Category Archives: Pokemon

Is Go from Pokemon secretly a girl?

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A long-running tradition in the Pokemon anime is that of the poke-girl, the female traveling companion in Ash’s party. It started with Misty, continued with May, and went up until the seventh gen which gave us a few poke-girls instead of the usual one (Lillie, Lana, and Mallow). It would appear that the newest step in Ash’s journey would take things in a different direction by teaming Ash up with a boy named “Go”, and that a girl might not be traveling with Ash for this part of his journey.

Or is that really the case?

Japanese viewers have noticed that Go has been blushing a lot, which tends to happen often with female characters in anime.

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I could also point out that Go has stylized eyelashes, a feature that is usually only seen in anime girls and women.

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Is Go’s character a play on gender politics in a similar way to Samus from Metroid? Or is he simply an expressive male?

There is another mystery here, and that’s that Go is blushing at all. Blushing, or turning flush, is a feature of Caucasians. Caucasian skin lacks pigmentation, making it nearly transparent, so it looks nearly pink because of the blood running beneath, and it’s easy to make out the color of blood vessels. Blushing occurs when there is a sudden rush of blood, which is a physical reaction to nervousness. The near-transparency of Caucasian skin makes this blood rush more apparent, making blushing a Caucasian feature. And when you put Go side-by-side with Ash, it’s plain to see that he’s not Caucasian.

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As one could easily point out, Brock had darker skin too, and he was a legendary blusher. It would appear as though blushing in Pokemon was a stylistic choice, or perhaps was decided on by a team of Japanese animators who didn’t have access to many non-Japanese people to use as reference.

Also, what is up with those red clips in his hair? And those thin eyebrows? Were the writers of the Pokemon anime trying to pull one over on us?

Pokemon Sword version: first impressions

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I’ve started playing Pokemon Sword, and I’m a few badges in. Here are a few first impressions:

NOTE: If you care about spoilers, there are some mild ones ahead. But because you’re using the internet, you’ll likely have come across some, anyway.

  • The rabbit, Scorbunny, is my favorite starter. By the looks of it, it’s the right choice, as it seems to have a clear edge against many early-game opponents.
  • The wild area is big, and you gain access to it early on. Don’t expect something immense like in BotW, however. Still, open wilderness areas are something I’ve wanted to see in Pokemon for a long time, and they’ve finally done it.
  • Even though there’s a large area that connects some locations, there are still routes that are connected to towns, and the gyms must be taken on in a certain order. So there is still linearity in this game.
  • Trainers have to be endorsed to take on the gym challenge, which does come up as a story element.
  • Hop is your main rival in this game. He’s a friendly guy who seems very enthusiastic, but gets in your face often and can get kinda annoying. But at some point, someone says something that gets under his skin, and it has an effect on him. At that point, how he develops becomes kinda interesting.
  • The use of UK slang is an intermittent reminder of the game’s setting. It also makes for somewhat difficult reading at times. Other English speakers let the British brag about the way they do English, but when we have to read it, it becomes apparent how generous we’re being.
  • The Wild Area is a dangerous place. Shortly after the game’s outset, you can battle wild pokemon 20 to 30 levels higher than yours! It’s easy to get into a difficult situation in which your team can get quickly wiped out.
  • You might have the idea to catch a high-level pokemon and quickly breeze through the game. In Sword and Shield, the level of pokemon you’re allowed to catch depends on how many gym badges you’ve obtained.
  • As far as power-leveling goes, unless someone discovers a way to cheese a super-strong wild pokemon, battling trainers close to your own level seems to be the most consistent way to go about it.
  • Dynamax may be impressive, but it’s not game-breaking. I’ve had an ordinary pokemon hold it’s own against a gym leader’s Gigantamax pokemon until it reverted.
  • PSA: If a Dynamaxed pokemon switches out, it reverts back immediately. Also, a Dynamaxed Golisopod’s ability still activates while Dynamaxed. Therefore, General Grievous Golisopod isn’t a great choice for Dynamaxing.
  • When booting up the game with a save file, a skipable animation plays. Skip it, and the save file loads up from where you last saved, immediately. No menus, no title screen, you get right into playing. Just as I would have it.
  • There are NPCs that dress up as Eevee. They are cuter than any pokemon I’ve found in this game, so far.
  • The bad guy team in this game is actually another trainer’s cheering team. The trainer that they’re cheering on seems indifferent and perhaps kinda annoyed at what they’re doing. This is both hilarious and sad.
  • It seems like every pokemon can Dynamax, but only specific ones can Gigantamax. What’s more, they can only Gigantamax if they were obtained under certain conditions. I’m kinda disappointed that the first Alcremie that I obtained isn’t eligible.
  • Those leaked pokemon turned out to not be as bad as I thought. There’s a difference between seeing a still image of a character and seeing that character in action in the game.
  • There is a Thunderstone located in a wild area near the start of the game, and Pikachu can be obtained early on. You know what that means…

