Analytic Mareep asks:

One thing I’ve noticed about Bianca and Cheren: Bianca always ends up being the more useful of the pair. In the Relic Castle sequence, Cheren just tags along behind you, ultimately adding nothing to the situation. Bianca, meanwhile, gets ahold of Juniper–which turns out to be really important since they find the dark/light stone. In the Elite Four sequence, the same thing happens. Cheren tags along and beats the Elite Four as well (not contributing much of anything to your predicament) while Bianca rounds up all the Gym Leaders (who save your ass). I think this was probably intentional, and it sheds light on how the writers wanted us to view Bianca and Cheren.

Hmm.  I think that’s a little unfair to Cheren; he does fight alongside you against Team Plasma on multiple occasions, and fighting usually makes up most of the player’s contribution to advancing the plot.  And I don’t… think Bianca is responsible for getting Professor Juniper involved in looking for the Dark/Light Stone, or at least I don’t believe anyone ever says that’s what she’s doing.  I’d be more inclined to assume that that was the elder Professor Juniper, who is present at the Dragonspiral Tower when the player confronts N, and works together with his daughter to identify the stone.  There is a general point to be made about Bianca and Cheren as foils to each other, though.  The early part of the game kind of sets up Cheren as more organised, more ambitious, a better trainer, more… well, frankly, more competent, whereas Bianca doesn’t really know what she’s doing or what she wants.  Over the course of the game, though, Cheren comes to realise (through Alder’s example) that his ambitions are basically hollow, leaving him somewhat listless at the end of the story; Bianca, on the other hand, grows into herself, figures out what she wants to do with her life, and becomes a researcher.  She’s ultimately the one who comes out of it with a stronger conception of her own goals and identity.  I think the message is supposed to be about taking time to explore life, and figure out what your goals are gradually and organically, rather than focusing on the single-minded pursuit of just one aim in the belief that it will complete you as a person (Cheren actually credits Bianca, as well as the player, Alder and N, with helping him realise this).

N asks:

What would be the biggest culture shocks for someone that comes from the world of Pokémon to ours?

listen if you’re thinking of making the move I don’t recommend it

but… well, I’m gonna guess the absence of Pokémon would be the big one, to be honest.

People in the Pokémon world rely on their Pokémon for all kinds of things, and it often seems like it’s kind of unusual to be a person who doesn’t care about Pokémon and isn’t in any capacity involved with Pokémon.  Like, in the real world, telling someone you don’t have pets is not a big deal.  In the Pokémon world, sure, not everyone is a trainer exactly, but almost everyone has Pokémon in their lives in some capacity, maybe as pets or co-workers or even spiritual advisors.  How big a change this is might depend on when and where you landed – people in real rural societies do “live with animals” in a fairly meaningful sense, while urbanites tend to be largely oblivious of even the animals we eat (and actually, this is a total tangent but my IRL friend Flint Dibble, who is a zooarchaeologist, talks a lot about this stuff on Twitter and is very good at making compelling stories of his work).  Of course, maybe then the culture shock is “you eat your animals!?” (but then, are we so sure they don’t eat Pokémon too?).  They would probably be confused at how far animals, other than pets, are kept at arms’ length in their involvement in modern society – and might think that we must be very disconnected from nature on account of that.

The dependence of children on their parents is probably the other big thing.  In the Pokémon world, it’s generally seen as pretty safe for kids to travel on their own if they have Pokémon, who can provide both protection and emotional support.  Adults are not necessarily better trainers than children either, so Pokémon are a big equalising factor in the face of any dangers you might face.  In the absence of that security and freedom, modern childhood (even modern life in general) in the real world would probably seem stifling.

jeffthelinguist asks:

I think you might have mentioned in another answer that you will cover this in a later article, but in case you aren’t going to… can we get your thoughts on the Rainbow Rocket thing that happened in Smoon? Like… I’ve no idea if it’s considered canon (though what even would canon be in Pokémon anymore?) but your speciality is overly dissecting implied lore in these games and, as much as Rainbow Rocket feels like a fan fiction (I mean it pretty much is one)… well I’m curious what you have to say about RR both in terms of your reactions and how you think it affects the world building here. Please be as pokemaniacal as possible!

