*Trigger Warning: Suicide. Self Harm. Overgrown Millennial Nerds.*
Konnichiwa! Bonjour! Oi! Hey you! Yeah you, Straight Outta Kanto! What d’ya think you’re doing still playing Pokémon!? You’re an adult! Pokémon is a children’s game! But… what if the only safe time to play Pokémon is as an adult? What, you think that’s an excuse to be a giant over-sized child of a nerd? Nah-uh! Pokémon is DANGEROUS for children, haven’t you ever heard of… Lavender Town Syndrome!?
Let me paint you a picture, dear readers. It’s the mid-to-late nineties. “Pocket Monsters” is the hit new Nintendo Game boy craze in Japan, soon to explode globally and change Western Pop Culture forever. The first two Japanese Pokémon games Red and Green are being gobbled up by wee kiddies everywhere. Choosing their partner Pokémon, playing with balls and naming their rival “ass hat” and “butt face”. Fun, innocent times. Until… they reach the part of the game where they arrive in… Lavender Town.
Lavender Town. Ruining childhoods since 1996.
Lavender Town is a sleepy little village at the foot of Rock Tunnel, inhabited by… GHOSTS! It’s main architectural point of interest is the Pokémon graveyard “Pokémon Tower.” Not only does that change things up in the lore because if there’s a Pokémon graveyard, that means your furry little friends can die. Bit heavy for a “children’s” game. Not only that, the Tower is completely haunted by menacing ghost sprites determined to banish you from the building.
AS WELL (yes, it gets worse!) The building is plagued with traditional Japanese Shinto style exorcists who are all displaying the behaviors of persons possessed by spirits. These possessed exorcists make various demands for your blood and your soul. Cheerful!
ON TOP OF THAT.
The chief ghost of Pokémon Tower is in fact the restless, vengeful spirit of a murdered Pokémon Marowak. Marowak was murdered for profit by the evil Team Rocket, much to her child, Cubone’s, latent distress. So… dead friends, dead mothers, exorcists, ghosts… It can’t get worse, can it?
It’s the Lavender Town musical score that is the primary cause for concern and the fuel behind a decade or more of urban legends and creepypastas. The theme that plays throughout the town is deeply eerie and unsettling to begin with. Perfect atmosphere for a haunted AF town.
Rumour has it. In the original Japanese Red and Green versions of the Pokémon the initial Lavender Town theme score contained secret binaural notes only perceptible to children under the age of twelve. These binaural beats were allegedly included to subconsciously add a heightened level of terror in the children playing, giving old Lavender Town that extra spooky kick.
Unfortunately, these supposed binaural notes worked a little too well. Any child who played the game and heard these secret notes were driven mad and compelled to commit suicide by exceptionally vile and gruesome methods. Dismemberment and self-immolation are the most common methods of suicide associated with this urban legend. Those who were purported to have died were claimed to have suffered from “Lavender Town Syndrome.”
The notes were removed from later edits of the game and the original scores never made it over in the Western versions of Pokémon Red and Green, which in the West was Red, and, Green became Blue. The west never received a version of the Japanese Pokémon Blue.
Of course, Game Freak and Nintendo would never have actually put suicide-inducing binaural notes in to their video game scores. There’s no denying the music of Lavender Town is freaky, but this ultimately is just a very sick, albeit intriguing urban legend.
It’s almost impossible to find the origins of this urban legend. However, it’s fair to say that the Easter Egg of you having possibly killed your rival’s Raticate and landing them in the Lavender Town Pokémon Tower and the fact that the Lavender Town theme was played as the background to the viral “Hypno’s Lullaby” video on YouTube in the noughties are most likely contributing factors.
If you feel like never sleeping again, there are videos on the internet of the “original” binaural note filled version of the Lavender Town theme, as well as a version of the score played BACKWARDS.
Sweet screams, I mean, dreams! And one more thing… that white hand on your shoulder… it’s not real…
Straight Outta Kanto is the nerdy nom de plume of international horror-shock musician, illustrator and radio personality Venus de Vilo.
Straight Outta Kanto is a podcast and review blog dedicated to bringing it’s audience the warped and weirdest in nerd culture, nightmare fuel and 90s/00s nostalgia.
Champion of the Shurikon 2018 Pokémon League competition, certified VGC Dragon Gym Leader and CEO of Pokémon Fan Club Ireland, Straight Outta Kanto is an unapologetic otaku and psychotic J-Horror fanatic.