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.
again, “Team Rocket is gay now” is pretty compelling
(what am I
saying, “now”? look at Jessie and James; they were always gay)
let’s try for a shorter one
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Pokémon is Blacephalon, whose special skill is to blow up its own head.
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.
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…
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.
I think you might have mentioned in another answer that you will cover this in a later article, but in case you aren’t going to… can we get your thoughts on the Rainbow Rocket thing that happened in Smoon? Like… I’ve no idea if it’s considered canon (though what even would canon be in Pokémon anymore?) but your speciality is overly dissecting implied lore in these games and, as much as Rainbow Rocket feels like a fan fiction (I mean it pretty much is one)… well I’m curious what you have to say about RR both in terms of your reactions and how you think it affects the world building here. Please be as pokemaniacal as possible!
This actually is on the list of things I plan to write full articles on after finishing the last few gen VI Pokémon, along with, uh… Team Skull/Guzma, the Aether Foundation/Lusamine, Lillie/Hau/Gladion, the player as Champion, maybe something Z-move-related… oh, and one of my Patreon supporters suggested doing something on the Alolan trial culture (which frankly is peak Pokémaniacal nonsense and something I will absolutely do). But yeah, the whole Team Rainbow Rocket thing is… well, it… I mean, I like nostalgia fuel as much as the next millennial, but I don’t understand it at all. Giovanni is a mob boss who ran an illegal casino – he’s actually in some ways the smallest-scale villain Pokémon’s ever had – but out of nowhere they’ve turned him into this comic book supervillain whose sheer overwhelming malice has bound every other villain in Pokémon history to his will, in order to… well, honestly I’m not even sure, but to conquer the multiverse, I guess???
I say all this now;
often when I actually sit down to write a full-length article about something I
start to discover things that I actually like about it and make it worthwhile,
and can no longer bring myself to outright condemn it, so I guess we’ll find out, but right now I think the most valuable
thing about the whole incident is that We, The Gays now own Team Rocket because
rainbows (I don’t make the tea; I just serve it).