• Moiya McTier

Episode 22: Worldbuilding of Pokemon

Updated: Jun 6


Eric Silver joins us to answer my burning questions about the Pokemon world, and together we discuss the weirdest and world-breaking-est Pokemon.



HOSTED by Moiya McTier (@GoAstroMo), astrophysicist and folklorist



GUEST

Eric Silver is a podcaster, writer, and Head of Creative at Multitude Productions. You can follow him on twitter at @El_Silvero and visit his website: ericsilver.work. You can find his article about anti-semitism in D&D here: https://www.heyalma.com/dungeons-dragons-has-an-antisemitism-problem/?fbclid=IwAR0WbHAp3ESkNrVFQwXlIMAJ3CbhbphF_R7mNcjf5F46hT--XUc763ZgtS8



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- Shaker & Spoon: get $20 off your first cocktail subscription subscription box at shakerandspoon.com/exolore



TRANSCRIPT

Moiya 0:08

Hello, and welcome to Exolore, the show that helps you imagine other worlds, but with facts and science. I'm your host Moiya McTier. I'm an astrophysicist who studies planets outside of our solar system. Those are called exoplanets. And I'm also a folklorist who specializes in creating and analyzing imaginary worlds. And this podcast is my way of sharing those worlds and my knowledge with you. Before we get into today's episode, I want to take a moment to thank from the bottom of my heart, my new patrons, Lada Melissa, Jessie and my first dragon level patron, Meredith. Thank you so much for your support. If you want to join these amazing people in supporting the show, you can head on over to "patreon.com/goAstroMo". Your monthly support would help me do things like pay an editor, pay my guests and just do things that keep the Exolore lights on. So thank you to my new patrons. A little story to get us started for today. When I was in first and second grade, I shuffled around a lot, you know, typical child of divorce stuff, but I would spend one or two nights every week with my Nana -- my birth father's mom. She lived in Pittsburgh, and after every day of school, my papa would pick me up and he would take me home. And I would do my homework at the kitchen table, while my Nana was cooking dinner. She would feed me a bologna and mayonnaise sandwich as a post school snack. And whenever I was done with my homework, I was allowed to go in her bedroom and watch TV. And because I was always staying at her house on the same night of the week, I was watching the same shows. So I always watched "Pokemon", and I never got into the games or the card or like or the manga side of things I never got into any of that. But I did really love the show. And so today's episode is all about "Pokemon". I'm not going to be the only one talking on this episode, I have a guest who is much more knowledgeable on the subject than I am. But to give you a little teaser of what you can expect from this conversation, we're going to talk about Pokemon cosmology -- where Pokemon come from. We're going to talk about their weird evolutionary paths. There's some funky stuff going on in Pokemon evolution. And we're going to talk about how unfair it is to project our human proclivity for dominance and destruction on to Pokemon, which may or may not be a single species -- who knows? We're gonna get to it in this conversation. I hope you enjoy. My guest today is the head of creative at Multitude Productions. He's a podcasting genius, his voice and his influence on shows like "Join the Party". "Next Stop", and super relevant to this conversation, "[What's] Your favorite Pokemon, (And Then I say Something Nice About You)". Which sounds so lovely, even though it's not a thing anymore, although there's definitely a crowd that wants this podcast to exist again. My guest today is Eric Silver. Thank you so much for being on the show.


Eric 3:01

Hello, listen, this is my fault, because "What's Your Favorite Pokemon (And Then I say Something Nice About You)", was intentionally such a bad title. Like, you got so much of it right that people will be able to figure it out. And I'm just like, I didn't even optimize it. It was literally just made because COVID was happening. I'm like, "I'm growing a victory garden of podcasting". I'm sure this will be done in a few months. No.


Moiya 3:23

Remember when we all thought it was gonna be done so fast? I bought like three weeks of groceries and I thought that would hold me over. I was wrong.


Eric 3:31

Remember when we thought that the pandemic just as it was from March - May was like the only thing going on? I think when the George Floyd protests started, I was like, "oh, that's right. The rest of the world is still happening, even while the pandemic is going", and this is the fucking world we're living in. It's like everything is fucking stacking. So yes, which is just like in "Pokemon", you have so many different things happening at the same time, but just like our world, the world building doesn't make any fucking sense.


Moiya 4:04

Two beautiful segues right in a row. But I do want to hear more about you, just so the listeners can get a sense for your background. I told them what you're up to lately, but what else do you want us to know about you?


Eric 4:18

I am really excited that this show exists -- Exolore because it really combines a lot of things that I really care about, which is worldbuilding, as [I am] the dungeon master on "Join the Party" and the tenants of how worldbuilding is attached to our reality. Now you go at it from the science and the math perspective. How does this exist? What understanding do we have in science and I try this but I I'm not a math person -- I'm a sociology person. I'm a pop culture person. I'm like a critical thinker in that way. I'm an English person. I was an English teacher for a hot second there and I loved how the metaphor of "genre worldbuilding", in fantasy, cyberpunk/sci fi, superheroes are my personal favorite right now. What does that mean about our world? What is the metaphor, people don't remember that the genre is made so that you can address metaphor, and it's easier, but then people blow by it. There's a really great game system called "Kids on Bikes", it's very much made so you can have like an "E.T", "Stranger Things" sort of scenario, like really focusing on kids and teenagers doing an RPG sort of thing. And they did a recent book that came out called "Kids on Brooms", which is so you can have like a "Harry Potter Hogwarts" situation. It really is based on like, "make a magic school" and then go from there. Remember, we're dealing in metaphor here and because we're not talking about race, or sex, or gender or religion explicitly, and it's a metaphor, people get very clumsy with it, and they stop being critical. Or they just like, "ah, yeah, let's free the dwarves. Why not"? But it's like what do dwarves represent? And you get kind of lost. So it's like, sometimes it's better, but other times it's worse. And I think that looking at it from a critical sociological and pop culture lens is how I feel [and] I've been doing this for Jewish stuff a lot lately, as everything's been happening. And, you know, Nazis are, once again out there. It's something I've been looking at a lot lately, and it's been an interesting time to talk about that stuff. So that's why I'm happy. I'm on the show.


Moiya 6:33

I'm happy you're on the show. Is it fair to say that that's one of the fictional worlds you've been inhabiting lately? Are there any others that you're excited about?


Eric 6:41

Yeah, the fictional worlds I've been inhabiting lately, "Join the Party" -- obviously. "Laketown City" is something that I've been a real big part of. I'm getting back into "Pokemon", which is nice. Amanda and I started streaming lately, where you can check it out "House Breakfast", on Twitch, we're doing a "Pokemon Ruby Nuzlocke Run", which is some constraints you put on a run of "Pokemon" to make it more difficult, and seeing the worldbuilding in that for Ruby, where it's just really getting into some of the cosmology, and Pokemon gods and how that affects the world of "Pokemon" is super wild. This is some real comic book shit, but it's like, "we're gonna take the power of a god to change the world. And we have an entire evil organization around that". And I'm just like, "whoa, what the fuck? We're going to the bottom of the sea in "Pokemon"? Okay, guys. That sounds great". Any other particular worlds? No, I think that is it. I've been having a lot of trouble with fantasy lately. Like, even books that I love. Like, I tried to pick up N.K. Jemisin's books, and I read the first few pages, and I'm like, "I know this is great, and I know it doesn't center on like white supremacist ideas and how much I love that. But like, I cannot learn a whole new world right now because the whole world is like in my brain". So it's like I really love modern worlds that have a twist on it. It's not magic realism because I know magic realism has very specific Spanish origins. And I appreciate that because I have family from Argentina and reading some of that in the English and Spanish is fun for me, but they call it "slipstream fiction" when like one thing is different in like a relatively modern world, they think about something that starts in magical realism like "an angel falls into a chicken coop" all the way to annihilation. How Florida is [like a] fucking jungle hellscape. And that's the entire range of slipstream. If you were making a triangle with like magic realism and annihilation on two of the points. The third point is like superheroes.


