When most people think of the Pokémon, controversies are not what comes to mind. However, there was once a time when officials in Turkey thought that it was a growing problem, which needed to be dealt with before it was too late. Turkish officials were convinced that there was a Pokémon mental health crisis making children a danger to themselves, and their evidence was very scary.
The Pokémon Mental Health Crisis: Why Did Turkey Ban Pokémon Anime in 2000?
Around November of 2000, two Turkish children were seriously injured after they jumped off balconies pretending to be Pokémon characters, which as you probably know are animated creatures with special abilities. The incidents prompted Turkey’s health minister to call on TV stations to stop airing Pokémon cartoons, and replace them with other shows for children.
According to ABC news, on November 27 of 2000, a 7-year-old girl named Seda Aykanat broke her leg on when she leaped from her balcony on the fifth floor, allegedly thinking she had superhuman powers like a Pokémon. This was the second case of a child mimicking Pokémon in Turkey. A 4-year-old boy also hurt himself in a similar jump earlier.
The health minister, Osman Durmus, asked experts from his ministry to examine the impact of Pokémon cartoons on children. After conducting an investigation the experts reported that the cartoons made children lose touch with reality. They believed that Turkish children were being confused by how Pokémon portrayed both good and bad heroes. They also concluded that it made them less sensitive to violence.
The experts advised that the cartoons and trading cards should not be encouraged, but also not banned outright, as this could make them more appealing to children. Durmus proposed that Turkish television and stores should slowly reduce the amount of time Pokémon was shown on TV, and the amount of products sold in stores, in hopes that children would slowly forget it, without noticing it was banned.
Not many people know about the story behind Pokémon getting banned in Turkey, how there was an alleged mental health crisis connected to the decision.
It would be interesting to see what an interview with Seda Aykanat would be like, considering she is now around 30 years old. In some ways she was the main catalyst the spurred the movement to ban Pokémon in Turkey.