Do you think the people of the pokemon universe consider Yveltal and other destructive pokemon evil? Affection for legendary pokemon works the same way it does for others, should we have to earn their trust in a different way? And they still do things like play minigames with you and make cute faces when you pet them. Why?
I don’t get the impression they do. They might be scared of certain Pokémon that have dangerous powers or that humans don’t know much about, but I’m trying my hardest to think of anyone who says a Pokémon is “evil” and I’m really not coming up with much (not counting phenomena like the Shadow Pokémon from Gale of Darkness and Pokémon Go, who have been transformed by an external force and can be “purified” to return them to their peaceful natural state). Individual Pokémon can certainly be evil, like the Malamar from the X and Y anime or Meowth from Team Rocket (maybe Meowth is debateable as he has several redeeming qualities, but he certainly self-identifies as “evil”), but species of Pokémon aren’t inherently evil. When Yveltal appears in the games, it’s a pawn of Lysandre, and in the Diancie movie, it’s treated as extremely dangerous but not really malevolent, more like a living natural disaster than a villain. Tyranitar and Hydreigon are much the same, destructive forces of nature more than evil beings. Mewtwo is, I think, intended to be more complex than just outright “evil”; Necrozma is destructive because it’s diminished and broken; most Dark Pokémon that are mischievous or violent are treated as being dangerous in an animalistic way.
The only ones I can come up with, the only Pokémon that I think are ever implied to be by nature actively and deliberately malicious, are a few of the Ghost Pokémon that literally represent “evil spirits” – Banette and Spiritomb and the like. And even then, the inspirations behind Spiritomb’s design imply the possibility of redemption: the 108 demons of Water Margin become heroes; the 108 temptations that lie between mortals and Nirvana can be overcome. For Spiritomb, the same has to be possible. We’re told by the Ultra Moon Pokédex that Banette’s curse can be broken by treating it with kindness. And I suspect that this should be the default assumption – that even when Pokémon are violent or destructive or malevolent in nature, there is a way in. And that way in commonly involves macarons, doughnuts and/or curry.
I think fundamentally, Pokémon are animals, and Pokémon the series takes the view that humans have a responsibility to be the enlightened stewards of the natural world. We’re supposed to show them the difference between right and wrong (or, in some cases, accept that they are beyond our understanding of right and wrong). What we’re not in a position to do – what I don’t believe the series ever endorses us in doing – is judge them.
Except for Drapion; Drapion’s a piece of $#!t
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.
Ok, ill concede the Arceus point. However, the Dark type is literrally evil type in Japanese! Doesn’t this imply that there are quantifiable measurable charactheristics of evil in the Pokémon world and therefore morality is objective over there? Also if i am not wrong there are a couple of Pokémon that can “sense” the good in people.
[Continuation of this]
I think Dark-types, if anything, are a really good argument for the absence of an objective morality in the Pokémon universe – the type literally called あく/悪,“evil” is made up mostly of Pokémon who, while commonly associated with negative emotions or dirty fighting, are for the most part portrayed as more misunderstood than malevolent, and basically fine when you get to know them (Absol and Darkrai are the poster children for this). Either that, or Pokémon’s position is that evil is a real objective thing but it’s totally rad. Also, I suspect taking “Dark type” = “evil in an objective sense” would mean that humans, who seem to be typeless, can’t be evil in the Pokémon world – or at least, they can’t be as evil as, say, Pangoro, of whom the Pokédex says “although it possesses a violent temperament, it won’t put up with bullying.”
Continue reading “N asks:”
What’s your stance (from a narrative perspective, anyway) on the idea of Legendary Pokémon not being one of a kind (primarily with regards to the anime)? Do you think it “devalues” the awe they’re ostensibly supposed to have? It’s one thing to suggest relative nobodies like Heatran or Latios aren’t unique, but it’s jarring to have, say, a Lugia no different from any other big bird after all the grandeur and importance it had in Pokémon 2000, and an upcoming episode involves a wild Kyogre – something that was once a feared and uncontrollable force of nature that almost doomed the world just by existing – being the target of just one hunter. And then you have Mewtwo, who destroyed/mindwiped his creators and was motivated by how alone he felt, only for the Genesect movie to introduce a *different* Mewtwo that’s physically identical, made by a bunch of totally different people for no clear reason. It wouldn’t surprise me if in the future, we saw another Arceus that wasn’t the same one from its movie, yet they still state it created the universe somehow, or a Necrozma that influenced every dimension everywhere, and yet ISN’T the one we see in the Alola series.
I have… very mixed
feelings about this, and I think it’s a more general problem that Pokémon has
with the nature of canonicity. ‘cause,
see, I come from this background where I deal with mythology a lot, where there
are multiple versions of every
story, they all flagrantly contradict
each other, and no one sees any need to definitively settle the question of
“but which one is true?” (because none of them are true but all of them are meaningful). As a result, my natural inclination is “fµ¢£ the canon; writers should be able
to tell whatever stories they want and have those stories be judged on their
own internal merits.” But then I do also
see the other side – there’s worldbuilding happening here, and the nature and
role of legendary Pokémon is confusing enough without sending these mixed
messages. It’s especially weird with legendary Pokémon that unambiguously should be unique, like Mewtwo, because
Mewtwo’s creation was, as far as we know, a unique event.
