Osprey asks:

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?

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…

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.

Continue reading “Osprey asks:”

Tapu Koko, Tapu Lele, Tapu Bulu and Tapu Fini

So… I guess it’s time to learn about native Hawaiian mythology, huh?

Tapu Koko

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.

Continue reading “Tapu Koko, Tapu Lele, Tapu Bulu and Tapu Fini”

Kartana

[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!]

Kartana

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.

You’re welcome.

Continue reading “Kartana”

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.

Continue reading “Dhelmise”

Bounsweet, Steenee and Tsareena

250px-761Bounsweet.png
Bounsweet

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”

hugh_donnetono asks:

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.

Fomantis and Lurantis

Screen Shot 2018-05-27 at 11.49.05 PM
Fomantis

Today we’re talking about Fomantis and Lurantis, the “Sickle Grass Pokémon” and “Bloom Sickle Pokémon,” a pair of deceptive Grass-types that take on the appearance of insects, their names evoking the words “faux” and “lure.” According to the Pokédex, Lurantis is often called “the most glamorous Grass Pokémon,” which… well, I think Roserade, Lilligant, Virizion and fellow Alolan Grass-type Tsareena are all going to want a word with you about that one, Lurantis, but for now we’ll agree that you’re top 5 material. Let’s take a closer look. Continue reading “Fomantis and Lurantis”