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.
On a mechanical standpoint, do you think the gameplay would suffer if there were no chance involved with the pokeball successfully catching the pokemon (aka 100% capture rate for all pokeballs)? Excluding legendaries from the discussion for the moment, the catch rate mechanic seems a unnecessary clunky relic. I liked how they simplified the TM/HM system and move deleter/rememberer in Sw/Sh and made managing teams and trying new combos much easier. Not to mention from mid game onwards you usually have a surplus of pokeballs anyway, particularly Ultra and Quick balls, that when a capture fails it feels more like a waste of time than anything else.
So… not going to lie, my reaction to this suggestion was more or less:
I have legitimate, serious problems about Poké Balls that isn’t about what’s inside or how they catch Pokémon. In all medias the humans have Poké Balls, video games, animes, mangas, when they want to send out a Pokémon, they throw it. When they switch Pokémon (fainting, Volt Switch/U-turn, changing Pokémon, whenever), they call them back in their Ball, with the Trainer holding the Ball. I have a couple questions about Balls: First, why do we never see Trainers pick up their thrown Poké Balls after calling their Pokémon? It’s not like they are one-use items. Second, why do Trainers THROW their Poké Balls when sending a Pokémon in battle? Why can’t they keep them in their hands at all times? Third, Pokémon Eggs are kept in Poké Balls as soon as you get them. Where do those Balls came from? Do the Pokémon Day Care have boxes of them? And why are Eggs always inside Poké Balls in the games? Fourth, so Beast Balls are one of the only Poké Ball type that has a decent catch rate against Ultra Beasts. This would make sense, as Ultra Beasts are creatures from another dimension and not (initially) acknowledged as Pokémon. Except, the Master Ball can also catch UBs without trouble. So… how does the Master Ball keep its perfect catch rate against UBs?
What are, in your opinion, the most baffling worldbuilding incoherences of the mainline Pokémon games? For me, it’s the presence of Bananas (as is, the real-life fruit) in Sword and Shield, when Nanab Berries, which are based on bananas, also exist.
That’s a tough one… See, this is hard because a big part of
my schtick normally is looking at inconsistencies and figuring out why they
actually might not be inconsistent.
“This is a baffling worldbuilding incoherence” is normally my last
resort, after “unreliable narrators” and “differing creative visions” and
“fiction has no sense of scale” and “myth and history are really complicated”
and “biology is also really complicated” and “there are more things in
heaven and earth, Horatio” have all failed.
Actually pegging something as fundamentally inconsistent in a way that allows
no more interesting interpretation is almost an admission of defeat for
me. Like, take the Nanab Berry
thing. That doesn’t even strike me as a
problem; that’s just two fruit that look similar and have similar names, which
may or may not be related (Jim the Editor pointed out that we have grapes and
grapefruit). Cheri Berries and Cherubi
also exist in the same world; I think one is probably named after the other.
My first thought for an actual answer here was “they never really explain how Pokéballs work, and none of the characters seem to think that’s weird” but I don’t know if that qualifies as an inconsistency, so much as something that’s just never explored. Something that really is worth wondering about is how food works – not just whether we eat Pokémon, but whether Pokémon eat each other. I actually suspect there may not be a firm party line on this within Game Freak, because the games definitely mention hunting and predation from time to time, but when you directly ask them they’re reluctant to talk about it. We finally get to eat Slowpoke tails in Sword and Shield, but they’re always careful to mention that Slowpoke tails grow back. You sort of have to assume that we eat Pokémon and they eat each other, because a world with no predation whatsoever just wouldn’t have creatures that resemble real ones, but if even the lowest Pokémon are of roughly doglike intelligence and many species are superhuman, the idea of killing them for food – or of them killing each other for food, when they could easily have been friends on some trainer’s team – does make one a little bit… queasy. And that’s just not something Pokémon’s optimistic worldview can process in a nuanced way.
How does the use of pokeballs by oranguru and their inherent empathy impact the pokemon training as enslavement argument?
So this is something that came up while Jim and I were proofing the Oranguru review, and frankly that was long enough already, so we decided it would be better to publish this separately in question-and-answer format. I haven’t talked directly about the whole Pokémon-and-slavery “thing” in a while, so to summarise my “standard” views on the subject (which are, of course, anything but standard): Continue reading “Jim the Editor asks:”→
You know the little cemetery cutscene on Melemele, with the old woman on the Machamp? Her story about her late husband features a really interesting Pokémon – Poké Ball relationship. I am really curious as to what your thoughts are about it!
So the story, for the viewers at home, is as follows. This old woman and her Machamp are visiting the grave of her husband, Machamp’s trainer. He died in a car crash that likely would have claimed Machamp’s life as well, but he had the presence of mind to recall Machamp to its Pokéball at the last moment, protecting it. Machamp subsequently threw away its own Pokéball and refused to use one again.
