a people asks:

Do you think the people of the pokemon universe consider Yveltal and other destructive pokemon evil? Affection for legendary pokemon works the same way it does for others, should we have to earn their trust in a different way? And they still do things like play minigames with you and make cute faces when you pet them. Why?

I don’t get the impression they do.  They might be scared of certain Pokémon that have dangerous powers or that humans don’t know much about, but I’m trying my hardest to think of anyone who says a Pokémon is “evil” and I’m really not coming up with much (not counting phenomena like the Shadow Pokémon from Gale of Darkness and Pokémon Go, who have been transformed by an external force and can be “purified” to return them to their peaceful natural state).  Individual Pokémon can certainly be evil, like the Malamar from the X and Y anime or Meowth from Team Rocket (maybe Meowth is debateable as he has several redeeming qualities, but he certainly self-identifies as “evil”), but species of Pokémon aren’t inherently evil.   When Yveltal appears in the games, it’s a pawn of Lysandre, and in the Diancie movie, it’s treated as extremely dangerous but not really malevolent, more like a living natural disaster than a villain.  Tyranitar and Hydreigon are much the same, destructive forces of nature more than evil beings.  Mewtwo is, I think, intended to be more complex than just outright “evil”; Necrozma is destructive because it’s diminished and broken; most Dark Pokémon that are mischievous or violent are treated as being dangerous in an animalistic way.

The only ones I can come up with, the only Pokémon that I think are ever implied to be by nature actively and deliberately malicious, are a few of the Ghost Pokémon that literally represent “evil spirits” – Banette and Spiritomb and the like.  And even then, the inspirations behind Spiritomb’s design imply the possibility of redemption: the 108 demons of Water Margin become heroes; the 108 temptations that lie between mortals and Nirvana can be overcome.  For Spiritomb, the same has to be possible.  We’re told by the Ultra Moon Pokédex that Banette’s curse can be broken by treating it with kindness.  And I suspect that this should be the default assumption – that even when Pokémon are violent or destructive or malevolent in nature, there is a way in.  And that way in commonly involves macarons, doughnuts and/or curry.

I think fundamentally, Pokémon are animals, and Pokémon the series takes the view that humans have a responsibility to be the enlightened stewards of the natural world.  We’re supposed to show them the difference between right and wrong (or, in some cases, accept that they are beyond our understanding of right and wrong).  What we’re not in a position to do – what I don’t believe the series ever endorses us in doing – is judge them.

Except for Drapion; Drapion’s a piece of $#!t

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

Did you know there’s a Mimikyu in the anime that’s Shiny? It’s supposedly the ghost of Acerola’s first Mimikyu that is still lingering as a Ghost-Ghost.

What level of Bull$8!# are we assuming this is?

…I…

…uh…

…okay, y’know what, I haven’t seen the relevant episodes; I’ll be right back

Actually, hang on, I have seen one of these before; I watched Tough Guy Trials when I was researching my Necrozma article because it has some stuff about the legend of the Blinding One.  I guess it didn’t register with me that there was anything unusual about Mimikins (Acerola’s Mimikyu) because Acerola just says “Mimikins is a ghost!” and doesn’t explain or clarify any further, and I just assumed she meant it’s a Ghost-type.  Also… I’m honestly not sure it would be totally out of character for Acerola to just be bull$#!tting everyone because she likes spooky and creepy things.

(also I didn’t even notice it was shiny because Mimikyu’s shiny colouration is just, like… its cloth is kinda dull and it couldn’t find red crayons to colour in its Pikachu cheeks)

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The Dag asks:

What do you think is both the origins(s?) of ghost Pokemon and how they’re unified by a common theme; I. E. How some are explicitly defined as spirits of dead humans, while others are merely natural creatures with ghost-like powers, Vs possessed objects given life through other forces, and how it all ties into the Pokemon world.

Welllllllllll I think we have decent reason to believe that Pokémon’s creators imagine a sort of “spirit world” that exists apart from the material world, and that Ghost Pokémon are all in some way “touched” by that plane, but don’t necessarily all have the same relationship with it.   Maybe some of them are from there originally, while others were once normal creatures that have been altered by exposure to it, or have developed the ability to access it as a source of power (which might also be a thing humans can do in the Pokémon world, as channellers or mediums, or through whatever “ancient science” was used to create Golurk).  Beyond that… I don’t know, and I think that might be kind of the point?  Like, I think the actual real answer to this question might be “there are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy” – that is, there are some things in the universe that just are mysterious, and you can’t logic them out or determine the answer experimentally.  That’s not because we’ve missed something or because the lore is poorly thought out; it’s actually the point, because it’s meant as a comment on the limits of scientific thinking (which… well, to be honest I don’t think Pokémon has a very well-formed idea of how science might work in a fantasy world, and the writers need to read Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, but this is neither the time nor place).  The spirit world doesn’t have consistent rules and different Pokémon relate to it in different ways, because if we could understand it, then that would defeat the purpose.  Moreover, many Ghost Pokémon have powers of illusion and a reputation for deception and trickery; they have the means and the desire to obfuscate the issue.

