Anime physics is a fanon term used to describe all the unusual, impossible, and sometimes absurd moments in the anime where real-world physics do not seem to apply. At times, the term can also be used to describe when an attack works differently in the anime than it would in the games. Some common examples are unusual feats of strength and agility, surviving lethal attacks, and the magic satchel theory, sometimes called hammerspace (the ability to hold innumerable items in one bag).
Anime physics are often caused by several factors. Inconsistencies in animation, such as objects changing size in-between scenes or even single video frames, are usually the result of unintentional mistakes on the animators' part. Some mistakes, such as characters frequently having different heights throughout an episode or show (without specific reason), are simply the result of a lack of skill or care on the animators' part.
Deviations from standard laws defined in the real world are common in some genres of animation, in this case, the Pokémon anime. Characters may sustain damage that normally would result in mortal injuries or immediate death, but instead are simply left soot-covered (in the case of explosions or incineration), disheveled, or fatigued. Characters may not age, whether or not time does actually pass within the fictional universe. In the Pokémon universe, main characters often mention weeks, months, or even a year to have passed, but themselves do not age. Ash Ketchum, who at his debut was confirmed to be 10 years old, remains at the age of 10 to this day, despite the fact that episodes occasionally state weeks to have passed since the previous one.
Some phenomena that appear in the anime (as well as the entire Pokémon canon) are impossible in real-world physics.
- Poké Balls change in size and convert Pokémon to and from a plasma-like substance (the Pokémon retains its consciousness in this state).
- Whenever a character throws a Poké Ball they usually throw it forward, but once the Pokémon is released the ball falls back down as if thrown up.
- Moves like Water Gun are depicted as spitting water, but usually the Pokémon spits much more water than its body could hold.
- In Mass Hip-Po-Sis!, Hippopotas initially doesn't weigh down Team Rocket's balloon, but he does so after using Sand Tomb. This means the move creates the sand out of nothing.
- In the anime, many things explode. Most attacks explode when they connect with an opposing attack, even if the attacks would not normally do so (even, and some would say especially, inert, non-volatile substances such as leaves or water).
- During some of the battles in the anime, the Pokémon stay in the air longer than usual despite their weight, either when using attacks or receiving attacks (not including Pokémon that fly naturally). This is evident in Dealing With Defensive Types! when Ash's Chimchar battles against Byron's Bronzor and actually can be seen floating.
- On a similar note, many attacks do not move at the speed they normally would (or should), sometimes even leaving enough time for characters to have a three or four sentence conversation. An example is in Jumping Rocket Ship!. Barry has his Empoleon use Hydro Pump a few seconds before Ash's Chimchar uses Flamethrower, and they clash in the exact middle of the battlefield. This could just mean that that Flamethrower accelerates much quicker, but before the attacks even collide, Jessie gets in several lines of dialogue.
- In Like It or Lup It!, Dawn's Piplup uses Bubble Beam while spinning in the air. Defying the laws of physics, Piplup manages to "float" in the air while releasing the bubbles which spin around Piplup when Bubble Beam is supposed to travel in a straight direction, not floating around slowly.
- In almost every episode, Jessie, James, and Meowth manage to get launched hundreds of feet into the air, sometimes crashing through the roof of a building or a cave wall, by various means (usually a Pokémon attack). However, others standing near them will not be moved or even affected, and Team Rocket never get too hurt from the flight, which would surely kill a normal person. They also are in a stationary position during the first part of their flight, and then start suddenly spinning, normally after making a humorous comment.
- In Training Daze, Team Rocket is already flying when the episode starts and they don't land during the episode.
- Similarly, in Cerulean Blues, Misty is struck by numerous Poison Sting attacks, but suffers no lasting injuries. Also, the Invincible Pokémon Brothers are blasted through the Gym's roof by a Hyper Beam, yet can still be heard to make a comment as they fly off.
- Characters throughout the anime have repeatedly been shown to take attacks such as Thunderbolt (the Japanese name meaning 100,000 Volts), and Flamethrower with no long-lasting harmful effects, though there are obvious problems with this in the real world.
- One example of this is in The Ninja Poké-Showdown, where Brock is shown to survive taking one of Charmander's Flamethrower to the face. Less than ten seconds after the attack he is shown looking perfectly fine with the attack not even damaging his clothes. These types of scenes often are like this one in that they are intended to be humorous.
- However, this is not always the case. For example, in Lessons in Lilycove, when May was almost attacked by her Combusken's Fire Spin, people were very worried about her.
- Pokémon often disobey Newton's Third Law: attacks, such as Hyper Beam, that blast the target backwards do nothing of the sort to the user. This is especially notable with flying or levitating Pokémon, which cannot even brace themselves against the ground.
- In An Elite Coverup!, Team Rocket's Mime Jr. can be seen running on top of Wobbuffet while staying in place. This would be impossible because then Mime Jr. would run in Wobbuffet's inertial reference frame and increase speed in respect to Wobbuffet.
- Whenever Team Rocket has prop decoys such as a fake building to hide away from pursuers, the building always decreases in height after it falls so that the pursuers are not crushed.
- In Shell Shock!, James is knocked off a cliff by a giant boulder. He is later seen to be perfectly fine with no hint of the fall.
- Ash and his friends seem to have an unlimited amount of space in their bags or pockets, especially Brock, Cilan, and Clemont, from sleeping bags to cookware to machinery.
