The Most Disquieting Parts of Pokemon Sun and Moon

The Pokemon series has always had a dark side, but this latest installment might be its most unsettling to date.

It’s no great secret that Pokemon, for all its family-friendly appeal and cute creatures, isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. The jokes about virtual dog-fighting are played out, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t elements in each new game that can shock. After putting thirty hours into the largely fantastic Pokemon Moon, these are the things that are keeping me up at night.

Araquanid is actually Lenny from Of Mice and Men

Araquanid -- a water spider that I’m quite fond of -- just wants other Pokemon to love it. When I evolved my Dewpider into one, I was moved by its Pokedex description:

Pokemon Sun/Moon is stuffed to the gills with macabre Pokedex entries like this. Pokemon Sun/Moon is stuffed to the gills with macabre Pokedex entries like this.

“Despite what its appearance suggests, it cares for others. If it finds vulnerable, weak Pokemon, it protectively brings them into its water bubble.”

What a nice spider, I thought. What a welcome addition to my team. But then, I was alerted to Araquanid’s Pokedex description in Pokemon Sun:

“It delivers headbutts with the water bubble on its head. Small Pokemon get sucked into the bubble, where they drown.”

Am I to believe that there is variety among spiders, and that different Araquanid possess different personalities? I don’t think so. I’m taking this to mean that headbutting and drowning small, vulnerable Pokemon is Araquanid’s way of trying to be gentle with them. It just so badly wants to make friends and be a good Pokemon, but it can’t show affection without accidentally committing manslaughter (‘monslaughter?). My heart aches for this well-meaning killer.

What the hell is going on with Ultra Beasts?

Maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention to Pokemon Moon, or perhaps I haven’t been paying enough attention for a few years now, because I can’t make any headway with the whole ‘Ultra Beast’ thing the game has going on. Without spoiling too much, later in the game some sort of alternate-dimension portal cracks open, weird stuff starts happening, and, um, you battle a big squid creature, I guess? All I really got here was that the Ultra Beasts are important to this deeper mythology Pokemon has slowly been building up, most of which I’ve managed to miss somehow despite playing all the games. Does this have something to do with all that meteorite nonsense from Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire, the details of which I’ve already forgotten? Why do I keep reading rumors that the world of Pokemon is meant to be about to end? I imagine this somehow ties into Magnezone’s Pokedex entry, which states that it “seems to be receiving signals of unknown origin, while transmitting signals of unknown purpose.” There’s a lot of unknowns there (but no Unowns, sadly).

Supposedly, Yungoos is actually based on Japanese juvenile delinquents. We know what the real score is, though. Supposedly, Yungoos is actually based on Japanese juvenile delinquents. We know what the real score is, though.

Yungoos’ taste for rat flesh led to nocturnal rat nests forming

Yungoos, and its evolved form Gumshoos, will forever be known as the Donald Trump Pokemon. That’s inevitable at this point. In an interview with Game Informer last month, producer Junichi Masuda stated that the team “didn’t have any intention” of making Yungoos and Gumshoos resemble Donald Trump, although he admitted that there were indeed some similarities, “especially the hair style.” It’s hard to believe that this was unintentional, but there you go.

Yungoos are not native to Alola, though: they were introduced to take care of the local rat problem. From the official description on the Pokemon Sun/Moon website:

"As a countermeasure to the exploding Rattata population in the Alola region, Yungoos were imported and released. To better avoid Yungoos, Rattata changed their preferred environments and circadian rhythms. These adaptations to their new environment led to a changed form.”

The Rattata and Raticate now nest in caves, have changed color and shape, and have taken to exploring urban areas instead of rural. From their Pokedex descriptions, they sound fundamentally good: Raticate is a bit of a foodie, “particular about taste and freshness,” and gives restaurants a good reputation when it hangs around them. Gumshoos, on the other hand? “It adores having Rattata and Raticate for dinner, but as it’s diurnal, it never encounters them. This Pokemon boasts incredible patience.” I imagine Gumshoos like the three farmers at the end of Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox, sitting outside the fox hole, sure that the fox will come out any moment.

In any case, there’s something unsettling about this Trump-looking mongoose bastard forcing these good-natured rats to burrow into caves and change their entire way of life, right?

This was one of the more safe-for-work images of Klefki we found, because it's the internet. This was one of the more safe-for-work images of Klefki we found, because it's the internet.

That one Pokemon that is just keys

I know, Klefki first appeared in X/Y, and weird Pokemon design isn’t a new thing (even Generation 1’s artists said ‘let’s just stick a bunch of magnets together and be done with it’ at one point), but it was only in Moon that I actually caught and really paid attention to this thing. What most unsettles me about Klefki isn’t simply the logistical nightmare of its existence, nor its horrifying lack of purpose, or the questions of how it experiences the world, or whether it even processes the fact of its existence beyond its ability to dole out pain.

What really bothers me is its unconscious animation, because the damn thing starts to drop its keys just as it is getting pulled back into the ball. You know that sinking feeling you get when you can’t find your keys? Imagine that, except that your entire existence is built around those keys, and the sole reason anyone ever interacts with you is to knock you out and make you drop them. Just imagine. But not for too long, or you’ll go mad.

The way Muk reacts when I pet it

I love my Muk, but he makes me uncomfortable (although the slime on my hand is a nice touch).

H(Zodi)a(ckiller)u H(Zodi)a(ckiller)u

Hau definitely has some kind of dark secret

The popular theory about Hau, your constantly-smiling rival in Sun/Moon, is that he represents a role-reversal for the series – your playable character is actually the antagonist, the Blue to Hau’s good-natured, always slightly behind, picks-the-Pokemon-weak-to-your-starter Red. There’s textual evidence to support this, but I won’t get into it for fear of spoiling the ending.

I don’t fully buy Hau as a normal, happy boy though. Maybe it’s all those weird, dark Pokedex entries, or the damn Ultra Beasts, or because I can’t wash Muk off my hands, but I don’t think Hau’s as squeaky-clean as he seems. Everyone in this game has something weird going on. A kid in a graveyard solemnly asked me if the dead people were just sleeping. Team Skull are disillusioned, screwed over by an unjust system, and have taken to bad white-boy rap in flaccid protest. That weird police-guy definitely has some shit in his closet. The Poke Pelago dude may, according to fan theories, have broken his wife’s brain. I found one guy in the desert who I think wanted to fuck one of my Pokemon.

If Hau -- who keeps slipping off throughout the game at convenient moments -- went through everything I went through and came out the other side with a cheery smile, something’s wrong. Keep an eye on him.