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Why Jynx Was Such A Controversial Character In Pokémon Games

No company is perfect, and Nintendo has definitely had some blunders in the past. In the case of one of the company's most popular franchises, Pokémon, the series has also had its fair share of controversy. From game mechanics such as the removal of the National Pokédex, to religious concerns connecting the usage of Pokémon to the summoning of demons, the series has really gone through it.

Although the series has been poked and prodded at over the years, one of Pokémon's earliest controversies revolves around the design of Pokémon #123, Jynx. The dual Psychic/Ice Pokémon made its debut in the first generation of Pokémon, and it's very humanoid design made it stand out from many other Pokémon that looked more like creatures. Jynx's design was certainly unique, but not for the right reasons. And to Nintendo's surprise, this Pokémon ended up being one that would get called out for being extremely offensive.

Jynx's design was seen as a racial stereotype

Jynx's original design during the first generation of Pokémon was very controversial. The Pokémon's black skin and large red lips had a noticeable resemblance to racist blackface caricatures. Nintendo received a ton of backlash for Jynx's design, most notably from Carole Boston Weatherford, an African American author and critic. In a 2000 op-ed piece, Weatherford criticized the Pokémon's appearance.

"The character Jynx, Pokémon #123, has decidedly human features [in contrast to most other characters]: jet-black skin, huge pink lips, gaping eyes, a straight blonde mane and a full figure, complete with cleavage and wiggly hips," wrote Weatherford. "Put another way, Jynx resembles an overweight drag queen incarnation of Little Black Sambo, a racist stereotype from a children's book long ago purged from libraries."

In response to the criticism, Nintendo redesigned Jynx. In the second generation of Pokémon, Jynx's skin was recolored to purple, and an episode from the original Indigo League anime series that featured the Pokémon's original design was pulled from the air and DVD releases. To further cement these changes, when Pokémon Red and Blue were re-released in 2016, Jynx's sprite had also been updated with its new design as well.