Moiya 8:42

Got it, which you love.


Eric 8:43

I do. I really am a big fan of things that are outside of the DC/Marvel bicameral system, because all the Marvel things that we know is like really just reinforcing a lot of ideas about America and militarism and capitalism that like I'm not a big fan of. [While] DC cannot get out of their own fucking way for similar reasons, but it's less fun, somehow, like how did you manage to make it less fun? So I'm really enjoy books/comics/ video games -- or tabletop RPG, or whatever that deal in superhero tropes that are outside of that, that are pulling from Marvel and DC stuff. Like I really love "Masks", which is a really great tabletop RPG where you play teenage to young adult superheroes. And it's like the best game of forum following function. Like there are mechanics for guilt and for anger and for dealing with those feelings. But you can be like, "yeah, I throw five people out of a window". You can be like, "okay, great, you have super strength" [so] that's super easy. And like the mechanics in the forum following function are so wonderful. "The Regional Office is Under Attack" is a book like that, that I really love. I can give more recommendations. I'll put I can put them in the episode description if you'd like.


Moiya 9:51

Yeah, that would be great. You have so many of these, and I love that. I love that there are games now that actively try to teach people how to work through complex emotions, like anger or anxiety -- things that I'm sure [are] relevant to a lot of people these days. And I feel like that's something that people don't talk about enough that there are positive consequences of playing video games because for so long, I heard people talking about the potential negative consequences of playing violent video games, for example, although I did hear that there was a study that came out recently that showed that that's like, not true, that there aren't strong ties between it.


Eric 10:24

I mean, that's just an American thing about like being desensitized to violence, you know, how you can show an explosion that kills 20 people, but if you see like a hint of a penis, it's like an R -- immediately. So that's more of an American thing than a video game thing. Also, something that I've been understanding from the large media corporation to the independent media corporation, [is that] video games, and tabletop RPGs, like Dungeons and Dragons, you can see that the triple A games are doing so much that they lose a lot of that nuance. And the bullshit, like cyberpunk already has a lot of like iffy sci-fi roots in that way [and] the way that they've dealt with trans-ness, and gender is really shitty in that game. But of course, like it's the most popular game out there. And I feel the same way about Dungeons and Dragons. Like I have my own game that I play and hacking things and playing other tabletop RPGs, But like, Wizards of the Coast has so many fucking problems, because they're a massive corporation owned by Hasbro. And they're very slow and they don't care about it because they have the bottom lines to think about. [And] I've talked about on Join the Party so much about the problems Wizards of the Coast has had. And, you know, I have this article coming out today while we're recording this, and I'm very nervous about coming out on Alma, which is about how there's innate anti-semitic problems in Dungeons and Dragons that they have never considered at all. Like, you can't just call everything that's a construct a "golem," you just can't. That's rude. That's very rude. Also, the lich was originally created by Gary Gygax, the original guy who made Dungeons and Dragons who was like so Christian, he didn't believe that you should celebrate Christmas because Jesus didn't.


Moiya 12:03

Oh, wow.


Eric 12:04

That's like not a judgment on how religious you are. That's like your level of religiosity


Moiya 12:08

That's very religious,


Eric 12:10

That's very religious, I want to make that very clear. But like he created the Lich, [and] as we might know, a Lich keeps your soul in a box or divides it [very] ala Horcrux [and] that's kind of what a Lich is, but the original place that a Lich put their souls in early editions of Dungeons and Dragons was pretty much just Jewish tefillin. They called it a "phylactery" to fill in for those of you don't know, religious Jews wear ceremonial boxes that have very important Jewish prayers stuff in it, and you wear it on your head and on your arm, and you wrap it on there. And like, that's the only time I've heard the word phylactery is like Christians talking about Jewish artifacts, you know, in that like exoticism of like the ruling class talking about a minority classes things? Like it's a tchotchke. It's Judaica in that way, but yeah. And a Litch was originally "evil" in [a] Jewish way, and you just can't do that. And there's a lot of other things like, of course, about fantasy racism, that inherent idea that being a race, even if you aren't, we're talking about the metaphor here of being the fantasy race gives you inherent bonuses or deficits. And like, That's not true. We did [un]prove[d] that with phonology, you can't continue that. You can't just do that. So there's a lot of that stuff tied together. But I think to your original point, smaller games, both video games and tabletop RPGs are exploring that because they're allowed to explore what the art form is that are not dictated by capitalism and reinforcing office culture and shit like that.


Moiya 12:57

Yeah. Well, I hope it grows. I hope Wizards sees your article, and that there are only good consequences.


Eric 13:46

I sure hope so [but] that's hoping for too much. Either it gets popular and everyone sees it and you have to pay the tax of being hurt by bigots on the internet, or no one sees it and you don't have to do that. So you have one or the other, Moiya. Would you know anything about that being a black woman on the internet? Would you know?


Moiya 14:07

I would know a little bit. All right, let's actually talk about some Pokemon now.


Eric 14:16

I was gonna explain to you what it's like being a minority on the internet, but yeah we [can] move on.


Moiya 14:20

Yeah, I think we both got that covered. So, maybe let's just start from the beginning, which I know you've been researching a little bit. Where do Pokemon come from?


Eric 14:34

Okay, so I did do a little research on Pokemon cosmology here. And the first thing I want to start out with is Arceus, who is basically like, God.


Moiya 14:44

Okay, which God?


Eric 14:46

There seems to be a divine creator in the Pokemon universe. Like it is a god of Pokemon in a very sort of like Jewish Christian, sort of way Old Testament thing to the wild thing about Pokemon and I think we're gonna get into this a lot is that this world has stretched over so many different games. And like, you just can't have that continuity. I don't think they have a big binder of Pokemon lore, I really think that it just builds on top of each other, which you can see from the Pokedex, like in every single game different Pokemon have different Pokedex entries, and I'm like, that's so interesting. They're just building on top of it, and they're letting it all exist, and they're not saying which one is canon or not.


Moiya 15:25

So it's like layers of paper, instead of just making the paper longer and continuing to write on the same sheet?


Eric 15:32

Yes, exactly. This is like in the middle of the scroll, they're all writing on the same scroll. So this one is from Generation Four where we're introduced to Arceus, who is basically like a divine creator sort of god. So Arceus, hatched out of a cosmic egg out of nothing.


Moiya 15:50

I love a cosmic egg cosmology.


Eric 15:52

Yes, because this is the Orphic Egg, which you might know from Greek mythology, [but] for those of you who didn't -- I didn't know it, so I looked it up. The orphic egg is from the Orphic tradition of ancient Greek mythology, was that the primordial hermaphroditic deity of Phanes/Protogonus, who was the first god that God created. [He's] Zeus, Eros, Pan, all those folk, and that's where, I guess [the] world started. He was an egg that's surrounded by a big snake -- which is wild. So I think that this is very similar and maybe that's part of where Pokemon was pulling from. But this didn't happen until Generation Four, we didn't learn about Arceus until Generation IV. So it's like they're backfilling the cosmology in this way. Okay. So Arceus is known as the original Pokemon and created all the other Pokemon. Whether or not that's true, or if there's some sort of like evolution happening at the same time, because there's another idea that Pokemon is actually a single species broken down into very specific subspecies. They've kind of started developing this in later editions, like in Sun and Moon, where they go to that Hawaiian region, the Alola region, and now they're kind of getting into it in Sword and Shield when they're doing their UK stuff is that there are regional variants of Pokemon. So there is an idea that nurture changes Pokemon, so it's entirely possible that Arceus, after they created all of the deities in a very Greek mythology sort of way, Pokemon started [like] Mew [who] was this very fungible Pokemon and then created other things. There's also in the Pokedex, [where] you can see that every Pokemon is the blank Pokemon. I don't know if that's a designation of species or if it's a designation of subspecies in the Pokedex.


Moiya 17:31

Wait, so if they're all the same species, can you like interbreed any combination of Pokemon that you want?


