Spin Attaxx asks:

What’s your stance (from a narrative perspective, anyway) on the idea of Legendary Pokémon not being one of a kind (primarily with regards to the anime)? Do you think it “devalues” the awe they’re ostensibly supposed to have? It’s one thing to suggest relative nobodies like Heatran or Latios aren’t unique, but it’s jarring to have, say, a Lugia no different from any other big bird after all the grandeur and importance it had in Pokémon 2000, and an upcoming episode involves a wild Kyogre – something that was once a feared and uncontrollable force of nature that almost doomed the world just by existing – being the target of just one hunter. And then you have Mewtwo, who destroyed/mindwiped his creators and was motivated by how alone he felt, only for the Genesect movie to introduce a *different* Mewtwo that’s physically identical, made by a bunch of totally different people for no clear reason. It wouldn’t surprise me if in the future, we saw another Arceus that wasn’t the same one from its movie, yet they still state it created the universe somehow, or a Necrozma that influenced every dimension everywhere, and yet ISN’T the one we see in the Alola series.

I have… very mixed feelings about this, and I think it’s a more general problem that Pokémon has with the nature of canonicity.  ‘cause, see, I come from this background where I deal with mythology a lot, where there are multiple versions of every story,  they all flagrantly contradict each other, and no one sees any need to definitively settle the question of “but which one is true?” (because none of them are true but all of them are meaningful).  As a result, my natural inclination is “fµ¢£ the canon; writers should be able to tell whatever stories they want and have those stories be judged on their own internal merits.”  But then I do also see the other side – there’s worldbuilding happening here, and the nature and role of legendary Pokémon is confusing enough without sending these mixed messages.  It’s especially weird with legendary Pokémon that unambiguously should be unique, like Mewtwo, because Mewtwo’s creation was, as far as we know, a unique event.

Continue reading “Spin Attaxx asks:”

Bradley asks:

Hi Chris! I’ve been a big fan for years and you’ve been super informative on the history of Pokemon. I too am a big fan of drastically overthinking how the Pokemon universe actually *works* and recently went on a big tirade trying to explain it all. You were a big influence on certain parts of the theory so hopefully you’ll enjoy what I came up with! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-0_3ButdKzw

[Warning: the following is far too long and contains copious italics for emphasis, in order to create the illusion that I am in the room with you, gesticulating wildly at my own string diagram]

Okay, let me say first of all I am genuinely flattered and I am sorry this has had to sit in my inbox for almost two months on account of my being a lazy piece of $#!t

In the grand tradition of overthinking pop culture on the internet, I’m going to apply my standard method of engaging with anything I find even slightly fun or interesting: passionately disagreeing in excruciating detail (for other examples, see: this entire blog; my life as an academic).

Arrrright. *cracks knuckles* Let’s break this $#!t down

Now, to begin with, this whole “figure out the Pokémon world’s cosmology and all the relationships therein” thing is a project I kind of have mixed feelings about, because on the one hand, it’s exactly my type of nerdy bull$#!t as a lifelong mythology geek and strange person, but on the other hand, I think there’s basic reasons any such project is doomed from the start.  But it’s still bloody impressive that anyone ever does it, because frankly I’m too scared to, although I might give it a go if I have any time left between finishing up generation VII and the release of generation VIII.  The general problems, then.  These days, I have this sticking point with a lot of other Pokémon fans, where people tend to point at some piece of Pokémon’s mythology and say “there, it’s in the games; it’s canon” and my response (other than to explain that I don’t even like the word “canon”) is “well, no, it’s canon that this is their mythology”; we should take these as stories told by people who understand no more about the Pokémon universe than we do, and possibly much less.  Arceus says he created the universe, but, well, he would say that, wouldn’t he?  The ancient Sinnohans wouldn’t know the difference.  There’s probably other historical cults in the Pokémon world that once worshipped Rayquaza, or Xerneas, or even Celebi as creator gods.  Further to that, all these different legendary Pokémon are from different regions of the world with different mythological traditions, so even expecting to be able to fit everything into one consistent mythology might be a stretch.  We’re not talking “Zeus, Poseidon and Hades,” who have a “canonical” relationship based on the traditional stories about their family history, respective powers or domains, and forms of worship.  We’re talking “Zeus, Freyja and Nü Wa,” who not only have nothing to do with each other, but aren’t even really the same class of entity, because their cultures of origin have incompatible ideas about what a god even is.  But let’s put all of that firmly aside, and talk about Bradley’s analysis on its own terms: on the assumption that there is a single consistent cosmology, elements of which are recorded more or less faithfully by the myths referenced in the games.

