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.
I didn’t want to ask, but I feel like someone – if not me or your own train of thinking – was going to eventually regardless: do you have any personal feelings on the stance of this “Dexit”? It’s a pretty volatile situation so I can understand not wanting to take a side, but it’s really, uh … blown up.
You are correct, but a little bit late – it’s already happened. https://pokemaniacal.com/2019/06/25/herald-of-opera-asks/ When we first found out about all this, I, in my usual infuriatingly contrarian way, felt that it was a relatively minor piece of news about something that was eventually inevitable, and basically stopped thinking about it until I realised that the rest of the Pokémon community was in the process of declaring a holy war over it. That post contains pretty much all I care to say about the matter; people are welcome to argue about it in the comments, but I shall ignore them.
Did your favorite Pokemon make it into SwSh, or did it get snapped in the purge of Dexit?
Don’t know. I gather all of this has been leaked now, but I haven’t looked at any of it, and I don’t plan to. Last I checked, there was no official evidence that mine was in there, and I don’t think it’s particularly a must-include one.
If you want to check it for yourself, my favourite Pokémon is Vileplume.
Would you like to meet Serebii’s creator, Joe Merrick?
That would be fun! I
mean, there’s probably not going to be a lot of opportunities. He lives in the UK; I live in the US for now,
and would eventually like to return to New Zealand to live and work in the
long-term. There’s conventions and stuff
in the US, but I’m usually not in a position to take time off for them. But, I mean, in principle, yeah. You kinda have to have a lot of respect for
the guy; serebii.net is one of the most comprehensive resources the Pokémon
community has, and Joe gives really sober, down-to-earth coverage of Pokémon
Also my new ‘boss,’ Paul at PokéJungle, is engaged in a
long-standing Twitter campaign of lighthearted trolling against Joe, so clearly
I would have to seize the opportunity to join in somehow.
I enjoyed your PokéJungle piece on Galar. Do you think Sword and Shield might touch on the darker sides of the Industrial Revolution (the immiserated working class, poor environmental conditions, colonialism, etc) as well?
I’m glad you liked it; it’s one of the more… I guess “meaningful” things I feel like I’ve written in a while, and some of the ideas it touches on are, I think, important. (Here it is, for anyone who hasn’t read it)
So… might they? Well,
would they? Could
they? I might have said no, that Game
Freak just isn’t prepared to touch serious real-world stuff like that. They’ll put you into a high-stakes battle
against reality-warping entities for the fate of the world, sure, but learning
that you and your society might be the things putting the world at
risk? That’s another kind of
serious. It’s not even that it’s a more
adult kind of serious, because a lot of adults don’t enjoy stories like that
either. Not even Black and White
go there; N asks the questions, but we’re always framed as the good guys, and
in the end he sees that we’re right.
Then again… a different kind of storytelling, where social ills are as
important as “villains,” if not more so… that sounds a lot like the Team Skull
plotline of Sun and Moon. It’s
always baby steps with this stuff; Pokémon is always an escapist fantasy
that imagines an idealised world of harmony between humanity and nature, and
we’re not going to see a really “gritty” story that gives a “realistic”
portrayal of the evils that came with British industrialisation. If we see things like poverty or
environmental damage, they’ll be things that we the players can fight and fix
by doing typically heroic things, however unrealistic that might be, because
Pokémon is always hopeful. I also don’t
think the aesthetic of the presumed “villains,” Team Yell, has much thematic
resonance with those ideas. But those
societal forms of “darkness” might not be totally off limits anymore either.
What do you think of the Halloween-themed pokemon go designs?
So Jim and I talked about these for a while, and… well, I actually hadn’t given them much thought at all, previously. Hallowe’en is much less of a big deal in New Zealand than it is in the US, and is almost exclusively an event for, like, preteens. Hallowe’en fancy dress parties aren’t really a thing, or at least weren’t for my age group. Jim had a thought, though, which is that these are… well, obviously they’re cute costumes, but also weirdly insensitive, in a way? I mean… Pikachu. You’re dressing up as a Pokémon that knows its true appearance is horrifying and wants to look like you because it’s desperate to be loved. That is in bad taste, Pikachu. You can take that costume off and everyone will still love you. If Mimikyu takes its costume off, everyone will be dead. And you, Charmander – Cubone wear those skulls to mourn their dead mothers, and you’re wearing it because it’s fun to look spooky, you insensitive little $#!t. Squirtle… y’know, I don’t know if this is as bad, but Squirtle, you are dressing up as a Pokémon whose existence is torture and whose own physical form is a constant sorrowful reminder of its own lost life. I just feel like a Yamask might find that offensive, y’know? Bulbasaur… Bulbasaur, you can keep being Shedinja, you’re fine. Shedinja doesn’t give a fµ¢£. I mean, you do also have objectively the $#!ttiest costume but I don’t think you’re doing something actively harmful.