Eric 17:38

You can interbreed them. When you take Pokemon to [a sort of] Poke[mon] nursery, but you can breed them together and then they create one or the other Pokemon, like you don't create new Pokemon. But this isn't like a horse-donkey situation which creates a mule and then the mule can't procreate. It just it creates either a horse or a donkey with better stats.


Moiya 18:05

Interesting.


Eric 18:06

Yeah. But of course, all this stuff stacks on top of each other, because they didn't introduce this idea and like coming up with the best stats of your Pokemon for a little while, and they started developing it over games. So it's like they're backfilling and trying to make and make sense, like, there is no divine creator of Pokemon lore, you know? Okay, so I'm skipping a lot of stuff because I care a lot more about Generations One, Two, and Three, [because] I kind of fell off as Pokemon went to the 3DS. I was in college and playing Halo, and drinking with my friends. So I fell off a little bit there.


Moiya 18:38

That's understandable.


Eric 18:39

Yeah, so when Arceus created the universe -- Generation Three, "Ruby Sapphire" posited, that Kyogre the big whale thing -- one of those legendary Pokemon and Groudon the one that kind of looks like Godzilla, but red on the front of "Ruby and Sapphire, they are the legendary Pokemon. So Kyogre seems to be the creator of water and Groundon is the creator and protector of land and Groudon shaped all the land in Pokemon world.


Moiya 19:07

That's a lot of work.


Eric 19:08

Yeah, well, it's very much like you know, again, pulling from Greek mythology, how deities have specific jobs and powers in that way. So it's like we have a water guy, we have a ground guy and then Rayquaza, who is kind of like a traditional Chinese dragon -- green and shaped and long in that way and serpentine -- is the protector of the skies. Arceus has also created like controllers of time and controllers of space. That is some later Pokemon shit that I'm not really aware of and is a little confusing to me, but just like in the creation myth, from the Torah, like creating water and then created ground and then the sky was also created -- which I find very interesting from there. And then there are some other things that are trying to fill in like the presence of humanity and the growth of society. They were a very specific eras, much like in our world. There's the Stone Age, the Bronze Age and the Iron Age, which are signified by the Reggie family of Pokemon. Where there's like a stone Reggie, sort of like this creation that's [a] rock type. [The] Regice represents the Ice Age in that way, and then Reggie steel, represents the Iron Age with Reggie rock representing the early Stone Age.


Moiya 20:20

That's really cool.


Eric 20:21

It's ridiculous. Also then, Regigigas was introduced in Generation Four, which is a psychic type which created all the other Reggies. So there's like also other lore happening at the same time that's parallel, I guess it has to do with like, because it's a creation, they're constructs in this way, in the way that some Pokemon can be constructed -- shout out to Magnemite, who is literally a magnet with an eye on it, that there seems to be a different type of creator, not a divine creator, or at least more like humans making humans what we understand, like the Frankenstein myth. There's also a really interesting idea that writing was only developed 1,500 years before Generation Two which is totally wild, obviously. Like, you know, writing goes all the way back to Sumerian and Mesopotamia. And we're talking like 3400 - 3100 BC. Yeah, so like 5,000 years ago, but there's a type of Pokemon called Unknown and Unknown is the letter with the eye. And that supposedly, is the inspiration for the Pokemon language that they use. In the Pokemon world. They they saw these like, "oh, those are letters", and [then] turn that into a language only 1,500 years earlier, which is wild, like Jesus lived and died. And then 500 years, and then the Pokemon people saw unknowns and created a new language.


Moiya 21:50

So is this supposed to be Earth or is it its own separate world?


Eric 21:55

I think it's Earth-esque.


Moiya 21:57

Okay. But we're not supposed to map it onto like the history of Earth?


Eric 22:01

No, I don't think so. I think it is supposed to run parallel. It's very interesting, because all of the Pokemon places are inspired by different places around our world. So the first three generations are all different parts of Japan, I think also Generation Four, then there's one that's inspired by New York, then there's one that's inspired by Hawaii, that's the Alola region and the most recent one, the one that Sword and Shield is in is inspired by the United Kingdom.


Moiya 22:24

I've watched my partner play that one.


Eric 22:26

Yes, Sword and Shield is great. It's very fun watching. So most Pokemon, especially in the earlier ones are inspired by Yokai -- shout out to Spirits Podcast -- but like a Japanese monster of folklore, because it's a Japanese game, and it stays within the Japanese region. But then it's very funny watching Japanese developers look at other places around the world and consider them like, "hey, where do you think the garbage Pokemon came from? Oh, when we're looking at New York"? Oh, very funny. Thank you.


Moiya 22:55

Oh, we're gonna be talking about that garbage pokemon later, for sure.


Eric 22:58

I love that garbage friend. So it's very funny seeing like Japan, look at Hawaii, and then creating the Alola region and then looking at the United Kingdom and creating all of that, like, you know, that variant of Wheezing has a top hat and a mustache. And I'm like, "that's some funny shit".


Moiya 23:15

Oh, it's good to see that they have a sense of humor.


Eric 23:17

I think they really do, and because you can put anything in the Pokemon game, it's silly. Again, looking at something through metaphor is sometimes more fun. This is also the part where they're also putting in some ideas about climate change. Like there's a coral Pokemon, but now it's ghost water. And it had its pale white to demonstrate that the coral reefs are dying.


Moiya 23:36

Oh, good for them. I mean, not good for the coral reefs good for the game designers who are bringing attention to the destruction of the coral reefs.


Eric 23:43

Right. But then this is what I'm talking about in terms of the wildness of the worldbuilding. And we'll get to this in the second half of the episode. It's like, what is mythology? What is real? What do you actually care about? What is the messaging? Or is everyone at gamefreak just kind of fucking doing whatever, and then they throw it all together in the game. I think that's true. I think that's what's happening.


Moiya 24:01

You don't think there's a big plan. I mean, like maybe originally, there wasn't a grand creator of the Pokemon lore, but you don't think they've since hired one?


Eric 24:09

Maybe I think that they are able to deal with it because each region is supposed to be very separate. There's a lot of islands in the Pokemon game. We're recording this as the new Pokemon Snap just got announced -- April 30th. My birthday is May 2nd, [and] that's all I'm gonna be doing that weekend. Let's go, but that's on a totally different region, which is called the Lental region, but it's a series of islands that have Pokemon that are incredibly photogenic. Sometimes the [pokemon] have this glow or something, which is something they're introducing. So I think that what they're doing is they're reinforcing the idea of nature and nurture, which I find very interesting and I love about the Pokemon world and where it's going, but every region feels very separate from each other. And I think that's kind of the excuse they're giving of why different Pokedexes are different, why there are regional forums and why there doesn't necessarily need to be continuity between the games, except for very tentative [explanations], like a Galapagos turtle needs to look like a North American turtle needs to look like an Asian turtle in that way.


Moiya 25:14

Yeah, I really like this in my head. I don't know if they've said anything about the geology of the world and how the internal mechanisms of the Pokemon planet work. But in my head, I'm thinking that maybe it's just a very volcanically or tectonically active world where the plates are moving a lot, and so at some point, they were connected so that the animals or the Pokemon could travel to different places, but then they tore apart and now they're all very isolated, and they've had a long time to evolve separate from each other.


Eric 25:43

Yeah, I think that that's reinforced by the regional forums. Also Groundon, the earth creator is a fire type fire ground. So there is a lot of magma, there is a lot of talk of volcanoes because of the fire type pokemon -- Entei, you know the the fire dog from Gold and Silver, they really revolve a lot around volcanoes. So there is a lot of volcanic activity. You're right. There is a tradition of fossils in Pokemon, there are extinct Pokemon ones that you revive all the way back from the beginning, you had Kabuto and Kabutops [and] when you envision a fossil you think of like a Tyrannosaurus Rex. And you also think of like an imprint of like some sort of shelled creature.


Moiya 26:31

Like the trilobite. Is that what that is?


