Pokemon Moon Day 40

The first person when I enter the new area is yet another sketchy criminally guy. Trainers and Pokemon should be free! Freedom is good! Freedom is fundamentally incompatible with the entire trainer structure, buddy. Anyway, he’s got a pair of L46 pokemon.

Another character is perplexing in a wholly different way: Do trial-goers come all the way out here? What’s the deal with the kids in Alola? The same as in every other region, all of which have seen hero children smash their way through even the final gates to become champions? They refuse to clarify after battle, saying, Ah! There are still so many undiscovered Pokemon in the world! When you finish the island challenge, you should travel the world!

Some others cheer me on toward the altar, so, do they know what I’m doing? Did Bonnibel just tell them?

At L36, my bewear has finally learned his first fighting move, hammer arm.

Totem Pokemon seem to guard the favorite places of the Tapu–the guardian deities.


For the entire game so far, totem pokemon appear to be working with the trial captains in specific challenges for trial-goer kids. Ilima says For you to be able to defeat the Totem Pokémon that I had trained up to such a powerful state… I don’t know what I can say!. All of the captains call it “their” trial, we’re told that if there is no captain for an element there’s no trial for the crystal at all, and the captains describe how they designed the trial as well.

If it’s pokemon imbued with power by the tapu to guard their places, why aren’t the no-captain ones still doable? Why that godawful black-screen “trial” at the observatory? Why, if people are trying to please and respect the tapu, would every kid be told to invade each place the tapu hold sacred in order and beat up the guardian meant to prevent this from happening? Also, why is there one in the wrecked mall?

Anyway, back to the suicide march. I lose to a veteran woman (so experienced she had three whole pokemon) twice before finally winning.

Mareanie evolves into a toxiplex at last!

Those attacked by Toxiplex’s poison will suffer intense pain for three days and three nights. Post-recovery, there will be some aftereffects.

Well, it’s grim, but I was hoping for more about them cracking open corsola or such.

It then learns baleful bunker.

I make it to the bridge and find Lillie has somehow made her way up behind me.

Lillie: Phew… This canyon truly is a difficult path to walk. And you even make the Vast Poni Canyon seem like nothing at all, Bonnibel!

Haha no.

She continues toward the bridge, then stops and turns back to me.

Lillie: But you know what? I’ve overcome my fears enough to cross even a high bridge like this one! I am not going to be afraid of heights anymore.

…I wasn’t aware she was. I guess I was supposed to assume that was why she didn’t run out toward Nebby originally, but given the even more menacing spearow, I figured that was the issue.

Lillie: Next time I should even be able to tackle that bridge on Mahalo Trail! Watch this! This is my trial! And she does a fancy z-dance. The she steps out. Camera pans around. We see murkrow sitting on the cluff above. Lillie makes her way out, perhaps wondering what sort of builders don’t use railings, and the murkrow surround her because they’re dicks. She runs past them back to solid ground and apparently murkrow only attack people standing on wood because they don’t seem to pursue.

Lillie: Bonnibel! I did it! I made it all the way across! I’ve cleared my trial!

The camera then switches to Bonnibel standing by the three murkrow, bent a bit like she’s saying something. The murkrow run off. I guess she bitched them out in ditto.

Lillie: I completed my first trial! Amazing, right, Bonnibel?

Yeah!/It was all right

Jesus game. And after all that time you wouldn’t let me disparage Hau.

Lillie: Hee hee! Persian, do you want a rest, too? And now all my pokemon are healed. Don’t worry. I’ve got you covered!

Not unless you actually walk behind me and do that after every fight.

Lillie: I have Hyper Potions and Revives and even lots of Ethers, too. Though I’m not sure I bought enough Max Repels for a path like this one…

Even as we careen toward inevitability, how good it is that Lillie spend so much of her money not on what she needed for herself, but what others might need from her.

Oh hey, a screaming carbink mistakenly summoned an opportunistic predator. Sableye get!

This Pokemon is feared. When its gemstone eyes begin to glow with a sinister shine, it’s believed that Sableye will steal people’s spirits away.

I reach a modestly difficult block puzzle, mostly because huge blocks makes it hard to see what you’re doing, and have to reset and try again. Then I climb a ladder to find a scientist guy who does know how to wear a shirt! Wow. If you know Pokemon, you may be able to travel here and there without battling. Interesting. I wonder if that’s partially what Lillie does.

