RandomAccess asks:

I just saw the YouTube video “Trope Talk: Dragons” from the channel “Overly Sarcastic Productions”. Basically a brief summary about how a dragon is defined (or rather how they lack a concrete definition) and how they play an important role throughout almost every human culture in the world. If you have seen the video (or probably more accurately, decided to see it after reading this) I’m curious if you have thoughts on it regarding how these ideas might apply to the variety of the dragon type in Pokemon.

Well, it’s a good video!  No corrections! (Here it is, for anyone wanting to watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3eXAPwjASEQ)

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The Dag asks:

Why do you think Poison-type Pokemon were so commonplace and widespread in Gen I and since then have been relatively scarce since?

Honestly, maybe the fact that it’s true is the reason for the thing itself?  Like, if balance of the number of Pokémon in each type is something that Game Freak cares about at all, then you could fairly look at the 33 first-generation Poison-types and say “okay, we have more than enough of these.”  Per Bulbapedia, Poison is still the 8th most common type out of 18, despite gaining only three new members in generation II, four in III and just two (Skrelp and Dragalge) in VI.

I think Poison is just… a weird thing to even be a type, frankly.  It’s like Flying, in that it’s more something a Pokémon does than something a Pokémon is (except arguably in the case of industrial waste Pokémon like Muk and Weezing), and it’s not hard to imagine its abilities being given fairly freely to Pokémon who aren’t actually members of the type.  And… well, think of other JRPGs.  Poison is always a status effect; off the top of my head I can’t think of any games that have a concept of status effects where poison isn’t one of them.  However, I think I’m justified in saying that it’s very rarely, if ever, a trait of monsters that affects their general strengths and weaknesses.  Having Poison as a type at all is a very weird decision, both conceptually and in terms of mechanical game design, and generation I also slaps it on several Pokémon for whom poison is… arguably not a very strong part of their identity – Bulbasaur, Golbat, Nidoran?  I’m really going out on a limb here, but it’s sort of plausible to me that Game Freak’s designers genuinely didn’t know what to do with the Poison type for quite a while after the first games.

jeffthelinguist asks:

Maybe this answer exists somewhere online and I’m dumb, but… what benefit does Sudowoodo have using mimicry to appear as a tree? It seems like that is a poor choice for a rock type given it’s weak to water (which intelligent creatures will naturally pour on it).

uh

well, it

um

I suppose my first instinct is to say that, on an evolutionary timescale, creatures who see plants and immediately think to pour water on them are probably a recent enough arrival in the world that they wouldn’t have had much impact on Sudowoodo’s physiology or evolved instinctive behaviour yet.  But we don’t really know that’s true; there are Pokémon that modify and curate their environments; there are even Pokémon that tend gardens.  The Pokédex says that Sudowoodo looks like a tree to avoid predators, and that does make sense to me; I have no problem with that.  So I suppose the best answer is probably that looking like a tree does work really well for its intended purpose – well enough that it’s worth accepting the unfortunate side effect of sometimes having water poured on you.

KalosianPorygon asks:

What is your ranking of Poison-type Pokémon from less to most deadly?

I’m assuming you mean specifically in terms of how poisonous/venomous they are, what kind of LD50 we might be looking at for the various sorts of awful $#!t they throw around; that sort of thing.  Well, there are at present 69 (…nice) Poison Pokémon, so I hope you’ll not mind if I just go for a quick top 5… We can probably eliminate unevolved Pokémon right off the bat; that narrows it down to 32 (give or take).  What, then, can we use as measures of lethality?

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jeffthelinguist asks:

So we got our latest “Pokémon made up of separate entities” (Falinks) and I was thinking… how do these exist as a single Pokémon? What happens if you… separate them entirely? What if you divide an Exeggcute into two sets of egg-seeds and keep them apart? Could they still evolve? Can one or two members of a Falinks survive on their own? What would we call them? I never could wrap my head around the idea of multiple creatures making up a single Pokémon, especially when they don’t evolve from a single unit (like Dugtrio or Magneton)…

There’s gotta be an anime episode that covers this.

