One lunatic's love-hate relationship with the Pokémon franchise, and his addled musings on its rights, wrongs, ins and outs. Come one, come all, and indulge my delusions of grandeur as I inflict my opinions on anyone within shouting distance.
So… I guess
it’s time to learn about native Hawaiian mythology, huh?
We’re on the home stretch of seventh-generation Pokémon now, and today
we’re talking about the four guardian deities of the Alolan islands: Tapu Koko,
Tapu Lele, Tapu Bulu and Tapu Fini.
These four are deeply woven into Alolan culture and identity, and they
have a special relationship with the Alolan trial system and its
administrators, the four Island Kahunas.
They’re also the pièce de résistance of generation VII’s unprecedented
level of interest in taking inspiration from the culture, ecology and history
of the real-world region its setting is based on.
Today’s Pokémon is something of a dark horse contender for most adorable Pokémon of generation VII. Sure, it’s so ugly that it turns the old cliché “if looks could kill” into a grim reality, but it just wants to be loved, and the well-meaning adage “be yourself” has led it to one too many tragedies. Horrifying as it is at first glance, it’s hard not to sympathise with it once you learn the trials and tribulations that plague Mimikyu: the Disguise Pokémon.
One of the most recognisable symbols of Hawaiian culture is the lei – a garland of flowers, worn around the neck on special occasions. If you’ve ever been to Hawai‘i, you might have been presented with one of these at some point; tourists love receiving lei, and Hawai‘i loves tourists. You can also see them in the stereotypical image of a traditional Hawaiian hula dancer. Lei are so well known as a distinctive element of Hawaiian ceremony and celebration that, really, it would be almost impossible for our Hawai‘i-inspired Pokémon region not to have a Pokémon that referenced them somehow. Enter: Comfey, the Posy Picker Pokémon. Continue reading “Comfey”→
Today we come to the newest iteration of mushroom Pokémon: the tall, slim-stalked, luminous Morelull and Shiinotic. Morelull and Shiinotic have an uphill battle to make themselves unique and interesting, as the fourth set mushroom Pokémon after Paras and Parasect (interesting by reason of soulless parasitism), Shroomish and Breloom (interesting by reason of kick-boxing dinosaurs), and Foonguss and Amoonguss (interesting by reason of… um… stealing Voltorb’s schtick in a way that somehow makes even less sense). These latest versions… well, I mean, they give it a go. Continue reading “Morelull and Shiinotic”→
As their species designation – the Bee Fly Pokémon – attests, Cutiefly and Ribombee are based (in Ribombee’s case, somewhat loosely and with the addition of fairy-like traits) on bee flies. Bee flies, as their remarkably inventive name suggests, are a family of insects within the fly order, Diptera, that pollinate flowers and look like bees, though they are usually smaller. They are related to predatory robber flies, and despite their fuzzy appearance, most bee flies are parasites that will lay their eggs on the larvae of other insects, typically beetles or solitary bees, resulting in the slow and gruesome death of the larvae. There are over 5000 species of bee fly around the world (because clearly the world needed that many), but the particular one referenced by Cutiefly is the adorable internet celebrity Anastoechus nitidulus, a rare species that lives only in southwest Japan, in the area around the city of Okayama. As far as I can tell, this species is so rare, and bee flies in general are so poorly studied by entomologists, that it doesn’t even have an English name – I’ve seen them called “tiger bee flies,” which I think is an attempt to translate the Japanese name toratsuri-abu, but in English the name “tiger bee fly” ought to refer to a different species of bee fly, the larger, blacker and more sinister-looking Xenox tigrinus, which can be found throughout North America. Thankfully, Cutiefly already represents a fully adult bee fly, so we don’t have to observe first hand the family’s parasitic tendencies; instead we see only the adults’ more palatable diet of nectar, which they harvest with their mosquito-like proboscises. Cutiefly and Ribombee express this through their flavour text, through the Honey Gather ability they share with Combee, and through their in-game distribution in the areas in and around Alola’s Oricorio meadows.
Time for Alola starter number 3: the Water-types, Poplio, Brionne and Primarina. I have something of a history of being distressingly lukewarm on Water-type starters, whom I’ve often put in the “fine” basket with little further comment, and for a while it looked like Poplio was going to go the same way, if not worse. I know I’m not the only one who was less than enthusiastic about Alola’s Water-type starter initially. After all, we’re onto our fourth pinniped Pokémon now (that’s seal, sea lion and walrus Pokémon, for the uncultured masses), they’re all Water-types, and this is even the second starter among them. But even Poplio has design elements that show a different direction to Dewgong, Walrein and Samurott, which only continue to diverge through evolution, and this has turned out to be one of those Pokémon that feels weird to me at first, but makes more sense the longer I keep looking at it. Continue reading “Poplio, Brionne and Primarina”→