Eric 26:33

Trilobite? Yes. I said, Headcrab because I'm a fucking nerd. Yes, that's exactly what I'm talking about. And there is a long tradition of reviving fossils in Pokemon Sword and Shield, there are four dinosaur pokemon you can revive. But if you put different ones together in strange ways, it points to how the U.K. loves just putting random shit together and calling it a dinosaur. Even it doesn't necessarily fit. There's like this museum scandal about how they just put things together. So they're pointing out a tradition of Anglo Saxon fucking archaeology, which is very funny.


Moiya 27:10

I love that. And you said they also do their own science? They're studying the pokemon.


Eric 27:16

Yes. So I think this is going to be a great tie in to our second half or two, where we talked about the pokedex. The entire premise, and I want to talk to you about this is a an observation thing, like the scientific method that I would love to ask you about is the whole point of Pokemon is that there are professors all over these regions that study Pokemon, Professor Oak, and all their other tree brethren. Right?


Moiya 27:38

Are they all named after trees?


Eric 27:39

They are all named after trees. Yes.


Moiya 27:41

Oh, I love that.


Eric 27:42

It's very cute.


Moiya 27:44

The Tree of Knowledge. They hold the knowledge.


Eric 27:47

Oh, shit, I didn't even think of that. Moiya. Thank you. That's why we come on Exolore. So the professors are in their lab, they have stuff to do, they can't leave. The pokedexes isn't filled out until you the player go out and fill it right. But that presupposes that professors are giving pokedexes to 10 year olds, and telling 10 year olds to go out and observe the natural world; and then what they write in think are then put into the pokedexes. I don't know if there is any sort of cross evaluation, it seems like you see it, you write it down, it's in the pokedex because as soon as you see a Pokemon, it reveals itself to you in the video game. This is different than the anime, where it seems like the pokedex already has information and shows it to you, but I want to ask: hey, Moiya is science collected by 10 year olds and then not studied. And that's just taken as fact?


Moiya 28:40

Okay, so the closest thing I can think of to this is a type of citizen science project. And that's citizen of the world, not of any single country or polity. But the idea is that you can create these mass stores of data available to people who just want experience playing with data. And one of the ones I'm most familiar with is Zooniverse. And it's like a game where you can look at galaxies at different shapes, like they've taken pictures of different galaxies. And the idea is that we want people to categorize them by their shape. And it's since grown. It's not just astronomy, it's all sorts of different disciplines that you can play around with on zooniverse. But I'm sure that there are a lot of 10 year olds doing that. And we are not just just taking it and saying, "all right, the science is done now", but the idea is that if you get enough 10 year olds doing this, you can amass lots of data and go through and find averages and get an idea of the trends of the data as an ensemble.


Eric 29:47

Yes, I love that. It's like, "here is data, figure out what to do with it after you put rigor on it". But it seems like because this is an ecology project or a zoology project, it's just taken as fact. It's like you take a bunch of fifth graders and you bring them to the zoo, and be like, "hey, look at this gorilla, and whatever you say, we're gonna put it in a paper -- whatever you think this gorilla is doing or whatever ideas". It's [like a] reverse observation and then hypothesis, like, "this thing is so strong". "Well, how strong is it"? "Well, it looks like it can punch a lot, and its punches are very strong". Like, "okay, that's a fucking jump is greater. But thanks for telling me".


Moiya 30:27

There's no way that they take the words of individual fifth graders or their observations and say, "alright, this one fifth grader is right", they must collect them.


Eric 30:37

Well, I'm not sure because the whole point of Pokemon is that you as a child have so much validity, and you're so important to these pokemon science and ecosystem[s]. So there's this idea [and] we're going to talk about the Pokedex entries, and how ridiculous they are. But there's an idea that Pokedex entries are written by you the player -- the 10 year olds, and that's why it looks like that. In one of the Pokedex entries, it says that Magickarp when it does "splash", can jump over a mountain.


Moiya 31:07

Okay, that's a lot.


Eric 31:09

That's very high. That is 3,000 feet in the air. So we have a few different avenues here. One, that's true, we take that as fact. Two, there is a lot of mythology in Pokemon like you said a lot of Pokemon are inspired by Japanese mythology. Magikarp comes from a myth where there are these fish that can jump very high in the air; and then that's why Magikarp turns into Gyarados. It goes into a magic lake and turns into a dragon. It's [then] entirely possible that the mythology that they're pulling from, is that this fish can jump very high in the air. The third presupposes that this 10 year old saw this a Magikarp jump 10, 15, 20 feet in the air [cause that's] totally plausible, and said, "wow, I bet it can jump over a mountain". Magikarp when it uses "splash" can jump over a mountain -- it's in the Pokedex.


Moiya 32:00

When you interact with other players in Pokemon games, can you compare your Pokedexes? Are they identical?


Eric 32:06

No, [and that's] the thing. You as the player, it seems to be the trainer. You are the main character, it's about your growth so it doesn't seem like the other people around you -- at least in the earlier games [not] in the later games [where] you run into other trainers that are doing this [probably not] on some sort of scientific discovery; but no, your Pokedex is no different than the other Pokedexes in the region.


Moiya 32:29

That is fascinating. I just watched the episode of Stargate SG-1 where they go to Orban, which I think [at] this point is my favorite Stargate world that they've gone to. And on Orban, they have these young children. They're called "Urrone", who have a lot of like little nano machines in their brains to make them super smart. And they just gather a lot of knowledge, but they're very young. So I am imagining something similar is going on in Pokemon.


Eric 32:57

It's possible.


Moiya 32:57

That's my head cannon now.


Eric 32:58

It's definitely possible, and we talked earlier [about the fact that] this is a game; and when we're talking about games with video games and tabletop RPG is there is the push and pull of the game and the world like this is the difference between worldbuilding in a game and worldbuilding in a novel or a movie that is static. But of course this needs to be interacted with, and it still needs to be fun. So the first player problem then presupposes a lot of unscientific methodology. And of course, like people love examining Pokemon and poking holes in this, like the research I did for this was very easy. I have my resources. I looked at like two articles and a YouTube video. And I know all of this, so there's a lot of holes that can be looked at just because it's a video game. And that's the video game problem of worldbuilding.


Moiya 33:45

Yeah, so true. All right, I have a few questions that I want to get to before we wrap up the first half of this episode.


Eric 33:51

For sure.


Moiya 33:52

And you're welcomed to tell me that they're dumb questions.


Eric 33:55

No, totally fine.


Moiya 33:57

All right. So my first one is what's it like inside a pokeball? Is it sad? Is it like a house and they just get shrunken down, like what's happening in there?


Eric 34:06

I don't know for sure. It doesn't squish the pokemon in there, it seems they turn into some sort of red light as [we] see in the anime, and then disappears in there. So there must be some sort of idea of an essence going inside of there. Something I did figure out was that the pokeball seems to be an outgrowth of natural world. There are a bunch of pokemon that resemble pokeballs, like Voltorb, for example, and there's a mushroom pokemon, that their top of their head looks like a pokeball. So there must be some sort of natural markings, much like you know how those moths look like allies like that marking must be some sort of natural thing. [There] is also an idea that the pokeball was in fact invented, but they hollowed out an apricorn, which was like one of the berries that are introduced in one of the different games. So there seems to be some sort of like natural version of a pokeball that turns into the mechanical pokeball [that] we know about it. So there seems to be a tradition of being able to capture It feels like a white space to me, but of course, you've seen there's plenty of artists renderings that it's a real house in there. For D&D players out there, I wonder if it's like a pocket dimension, maybe like, you know, like one of those huts you might go into that have like some sort of space inside of that. It seems to me natural. I know that's not a direct answer to your question, but it seems to be fine and good.


Moiya 35:22

That helps. I have always pictured it as the lamp from "I Dream of Jeannie", and how it's just like a nice little cozy cushiony paradise in there.


Eric 35:32

Absolutely. I'd like to imagine that's what it is. But I bet it's like a metaphorical blank space.


Moiya 35:38

Well, hopefully they can just make it whatever they want.


Eric 35:41

We can because it's in our head cannon. We can do it in our head cannon.


