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Personality & Development: Meowth

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Reviewing the characterization of anime Pokémon
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  • Saturday, July 9, 2011

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This column has been written by 05308. It expresses the views of the columnist, not necessarily those of Bulbagarden networks.
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Meowth loves you

Perhaps the only Pokémon character in the anime that is truly as memorable as Pikachu or maybe even more memorable is Meowth. He is a monumental figure in the minds of countless children across the world. When it is considered; whether or not the writers purposely created a thick personality for Meowth, anyone who has watched the anime will conclude that he, indeed, had a great deal of character, clear to the audience. Obviously, everyone can recognize the work put into his character because he is human-like; in his ability to talk, to think like a human and walk on his hind legs. In past instalments of Personality & Development, human psychology has always been applied to the characters; however, the relevance of human psychology to characters based on Turtles, Ducks and seahorses can be considered a hindering criticism to the column. Despite Meowth being based on a cat, his feline traits do not extend much further than physical appearance, other than his fear of water and love of yarn. So, seen as Meowth’s personality traits are more than familiar to the audience of the Pokémon anime, the psychological and sociological explanations are necessary to further the understanding of his character to the Pokémon community.

King of love

Meowth’s back story, explaining how he began walking on two feet and ultimately, learned to speak as a human dose, began with a renowned and much desired emotion called love. The objective of becoming human-like was to win the love of another Meowth called Meowzie. Love is a strong emotion and despite how an individual may believe they are in love, more often than not the individual is not quite in love. Love, being one of the strongest emotions, is impossible to operationalize, however, physical attraction in relationship formation can be defined. Elaine Hatfield and her colleagues proposed the Matching Hypothesis back in 1966, which is a popular explanation for how physical attractiveness comes to be. The matching hypothesis states that people form serious relationships with people who are of equal physical attractiveness. Given that our favourite Meowth and Meowzie are both of the same species and supposedly, physically appear exactly the same, the viewers would consider them both to be as attractive. However, this could highlight one of Meowth’s instincts of a cat’s perspective; being able to recognize what makes a cat attractive. After Meowzie was abandoned by her trainer, who apparently couldn’t afford to keep her, the idea that Meowth was in love strengthened. Besides physical attractiveness; similarity is considered an important factor in relationship formation, Meowth, who was also alone and without nurture, living on the streets; established familiarity with Meowzie. Further supporting the bond Meowth claimed he had to himself. Research in the area has suggested the less attractive reciprocate, will seek out compensating qualities, hence, Meowth sought out to talk and walk like a human, believing Meowzie desired a human-like partner. Since his heartbreak, Meowth has fell for two Skittys, a Glameow and recently another Meowth. (Although this was actually a Zorua using her Illusion ability to fool Meowth.) The fact Meowth falls in love, or feels he is in love so quickly connotes that he has a great desire for love; possibly because of the Oedipus complex or great levels of the testosterone hormone, but his tendency to fall for other Pokémon, usually influenced by physical attractiveness, suggests Meowth would not be able to uphold a monogamous relationship, a trait common in characters considered villains in naturalistic media.

Wow that is convincing
Who’s that Pokémon?

Although Meowth is a famous villain, he is not at all a good criminal. However Meowth is talented majorly, besides his already stated super Pokémon; human-like capabilities, Meowth is a talented ramen maker and actor, dressing as various other Pokémon and convincing the cast he is of the species. Like Jessie, who is a talented coordinator, and James, who has various talents, such as Poké Ringer; Meowth stays loyal to Team Rocket, despite it not being any kind of achieved fulfilment in his life. This is where attachment theory can be tied in. Meowth, although he must of had a mother, was alone and unloved for a long time before he joined team rocket, suggesting he suffered deprivation, which means he had no attachment figure. For human children, recovering from deprivation is exceptionally hard, but many Pokémon have been showed to recover from the loneliness they felt after their abandonment, whether it be by a trainer or a family. When Meowth first felt love and/or respect from Giovanni, although it was probably neither, Meowth quickly regained self confidence and, although he did wrongly, became an attachment type B-Secure attached. Still to this day, Meowth has always believed Giovanni values him and strives to please him, apparently accomplishing such before the Best Wishes series.

Oh no, Will Meowth leave Team rocket this time?
Hey, friends fight, doesn't mean they’re not friends.

His relationship with his team mates is more adult, and at the same time more childish. The sense that Meowth’s relationship with Jessie and James is more adult is that, he does not treat them as superior and they all acknowledge they are on the same level in society. The reason their relationship is more childish is the bickering and the fall outs between them. However as Meowth grows older and in turn becomes more wise, eventually getting to the point where he feels he can leave Team Rocket, his friendship with Jessie and James always prevails. It appeared as if Meowth had out grown his blind allegiance to Team rocket and began staying with his friends for their company and love, until Best Wishes where the trio all begin to feel fulfilment in their jobs.

I’m much better at this

The back story and character of Meowth can be considered quite sweet and romanticized, explaining the international love held for the character. If Meowth was ever to actually leave the anime’s main cast and begin appearing as frequent as Misty and Tracey, uproar would surely begin amongst fans, for Meowth is for definite, one of the most loved characters Japan has ever produced and quite probably, more popular than even Pikachu. He wasn’t the first Pokémon to speak, but he’ll always be remembered as the first. The voice itself is perhaps more famous then Pikachu to anime fans, making voicing him a huge honour. Human character’s always have more clear personality then the Pokémon characters and the voice of the legendary Madddie Blaustein, Nathan Price, Carter Cathcart, not to mention his voices from other countries, have created a greatly flourished personality to match brash Ash and girly-girl May.

Personality & Development
By Thomas Smithurst
Ash's PikachuAsh's SquirtleAsh's BulbasaurAsh's Charizard
Misty's PsyduckMisty's HorseaMeowthMisty's Togetic