Outside, I find a pink-haired punk girl without a skull logo, presumably because she’s not a failure. Of course, thanks to having to be the last roadblock, the regular Skull kiddos are also more powerful than almost everyone I’ve encountered so far… Upon beating her, she says, It’s the fighting spirit, yo, the fighting spirit! Z-Power is fighting spirit, too, right? I assume this is a legitimate question because she didn’t use any z-moves during the battle and so presumably can’t at all.

Also, my toxiplex’s baleful bunker is great, if unbalanced feeling. Being protected and doing something to your opponent is effectively like having two moves in one, and the fact it’s specifically poisoning which triggers toxiplex’s ability to critical hit…I mean, my mareanie wasn’t exactly a weakling. Toxic + venoshock worked already. Baleful bunker means I effectively get a free turn to set up the combo.

I find some not-Lillie stoned painter on the bridge. She stares at me, presumably tripping balls.

???: Oh! Now that’s a great composition! I could pain a picture of you–the visitor to Poni! Guess I didn’t introduce myself though. I’m Mina. I’m the captain.

Is this one of those things where the real competent challenge was inside us all along?

Mina: I mean, I sort of am.

So yes.

Mina: I actually just wander around doing my art, so I don’t have an actual trial or anything…

That’s very interesting. Do you know what is also interesting? That there are no railings. If someone was to fall, it wouldn’t be unexpected. Don’t you think? Especially not someone too flakey to even manage their one goddamn job. It would be a tragedy, but really, what else did anyone expect would happen running around up there at all hours of the day. That’s what I think. Closed-coffin funeral, of course. All the mudsdale and machamps wouldn’t be able to put someone back together again after a fall like that. So sad, how I just couldn’t reach you in time, hands outstretched as you slipped and fell.

Mina: But Vast Poni Canyon sure is a wonder, huh?

I’m sure the exclusive club of people who got Hapu’s grandpa’s permission years ago have been enjoying it, yes.

Mina: Once you’ve been through this place, you can really get to understand why that Ilma boy designed his trial the way her did, right?

Given he actually fucking designed one, no, not so much. And also there was a totem. If we’re arguing plowing through the various hazards here counts, does that mean it ends in a totem battle?

Mina: Oh, yeah. Ohhhh, yeah. Here. Take this as a token of our acquaintance.

And now I have a fairium. Because I mean, who wants challenging pokemon battles showcasing particular synergies between pokemon when I could just get a crystal I won’t use handed to me???

Seriously I’m pushing you off a cliff.

Mina: It’s the Fairium Z. Get your Z on!

She does not bother to do the dance, which I hate so much I’m not even offended by her laziness.

Mina: I’m the captain and all, so I’ve gotta come up with a trial. Maybe it could involve painting pictures and picking flowers… Maybe a trial like that could be cool?

If you like ripping off better captains, sure.

See you later then! Alola, alola!

How does the whole trial thing even work?

We have to defeat the captain’s trials to get a chance at the kahuna to be allowed to move on to the next island, but here’s an island with no kahuna and a trial captain who’s sticking to a place that hasn’t been accessable to new people for years. Did this island just not count for the journey before now? Is the trial system so arbitrary that you have to defeat a random number of trials based on which captains bother to get up in the morning, and sometimes that’s three people and sometimes it’s sixteen depending on what year you’re doing it?

I continue on and finally catch a murkrow.

Seen as a symbol of bad luck, it’s generally disliked. Yet it gives presents–objects that sparkle or shine–to Trainers it’s close to.


But also an illustration of how nothing about type makes sense. The pokedex’s description is of a creature who’s mistakenly viewed as bad, yet somehow it is, objectively, dark. So is any negative connotation with “dark type” just similarly mistaken? My persian just learned “nasty plot” which explicitly says it works by evil thinking.

And indeed, I evolve it to a honchcrow.

If its Murkrow cronies fail to catch food for it, or if it feels they have betrayed it, it will hunt them down wherever they are and punish them.

And yet pangoro are gentle sweeties to their friends.

Since I did that by swapping out a fainted pokemon, time to fly back to the bottom and redo my team yet again.

I bring along my charjabug, who finally evolves into a vikavolt.

It produces electricity via an electrical organ in its abdomen. It overwhelms bird Pokemon with shocking beams of electrical energy. Despite clearly flying, it remains bug/electric, reminding us that the two-type system, while generally decent, has some major flaws as well.

Alright, I’ve managed to get far enough to come back to the original entrance and shove a giant stone block into a hole to make a shortcut. Going to quit for now.


  1. Roarke says:

    ?????? Did they really just halfass things that obviously?

    Also, interesting confirmation that Lillie uses Max Repel to get around. Has that been mentioned before? I would think that she’s not particularly unique in that. Basically anyone who isn’t a trainer would have to do the same thing (also damn those are expensive items, her mom might be abusive but she hands out a good allowance).

