So, what I didn’t anticipate when I started doing this was that I would wind up talking about a lot of the same Pokémon over and over again. I am getting to the point where I have, quite honestly, said most of what I care to say about Celebi, Mew, Rayquaza and Mewtwo. If you’ve been reading this so far, you all know that I’m edgy about time travel but much less bothered by Celebi than I am by Dialga, you all know that I think Mew’s backstory is blatantly contradicted all over the place, you all know that I think Mewtwo’s angst is all about stuff that shouldn’t matter in-universe anyway, and you all know that I think Rayquaza deserves to die in a fire for replacing the climax of Emerald version with a massive deus ex machina. You can almost certainly guess for yourselves by now which way I’m going to vote in the two semi-final matchups.
This is why, instead of discussing what these Pokémon are like and which ones I prefer and what my reasons are, I’m going to do what I do best and MAKE STUFF UP!
Celebi vs. Mew
So, here is what we all know about Celebi. She is a time-traveller, supposedly from the future, who brings life and light to forests (she is particularly associated with the Ilex Forest in southern Johto), and appears only in times of peace. Stories say that she occasionally leaves mysterious eggs from another time in the deepest parts of the woods, and that “so long as Celebi appears, a bright and shining future awaits us.” My take on Celebi – which may or may not have any relation to what Game Freak actually had in mind – is that she is the ultimate self-fulfilling prophecy: a paradox being with the power to engineer the circumstances of her own birth at the end of time. Celebi brings back Pokémon eggs from the future in order to seed the world with the genes and species that will one day give rise to her own ancestors, while protecting and nurturing the forest ecosystems that will allow them to thrive. One such egg is her own, brought from the future and hidden deep within the Ilex Forest, which will one day be the place of her birth, and sustained through its millennia-long gestation by the vibrant energy of the entire living forest. Celebi dances through history in intricately choreographed steps, using her formidable psychic abilities to influence events, pushing war and industry away from her precious homeland while gently nudging the people of Johto towards veneration of nature. Occasionally she comes into contact with humans directly; occasionally she even decides she admires them and submits to capture, staying with them for years or even decades, learning to see the world through their eyes, until they either part ways with her or die, and she loops back on herself to continue her work. Far in the future, perhaps helped along by human genetic manipulation, a species of Pokémon will evolve that possesses an unusually intuitive sense of time, able to pick out the paths of causality and predict future events with a precision that would leave the dim-witted Psychic Pokémon of our era wide-eyed with amazement. Eventually they will develop the ability to make tiny hops through time, a few seconds forward to avoid an attack, or backward to undo a mistake. Under their descendant’s guidance, their powers will grow more phenomenal with every generation, ultimately giving rise to the impossible: the final prodigy who will take her own egg and travel back in time to ensure the sequence of events that led to the creation of her own species. That is the “bright and shining future” Celebi promises: the only possible version of history that culminates with the birth of the immortal guardian of the forest, who will always lead humanity into harmony with nature.
If Celebi is the end, Mew, of course, is the beginning. Most famous for being Mewtwo’s ‘mother,’ Mew is a mysterious Psychic Pokémon from South America, who was for a long time believed to be extinct, or simply nonexistent. It turned out, of course, that Mew not only did exist but possessed something akin to a genetic library of all other Pokémon species, an asset which gives her access to all of their powers. The scientists of the Pokémon world began to theorise that Mew was the common ancestor of all Pokémon, in flagrant defiance of the way evolution actually works (see this entry). We, of course, also know that Arceus was the first Pokémon and not Mew, and that his first creations were Dialga, Palkia and Giratina, followed by Uxie, Mesprit and Azelf. Moreover, we know that many Pokémon are unequivocally not descended from Mew, or from any other Pokémon: Grimer comes to mind. Given these facts, here’s my take on Mew. I believe I’ve mentioned before that I think of Mew as the first living thing created after Uxie, Mesprit and Azelf; her claim to fame, therefore, is that she is the first living thing with a complete soul: knowledge, emotion, and will. As for Mew’s ‘genetic library,’ my immediate thought is that she must have been ‘programmed’ in advance with the DNA of every species of Pokémon ordained by Arceus. I’m pretty sure that’s not what anyone ever had in mind, though, either for Mew or for Arceus; I am quite convinced that evolution (in the real-world sense) is supposed to be a thing in the Pokémon world. I want to define, then, a very different role for Mew: she really is a genetic library. Her special power – and, indeed, her duty – is to copy and absorb the genetic information of all Pokémon she encounters, building up a ‘library’ of gene sequences that, between them, record the form, traits and powers of every species that has ever existed (of course she was found in the jungles of South America – she would linger in places of the greatest biodiversity). She can use this borrowed DNA as a blueprint to Transform into any Pokémon she has observed, or learn techniques from every element. Further, she was gifted by Arceus with incredible defensive powers, including invisibility and her signature telekinetic shield bubble, ensuring that her precious genetic library will be preserved for all eternity. As long as Mew exists in the world, extinction will never be forever; she can Transform into every Pokémon that is or was, using all their abilities, and from her genes any of those Pokémon could be resurrected. She is the holy grail of evolutionary biology, and the scribe who documents for Arceus the history of the world he set in motion.
