Team Skull

Team Skull grunts.

Well, I finally got my act together and reviewed every Pokémon from generation VII, but we’re not done yet.  While I was reviewing the Pokémon of Unova, I wrote a series on Pokémon’s villains – Team Rocket, Teams Aqua and Magma, Team Galactic and Team Plasma.  Those articles… are fine.  I mean, they’re not bereft of insight, but they’re from the first six months of this blog’s life and they’re far from the most interesting things I’ve ever written.  Having written those, though, it seemed only logical that after finishing the Kalos Pokédex I should write about Team Flare and Lysandre, and that one holds up much better in retrospect.  Which means that now… well, where would we be if I didn’t write about Team Skull (and, after them, the Aether Foundation)?  My Team Flare review focused pretty heavily on Lysandre himself and his beliefs, because his characterisation is very important to the plot of X and Y and central to how I understood and reacted to a lot of the events of those games.  That’s probably going to be true of my upcoming piece on the Aether Foundation as well, which I anticipate will concentrate on Lusamine, but I think Team Skull demands a different approach.  The two named characters of Team Skull, Guzma and Plumeria, do matter, but Team Skull’s story isn’t really about either of them, in my opinion; it’s about Team Skull as a group, with Guzma and Plumeria exemplifying different facets of that group’s values and experiences.  So let’s talk about that. 

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A Pokémon Trainer Is You! II: For Real This Time, ‘Cause You’re Getting A Pokémon!

Last time, on A Pokémon Trainer Is You:

Are you a boy or a girl?
– Yes

What are your special skills?
– Compassion: You are less of a $#!tbag than most kids your age, allowing you to empathise with people and Pokémon, and intuit their desires or concerns.
– Science: You hang around Professor Oak’s lab a lot, and have picked up a lot of debatably useful trivia about everything from astronomy to marine biology.
– Tactics: You watch televised Pokémon battles obsessively.  You know Pokémon type advantages by heart, and know how certain moves can be used in creative ways.

What is your rival’s name?
– I think it’s like a colour or something

Okay, let’s get on with it!

You’re at Professor Oak’s lab, ready for the beginning of the rest of your life!  The floor is tiled in pristine white – or at least, it used to be; they do a lot of experiments here and the cleaners can’t keep up.  You can still pick out most of the stains that are your fault.  Thick textbooks on Pokémon behaviour and anatomy line every wall and are scattered over most of the tables, complex machines with lots of enticing buttons litter the main room, and the lab assistants are that particular kind of dishevelled that says “we barely know how to feed and clothe ourselves, but give us grant money and we’ll work 36 hours a day!”  You nod cheerily to each of them as you pass.  You have a lot of fun memories in this place – culturing bacteria in Petri dishes, mixing chemicals to create violent colours and beautiful explosions, learning to predict the weather from air pressure measurements, helping the Professor’s assistants to draw up charts of Kantonian habitats and biomes.  It’s almost a shame to be leaving, but there’s so much to do out in the world: people and Pokémon to meet, natural phenomena to explore, battles to win!  Professor Oak is standing, magisterial and dignified, but with a kindly smile on his face, just next to a high bench with three glittering round objects.

Continue reading “A Pokémon Trainer Is You! II: For Real This Time, ‘Cause You’re Getting A Pokémon!”

Patch asks:

From now on you’ll have to sustain yourself on one type of Pokemon treat, e.g. beans, blocks, curry. Which one do you pick, and why?

Hmmmm… surely it’s gotta be the curry, right? Like, just nutrition-wise, I don’t know if anything else would have everything your body needed. Maybe the beans, but there’s only so much you can do with beans. Man cannot live on beans alone. Even rainbow sparkle beans. On the basis of what we’ve seen so far of Sword and Shield‘s curries, it seems like you can put a lot of different meats, spices and vegetables in there (including beans!). Now, unlimited Poképuffs in all the different flavours for the rest of my life? Sure, that sounds great. (Incidentally, one of these days I gotta try to make Poképuffs and write up a recipe) But Poképuffs and no other food for the rest of my life? You’d get to feeling pretty gross within a couple of days, I think, to say nothing of the iron deficiency that would set in after a few weeks.

jeffthelinguist asks:

So, as an archaeologist, can you answer the age old question of how much time needs to pass before grave robbing becomes archaeology? What’s the appropriate time period for looting the dead to become acceptable?

I’m assuming you’ve seen the screenshot of an archaeologist commenting, in answer to this question, that this is actually a super awkward and uncomfortable question?  I’m fortunate enough to work in an area where it doesn’t really come up much – we’re all pretty sure that two thousand years is comfortably in the safe zone.  Even then, though… it would be a mistake to think that archaeology can be a pure science, that our study of the past can remain detached from the present. It’s all grave robbing, in a way. The only difference is in how pure your motives are… which is a matter of perspective.

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A Pokémon Trainer Is You!

The day has finally come!  Having reached at last the ripe old age of [data not found], you are ready to leave Pallet Town all on your own and quest for glory!  A Pokémon trainer is you!  Your Pokémon legend is about to unfold!  Y’know, unless you get lost in the woods and starve to death.  That can happen.  I knew a guy once who that happened to.  Poor Larry.  Rest in peace, man.

Whatever, whatever.  You’ve gotta be at Professor Oak’s lab, kid!  You don’t want that other jerk to get a head start on you!

Remember, kid: this journey’s gonna be all about choices.  It’s a crazy world and it’s easy to run out of time, so you won’t always have a chance to go back and try everything, and you gotta make your decisions carefully.  Sometimes, especially if you get in a fight, you can try something that won’t be guaranteed to work, and you’ll have to use your head to decide what the best choice is.  But remember: trying new things and being creative probably won’t get you killed!  Larry… Larry was a special case; he was pretty dumb.

Oh, right; I was supposed to read the script.  Uh, something something, dreams and adventures, blah blah, let’s get going!

[Each week’s polls will remain open from Friday morning until Monday evening (US Eastern time).]

Herald of Opera asks:

Do you like penguins? (Same question goes for Jim the Editor; I always ask this whenever an opportunity for an unbounded question arises, including careless wording.) (Also, whenever speaking up in favor of Sword & Shield’s National Dex removal, I make sure to mention the absurdly slim chances of Piplup getting in as proof that it hurts me more than it probably hurts them)

Penguins are fµ¢£ing great (and this is our shared opinion, by the way).  They’re birds, but instead of flying they swim!  And on land they’re so waddly and dumb and cute, but in the water they’re so… so… M A J E S T I C.  Piplup remains to this day my favourite Water-type starter, for reasons that I’m not even going to pretend are based entirely in sober design analysis.  And there are gay penguin couples who adopt eggs and chicks, acting as aspirational figures for the LGBT community and filling the hearts of the entire world with warmth and fuzziness.  As long as we’re on penguins, I’m going to direct readers to the Instagram account of the National Aquarium of New Zealand in Napier, home of a colony of New Zealand’s native little blue penguins (scientifically proven to be the smollest and most adorable of all penguins), one of whom each month is designated “good penguin” or “naughty penguin of the month.”  And, of course, I would be doing you all a great disservice if I didn’t tell you that New Zealand is also where several of the oldest species of fossil penguins come from, some of them gigantic fossil penguins as tall as humans, like the new species Crossvallia waiparensis described just a few weeks ago from fossils found in Canterbury.

…so I guess what I’m saying is the answer to your question is “yes.”