Continue reading “Bradley asks:”

VikingBoyBilly asks:

Are ultra beasts legendaries or not?

I’m not sure it matters?  Being considered “legendary” doesn’t really imply any particular status, and they don’t follow a consistent set of rules.  But… sure.  There are certainly legends about them in Alola, and they seem to have been unknown outside of those legends until fairly recently, so in that sense they are literally “legendary.”  They aren’t one of a kind, but then again, neither are Heatran, Lati@s, Manaphy, etc.  In game terms they certainly have stats commensurate with being called “legendary.”  I think probably a much more interesting question is whether they are Pokémon or not, and as far as Game Freak is concerned the answer seems to be “yes,” but I suspect that this implies some less-than-straightforward further questions about what a Pokémon is.

Anonymous asks:

You’ve been asked about the Pokémon that you think should be retyped. What about Pokémon that should be re….Abilitied? (???) Gens VI and especially VII have been switching up a lot of old Pokémon’s Abilities, so this seems a more feasible change to happen rather than retyping, no? So, with our hopes up, which Pokémon would YOU like to have one (or both) of their Abilities changed, and to what?

Well, honestly the possibility that leaps most immediately to mind for me is the one that’s probably least likely to happen – namely, giving all the starter Pokémon different abilities.  I understand as a design choice why we have Overgrow, Blaze and Torrent, because they’re abilities that, as a new player, you don’t have to think about very hard, if at all.  But gods they’re boring.  In the same vein, a lot of legendary Pokémon, particularly from the earlier generations, just have Pressure as a kind of default ability, which is actually really weird because, despite being an okay fit thematically, Pressure is a super-niche ability to actually use; most Pokémon don’t get very much out of having it.

Anonymous asks:

You seen this? imgur.com/7zvyE0H

I have not…

I like the idea of trying to put all the pieces together, and I’m certainly always impressed by the effort, but to be honest I’m a little iffy about these attempts to create big schematic maps of the whole cosmology because I’m not totally sure it’s all meant to fit together in a consistent way. Continue reading “Anonymous asks:”

vikingboybilly asks:

Do you think the pseudo-legendaries could be nerfed? I think it’s weird that dragonite’s BST is higher than the legendary birds.

I think it’s very unlikely.  Game Freak almost never directly nerfs Pokémon, and the base stat totals of those particular classes of Pokémon have been regularised for so long that it’s pretty obvious they don’t think it’s weird.

Anonymous asks:

What’s your favorite Legendary Pokémon, and why? We all know it’s not Rayquaza (because of Emerald) or Arceus (because of The Jewel of Life), but which one’s your favorite (or favorites, in the case of duos or trios)?

That’s a hard one… You’re right that it’s not Arceus because Jewel of Life can rot in hell, and also because the whole “god Pokémon” thing just does stuff to the setting that I don’t really like, and which I’m not convinced anyone ever thought through.  It’s also not Rayquaza, although I actually feel that Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby quite satisfactorily redeem the mess that was made of Rayquaza’s involvement in Emerald (though Deoxys is just a total Giant Space Flea from Nowhere).  I like the designs of Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres, but I’m less keen on the fact that (in the games at least) they have nothing to do with anything.  Similarly, I’m fond of Cobalion, Virizion and Terrakion’s backstory, which I think is really interesting, but I was incredibly underwhelmed by how little they had to do with the story of Black and White, considering how directly invested they are in the ideological conflict behind the plot.  You know, all things considered, I actually might go with Xerneas and Yveltal as joint winners; the designs are really evocative, they enabled an interesting story with some cool themes in X and Y, and the way they’re described hits a good spot on the “cosmic power” scale, where you can appreciate that these things might have region-wide significance, but they don’t necessarily place the power to unmake the universe in the hands of a ten-year-old trainer the way Dialga and Palkia do.