dynamax raichu.jpg

To address the National Dex controversy, I don’t see it as a big deal. There have gotten to be so many pokemon that it was likely to happen at some point that not all of them would be coded into a game. When it comes to that point, it’s more expedient to prioritize pokemon that are more relevant to the setting, among other considerations such as game balance and popularity of certain characters. Sword and Shield aren’t the first games to have done this, that distinction would go to last year’s Let’s Go games, which didn’t receive nearly the backlash in spite of there being a far more limited selection of pokemon.

The availability of every pokemon that’s ever existed wouldn’t matter to very many players except a few fans who might actually have some kind of disorder. I suspect that much of the noise we’ve been hearing about this can be attributed to this remote and vocal minority. To normal players, omitting certain pokemon isn’t likely to make much difference. When it comes to playing a game, the experience is more important than some collection chores that mainly appeal to the overly-obsessive.

So far, I’m really liking Pokemon Sword and Shield. GameFreak did pretty well based on what I’ve seen so far.

#ThankYouGameFreak Shows the Best in Pokemon Fandom

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After it became apparent that some pokemon would not be making it into the upcoming Pokemon Sword and Shield, social media lit up with hashtags such as #dexit and #bringbacknationaldex. Within the last day, Pokemon fans spoke up with the #ThankYouGameFreak hashtag, expressing gratitude toward GameFreak for their hard work in making a game that had a positive impact all around the world.

But there is another major difference: the #ThankYouGameFreak hashtag became the number one trending tag in the US.

In today’s culture, we see the more ungrateful among us screeching the loudest, and it’s easy to perceive that we live in an entitlement culture, and this perception is reinforced with the ease of finding social media posts from ingrates who apparently are facing the prospect of not getting everything they want for the very first time.

the empty can rattles the most

It’s easy to miss that the silent majority doesn’t always share the sentiments of the most vocal among us. The information media, the entertainment industry, and tech companies have platforms that allow them to spread their voices far and wide, but the common population continues to hold to their own virtues, and the social engineers are only able to succeed in preying on the more gullible among us.

In another example of the silent majority expressing their voice, the Pokemon fandom is turning out in great numbers to express their sincere appreciation for a media franchise that had a positive effect. This stands in stark contrast with those who binge-raged at the possibility that they might not find a character in an upcoming video game, and the hack industry analysts who are now carefully searching out and compiling any evidence they possibly could that the game company is in decline, as though a random YouTuber in some place like mid-state New York suddenly has access to information about a major game company that the rest of us don’t.

When it comes down to it, the culture isn’t made by the face on the TV screen or the person who shouts the loudest. It’s the people who make the culture. And, as it turns out, this culture is actually very capable of being grateful.

This Pokemon is Not the Devil.