Necrozma

Necrozma

Today we’re going to look at… probably the closest thing that Ultra Sun and Moon have to an antagonist: the mysterious, sinister light-devouring Pokémon, Necrozma.  With an all-black colour scheme, a name that incorporates the ancient Greek word for corpse, a mysterious extraterrestrial origin, and the ability to blast everything in sight with frikkin’ laser beams, this is clearly a Pokémon to run away from very fast.  But what actually is it?  Let’s discuss.

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Blacephalon

Blacephalon

Today’s Pokémon is Blacephalon, whose special skill is to blow up its own head.

And… well, you know, call me crazy, but I would have thought that would be the end of it.  Nonetheless, here we are.  This is the last Ultra Beast, and I just have to deal with it.

Like Stakataka, Blacephalon doesn’t appear in the original Sun and Moon, and its homeworld doesn’t appear in the sequels.  It doesn’t even have a very big anime role, since it co-stars in an episode with Xurkitree and doesn’t get the spotlight to itself, although the dynamic between the two is at least somewhat interesting.  Blacephalon is just… a bit of a weird non sequitur of a Pokémon.  It appears, it blows up its own head…

…profit???

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Poke the Bear asks:

Since you wrote at such length on Flying types…

god damn it; I knew it was a mistake to indulge that one

Do you think you could rank your favourite ghost-types by design?

I’d love to hear what you think of them…

So… there’s about twenty-seven Ghost-type Pokémon or evolutionary lines of Pokémon, give or take (depending on exactly who you count).  I think it’s reasonable to pick… let’s say a top five?  Does that seem fair?  I’m not sure there are any Ghost Pokémon that I dislike, because Ghost is a type that tends to attract the sort of antiquity/mythology/folklore-based Pokémon that I find really interesting – the ones that I’m the most “meh” on are probably… I guess Rotom and Gourgeist, which are perfectly fine.  That’s… like, honestly that’s a much better hit rate than Grass, which is ostensibly my favourite type.  But anyway, let’s pick some favourites.

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Katiecat asks:

What do you think happens when we die? (In real life and also in Pokemon)

Well, when I die I usually hang out in the inner ring of the seventh circle of hell with all the rest of the great queer icons of history for a few months while I wait for my acolytes in the earthly world to assemble the all the artefacts, lore and sacrifices necessary to bring about my resurrection.  But even souls are subject to entropy, and in the end those too are ground to dust by the constant wear of existence, eventually becoming unable to resist the pull of the Endless Void.  Whatever mystical safeguards we place about ourselves to delay our fate – undeath, reincarnation, appeal to the protection of a deity, consumption of the souls of others – sooner or later we all, from the tiniest bacterium to the most ancient celestial leviathans, return to nothingness.

I mean, except for frogs, obviously.

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Dhelmise

Dhelmise

Some Pokémon are just… weird.  And frankly I kind of have a soft spot for them.  Heatmor?  Someone jammed a blast furnace through an anteater and thought it would make a cool Pokémon; I love it.  Spoink?  It’s a spring-loaded pig’s head that can’t ever stop moving or its heart will explode.  Perfection.  Gligar?  I… I mean, I’m gonna be honest; it’s been eighteen years and I still don’t know what Gligar is, but clearly he’s great.  Probopass?  I… well, …okay, I draw the line at Probopass because that moustache is clearly just a crime against all that is natural; I have limits.  But the point is that quirkiness is appealing to me.  So, presented with a Pokémon who is apparently an undead clump of seaweed wrapped around a rusty ship’s wheel and anchor that it uses to hunt whales… well, colour me confused but intrigued.

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Mimikyu

Mimikyu

Today’s Pokémon is something of a dark horse contender for most adorable Pokémon of generation VII.  Sure, it’s so ugly that it turns the old cliché “if looks could kill” into a grim reality, but it just wants to be loved, and the well-meaning adage “be yourself” has led it to one too many tragedies.  Horrifying as it is at first glance, it’s hard not to sympathise with it once you learn the trials and tribulations that plague Mimikyu: the Disguise Pokémon.

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