that technically “belongs” to your parents, but likes you enough to fight for you and take commands. I think the situation is much more flexible than, like, getting a formal license on your 10th birthday, without which you are at risk of having a Pokémon confiscated, or regulations to that effect. I also doubt all regions have the same rules. There might only be age limits for the gym challenge, or for leaving on a journey with your Pokémon; some kids might have known their partners for years before “officially” becoming trainers.
(Besides, I don’t think we know Hop’s age? He might not be 10 at the beginning of the story of Sword and Shield; he clearly hasn’t finished growing but I could believe he’s, like, 13 or 14?)
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Yeah, I agree that Hop might be older than 10. Weren’t the trainers in Black and White like 14? They haven’t stuck with 10 for every region and I sorta doubt universally the whole Pokemon world has this 10 year old rule (especially since we fight PRESCHOOLERS in some of the games). Sword and Shield in particular requires an endorsement to do the League challenge and it’d be super inconvenient if children were only eligible for one year. I definitely think Hop is at least 12, hence his Wooloo (that he likely had for years anyways).
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Granted that they’re all just reskinned NPCs, but many of the other Gym Challengers that appear throughout Sword & Shield (and can be battled in the postgame tournaments) are very clearly adults, with one even being an elderly man by virtue of using the Gentleman Trainer class but with gray hair. From that, I’d say the challenge does seem open to people of all ages.
If you noticed, a lot of these Preschool trainers are near school or make references to their school. I think the implication is that the Pokemon they’re battling with are rentals from their school for the purpose of teaching them battling skills for when they eventually embark on their own Pokemon adventure in the future.
Of course, this makes you kicking their small child ass at a sport you’re much more coordinated and educated at to be kind of a dick move. XD
Yeah, a lot of them are near school, but I think that’s just, well, where it makes thematic sense for them to be.
And it’s not like knowing how to battle is that important, in comparison to the bond with your Pokémon, anyways. I think it’s mostly that kids this young can’t take care of their Pokémon all by themselves, so they usually aren’t allowed to battle, either
Hence why I theorize they’re rentals, and are cared for by the school and temporarily given to kids so they can develop their battling skills, as they’re not old enough to get into the whole “caretaking” aspect of Pokemon training yet
I mean, let’s not kid ourselves- the games definitely overblow how much the experience of being a traveling trainer and battling all the time is. I mean, you see towns with three houses, a gym, and a pokémon center VERY often.
Most people have one to four Pokémon, and those are just companions in life. I’d wager some kids get them as tweens, and immediately go on their journey, because their parents want them to only have their own partner mon when they can take care of them.
But I’d also think many kids are raised alongside their Pokémon partner, and might even be paired with a cub from their parent’s partner.
(Also, let’s just think about how a grown up poképartner of an adult would probably have babysitting authority over their child, and how hilarious that would be.)
Yeah, I wouldn’t read into anything from GameFreak as too literal. But I’d agree that plenty of kids are raised alongside Pokémon through their families. I take it that the distinction applies for the minimum age when children can officially take on a given region’s League Challenge & compete for badges. This could very well vary by region, & in most cases thus far, that minimum age seems to be 10*. In other words, some of those Youngsters or Twins you meet early on are arguably under 10 but just on an excursion or errand w/ Pokémon raised by their families or on loan from school, not necessarily out to challenge a Gym Leaders. (But also keep in mind, some of these trainer sprites are used generally for a Trainer class regardless of their actual age.)
BTW Japanese culture, the idea that young children head out into the city or town on their own isn’t so farfetched due to a communal belief that I’ll simplify as “looking out for each other’s children”. See link below.
* which honestly, was a marketing ploy by GameFeak to appeal to real-world young children. when GF decided a few generations later that the average age of its target demographic had grown older, they recast their Gen V protagonists in Black & White to age 14
 By Western standards, Japanese culture emphasises independence and self-reliance from an extraordinarily young age. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7YrN8Q2PDU
I assumed that what the game meant was at aged 10 you’re *entitled* to your first pokemon, like from a state-sponsored program (hence 10 y/o’s always getting them from professors). But if your family has the resources to give you a Pokemon early, or you have the initiative to go out and befriend one solo before that age then go nuts buddy.