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The pokemon pictured above is called “Impidimp”. It’s gotten some attention lately from fans who suppose it to be a representation of the Devil in the upcoming Pokemon games, Pokemon Sword and Shield. Since then, various edgy pre-teens have expressed their intention of including it on their in-game teams.

They continue to feel confident in their assertions of its identity, even as it’s evolved form was allegedly leaked on social media, which looks like this guy:

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Whoops, hold on. That’s not the guy. Here’s the alleged leak:

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When people call this pokemon the Devil, they sound like they have no idea what a goblin is. Considering the sheer number of people out there that consume fantasy media, this is surprising, as the goblin in middle age fantasy is like the Goomba from Super Mario Bros.. Its motif was even used for the Spider Man villain, the Green Goblin:

green goblin spider man.jpg

If you’re wondering what the Devil looks like, it would seem that no one got him on Polaroid. But it’s not likely that we can take a picture of him, because the Bible doesn’t describe the being to us in a physical sense. As far as that goes, what the Bible indicates is that he was likely very beautiful. Which is pretty far from what describes your typical goblin.

The extent of our ability to perceive the Devil is as a disembodied voice that attempts to influence people into doing things that they shouldn’t, kind of like an evil Obi-Wan Kenobi. If he were to appear in someone’s vision, it’s very likely that he can change his appearance, so he’d look like anything he wants (such as dead relatives or even what we’d perceive as angelic).

obi-wan kenobi.jpg“Steal that candy bar. Grocery stores are rich, they won’t miss it.”

Also of note is that Impidimp’s type is Dark/Fairy. Dark is an example of something that people would be afraid of, which would make it something that could unnerve a pokemon that uses its mind in battle. “Fairy” is an old English word that refers to a humanoid or a human with unusual traits. Going by this definition, vampires are fairies. Werewolves are also fairies. Goblins are fairies, too. It’s a very broad term. And yes, even Cirno from Touhou is a fairy.

cirno pop.jpgNatch.

So, what did we learn? Among other things, that an edgelord’s limited perception becomes apparent when we allow them to interpret pokemon designs.

These Pokemon Sword and Shield leaks are probably fake.

EIbzslLWsAAORLq.jpgI don’t know about this…

There have been numerous alleged leaked pokemon from the upcoming Pokemon Sword and Shield games which have been appearing on social media the last couple days, apparently originating from this Twitter account.

While the “leaks” look professional and convincing, there is a possibility that they could be fake, as fakes of such high quality can be produced by ordinary people. A prominent example would be the “leaked” starter pokemon concept art from over a year ago which were supposedly of the gen 8 starters, complete with the confidential stamp which was already known to be used for internal GameFreak documents:

pokemon_gen_8_leak_potential_grass

That really had the fans going, but when the real source came forward, it served as proof that just one guy and his friend who knows Japanese can trick a collective.

But what really makes the latest “leaks” more convincing is the use of quality 3D models, such as this one:

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The reason I’m not convinced is because it is possible for an ordinary person to create a 3D model, texture it, and animate it, as shown in the following video:

This was the work of a first-year student in 3D modelling and animation, and he was able to produce something of demonstrably higher quality than the official models, and he did this to spite an ignorant commenter.

The other type of possible fake going around supposedly comes from a yet-to-be-released “Trainer Handbook”:

EIYkKrGX0AEyWp6

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If the guidebook is legit, then there’s a huge problem with the guidebook itself: it’s a terrible guidebook. Most strategy guides, particularly for RPGs such as the Pokemon games, are packed with helpful statistical information, movesets, and typing information. This particular guidebook would seem more concerned with filling pages with illustrations of pokemon.

As you might remember, the official strategy guide for Pokemon Platinum was the size of a phone book, even though the pages were thin and the font was small. It stands as a bulky example of just how complex the Pokemon games have become, and this was from a few generations ago.