Continue reading “Spin Attaxx asks:”
So apparently “Galar” is a Scots-Gaelic word that means disease. I wonder if Game Freak knows this?
You know, I would love it if they did know this. You could make it an early hint at a kind of hidden dystopian reality behind Galar’s very standard happy-go-lucky Pokéverse façade, where Poké-Scotland is being oppressed by the Poké-English bastards and they call the united region by a name that means “disease” to express their true feelings about it. I’m just not sure Game Freak have it in them to be so delightfully subversive, though! Jim the Editor says “Galar” reminds him of galahs, which are a sort of very noisy pink and grey parrot they have in Australia, and that’s probably not what Galar refers to either, but at least you could conceivably make a Pokémon out of it.
Can you say something about disabilities in the pokemon world?
Well, the Pokémon world certainly seems to have more advanced medical technology than ours; I’m sure a variety of sophisticated prosthetics are well within their capabilities to produce, and probably all manner of other wizardry designed to make life more convenient for people with sensory impairments, mental illnesses, atypical neurological development, and so on. We don’t see much of this in the games or anime, probably because the creative leads prefer to quietly believe that all such difficulties have been either solved or obviated by technology, like most social, medical and environmental problems in the Pokémon universe. But I suspect that’s not what you’re getting at.
Continue reading “Quriosity asks:”
So you’ve been at this a while…. What are you most proud of?
That’s a tough
To be honest, I don’t much like thinking back to things I’m proud of, because most of them are quite a long time in the past and it just makes me feel as though I peaked a while ago. By the time I finish reviewing all the generation VII Pokémon it will have taken me almost two years, and there’ll probably be precious little time left before I have to start doing something about generation VIII (which is coming; you know it’s coming; there’s always another bloody one coming). In some ways it’s sort of justified, because my Alola reviews are twice as long and much better researched than my Unova ones, and I wasn’t taking regular questions from readers when I did Unova, so of course it takes me longer, and there are quite a few more new Pokémon in Alola than in Kalos, so of course it’s longer than that generation too. The trouble is that Pokémon reviews feel very routine, very business-as-usual, and they’re a bit formulaic in format (especially the mechanics/competitive second half). They’re good, and frankly I am proud of how much better they are than the Unova ones, but they don’t make me feel like I’ve written something important and challenging, like when I used to write about the ethics of Pokémon training. I think the most important and significant thing I’ve written recently was a couple of months ago, when I wrote about why Pokémon may need – may have a moral obligation – to embrace a more pessimistic worldview than has always been its preference. I don’t feel proud of that, though, because I don’t feel like it accomplished anything – just set out something that needs to be accomplished, that perhaps I need to find some way to do myself.
Continue reading “Long time; second time asks:”
Occasionally, once in a few generations, Game Freak will take the time to go back to the older Pokémon’s Pokédex entries and take the time to update and add new information to them, rather than recycle the same facts. My question is, do you think that it is worthwhile? How much effort do you think it takes to add new facts to an older Pokémon? Would that time have been better spent on refining the newer things? Or are the new Pokédex entries really not that important and noticeable?
I like it a
lot, mostly because one or two Pokédex entries aren’t really enough to cover
all the angles on what might make a Pokémon interesting or fully develop the concept. The fact that Pokédex completion, as of
generation VII, is now decoupled from any one save file (Pokébank can now
display all possible Pokédex information of all the Pokémon you’ve captured on
any of the games you own) I think helps to put all of this stuff
front-and-centre a bit more, and emphasise the accumulation of information
across multiple generations. A lot of
this stuff really helps to fill out the world and give us a sense of its
ecology and culture – especially in Sun and Moon, where many old Pokémon (even
those without Alolan forms) have Pokédex entries that describe how they live in
Alola or relate to Alolan Pokémon, in keeping with generation VII’s greater
focus on world-building and developing the character of the region itself. I’ve been thinking about doing a sort of
“Pokédex appreciation” series – trawling the Pokédex for interesting bits of
trivia we’ve learned about Pokémon over the years, because frankly I do
regularly learn new things about old Pokémon that surprise and delight me. Would that appeal to anyone?
Alternative explanation to why Wishi Washi is allowed to cheat (which is more funny than serious): No one wants to argue with the eldritch horror of the deep. Although I wonder what the rules are in double battles when the trainer’s Wishi Washi joins the rival Wishi Washi’s school. Or maybe there’s a sort of exception for Pokemon like Vespiqueen where it’s just a biological mechanism or something like that. I would say maybe we’re just overthinking it, but overthinking’s where all the fun is.
Maybe there are some Pokémon that are just usually trained by lawyers because they’re the only ones who can keep track of the rules. Continue reading “Anonymous asks:”