Team Rainbow Rocket

Official art of Team Rainbow Rocket’s castle.

…well, I…

…I mean, do I really need to-?

…then again, “Team Rocket is gay now” is pretty compelling

(what am I saying, “now”? look at Jessie and James; they were always gay)

all right, let’s try for a shorter one

In the aftermath of the resolution of the main plot in Ultra Sun and Moon, Team Rocket appears out of nowhere and takes over first Festival Plaza and then the entire Aether Paradise, renovating Lusamine’s mansion with a new menacing black-and-red colour scheme.  Only they aren’t Team Rocket anymore – they’ve rebranded, are now Team Rainbow Rocket, and are accompanied by a rogue’s gallery of villains from all the previous Pokémon games.  And they’ve got plans.  Apparently.  I know a lot of my readers haven’t actually played Ultra SMoon (which… well, fair enough; they’re not a big step up over Sun and Moon) so let’s begin with a summary of what exactly happens.

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Lusamine and the Aether Foundation

Lusamine

This piece is in principle about the Aether Foundation, and we’ll start by talking a little about them.  In practise, though, as I hinted last time in my review of Team Skull, it’s actually more a character study of Lusamine, since a lot of the real “villainy” happening in Sun and Moon is a result of her personal actions, either independently of the Foundation itself or abusing her position within it.  The interesting thing about Sun and Moon is that, although Team Skull clearly aren’t the villains by the end of the game, the Aether Foundation aren’t really the villains either.  In fact, I’m not even sure Lusamine is.  Let’s talk about that.

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Zeraora

Zeraora.

Eighty-four Pokémon down… three to go.  Today we’re looking at the Thunderclap Pokémon, Zeraora, the third of generation VII’s  mythical Pokémon.  As with Magearna and Marshadow, Zeraora doesn’t do anything of note in the games, but unlike them, its TV and movie appearances don’t hint at legendary origins or cosmic powers or forbidden ancient secrets or anything like that.  It’s really just a powerful and extremely rare Pokémon that kinda gets caught up in some $#!t, like Heatran, or (to some extent) Latias and Latios, or even Lucario in its movie debut.  Today we’ll look at how that happens – but first, a few words on Zeraora’s design and inspiration.

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Necrozma

Necrozma

Today we’re going to look at… probably the closest thing that Ultra Sun and Moon have to an antagonist: the mysterious, sinister light-devouring Pokémon, Necrozma.  With an all-black colour scheme, a name that incorporates the ancient Greek word for corpse, a mysterious extraterrestrial origin, and the ability to blast everything in sight with frikkin’ laser beams, this is clearly a Pokémon to run away from very fast.  But what actually is it?  Let’s discuss.

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Anonymous asks:

What did you think of the change to Lusamine’s motivations in USUM? I kind of preferred her SM version, but that’s mostly because Lillie telling her why she was wrong was Lillie’s best moment to me.

Iiiiiiiiii have mixed feelings.  I don’t want to go into it in too much detail now because a full article on Lusamine and the Aether Foundation is on my to-do list for after I finish my Pokémon reviews, but I think both versions of Lusamine’s story get at aspects of her character the writers wanted to show.  There’s an argument that a better writer would have been able to do that with a single cohesive plotline rather than two alternate versions, but I think there’s also an argument that showing how the same character’s story could have progressed in two different ways as a result of fairly minor changes in circumstance is kind of interesting – we’ve seen Lusamine both as the story’s primary villain and as an arguably heroic supporting character, and each portrayal is true to the other.  I quite like the anime’s characterisation of Lusamine and its portrayal of her experiences with Nihilego in Ultra Space, but unfortunately it doesn’t get Lillie’s fantastic “the reason you suck” speech either.

Blacephalon

Blacephalon

Today’s Pokémon is Blacephalon, whose special skill is to blow up its own head.

And… well, you know, call me crazy, but I would have thought that would be the end of it.  Nonetheless, here we are.  This is the last Ultra Beast, and I just have to deal with it.

Like Stakataka, Blacephalon doesn’t appear in the original Sun and Moon, and its homeworld doesn’t appear in the sequels.  It doesn’t even have a very big anime role, since it co-stars in an episode with Xurkitree and doesn’t get the spotlight to itself, although the dynamic between the two is at least somewhat interesting.  Blacephalon is just… a bit of a weird non sequitur of a Pokémon.  It appears, it blows up its own head…

…profit???

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Stakataka

Stakataka

We’re down to our last two Ultra Beasts: Stakataka and Blacephalon, who were added to the roster only in Ultra Moon and Ultra Sun (respectively).  We don’t know as much about them as we do about all the others, because we never see their homeworlds.  All the original Ultra Beasts, whom we first met in Alola in Sun and Moon, are encountered in Ultra Smoon by travelling through Ultra Space to their own worlds (while Poipole is involved in the story of the Ultra Recon Squad, and gets a major supporting role in the anime).  These two, we only ever meet in Alola, and we also get no information about them from Wicke, who is otherwise a fount of interesting (if occasionally dubious) intelligence.  As a result, there’s more I’d like to know about Stakataka that I just don’t, like what kind of ecosystem produces a creature like this, and how it behaves in its natural habitat – things that, for normal Pokémon, we tend to learn as a matter of course.  But we have the Pokédex, we have the design, we have Stakataka’s in-game types, stats and mechanics, and we have the anime episode it stars in, so let’s take a look and see what we can do.

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