Rayquaza vs. Mewtwo
Oh, yes… Rayquaza… my old enemy. What do we know about him? Well, he lives high above the clouds in the ozone layer, where he flies forever, feeding on water vapour and other rarefied substances. Because Rayquaza lives so high above the earth, his existence was totally unknown until he descended during the events of Emerald version. Even the myths of Groudon and Kyogre’s first battle seem to have forgotten him, mentioning only the Red and Blue Orbs that calmed the titans. However, he is in fact the only one who can calm them once they start fighting. Alone, either Pokémon can be pacified by the matching Orb (or awakened by the opposite Orb) but once their attention is fixed on each other, neither Orb helps. My version, then… Rayquaza was set to act as the guardian of the sky, to protect the world from any threats from outer space – meteors, for instance (as in Mystery Dungeon), or flares of cosmic radiation – but also to guard the sky against threats from below. Kyogre and Groudon were made to sculpt the surface of the earth and will awaken every century or so, independently of each other, to shake things up a little before returning to sleep. For both of them to wake up at the same time is much rarer, and will lead to a catastrophic battle; their instincts drive them to make the world around them resemble themselves, and they will sense each other’s opposite powers as threats. They will fight on and on, their clashing weather manipulation powers creating storms and cyclones that grow more powerful the longer they stay awake. Eventually – after weeks, months or even years – the chaos will disturb Rayquaza’s domain in the stratosphere, causing him to descend and nullify their weather powers with his Air Lock aura. With their powers dampened, Groudon and Kyogre simply cease to view each other as threats and return to their slumber in their own time. The Orbs were created by an ancient civilisation with Rayquaza’s assistance, after the survivors of an earlier cataclysm witnessed him calming the titans. They are similar to Arceus’ plates, in that each embodies and reflects the power of an element in its most passive form. The proximity of the appropriate Orb allows Kyogre and Groudon to feel at peace, as though surrounded by boundless ocean or land, and renders them gentle. Once the Orbs began to be used to control the titans, it could be ensured that they would never be awake at the same time. Rayquaza no longer needed to calm them, and retreated into the stratosphere. The sky dragon faded from legend, and eventually the purpose of the Orbs was forgotten too… until Maxie and Archie, misunderstanding the stories that the Orbs were used to “control” the titans, used them to awaken Groudon and Kyogre. Feeling as though surrounded by powers opposite to their own, both Pokémon lashed out… and you all know the rest of the story.
Mewtwo, of course, is Mew’s ‘child,’ created from Mew’s DNA by human scientists including Blaine and Mr. Fuji using advanced genetic manipulation techniques with the aim of building the ultimate fighting Pokémon. Unfortunately, Mewtwo rebelled against his creators, destroyed the old laboratory on Cinnabar Island where he was born, and escaped. He is now considered to be the most savage and violent of all Pokémon. Journals found in the burnt-out Cinnabar mansion suggest that Mew gave birth to Mewtwo, which doesn’t seem to fit the image found elsewhere of Mewtwo being grown in a tube. Also, the games do not support the story given by the movie that Giovanni and Team Rocket were backing the scientists who created Mewtwo (though they don’t necessarily contradict it either). So, what do I make of all this? Well, the first thing that strikes me as unusual is that Mewtwo was supposedly a genetically ‘upgraded’ version of Mew… whose DNA already contains the genes of all other Pokémon. What could the scientists possibly add to that? I can think of two answers. The first possibility is that Mewtwo is part human, which would have interesting implications for the way humans view Pokémon: apparently, when told to create the ultimate Pokémon, they do it by adding human DNA. The other possibility – the one I’m actually going to run with – is that they didn’t actually add anything at all, but created Mewtwo by shaving off most of what they considered “junk DNA” – the genes of all the other, less combat-ready Pokémon assimilated by Mew over the years, as well as the regulatory genes that allow Mew to do her thing in the first place. Mew reproduces by parthenogenesis (‘virgin birth’), passing on all the DNA she has ever collected to her child to ensure that her work need not by interrupted by such trivialities as age and death. When the scientists who had discovered her began to tamper with the embryo’s DNA, however, her body detected the changes, decided that it had made some kind of mistake, and jettisoned Mewtwo prematurely in order to try again later, forcing the scientists to incubate him in his tube (this may well have happened several times, each time resulting in an unviable embryo, before Mewtwo was successfully incubated). As a result, Mewtwo is missing huge amounts of the DNA Mew collected, but still retains many of the instincts that allow her to fulfil her purpose. He knows that something is badly wrong with him, and that despite his awesome powers he is fundamentally incomplete, but he cannot understand why, and could not correct the problem if he did. No wonder his mental health leaves something to be desired.
Feel free to let my heavily embellished versions of events sway your votes, or not, as the whim strikes you. Me, I’m just trying to make sense of what I’ve got and establish a nice, internally consistent version of the setting. I hope I’ve managed to avoid contradicting myself so far…