The claim that Pokémon creator Satoshi Tajiri is autistic has been swirling for years at this point, to the point where it’s generally accepted as fact among fans of the franchise. More specifically, Tajiri is claimed to have Asperger Syndrome, a neurodevelopment disorder that’s typically characterised by difficulties with social interaction, along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviours and interests.
The latter characteristic has often been cited as the driving force behind the creation of Pokémon, which Tajiri has stated blossomed from his obsession with collection bugs in his youth.
Yet according to the popular YouTube channel DidYouKnowGaming, the claim has never been supported with any substantial evidence. In fact, the video (above) states that every known claim was either unsourced entirely or judged to be rather dubious.
The channel is so confident in its debunk of this widely-held belief that they are even willing to part with $350 if someone can “debunk their debunk”.
One of the main sources for the original claim comes from a 2009 biography titled ‘Satoshi Tajiri, Pokémon Creator’, authored by Lori Mortensen. When DidYouKnowGaming reached out to the author, she stated that her source at the time was a now-defunct MySpace page for Tajiri that clearly made reference to the ‘Aspie’ community. However, the book’s publisher chose to leave the source out of the final product as they felt that MySpace was inappropriate for younger readers. As such, when Mortensen checked the MySpace page a few years later, it no longer mentioned anything relating to Asperger Syndrome.
It can be assumed, then, that the original MySpace page could have been created by someone else, with Mortensen stating that she would handle the research and documentation differently were she to write the book today. DidYouKnowGaming even managed to grab a few remaining tidbits from the original MySpace page, and its content goes even further to casting doubts on its legitimacy; the favourite movies section, for example, states “I love movies but my favourite kind are of course the Pokémon ones my own creation because I’m cool like that”.
It’s well worth watching the full video above for a further deep dive into the subject. DidYouKnowGaming reached out to us to acknowledge the huge number of Pokémon fans with autism and specifically state that “this investigation wasn’t meant as a slight in any way, but just to clear up misinformation that’s been spreading for well over a decade”.
“It’s possible Tajiri is autistic, but if that’s the case, it appears he’d like to keep it private. Regardless, in light of these longstanding rumors, we thought it was proper to point out that no record exists of him ever saying he is.”