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Kadabra, the Psi Pokémon, has not been found on a Pokémon Trading Card for almost two decades, and the reason why is more than a little strange.
It's the middle stage of the Abra line, and evolves into Alakazam when traded between players. Even when used while unevolved, Kadabra is able to be a formidable entry to any lineup, with the ability to learn Counter and its Magic Guard ability, which will ward off even the most powerful physical attacking Pokémon. The defining trait of the Pokémon is its spoon, and according to the Pokédex, its psychic abilities are diminished significantly should it ever lose its prized possession.
All Pokémon have names that tie into some element of their personality or appearance. Some of these names are very straightforward, for example, Spheal is a spherical seal. With regard to the Abra line, the Japanese names riff off of famous mystics in the real world, so Abra's Japanese name relates to Edgar Cayce, a psychic who could place himself under self-induced trances. Alakazam is named Foodin in the Japanese version of the game, which is a reference to Jean-Eugène Robert-Houdin or Harry Houdini.
Kadabra's Japanese name is Yungerer, and it plays on Uri Geller, an illusionist and psychic who is well-known for his apparent ability to bend spoons with his powers. When Geller caught on about this caricature of himself in a children's fantasy game, he was not very happy. "Nintendo turned me into an evil, occult Pokémon character. Nintendo stole my identity by using my name and my signature image," he said when he sued Nintendo in 2000. The claims also included criticisms of Kadabra's design, specifically the star on its face and the lightning bolts on its chest.
This was interpreted to be a reference to the Schutzstaffel soldiers of Nazi Germany, who were responsible for the deaths of Jewish people during the Holocaust. Geller is of Jewish heritage, and condemned Pokémon and Nintendo. "I want to tell the world before the start of the holiday season that I have nothing whatsoever to do with these violent characters," he said. Eight years later, Pokémon anime director and storyboard artist Masamitsu Hidaka revealed that the court case had not reached a resolution at that point, and that this is why Kadabra has not appeared on a Pokémon TCG card since 2003.
Funnily enough, this hasn't impacted the game hugely. Though there are only seven different versions of Kadabra in Pokémon TCG, the designers worked out a way of circumventing the need for Kadabra if one wanted to use an Alakazam in a game. A special Abra card (from the Mysterious Treasures set) allows the Pokémon to skip over its Basic evolution, and transform immediately into Alakazam.
Now that the lawsuit has likely been laid to rest, will Kadabra return to Pokémon TCG? It's doubtful. After the strenuous and extensive legal action that occurred almost twenty years ago, The Pokémon Company is not going to want to seek that out once again. Still, it's a peculiar part of the series' history, and an interesting story.
Featured Image Credit: The Pokemon Company
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