KalosianPorygon asks:

What’s your favorite generic Trainer class, e.g. Youngster, Fisher, Hiker, Hex Maniac? And what’s your least?

So, if you shift your gaze upward, you will notice the name of this site, and my avatar above it, and I think these things are arguably clues.

Aside from an affinity with the wild-eyed manic-grinned generation II Pokémaniac, I have a strong love-hate relationship with the Ruin Maniac class, because on the one hand they’re archaeologists, which is what I am, and I love anything to do with the ancient past of the Pokémon world, but on the other hand they’re pop culture archaeologists, which basically means they’re glorified grave robbers who should probably be shot.  Just in general, I’m fond of the “mystical” classes like Channeler, Psychic and Hex Maniac.  I also quite like the Free Diver class introduced in Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby, just because I love the way the underwater areas and battles look in those games (even if they do take some, uh… stretching of one’s suspension of disbelief).  As for a least favourite… well, nothing really sticks out to me; I’m not sure it’s ever occurred to me to have a least favourite trainer class.  Is that a thing?  Maybe the “athlete” classes from the Nimbasa Stadiums in Black and White; you know, Linebacker, Infielder, etc.  You’ve all got your own sports, dumbasses; stay out of mine.

And just while we’re here, KalosianPorygon also asks:

Can you rank all eight first Generations based on the generic Trainer designs?

To which the answer is no, I genuinely cannot

Hau, Lillie and Gladion

In a way it feels strange to do all three of these characters together – like, it makes sense to have Hau and Gladion together because they both fit Pokémon’s existing “rival” archetypes, and it makes sense to have Lillie and Gladion together because (uh… SPOILERS, I guess???) they’re family, but the three of them don’t fit together quite as neatly at first glance.  In fact, though, they play off each other in ways that I think are worth talking about.  Hau, Lillie and Gladion all act as foils to one another – Hau’s carefree optimism, Lillie’s self-effacing dutifulness, Gladion’s edgy pragmatism.  All three of them also have certain issues with their parentage (granted, in Lillie and Gladion’s case, it’s the same parent), which is important not just in terms of their own characterisation but because tradition (and, by extension, ancestry and inheritance) is a minor theme of Sun and Moon.  Lillie’s relationship with her mother is also basically what the entire climax of the game turns on.  So let’s talk about these three, their personalities and what happens to them, and see what we can be come up with – starting with Hau.

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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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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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Lilycat asks:

Doesn’t Raihan look like Garchomp? Considering his sandstorm…weather team….do you think it was a wasted opportunity that he didn’t have a Garchomp?

I mean I suppose they’re saving him for the rumored diamond pearl remakes…but what are your thoughts?

Yeah, I guess I can see it?  Like, those particular shades of navy blue and scarlet, together with the white “spikes” on his hoodie… seems like it could be a deliberate stylistic reference.  I can think of reasons not to give him a Garchomp, but not fantastic reasons.  Like, as you said, if they were planning to release Pokémon: Timey Diamond and Spacey Pearl or whatever in 2020 or 2021, then those games would definitely have Garchomp, so there’s a decent argument for leaving it out of Sword and Shield, but I think you are allowed to put it in both; there are several Sinnoh-native Pokémon in Sword and Shield, including the iconic Rotom and Lucario, so there is going to be overlap anyway.  You could also argue that gym leaders almost always have a signature Pokémon that’s new in their own generation – in Raihan’s case, Duraludon – and putting a “pseudo-legendary” Pokémon like Garchomp on his gym team would overshadow his star player, which is clearly undesirable.  However, his Champion Cup team actually does include a pseudo-legendary Dragon, namely Goodra.  I don’t think it was necessarily a mistake to leave Garchomp out of the Galar Pokédex and thus deny Raihan the opportunity to use it, but I do think it was a weird choice to do that and then lean into what seems like a Garchomp-inspired character design, rather than picking one of the many other Dragon Pokémon that do exist in Galar, like Haxorus or Noivern.

Then again, I can see an argument for that being kind of the point.  The Pokémon that are missing from Galar aren’t gone for good, and they even have fans in Galar; maybe Raihan loves Garchomp but has never had the opportunity to catch one.  Arguably his costume would look… well, over-the-top if it matched a Pokémon he actually used, but comes across a bit more subtle as a reference to a foreign Pokémon that he likes but doesn’t have.

N asks:

Are bad dads a constant in the Pokémon Universe? Like i can’t remember for the life of me a single good father in the franchise. Hell, the entire plot of the Detective pickachu movie hinges on a son being unable to recognize his own father’s voice.

Well, I can think of… a couple of good dads: Professor Birch, in Ruby and Sapphire, seems to have a very strong relationship with his child, May/Brendan (whichever one isn’t the player character), while Norman, the player character’s father, is away all the time because he works in a different city but seems like a decent enough parent when we actually get to see him.  Bianca’s dad in Black and White… doesn’t really “get it,” but he’s at least trying not to be a $#!tty dad.

There is a standard explanation for this one, and there will always be one person who brings it up, which is: “absent fathers are a theme in Japanese fiction because Japanese fathers work 500 hours a day and are never around.”  That’s… true, and it explains a lot of the $#!ttiness of many Pokémon fathers – like Palmer in Diamond and Pearl being so distant from Barry, or Hau’s unnamed father in Sun and Moon being off in Kanto somewhere doing god knows what.  I think a lot of it really is just Pokémon’s own priorities, though, and a general lack of interest in the families of the player or other major characters (it would be fair to say, I think that the plots of these games are not what you’d call “character-driven”).  Like… fathers who are absent or distant because they work all the time are also a theme of American fiction; American fiction has practically created entire genres out of emotionally stunted men’s obsession with their $#!tty father figures.  But that’s not what the fathers of Pokémon’s main characters are like; they’re just not there, with no explanation and no relevance to anything.  Plenty of other characters have fathers who clearly exist, even if they’re not around very much or aren’t very good parents.  It’s also fairly common for both parents to be equally absent (as in Brock and Misty’s cases; I don’t think we ever meet Hau’s mother either).  I think the presence of the main character’s mother in each game is, in most cases, something of an admission that, at a bare minimum, it would be weird for a child to grow up completely alone.

Shauna asks:

Do you think Hau could be the “official” (non-player) champion of Alola? Would that even be a good direction for his characterization? And what the heck even happened to his dad, anyway…?

If you’re asking for, like, a prediction or something… what would that even mean?  Does Alola need an “official” Champion?  What for?  The idea of making the player the Champion was pretty cool and made Alola’s endgame unique, and I think that for Game Freak to canonically designate an NPC as the “real” Champion instead would undermine that.  But purely in terms of how being Champion might affect Hau’s characterisation… well, funnily enough this is kind of the direction I tried to explore in the epilogue to my narrative playthrough journal of Moon version, where I imagined my character trying to prepare Hau for exactly that future.  So, read that and see what you think, I guess?

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