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.
Today we’re going to be looking at another pivotal character of Pokémon: Sword and Shield: Chairman Rose, the… [SPOILERS… obviously???] main antagonist of the game’s climax. Even more so than Lusamine, Rose spends a lot of the game being obviously suspicious but never actually doing anything untoward that we can see, until suddenly he flips out and does something completely ludicrous that I am probably going to spend the entire duration of generation VIII trying to puzzle out. Exactly what he does is swathed in some weird deep-lore $#!t that I don’t think we have the full picture of, even from our vantage point at the end of the game, and anyway I’m going to talk more about it when I cover Sonia’s storyline, and eventually when I review the relevant legendary Pokémon. For Rose, I think it’s more important that we look at who he is and what his motivations are.
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.
The details of it are mostly ideas I agree would be good. Probably the only thing I really dislike is separating the starter Pokémon over three different games, because I think being locked into one starter hurts replayability and doesn’t have much upside (other than we’re now explicitly encouraging people to buy three games instead of one, which… ehhhhhhh, I can see how Nintendo marketing would love it but it leaves a sour taste in my mouth). I’d rather have the different themed starting locations being options within one game. A lot of it has similarities to some things I’ve suggested myself in the past, some of it in my old “If I Were In Charge” series, some of it in miscellaneous question-and-answer posts – see especially here on mechanics that emphasise treating our Pokémon well, here and here on thematic gyms, here on paired games and the idea of separate ‘upgradeable’ hometowns for each game, and here on the role of legendary Pokémon. I have some differences with the broad scope and aims of the project; given the choice, I would prioritise a complex story over an open structure and non-linear progression, and I think there’s a middle ground to be had between the massive-scope bad guys of generations III through VI and the “we’re just mobsters” bad guys of generations I and II. That’s top-level design choices though; there’s not really wrong decisions there, just preferences, and subsequent decisions can serve those top-level choices well or badly. I don’t think a Pokémon game can be everything that everyone in the fan community wants Pokémon to be, and do it well – design is about trade-offs, and mostly I can respect the ones made here.
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.
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).
I am the culmination of your dreams…and nightmares…
Some of these villains were over the top, some were pretty within realistic “levels of insanity” like Giovanni (Pokémon mafia) and Ghetsis (manipulating with a front) . I seek your creativity! How would YOU, the great Chhrrrriiiiis, make a villain team?
Culmination of… dreams and nightmares…?
But… putting aside the sheer improbability of a threesome with Chris Pratt and Grant Gustin, why in the name of all that is holy would Game Freak choose that as their design for an evolved form of Garbodor?
Pokémon likes villains who believe on some level that what they’re doing is justifiable, even necessary. Which makes sense, because that’s what villains are like in the real world – only a rare few psychopaths are conscious of being evil; most evil people think they’re doing what they have to, because it’s their job or because it will protect their family or because it will help their country or any number of other excuses. It takes real training and effort to recognise that something you’ve done is evil, because you think of yourself as a good person, and good people “by definition” don’t do evil things. Continue reading “Might be Squidward Tentacles asks:”→
As you’ve often mentioned, a predominant theme of Pokemon is that humans and Pokemon both prosper by working together and treating each other with respect and friendship. It’s not only the ethos of most inhabitants of the world, but built into the metaphysics of the game itself (friendship evolution, etc). Why is it that (most of) the evil teams seem so convinced that it’s better to treat mons like tools or slaves instead, when their ideology is demonstrably wrong? Obviously, it shows that the evil people are, in fact, evil, but Team Rocket, who cares solely about money, should at least be able to crunch the numbers and see which technique is more profitable in the long run. Plus, who’s on the buying end of these smuggling rings? Do you think something else is going on? Either something implied or an unintentional interpretation?
Do you think it’s time that Pokemon games got rid of the whole “Team Evil” tradition? It seems that they’re just constraining their storylines a lot more by requiring that every villain be the boss of an evil organization. And I feel like Lysandre, for example, would have worked a lot better as a stand-alone villain.
It sort of depends on how much you value the idea of “Team Evil” as a traditional element of the games’ story, like having a choice of three Grass/Fire/Water starters or completing the Pokédex. Personally I tend to like the idea of ditching as many of the formulaic elements of the games as they can get away with, and I think I more or less agree with your assessment of Lysandre (it’s important to note here that his plan does actually imply the presence of an inner circle that he wants to survive the Ultimate Weapon, but that inner circle doesn’t have to be a “team” in the standard Pokémon sense). I think that as long as they insist on keeping a standard set of elements like this, they’re probably never going to come up with a really excellent story that rivals the best games produced by other companies (either Japanese or western). They can keep improving on their own past efforts, though, and I’m still happy to see them do that.
There’s this group of hardline animal rights activists who dress up as mediaeval knights and-
Yeah, you’re right; that does sound stupid.
The truth is, just like Team Galactic, Team Plasma are pretty silly. The grunts wear costumes that look like mediaeval tunics and chainmail (and yes, I’m pretty sure that’s what they’re meant to look like) and they don’t help matters by using “Plasmaaaaa!” as their battle-cry (it gets worse when one of them decides to coin an adjective to describe anything bad for Team Plasma: “Plasbad”). As for their leader, Ghetsis… well, he looks like he’s accidentally stumbled in from a high fantasy setting, wearing an enormous blue-and-yellow robe with huge eye-like patterns embroidered on it and some kind of angular monocle made from red glass; the whole ensemble simply defies description and is lacking only a ludicrously ornate sceptre to complete the image (his colleagues, the other six of the so-called “Seven Sages,” wear mercifully plain clothing which, while very old-fashioned, would not seem horribly out-of-place on oriental wise men). The only explanation I can think of for making Ghetsis so ridiculously over-the-top is that Game Freak wanted to make absolutely sure that the kids would know when playing the game that he’s the bad guy – because, believe it or not, if you don’t already know that anything called a “Team” in Pokémon is a bad guy, you might not immediately realise it. Continue reading “Team Plasma”→