…huh.  I don’t think there is?  Or at least I can’t find one.

Well, we know Exeggcute at least must be able to survive on their own, because we’re told that a new one forms from an Exeggutor dropping an extra head… but six is clearly the optimal number for them to be healthy.  I suppose in nature Exeggutor live in groups, so that there are always plenty of spare Exeggcute lying around to form clusters of six.  When they’re with trainers… well, when they’re with trainers they lay eggs that hatch into six more eggs, so that doesn’t really help us much (maybe this is one of the examples we should think of when looking at that one random X and Y NPC who claims that Pokémon eggs “aren’t really eggs” but “more like a Pokémon cradle” – in nature they actually don’t lay eggs but have other, weirder forms of reproduction).  Honestly I think an Exeggcute that loses one of its heads and can’t get it back may just be permanently impaired, and if it gets down to less than three it could well be impossible for it to evolve.  On that point, though, what I want to know is, if Exeggcute form clusters of six and Exeggutor normally have three heads, what happens to the other three?  Maybe the three heads don’t each correspond to one of the six Exeggcute heads at all, and their consciousnesses all sort of blend together during evolution (after all, they’re Psychic-types and make decisions collectively via telepathy anyway).  Now, Falinks… the whole point of Falinks is that it’s supposed to reference ancient Greek and Roman infantry tactics, fighting styles where teamwork and cohesion are the units’ main strength (and we can debate ad nauseam exactly how hoplites and legionaries actually fought and whether Falinks is a good representation of either, but… dear gods, please not now), so I kinda think it would be thematically appropriate if a lone Falinks without its comrades just couldn’t survive – couldn’t fight predators, couldn’t find food, just generally couldn’t function.  Maybe different numbers are viable, maybe you can have a five-member Falinks or a seven-member one, but they haven’t evolved to live independently.  As a trainer you might be able to separate them and support them individually, but I suspect it would be psychologically damaging and frankly kind of abusive.

Jumping Joltik asks:

In battle, Pokémon are basically indestructible. No matter what kind of attack they endure, the worst that can happen to them is they’ll faint. A slash from a Scyther won’t sever your Caterpie in two. A punch from a Machamp won’t shatter your Rattata’s bones. If this wasn’t the case, then it would be impossible to ethically justify battles.

However, there are also many circumstances where Pokemon are depicted as being susceptible to injury. For example, I recently watched The Power of Us. In the movie, we learn that the old woman’s Snubble died as a result of a fiery explosion…but why? If every Pokémon can endure a Blast Burn from a Charizard without being reduced to a pile of ash, then why would this explosion kill Snubble?

The obvious explanation is that Pokémon are only capable of being harmed when it’s convenient to the plot, but that’s boring and terrible. If you had to come up with an in-universe explanation, what would it be? Why are Pokemon indestructible in some circumstances but not others?

I kind of suspect that this is actually part of Pokémon training – learning to use your attacks accurately, under pressure, in a wide range of situations, and non-lethally.  I mean, that’s part of martial arts in the real world; you have to be proficient in not just inflicting maximum damage, but also in inflicting exactly the amount of damage you intend to and no more.  In real combat sports, if you’re in a match and you kill your opponent by mistake, you generally have to flee Los Angeles with your petite French girlfriend and your father’s precious gold wristwatch, and I don’t think most Pokémon can even drive a stolen motorbike, much less rescue a mobster from a sex dungeon.  The point is, there is a certain amount of control and holding back that is probably exercised in all but the blackest of underground cage matches.

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Don’t Call Me Bradley [Patreon cultist] asks:

Did you know there’s a Mimikyu in the anime that’s Shiny? It’s supposedly the ghost of Acerola’s first Mimikyu that is still lingering as a Ghost-Ghost.

What level of Bull$8!# are we assuming this is?