Moiya 35:45

That's the most important thing to me because I don't play the game so I don't have to be confronted by any other cannon.


Eric 35:49

Exactly.


Moiya 35:51

Why do they fight each other? And why do they follow trainers instructions?


Eric 35:56

Great question. So according to more generation 4 lore, it seems that humans and Pokemon were once considered to be the exact [same] species to the point that humans could even marry pokemon apparently, which apparently, is what Ash's mom is doing with a Mr. Mime. Who knows?


Moiya 36:13

I've seen those Tumblr posts.


Eric 36:14

Yeah, this also presupposes that Mew is [a] common ancestor for all pokemon and all humans. I don't know if that's necessarily true, but this seems to be like some backfield mythology. Yeah, there isn't like biological overlap, but it seems like all shared life has the same ancestor. And maybe that's why there's a human-pokemon connection. Unfortunately, it's the tenant of the game like Pokemon fight for our enjoyment, but maybe it's fine? I don't know. I mean it's animals fighting like that is ultimately what it comes down to. But again, that was the tradition of RPGs -- monsters fighting. This started in 1997, [as the idea of] ,"what can you put on a Gameboy that's turn-based"? It kind of makes sense to me.


Moiya 36:53

Yeah, I mean, it absolutely makes sense in the context in which it was created. But when you remove yourself from that context, it's young children in like animal fight rings. That's what it is. [and that's] kind of terrifying when you abstract it to that.


Eric 37:05

No, you're 100% true. Unfortunately, the other people who examine this was PETA, who has so many of their own problems, they made like a game that really focused in on the fact that it was animals fighting, and then Nintendo sued them for ripping off their IP and Nintendo, which is very funny. Finally, Nintendo being litigious actually worked out pretty okay. I did not know I knew this much shit about Pokemon, Moiya. It's like a fucking magician's hat, I keep pulling out handkerchiefs.


Moiya 37:37

Alright, let's see if you can pull out one more. Why haven't pokemon taken over the world? Because they are powerful. There are a lot of them. The movie, "Detective Pikachu" makes me think that they're at least as smart as humans were when we kind of started taking over the planet. I mean, there's a Snorlax acting as a crossing guard, which like requires brain power. And so why aren't they in control of everything?


Eric 38:00

I think this is just the fantasy creation that humans are smarter, [and] have the ability to create [better] societ[ies]. The "Detective Pikachu" thing is like the humans had to level with the pokemon and they had to live together. So I think you're right in that way, but their pocket monsters. The humans will always have control. I mean, yes, you're right. The pokemon are incredibly powerful, and it's like they don't know their own strength because they are animals in this way. They're monsters. I mean, this is the whole thing that Mewtwo supposes who is a scientifically genetically created pokemon who can speak English, which is like pokemon have been mistreated by humans. 100% true. Pokemon can rise up -- they're the ones with psychic powers, right? They have a flame thrower in their mouth. They can do solar beam like you're right. The answer is I don't know, it has to function for the game to work.


Moiya 38:54

Okay, well, if you had to choose a pokemon species, or subspecies that would take over the world that's not Mewtwo, which one do you think it would be?


Eric 39:02

A lot of these legendary pokemon are incredibly powerful; [but if] we're talking about a divine creator and it does come out in this Christian idea of what God is, benevolent Jesus and omnipresent but moved back from the world the Holy Spirit and [that's] capital G, God that like they don't meddle in that way. So I think that if any of the legendary pokemon is from the birds to the dogs, to the any of the controllers have a literal time, space and power, they would, but they are mythological in the way that all like dragons are mythological in some sort of way. They're just like, they exist. They're not trying to defeat anyone. They are just powerful and can be put together. But humans are meddlers and want power. Pokemon, I don't think necessarily want power, because they're not humans. They're only animals, so they do not want and feel the same way that we do.


Moiya 39:54

That was a very nice non-answer to the question. It sounds sassy, but no, I think it's fair. My question assumed that they would want to and that's not a fair assumption.


Eric 40:04

Yeah, I think that there's a lot that goes into this cosmology. I've been thinking a lot about this because like, here's the thing. The term Judeo Christian is not true. It's not a real thing. Jewish thought and Christian thought are totally different, [as well as] our idea of what God is. The only things we share is the creation myth, when the Christians tried to remix our Jewish shit.


Moiya 40:30

That was horrible. Oh my god, I just lost all cool points.


Eric 40:34

It's totally fine. I only listen to the to the old shit, I don't care about any of the new shit.


Moiya 40:41

Well, on that note, I think it's a good time to take a little break, and then we'll be back talking about some individual pokemon. I've really missed socializing at bars, which is obviously something we can't do right now, but we can totally have Zoom cocktail hour with our friends. If only we knew how to make our own drinks, enter Shaker and Spoon, a subscription cocktail service that helps you learn how to make handcrafted cocktails right at home. Every box comes with enough ingredients to make three different cocktail recipes four of each developed by world class mixologists. All you need to do is buy one bottle of that month spirit and you have everything you need to make 12 drinks at home and it just $40 - $50 per month plus the cost of the bottle that you buy. It's actually a really cost effective way to enjoy craft cocktails. I live in Manhattan and I could easily pay twice that much to get 12 drinks out on the town. Also, you can skip or cancel boxes at any time. And if you're doing dry January, I promise your first box won't arrive in the next couple of days. So you can start this in February totally fine. Get $20 off your first box at shakerandspoon.com/exolore, fire up a Zoom chat, get some nice cocktails and have a good time. Again, that's shakerandspoon.com/exolore for $20 off your first box. This is Episode 22 of Exolore, and I have three episodes planned for the rest of season one. And then I'm going to take some time off to prepare for season two, but I need your help. I would really love to know what you thought about season one. What did you like? What did you not like? What recommendations do you have for the show going forward? And so I've made a survey, you can access it by going to exolorepod.com/survey. I'm also going to put the link in the episode description. It's short, it shouldn't take you any more than 10 minutes. But really, it's just so that I can know what you want, so I can make the show better for you. Again, that's exolorepod.com/survey, head on over and tell me what you think of the show. Do you want to go first with the pokemon?


Eric 42:35

I'm happy to go first. So Moiya what I really wanted to do [is similar to] the thing that I did on What's Your Favorite Pokemon (And Then I say Something Nice About You) #WYFPATISANAY, my favorite thing to do is go on Bulbapedia, which is the Wikipedia for Pokemon, and they do a very good job of writing down everything you need to know about Pokemon, but they keep track of all the different Pokedex entries for all Pokemon all over the games. And I love just looking at what the game designers and creators put into the Pokedex. I tried to look at who writes the Pokedex entries, and I could not get an answer. So I truly think that it's just like, whoever creates the pokemon or [that] the game writers just write it. [It's] like they need to [just] put the text in the game. It's as though they might look at the other [entries, and] maybe there is some continuity. Who knows. So I love looking at this and I wanted to have a small fantasy draft of pokemon that break the laws of physics and our reality. Like if this existed in our Earth, we would have a big fucking problem.


Moiya 43:37

Please tell me what you came up with. This seems right up my alley. I love this.


Eric 43:41

Absolutely. So I'll go with my first one here. I have a bunch written down. These ones are real classics. I'm gonna go with Magcargo, which is a fire snail. [It's] very dangerous. Here's what this says. Magcargos body temperature is approximately 18,000 degrees Fahrenheit.


Moiya 44:03

Excuse me? That's hotter than our Sun --wait no, that's Kelvin. Nevermind.


Eric 44:08

No, you're right. I wrote this down the sun is about 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Lava by comparison, 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. [That's] nine times hotter than lava inside of this fire snail.


Moiya 44:25

They can just crawl around, leaving a magma trail. Does it leave a magma trail? Please tell me it does.


Eric 44:30

I would say probably, but that's not in the Pokedex entry that I'm looking at. I will say and I'll throw this one out [there]. Muk does have such a toxic trail that it leaves the ground barren behind it for three years. This is what I'm saying, it's like a child looks at this fire snail, this fire snail is hot. How hot is it? 18,000 degrees?!


