hoennian asks:

uh oh so [SWSH spoilers fwiw)

galarian ponyta just got Officially Announced and it’s described as having been “exposed to the overflowing life energy of the forest over many generations, and this is why their appearance became unique in this region”
buuuuuut

it’s a psychic type

does this do anything to or for your Fairy-is-life-energy theories? or does it still also just kinda feed into “typing is nonsense”?

While we’re here, this will also serve as my answer to the question from another reader who gives their name simply as “Getting Shield!!!”:

Galarian Ponyta, thoughts?

So… I think it’s fine. Unicorns are an emblem of Scotland, so it certainly fits Galar as a Pokémon inspired by the culture and history of Great Britain. It’s quite pretty. It’s a point in favour of a prediction made by my esteemed PokéJungle colleague Jon that suggests we can guess which Pokémon are getting Galarian forms on the basis of new egg moves given out in Ultra Sun and Moon, so that’s quite nice if you’re interested in the prediction game. Psychic is a weird type to choose, in my opinion, for something as obviously “fairytale” as a unicorn – back in the X and Y era, Jim the Editor and I actually thought it was a bit weird that the base Kantonian Ponyta and Rapidash hadn’t been promoted to Fire/Fairy, because it would have made perfect sense and produced an interesting unique dual-type. But that brings us to…

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hugh_donnetono asks:

So how much of the mythological capabilities of a given legendary Pokémon DO we actually believe in, anyway? (If you can’t get into that question there, get into it here! I’m curious!)

ohhhhhhhh boy

so… what I was alluding to there is that I would eventually like to do a series on legendary Pokémon, where I look at everything we know about each of them (core games, TV show, movies, even spinoff games and the TCG) and decide “well, what actually are this Pokémon’s powers and how does it fit into the world?”  And in particular, I would like to take seriously the idea that characters in the games and anime don’t know the truth either.  Because I’m not convinced Arceus created the universe, and I’m not convinced Kyogre created the oceans, and I’m not convinced Yveltal can destroy all life on earth, and I’m certainly not convinced that Mew is the ancestor of all Pokémon.  As far as I’m concerned, all we know is that there are people who, rightly or wrongly, believe those things.  But there isn’t a simple answer to this question, because… well, that word “given” is important.  The answer’s not the same for all of them, because we don’t have the same information about all of them.  And I don’t even mean, like, some of them have appeared in a larger number of movies or episodes of the TV show; I mean in-universe the sources and reliability of the information are not the same.  Like, in Arceus and the Jewel of Life, the unreliability of history and legend is a theme of the story; in my opinion, that movie kind of invites us to disbelieve stuff the characters tell us about Arceus, in a way that isn’t really the case for, say, Manaphy’s role in Pokémon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea, which seems pretty clear-cut (although the nature of the titular Temple is less so).  You kinda have to look at everything we know about each one – or at least each duo/trio/quartet.  And the truth is, I don’t know when I’m going to be able to do that properly.  My schtick is the Pokémon reviews and, wouldn’t you know it, there’s gonna be a whole bunch of them that need doing in about two months, and I feel like more people care about those.  You can see why I might be interested in maybe coming up with a shorter format for them.

Osprey asks:

This is a slightly odd question (or set of questions), but I’ve been thinking lately about how Pokemon perceive or relate to their own type, and whether type distinctions induce some kind of cultural difference among Pokemon. Are Pokemon aware of their own type? Do type distinctions arise “naturally,” or are they simply human-created terms used to organize and taxonomize Pokemon by their salient features? Do Pokemon feel culturally closer to Pokemon who share their type? What about Pokemon from “allied” types, like Water and Ice, or Rock and Ground? Is a Pokemon like Abomasnow who has two types that are fairly “far apart” from each other able to “code switch” to an extent– to “lean in” to his Grass-type features when he’s hanging out with other Grass pokemon, and to his Ice-type aspects when he’s up on the mountain with the other Ice-types?

What do you think about this?