The Pokémon brand remains sheepishly heteronormative (ie, Steven Stone & Wallace are just best guy friends *wink*). On that note, the move Attract should be low-key rejiggered to also affect targets of the same gender, with its overall accuracy reduced somewhat (say down to 85 or 90%) to reflect the slightly lower incidence of same-sex interactions among animals. Frankly, it’s 2019 & kids across the globe are well-aware that LGBTQ people & same-sex “infatuation” (to borrow an in-game term) exist, stop pretending otherwise, Game Freak. Thoughts?
I mean, honestly, I don’t think there’s really any compelling game balance reason you couldn’t just have Attract work on all gendered Pokémon (or even just all Pokémon) with 100% accuracy. That’d still be strictly worse than Confuse Ray was in generations I through VI, because infatuation wears off if either the user or the target switches out, and an attack that fails due to confusion comes with some extra damage (in generation VII, the chance of a confused Pokémon hurting itself drops to 33%, so it’s a bit murkier now, but still; we can always nerf infatuation by a similar amount, just to keep “parattraction” from becoming a frustrating metagame force). All Pokémon are bi now. Really, why not? This isn’t even all that out of step with nature; there are species where same-sex sexual interactions seem to be more common (for one or both sexes) than opposite-sex ones, like giraffes. It doesn’t even have to signify homosexuality if people want to be prudish about it; you can just make it a joke, like “he’s so hot even the straight guys want him,” which is a joke the anime has made with Meowth and a wild Purrloin (also, like… straight guys… there’s one, right? You might not say it out loud, but there’s always one. We share this blessed earth with the corporeal incarnations of Hugh Jackman, Rock “the Dwayne” Johnson, Ryan Reynolds and Idris Elba, for goodness’ sake; you’re allowed one). The fact is, we don’t know anything about Pokémon sexuality. Nothing is canon and nothing is sacred; Game Freak have made sure of that. We know it usually takes a male and a female to produce an egg, but the games keep insisting that no one knows how it happens, and also claim that eggs “aren’t really eggs,” and permit all kinds of… anatomically improbable pairings (ArcheOPS WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO THAT CLAWITZER). I’m not sure it would make the system any more implausible even if you straight-up allowed Pokémon to breed and produce offspring regardless of gender (there are single-gender species already, and they must reproduce somehow).
So Mimikyu theory you may not like: it’s always been weird to me that ALL Mimikyu dress like Pikachu, especially since Pikachu never struck me as universally popular in-universe as it is in real life, at least not to the point where EVERY Mimikyu would base itself on it. But what if that’s the point? What if Mimikyu is breaking the fourth wall and is, for lack of better phrasing, meant to be self-aware? After all, it’s a ghost type, and in some psychological horror games there are characters that become “aware” of the player and even obsessed with them (yandere style). Maybe Mimikyu is meant to reflect that as a ghost Pokémon that’s aware of the real world and wants to appeal to players and not necessarily in-universe characters. The anime characterizes it differently, with Jessie’s having its own motivations, but that IS a different canon and GF might have had different intentions (and it’s not like the games ever avoided breaking the fourth wall). I have a feeling you’re not into fourth wall breaking as it completely ignores in-universe lore, but what are your thoughts on this reasoning?
Well, I’m not sure all Mimikyu do dress like Pikachu, actually – just the ones we’ve seen. The Sun and Moon website actually claims that it’s a recent phenomenon, so Mimikyu in the past must have looked like something else, or simply never revealed themselves to humans at all. Mimikyu seems to me like a Pokémon that’s ripe for regional variation, with other forms imitating other locally popular Pokémon, or even inanimate objects. But then again, the website’s reason for Mimikyu dressing like Pikachu is itself very fourth-wall-break-y; it claims that they picked Pikachu because of “the rising popularity of Pikachu-styled merchandise around 20 years ago.” Sun and Moon were released twenty years after Red and Blue, the first Pokémon games, so it seems like this is referring to the real worldwide Pokémon boom of 1996-1999 (especially given that the internal chronology of the core games – to the extent that there even is one – is not real-time; we know that generations III and IV are contemporary with I and II, while Blue and Red the characters are in their early 20s at most when they appear in Sun and Moon). I’ve also never really had the sense that Pokémon is particularly averse to breaking the fourth wall. So I guess my answer is… mayyyyyybe?