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.

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.

Continue reading “Spin Attaxx asks:”

pokemaniacal maniac asks:

fwiw i really really love the first half of the pokemon reviews. I would read entire books about what you had to say lore and inspiration-wise on pretty much every pokemon. i dont play competitively, so the second half is always Just Info to me, but even that has helped me understand the meta as it is, which is also interesting! personally, i would rank the reviews as my favorite thing (and like you said, the sheer scope and the worldbuilding analysis you extrapolate from the pokemon themselves should make you proud) and your If I Ran The Zoo type stuff my second favorite. this is long and rambling but i just have been a long time fan and youre a bright spot on a dark internet and thanks!

[This submission is a response to this]

That’s actually really helpful feedback; thanks!  After frankly kind of flubbing generation VII (due in part to unavoidable real-life circumstances, but also due to mismanagement on my part) I want to revise my approach to generation VIII.  The first thing is that I don’t think I should write a full narrative-based playthrough journal the way I did for White 2, X and Moon – because that’s fun, and I know a lot of people did enjoy them, but it takes so long, and I think the Pokémon reviews ought to be the highest priority.  It would be better, I think, to start those within a month or two of release.  And then the reviews themselves I think have become too expansive, and don’t play to my strengths.  If I could cut down the competitive stuff (there are better places to go on the internet for that kind of advice; no one needs me for that), and limit that side to just discussion of signature moves and abilities, or moves that cast a particularly interesting light on a Pokémon’s character design, then that, I think, would be a worthwhile economy to pursue.  I really want to commit to making sure that this blog’s future includes more of the theoretically dense worldbuilding and games-as-storytelling stuff that inspired “If I Were In Charge,” so trying to slim down the Pokémon reviews and “get them out of the way” is probably a good idea, as long as I can keep the parts of them that my readers value.

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?

Continue reading “Long time reader; first time questioner asks:”

Blog Status: Normal??

We haven’t talked in a while.  We should do that.

I spent most of the last year in Greece, participating in an intensive study program for PhD students in classical studies that takes us to archaeological sites all over the country and gives us opportunities for “backstage access” that would be impossible for almost anyone else (culminating in the incredible opportunity to spend three nights on the holy island of Delos – since there’s no modern town on Delos, any normal group would have to take the afternoon ferry back to Mykonos every day).  A priceless experience that I wouldn’t trade for almost anything, but… less than ideal for blog productivity, I have to admit.  Continue reading “Blog Status: Normal??”