The Actual News:
OK, I was supposed to post this yesterday, but I got a little sidetracked. But good thing I waited a bit, because I’ve got a TON of share with you today! But let’s not get ahead of ourselves too much.
First off, CHILBLANE posted the following picture over in The Research Sector on the PA! Discord, which in turn came from a reddit post discussing the picture which had originated on 4chan/vp/. While the reddit post kinda goes off on a tangent and covers stuff which I don’t think has any relevancy, it DOES at least give us a good starting point for further discussion. That said, lemme share the image first; it’s a sort of extension of the obvious reference to Team Galactic that I’m sure everyone noticed right away:
Oh, oh yeah, here’s the picture CHILBLANE posted:
(If anyone has any info or a source on who drew this, please let me know so I can credit them!)
Anyways, clearly this ties into the starters you get, which initially seemed to be an odd choice—like, if this is supposed to be about Feudal Japan, why are there two foreign Pokémon as your starters (one from Unova, the other from Alola, both representing the United States)—but now seems to make a bit of sense.
So as the reddit post goes, seeing as the Sinnoh Region is based on the real-world Japanese island of Hokkaido and PLA appears to take place in a more feudal era of Japanese history, it might just be that the story will focus on the Pokémon World’s version of the history of how the Tokugawa Shogunate (represented by Johto and Kanto) colonized the island of Hokkaido (Sinnoh). But more importantly, this colonization period of Hokkaido (Sinnoh) occurred around 1855-1858, and that desire to colonize was hastened by the relatively recent visit by the Americans (Unova), specifically Commodore Perry and his “Black Ships” in 1853, who forced Japan to realize that there’s a whole world of people out there who want to do things with or without the Japanese, so they can’t be isolated any more.
Commodore Matthew C. Perry: every girl’s crazy ’bout a sharp dressed man.
Now when I say “forced”, I’d say it was one part “intervention” (like when your friends and family corner you and say “stop being such an asshole!”) and one part “do it or else we’ll blow you to pieces”. Of course the American’s were only doing this just because they wanted to make sure the world didn’t fall under British and French (aka not-America) influence, but little would they have known the long term effects that this bit of gunboat diplomacy would have on Japan’s future. Going back a bit, one of the immediate short term effects was getting the Tokugawa Shogunate to realize that that someone else—maybe the Russians—would try to take over Hokkaido, and they weren’t too hot on that idea, so they figured that it’d be best if they did it. Incidentally, another short term effect of all this was would be the Boshin War (~1868-1869); turns out that the Shogunate’s days were proving to be very numbered, and so barely 10 years had passed before the weakening Shogunate and the strengthing Emperor started fighting over who would control the future of Japan. Now what was left of the Tokugawa Shogunate and their supporters fled to Hokkaido and set up the “Republic of Ezo” in an attempt to hold out against the rising tide of history. Well surprise-surprise, it didn’t last, with the Battle of Hakodate (below) being one of the last decisive battles against the remnants of the Shogunate.
Siding with the Shogunate? You chose… poorly.
Truely, Hokkaido (Sinnoh) was the center of a lot of important history from this time period, and Pokémon Legends: Arceus might dip its toe into all of this. And this honestly makes a ton of sense given what has already been revealed. For example, PLA will obviously involve the Japanese, albeit from a more older, traditional period… therefore, Cyndaquil seems to best represent this, seeing as the Johto Region was a lot more traditional in nature than Kanto was. Furthermore, including Oshawott—the Unovian Water Starter Pokémon—as one of the three PLA Starters also lends further creedence to this story idea, seeing as the first time the Japanese realized Americans existed, it was via the US Navy. Now as for how Oshawott wound up in Feudal Sinnoh, I imagine that it was one of the many gifts that the Pokémon World’s equivilant of Commodore Perry gave to the Johto-gawa Shogunate, and one of its offspring later wound up in Sinnoh.
This is totally how it happened.
