KalosianPorygon asks:

What are, in your opinion, the most baffling worldbuilding incoherences of the mainline Pokémon games? For me, it’s the presence of Bananas (as is, the real-life fruit) in Sword and Shield, when Nanab Berries, which are based on bananas, also exist.

That’s a tough one… See, this is hard because a big part of my schtick normally is looking at inconsistencies and figuring out why they actually might not be inconsistent.  “This is a baffling worldbuilding incoherence” is normally my last resort, after “unreliable narrators” and “differing creative visions” and “fiction has no sense of scale” and “myth and history are really complicated” and “biology is also really complicated” and “there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio” have all failed.  Actually pegging something as fundamentally inconsistent in a way that allows no more interesting interpretation is almost an admission of defeat for me.  Like, take the Nanab Berry thing.  That doesn’t even strike me as a problem; that’s just two fruit that look similar and have similar names, which may or may not be related (Jim the Editor pointed out that we have grapes and grapefruit).  Cheri Berries and Cherubi also exist in the same world; I think one is probably named after the other.

My first thought for an actual answer here was “they never really explain how Pokéballs work, and none of the characters seem to think that’s weird” but I don’t know if that qualifies as an inconsistency, so much as something that’s just never explored.  Something that really is worth wondering about is how food works – not just whether we eat Pokémon, but whether Pokémon eat each other.  I actually suspect there may not be a firm party line on this within Game Freak, because the games definitely mention hunting and predation from time to time, but when you directly ask them they’re reluctant to talk about it.  We finally get to eat Slowpoke tails in Sword and Shield, but they’re always careful to mention that Slowpoke tails grow back.  You sort of have to assume that we eat Pokémon and they eat each other, because a world with no predation whatsoever just wouldn’t have creatures that resemble real ones, but if even the lowest Pokémon are of roughly doglike intelligence and many species are superhuman, the idea of killing them for food – or of them killing each other for food, when they could easily have been friends on some trainer’s team – does make one a little bit… queasy.  And that’s just not something Pokémon’s optimistic worldview can process in a nuanced way.

Patch asks:

From now on you’ll have to sustain yourself on one type of Pokemon treat, e.g. beans, blocks, curry. Which one do you pick, and why?

Hmmmm… surely it’s gotta be the curry, right? Like, just nutrition-wise, I don’t know if anything else would have everything your body needed. Maybe the beans, but there’s only so much you can do with beans. Man cannot live on beans alone. Even rainbow sparkle beans. On the basis of what we’ve seen so far of Sword and Shield‘s curries, it seems like you can put a lot of different meats, spices and vegetables in there (including beans!). Now, unlimited Poképuffs in all the different flavours for the rest of my life? Sure, that sounds great. (Incidentally, one of these days I gotta try to make Poképuffs and write up a recipe) But Poképuffs and no other food for the rest of my life? You’d get to feeling pretty gross within a couple of days, I think, to say nothing of the iron deficiency that would set in after a few weeks.

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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vikingboybilly asks:

How come some plants are pokémon, but most are not? Humans are the only known non-pokémon animal in existence (besides pokédex mentions of Indian elephants and stuff), so is there some kind of bias because the world’s environment and obstacles isn’t made out of meat?

I think probably because if all plants are Pokémon too then you begin to run dangerously short of things that are okay to eat.  Game Freak seems to be very uncomfortable with the idea that humans eat Pokémon, at least in the present day – hell, in recent years they even seem to have become uncomfortable with the idea that wild Pokémon eat each other.  When you ask them about it, they make reference to the huge variety of wondrous fruits and vegetables that exist in the Pokémon world.  I suspect if all the plants become sentient too then they run out of wriggle room.

Anonymous asks:

How do you think a Cherubi would feel if you fed it a cherry?

Unclear.  On the one hand it seems likely that the resemblance between the two is mostly superficial, but on the other hand, do they know that?  I would think they’d be pretty creeped out… but then, there are parts of the world where people eat monkeys.  Possibly a Cherubi would just feel insulted that we even thought it was similar enough to a cherry to be worth the comparison.

Anonymous asks:

Ever read The Food Politics of Pokémon on Modern Farmer? It’s a short read, and I’m sure it’s nothing incredibly insightful to a Pokémaniac of your caliber, but still, I’m interested in hearing what you think especially with regards to your own Pokémon and Food article! Awesome blog, btw! 🙂

The whole Pokémon as food thing is really interesting because it seems like something they’ve gotten progressively more uncomfortable with since the series started.  Like, there’s plenty of evidence in the first couple of generations that humans eat Pokémon (e.g. Farfetch’d) and that Pokémon eat each other (e.g. Magikarp and Pidgeotto).  The recent stuff tends to involve ingredients that you could hypothetically take from a Pokémon without killing or even necessarily hurting them – for example, that article mentions Restaurant le Yeah’s blue cheese curdled with Arbok venom, which you could harvest in a perfectly humane fashion, and it’s been well established for years that Slowpoke are largely numb to pain and their tails grow back very quickly.  When you actually sit across from someone senior in Game Freak and ask them “well, do we eat Pokémon,” as happened here, for instance, Junichi Masuda gives you this incredibly vague response:

There’s a lot of fruits and vegetables in the world of Pokémon. There is also a variety of snacks and various candies and whatnot that come from the different regions. The Pokémon world is much more technologically advanced than the world of our own, so perhaps there is probably a lot of different food that we can’t even think of.

Like… he doesn’t quite want to say “no” outright, but he’s also clearly very uncomfortable with the idea.  And at this point you get into “death of the author,” where it doesn’t actually matter what the creators think, because the world they’ve presented to us is one in which it makes sense if people do eat Pokémon, and we are free to interpret it that way if the games and anime don’t actually contradict it.  But yeah, it is awkward, ethically, and it is prone to cultural values dissonance, because which animals are okay to eat is not by any means universal in the real world – like, if you’re in India, cows are off limits; in most of the English-speaking world, eating dogs and cats is frowned upon; the Japanese, despite international condemnation of their Antarctic “research” expeditions, are happy to scoff down whales, which are among the most intelligent non-human animals on the planet; no one has any problem eating birds but for some reason the “West” is really uncomfortable with insects.  So I see no reason to imagine that this kind of thing wouldn’t be just as contested, if not more so, in the Pokémon world.

EDIT: And for that matter, Masuda references the variety of fruits and vegetables in the Pokémon world, but some of those are also Pokémon; do they have weight?

Pokémon and Food

Food, you may have noticed, is important.

You wouldn't eat dear old Milky, would you?
You wouldn’t eat dear old Milky, would you?

While I look forward to the day when I shall no longer have any need of food, and shall be able to sustain my bodily functions by means of philosophy alone, I am for now bound, like most people, by the need to consume carbohydrates, proteins and fats on a regular basis in order to keep myself from, y’know, dying of starvation.  Food isn’t just important to each of us on a personal level, though, it’s important to society as a whole because, as a rule, when a population has more food than it needs, it gets larger, and continues to get larger until the food supply becomes an issue again.  Entire schools of political and economic thought are based around this simple problem, and it’s likely that civilisation as we know it came into being because we figured out how to produce a food surplus by growing crops in a regular and systematic fashion.

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