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…

I tend to think that the world makes more sense if Pokémon type is a construct created by humans in order to understand how Pokémon fight and predict which Pokémon will have advantages against certain others.  If Pokémon type is a natural thing that exists independently of humans, then you need to do a lot of work explaining what it is and how it arises (especially considering that Pokémon of the same type do not usually seem to be related species), and this is work that Game Freak has not done.  I think it would probably imply that each type corresponds to some metaphysical source of magical power that Pokémon can tap into – and honestly I think that might be true anyway for some of the more mystical types like Dragon and Fairy, but for most of them there simply isn’t anything that hints at it in official sources.  Of course, because this is something that Pokémon’s creators probably haven’t thought about, there are a few stray things that do strongly suggest Pokémon types are in some way natural and absolute, like Arceus having forms for every type, and Hidden Powers existing for every type (except Fairy), and there being no exceptions to the type chart.  So… basically, I know what the answer would be if I were in charge, but I’m not confident in anything given the world as we actually see it.

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Ty asks:

Have you seen this (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DVO8QrGAPHs) Battle Royale of Legendary Pokemon yet? If not, congrats! Now you have! 

Anyway, the question is: Which Legendary Pokemon do you think would most likely win in a Battle Royale scenario where Pokedex Entries are assumed to be true (i.e. do you agree with the video), and also in a scenario where they aren’t true (because the Pokedex really doesn’t seem like a reliable source of information) and you’re just using their in-game combat capabilities?

…I think I might love this

But yeah, to answer the question… well, I don’t think I need to agree with the video for it to be great, because it’s supposed to be funny and not, like, a watertight argument for a position in a “who would win” debate.  But let’s talk about it anyway.

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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).

N asks:

Ok, ill concede the Arceus point. However, the Dark type is literrally evil type in Japanese! Doesn’t this imply that there are quantifiable measurable charactheristics of evil in the Pokémon world and therefore morality is objective over there? Also if i am not wrong there are a couple of Pokémon that can “sense” the good in people.

[Continuation of this]

I think Dark-types, if anything, are a really good argument for the absence of an objective morality in the Pokémon universe – the type literally called あく/悪,“evil” is made up mostly of Pokémon who, while commonly associated with negative emotions or dirty fighting, are for the most part portrayed as more misunderstood than malevolent, and basically fine when you get to know them (Absol and Darkrai are the poster children for this).  Either that, or Pokémon’s position is that evil is a real objective thing but it’s totally rad.  Also, I suspect taking “Dark type” = “evil in an objective sense” would mean that humans, who seem to be typeless, can’t be evil in the Pokémon world – or at least, they can’t be as evil as, say, Pangoro, of whom the Pokédex says “although it possesses a violent temperament, it won’t put up with bullying.”

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N asks:

Do you think there is a case for objectuve morality exsisting in the Pokémon world given that a literal creator god exsists?

I think I reject the premises of the question, which is something I have a bad habit of doing and try not to do, but sometimes I’m just too stubborn and argumentative to avoid it.

‘cause, like, 1) most people alive on Earth today would say “but a literal creator god does exist in the real world,” and that hasn’t solved the problem for us, 2) some people who don’t believe in a supreme being still think that morality is objective anyway, and believe you can discover moral truths through scientific means, and 3) apart from anything else, I’m not convinced that Arceus is a literal creator god – just that some people in the Pokémon world have claimed that it is, which to my mind is not conclusive proof of anything (and this is something I used to be willing to accept but have become steadily more and more sceptical of in the years I’ve been writing for this blog).

