Regional Variant Pokémon: Alolan Sandslash and Ninetales; Galarian Mr. Mime and Darmanitan

Today, for… some reason… I have decided to try to bridge the gap between Alola and Galar by reviewing all four of the Ice-type regional variant Pokémon: Alolan Sandslash, Alolan Ninetales, Galarian Mr. Mime and Galarian Darmanitan.  This obviously took far too much time and the article is far too long, but I’ve written it now, and if I had to write it, then you all have to sit down and read it; that was the deal, that’s how this works.  The Ice type is an interesting choice for regional variations, because real animals also kind of have Ice-type regional forms: as animals move into more extreme latitudes, they have to deal with longer and colder winters, and tend to adapt accordingly.  Cold-adapted animals tend to be bulkier than their relatives living in temperate climates, with more compact limbs, thicker fur or feathers and often a white colour scheme to blend in with snow.  Adaptation to different climates in Pokémon can be a mixed bag as far as realism goes, and we’ll see multiple different takes on that with today’s four Pokémon.  Let’s get started.

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H20 asks:

What would your dream pokemon region be based off of?

I’ve answered basically this exact question a couple of times before, so I’m going to incorporate it with another question about Pokémon regions and go through some thoughts I have about this:

The Dag asks:

Which region so far do you think has best incorporated the history, mythology, geography, and biosphere of its real-world inspiration?

My traditional standard answer for “where do I want a region based on?” is India, just because it gives you so much to work with, in terms of environment, climate, fauna, history, culture, mythology, everything.  The feel of that region would also be distinctive and recognisable to an international audience, but still leave a lot of room for incorporating material that would be new and interesting to players in both Japan and the Anglophone “West.”  But let’s talk about that second question a bit.

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Hop

This one isn’t going to be super heavy on sweeping themes and allegory; I don’t have, like, a hot take about how Hop’s character arc is actually a commentary on British masculinity, or anything like that. Nor (thank Arceus) do we need to get especially deep into the lore of any particular legendary Pokémon to understand what Hop’s deal is; Zacian and Zamazenta are relevant to his story, but we can do this without them. That means I can just… talk about what Hop does in the story, then say what I think about it, like I used to do back when I was still pretending that my life made sense. The theme here isn’t even all that complicated or particularly unusual in a Pokémon game: Hop’s story is about growing up in other people’s shadows and learning to find your own path and excel in your own way, not comparing yourself to the achievements of others. It’s sweet, it’s uplifting, let’s talk about it.

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Mewitti asks:

Have you seen the dialogue in Sword/Shield revealing that Dynamax Pokémon don’t actually physically change size in real life when they Dynamax? I saw an NPC mention it in the postgame content, and it’s also mentioned by Shigeru Ohmori in an interview “101 Rapid-Fire Questions About Pokémon Sword And Shield” at around 2:10:

Interviewer: So does Dynamax, is that like a projection, or a physical transformation?
Ohmori: It’s actually just a visual projection.
Interviewer: So is the real Pokémon still just on the ground doing these moves and it’s like just a big version of that?
Ohmori: Yeah, so the actual Pokémon is in that projection.

May or may not ultimately change anything, but I thought it was an odd reveal that has some interesting implications for worldbuilding.

Yeah, I am aware of this.  I thought it was… odd, because I’d actually considered the possibility beforehand and decided that it wasn’t necessary for Dynamaxing to make sense.  I mean, we already know that Pokémon can do a magical thing that can drastically change their size in an apparent violation of conservation of matter – evolution.  And evolution is permanent; once I’ve bought into that, I don’t have any problem believing that Dynamaxing can temporarily increase the size of a Pokémon’s physical body.  The animations for Dynamaxing also have this feel of mass and physicality to them that I think is weird if it’s meant to be just a projection.  I guess there is, like… a square-cube law argument that a size increase like that would definitely kill most Pokémon, but since when does Pokémon care about anatomical plausibility?  It makes some thematic sense, I’ll give them that, because of Sword and Shield’s interest in spectacle – Dynamaxing is actually all about appearances, style over substance, which would be a weird take on this generation’s flagship mechanic, but actually fits in the context of the story of Piers and Spikemuth.  I feel like it raises more questions than it answers, though.  Like, if the gigantic form is just a projection, why does it make them more powerful?  How does Gigantamaxing fit into this, why is it any different to Dynamaxing, and why can so few Pokémon do it?  Is there a reason Galar needs huge stadiums, if the Pokémon doesn’t physically get larger; like, can the Pokémon not just have the power without the size increase?  And, well, this was a question I had anyway, but what does Eternatus have to do with any of this?

Also, apropos of nothing, I believe this is the same interview where they are asked “are Pokémon sentient?” and Shigeru Ohmori replies “they’re just getting by,” which frankly is an answer that resonates with me much more than it should. Like, sentient? B!tch, today I slept until midday and then played six hours of Fire Emblem; I’ll work on “sentience” next week.

Mr. Rustworthy asks:

If you were a gym leader, what would your gym experience be like,?

