Finally, I am permitted entrance into the northern regions of Lumiose City – where I am immediately met by Shauna. Good lord, the city’s only been open for a few hours and she’s already in here; this girl is the most dedicated tourist I’ve ever met. According to Shauna, now that the power is back on, Lumiose City is going to light up the Eiffel Tow- uh, I mean, the Prism Tower, the great spire at the city’s centre, and she just can’t wait to get a look. Sure, whatever. I wander down the axial road at a leisurely pace, checking out what the city has to offer as I go. Pretty standard stuff; homes, a second Pokémon Centre, a café owned by Lysandre where members of Team Flare have “lively debates about how to make a better tomorrow”… you know, nothing suspicious or anything like that. We reach the Prism Tower just as it is about to be lit up, by two of Shauna’s friends – a little girl named Bonnie and her bespectacled older brother Clemont, Lumiose City’s Gym Leader, master Electric Pokémon trainer, and either the best or the worst inventor in all of Kalos, depending on whom you ask (I gather he’s something of an accident-prone mad genius type). Now that power has been restored, Clemont can light up the tower once more – and, without further ceremony, does so. Lumiose City’s Pokémon Gym is the Prism Tower itself, and with the restoration of power, it’s now open for business… but I want to check out the rest of this city. Clemont can wait. It’s time to explore the City of Light!
The largest city in the Pokémon world, dwarfing even Castelia City in Unova, Lumiose City is clearly a metropolis that was planned from the ground up. The city is structured around four main axial roads, named for the four seasons – Vernal, Estival, Autumnal, and Hibernal – and two more following the river on which the city sits. All six converge at the Prism Tower in Centrico Plaza. Five smaller plazas, centred on brightly coloured obelisks (red, yellow, green, blue, and purple), are spaced between the axial roads, and the whole thing is bound together by a great ring road, divided into two sections known as the North Boulevard and the South Boulevard. It probably seems like I’m making an unnecessarily big deal of this, but the fact that Lumiose has such an orderly layout is interesting to me. Cities don’t grow organically like this; you see this degree of neatness in the big East Coast US cities like New York and Boston (or, for example, in Roman colonies) because those cities were planned from the ground up. If you look at a street map of downtown Paris… well, it’s not quite so meticulous, because Paris is a city that grew up quite gradually. There is a degree of order to it, though, largely as a result of the extensive renovations conducted by Baron Haussmann in the 19th century at the instigation of Napoleon III (the Prism Tower is a very modern building, so any similar remodelling of Lumiose City probably happened much more recently). Downtown Paris actually does have a ring of major boulevards (well, calling it a ring is perhaps a little charitable, but it’s vaguely circular), cut more or less through the middle by the River Seine and the Champs-Élysées, the so-called ‘most beautiful street in the world,’ and site of the Arc de Triomph. The Eiffel Tower’s not at the centre of any of this, though – it’s actually quite close to the edge of this notional ring I’m imagining (the Eiffel Tower, incidentally, is far from the only or even the best of Paris’ attractions). The fact that Lumiose City’s Prism Tower is at the centre – well, in all honesty it’s probably a reflection of how foreigners tend to imagine Paris more than anything else, but I think that from an in-universe perspective you can say some interesting things here. Think about it. The Prism Tower is 1) the centre of Lumiose City’s street layout and the landmark you can look to anywhere in the city to orient yourself, 2) a monument to light, creativity and hope, and 3) the city’s Pokémon Gym. Pokémon, and the relationship between Pokémon and humans, are metaphorically cast as the source of order, goodness and inspiration in their society, which I think is a tremendously powerful ideological statement.
…okay, I’m done geeking out. For now.
The first thing I learn about Lumiose City is that its inhabitants are completely insane (see this entry’s ridiculous quote log for documentary proof of this claim). To their credit, though, they have some damn fine attractions. I visit a Pokéball Boutique that stocks every kind of specialty Pokéball imaginable (they even have a Master Ball in their display case, though they don’t seem inclined to sell it), a shop that sells gourmet Berry Juice to delight and invigorate Pokémon, the outrageously expensive boutique that formerly rejected me for my lack of style, a train station modelled on the real Paris’ Gare du Nord (an architectural attraction in itself), a three-star restaurant that will only serve customers “on a par with the champion” (…interesting business model there), a slightly saner two-star restaurant with some decidedly curious menu options (to their credit, even one Michelin Star is a pretty high accolade in the fine dining scene), and a dozen different cafés (the café, incidentally, seems to be the basic unit of social organisation in Lumiose City). I also meet a couple of Pokémon that look like floating pumpkins, although I don’t yet know what they’re called, or really anything else about them – Ghost/Grass-types, maybe? – and drop in on Lumiose Press, where Alexa, the journalist sister of the Santalune Gym Leader Viola, works. Apparently their editor-in-chief is off in the mountains searching for a mythical Pokémon… curious. The Lumiose Art Museum, much as I normally enjoy this kind of extraneous cultural detail, fell a little flat for me; the enduring message I was left with is that Kalosian art has an overwhelming fondness for landscapes. At some point, as a result of battling random trainers in the city, my new Clauncher, Odysseus, reaches level 37 and evolves into a Clawitzer (which is pretty much the most badass Pokémon name since Octillery), his one big claw growing even further into an enormous jaw-like claw-zooka twice the size of the rest of his body. I fell in love instantly.