- This was played for laughs as early as The School of Hard Knocks, when Ash and Misty watch in disbelief as Brock produces a full dining set out of his bag. This comes complete with a table, chairs, and fine china in perfect condition.
- Cilan appears to keep a table, chairs, and a miniature kitchen complete with tableware in his backpack.
- Clemont's backpack contains thousands upon thousands of his inventions, some of which are even too big to fit inside an ordinary backpack.
- In A Tent Situation, Tracey brings out around 40-50 sketchbooks to show to Professor Oak and then puts them back in the same bag that they should not have fit into in the first place.
- Dawn's Piplup is never seen holding the Everstone he was given in Stopped in the Name of Love!, yet its effects remain. Even then, it could be that the Everstone is now linked to Piplup, though as of JN075, it's unknown whether this is permanent or not.
Move and type effectiveness errors
- Many times when Ash's Pikachu fights a Ground-type Pokémon, he uses an Electric-type move and still causes damage.
- Since the beginning of Pokémon the Series: Diamond and Pearl, however, Electric-type attacks have been consistently shown to have no effect on Ground-type Pokémon.
- May's Squirtle attacked and damaged Harley's Banette with Tackle in New Plot, Odd Lot, despite Ghost-types' immunity to Normal-type attacks.
- In multiple instances, Shadow Ball is able to hit Normal-type Pokémon, despite being a Ghost-type attack.
- Pokémon without Sturdy survive one-hit knockout moves, like Horn Drill, without fainting.
- Some non-damaging attacks cause damage to the Pokémon being attacked, such as Brandon's Dusclops using Will-O-Wisp.
- Safeguard has been able to protect against attacks instead of status problems.
- Light Screen has been able to block physical attacks, even though it usually only affects special attacks.
- Similarly, Counter has been shown to block special attacks, even though in the games it only affects physical attacks.
- Psychic-type moves have persistently been shown to affect Dark-type Pokémon, even though Dark-type Pokémon are immune to the effects of damaging Psychic-type moves.
- In The Blue Badge of Courage, Psyduck uses Confusion on a Poochyena that belongs to the Gym Badge thieves.
- In Zoroark: Master of Illusions, Karl's Bronzor levitated Zorua with Psychic. As a Dark-type Pokémon, Zorua is immune to Psychic-type moves.
- In Seeking Shelter from the Storm, James's Inkay was affected by a wild Espurr's Psychic.
- In Facing the Grand Design!, the bad Malamar's Psychic and the good Malamar's Psycho Cut affected James's Inkay and the bad Malamar respectively.
- In An Explosive Operation!, James's Inkay's Psybeam affected Mable's Weavile.
- Swift, a move that cannot miss in the games, was dodged twice in the anime: first by a Weavile who avoided Swift from Ash's Aipom in Duels of the Jungle, second by Elesa's Zebstrika in Enter Elesa, Electrifying Gym Leader!.
- Aerial Ace, another move which cannot miss, has been avoided by other Pokémon several times.
- In The Grass-Type Is Always Greener!, Ash's Turtwig was affected when Gardenia's Turtwig used Leech Seed on it, even though Grass-type Pokémon are immune to the effects of Leech Seed.
- In Noodles! Roamin' Off!, a Metagross was damaged by Seviper's Poison Tail, even though Steel-type Pokémon are immune to Poison-type moves.
- In the Japanese opening V (Volt), Pikachu was seen using Quick Attack on a Honedge, visibly causing damage. A Normal-type attack should not have caused damage to a Ghost-type Pokémon like Honedge.
Other conflicts with the games
- The weight of some Pokémon is sometimes ignored in the anime:
- Ash was able to pick up Larvitar despite it weighing 158.7 lb (72 kg), according to game data. He also carried a Hippopotas on his back, amounting to 109.1 lb (49.5 kg) of weight bearing down on his head and neck. Later, he held Nebby in his hands as a Cosmoem, despite its weight of 2204.4 lbs (999.9 kg). Similarly, May's Beautifly has often landed on people's heads with no adverse effects despite the species weighing 62.6 lb (28.4 kg). In Get Your Rotom Running!, Dawn was able to hold her Piloswine on her back despite it weighing 123 lb (55.8 kg).
- In Sweet Baby James, Jessie picks up May's Munchlax and puts it in a bag, despite it weighing over 231 lb (105 kg). In Off the Unbeaten Path, Max was able to carry Munchlax on his back.
- In Going for a Spinda, Brock not only lifts Forretress one-handed despite it weighing 277.3 lb (125.8 kg), but also pitches it high enough for it to land into the mouth of a giant Spinda mecha.
- Iris's Axew is 39.7 lbs (18.0 kg) and is able to ride in her hair.
- In Showdown at the Shalour Gym!, Ash easily holds up his arm with his 35.3 lb (16 kg) Fletchinder perched on it.
- The anime often makes Pokémon bigger than the games say they are. This is especially common for species of which there is only one, like Groudon and Kyogre.
- In the anime, certain Water-type Pokémon like Goldeen, Carvanha, and Sharpedo cannot be used by Trainers in battle without being in a body of water, unlike how they seem to float over the ground in the games, specifically the 3D games. This has lessened in prominence in more recent years, with Pokémon such as Elesa's Tynamo and the Sharpedo used by Levi and Cherie in Volcanion and the Mechanical Marvel floating over the land as they do in the games.
- In Second Time's the Charm!, Ash recalled his Corphish and sent it right back out in the same turn to cure its confusion, which is impossible in the games.