Is it me, or does it seem like the Kanto-Johto superregion hold a lot of influence over the rest of the Pokémon world? Like, Poké Balls started in Johto, then modernized, industrialized, and commercialized by Silph Co. in Kanto (who also made the Master Ball). The Kanto and Johto Professors created the Pokédex and discovered Pokémon Eggs, respectively. The PC system was first invented by a Johto guy who also works in Kanto. What’s going on here, from an in-universe perspective?
I’m hesitant to assign too much importance to something that has a really obvious real-world explanation – i.e. those regions were first, and in Pokémon’s early days there was no certainty that there ever would be other regions, so we find explanations for a lot of important core concepts there. Also, like, Bill gets a lot of the credit, but every other region has a tech expert who’s supposed to have worked on the PC storage system with him. Pokéballs… well, there are regions that still don’t use them, right? Like Fiore, and Almia. And Pokémon training predates Pokéballs, probably by quite a bit. Wherever the first ones were used (which I agree is probably Johto, though I don’t think that’s ever actually been confirmed officially), the convenience of the new technology probably caused it to spread very quickly, with little deliberate drive from the creators, and the lifestyles and ways of Pokémon training associated with the technology would have spread too. Pokémon trainers of the world might have been a much more diverse bunch before Pokéballs were introduced.
Have you ever read “Children of the Lamp”? I’m really, REALLY new to pokemon, so perhaps there’s something in the anime that I’ve missed, rendering this impossible, but I’ve always thought the inside of pokeballs similar to the inside of the lamps in those series; larger on the inside, with the pokemon having the ability to modify the inside to their liking. Pokemon go in, see it’s comfortable, and like the trainer’s willingness to accommodate them, and end up appreciating the trainer a lot more
I’m afraid I’m not familiar with that series. It’s sort of fine in theory, but official sources are always very cagey with how Pokémon experience the inside of a Pokéball. The image below, with Iris’ Dragonite, is the closest thing I’m aware of to an actual depiction of what it’s like (though note that, if it looks grumpy, that’s not necessarily because of conditions inside the Pokéball – “grumpy” is this particular Dragonite’s baseline). I think originally Pokéballs were imagined to store Pokémon as data in a similar way to the PC network, but then the anime did things that made it clear they were still aware while inside, and could leave at will. Probably several people at Game Freak have thought something along the lines of what you’re talking about at one time or another, but I’m not sure anyone has ever gone through to see whether it’s consistent with how Pokéballs are portrayed and how they work throughout the series.
In the episode Extreme Pokémon, the day care man gave ash a (teal? blue?) egg in a glass case and he said “when the pokémon hatches, use the pokéball on top of the case to hatch it with.” So… is that what’s happening when you receive eggs that already have a pokéball from the day care man? (incidentally, was that the larvitar egg, or is it another pokémon?)
(I don’t know the dialogue from that episode offhand, but I think you mean to say “use the Pokéball to catch it with,” not “hatch it with,” because if Pokémon actually cannot hatch without a Pokéball then we have some serious problems here)
I suppose it must work something like that? I mean, we can hatch eggs even if we have no Pokéballs in our inventory, and the baby Pokémon have Pokéballs automatically, so unless we envision Pokémon somehow hatching with Pokéballs, someone must be supplying free ones with every egg. You can probably read into this, if you choose, all kinds of sinister things about being born into slavery (which could certainly be a very interesting way to take it), but I don’t think you have to for it to make sense. If you think of the main functions of Pokéballs being protection and transport… well, no one wants the most vulnerable Pokémon on their team to be forced to walk everywhere and have nowhere to retreat to in case of danger or injury. And the alternative – just releasing an infant Pokémon into a potentially hostile environment with no caregiver because you happened not to have any Pokéballs at the time – is clearly lunacy. I mean, in practice we do that in the games all the time and in astonishing numbers, but you sort of have to give them points for trying…
(also I believe the egg you’re referring to is the one that eventually hatches into Ash’s Phanpy)
What happens if a pokeball is destroyed having a pokemon inside?
I imagine the Pokémon would simply pop out. There is one episode, Pokémon Food Fight, in which Ash breaks his Snorlax’s Pokéball by dropping it on a rock – the ball isn’t destroyed, but it does stop working. Snorlax immediately comes out. In general Pokémon seem to maintain some degree of awareness while inside a Pokéball and can emerge on their own if they particularly want to, so I suspect that, whatever weird energy state they’re in while inside a ball, it’s not particularly stable, and has to be maintained by the ball’s mechanisms to keep them from just immediately returning to physical form.
How do you think the government functions in the pokemon universe? I don’t think there’s ever been any reference to any higher powers in either the games or the anime.
Well, Ash and his friends do occasionally encounter local government, in the form of the mayors of a few of the towns they visit. The mayor of Trovitopolis, in the Orange Islands, is preoccupied with reelection when they meet him in The Mystery Menace, which implies that this particular city’s government is democratic, and in the absence of any further information I would assume that this is true across the board. To be honest, I think this is one case where, if they don’t tell us anything, it’s probably because they just assume it works the same way as it does in the real world.