It seems like with every new major media release, someone from the questionable sexuality community will come forward with speculation (often stated as fact and foregone conclusion) that a character depicted represents their favorite flavor of sexuality.
As Bounding Into Comics points out, this time around, the speculator is Liam Pomfret, the founder of Bulbagarden, who posits his theory that the newly-revealed gym leader in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, Iono, is non-binary and transgender.
Here is the promo video featuring Iono:
Upon what is Liam basing his theory? The initially ambiguous use of pronouns, and her choice of hair dye:
One would expect the use of such flimsy inferences from an undiagnosed schizophrenic who believes that their TV is communicating secret messages specifically for them, not a Doctor of Philosophy. Our education system is fucked, isn’t it?
Because he was tripping over himself to find trans representation in a Japanese game marketed towards anyone in the family, he looked at the soft blue and pink hair (kinda looks lavender to me) and immediately thought of the trans kid flag, rather than the recurring red/blue coloration of Pokémon’s flagship games, Scarlet and Violet included.
Less than 24 hours later, Nintendo dropped supplemental promotional material concerning Iono. It’s the kind of thing that looks like it would have been released simultaneously with the promotional video that originally featured Iono, so maybe it was hastily thrown together after the fact.
The promo specifies Iono as having the feminine pronoun of “her”. Iono is female. Because we’ve already established that speculation is fun, maybe Nintendo threw this out there because they knew what Liam Pomfret was saying, and we’re all like “Nope. We’re not having that.”
If “Bulbagarden” sounds familiar, then you’ve been following along back when I pointed out how inappropriate it was that they used their Pokémon fan platform to soapbox about an immigration policy that they blamed on Trump (the problem was actually Obama’s fault, and Trump resolved the matter through an executive order).
This was Bulbagarden’s forum header at the time:
And a fantastic opportunity to warn parents out there that there are some predatory actors in fan communities who use their positions in their respective communities to pressure younger members. Oftentimes, their activities involve performing “favors” over video chat. Of course, there are many ways that bad people can take advantage of children online.
That PSA aside, it can also be pointed out that there is a certain obsession with pointing to Japan’s status as a relatively advanced, orderly, and peaceful society. Oftentimes, someone on the radical left will attempt to glom onto a form of Japanese media, in a sad attempt to make the case that the Japanese are actually just like them.
What these attempts overlook is how Japan as a society got to be as advanced as it is. Japan is a heavily structured and stratified society that favors family, career, merit, and respect. To further reduce that, Japan is conservative. In fact, it’s one of the most conservative societies in the world.
Sometimes, a weeaboo pops up who thinks of Japan as being their kind of society, probably because they got ideas as to what it’s like from anime and manga. The fact is, Japan is a society of norms. If you move to Japan, you’re expected to conform to the norms. If you don’t want to, then you don’t belong in Japan. It’s as simple as that.
Red light districts aside, Japan is an advanced, peaceful, and orderly society. If your thinking is different from theirs, that might have a lot to do with it.
Iono is pretty far from the first character from Japanese media to have gotten this kind of attention. It wasn’t long ago that Shiver from Splatoon 3 came under scrutiny as possibly non-binary, but it turned out she was female. Nanachi from Made In Abyss is a frequent target of this, because author Akihito Tsukushi prefers to leave Nanachi’s sex as unknown. Or, more famously, there’s Bridget from Guilty Gear, who is male.
That’s not to say that there are no “non-binary” characters in Japanese media. However, such characters are seldom portrayed as sympathetic. But why would they, when there is something obviously wrong with their thinking?
Iono is merely a character in a work of fiction. She’s just made up, therefore nothing about her has any bearing on the reality of any matter. It doesn’t matter whether she represents anything, except maybe in the deluded thinking of those who lack the ability to parse reality without the assistance of a fictional construct. If this describes you, then you need to seek help. And get over yourself, while you’re at it.