Growing up, Pokemon was my favourite show, and I can clearly remember watching it at 4pm every afternoon after school, as well as Saturday mornings where I didn't have Chinese school.
As a young child, I loved how all of the Pokemon were so cute and cuddly, and I liked the sarcastic comments made, and how Brock the characters interacted with each other. They were funny, hehehe.
My love for Pokemon never really wavered; in fact, as I grew up, I loved it even more. I rewatched a lot of episodes, and one thing that I think really stuck with me, was Pokemon's portrayal of violence and "badness".
First, there's Brock and his nerdish, creeper ways. He didn't ever cross to the "inappropriate" kind of creepy; he was the kind of creepy that was just "I don't like you, and you are drooling over me". It was probably more a show of annoying and hopeless romantic than creepy, really. However, I did still love how Misty (and May, and every other girl he ever came in contact with) put him in place. That is going to be a different post, though.
The main point of this post, and the most obvious antagonist (that shows up in every single episode), is Team Rocket. However, Team Rocket is not always the main antagonist, and I think the most beautiful thing that the writer did was give Jessie, James, and Meowth a backstory that explains a lot about violence today.
Let's start with Jessie. She started off as a very sweet, poor girl. She is so poor that her favourite dish is snow buffet. Yes, snow. It is exactly what it sounds like. Her mother used snow to make dishes, and added soy sauce and sugar for taste. She wanted to be a nurse, but failed. Jessie does not seem at all "stupid" in any episode, and I think it is safe to assume that nursing in the Pokemon world is as hard as it would be in our world. As Jessie is someone who came from a poor-er family, I think it is safe to assume that she did not go to the best school, and though she was a top performer, and made it into school with all the Nurse Joys, she simply didn't have the resources to be successful; all the Nurse Joys could have had help from previous generations and each other, whereas Jessie... had herself. That failure was what eventually began a domino effect of her eventually ending up with Team Rocket. She excelled, which is why I'm guessing she stayed with Team Rocket; it was the only place where she felt acknowledged, and the only place that she felt she was good enough.
On the other end of the spectrum, is James. Or "Master James", I guess. He comes from a very, very rich family who outpoured a LOT for him. He eventually ran away with his Growlie and it was like a scene from The Little Matchbox Girl until he was saved, and then ended up trying to figure out his own life. It turns out that James already had his life set up by his family, and he even had Jessebelle as a fiancee from the time he was a young boy. James went from completely dependent to completely independent, and like Jessie, ended up learning about the rough edges of life. Eventually, he too joined Team Rocket (separately from Jessie), and the two of them learned how to depend on each other. In analyzing Jame's character, he probably stayed with Team Rocket because he, like Jessie, finally felt like he could accomplish something alone (okay, with Jessie and Meowth, but at this point, that trio kind of counts as one person.)
Then there's Meowth, who is basically the story of Gatsby in cat form. I'm sure everyone read The Great Gatsby and already analyzed it for class until they were ready to drop dead, so basically: all the reasons Gatsby did bad things, that was Meowth.
Team Rocket isn't bad, and it's especially obvious in the episodes where they help out Ash &co. While one can say that people should be able to control their own actions and responses, I think it's important to remember that as children, we are molded by our environments. If as children we are treated as unreliable and unable, why are we held responsible for how we react to how others treat us? All three, Jessie, James, and Meowth, became a part of Team Rocket as a response to the lifestyles that they were subjected to, and found friendship and loyalty in each other. Their bond is very real, in comparison to most antagonist groups being portrayed as bound together with doubt, suspicion, and intricate storylines of betrayal and secrets. Despite the fact that Team Rocket is obviously thrown in for comedic relief to make the cartoon suitable for all ages, I believe their presence holds a greater meaning than that.
I know, it's kind of weird to read about a rant about Pokemon, but Pokemon was my childhood, and I think that it is important to always embrace what is important to us :) meow.