…I…

…uh…

…okay, y’know what, I haven’t seen the relevant episodes; I’ll be right back

Actually, hang on, I have seen one of these before; I watched Tough Guy Trials when I was researching my Necrozma article because it has some stuff about the legend of the Blinding One.  I guess it didn’t register with me that there was anything unusual about Mimikins (Acerola’s Mimikyu) because Acerola just says “Mimikins is a ghost!” and doesn’t explain or clarify any further, and I just assumed she meant it’s a Ghost-type.  Also… I’m honestly not sure it would be totally out of character for Acerola to just be bull$#!tting everyone because she likes spooky and creepy things.

(also I didn’t even notice it was shiny because Mimikyu’s shiny colouration is just, like… its cloth is kinda dull and it couldn’t find red crayons to colour in its Pikachu cheeks)

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The Dag asks:

What do you think is both the origins(s?) of ghost Pokemon and how they’re unified by a common theme; I. E. How some are explicitly defined as spirits of dead humans, while others are merely natural creatures with ghost-like powers, Vs possessed objects given life through other forces, and how it all ties into the Pokemon world.

Welllllllllll I think we have decent reason to believe that Pokémon’s creators imagine a sort of “spirit world” that exists apart from the material world, and that Ghost Pokémon are all in some way “touched” by that plane, but don’t necessarily all have the same relationship with it.   Maybe some of them are from there originally, while others were once normal creatures that have been altered by exposure to it, or have developed the ability to access it as a source of power (which might also be a thing humans can do in the Pokémon world, as channellers or mediums, or through whatever “ancient science” was used to create Golurk).  Beyond that… I don’t know, and I think that might be kind of the point?  Like, I think the actual real answer to this question might be “there are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy” – that is, there are some things in the universe that just are mysterious, and you can’t logic them out or determine the answer experimentally.  That’s not because we’ve missed something or because the lore is poorly thought out; it’s actually the point, because it’s meant as a comment on the limits of scientific thinking (which… well, to be honest I don’t think Pokémon has a very well-formed idea of how science might work in a fantasy world, and the writers need to read Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, but this is neither the time nor place).  The spirit world doesn’t have consistent rules and different Pokémon relate to it in different ways, because if we could understand it, then that would defeat the purpose.  Moreover, many Ghost Pokémon have powers of illusion and a reputation for deception and trickery; they have the means and the desire to obfuscate the issue.

Larry asks:

Hey, just something that’s been, pun very intended, bugging me- Paras and Parasect. We all know their deal, their horrible, horrible deal. But it’s weird, innit?

Why would a Paras let itself evolve, let its trainer do that to it? How come the Parasect *seems* to maintain all emotional bonds? (Saying that based on friendship/affection remaining.) If the Paras’ soul really gets sucked, and it’s a known fact, why isn’t it even frowned upon to evolve Paras?

This seems like one of the more trustworthy dex entries, the damp habitat thing seems realistic, Parasect’s eyes are too barren for comfort, but I can’t quite make up my mind.

This is on my mind specifically because now I’m playing soulsilver with a Paras, and I’m not sure if I can forgive myself if I evolve him. Thoughts?

(PS: I know there’s an anime episode about a girl who wants to evolve her Paras, but I couldn’t find your review, if there is one. All I know is that in the ep there doesn’t seem to be any drama OR soulsucking?)

So, Parasect is… a tricky one.  Just to get us all on the same page, here are (by my reckoning) all the relevant examples of how the Pokédex talks about Parasect and its mushrooms:

  • The mushrooms have “taken over” the host bug.
  • Staying in dark and damp places is “the preference not of the bug, but of the big mushrooms.”
  • The mushroom “extracts” nutrients from the bug until “nothing’s left.”
  • The mushroom “controls” the bug.  Notably, Ultra Moon also says this about Paras.
  • “The bug is mostly dead, with the mushroom on its back having become the main body. If the mushroom comes off, the bug stops moving.”
  • The mushroom “appears to do all the thinking.”
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jeffthelinguist asks:

So I have some theories but I want to hear what you have to say on this.

So the latest “fossil” Pokémon clearly never actually existed (nor should they now, either), but the most interesting thing about them is none of them are rock type. In your standard reputation of reading heavily into this as world building and not Game Freak not giving a $#!+ about maintaining any sense of consistency, what would be your reasoning for this and why? If you have multiple theories, feel free to share more than one!

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