    I would really think there should be more infrastructure in place to help the second-class citizens non-trainers get around. Especially the ones that live in areas where pokemon could vaporize a human in one shot.

    1. illhousen says:

      I think yes, her use of Max Repel came up a few times in the past.

    2. Farla says:

      It could also be that Lusamine just keeps a good chunk of cash around and both her kids grabbed it on the way out. That would fit with how both of them start off big spenders, as if they don’t really know how money works.

      The same could be true if they do get a big allowance but never spend it, since she really doesn’t seem like the sort of parent who lets her kids pick anything.

      1. Roarke says:

        Gladion paying for like two years of boarding in advance would fit with that backstory, yeah. I would wonder about Lusamine actually handing out an allowance, though. She seems like the type to just take for granted that she’s giving her kids everything they need and there’s no reason for them to want for anything. If they do get allowance though you’re 100% right in that they wouldn’t get to spend it.

        Maybe, rather than an allowance, she picked out a pretty pair of wallets for her kids and decided the look just wasn’t complete without a wad of cash.

  2. Snope says:
    “Freedom is fundamentally incompatible with the entire trainer structure, buddy.

    Sometimes I wonder why you even play these games if you seem so disgusted by its core concepts. I’m actually genuinely curious about what keeps you coming back to this franchise because of that.

    1. JackPK says:
      Being critical doesn’t mean someone doesn’t enjoy something! In fact, since nothing can ever be perfect, pointing out where a work can be improved is just as often a labor of love as one of hate.

      1. Roarke says:

        Yes, very true, but on the other hand, it does weird me out sometimes to see Farla go from generation to generation asking for like, really basic improvements like non-sexualized female character design and competent female NPC’s and still not get them.

        I coincidentally just finished a binge of ALL (dear lord) of these Pokemon LP’s, and Farla does tend to end up criticizing the same 4-5 issues every time. The fact that she doesn’t often find meaningful improvements does leave me wondering where the draw is sometimes.

        1. someone says:
          I’m curious about this myself. Especially since there’s a difference between dealing with the unfotunate amount of sexism or being dissapointed in the difficulty of a particular puzzle – things that could be improved on and still have the same world mechanics – and being against the basic premise of being a pokemon trainer in the first place in a game that’s entirely about being a pokemon trainer.

      2. Snope says:
        I know that. But this is different from stuff like portrayal of female characters (I have my own arguments about that, but that’s for another time.) This is what appears to be someone finding the main idea of the Pokemon games to be abhorrent, yet still playing the games and devoting so much of her time to the fandom. Is it the Pokemon themselves? The potential for deconstruction? What keeps her from just quitting Pokemon when her critiques of it seem especially damning (and, as Roarke said, seemingly never taken to heart by the games for god knows how long?)

        1. Roarke says:

          It doesn’t help that the writers are very bad at moralizing and in fact do their very best to avoid moralizing, so they instead layer on a thick paste of “Everything is fine, we’re all friends here, friendship set to max.” That said, I suspect Farla’s asked herself all the questions she needs to about the games’ premise and answered them well enough to her own satisfaction that it doesn’t bother her that the games never will.

          1. Farla says:

            Indeed, cockfighting where the roosters are never permanently hurt and get fixed up in seconds with a handwave that really, they’re totally cool with all this? Totally fine. Telling me that pokemon are way smarter than a rooster but this is still the height of friendship, and people and pokemon are equal partners, and anyway it’s wrong to ask if they’re happy because think of how sad humans would be without pokemon…

            Similarly, everyone being totally into pokemon training, sure! That’s what we’re here for. It’s charmingly silly for the whole world to revolve around them. Introducing people uncomfortable with pokemon training and showing there is a life outside of it, only to have them end up loving Big Brother? That’s where it gets weird.

            1. Roarke says:

              Pokemon really is one of those weird settings where most of its real world parallels are horrible abuse, like the cockfighting you mentioned. At a glance, it’s practically Animal Abuse: The Game. So you end up with this visceral reaction on the part of the writers where they’ll do anything to justify their status quo. You end up with weird situations where people who act like Pokemon are mistreated, like N, are being duped in some way.

              It’s amazing because the first game or two were, to my memory, pretty much innocent of the (real or imagined) backlash against the premise, so they actually seemed less morally bankrupt. They protested too much.