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Analytic Mareep asks:

Guilty confession time:
I’m warming up to Greninja’s battle bond ability, and think that the concept is something Pokemon should continue to explore.
Hear me out. I know Ash-Greninja specifically is pure pandering to anime fans. But the implementation of the concept is, in my opinion, mega evolution done right. Mega Evolution was supposed to be about a strong bond between Pokemon and trainers making the Pokemon stronger, which would strengthen the franchise’s partnership concept. But of course, mega stones simply became an OP held item that you could use as soon as you obtained them. Battle Bond, on the other hand, really emphasizes the participation of the trainer (I think Ash feels pain when his Greninja does or something?) and occurs in the heat of the battle, once the Pokemon has already started taking out foes. What if in a future generation, all the starters’ final evolutions had battle bond as an ability? It might need some adjustments, like needing to be at a certain level to activate, and maybe a friendship or affection requirement as well. But overall, I think Game Freak could really work with this.

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N asks:

What would be the biggest culture shocks for someone that comes from the world of Pokémon to ours?

listen if you’re thinking of making the move I don’t recommend it

but… well, I’m gonna guess the absence of Pokémon would be the big one, to be honest.

People in the Pokémon world rely on their Pokémon for all kinds of things, and it often seems like it’s kind of unusual to be a person who doesn’t care about Pokémon and isn’t in any capacity involved with Pokémon.  Like, in the real world, telling someone you don’t have pets is not a big deal.  In the Pokémon world, sure, not everyone is a trainer exactly, but almost everyone has Pokémon in their lives in some capacity, maybe as pets or co-workers or even spiritual advisors.  How big a change this is might depend on when and where you landed – people in real rural societies do “live with animals” in a fairly meaningful sense, while urbanites tend to be largely oblivious of even the animals we eat (and actually, this is a total tangent but my IRL friend Flint Dibble, who is a zooarchaeologist, talks a lot about this stuff on Twitter and is very good at making compelling stories of his work).  Of course, maybe then the culture shock is “you eat your animals!?” (but then, are we so sure they don’t eat Pokémon too?).  They would probably be confused at how far animals, other than pets, are kept at arms’ length in their involvement in modern society – and might think that we must be very disconnected from nature on account of that.

The dependence of children on their parents is probably the other big thing.  In the Pokémon world, it’s generally seen as pretty safe for kids to travel on their own if they have Pokémon, who can provide both protection and emotional support.  Adults are not necessarily better trainers than children either, so Pokémon are a big equalising factor in the face of any dangers you might face.  In the absence of that security and freedom, modern childhood (even modern life in general) in the real world would probably seem stifling.

Spin Attaxx asks:

What’s your stance (from a narrative perspective, anyway) on the idea of Legendary Pokémon not being one of a kind (primarily with regards to the anime)? Do you think it “devalues” the awe they’re ostensibly supposed to have? It’s one thing to suggest relative nobodies like Heatran or Latios aren’t unique, but it’s jarring to have, say, a Lugia no different from any other big bird after all the grandeur and importance it had in Pokémon 2000, and an upcoming episode involves a wild Kyogre – something that was once a feared and uncontrollable force of nature that almost doomed the world just by existing – being the target of just one hunter. And then you have Mewtwo, who destroyed/mindwiped his creators and was motivated by how alone he felt, only for the Genesect movie to introduce a *different* Mewtwo that’s physically identical, made by a bunch of totally different people for no clear reason. It wouldn’t surprise me if in the future, we saw another Arceus that wasn’t the same one from its movie, yet they still state it created the universe somehow, or a Necrozma that influenced every dimension everywhere, and yet ISN’T the one we see in the Alola series.

I have… very mixed feelings about this, and I think it’s a more general problem that Pokémon has with the nature of canonicity.  ‘cause, see, I come from this background where I deal with mythology a lot, where there are multiple versions of every story,  they all flagrantly contradict each other, and no one sees any need to definitively settle the question of “but which one is true?” (because none of them are true but all of them are meaningful).  As a result, my natural inclination is “fµ¢£ the canon; writers should be able to tell whatever stories they want and have those stories be judged on their own internal merits.”  But then I do also see the other side – there’s worldbuilding happening here, and the nature and role of legendary Pokémon is confusing enough without sending these mixed messages.  It’s especially weird with legendary Pokémon that unambiguously should be unique, like Mewtwo, because Mewtwo’s creation was, as far as we know, a unique event.

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