Made In Japan: Kanto Edition Part 4

By Factory White Head

We’re down to the last of the Japanese-based Kanto Pokemon. This time, we’ll finish up with three useful Pokemon that each gained prevolutions in Johto, along with an old (rod) favorite. Today we’re talking about Magikarp, Electabuzz, Magmar, and Jynx.

The lowly Magikarp’s evolution into the mighty Gyarados is derived from the legend of the Dragon Gate. While this is primarily a Chinese legend, there are traces of it in Japan as well. Carp that leapt over the mysterious Dragon Gate would become dragons. What is Magikarp’s trademark “skill”? Splashing and hopping, and its Pokedex entries state that it has the jumping power to leap over mountains when it is old enough. Of course, Magikarp aren’t required to go over the Dragon Gate to become Gyarados, but any trainer who has raised one can agree that the task of raising one is just as difficult. Unless, you know, you train it using an Exp. Share or the classic “bait and switch” method, or catch one that’s ready to evolve. Let’s just agree that Magikarp isn’t the best at battling.

The next Pokemon has been the source of lots of controversy since it first appeared. No, not Porygon, we’re talking about Jynx. Even though Jynx didn’t star in an episode that sent many children to the hospital with seizures, she has still faced many angry protests. Jynx was accused of being a stereotype, but that wasn’t the case. Jynx’s design is likely based on many different things, such as the ganguro fashion trend, which was very popular when Red and Blue were released. Ganguro involves tanned skin and blonde hair, and encourages individualism and self-expression. Jynx, being an ice-type Pokemon, may also be derived from Zwarte Piet, a Christmastime character from the Netherlands and Belgium. Zwarte Piet, translating to “Black Pete”, is a friend of Saint Nicholas who gives candy and gifts to good children. Jynx has appeared with the Pokemon world’s Santa Claus, where they act similar to elves. There are also many other possible origins for Jynx, all trying to prove that she wasn’t meant to be offensive in her design.

Magmar’s possible origin is the Japanese creature known as the Karura. The Karura is a fire-breathing being that has a human shape (hence the egg group) and the mouth of an eagle. It’s actually adopted from the Hindu being Garuda, similarly to how the Japanese adopted the shishi from China. Magmar certainly looks like a karura, even though it looks more duck-like than eagle-like. It also gets a few of its design traits from other sources, such as the salamander (known for its love of fire). I’ve always wondered what Magmar was, because to an American audience, Magmar looks like a weird duck-lizard-I don’t even know-hybrid. Well, now we know the truth. Not that it makes Magmar any easier to understand, but there you go. Karura. End of story.

The counterpart of Magmar, Electabuzz, is also based on a Japanese creature of sorts. Meet the oni: a horned ogre who wears tiger skin and has large fangs. In some depictions, they can cause thunderstorms. Like Electabuzz, they’re not very friendly, and they are driven out of villages and homes. Luckily for the oni, however, they’ve been reestablished in recent times as protectors of sorts rather than monsters. Some parades and celebrations will even feature men dressed as oni to get rid of bad luck.

With that said, we’ve wrapped up the Japanese origins of the Kanto Pokemon. Next time, we’ll set foot into the Johto region to learn about many more Pokemon. Will your favorite be uncovered?

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