Introduced to the US as a TV cartoon in September 1998, Pokemon generated an estimated 700 million dollars in retail sales in the following year. The weekly cartoon became the top-rated kid's TV show and the video 'Pokemon: Seaside Pikachu' topped the bestsellers list. Sociologists engage in serious debate about the educational value of kids' obsession with Pokemon cards. The logistics, tactics and pure arithmetic involved in pitting the various monsters, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, against each other certainly make kids use their brains. And the fact that the monsters don't die as a result of their battles - they just faint - is a welcome change from the usual cartoon carnage. But stories of schoolyard fights over cards and the kind of money changing hands - some cards are traded at over 100 dollars apiece - also cause concern.