What's Up With 'I Like Shorts!' Kid? Pokémon's Aggressive NPC, Explained
Over nine generations of Pokémon games, players would be forgiven for not remembering the dialogue of every single NPC who catches the player's eye and challenges them to a battle. However, for anyone old enough to have played Pokémon Red or Blue, there's one line of introductory dialogue they're guaranteed to remember: "I like shorts! They're comfy and easy to wear!"
For years, this little rascal amused players with his enthusiasm for shorts, to the point where he became one of Pokémon's longest-running memes. Even though the Pokémon games aren't exactly known for their writing, Shorts Boy's complete non-sequitur sticks out. However, there's some context behind this memorable outburst that at least partially explains why this line made its way into the game.
Where Does "I Like Shorts, They're Comfy And Easy To Wear" Come From?
Pokémon is full of NPC trainers who are, more or less, stock characters defined by one trait, and their pre-battle dialogue will usually fit in with that trait. For example, the Swimmer-type NPC will maybe tease the trainer for surfing instead of swimming, and the Hex Maniac will say something spooky and threatening in preparation for battle. Our "Shorts Kid" is a part of the "Youngster" NPC class — at least in the West.
According to Clyde Mandelin of Legends of Localization, it turns out that in Japan, the "Youngster" NPC class actually has the name "たんパンこぞう" (pronounced "tanpan kozō"), which roughly translates to, literally, "Shorts Kid," and is more Japanese slang for a rascal-y type of character. That partially explains why the localizers decided to name the NPC type "Youngster." It achieves the same basic function as "たんパンこぞう."
Furthermore, in the original Japanese version of the game, the line translates as "Shorts are nice and easy to move around in! Why don’t you wear some too?" As far as battle cries go, this is hardly intimidating, but it does feel less out-of-place than it does in the West's version, where it appears a random NPC is running up to the player to tell them about his love of shorts. It's more in line with a Swimmer NPC making a comment about their bathing suit pre-battle.
Of course, all that was lost in translation when Pokémon made its way to the English-speaking world, and one of the game's legendary memes was born.
How Has "I Like Shorts" Been Memed Over The Years?
As "I like shorts" is an older meme, most of the memes from its time in the spotlight utilize older formats, like Demotivational Posters and Rage Comics.
It was also commonly skewered in video game webcomics (remember when those were a thing?) and became cemented as a reference only a true Pokémon fan would get. Nintendo clearly recognized the fandom the line had and made sure to include it in future remakes of the first generation of Pokémon games.
Of course, the meme's time in the spotlight ended long ago and could now be considered part of the franchise's meme hall of fame, a sort of Pokémon version of "all your base." As today's whippersnappers and たんパンこぞう go around making memes out of new 'mons and attractive NPCs, Shorts Kid will remain Pokémon's godfather meme from a simpler time.
For more information, check out the Know Your Meme entry for I like shorts! They're comfy and easy to wear!
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