Moiya 44:54

Yeah, I never saw Ash carrying around like a high-tech thermometer.


Eric 44:58

Exactly. So yeah. I'm gonna go with Magcargo, that one is always at the top of ridiculous Pokedex entries. So I cede the floor to you.


Moiya 45:07

Oh, thank you. I approach this in a slightly different way, because I know very little about Pokemon and how everything works. I was approaching this by picking out pokemon who just confuse me, and make me not understand how the rules of the Pokemon universe actually work together. So the first is Garbodor, [the] garbage pokemon. And I just don't understand how this form is possible to occur in nature. So Garbodor is a poison type pokemon. It literally looks like a trash bag. It's a trash bag with a face and trash arms. It lives near garbage dumps and eats garbage or like inhales, garbage fumes somehow consumes trash, and that gets converted to poison and its body that it can then like throw out at people in an attack. But the things that don't make sense to me are like, it looks like garbage. So I don't understand which way the mimicry goes? Were garbage bags invented by humans and then Garbodor just started looking like garbage bags, or did we make garbage bags look the way that they do because we saw Garbodor out in the wild? And there are a few other examples of this too. Like you mentioned, the Unown, they existed and then influence language. There's Chandelure, which looks like a chandelier; unless they're evolving incredibly rapidly and can evolve to the point where these new pokemon appear after humans have already developed these pieces of technology. Are these things out in the world? I don't know how this just doesn't make sense to me.


Eric 46:35

No, I agree with you. I think Garbodor is very interesting because of the Japanese- American connection [in which] that Grimer and Muk are sludge pokemon because of their associations with radioactivity. [There is] this one [pokemon] from the New York -- Unova, it's a trash pokemon because there's trash everywhere. Garbage bags, I think were created from Garbdor, but Garbodor was a regional variant of Muk and then changed over time because of the garbage instead of sludge. In the Pokedex entry, it says that they're enemies, Muk And Garbodor. So I think that they're tied together in that way.


Moiya 47:15

Oh, that's really cool. It also just didn't make any sense to me that all of the pokemon still have biological sex the same way we do. They still have male [and] female counterparts, why? That is not as much of an inevitable thing in biology as we seem to think it is. This whole like two biological sexes thing. It's not as written into nature as we think it is.


Eric 47:35

Yeah, I think it's quite silly. I think it comes from the nursery what I was talking about before you need a male and a female to procreate which I guess is true. You [do] need an egg and sperm, but I don't know.


Moiya 47:47

[That's] only because that's how it happened on Earth, like most animals on earth are split up into these two sexes in this way because sexual reproduction is so common on our planet, but it doesn't have to be.


Eric 48:00

Yeah, it's also wild once they started introducing gender [it] became gendered moves. Like there's a move called "attract" which [does] what paralysis does [in which] 30 or 40% of the time they don't do a move. I don't know if it happens for male to female, because I've only seen female pokemon do it; but a female pokemon can make a male pokemon fall in love with the "attract" move. Yeah, gender roles being reinforced. Like they really leaned into it for no reason other than to like, put a fucking bow on it. There's also gender variants of pokemon. The Pikachu you have in your head -- Ash's Pikachu is male, while female Pikachu, their tail ends in a heart. And I'm like, "that's some Miss Pac- Man ass shit. That's so stupid." So yeah, you're 100% on the money with that.


Moiya 48:47

Oh, there are just so many cultural things that are baked into that, like, that's an example of something where you absolutely know that a human being created that character because it's based on references that are in our culture and not in nature.


Eric 49:00

Exactly. I think that that's something that I've been very aware of when talking about the large companies that create these very big games that we're a part of. It's like, everything is made by people and let's get political for a second. Like, it's funny when you say that, like companies are people, because they literally are in a way. They are a collective of people being pushed towards the bottom line of capitalism. So it's very funny. It's like, "no, a company is not a unit. It is a series of people or the person who is most powerful their ideas and their ideals". So it's very interesting. Yes, this world was made by a person and [it's] a collection of people. And it has things that society, as we know, it finds recognizable and would find enjoyable and comforting for them to enjoy the game. So you're totally right.


Moiya 49:46

I just wonder how much of it is intentional? Like we want people to be able to get these references because humans are consuming this fiction that we're creating versus like, how much of that is them just not questioning their assumptions about how the world is made.


Eric 50:01

I think it's both.


Moiya 50:02

Your turn.


Eric 50:03

Thank you. I'm going to go to number two once again, something that's ridiculous scientifically, there is a pokemon called Spoink [and] let's try to divide it -- "spoing" and "oink". What do you think this type of pokemon is?


Moiya 50:16

Well, originally I pictured something very gross, but now I'm picturing a pig that's somehow shaped like a spring.


Eric 50:23

Yes, 100%. You got it in one [go]. It's a pig on a spring. So it is constantly bouncing on the spring. Apparently, if a Spoink ever stops bouncing, it dies.


Moiya 50:35

Oh, no, that's sad. It's like the worst version of the whole "shark has to keep moving" thing, which isn't always true.


Eric 50:42

Yes, I think that they're pulling from that [and] again, this is the combination of our ideas about humans understanding animals, but also our associations with machines, because I think Spoink is a spring, so it has some steel. And now that the steel type is involved, we're really kind of leaning into manmade quote, unquote, pokemon. So yeah, it's like, [if you] turn off a machine it stops moving, and I guess it dies if it's animate, and if it's a real thing, so yes, if Spoink stops bouncing, it dies, because apparently it's spring is attached to its heart. I don't know.


Moiya 51:13

Does it sleep?


Eric 51:15

Yeah, I think it sleeps and bounces -- they're like sharks. They move even while they're sleeping.


Moiya 51:20

Oh, that's so cool. That's not what I originally pictured when you said Spoink. So I'm glad it went the way it did.


Eric 51:26

No, you're right, [and] this is like the fantastical version of this pokemon. They're very obsessed with like things that are impossible in the world. So we're gonna do it. There's another one Igglybuff, which is the pre-evolution of Jigglypuff. It has a very squishy and soft body. And apparently once it stops bouncing, it becomes impossible to stop. Apparently, it has a frictionless body and unless you get in front of it, and really like stop it, it does not stop on its own, which is impossible, obviously cause friction is everywhere. So I thought you would find that interesting.


Moiya 52:00

I did. Yeah, that's a little breaking [of] physics in the Pokemon universe. Amazing. Alright, so my next one is Octillery, and this is because the evolutionary path just doesn't make sense to me. So Octillery evolves from Remoraid, which, I think is a terrible name. It sounds like some type of bad athlete's disease, but Octillery is an octopus. It looks like a red octopus. I even counted the tentacles, there are eight of them, and Remoraid is like a blue fish thing. I guess it's named after Remora which are these little almost like parasitic things but they're like barnacles, but for whales. They just like attach onto whales and then feed off of them. But the reason this bothers me is because fish and cephalopods -- octopus is like one type of cephalopod. They're so different from each other, like cephalopods are invertebrates. They do not have a backbone and fish do. The most recent common ancestor for fish and cephalopods existed more than 100 million years ago, which I'm pretty sure is a long time, although my sense of timescale is kind of distorted because of astronomy, but like 100 million years, pretty sure it's a long time.


Eric 53:12

Written conventions were only created 1,500 years ago.


Moiya 53:16

Exactly and why does this thing have a backbone, and then it evolves and it loses a backbone? I'm not saying that I think backbones are better and so it doesn't make sense to go from having one to not having one, but just how does that happen?


