Pokémon Moon, Episode 1: In Which I Am Rescued From Certain Death By An Island Deity

All I wanted was a goddamn holiday.

“Come to sunny Alola,” the brochures said.  “Let all your cares wash away,” they said.  “Relax on the beach and enjoy the sunset with a glass of cool Pinap juice,” they said.  “Immerse yourself in the vibrant local culture,” they said.

The brochures did not mention roads blocked by irritable Tauros, strange waifish girls with dangerous and suicidal cosmic Pokémon, “quests” handed out by mysterious and fickle gods, ritualised duels to please the aforementioned fickle gods, or anything that might be described as a series of “trials.”

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

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Pokémon Moon, Episode 2: In Which I Am Seduced By The Opulence Of Metropolitan Life

After getting my Pokédex sufficiently haunted, the next stop is apparently the Hau’oli Outskirts Pokémon Centre.  Alolan Pokémon Centres have incorporated Pokémarts, in the style of their Unovan and Kalosian counterparts, but also have cafés for the region’s countless tourists to sit and relax.  The café serves some items we recognise from older games, including Lemonade and Moomoo Milk, but these aren’t healing items for your Pokémon anymore; they’re purely for the enjoyment of the trainer.  The café’s real gameplay purpose seems to be to provide treats for your Pokémon that come free with your drinks – Pokébeans to feed them in the Refresh screen, Sweet Hearts and imported Lumiose Galettes to heal injuries or status ailments, and even the occasional Rare Candy.  The barista is also a fount of gossip and dubiously useful life advice.  It’s an atmospheric addition more than anything else, and not particularly significant, but it’s also the first damn moment I’ve been allowed to feel like I’m actually on holiday, so I linger in the café for a while longer, trying to ask the barista in increasingly overt and desperate terms for “something a little stronger,” before Lillie shows up and drags me to our next destination…

…the Hau’oli trainers’ school.

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Pokémon Moon, Episode 3: In Which A Magic Rock Promises Me Incredible Power

Captain Ilima’s invitation takes me north from Hau’oli City towards Verdant Cavern, the great fern- and moss-covered grotto where I am to complete the first step of the “mission” supposedly given to me by Tapu Koko.  There are some minor delays in leaving the city, owing to that damn Tauros blocking the road again, but Kahuna Hala was on the scene to sort it out.  Apparently the Tauros is something of a local celebrity, and I’m starting to think that the primary responsibility associated with the position of Melemele Kahuna is to keep it from obstructing traffic.  Not that it matters all that much – I’m not exactly in a hurry to get to Verdant Cavern.  I still kinda resent Tapu Koko (and I suppose by extension Hala, but he’s a difficult fellow to dislike) for unilaterally deciding to put me on the path of the Island Challenge, so I’m happy to keep it waiting for as long as possible.

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Pokémon Moon, Episode 4: In Which I Learn, Rapidly And Under Duress, To Ride A Bull

Once he and Captain Ilima have finished explaining Z-moves to me, Professor Kukui suddenly remembers that he has an urgent task that cannot possibly wait: he’s lost Lillie.  Somehow.  I’m still not 100% certain that Lillie isn’t a terrorist, so in the interests of making sure someone is watching her, I agree to help look for her in the northern part of Melemele Island.  This area, route 3, is cordoned off by barricades.   Not for any particular reason, mind you.  Someone appears to have decided that the Pokémon beyond are too strong for civilians to tangle with unless they have an escort – a certified trainer who has completed the island’s trials.  Which… sort of raises the question of how Lillie got through, since she not only hasn’t completed any trials but insists that she’s not actually a trainer at all (which I’m pretty sure is not true; I’m not sure of the legal status of their relationship but for all practical purposes she certainly seems to be Nebby’s trainer).  Evidence that she has secret and subversive abilities continues to mount.  In any case, at Ilima’s command, the barricades open for me, and I am given access to the northern coastal road.

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Pokémon Moon, Episode 5: In Which I Agree To Help Resurrect An Ancient God

There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot to see in Heahea City.  Part of the town is blocked off by some douchebag with a perfectionist Stoutland that won’t move until it’s sniffed literally every square centimetre of the main road, and most of the buildings I can access are standard services: there’s a Pokémon Centre, and a clothing shop, and a tourist bureau like the one in Hau’oli City.  Hau just wants to find somewhere that sells malasadas, but Lillie, for her part, has more interesting ambitions: she wants to take Nebby to Akala Island’s guardian ruins, the home of the island’s patron god-Pokémon, Tapu Lele, and she’s hoping that I’ll accompany them when the time comes.  For Nebby’s sake, I make a noncommittal “mrrmmhmm” noise and wiggle my head in a way that could plausibly be interpreted as either a nod “yes” or a shake “no.”

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Pokémon Moon, Episode 6: In Which I Offer Charity To A Character of Dubious Virtue

When I reach the entrance to the quiet valley of Brooklet Hill, a Water Pokémon paradise, I am greeted by none other than the local Captain herself: Lana, a dreamy young woman with blue hair.  Lana needs help with something, and apparently won’t take ‘no’ for an answer.  Well, the sooner I make her happy, the sooner I can attempt her trial, and the sooner I can get out of here… I follow Lana down into the valley, past tranquil pools and rumbling waterfalls, until we reach a large pool being disturbed by a strange thrashing out in the deepest part.

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Pokémon Moon, Episode 7: In Which My Culinary Skills Are Pushed To Their Limit

Since the next Captain, Kiawe, is a Fire Pokémon specialist, he lives on a volcano.  Because of course he does.  Fire trainers don’t really ‘do’ subtlety.  Wela Volcano, which is named for the Hawaiian word for heat or burning, and corresponds to Haleakala in the real world, looms over the northeast corner of Akala Island.  Although many of its basalt flows are still glowing red from the last eruption, the volcano is perfectly safe – or at least, this is the claim made by the Seismic Sisters, a set of Alolan triplets who maintain tunnels that provide surprisingly easy access up and down its slopes.  Among the hardy, fire-tolerant Pokémon that live there is a wily black lizard Pokémon called Salandit, a Fire/Poison-type, which nearly blows my Trumbeak out of the sky with Dragon Rage.  I decide to retire my Butterfree and recruit one in her place (a female, which I’m told is important); that Dragon Rage is sure to come in handy as long as we’re still low-level.

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