            2. Farla says:

              I’m not sure if it was moral crusaders or the dissonance they stupidly made by making pokemon smarter and smarter or just an attempt to tap into the shonen formula of FRIENDSHIP!!!1! but yeah, as fantasy bloodless trauma-free cockfighting, sure, whatever, it’s a videogame. It’s them insisting they’re telling us an important moral about goodness that makes the fact this is all batshit stand out.

            3. someone says:
              In that case I interpret it as a matter of too much telling and not enough actually proving that what they’re telling you is true on thr part of the game makers. They say “yeah the pokemon like this setup” and, hey, it’s a fantasy world where that’s conceivably the actual truth. But they do more to handwave issues (in Unova especially) than to actually show why pokemon would be good with this and prefer this setup even with the intelligence they’re given, and to prove that they are indeed a-okay with it.

              Is that about right in how I’m interpreting your issue? An exageration of the sloppy writing to suggest malice in order to demonstrate how bad they are at proving pokemon like being trained.

            4. Farla says:

              I guess what it is is that I woudn’t describe this as handwaving. A handwave is a minor aside to say the line of reasoning isn’t fun, so let’s just agree it’s not a thing.

              What they’re doing is actually trying to present the case that this is actually okay for real, legitimate reasons that stand up under scrutiny and should be the backbone of the game’s plot. That’s already a tall order, but then they do just the absolute worst job of it on top of that! All through Unova, they just would not shut up about “people and pokemon” and how they worked together to improve people’s lives and people benefitted so much and how they give people common ground, and that’s why everything was fine on the pokemon’s end, and also it was super important to consider ideas which is why multiple NPCs said N needed to STFU in favor of listening to the dominant majority’s viewpoint, then never mention his weirdo beliefs again.

              If anything, the games have become more abusive at the same time as they insist this is fine. Back in Pokemon RBY, Team Rocket is bad because they poach wild pokemon and hurt/killed their own pokemon. People have rescues for hurt and abandoned pokemon. Here in Alola, I was so excited when Hapu helped out the drifloon and then psyche! It was becausee that particular one was the property of some kid and HE would be hurt by the loss. BW2’s rival plot revolved around retrieving one stolen pokemon, because who cared if Plasma abused every pokemon they had and who cared if they weren’t abusing that particular pokemon, it was HIS PROPERTY and by god he was going to get that one and only that one back no matter how many other pokemon he had to beat senseless along the way and no matter how much it didn’t want to go with him.

              Or consider DP – enemy team isn’t abusing pokemon for the most part, then they are abusing legendaries in a way that goes out of its way to not look like pokemon training, and nobody filibusters for ten minutes about how pokemon training is so incredibly flawless that nobody should even ask if it is flawless and anybody saying that should be shut up at any cost.

            5. someone says:
              I feel like Unova opens itself to more criticism on that just because its entire plot revolves around doing less than the bare minimum to say training is good while everything else is dismissive of pokemons’ opinions (whether that level of scrutiny about that particular theme is truely appropriate for other regions without that focus is another matter). Some of BW2s movies are especially telling on the hipocracy, such as the Timegate Traveler series. But with the drifloon? You don’t find out that telling it to get along home means getting to its human trainer until after the event’s over so whether Hapu would have done that for a wild pokemon isn’t known. Her motive isn’t explicitly to step in because drifloon has a trainer. (At least, I didn’t read it like that.)

              Out of curiosity, how would you write it if you were to try to show that pokemon actually do like the system? Obviously even something minimal like “that purrloin is irreplacible because it’s an individual” would already be miles above “that purrloin is irreplacible because my dead grandpa is the one who caught it” but I mean in a more wide-reaching sense.

            6. Farla says:

              (whether that level of scrutiny about that particular theme is truely appropriate for other regions without that focus is another matter)

              But the other regions won’t shut up either! Kalos introduced mega evolution as the ultimate bond AND a second bonding mechanic but made mega evolution work at zero hearts and zero friendship. ORAS casually adds that, btw, your watch is powered by pokegenocide, then acts like the only person in the entire series to express the idea that maybe this isn’t totally great is morally ambiguous – because her plot risked actual people (and involved stealing a couple pieces of people’s property), as opposed to definitely murdering tons of non-people pokemon.

              But with the drifloon? You don’t find out that telling it to get along home means getting to its human trainer until after the event’s over so whether Hapu would have done that for a wild pokemon isn’t known. Her motive isn’t explicitly to step in because drifloon has a trainer.

