James Crooks [Patreon cultist] asks:

Sirfetch’d. Reaction?

It is a very stabby duck.

Yeah, I don’t know… I think it was very unlikely that any hypothetical Farfetch’d evolution could possibly stick the landing, given how long it’s been anticipated, but this is not bad. Farfetch’d’s “leek” is actually a spring onion, which is a more common vegetable in East Asian cuisine, whereas Sirfetch’d seems to have an actual leek, which is a nice touch, given that leeks are an emblem of Wales. The “shield” also seems to be made of leek leaves, and that’s quite nice. If Sirfetch’d is supposed to be based on any specific type of wild duck native to Britain, then I can’t find it (though I’m admittedly no birdwatcher). Ducks live on lakes, and I remember some minor legend from Britain about some local folk hero who received a magic sword from a lake, but as connections go this one’s a bit of a stretch for me. Besides, Sirfetch’d’s leek is more like a lance than a sword, and it seems to wield it like a lance in its animations. A lance is a bit of a rubbish weapon if you aren’t mounted, but it’s a Farfetch’d evolution, so I suppose we can’t make life too easy for it. The fact that Sirfetch’d is apparently exclusive to Sword version makes me wonder if there could possibly be a split evolution, with the other form being exclusive to Shield version (à la Lycanroc); otherwise, there’s a good chance its counterpart is some other older-generation Pokémon, probably single-stage until now, with an evolution unique to Galar. Unclear to me why Sirfetch’d isn’t a Flying-type, but then, I have a fairly long history of thinking that the Flying type makes no damn sense anyway.

James Crooks [Patreon cultist] asks:

Now that you’re at the end of the Alolan Pokédex, can you tell us your favourite Pokémon, least favourite and one that you liked more after reviewing?

Tricky.

Spending more time on each Pokémon and each review tends to make me appreciate almost all of them more, because I come to see the references and the meaning in each design, and my feelings about the Pokémon itself come to be bound up with anything interesting I’ve learned during the process I generously call my “research.”  The exception, of course, is when there seems to be simply nothing to find, but I think those are rare in Alola.  And in another direction, over the course of doing the Alola reviews I’ve started trying to incorporate the anime’s portrayals of each Pokémon a bit more, so even if a design is ‘meh,’ I can develop some positive feeling towards it if that Pokémon’s episode is a good one.  I just put out my Zeraora article, and Zeraora’s frankly not a very interesting Pokémon, but it’s one of the stars of the 21st movie, The Power of Us, which I am not going to stop talking about because I think it’s easily the best one (aside from Detective Pikachu), and there is a certain degree of affection that just… well, rubs off on Zeraora.  Having said all that, of course there are winners and losers.  With some designs, I feel “rewarded” for the extra work I do in trying to break them down, because I feel like I’ve solved a puzzle that the designers have left for me; other times it just seems like there’s not much to find.  So there are Pokémon for whom my opinion of them, or at least my affection towards them, increased a lot as I reviewed them, and I don’t know if I can pick just one, but some good examples are Celesteela, Oranguru, Tsareena and Minior.

My favourite Pokémon of generation VII is a tough one, because there are a lot that I’m generally well-disposed to, but few that really stick out to me as brilliant.  It may actually be just one of the Pokémon I’m attached to because I used them on my first playthrough of Moon, probably Golisopod, Salazzle, or my starter, Decidueye.  Other than that… well, actually Dhelmise sticks out to me as a really weird and creative design that speaks to me on a kind of “what even is this?” level, and Wishiwashi has an interesting concept that creates a great moment in the game’s story.  As for least favourite… I’m sure I’m being very predictable here, but I’m still very down on Togedemaru, and to a lesser extent Gumshoos, for not doing enough to break free of Game Freak’s persistent habit of template-based Pokémon design (as Talonflame and arguably Diggersby did in generation VI, and as I think Toucannon more or less does in generation VII).

Anonymous asks:

Re-reading your old Genesect review, I noticed “this doesn’t look like a Pokémon” was a complaint you had with it. Which got me wondering; are there any other cases of Pokémon that might have been better suited to being part of other IPs, free from the expectations and restrictions The Pokémon Company imposes on the franchise?

Uggggggggggghhhhhhh I knew I would have to deal with that one someday

even as I was writing it, all the way back in the Year of Our Magic Space-Deer two thousand and eleven, I knew I would eventually have to say something about it

So, just to cover my own butt for a minute, I’m going to point out that I prefaced that complaint with the words “I know this is a cheap shot and even thinking something so blatantly subjective makes me feel dirty inside.”  It’s a fairly drastic thing to say, and it’s not a comment I was willing to make about any other Pokémon in my reviews of generations V, VI or VII.  Anything older than that has had over 10 years to burrow into my conception of what a Pokémon is, so it’s difficult for me to separate them off anymore – even the ones I don’t like.  The only exceptions are some of the Ultra Beasts, and… well, in their case, not looking like Pokémon is kind of the point.