So I have a really old thing somewhere, where someone asked me a question that was not this, but I answered this question instead by outlining a gym that specialised in nocturnal Pokémon where you had to find your way to the leader by reading glowing constellations painted on the floor.

Yeah, here it is:
https://pokemaniacal.com/2012/12/11/imagine-that-you-have-been-hired-to-become-a-gym/

Therefore, I will now continue the cycle by leaving that old answer there, then answering a slightly different question that someone else will ask me seven years from now, thus fulfilling the prophecy.

(look, if you’re going to follow this blog you’re going to have to accept that time and causality are not always super-firm in my presence; deal with it)

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Thoughts on the recent Pokémon Direct

If you’re interested to get my thoughts and reactions on the Pokémon Direct broadcast from a couple of days ago, which announced two upcoming downloadable expansions to Sword and Shield, I just wrote something on it for PokéJungle, which you can find here: https://pokejungle.net/2020/01/11/in-depth-breakdown-of-pokemon-direct-and-what-it-revealed-about-sword-shield-dlc/. I will say that I wrote this in Denver airport, near the end of a 36-hour-long Saturday, as I was beginning to hear colours, so if I have missed something you’d like to know my opinions on, do bring it up in the comments on this post. Please also be aware, however, that I now intend to sleep for approximately seventeen days.

Chairman Rose

Chairman Rose.

Today we’re going to be looking at another pivotal character of Pokémon: Sword and Shield: Chairman Rose, the… [SPOILERS… obviously???] main antagonist of the game’s climax.  Even more so than Lusamine, Rose spends a lot of the game being obviously suspicious but never actually doing anything untoward that we can see, until suddenly he flips out and does something completely ludicrous that I am probably going to spend the entire duration of generation VIII trying to puzzle out.  Exactly what he does is swathed in some weird deep-lore $#!t that I don’t think we have the full picture of, even from our vantage point at the end of the game, and anyway I’m going to talk more about it when I cover Sonia’s storyline, and eventually when I review the relevant legendary Pokémon.  For Rose, I think it’s more important that we look at who he is and what his motivations are.

So what’s Rose’s deal?

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Don’t Call Me Bradley [Patreon Cultist] asks:

Which of the Gen VIII Pokemon have taken your fancy early-on? Before all the research and all the fun stuff that comes with the reviews have any peaked your interest as fascinating right out-the-gate? Have you accepted our lords and saviors Falinks into your heart yet?

Y’know, I have weird issues with Falinks that are probably specific to me in particular, because I look at Falinks and think that it was probably designed for the British region, and plonked down in an “ancient ruins” area next to the town which is clearly based on Bath, as a reference to soldiers of the Roman Empire. And that’s great and all, but I’m a classicist and Falinks’ design and English name scream to me “classical Greek hoplite phalanx,” which is not the same thing, god damn it, so now I have to read this bit from Falinks’ Bulbapedia article:

and “Spartan helmets during the period of Ancient Rome” is… kind of a phrase that hurts my soul in a way that maybe will not be immediately apparent to a non-specialist

so yeah Falinks is a “no” from me, sorry

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Tapu Wooloo asks:

Could the Chairman Rose arc be a commentary on modern-day capitalism? Real-world competitive sports is a lucrative business full of shady sponsors. And Dynamaxing seems to be an investment that is extremely gimmicky yet highly profitable (larger stadiums and audiences become necessary), so it would make sense for the chairman to invest in it. Like the decisions of many real world corporations, the decision to put Dynamaxing front and center has left behind towns like Spikemuth. And like real world corporate bosses, Chairman Rose is willing to risk destroying the entire world in pursuit of his investment.

Just giving a very quick and brief answer to this here because I’m actually working on my article on Chairman Rose right now, and am working through how I want to do my full-length take on this. The short answer, though, is “yes, that is absolutely how I see this story as well.”

Marnie, Piers and Team Yell

Okay; let’s get cracking!  New generation, renewed sense of purpose, momentary spike in my will to live… aaaaaand it’s gone.

Oh well.

I’m going to begin with my character studies of the major players in the plot of Sword and Shield, rather than Pokémon reviews like I’ve done in the past, partly because I want to get my thoughts on the story out there while the games are fresh in people’s minds and it’s more immediately relevant… and partly because I was still doing Pokémon reviews for generation VII just a couple of months ago and frankly I need a minute (also I am kiiiiinda thinking I should go back and do the characters from Sun and Moon that I missed out).  Let’s start with the, uh… pseudo-villains… of Sword and Shield – Team Yell – and their reluctant “leaders” Piers and Marnie.  In more ways than one, Team Yell are a continuation of things we saw in Sun and Moon with Team Skull.  Team Skull are arguably not “villains” in Sun and Moon, and certainly not the main antagonists.  They’re set up as troublemakers and petty criminals, but if anything we’re supposed to come to sympathise with them by the end of the game, and their leaders earn redemption in the epilogue.  Team Yell are the same, but more so: they’re obstructive and annoying, but they never really hurt anyone as far as we see, and once we learn their true nature, it’s clear that their motives are – if not exactly “pure” – certainly understandable.

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