Beware of the Poke Mania

Can such cute critters be bad influences? How one misfit's quest turned into a global bonanza

Monsters make for disquieting playmates. No matter how toylike and frivolous they may appear, monsters are unnatural and, in the end, deal in unresolved fear. But monsters also have a way with children. Consider the suspicious charms of the Pokemon creatures--Gengar, Cubone and Chansey, for example. The first is a ghostly purple ball with a devilishly cute smile, horns to match and a crocodile spine. The second is a sort of bear cub with a skull over its head--or is the whole thing its actual head? The third is a vaguely dinosauric pinkish cloud. Their equally bizarre compatriots range in height...

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