James Crooks [Patreon cultist] asks:

Now that you’re at the end of the Alolan Pokédex, can you tell us your favourite Pokémon, least favourite and one that you liked more after reviewing?

Tricky.

Spending more time on each Pokémon and each review tends to make me appreciate almost all of them more, because I come to see the references and the meaning in each design, and my feelings about the Pokémon itself come to be bound up with anything interesting I’ve learned during the process I generously call my “research.”  The exception, of course, is when there seems to be simply nothing to find, but I think those are rare in Alola.  And in another direction, over the course of doing the Alola reviews I’ve started trying to incorporate the anime’s portrayals of each Pokémon a bit more, so even if a design is ‘meh,’ I can develop some positive feeling towards it if that Pokémon’s episode is a good one.  I just put out my Zeraora article, and Zeraora’s frankly not a very interesting Pokémon, but it’s one of the stars of the 21st movie, The Power of Us, which I am not going to stop talking about because I think it’s easily the best one (aside from Detective Pikachu), and there is a certain degree of affection that just… well, rubs off on Zeraora.  Having said all that, of course there are winners and losers.  With some designs, I feel “rewarded” for the extra work I do in trying to break them down, because I feel like I’ve solved a puzzle that the designers have left for me; other times it just seems like there’s not much to find.  So there are Pokémon for whom my opinion of them, or at least my affection towards them, increased a lot as I reviewed them, and I don’t know if I can pick just one, but some good examples are Celesteela, Oranguru, Tsareena and Minior.

My favourite Pokémon of generation VII is a tough one, because there are a lot that I’m generally well-disposed to, but few that really stick out to me as brilliant.  It may actually be just one of the Pokémon I’m attached to because I used them on my first playthrough of Moon, probably Golisopod, Salazzle, or my starter, Decidueye.  Other than that… well, actually Dhelmise sticks out to me as a really weird and creative design that speaks to me on a kind of “what even is this?” level, and Wishiwashi has an interesting concept that creates a great moment in the game’s story.  As for least favourite… I’m sure I’m being very predictable here, but I’m still very down on Togedemaru, and to a lesser extent Gumshoos, for not doing enough to break free of Game Freak’s persistent habit of template-based Pokémon design (as Talonflame and arguably Diggersby did in generation VI, and as I think Toucannon more or less does in generation VII).

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.

Continue reading “Zeraora”

State of the Blog – July

I made it! I’m back in the US, I didn’t die; I’ve written up some documentation of that body of ancient glass fragments I mentioned when I left, and I’ve brought back several samples for chemical analysis, which is exciting. I also learned how to make hummus. These things are clearly of similar degrees of importance.

The Magearna review is a little bit later than I wanted it to be, but it’s finished and will go up tomorrow. That leaves three more Pokémon for generation VII – Marshadow, Zeraora and Meltan, probably in that order. If all goes according to plan, all three will be done by the first week of September. That leaves, in principle, just over two months before the release of Sword and Shield, and probably another couple of weeks before I’m ready to start reviewing Pokémon. During that time, I’ll be writing articles on the story, major characters and worldbuilding of Sun and Moon, and I am also going to try for some quick takes on the Alolan forms of each of the Pokémon that have them. When that time comes, my extremely attractive and intelligent supporters on Patreon (currently: Bradley, James Crooks, hugh_donnetono, Esserise and Hamish Fyfe) will be able to vote on the order in which I take on all the topics I want to get to. If you yourself are extremely attractive and intelligent (as of course all my readers are), and that idea has some appeal to you, or you just feel like tipping me a dollar here and there to help me buy the black artefacts spell components souls bagels with cream cheese that sustain my existence, check that out using the link at the top of the page.

Jim the Editor and I are also working on a new Thing, a series(?) of retrospectives on my old writing, in the form of “interviews” between the two of us, beginning with a look at my reviews of the Unova Pokémon. I have mixed feelings about a lot of my older stuff, and I guess anything more than 5-6 years old I don’t 100% stand by these days, but it’s a shame to not do something with it, and I like the idea of re-examining all of it in light of everything I’ve learned since then and how my approach to writing for this blog. The first of these will probably go up on or around August 10. Later on, maybe around the beginning of September, I have in mind to start another Thing, something a bit more on the silly side than most of my work, and something that I hope will be able to involve readers in choosing its direction. More details to follow…