Eric 53:30

I don't know. That's really interesting. They've really done octopuses dirty. There's only like three octopus, pokemon and octopus are fucking sick, octopi are fucking sick and they've really done them dirty. Here's a really weird thing, this is gonna blow your mind in terms of how much they care about science. So yeah, I'm looking at Remoraid, [and] yeah [it looks like] the remora fish and one of those fish that eat the stuff off of the bigger fish [but] here is the wild thing. They don't care about fish to octopus but what they do care [about] is that when you have a Remoraid in a party with a Mantyke, a Mantyke is a ray pokemon. It looks like a devil ray [and] if you keep it in the party when Mantyke levels up, the Mantyke evolves into Mantine which is a bigger devil ray and in the art for Mantine, there is a Remoraid eating stuff off of the Mantine. So they care about the symbiotic relationship of the Remoraid and the Mantine, but they don't care about fish to octopus. Isn't that wild?


Moiya 54:29

That's such an interesting choice.


Eric 54:33

It's so silly.


Moiya 54:34

Amazing. All right, what's your next one?


Eric 54:36

All right, my next one I'm going to go with Dusclops. Dusclops is one of the ghost pokemon. Ghost pokemon have bananas, [I mean bananas] Pokedex entries. I'm not going to touch on a lot of them just look up wildest pokedex entries. You're going to find all of these because a lot of them have to do with like them stealing children which is very much a Yokai thing. Like ghosts steal children, ghosts haunt children's dreams, all that stuff. That's not what I'm focusing on here. I'm focused on the science here. Dusclops is kind of like a mummy, or a ghost. It's wrapped up and has like one big eye. Dusclops' body is completely hollow. There is nothing at all inside. It is said that the body is like a black hole. This pokemon will absorb anything into its body, but nothing will ever come back out.


Moiya 55:25

Oh my word.


Eric 55:26

Yeah.


Moiya 55:28

I don't want this episode to just turn into [us] bashing Pokemon from the science side of things. But I don't like this.


Eric 55:33

No, I think that it's true. Again, I don't think that there is a lot of science [here]. It's science and mythology inspired, and that just doesn't stand up to the sniff test because it seems like a spooky thing, right? You go in somewhere you never come out. That's very haunted house; but for some reason, and this is also the translation team, we are talking about English from Japanese. So I'm also going to cut the original creators some slack, right? But there was no reason to say metaphorically [that] it is like a black hole. You can't just have a black hole in a pokemon.


Moiya 56:05

Especially not one that sucks things in when it wants to, but otherwise doesn't have any sort of gravitational field attached to it, but like influences its surroundings.


Eric 56:16

Right. It's like you unwrap the Dusclops, and there's a black hole inside.


Moiya 56:20

[If] surprise were scientific marvel.


Eric 56:26

But yeah, there you go, that's Dusclops ... because it has one eye.


Moiya 56:32

Got it, nice. This is my last one. I have three. This is Clamperl, and I chose this one because the evolutionary mechanism doesn't make sense. I've been spending a lot of time thinking about how evolution works. And there are defined mechanisms that feed evolution like migration, adaptation, natural selection, just random drift. These are the ways that evolution works here on Earth, but Clamperl gets to go through the evolutionary process in different ways based on what it's holding when it's traded. I [also] didn't realize that there was this practice of trading within Pokemon, but I looked into it, it seems kind of fucked up.


Eric 57:14

Yeah, it's the idea [that] pokemon are possessions and you can trade them.


Moiya 57:18

Yeah. [There's] the grossness of slavery, but also like sports teams, [and how] you can just trade athletes to other teams.


Eric 57:27

Yeah, yeah. No, I totally agree, [cause] again, it's a game you want to trade it with your friends, but if we're building a world where you have a relationship with it, it's weird. They're like pets in that way, but would you trade your pet? It is definitely odd when you think about [whether] pokemon have their own cosmology and society and [if they have the] ability to exist in society, but you can still own them and trade them and make them fight for you, even if they're compliant. It's very odd, [so] yes, you're right.


Moiya 57:55

Yeah. So Clamperl looks like exactly what it sounds [like]. It's a pearl inside a clam. Which, you know, it doesn't look like what it evolves into. So if it's holding a deep sea tooth, when it gets traded, then it will evolve into a Huntail, which looks like a blue eel, some sort of serpentine creature as far as I can tell. And then if it's holding a deep sea scale, when it gets traded, then it evolves into a Gorebyss, which looks like a pink serpent thing. I don't know how you get from pearl to like a serpent creature.


Eric 58:29

Yeah, I really like looking at the inspirations for pokemon, so I think there are two different types of eels. The first one is the traditional type of eel or the Gorebyss -- I'm looking at the Bulbapedia. [Gorebyss] is a snipe eel, but that's more like weird and gross, and like very prehistoric. So it's very strange the difference. I love the game mechanic, but you're right, this doesn't make any sense in terms of biology.


Moiya 58:53

Well, I'm glad it's fun when you're playing the game.


Eric 58:56

I like this because I like having choices about what you want and the more variants and like at least trying to do something different. It's like I want this pokemon [and] I want this pokemon [and] then you can do different things; [but] what I don't love about it is that Gorebyss is pink and Huntail is blue [and] it feels super gendered for no reason [and] I totally agree with you. Trading has been an evolving thing even from generation one. You had to trade Haunter to another friend to make it a Gengar and you had to trade Geodude evolves into Graveler and you trade[ed] it to someone else to make it Golem.


Moiya 59:35

That seems like there's altruism happening, right because you make the trade, but then the other person gets the more evolved pokemon, right, because it evolves after it's already in their possession?


Eric 59:44

Yeah, I think it's more just like getting people to do it sort of thing. Pokemon was on the Game Boy Color, and they had the link cables. So I think it was trying to encourage you to fight your friends [and] trade pokemon. You had to do this in order to catch them all. So you have to use all the functionality of the game. So I don't even know if it's altruistic. I think it's just like you and your friends need to play this game together.


Moiya 1:00:05

Okay, that's some nice forcing mechanism.


Eric 1:00:08

Yeah, exactly. Game designers had to do it, if you want[ed] people to love your game and they obviously crush[ed] it. It's like sometimes the game comes ahead of the worldbuilding.


Moiya 1:00:16

Yeah, that's fair.


Eric 1:00:17

I have one more, because I think I've said a few small ones in between. I have just one more. This one is Slurpuff. In the new Pokemon games we've a lot of pastry type pokemon because it's British in that way. Slurpuff is like a little like cream puff with like some berries, and it also looks like a monster. It sense of smell is 100 million times better than a human's. [That's] 100 million.


Moiya 1:00:44

That's incredible. Isn't a dog's only like 60,000 times better or something?


Eric 1:00:49

So if humans have 6 million smell receptors in their nose, dogs have like 20 million, I think. It's only like four or five or six times better. That means that Slurpuff has 600 trillion smell receptors.


Moiya 1:01:07

Where do they fit them all?


Eric 1:01:08

In the cream, I guess. It smells so good for no reason.


Moiya 1:01:14

Maybe that's just because in their mind when they were like translating from the Japanese to the English, maybe "smells so good" was like a pun, like it smells good, because it's a baked treat. But it also smells good. Like it has a good sense of smell.


Eric 1:01:27

Mm hmm. No, I definitely think that that's what they were looking for. But again, child writes it down, "wow. I bet this thing has 100 million times better smell than me".


Moiya 1:01:37

How do you even find that out? How?


Eric 1:01:41

"Hey, how much better does this smell, fifth grader"? "A kajillion"! "Well, a kajillion is not a scientific number. Can you give me a number"? "A 100 million". "Great. All right in the pokedex".


Moiya 1:01:52

That's exactly how it happened.


Eric 1:01:54

End scene [cause] that's how it happened. There are plenty more wild ones in there. I hope that you have me back and I'll tell you more. But truly, like it's very funny you asked me this because this is one of the most popular things on video game internet to like, look up wild Pokedex entries. There's some secret ones that we haven't talked about. There's a really great YouTuber who I watch a lot called Lockstin & Gnoggin who doesn't seem problematic as it seems. But they do like the same thing you do --scientific breakdowns of why and how pokemon exists. They do other video games, but they do Pokemon the most. There's a video that was animated called Ultimate Pokemon Battle, and then they analyzed it with science [and] so I pulled a lot of these from there. And I'll give you the links and a lot of the cosmology stuff I took from a listicle on CBR just about Pokemon lore hidden details. All of this stuff is all over the place. Look up wild Pokemon entries, and you're gonna find so many listicles; [and] so I've got to cite my sources. It definitely helped, but listen, we could talk about this literally all day. There's so much to say.


