Jim the Editor asks:

I thought you were going to talk about something similar to what you said in the celesteela article…

…oh yeah

right, we were going to use that space question as an excuse to go off on that tangent about Ultra Space that I didn’t do in the Celesteela thing

bollocks

See, this is why I keep him around.

Right, let’s talk about that now. So the thing about Ultra Space that I think is a bit weird is that it’s… not altogether clear what it actually is.

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The Philosophical Sheep asks:

Aside from our brief encounter with Deoxys just outside the planet’s atmosphere in ORAS, we’ve never been to outer space in a Pokemon game. This feels strange, especially now that there have been multiple games where we spend long periods of time in alternate dimensions–space feels like a much more natural area for a Pokemon game to explore in comparison. Why do you think Pokemon hasn’t yet really explored outer space in a game?

I suspect there’s often not a good answer to questions of the form “why didn’t Pokémon/Game Freak/Nintendo do this?”  A lot of the time, the truth is that the answer is just “because they did something different instead, and one choice isn’t obviously better than the other.”  There’s not necessarily a logical progression that says you have to have outer space before… whatever Ultra Space is.  But I think if we want a real answer… well, what would be the consequence of going into outer space, rather than using Ultra Space as a proxy to let us explore the universe?  For one thing, we would in principle be able to touch back down anywhere on our home planet; there’s not really any good reason we’d have to return to the region we left from (things like Ultra Wormholes provide at least a handwavey justification for always coming back to the same part of the world you left). But I think a deeper consequence is that we see the solar system.  And Game Freak is a bit weird about whether or not the Pokémon world is supposed to be Earth.  After generation I, there are very few references to real places on Earth, but all the regions we’ve visited in the core series are based on real places, and the world has a single white moon that looks the same size as its sun (only I think Pokémon might believe that the moon is an independent source of light, since moonlight and sunlight are distinct sources of magical power with different effects).  If we leave the planet… well, do we see Mars? Other iconic planets of the real solar system, like Saturn?  Are there Pokémon on Mars?  If we can visit the moon, does that force definitive answers on things that have previously been deliberately left as the subject of rumour and conspiracy theories, like the origins of the Clefairy? Do we have to answer questions about how moonlight and Pokémon with moon-related powers work?  What about the gas giants?  How would they even support Pokémon?  Is Pluto a planet?  Can the games show us Earth from space without having a clearly defined world map?  Will the answers to some of these questions accidentally confirm that the Pokémon world is definitely not Earth?  Granted, Ultra Space and the Distortion World raise lots of questions too, but I think for the most part they’re questions that are relatively easier to ignore.  I don’t think you can let players travel the solar system without being forced to immediately take a stance on a number of things that Game Freak would probably rather leave ambiguous.

Dosidicus Giygas asks:

So apparently “Galar” is a Scots-Gaelic word that means disease. I wonder if Game Freak knows this?

Hmmm… whoops?

You know, I would love it if they did know this.  You could make it an early hint at a kind of hidden dystopian reality behind Galar’s very standard happy-go-lucky Pokéverse façade, where Poké-Scotland is being oppressed by the Poké-English bastards and they call the united region by a name that means “disease” to express their true feelings about it.  I’m just not sure Game Freak have it in them to be so delightfully subversive, though!  Jim the Editor says “Galar” reminds him of galahs, which are a sort of very noisy pink and grey parrot they have in Australia, and that’s probably not what Galar refers to either, but at least you could conceivably make a Pokémon out of it.

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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Katiecat asks:

What do you think happens when we die? (In real life and also in Pokemon)

Well, when I die I usually hang out in the inner ring of the seventh circle of hell with all the rest of the great queer icons of history for a few months while I wait for my acolytes in the earthly world to assemble the all the artefacts, lore and sacrifices necessary to bring about my resurrection.  But even souls are subject to entropy, and in the end those too are ground to dust by the constant wear of existence, eventually becoming unable to resist the pull of the Endless Void.  Whatever mystical safeguards we place about ourselves to delay our fate – undeath, reincarnation, appeal to the protection of a deity, consumption of the souls of others – sooner or later we all, from the tiniest bacterium to the most ancient celestial leviathans, return to nothingness.

I mean, except for frogs, obviously.

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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.

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Long time reader; first time questioner asks:

You like baking right? How do you feel about the various ‘food’ pokemon? What food do you think deserves a Pokemon adaptation?

Well, how many even are there?  Vanillite, Vanillish and Vanilluxe, Swirlix and Slurpuff… I think that’s kind of it, unless you count Grass Pokémon based on fruit and mushrooms and the like, which personally I’d class as a separate thing.  I have kind of mixed feelings about them, because I’m not fundamentally opposed to the idea of food-based Pokémon like some people are, but actually developing that idea in any moderately interesting way is something Game Freak would probably be uncomfortable with.  That’s why Vanillite isn’t really an ice cream Pokémon at all, just a fairly generic ice-and-snow Pokémon that happens to be shaped like an ice cream for obscure reasons of its own.  Swirlix does better, but still runs up hard against the awkward question – “do we eat Pokémon?” – that the Pokémon games have no intention of ever firmly answering.  So Slurpuff end up working for human pastry chefs, constructing grotesque effigies of themselves, whose flavours are inspired by the taste of their own sugary flesh, for human consumption.  And then you also run up against another problem that I tend to have with Pokémon based on modern culture generally, which is “are we supposed to believe that the Pokémon inspired the cultural phenomenon, and what on earth is the timeline with that?”  It’s easy to make that work with Pokémon based on myths and folklore because you can just push everything back into the misty past of “thousands of years ago” but if you have, say, a hamburger Pokémon or something, we eventually have to ask: what kind of colossally fµ¢&ed up soylent-green-ass cultural moment caused people to suddenly decide, in the last couple of generations, to start modelling meat sandwiches after these intelligent creatures that they’ve been living and working alongside since time immemorial?  Who does that?

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