jessie & james of pokemon jessie & james of pokemon

Character Study: James

Basic Features

  • Passive/submissive
  • Idealist
  • Easily despondent
  • Multi-talented but lacks direction/planning
  • Supportive of others' plans
  • Lacks confidence without leadership
  • Likes equal teamwork, not enslavement
  • Soft-hearted, gullible
  • Always running away from problems

Pokémon On Hand (Kanto/Orange Islands)




In Depth

James, by most fans' estimation, is the weaker half of the Team Rocket duo; historically, he's run away from everything that even remotely frightens him, and whines when things are tough. But there is a strange sort of courage in his decision to leave the luxury of his childhood--instead of bowing and submitting to his parents' will for his destiny, he chooses to leave everything he loves (including his beloved Growlithe) to seek a life truer to himself. This choice, initially born out of his privileged mindset, leads him down a difficult road, eventually into crime-for-pay with Team Rocket...which means that the spoiled, arrogant little boy learns quickly that others have a much harder life than he has ever led.

In battle during the Kanto and Orange Islands seasons, James favors Pokémon who provide enough cover and distraction for him or his team to get away or for attacks to be more damaging. Indeed, most of his choices, even though he works for the "bad guys," look more like heroic if he can't quite bring himself to be as dastardly as Team Rocket would have him be. Also, his Pokémon's first evolutions generally seem deceptively less powerful, until they evolve the second time! (Thinking primarily of Magikarp and Gyarados here, though Koffing and Weepinbell sort of fall into this category, too.) Note that James also collects more Pokémon than Jessie even in the first two seasons of the show, and all his Pokémon evolve under his care; he is actually quite nurturing and gentle, which is pleasantly surprising in a male character.

James is a relatable character because he searches for autonomy, due to the deep fear of being trapped into a life he cannot own (again). Though he's a shyer, quieter type, that doesn't mean he doesn't have his own opinions--but instead of confronting his abusers, he runs, because he is ultimately a pleaser personality and does not want to cause more conflict. But, in running away, he is also making a courageous choice to distance himself from controlling forces, and to live a life more authentic to his own wants and desires, even if that life takes him away from wealth and power. In that way, he is braver, perhaps, than either Jessie or Meowth could understand.

Could He Ever Be a True Hero?

Because of his upbringing and his nature, James has skills in lots of areas; he's especially good at disguises, drama/storytelling, and raising loyal Pokémon. These talents could be put to use in good ways--but, since he's basically in hiding from his family, he prefers the shadows and working for Team Rocket. At least there he is somewhat ordering his own destiny. But, when given the opportunity, James inadvertently proves there is a heroic side to him, so I definitely think he could be a hero if and when he chooses to be.

Character Songs

I selected "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" by Green Day, "Special" by MEW, and "Perfect" by Simple Plan to represent James. "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" represents James' loneliness and the bleak outlook he often has on life (usually after Team Rocket has blasted off again). "Special" is a quiet, observant song, using lots of repetition, the speaker's startling clarity of vision about his beloved, and a lulling melody (though I admit, the line "you're a rocket through me" did influence my decision to put it in this list, LOL!). And lastly, "Perfect" by Simple Plan accurately describes the struggles James has with his parents.

"Boulevard of Broken Dreams" | "Special" | "Perfect"

Boulevard of Broken Dreams - Green Day (lyrics)

I walk a lonely road
The only one that I have ever known
Don't know where it goes
But it's home to me and I walk alone

I walk this empty street
On the Boulevard of Broken Dreams
Where the city sleeps
And I'm the only one and I walk alone

[Bridge] I walk alone
I walk alone
I walk alone
I walk a...

[Chorus] My shadow's the only one that walks beside me
My shallow heart's the only thing that's beating
Sometimes I wish someone out there will find me
'Til then I walk alone

Ah-ah, ah-ah, ah-ah, aaah-ah,
Ah-ah, ah-ah, ah-ah

I'm walking down the line
That divides me somewhere in my mind
On the border line
Of the edge and where I walk alone

Read between the lines
Of what's f---ed up and everything's all right
Check my vital signs
To know I'm still alive and I walk alone



Ah-ah, ah-ah, ah-ah, aaah-ah
Ah-ah, ah-ah
I walk alone
I walk a...

[Guitar Break]

I walk this empty street
On the Boulevard of Broken Dreams
Where the city sleeps
And I'm the only one and I walk a...


Special - MEW (lyrics)

[1st Verse] You're special
You're like a rocket through me
Ohh, you're special
You're a rocket to me
And I cannot this time

[2nd Verse] Agarina
You can't say no
This time you will go

[1st Verse]

[3rd Verse] There's a taste that you can't shake
But you can't seem to let them go awry
I know you're special
You're a rocket to me
At this surprised
All the time

[Bridge] I know what you said to me
And I don't care at the same time
But I'll take you up and down
Address it to you

[1st Verse]

[3rd Verse]

[2nd Verse]


I know what you said to me
And I don't care at the same time
And what do you stay to do?
I saw the worst of you...

Perfect - Simple Plan (lyrics)

Hey dad look at me
Think back and talk to me
Did I grow up according to plan?
And do you think I'm wasting my time doing things I wanna do?
But it hurts when you disapprove all along

And now I try hard to make it
I just wanna make you proud
I'm never gonna be good enough for you
Can't pretend that I'm alright<
And you can't change me

[Chorus] 'Cause we lost it all
Nothing lasts forever
I'm sorry, I can't be perfect
Now it's just too late
And we can't go back
I'm sorry, I can't be perfect

I try not to think
About the pain I feel inside
Did you know you used to be my hero?
All the days you spent with me now seem so far away
And it feels like you don't care anymore

And now I try hard to make it
I just wanna make you proud
I'm never gonna be good enough for you
I can't stand another fight
And nothing's alright


Nothing's gonna change the things that you said
Nothing's gonna make this right again (right again)
Please don't turn your back
I can't believe it's hard
Just to talk to you
But you don't understand (you don't understand)

[Chorus x2]