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.”

jeffthelinguist asks:

So… armored evolution. I think it’s not gonna be a thing and I think it’s stupid but… what do you think about the rumor? How would you feel if that was implemented?

I wouldn’t rule it out, honestly.  For those not following, the place this rumour comes from is a 4chan post from a few days before the announcement of Sword and Shield, which correctly predicted the names of the new games, and that they would be set in a region based on Great Britain, so it’s not wildly improbable that this person had some actual insider information (of course, even if they did, they might have had real information on the names and region, but then just made up other stuff to troll everyone, because… like… it’s 4chan, guys, come on).  One of the other predictions made therein is that Sword and Shield will introduce “armoured” evolutions, of Pokémon including Zeraora, Charizard, Flygon and Mewtwo.  And, I mean, you know you’ve wanted armoured Mewtwo since 1999, and Nintendo has just filed for the Japanese trademark on “Armoured Mewtwo,” and oh hey, they’re remaking that movie in 3D this year for some goddamn reason, and my respect for the Pokémon Company is just tenuous enough to believe that they would do that solely to plug an “armoured evolution” of Mewtwo.  A further prediction from the 4chan post is that Meltan will somehow be involved with all this, which… I mean, honestly, yeah; Meltan should start pulling its fµ¢£ing weight already.

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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?

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Regular Bidoof asks:

What are some of your favorite underrated/overlooked pokemon?

Well, I suppose it depends on what we mean by underrated or overlooked… some Pokémon are “overlooked” in that they’ve never been competitively viable, but nonetheless have a sort of cult following, like Dunsparce, whom your mega-evolved counterpart asked about recently, and if allowed, Dunsparce would definitely go on my list.  Pokémon that are genuinely overlooked in that they have no fans whatsoever, I mostly kind of think deserve it, like Qwilfish.  For some reason I’m very fond of Delibird, who is legitimately terrible, but I don’t know whether there’s a fan following for Delibird.  Carbink may not qualify as overlooked because of its link to Diancie, but I do have a weird soft spot for Carbink because I have a pet theory that it’s the oldest of all Pokémon (I reject Mew’s claim on the position, in what I realise is a conflict with established lore).  Druddigon is, frankly, my spirit Pokémon, because I too aspire to live in a dark cave and hate everybody, and Druddigon has definitely never had the competitive spotlight and I don’t think has ever been especially popular, so I think “overlooked” is justifiable here.  And lastly, my favourite Pokémon is Vileplume, who… isn’t really overlooked or underrated, I don’t think, but has never been, like, top-tier super popular either.

Team Hufflepuff asks:

What are your thoughts on the Harry Potter books/films?

Well, I grew up with the books (I remember Deathly Hallows being released in my last year of high school, and trolling everyone in my Latin class by yelling out “Voldemort is Harry’s father!”), but I haven’t read them in a while.  I think I only saw the first three movies in cinemas, but I’ve watched the rest on my somewhat regular 15-hour trans-Pacific flights to visit my family in New Zealand (I watch a lot of movies on planes).  They’re not super-important to me as, like, formative inspirational building blocks of my developing psyche, but I always enjoyed the books, and they’re part of the general late 90s/early 00s cultural milieu that shaped a lot of people in my age group, same as Pokémon was.

I have taken the Pottermore sorting hat quiz – the definitive quiz, which bears the imprimatur of the Sainted Rowling – a number of times, and have historically been borderline Hufflepuff/Ravenclaw, but my year in Greece may have made me more adventurous and strengthened my convictions, and my most recent result was actually Gryffindor, which was something of a surprise to me.

Intersections with this blog’s normal schtick are of course rare, but you might be interested in an article I wrote shortly after the advent of Pokémon Go, in which I discussed the philosophies of the three competing teams and attempted to link them to (among other things) the values of the Hogwarts houses.

Also, I think that Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (the first one; I haven’t seen the second) is a really solid live-action Pokémon movie, and is the standard against which Detective Pikachu should be judged.

pokemaniacal maniac asks:

fwiw i really really love the first half of the pokemon reviews. I would read entire books about what you had to say lore and inspiration-wise on pretty much every pokemon. i dont play competitively, so the second half is always Just Info to me, but even that has helped me understand the meta as it is, which is also interesting! personally, i would rank the reviews as my favorite thing (and like you said, the sheer scope and the worldbuilding analysis you extrapolate from the pokemon themselves should make you proud) and your If I Ran The Zoo type stuff my second favorite. this is long and rambling but i just have been a long time fan and youre a bright spot on a dark internet and thanks!

[This submission is a response to this]

That’s actually really helpful feedback; thanks!  After frankly kind of flubbing generation VII (due in part to unavoidable real-life circumstances, but also due to mismanagement on my part) I want to revise my approach to generation VIII.  The first thing is that I don’t think I should write a full narrative-based playthrough journal the way I did for White 2, X and Moon – because that’s fun, and I know a lot of people did enjoy them, but it takes so long, and I think the Pokémon reviews ought to be the highest priority.  It would be better, I think, to start those within a month or two of release.  And then the reviews themselves I think have become too expansive, and don’t play to my strengths.  If I could cut down the competitive stuff (there are better places to go on the internet for that kind of advice; no one needs me for that), and limit that side to just discussion of signature moves and abilities, or moves that cast a particularly interesting light on a Pokémon’s character design, then that, I think, would be a worthwhile economy to pursue.  I really want to commit to making sure that this blog’s future includes more of the theoretically dense worldbuilding and games-as-storytelling stuff that inspired “If I Were In Charge,” so trying to slim down the Pokémon reviews and “get them out of the way” is probably a good idea, as long as I can keep the parts of them that my readers value.

VikingBoyBilly asks:

Something’s been on my mind for a long time since I stopped lurking, but I need to say how I feel.

In our long argument about Odysseus, you ended it with “i know what I’m talking about; so there.”

No, you didn’t, because if you did, you wouldn’t have been a misanthrope. Reading mythology is what made me fall in love with humans, and it’s unsettling that you never acknowledged the irony of being a misanthropic archaeologist. The lessons the Oddessey taught me is that life is a journey full challenges and misery, but by keeping your wits and the strength to continue, you can reach your goals. Oddysseus’s goal was to reunite with the wife an son that he loved, and it’s so cynical to think he enjoyed having sex with women that kept him stranded on those islands, and it doesn’t mesh thematically when these are supposed to be a series of hardships. The optimist in me believes this was something to be overcome, either as a temptation like the lotus fruits and sirens, or a situation to get out of like the cyclops. His devotion and loyalty to his crew, his homeland, and family are values I live by, and I don’t like that being tarnished by accusations that he’s a scummy womanizer. I could just be satisfied with my own opinions and not be bothered by what anyone else thinks, but you know what the internet does to us.

I also was put off by your use of the vague buzz-word “western civilization.” It’s nonsensical to anyone with an understanding of geography, and condescending, as if any other civilization doesn’t count (and because I think an archaeologist/anthropologist would only use such a simplification of jargon when talking to a layman). Funny how people angry with the state of the world will defend “western civilization” as the best thing that ever happened.

I hope your outlook of your own species has changed since then, and if you want to reply non-publicly, my email is [REDACTED]

[This is what Billy is referring to – linking to the Tumblr version of the original question-and-answer post rather than the WordPress version because that’s where the relevant comment thread is, but I might actually move it over here for posterity’s sake]

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