Having said that… well, when you mention being “free from expectations and restrictions,” there are a bunch of Pokémon, particularly in the Ghost-Dark-Psychic sort of area, which, while not exactly un-Pokémon-like, do feel a bit stifled by the kid-friendly ratings that Pokémon has to maintain.  You know what I mean, I suppose – Pokémon like Spiritomb, and Hypno, and Yamask, and Cacturne, and Shedinja, and so on, whose Pokédex entries hint at incredibly sinister abilities and behaviours that can’t be fully explored in official Pokémon media, because Pokémon has so much trouble with serious long-term consequences.  And of course there’s fan-fiction for that, but 98% of fan-fiction is either unfinished or terrible (or both, in the case of my dramatized Nuzlocke of X version). Still, that isn’t even really “these would be better if they were part of something other than Pokémon” as “I would like Pokémon to be something different.”

Patch asks:

With regional variants no longer restricted to gen I Pokémon, it might be a good time to consider which of the Unovan Pokémon you rejected you would like to give a regional vatiant?

Hmmm… tricky…

There’s probably a fair bit you could do by building on the industrial revolution theme that some of the generation VIII material we’ve seen already seems to be going for.  I could see Heatmor getting some kind of region-specific evolution that builds up to a whole steam engine, maybe changing its type to Fire/Water or Fire/Steel (although the implied comparisons to Volcanion or Heatran would not be flattering).  Or even a Galarian form of… [ahem]… grbdr… that’s based on a sack of coal, making it a Fire/Poison-type that also gets Rock attacks.  Then, on another angle, we could have a Steel/Fairy form of Pawniard and Bisharp based on white pieces from the famous Lewis chess set from Mediaeval Scotland, to contrast the original black Unovan ones.  Possibly some sort of “royal” form for Swanna, but I’m not sure where exactly to take that.

James Crooks [Patreon cultist] asks:

In light of the reveal of Alcremie, who looks like an Eton Mess(?) what’s a dessert/series of desserts that you think could be adapted into a new Pokemon?

There’s kind of a… maybe theme that Game Freak might be trying to start, of having Pokémon that are based on desserts associated with the real world cultures that their regions are based on. Slurpuff is a meringue Pokémon for France and Alcremie is a strawberries and cream (or perhaps Eton mess, as you suggest) Pokémon for England. Vanilluxe… well, you can debate how fair it is to call ice cream cones American, but they were first popularised in the United States, and for Pokémon’s first non-Japanese region something generically “Western” is probably enough anyway, and Castelia City has a Vanillite-themed dessert that you can buy. Alola doesn’t really have one, but I think arguably Hau counts as an honorary dessert Pokémon for his obsession with malasadas (a characteristic Hawaiian dessert) and his diabetes-inducing personality. That being the case… we could look at some iconic desserts of other regions.

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Smugleaf asks:

Why Nidorino & Nidorina evolve via Moon Stone? Clefairy, Jigglypuff and others are somewhat related to moon, night, or sleep. But I can’t find the connection with the Nido family.

Personally, I think it’s because they’re supposed to be – very loosely – based on rabbits (definitely the weirdest fµ¢£ing rabbits I’ve ever seen, though, I’ll give you that; maybe they’re influenced by jackalopes or wolpertingers or something).  Rabbits are associated with the moon in China, Japan and Korea, because the shapes on the surface of the moon that we see as “The Man in the Moon” in culturally western countries are traditionally interpreted as a rabbit, often with a mortar and pestle, in east Asia.  There are a bunch of different stories about exactly why the rabbit is up there and what the mortar and pestle are for, but the fact that it’s a rabbit is pretty well agreed, and this gets referenced a fair bit in Japanese pop culture (Dragon Ball had an anthropomorphic rabbit villain who wound up imprisoned on the moon; Sailor Moon’s real name, Tsukino Usagi, is a pun on tsuki no usagi, “moon rabbit”; Digimon World: Dusk gives the player a partner Digimon who is a rabbit with moon-related powers; etc).  It’s a little tricky to be sure that’s the intent, but it’s the best explanation I can think of.

RandomAccess asks:

I recently thought of something, though you may want to save this for the inevitable review. Considering it’s propensity for “absorbing all the light in the universe” and basically being the ends of said universes, is it possible that Necrozma is Pokémon’s equivalent to the phenomenon astrophysicists call the “heat death of the universe?” That being entropy inevitable cooling down every single particle in the universe until there isn’t a bit of useable light or energy left and everything decays until there’s nothing left so that there’s basically nothing left except complete darkness?

I will indeed talk more about Necrozma when I get to the review, but I don’t know that this works with the way it’s portrayed in Ultra Smoon, or for that matter in the anime.  Necrozma used to be a being of light, a creative and generative force.  Its dark form that steals light is a result of some kind of damage it suffered in the past, but that damage is supposed to be fixable, resulting in the restoration of the radiant form we know as Ultra Necrozma (which sort of clashes with the feeling of inevitability that the whole “heat death”/entropy theme would be trying to evoke).