              But why was it important we know the drifloon belongs to somebody? Why do we see multiple times that it’s bad when Team Skull goes after a trainer’s pokemon in a way that obviously threatens the pokemon, yet not a single time do we see anyone concerned about them attacking wild pokemon? (And in that light, I think Hapu is meant to know that, and “go home” is because she knows it isn’t a wild pokemon that lives there – and it’s a small place and she’s well traveled.) The closest we get to the idea that property isn’t everything is Lillie getting needled about stealing Nebby, with the distinct sense we’re actually to consider a world where this would ever matter and that it’s only because Lusamine was so super extra evil that theft was right. Even then, we’re still not stealing “owned” pokemon – Lusamine has a full team that remains her property despite the fact it sure looks like the iced pokemon are functionally dead and she’s generally an abusive psycho, but does not seem to possess a pokeball for Nebby, and if anything, there seems to be the sense Nebby was always a wild pokemon and totally fair game for the first person to bring it down, ie, us.

              If what’s-his-face the purrloin whiner had said he felt bad for failing the pokemon rather than his sister, if he said he wanted it back because he was sure they were hurting it, if he’d taken the pokemon from each Team Plasma member he beat to turn in to the local police and/or pokecenters so they wouldn’t be abused any longer… The core of what’s missing from the plotlines is any sense that the pokemon exist as agents in their own right, that they matter even if they’re wild and nobody in particular cares about them, or that their happiness matters even if someone else who called dibs on them wants to kick them around. Kalos should’ve required max friendship and max affection to pull off megas – hell, it’d have worked better to make you keep the lucario on your team if it came with those things maxed and so was the only one you could mega evolve at first.

              (It’d also help if there was some mechanic where pokemon would ditch you if you mistreated them enough. Say they refuse to leave the islands when you try to take them out until a day or two has gone by, during which their happiness naturally increases. Having something the pokemon react to negatively would establish they’re not just putting up with whatever people do to them, while strongly suggesting that if they are coming out to be on your team, they’re happy with it. Also good would be the affection hearts going down over time, so you have to keep petting and feeding your pokemon, and doing stuff like skipping brush time after battle would lower them too. More of a sense of an ongoing relationship and less two rainbow beans and then ignoring them forever after while they battle their hearts out for you.)

              …or just don’t bring it up. Stop having NPCs babble about “people and pokemon”, stop arguing pokemon doing this for humans is how equality works, stop with the dissertations on how nothing is wrong. Just have a bunch of people owning a bunch of pokemon and stop bringing up the subject of pokemon abuse.

            7. someone says:
              The ORAS postgame revelation about Infinity Energy was utterly awful and no one but Zinnia acknowledged it, but I also feel the game ultimately framed Zinnia as in the right rather than as morally questionable.

              But with the “strong bond” stuff? I feel like there’s a lot of it just being really clumsy in integrating game mechanics with the worldbuilding (if it’s done at all) so I do find it kind of jarring when you read lines clearly meant benignly enough as sinister. There’s enough openly sinister stuff (infinity energy, no one batting an eye at Lusamine’s collection, that asshole in Snowbelle suggesting Lysandre could have been right if he just tried to save Kalos and kill everyone else instead of also killing 99% of people in Kalos…) that I don’t feel it necessary or helpful to also read a line that is innocuous but clumsy as something malicious in nature.

            8. Farla says:

              I do find it kind of jarring when you read lines clearly meant benignly enough as sinister.

              Introducing mega evolution at the same time as saying you can suck the life force out of pokemon for power means comparisons get drawn. They should’ve gone with an explicit statement that it’s safe, maybe contrasted it to the genocide beam as a renewable pokemon energy source at the time.

              Also, sometimes the sinister explanation is just the more fun one.

            9. someone says:
              I don’t recall anything saying that the life draining stuff and mega evolution were powered by the same thing, and in fact Zinnia’s preference of using mega rayquaza suggests its an entirely separate process from the life drainy stuff she was against.

              I do understand the appeal of reading things as sinister for fun sometimes, though. It’s just not always easy for me to tell the tone something’s intended as with just the writing. I hope I didn’t cause offense with debating this. If I did, let me know.

        2. Farla says:

          Is it the Pokemon themselves?

          Well, that’s the actual game part, so yeah.

          I don’t expect a story in my monster-raising-and-battling sim. That they’ve chosen to include a crappy one is something I’m happy to complain about, and this particular one was just good enough to make me feel sad about the bad way it would inevitably end, but as far as actual gameplay goes I’ll buttonmash my way through annoying NPCs just fine and interpret the rest in a way that makes for a good story of my own.

    2. Septentrion says:

      I think it’s the attitude that was criticized and not the core concepet. It’s like being “guided by the beauty of our weapons” in a serious decussion of a upcoming war. It’s a self-righteous attitude where it should be pragmatism.


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