It may be a small town in eastern Kanto, but nevertheless Lavender Town plays a big part in the main story of the first generation games and their remakes. When you think of Lavender Town, the first thing that comes to mind is the Pokémon Tower, which is basically the only interesting building within the town’s borders. This multi-floor graveyard is one of the many towers in the Pokémon world (each region has at least one of them), but it is notable in a couple of ways.
Not only is it the only location in Kanto where Ghost type Pokémon can be found, which in the games have to be identified with the Silph Scope in order to be battled, it is also one of the few places in the Pokémon world that holds a wild uncatchable Pokémon. The other example is the encounter with Black or White Kyurem in Pokémon Black 2 or White 2 respectively. The only difference is that Poké Balls could still be used to try to capture the ghost Marowak, but they would instantly fail, even Master Balls.
You may have heard about this disorder called the Lavender Town Syndrome. It is described as the cause of the reported child suicides that took place around the time Pokémon Red and Green were released in Japan in many creepypasta stories. Supposedly the background music of Lavender Town, which was already creepy enough by itself, hypnotized young children and controlled them to jump off buildings. The details on what exactly happened and who was behind it differ between versions. I can recommend you to look them up if you’re into this type of stories or just want to read something plainly weird. (Read more about the Lavender Town Syndrome here.)
Now why Lavender Town out of all locations of Kanto, why pin Pokémon games at all, as the background of these unfortunate happenings? What is so special about said town? We asked around on the PokéCommunity forums; here are some opinions.
It’s definitely this music that is said to mind control little children that has a major role in the typical creepy Lavender Town atmosphere, so says Hiidoran.
That music still creeps me out, that’s for sure.
The whole nature of that town was just so different from the feel of the other towns and cities, welcomed or not. I liked the deviation from the happy, whimsical music the other towns had given the player up until that point. It was kind of a hallowing moment to realize even the world of Pokémon had a place of solitude and reverence.
DePyro can only agree to this, a game wouldn’t be a game without its music.
If you ask 1000 people I guarantee the biggest and most common factor people will have towards Lavender Town is the music. Let’s face it, an “epic” movie isn’t epic without an orchestral fanfare fight scene and a horror film isn’t a horror without awkward chords during high stress periods. Sound is a big factor in what sets the mood to a memory our brains base memories off of senses.
But the music didn’t do everything by itself. The general setting of the town was completely different from the rest of the Kanto region, according to Melody, and not in a positive way.
Lavender Town did actually strike me as a bit excessively morbid and creepy for the game. Like the fact that they talk at all about the concept of death in a children’s video game struck me as odd. But then again I do feel like that’s part of the charm of the original game. It feels like a lot of work was put into it.
illumine agrees completely. The playing experience suddenly takes a turn when the player enters Lavender Town, where you’re thrown into a graveyard out of nothing.
The first games, after handing you a Pokémon, then sent you off – and notice how people frequently named their characters after themselves, so there’s personal identification here – then sent you off to a ‘Pokémon graveyard,’ and then having so extracted away the companions to leave you alone, as in a weird horror thing, throws in ghosts who can also not be fought – so that it’s effectively saying that your Pokémon are now unable to move, in this place, and this is the area – before you are told to stop by a ghostly Marowak, and the player is supposed to just run wildly into these things. So, like, ‘Hey, [your name], look at the dead Pokémon, now here are some ghosts all of a sudden to meet you.’
Not everybody was scared by the spooky town of Kanto though, Noa for one actually enjoyed the place.
You know, even as a six year old I was never ~too~ spooked by Lavender Town. In fact I thought it was quite beautiful that they addressed the concept of remembering your beloved Pokémon in death, and the Marowak story really touched me, even moving me to tears when I helped Marowak move on to the afterlife.
To this day, it’s one of my favorite towns. I especially love the town’s theme as well as the Pokémon Tower’s theme.
Edited by Astinus and bobandbill.
Images courtesy of The Pokémon Company.