Hau, Lillie and Gladion

In a way it feels strange to do all three of these characters together – like, it makes sense to have Hau and Gladion together because they both fit Pokémon’s existing “rival” archetypes, and it makes sense to have Lillie and Gladion together because (uh… SPOILERS, I guess???) they’re family, but the three of them don’t fit together quite as neatly at first glance.  In fact, though, they play off each other in ways that I think are worth talking about.  Hau, Lillie and Gladion all act as foils to one another – Hau’s carefree optimism, Lillie’s self-effacing dutifulness, Gladion’s edgy pragmatism.  All three of them also have certain issues with their parentage (granted, in Lillie and Gladion’s case, it’s the same parent), which is important not just in terms of their own characterisation but because tradition (and, by extension, ancestry and inheritance) is a minor theme of Sun and Moon.  Lillie’s relationship with her mother is also basically what the entire climax of the game turns on.  So let’s talk about these three, their personalities and what happens to them, and see what we can be come up with – starting with Hau.

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Update on the Oncoming End of the World

so, I had what you might describe as “two weeks”

Shortly after my last post, I had a long conversation with my father, who is a doctor and sees the worst-case scenarios of the COVID-19 pandemic with frightening clarity. On the same day, New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs publicly advised all New Zealanders travelling overseas to return home as soon as possible, since commercial flights might not be available for much longer. Now, that advice was clearly meant for tourists and people who were spending a few weeks in a foreign country, not so much people like me who have a home and a foreign bank account and so on, but our confidence in the United States’ ability to handle this crisis is… sufficiently low that the idea of getting stuck there was still worrying. Besides, all of my university’s courses are now being taught remotely and our libraries are closed, so all my teaching and research has to be online until further notice anyway. Long story short, in the space of 48 hours I went from sitting in my apartment in Ohio, talking to my parents about whether maybe I should fly back to New Zealand, to actually landing in Auckland. I am now quarantined alone in my grandmother’s empty house (she’s staying with my parents) and New Zealand has entered a full month-long lockdown. Frankly I don’t know what happens next, but in principle I’ll return to the US in August.

Anyway, I’m fine! How are you?

I’ve written an article on Hau, Lillie and Gladion, which I’m very happy with and will go up later today (the mood among my mysterious dark Patrons favours finishing up some more Alola stuff in preference to diving into Galar Pokémon reviews – if you want to influence those decisions, you can always join up; nudge nudge, wink wink). I’ll also be returning to reader questions in the next few days and mayyyyybe to A Pokémon Trainer Is You next week? IN OTHER NEWS, Jim the Editor is once again posting things on his Youtube channel, for the first time in, like, a year. He’s started a playthrough of Final Fantasy X, one of his favourite games of all time, with discussion and commentary, and he’s also posting videos of some kind of cricket-related game which frankly I don’t understand, playing with avatars of all the players in his university cricket club in St. Andrews (who have had to call off the rest of their real-world season on account of… y’know, the plague).

Oh, and if you foolishly pay attention to my Twitter you will have seen this already, but I’ve also recently written an article for PokéJungle about how Sword and Shield approach the history and mythology of Galar, which touches on some stuff I’ll probably continue to talk about if/when I write a character study of Sonia. It’s a bit shorter than a lot of my articles here, but talks about some themes that I really think Sword and Shield handled well, and might be a jumping-off point for future discussions of how other Pokémon games have handled their regions’ ancient past. If that sounds interesting, take a look!

Good luck, everyone, and remain indoors!

jeffthelinguist asks:

Are you safe? I know you’ve been taking a break but it’s also been a few weeks since I’ve seen any activity from you and the world is possibly ending, just want to make sure you’re surviving into the apocalypse.

There is no cause for alarm. My university is shutting down all in-person classes, I have warded my apartment against the demons of plague by means of the sacrifice of an infant chupacabra, and I have purchased enough lentils to make soup for the next hundred and fifty years. Although I am presently showing no symptoms, there is a strong possibility that I do in fact have the plague, since my department has had several visitors from northern Italy in the weeks immediately preceding the Italian lockdown. Nonetheless, my general good health (I am young with no preexisting respiratory conditions) and my assorted pacts with Dark Forces from Parts Unknown will likely sustain me, so my main concern is to avoid infecting others. I intend to enter a period of silent meditation and work on my PhD thesis (and, uh… hopefully Pokémon stuff too, which should resume shortly). Furthermore, I have constructed a powerful ritual such that, in the event that the plague does claim my life, the entire human race will perish along with me, and none of you will need to suffer the burden of living on in my absence. I know this is what all my devoted readers would want.

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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Gigantamax Garbodor asks:

As punishment for your sins, you are now condemned to be transformed into a stage 1 Com Mon. But you do get to choose which one. What do you choose and why?

Also, isn’t it great that I exist?

okay I know you’re joking, but Garbodor is the only Pokémon not from generation I or VIII that has a Gigantamax form (aside from Melmetal, who is, like… generation VII and a half/honorary generation I), and I really did not need another reason to suspect that someone at Game Freak reads this blog and is actively trolling me

(I SEE YOU, TURNER, AND I STILL THINK VANILLUXE IS DUMB; YOU CAN’T STOP ME FROM DYING ON THIS HILL)

anyway, even if you were sent from hell specifically to torment me I guess I still have to answer your question, huh

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