By Factory White Head
It’s been a while, but I’m back with my series on Japanese-influenced Pokemon! This time, we’re in Johto, one of the most popular regions among Pokemon fans. In my first article, I’ll be discussing some fan-favorite Pokemon, as well as a few oddities. In the second, I’ll be covering the Pokemon legendary beasts, along with the star of Pokemon 2000, Lugia. Let’s get rolling then!
Like Kanto, Johto is based on an actual geographical location in Japan. Although Kanto is based on the Kanto region, Johto is based on the Kansai and Tokai regions. Sadly, there is no actual “Johto” region in Japan.
The first Pokemon we’ll be looking at today is the ever-loved Espeon. Because of its status as an Eeveelution, Espeon is very popular among fans and collectors. The origin of Espeon’s design is the nekomata, or bake-neko. Nekomata are cats with forked tails known for their mysterious powers. They are extremely intelligent, which is reflected in Espeon’s Psychic typing. Some legends of nekomata describe them as being very loyal to their owners, helping them through difficult times. Espeon’s RSE Pokedex entries describe this loyalty, stating that Espeon “developed its precognitive powers to protect its trainer from harm.” Espeon evolves in the main series games through friendship, so it’s no wonder that the Psychic-type is very close to its trainer.
Oh, Dunsparce. How many times you are forgotten… Dunsparce, to some, is just a strange Pokemon to look at. It has a big, odd-shaped head, cutesy wings, a striped pattern on its body, and a drill-like tail. No, it’s not a random Pokemon based on nothing in particular. Even the rare and unusual Dunsparce has its origins. The tsuchinoko is a legendary snake-like cryptid (a creature whose existence can’t be proven through evidence, like Nessie or Sasquatch). They look similar to snakes, but are much wider, with its body being thicker than its head and tail. Instead of slithering like a normal snake, they wriggle forward. In Pokemon Mystery Dungeon and other games, Dunsparce moves just like that. Dunsparce does differ from the tsuchinoko, however, because the cryptid has a poisonous bite and Dunsparce does not. The Pokemon can learn Toxic and Poison Jab, but not Poison Fang or Poison Sting, something commonly associated with venomous snakes Seviper and Arbok, respectively. It’s a very neat Pokemon, and many people who have raised one can vouch for its power with Rage.
Last up is Wobbuffet, a Pokemon considered to be Team Rocket’s forth member due to its frequent appearance in the anime before the Unova saga. This Pokemon is based on a punching bag, but also takes some traits from the late comedian Sanpei Hayashiya. His trademark line was “sō nansu, okusan” (“That’s the way it is, ma’am”), and when he said it, he’d touch his forehead with his hand. Bring to mind a particular Psychic-type? If that doesn’t convince you, Wobbuffet’s Japanese name is Sonans, which translates to “That’s the way it is”. When watching the anime and Wobbuffet makes an appearance, try to picture it saying “That’s the way it is,” especially after Team Rocket’s motto. It really makes for some interesting situations.
Compared to Kanto, my Johto series isn’t going to be very long. Heck, we’re just about done! Be sure to read Part 2, because it’s going to have the ever-so-popular legendary dog– cat– let’s just go with legendary beasts, alright?