Well, I finally got my act together and reviewed every Pokémon from generation VII, but we’re not done yet. While I was reviewing the Pokémon of Unova, I wrote a series on Pokémon’s villains – Team Rocket, Teams Aqua and Magma, Team Galactic and Team Plasma. Those articles… are fine. I mean, they’re not bereft of insight, but they’re from the first six months of this blog’s life and they’re far from the most interesting things I’ve ever written. Having written those, though, it seemed only logical that after finishing the Kalos Pokédex I should write about Team Flare and Lysandre, and that one holds up much better in retrospect. Which means that now… well, where would we be if I didn’t write about Team Skull (and, after them, the Aether Foundation)? My Team Flare review focused pretty heavily on Lysandre himself and his beliefs, because his characterisation is very important to the plot of X and Y and central to how I understood and reacted to a lot of the events of those games. That’s probably going to be true of my upcoming piece on the Aether Foundation as well, which I anticipate will concentrate on Lusamine, but I think Team Skull demands a different approach. The two named characters of Team Skull, Guzma and Plumeria, do matter, but Team Skull’s story isn’t really about either of them, in my opinion; it’s about Team Skull as a group, with Guzma and Plumeria exemplifying different facets of that group’s values and experiences. So let’s talk about that.Continue reading “Team Skull”
I was kind of disappointed with the plot of Sun and Moon. The whole “Aether is working with Team Skull” twist didn’t feel like something the writers had fully thought through, and thus it raised many more questions than it answered. I would have preferred if instead Team Skull had aided the player, Hau and Gladion when they invaded Aether Paradise, and in doing so learned what true strength meant and also redeemed themselves in the eyes of everyone else.
Mmm. I thought the whole denouement felt a bit… rushed, I suppose? Given the opportunity, I might have asked for… well, essentially something like what I tried to do with “Grunt B” in my playthrough write-up, that is, seeing Team Skull member question Guzma’s leadership (and sanity…), ultimately stepping in to help the player save Guzma from himself and taking an active role in the final mission to Ultra Space, perhaps along with members of the Aether Foundation.
I think anime Jessie would find Team Skull appealing, don’t you? What with her growing up poor and becoming a criminal to ‘stick it to the man’ as it were, that’s some Team Skull motivation right there! Not sure if she and Guzma would get on, though… Maybe a frenemy relationship with Plumeria?
Well, I’ve seen exactly one and a half episodes of the Sun/Moon anime, and Team Skull did not feature, so grain of salt and all that, but yeah, I actually think all three of our Team Rocket trio would find a lot to like in Team Skull as they’re presented in the games. Jessie and Meowth would sympathise with their disadvantaged position in Alola’s society and respect their ambition, and I think James – despite his own privileged background – has enough of a rebellious streak to appreciate their desire for change. Also, given that a lot of individual members of Team Skull are actually not particularly malicious, I kinda think James and Jessie would fit right in, with their “only evil because I’m supposed to be” attitude. Jessie and Guzma would immediately battle to the death for control of the team though.
Poni Island, which corresponds to the real Hawaiian island of Kauai, turns out to be basically uninhabited. Gladion’s ship drops us off next to a group of brightly painted houseboats with Pokémon-inspired facades, clustered around a long pier. This is the Seafolk Village – a community of seafaring nomads and traders who visit Poni Island seasonally to gather berries. There are no permanent towns or cities – only Pokémon, and the ruins we’ve come here to see. The Seafolk have a perfectly serviceable Pokémon Centre, though, and Lillie and I are even greeted on our arrival by their chief, who knows a little about the island. Lillie explains that we need to see the Kahuna, and the Seafolk chief suggests that we visit Hapu, who lives a little way along the coast to the southeast, in the only permanent dwelling left on the island.
“Oh, we know Hapu,” I tell him. “She’s the Kahuna of Poni Island? She never mentioned that.”
“…I’m sure she can help you,” the chief replies, apparently hesitant to confirm or deny. Well, that’s not even slightly suspicious. Continue reading “Pokémon Moon, Episode 15: In Which I Awkwardly Attempt To Bond With A Strange Girl Of Dubious Usefulness”
Where were we?
Oh yes. I had just returned to Aether House in what I thought was triumph, only to find Gladion there, screaming at everyone in the vicinity.
Something tells me this is not going to be the low point of my day.