Moiya 1:02:57

Absolutely. Yeah, I looked it up there are 898 Pokemon. Honestly, in the grand scheme of things, not a lot, but it does mean there is a lot of content to cover here.


Eric 1:03:08

We didn't even talk about all those gods I couldn't remember. We haven't even talked about Ultra Beasts yet [and] I'm not even going to say anything else because I don't understand it. We didn't talk about the other Reggies. We didn't talk about [the fact that] there's a DNA Pokemon. We haven't talked about Ditto at all.


Moiya 1:03:27

I keep a photo of Ditto saved on my phone so that when someone says something that I agree with, I can just text them back a picture of Ditto, and then I'll know how cool they are.


Eric 1:03:37

Very good. I love that a lot. Please do that to me, do it on slack. But yeah, we haven't even scratched a lot of the surface. You should also listen to the episode of Spirits where they broke down Sword and Shield. Amanda and I played a ton of sword and shield but I really wanted them to analyze it because there's a lot of like Arthurian and very Anglo Saxon mythology that is baked into the mythology of Sword and Shield which they get into so we got Pokemon shit all over the place.


Moiya 1:04:06

Yeah, I wanted to shout out that episode too because I don't think you or Amanda know this [but] that was the first episode of Spirits I ever listened and it was before lockdown started and Exolore was a live show in New York.


Eric 1:04:20

Oh, that's right.


Moiya 1:04:21

I listened to that episode and loved it so much. It was a live show at Caveat which was co-founded by Kate Downey and Ben Little, but Kate wanted me to find a co-host for the live show and after listening to that episode, I said to Kate, "please reach out to Amanda and Julia and ask if one of them would be the co-host of Exolore", and now I'm a part of Multitude and everything is perfect.


Eric 1:04:42

That's so funny, I did not know that's how Caveat happened, that's so funny. Yeah. Whoo, an idea I had brought Moiya in, let's go. This is all about me baby taking full credit.


Moiya 1:04:55

Please do. I'll make you like a little certificate.


Eric 1:04:59

That's fine. When I tell someone that they have to cut five minutes from their live show, I'll be like, "well, the episode from Spirits got Moiya here so do that." No, that's very funny.


Moiya 1:05:10

Well, thanks for being here. The last thing I will ask of you is that I include a prompt at the end of every episode. And I've recently started asking the guests to also come up with prompts. So if you had to give someone a prompt for a creative project after this, what would that be?


Eric 1:05:25

Oh, I think that this is a really interesting, there's a tradition online called "Fakemon" where you come up with your own region, based on your hometown in your area because Pokemon is inspired by literal regions. So I would encourage you to come up with a pokemon either a regional form from where you live, or a whole new pokemon, and you don't have to draw it, but you could describe it or you could get one of your good drawing friends to describe it and try to come up with the name, which has to be a bunch of puns, their types and how it fits into the ecology of your hometown.


Moiya 1:06:02

Oh, I love that. That's perfect. I'm glad that people are doing that on the internet.


Eric 1:06:06

It's really cool. Lockstin & Gnoggin are from Portland, so they did an entire Pacific Northwest, and the Fakemon they came up with was really, really great. I really love them.


Moiya 1:06:17

I'll look into that. My prompt is going to be what I asked Eric earlier. But imagine that there was a pokemon uprising, they decided they were sick of fighting for us and being stuck in their little pokeballs. And they they wanted to overthrow their human overlords. So which pokemon do you think would be leading that charge? And how would it work out? And what what would they do to take us down?


Eric 1:06:40

I love that. I like that there's like a UN session. And then the doors fly open and this pokemon walks in with like a talk box attached to its collar. Or it has like a Babel fish in its ear or something. Which Pokemon is it, and what would they say to the UN?


Moiya 1:06:55

Yes, exactly.


Eric 1:06:57

Yeah, I love that. That's hilarious.


Moiya 1:07:00

All right. Well, Eric, thanks so much for telling me all this cool stuff about Pokemon, and how it works. I love that it has this intelligent creator cosmology myth associated with it. I justlove everything that we talked about today. So thank you.


Eric 1:07:12

No problem, [I'm] happy to do it. Do you want me to like say the the places where people can find me and stuff?


Moiya 1:07:17

Yeah. This is the time for that. Please brag about yourself and say where people can find you on the internet?


Eric 1:07:23

You can find me on Twitter. That's where I'm stuck on on this hell site. You can find me @El_Silvero, that is my name if I w[ere] a Lucha Libre Wrestler. We have a little underscore in the middle, that's where it's from. I am the dungeon master of Join the Party, also a part of the Multitude collective. You can also find Amanda and I streaming at House Breakfast. You can find us on Twitter @HouseBreakfast_ or twitch.tv/housebreakfast. And that article that came out about the anti semitism in Dungeons and Dragons came out and hopefully it's out by now I haven't checked Twitter I've really tried not to because I'm nervous about it coming out that just dropped. So you can read that. And I hope you like it.


Moiya 1:08:15

Yeah, amazing. I will put the links to all of those amazing pieces of content in the episode description. I highly recommend House Breakfast by the way. I have watched a few streams and it's so calming, I really miss working in coffee shops. And that's the vibe that I got when I like tuned in to House Breakfast. So thanks for putting that together.


Eric 1:08:35

Of course, it was a fun thing. I taught myself streaming at the end of 2020 because I'm like, I've been so afraid of this my entire life because I've never been a video person. I know you are currently YouTubing and Amanda has been a YouTuber for a long time. But it's just like video flummoxes me in this way. And streaming [is what] people are doing, and I'm like, "we have such good stuff in the studio, I need to learn how to stream". So it's just putting it together. We're currently doing as I said at the beginning, we're doing a Nuzlocke block run of Pokemon Ruby on most of our days, so you can check those out.


Moiya 1:09:05

So cool. Please do. All right. Well, thanks again. And that's a wrap.


Eric 1:09:10

Yeah, you gotta catch 'em all, science.


Moiya 1:09:14

That's the new catchphrase for the show.


Eric 1:09:15

Just for this episode. Catch 'em all, science.


Moiya 1:09:19

I love it. Thank you so much Eric Silver for teaching me more about this fascinating and multilayered Pokemon universe that I just didn't know enough about before. Thank you to my sponsor, Shaker and Spoon. If you are interested in learning more about how to make your own cocktails, then head on over to shakerandspoon.com/exolore to get $20 off your first box. I mean like if you're not going to learn about alcohol now then when are you going to do it? I also have this survey that I'm using to gather information to help make season two of Exolore even better than season one. To fill out the survey please head on over to exolorepod.com/survey. I would really appreciate it and then it's just making the show better for you too. If you want to support my worldbuilding work, there are a few ways you can do that. The first way to do it is to rate and review the show on Apple podcasts. It's free and it really does make a difference and you don't need any Apple devices to access it. Second, you can support me on Patreon. Your monthly support would make it possible for me to continue working on this passion project of mine so please head on over to patreon.com/goAstroMo if you're able. Patrons do get some fun perks like early access to episodes and a fun chat community on Discord, and I'm also going to start putting all of my research notes for the episodes making them available to patrons. So again, that's patreon.com/goAstroMo. This Exolore episode was edited by Mischa Stanton. The cover art is by Stephen Reisig. The music is from purple-planet.com and Exolore The show is a member of Multitude which is an independent podcasting collective. It's a bunch of really cool podcasting nerds they all host their own shows. So if you want to check out the other multitude shows you can type "multitude" into the search bar of your favorite podcasting app. If you liked this episode, be sure to share it with your friends or your families. You know, just pick your favorite one and send it their way. It's a really great way to grow the show. Also be sure to subscribe to Exolore yourself, and that way you can catch me next time on another world.



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