Pokemon is Science Fiction, just deal with it. It’s set in a parallel world, it’s got time travel, they’ve got limited teleportation, human cloning, and limited anti-gravity. It just is. Granted, it’s inconsistent, SF-lite, but it *is* SF. Moving on:
As anybody knows, the most ubiquitous aspect of tech in the Pokemon world is the Pokeball, a gumball-sized device, when activated it expands to the size of a baseball. When it touches a pokemon, it opens, the pokemon turns to a light that goes into the pokeball, the ball closes, and that’s that. When the trainer wants the pokemon to come out, he just throws the ball, we get the light, and the pokemon is back. He returns the same way. Pokeballs are used as storage devices for animals.
There are limitations: One Pokemon to a Pokeball, and once a Pokemon has a ball of his own, he can’t go into another one, nor can another go into his. Humans, apparently, can’t go into poke balls. Just the same, the tech behind this is never explained any more than a Western tends to explain what a horse is: It’s just taken for granted.
So how does a Pokeball work? Well, in Star Trek we’re told that a transporter works by converting people to energy, transmitting the energy, and re-assembling it at your destination. (Whether or not this is a bad idea will be discussed elsewhere). My hunch is that the Pokeball is based on the same concept, only with this variation: It doesn’t actually *Transmit* you anywhere. Instead of a Molecular Transmitter, it’s a Molecular Storage Device.
You throw the ball, it converts the target to energy, then records that and just stores it. When you open it, it re-assembles the Pokemon, but it doesn’t *transmit* anything anywhere in between.
Ok, so far so good, but we’ve seen repeatedly that Pokemon can come out of their balls when they want to. If you’re stored as energy, it’s effectively suspended animation. There shouldn’t be any awareness of the passage of time, so how does it work? Perhaps it’s an emergency thing - sensors let the Pokemon out when its master is in danger. This might be the case. Wobbuffet from Team Rocket comes out more-or-less at random, suggesting that its pokeball is damaged. In other cases, however, Pokemon apparently choose to come out in reaction to something going on in the episode.
This implies awareness of the outside world. Likewise, Pikachu has only been in a Pokeball once (First episode), and refuses to ever go back in, even under great duress. Again, if this was just suspended data storage, he shouldn’t have any kind of issue with it: He shouldn’t notice time passing. This implies that time *does* pass inside, and that the Pokemon have some kind of awareness of the outside world. And that Pikachu finds this unpleasant, though the other Pokemon seem indifferent to it, and some seem to treat their Pokeballs like a familiar doghouse.
This, then, implies active data storage, rather than a simple recording: The pokemon is running as an active simulation inside the ball, which updates its ’energy pattern’ so that when it’s reconstituted, its virtual memories and experiences are included alongside its ’real world’ ones. It also implies some kind of real-time sensory apparatus on the Pokeball, feeding into the virtual active data storage world, since Pokemon seem aware of what’s going on outside.
Why does Pikachu hate this? Dunno. Perhaps he just dislikes being so vulnerable. Perhaps the artificiality of it bristles him. Perhaps he gets transporter sick, I dunno.
The other option is that the Pokeball is just a node for a transporter network: a Pokemon is captured, transmitted to a huge computer somewhere, and then transmitted back to the poke ball when needed. Sensory info would be transmitted along with it. After transmission, the Pokemon would virtually roam around in super mega poke happy funtime land until they’re called out again. This reduces the amount of magical tech we need to cram into the ball, and it also explains the one ball/one pokemon thing: It’s something like a cellphone: it’s only meant for one person.
The inability to catch people in Pokeballs is presumably simply a safety feature.