The Pokemon Mimikyu Is a Great Metaphor for Autism
Mimikyu speaks to something deep and existential about the human experience.
While every generation of Pokemon games introduces a new Pikachu-adjacent knock-off, Mimikyu is the first to feel truly original.
Potentially inspired by the Breton myth of the Bugol Noz––a kind woodland fairy whose appearance is so hideous that anyone who sees him dies of fright––Mimikyu is a ghastly looking Pokemon who inadvertently curses anyone who gazes upon its true form. As such, Mimikyu lives a life plagued by loneliness, craving acceptance, love, and friendship more than anything else. So, realizing that Pikachu is an incredibly popular Pokemon adored for its cuteness, Mimikyu creates a crayon-decorated Pikachu guise to hide beneath in hopes of acceptance.
Even though its disguise isn't particularly convincing, that doesn't stop Mimikyu from trying its best to fit in. For instance, in spite of its Ghost/Fairy type, Mimikyu can learn Pikachu's signature Electric-type moves, including Thunder Wave, Thunderbolt, and Thunder. Everything about Mimikyu's visual design and in-game playstyle aligns thematically with the concept of a terrifying ghost who just wants affection. Mimikyu is both deeply tragic and wholly relatable.
Fair warning: I'm about to get sappy here. As someone on the autism spectrum, Mimikyu is one of those rare characters that speaks to me on a fundamental level. I never thought there would be a Pokemon––a freaking Pokemon––that so thoroughly encapsulated the existential trials of the human experience, but here we are.
As a Pokemon, Mimikyu exists in an almost (if not outright) meta-context. Pikachu is the mascot of the Pokemon franchise and therefore popular practically by default. Pikachu is cute and fuzzy, the perfect brand image for monsters everyone wants to collect. Mimikyu, on the other hand, is allegedly hideous, spectral, and weak to sunlight. Unlike Pikachu, nothing comes easily for Mimikyu. It's forced to make its own disguise by hand, and even then, it's relegated to the shadows by necessity. And yet, in spite of these roadblocks, Mimikyu isn't bad or evil, and keeps awkwardly but bravely striving forward. Mimikyu just wants to be loved.
The Pokemon Company
Social interactions don't come easily for me, either. It's hard for me to make eye contact with people (especially when I'm uncomfortable with them), correctly distinguish tones, or know how to relate with people who don't share similar interests to mine. I can be abrasive and condescending at times without meaning to be. So to compensate, much like Mimikyu, I also look to others who are more naturally socially adjusted. Like Mimikyu, I also wear a disguise of sorts, trying my best to copy the behaviors of other, more popular, people in order to better fit in.
I don't even think that's necessarily specific to autism. There's no guidebook to social interactions, and I imagine that a lot of people, autistic or otherwise, must rely on trial-and-error. To some extent, maybe we're all wearing masks of the people we admire or are jealous of, in hopes that by emulating them we'll get the same results they did. Maybe we're not all succeeding, at least not all the time, but we keep trying because, ultimately, we crave love, companionship, and acceptance. And if that's true, maybe we're all a bit like Mimikyu.
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