However Rowlet’s appearance is a bit more of a question mark. Now that reddit post suggests that it’s also because of Alola being based on Hawai’i and therefore having ties to the United States (and Unova), but I don’t exactly buy that. For example, when the Perry Expedition left the US in 1852, it left Virginia (on America’s East Coast), sailed across the Atlantic and Indians Oceans, passed through Singapore, then worked its way up to Japan and Edo Bay (now Tokyo Bay, and actually the body of water in the Kanto Region). Perry never passed anywhere near Hawai’i, and even then, at that time the Kingdom of Hawai’i was nominally independent but also within the British sphere of influence; this relationship is why the Flag of the Hawai’i has the Union Jack in it. Despite this, however, it’s my understanding that modern Hawai’i has a very strong “Americanesque” feeling to it from a Japanese perspective… so even if Hawai’i had no historical relevance to Commodore Perry, including an Alolan starter in this story might just be to underline the American influence on the story, similar to how, say, an American-made video game about feudal Japan would almost ALWAYS take place in “Tokyo” versus calling it “Edo” or even using “Kyoto”, simply because American audiences would recognize “Tokyo” more regardless of its historical inaccuracy (that, or.
In any case, it can’t be understated how important the Perry Expedition—and therefore the United States—was in kickstarting modern Japanese history. After some 200 years of isolationism and an even longer period of Tokugawa Shogunate rule, being forced to open up paved the way for the end of the Shogunate, the return of power to the Japanese Emperor and the subsequent Meiji Restoration, as well as a slew of other modernizations and westernizations (such as the end of the Samurai system), and—most importantly to this discussion—the colonization and development of Hokkaido and the expansion of what “Japan” is in a territorial sense… all of which turned Japan from a backwater island nation into a major global power within 100 years. Think of it like the Mayflower landing on Plymouth Rock was for Americans, or the arrival of the Norman Conquest and William the Conqueror was for England/Britain; while the story of these nations began long before the arrival of those people, those arrivals helped mark the start of a certain chain of events which turned that nation into what it is today. This was a seriously important and momenteous occasion for Japan’s development, so seeing PLA apparently focus in on this era is actually quite a welcome surprise for Pokémon’s world building; I absolutely look forward to seeing how this is all written.
My Japanese is very rusty, but I call tell you what this spells: the beginning of Japan’s modern history.
Anyways, that’s my initial perspective on the story elements. There are more to this for sure, but… maybe I’ll save that for tomorrow.
But this isn’t everything I have to share today! Work on the Sinnohese language is progressing smoothly, especially considering that not a whole lot has been revealed between both Pokémon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl and Pokémon Legends: Arceus trailers. In fact, ElementsnStuff has been continuing his work hard on over at the The Research Sector on the PA! Discord deciphering more of the Sinnohese text found in the trailers. Their initial conclusion, and one that I have to agree with him on, is that Sinnohese is NOT just random gibberish text, but it does actually encode actual text. But unlike the Lentalian Alphabet in New Pokémon Snap which encodes English (or at the very least romaji), the Sinnohese Script encodes Japanese.
Here is ElementsnStuff’s Sinnohese character list, updated with a few new characters since the last time:
This is definitely well past the 26-character limit if this was going to be a simply Latin Alphabet/Romaji substitution cipher. You can also see how some of these characters were sourced in this example image:
But what’s really important here is that some clear patterns seem to have emerged:
Of course this is all just preliminary work, but the fact that we can see similar patterns of characters appearing in numerous places, particularly OUTSIDE of generic town signs means that there is clearly some intention going on here. But then again, seeing the same characters being used for different Japanese syllables could just means that Sinnohese is going to end up being “consistent gibberish” like Galarian ended up being.
Anyways, this is all I have to share at the moment… ElementsnStuff said that they’ve cracked more of Sinnoese and has some more info to share, so I’ll get that info to you as soon as I can. Hopefully this wets your whistle for more info, so stay tuned!