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Another problem with these leaks is the recurring use of blurred photographs, which have been used to create the impression of taking a hasty photograph with limited opportunity, but is used to cover up possible flaws in the designs:

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There is another problem, and this is a huge one: if these leaks turn out to be true, then GameFreak succeeded in making a bunch of pokemon that I’m not really interested in capturing. The following montage image showcases some of the images being circulated:

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Most of them don’t really have the kind of appeal that is normally associated with Pokemon. The Galarian Meowth looks goofy, and its inclusion is confusing considering that we get to see a Gigantamax variant to Meowth introduced. And that weird thing next to it is supposedly a Galarian Persian.

That purple dragon-looking thing looks more Neopets than Pokemon, and seems out of place. Then there’s the red fox, which looks like it doesn’t want to be there. Also, that Farfetch’d is supposedly a Galarian variant, with the difference being a larger leek. Most regional variants have radically different designs, so why does Farfetch’d get such a half-hearted treatment?

I could keep going with what’s wrong with these designs, but you see them. Not only do I doubt that these leaks are real, I want them to be fake. If they aren’t fake, then the gen 8 pokemon designs will easily go down as the worst in the series.

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I actually like Scorbunny, so I don’t want its final stage to look so bland.

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another moth

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I’ll grant that these “leaks” are very convincing, but that’s not very comforting considering that what we’ve seen from them so far looks pretty bad.

This is an interesting time for entertainment media, because social media has resulted in a rise of a culture of leaks. People love the attention that comes with having something exclusive, and there are people who like crafting a convincing ruse. It really isn’t anything new to Pokemon. Some who have been at it for a while remember the Shaymin Sky Forme “leak” from 2008, which was eagerly posted by Pokebeach with their watermark, even though it was made by a DeviantArt user called PurpleKecleon:

shaymin-sky-form.jpg

The same thing is happening with other media franchises, such as Star Wars, with communities speculating wildly about the contents of the next film in the series, The Rise of Skywalker. In the case of Star Wars, hoaxes have been carefully crafted around information that’s already available to make them sound more believable. Such has been the case with Pokemon, too. The hoaxes have gotten more sophisticated, resulting in fandoms that have to be far more cautious than they have been in times past.

UPDATE: The Twitter account that has been posting these leaks has been suspended. It’s possible that Nintendo requested this suspension because they didn’t want these pokemon leaked. Some of the designs have grown on me, but whether they’re legit remains to be seen.

The Pokemon anime spoiler that’s difficult to avoid (Alola league results)

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Ash has won a Pokemon League tournament in the Pokemon anime. Yes, that actually happened. The anime has been running for over two decades, with each generation of Pokemon typically concluding with a Pokemon League tournament where the winner would be declared the champion.

To be fair, Ash has won two similar victories in the past, those being the Orange Island League and the Battle Frontier challenge, but neither of those were leagues in the same sense as the Alola League, which held a tournament as other traditional Leagues do.

There have been those who have insisted that Ash should have won other league tournaments in which he participated, but I prefer to be more realistic about it. Most league tournaments in the Pokemon anime are single-elimination tournaments, wherein contestants are eliminated as soon as they’ve lost, after just one round. These tournaments can be pretty brutal, especially if there is a large number of participants, which would necessitate more rounds. While Ash may be the main character of his story, he’s every bit a person as everyone else who entered the competition, and those other people have had experiences just as valid as his. Because a large crowd participates in Pokemon’s league competitions, the odds of any particular contestant winning are very slim, but can significantly improve if a person is of a higher skill level. Because tournaments typically attract highly-skilled participants, the odds of an average-level participant taking top honors is very slim.

Ash’s league victory comes just after we’ve gotten a strong hint that the next generation of Pokemon anime will take place across all regions featured in the main Pokemon games, with the possibility that Ash may no longer be featured as the main character. If this turns out to be the case, granting Ash a league victory would give the character, and fans all over the world, closure that they’ve collectively been waiting a long time for.