This actually is on the list of things I plan to write full articles on after finishing the last few gen VI Pokémon, along with, uh… Team Skull/Guzma, the Aether Foundation/Lusamine, Lillie/Hau/Gladion, the player as Champion, maybe something Z-move-related… oh, and one of my Patreon supporters suggested doing something on the Alolan trial culture (which frankly is peak Pokémaniacal nonsense and something I will absolutely do).  But yeah, the whole Team Rainbow Rocket thing is… well, it… I mean, I like nostalgia fuel as much as the next millennial, but I don’t understand it at all.  Giovanni is a mob boss who ran an illegal casino – he’s actually in some ways the smallest-scale villain Pokémon’s ever had – but out of nowhere they’ve turned him into this comic book supervillain whose sheer overwhelming malice has bound every other villain in Pokémon history to his will, in order to… well, honestly I’m not even sure, but to conquer the multiverse, I guess???

I say all this now; often when I actually sit down to write a full-length article about something I start to discover things that I actually like about it and make it worthwhile, and can no longer bring myself to outright condemn it, so I guess we’ll find out, but right now I think the most valuable thing about the whole incident is that We, The Gays now own Team Rocket because rainbows (I don’t make the tea; I just serve it).

N asks:

I don’t get why the Pokémaniac Npc’s are called that way in the game. They seem to be as obsessed with Pokémon as anyone else in the games. What do you think is the reason they get this moniker? Pokemaniacs rise up!

This is kind of an interesting one, because in Japanese they’re not called Pokémaniacs.  They’re actually called かいじゅう(kaijū, or “monster”)マニア(mania, a transliteration of the English “maniac”).  Kaijū is also the name of the Monster egg group – the group that includes most ground-dwelling reptilian Pokémon that are not Dragons, a definition presumably influenced by the Japanese kaijū movie genre and its most famous star, Godzilla.  So they’re actually not obsessed with Pokémon per se; they’re obsessed with a particular group of Pokémon, almost always use Pokémon from that group and, starting in generation III, regularly cosplay as Pokémon from that group (they also tend to hang out in very out-of-the-way places, often in caves).  Of course, when the first Pokémon games were translated into English back in 1998, we didn’t have egg groups yet because the breeding mechanics were only introduced in generation II (released in Japan in 1999).  So some poor translator, who’d been told that “Pokémon” derives from the English “Pocket Monster,” probably read kaijū mania literally as “monster maniac,” thought “oh, this means someone obsessed with Pocket Monsters” and decided that “Pokémaniac” sounded better in English.  It wouldn’t have helped that the first two generations’ Pokémaniac sprites (see my avatar at the top of the page) look more like mad scientists than cosplayers.  Of course, I’ve only been learning Japanese for about six weeks, and I’ve been writing under the name “Pokémaniac Chris” on a blog called “Pokémaniacal” with a generation II Pokémaniac as my avatar for eight years, so there’s an argument I might have missed the window to back out on that one.  And anyway, to me, my Pokémaniac avatar represents the heart and soul of what this blog ought to be: pointing boldly forward into the unknown, with a wild-eyed grin, Pokéball at the ready, and a billowing cape just to add that subtle touch of “escaped cultist.”

Shauna asks:

Do you think Hau could be the “official” (non-player) champion of Alola? Would that even be a good direction for his characterization? And what the heck even happened to his dad, anyway…?

If you’re asking for, like, a prediction or something… what would that even mean?  Does Alola need an “official” Champion?  What for?  The idea of making the player the Champion was pretty cool and made Alola’s endgame unique, and I think that for Game Freak to canonically designate an NPC as the “real” Champion instead would undermine that.  But purely in terms of how being Champion might affect Hau’s characterisation… well, funnily enough this is kind of the direction I tried to explore in the epilogue to my narrative playthrough journal of Moon version, where I imagined my character trying to prepare Hau for exactly that future.  So, read that and see what you think, I guess?

Continue reading “Shauna asks:”

Quriosity asks:

Can you say something about disabilities in the pokemon world?

Well, the Pokémon world certainly seems to have more advanced medical technology than ours; I’m sure a variety of sophisticated prosthetics are well within their capabilities to produce, and probably all manner of other wizardry designed to make life more convenient for people with sensory impairments, mental illnesses, atypical neurological development, and so on.  We don’t see much of this in the games or anime, probably because the creative leads prefer to quietly believe that all such difficulties have been either solved or obviated by technology, like most social, medical and environmental problems in the Pokémon universe. But I suspect that’s not what you’re getting at.

Continue reading “Quriosity asks:”

Colress asks:

Your reaction when Ghetsis tried to hurt Lillie

I don’t know that I remember having any particular reaction at all, really.  Partly I was just never all that attached to Lillie – I mean, I wrote my playthrough journal of Moon version in-character as a protagonist who suspected her of being the villain for most of the game.  But also, to be perfectly honest I was never terribly immersed in the whole Team Rainbow Rocket thing, and I’ll probably talk about that at more length once I’ve finally finished reviewing all the Pokémon.