Well, that’s enough sightseeing – time to conquer the physical and spiritual heart of the city!
The Prism Tower is a quiz Gym, not unlike Fantina’s Hearthome Gym in Sinnoh. Correctly identify silhouettes of Pokémon, not a particularly arduous task, and you can progress up the floors of the tower, fighting trainers along the way. Not in itself objectionable, but Bonnie has constructed this ridiculously tacky neon-studded game-show set-up with herself as announcer – really, this is the interior of Kalos’ most iconic monument? Shame on them. I mean, all right, it’s thematic; Electric Pokémon trainers like bright flashing lights, but Electric specialists are a bunch of pretentious glitterati who wouldn’t know culture if it attached a pair of jumper leads to their nipples. While I’m not battling or studying the Pokémon silhouettes, I devote as much time as possible to giving Bonnie a continuous vitriolic death glare, but sadly she pays little attention, too wrapped up in her own self-aggrandisement. Eventually I make it through the game show to the top of the tower, where Clemont is waiting. A mad inventor from head to toe, Clemont doesn’t even throw his Pokéballs by hand – he has a mechanical arm that extends from his backpack to do that. I make a couple of missteps in this battle, opening with my Venusaur, Ilex, hoping to make use of his resistance to electricity, and run straight into an Emolga. Thanks to Sleep Powder, Ilex still wins, but takes a hit from Aerial Ace and is in no shape to beat Clemont’s next Pokémon, a Magneton. I then try Tereus the Talonflame, aiming to melt Clemont’s Magneton to slag, but his Fire powers just aren’t all that impressive, and Magneton survives to nail him with a Thunderbolt. At this point I start to feel things are getting a bit embarrassing and send in Orion the Lucario to murder Magneton. Clemont’s partner Pokémon is a Heliolisk, a bipedal lizard that clearly seems to be the evolved form of Helioptile. Presumably it is, like Helioptile, still a Normal-type, because the poor thing goes down to Orion’s Power-up Punch without even a chance to counterattack. Clemont graciously admits defeat and hands over a Thunderbolt TM and a copy of his insignia, the Voltage Badge, a starburst of six golden thunderbolts set over an inverted triangle of amber. Bonnie, true to form, interrupts to tell me the specs for the TM, irritating Clemont, who evidently has to spend quite a lot of his time talking over her. I leave them to their bickering, silently imagining the new and far superior tower I will construct here instead when I rule Kalos. Maybe a sort of ‘Hanging Gardens of Babylon’-type deal, except that all of the plants can kill you if you look at them in the wrong tone of voice on a Thursday.
The moment I leave the Prism Tower, I receive a call from Professor Sycamore on my Holo-Caster. He wants me to meet him… at the nearby Lysandre Café.
Ridiculous quote log:
“A round thing is round from every direction, like the Pokémon Voltorb. Thus, it has the ultimate beauty.”
…I’m sorry, random Lumiose child, did you just imply that Voltorb and Electrode represent the absolute pinnacle of Pokémon beauty? Uh… whatever floats your boat, I guess.
“This sprightly Pecha pâté has been likened to a Madame masquerading as a maiden.”
You mean it’s old and dusty but its blemishes are smothered with makeup? Sounds… appetising.
“…a braciole of fresh, Azure Bay Slowpoke Tail. It’s accompanied by Payapa Berry crudités glazed in an extra-virgin Oran oil and has been described as the gastronomical equivalent of a Gastly glaring at a Hex Maniac.”
Look. Dude. It’s your restaurant and I’m not going to tell you how to run it, but I strongly suggest you shoot the guy who writes your menu, because I do not want the “gastronomical equivalent of a Gastly glaring at a Hex Maniac” coursing through my digestive system.
“Simply biting into this blue cheese will give off an odour so foul, your nose hairs will burn.”
…I wonder if I could teach a Pokémon an attack like that.
“I live today for the thrill of trying to win the Loto-ID again tomorrow!”
Listen, kid, I’ve never said this to an 8-year old before, so don’t take this lightly: I think you have a serious gambling problem.
Gulp! “I-I-I wasn’t trying to drink out of the vase or anything! You saw nothing!”
Well, room service chick, at least you’re still sane enough to try and hide the crazy; that’s more than I can say for most of this town.
“I recently moved here from a very rural part of Unova. I feel so lost here. I don’t even know what this building is for!”
But… you’re… the receptionist… how can you-? Did you just wander into the building and start acting like you work here?
“Y’know, my Emolga really wants to shock your Dedenne.”
…wait, was that some kind of innuendo?