Well done, kid.

ash champion trophy.jpg

Pokemon Masters: First Impressions

Pokemon Masters.jpgCool, but you can’t obtain most of those characters in the game, yet.

Pokemon Masters has been out for a few days, plenty of time to get some first impressions and make some observations. Here are some of mine:

  • I’m liking that the focus is on the trainers in this game. In times past, it seems like they got ignored in favor of the Pokemon themselves.
  • If you plan on playing this game for more than a few minutes at a time, get ready for your phone to get hot. Also, it chews through the battery like a beast.
  • This game is a gacha. The player is guaranteed certain characters as they progress through the main story, but there are also random characters that can be purchased with in-game currency.
  • The paid currency is a supplement to the in-game currency, and functions the same way. Players that pay can get more attempts sooner, without having to be patient.
  • This game is similar to other character-based RPGs, such as Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes, in that the players collect and rank up characters.
  • It’s harder to come across the currency used to purchase chances at characters as the game progresses. No surprise there, as many FTP games use a similar approach.
  • Progress in games similar to this is usually limited by a resource like “stamina” or “energy” which replenishes with time. However, in Pokemon Masters, you can play as much as you care to at a time. There are already players that are complaining about running out of things to do, but they would be the ones that already rushed through the available content.
  • Rosa is a broken character, and she’s available from the outset. She remains an indispensable character from the beginning and well into the postgame. I wonder how intentional this was on the part of the developers.
  • Evolution Crystals become immensely more expensive after the first batch. I regret using my first ones to get Empoleon, because now it takes a huge amount of grinding to get Serperior.
  • I’m not kidding. This game is ridiculously tight-fisted with Evolution Crystals. I know that most FTP games include a resource that is difficult to amass in quantity, but the coin cost for just one Evolution Crystal is crazy.
  • The idea of smuggling things in afros actually came up:

Iris hair storageBy the way, she actually does this in the show.

  • Spending 100 Skill Capsules on a single Gym Leader Notes seems like a bad deal at first, but considering how many you’ll rack up while grinding for the other items needed to achieve max levels, it’s actually a sweet convenience.
  • Raichu (with Hau) is one of the best characters in the game, and I’m okay with that.
  • I’m one of the few who managed to get Karen within the first few days of the game’s release. It’s too bad that she was outclassed days later with the inclusion of Blue.
  • I’m liking the animations, especially for the trainers. Their personalities are on full display, and some of them were characterized very well. I especially appreciated Agatha’s backstory, which provided a lot of insight into her history with Professor Oak that we didn’t previously have access to.
  • I can understand withholding the rest of the story until a future date, but did they have to leave us on a cliffhanger? It’s almost as bad as the ending for Halo 2.
  • I’m so thankful that DeNA decided to include Auto and Fast-Forward buttons for battles, which makes grinding demand a lot less attention. I know that those are standard features for games like this, but still.
  • If Barry has Piplup, what pokemon is Dawn going to have at the point she’s introduced into the game? Buneary?
  • It seems like the real challenge of the post-game is in the scheduled Supercourses, particularly the Very Hard ones. Even at maxed levels, they’re not a guaranteed win when autoing.
  • Speaking of Auto, it’s probably no surprise that Auto is no substitution for using strategy, and the computer often uses some very dumb moves, such as failing to use Potion when needed, or waiting to use a higher-energy move when the battle can be won with a move that’s already available.
  • For some reason, the 5∗ Power-Up has an expiration date. I suspect that this was an oversight, as it would make more sense if it applied instead to the event ticket used to purchase it. It’s hard to think of a reason to limit a player’s ability to stock up on this resource.

Pokemon Masters is brimming with style, and it has a battle system that’s far superior to that of Pokemon Go (though that’s not a hard hurtle to clear). It wouldn’t be surprising to see some quality-of-life updates down the road, and some content additions designed to keep players coming back. The Pokemon lore has gotten extensive over the decades, so there’s a lot of potential for expansion.

So far, I’m liking it.