After a rage-fuelled battle in which my Raichu and Toucannon narrowly manage to overcome Gladion’s powerful Golbat, Sneasel, and whatever the hell “Type: Null” is, Gladion calms down enough for me to figure out what the hell is going on. In perhaps the single cleverest feint ever executed by a Pokémon villain in the history of time, it turns out that Plumeria’s abduction of Yungoos was a ruse, intended mostly to draw me and Acerola away to Po Town. In our absence, Lillie and her adorable little cosmic nuke were left with no one to protect them but Hau. Now, Hau is admittedly not without his strengths. Indeed, if anyone ever finds a way to convert optimism and doughnuts into a sort of tactical high explosive, Hau will overnight become the foremost military power in the known universe. However, given the way reality has currently chosen to manifest itself, he couldn’t win a battle against the Rotomdex, much less Plumeria, and she was able to double back as soon as no one was watching and kidnap Lillie and Nebby. Gladion is decidedly unimpressed, both at the fact that Cosmog was with Lillie all along (he apparently knows her), and at Hau’s failure to protect both of them. If nothing else, his desire to keep Nebby out of the hands of his own employers seems to have been sincere. Luckily, he not only seems to know where they’ve gone, but actually has a way to get there: he has a boat waiting in Malie City, and orders me and Hau to meet him there posthaste. I momentarily consider the possibility that this is all some kind of complex bluff on his part – perhaps Gladion has been working with Lillie all along and is now luring me into a trap? By this point I’m about 90% sure they’re brother and sister, so he could well be involved in her treacherous plot to rule Alola… but I also don’t really have a better plan than “spring the trap and use Hau as a human shield,” so I agree to go along.Continue reading “Pokémon Moon, Episode 13: In Which I Assist A Known Criminal In Raiding A Reputable Organisation of Conservationists”
Once I’ve stopped shaking uncontrollably, and the Rotomdex has reassured me that the horrifying undead Pikachu I just fought is only another Pokémon (a Ghost/Fairy-type called Mimikyu), Acerola offers me some suggestions on what to do next. Although my success in her trial was in some respects debateable – I was, she reminds me, only supposed to get a photograph of Mimikyu, not give its lair a new back door – I did basically achieve its fundamental objectives, so she presents me with her crystal, the Ghostium-Z. As Ula’ula Island has only two Captains, that means I now have the right to challenge the island’s Kahuna. Acerola declines to explain who or where the Kahuna is right away, though, and invites me back to Aether House to talk it over there. Unfortunately when we get there, with Hau just a few steps behind, someone who is definitely not the Kahuna is waiting.Continue reading “Pokémon Moon, Episode 12: In Which I Infiltrate A Gang Stronghold”
With no other clear direction obvious to me, I leave Malie City and wander south. The southeast coast of Ula’ula Island is dominated by extremely rough, rocky, arid scrubland. Although the Z-Crystal that I earned in Sophocles’ trial gets me through the Island Challenge barricades on the southeast road, it doesn’t take long before the rocks become totally impassable. Fortunately, Hapu (who is almost certainly very important, though I’m still not sure why) is on hand to offer me the solution: she allows me to freely summon her Mudsdale as a riding Pokémon. Mudsdale is slow compared to the other Tauros and Stoutland, but can move effortlessly over rough terrain that would reduce them to uncoordinated stumbling. Hapu points me in the direction of Tapu Village, at the base of Mount Lanakila, for my next trial, then bids me good luck and farewell.Continue reading “Pokémon Moon, Episode 11: In Which I Perform an Exorcism”
Among the major selling points of Malie City is its library, the best in Alola. I mean, not that that’s saying much. The Alolans still worship a cabal of fickle and wrathful Pokémon as deities, and their leading Pokémon researcher is secretly a part-time luchador; believe it or not, they aren’t exactly a global centre of knowledge and literature. They are, however, the world’s leading experts on one field in particular: their own traditions and mythology; Alolan myth basically isn’t taught or studied at any university I’ve ever heard of outside the region itself. Lillie, who arrived in Malie City ahead of me and Hau after coming directly from Heahea City, claims to have need of this esoteric knowledge in order to help Nebby. She asks me to come to the library with her to check it out – so of course I brusquely refuse, send her scurrying away in terror, and then follow her anyway at an inconspicuous distance. Gotta stay one step ahead of this crafty b!tch and her freaky living nebula-bomb, or the whole island chain could be a smoking ruin by Tuesday afternoon. The moment I manage to get into a proper stalking rhythm, though, I run straight into… Professor Oak?Continue reading “Pokémon Moon, Episode 10: In Which I Am Recruited To A Cultural Revolution”
“So what you’re saying is, you almost killed my Totem Lurantis because your crazy great-grandmother would have wanted it that way?” Mallow folds her arms as she waits for an answer.
“…she had a drinking problem. And a gambling problem. And… several legal problems. But she was pretty spry for 94.”
“When did she…?”
“Um… well, about eight years back, the law caught up with her, and she grabbed a shotgun, stole a motorbike, kidnapped the neighbours’ Heracross, and skipped town, laughing all the way. Honestly she’s, uh… probably still kicking. Somewhere out there.” I idly dunk a spoon in the half-finished pot of stew from Mallow’s trial and taste it. “Mmmmmmmm, that’s so f%&£ing good. Good call on the Revival Herb, by the way.” Mallow shudders.
“Okay, well… I’m pretty sure you did technically pass my trial… somehow… so… take these, I guess.” She thrusts a sack of Nest Balls at me, then hands me her Z-Crystal, the Grassium-Z, and leaves me to explore the jungle on my own. Now that I can encounter and catch wild Pokémon there, I am rewarded with three new ones: Bounsweet, Comfey, and Oranguru. I’m not exactly inspired by these so far. Bounsweet is a round, pinkish-red fruit Pokémon that brings to mind the phrase “oh, look, it’s Cherubi,” but it does evolve into something that might not be Cherrim, so we’ll give it the benefit of the doubt. Comfey is a Hawaiian lei Pokémon, one of those Flabébé-like Fairy-types that really looks as though it should be a Grass-type and has a bunch of stuff that supports Grass-types; it’s nice and thematically appropriate to the setting but doesn’t seem to evolve, and so far doesn’t really look like it’ll measure up to a fully-evolved Florges. The third Pokémon, Oranguru, is so far the most interesting-looking – a purple and white apelike Normal/Psychic Pokémon that fights from a cross-legged sitting position. It too shares a Pokédex page with something else, so there’s a good chance it will evolve.
When I reach the entrance to the quiet valley of Brooklet Hill, a Water Pokémon paradise, I am greeted by none other than the local Captain herself: Lana, a dreamy young woman with blue hair. Lana needs help with something, and apparently won’t take ‘no’ for an answer. Well, the sooner I make her happy, the sooner I can attempt her trial, and the sooner I can get out of here… I follow Lana down into the valley, past tranquil pools and rumbling waterfalls, until we reach a large pool being disturbed by a strange thrashing out in the deepest part.Continue reading “Pokémon Moon, Episode 6: In Which I Offer Charity To A Character of Dubious Virtue”