One lunatic's love-hate relationship with the Pokémon franchise, and his addled musings on its rights, wrongs, ins and outs. Come one, come all, and indulge my delusions of grandeur as I inflict my opinions on anyone within shouting distance.
Imagine Game Freak gave us a new set of starters in a future generation, but instead of the traditional Grass-Fire-Water scheme, it’s a trio of types that have zero interaction with one another; say, Dark, Poison, and Flying. I can only imagine how the fanbase would react upon the initial announcement…
…BUT, upon reaching their fully-evolved forms, they adopt secondary types that are – you guessed it – Grass, Fire, and Water to become Dark/Grass, Poison/Fire, and Flying/Water, thereby simultaneously doing something new with the starters while still adhering to the tried-and-tested formula (and yes, I did choose those three types specifically so that each starter would have a double weakness, and not to each other). Obviously Game Freak shouldn’t announce the final forms prior to the games’ release to maximize that surprise factor. What do you think? Sound like a fun idea?
Honestly I think the initial fanbase reaction would be positive, because “a new starter type trio, even if it makes no sense” tends to get brought up a lot as a fun way to shake up the formula (if anything I suspect some people would be disappointed by the eventual return to Grass/Fire/Water, but whatever; you can’t please everyone). I’m… sceptical; like, of all the things you could do to change Pokémon’s formula, “change the types of the starters” seems like maybe the tamest.
This is a slightly odd question (or set of questions), but I’ve been thinking lately about how Pokemon perceive or relate to their own type, and whether type distinctions induce some kind of cultural difference among Pokemon. Are Pokemon aware of their own type? Do type distinctions arise “naturally,” or are they simply human-created terms used to organize and taxonomize Pokemon by their salient features? Do Pokemon feel culturally closer to Pokemon who share their type? What about Pokemon from “allied” types, like Water and Ice, or Rock and Ground? Is a Pokemon like Abomasnow who has two types that are fairly “far apart” from each other able to “code switch” to an extent– to “lean in” to his Grass-type features when he’s hanging out with other Grass pokemon, and to his Ice-type aspects when he’s up on the mountain with the other Ice-types?
What do you think about this?
I tend to think that the world makes more sense if
Pokémon type is a construct created by humans in order to understand how
Pokémon fight and predict which Pokémon will have advantages against certain
others. If Pokémon type is a natural
thing that exists independently of humans, then you need to do a lot of work
explaining what it is and how it arises (especially considering that Pokémon of
the same type do not usually seem to be related species), and this is work that
Game Freak has not done. I think it
would probably imply that each type corresponds to some metaphysical source of
magical power that Pokémon can tap into – and honestly I think that might
be true anyway for some of the more mystical types like Dragon and Fairy, but for
most of them there simply isn’t anything that hints at it in official sources. Of course, because this is something that Pokémon’s
creators probably haven’t thought about, there are a few stray things that do
strongly suggest Pokémon types are in some way natural and absolute, like
Arceus having forms for every type, and Hidden Powers existing for every type
(except Fairy), and there being no exceptions to the type chart. So… basically, I know what the answer would
be if I were in charge, but I’m not confident in anything given the
world as we actually see it.
So… I guess
it’s time to learn about native Hawaiian mythology, huh?
We’re on the home stretch of seventh-generation Pokémon now, and today
we’re talking about the four guardian deities of the Alolan islands: Tapu Koko,
Tapu Lele, Tapu Bulu and Tapu Fini.
These four are deeply woven into Alolan culture and identity, and they
have a special relationship with the Alolan trial system and its
administrators, the four Island Kahunas.
They’re also the pièce de résistance of generation VII’s unprecedented
level of interest in taking inspiration from the culture, ecology and history
of the real-world region its setting is based on.
[First of all: apologies for this one being late. I lost quite a bit of writing time last week flying back from Athens and recovering from jet lag (which, for me, tends to involve sleeping for 15 hours straight), but I think everything is just about back on track now!]
Ever had a paper cut?
Hurts, doesn’t it?
Well, today’s Pokémon, the Ultra Beast
Kartana, would like you to know that it lives to cause you that pain. Every time you turn a page in a book too
quickly and feel a sudden, sharp sting, or every time you lick an envelope and
your tongue or lip screams at you to abort the mission because something has
gone horribly wrong, Kartana is there, watching. And laughing.
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.
There are a lot of Grass Pokémon out there – it’s currently the fourth most common type in Pokémon, with almost one hundred representatives. It’s slightly curious, then, that there are so few Pokémon based on fruit. Tropius sort of counts, with fruit dangling off his neck, and Cherubi shifts into cherry blossom upon evolving, which has its own cultural significance in Japan, so arguably the only Pokémon wholeheartedly based on fruit are Ferroseed and Ferrothorn – assuming you do in fact classify the durian as a fruit and not as a sort of spiteful biological land mine. It’s possible that fruit Pokémon make Game Freak nervous since they draw attention to the old “do we eat Pokémon?” dilemma, but that doesn’t seem to stop them from cranking out mushrooms, or harvesting cast-off Crabrawler claws – or, for that matter, creating Swirlix and Vanillite. In any case, it’s time to break out your recipe books, because our next potentially edible Pokémon is here: Bounsweet, and her evolved forms Steenee and Tsareena. Continue reading “Bounsweet, Steenee and Tsareena”→
So Grass is your favorite type, and Vileplume is your favorite Pokemon, right? Why?
To be honest, some of it is probably buried so deep in things that I decided I liked as a 10-year-old that it’s unrecoverable. In fact, part of it is probably that my first Pokémon game was Blue, and Oddish is exclusive to Red, and kids want what they can’t have. I suppose I like Grass-types because I like plants; I grew up with a big garden, and in New Zealand we’re taught to take pride in our unspoiled, primordial forests (which, no matter what Tourism New Zealand or The Lord of the Rings try to tell you, are in decline). Plants are interesting scientifically and historically too. There’s much more to them than just pieces of scenery; plants have incredibly varied and sophisticated ways of life, chemicals derived from plants inspired many important modern medicines, and the cultivation of plants in ancient times paved the way for stable food incomes and the growth of complex civilisations. And I consider Vileplume the archetypal Grass Pokémon: beautiful, gentle, calm, but you must always look and never, ever touch, because plants are inventive in how they defend themselves, and you might never see it coming.