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Thread: Western Vs. Eastern influences in the Pokemon World

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    Post Western Vs. Eastern influences in the Pokemon World

    I've recently been pondering how many of the influences in Pokemon come either from eastern Asia (primarily Japan), or from the Western world (primarily America). To me it seems that influence shifted more towards the East with GenV, but nevertheless it has been there all the time. Why was Machoke inspired by American-style wrestlers while Sawk and Throh were meant to look like Oni? List examples of Western/Eastern influences, but mainly discuss why it is such and especially why one is more prevalent in a specific region or generation.
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    To me it seems more the opposite since the Gen 1-4 regions were based on Japan and Unova is based off of NYC. I see a lot of both though throughout all the gens.
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    Gen V in general is mostly Eastern-based. I mean, c'mon, you have the Tao trio, the Kami trio, Sawk and Throh (as mentioned above), and probably more I'm not thinking of. I do think most gens are balanced however and most pokemon are pretty ambiguous in what side of the world they're based on (animal and "object" pokemon for example)
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    I know Hitmonlee was based off this European cryptid, but it's a little weird that its name seems to come from an Asian martial artist...
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    Quote Originally Posted by zapto369 View Post
    Gen V in general is mostly Eastern-based. I mean, c'mon, you have the Tao trio, the Kami trio, Sawk and Throh (as mentioned above), and probably more I'm not thinking of.
    You also have a legendary quartet based off of a French Novel (I do get what you're saying it's just fun to troll sometimes)
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    The pokes of gen 5 might be japanese, but, the region has lots of american influence. It's based on nyc, just looked at castelia city. Ad since it's based on an area in US, it has the ethnicity of US. There is actually a nice mix of white and black Americans, with the usual thing that most African Americans are good sports persons. That's why most of those basket ball players are african american.

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    I am going to have to agree with Carboncopy on this one. I think there is constantly a balance between Eastern and Western influence, but aesthetically based on the overall region, I would actually say that Gen V is the most extremely Western-based thus far and the only region (save possibly Orre, which appears to have American midwest roots) based upon a place outside of Japan, greatly resembling New York City in structure and geography (the two rivers and the multiple bridges), yet at the same time there is still a balance of Eastern influence, most notably the Skyarrow Bridge, which looks like a hybrid of the Brooklyn Bridge in NY and the Rainbow Bridge in Tokyo.

    However, at the same time, Gen V's Pokemon are largely Eastern based, especially from the standpoint of legendaries with the aforementioned Kami trio, dharma Pokemon, etc. At the same time, however, some Gen V Pokemon appear to be Western ideas or based upon Junichi Masuda's Trip to America, most obviously the red, white, and blue patriotic-looking Wargle. I find Gen V to have the Eastern influence of the previous generations (geographically all based in Japan) combined with a new, prevalent Western influence.

    However, I feel that the only true Eastern influences in the previous generations have been mild, mainly just being some of the legendary Pokemons' origin, and I feel like the creators were trying not to make Pokemon very identifiable in cultural influence until Generation V.

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    Wargle? What's that?
    And about GenI-IV legendaries, what about the weather trio? I've heard they're based off the Jewish holy text.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jdrawer View Post
    Wargle? What's that?
    And about GenI-IV legendaries, what about the weather trio? I've heard they're based off the Jewish holy text.
    Wargle is the japanese name for Braviary, I think.

    All the regions have a lot of eastern influences, its just they seem to be far more obscure then the other ones, so you're not likely to notice unless you trawl through bulbapedia.

    As for Unova, while the region itself is certainly meant to be more western, the generation seems to be the same eclectic mix as always. And do keep in mind the series is made by the japanese and marketed to them first and foremost, and they can be just as guilty of projecting their culture as we westerners are, hence the very japanesey Abundance shrine.

    Edit: Actually, I'm going to trawl through bulbapedia again and make a list of what cultures the legends are seemingly based off.

    Articuno - Roc (Middle Eastern): A really big white bird
    Zapdos - Thunderbird (Native American) : A giant bird associated with storms
    Moltres - Phoenix (Various, but Moltres is closer to western depictions)/ Firebird (Slavic)
    Mewtwo - Based more on sci-fi concepts then myths. Possibly some influence from the greys, a popular depiction of aliens.
    Mew - Based off science theories, not myths

    Kanto's influences are all over the place it seems.

    Raikou - Raijin (Eastern) : A thunder creature depicted as various different animals. Raikou is based off its depiction as a tiger, Manectric its depicting as a wolf.
    Entei - Imperial Guardian Lions (Chinese) : Stone statues of very stylised lions. Frequently mistaken for dogs by westerners.
    Suicune - Quilin (Eastern) : A wierd mythical creature that is a mix of a ton of different animals, such as dragons, oxes, lions, deers, etc. Similar to unicorns.
    Lugia - Ryukin (Eastern) : A dragon that lives under the sea, symbolises the ocean.
    Ho-oh - Chinese Phoenix
    Celebi - Fairy/Dryad (Greek)/Kodoma (Japanese) : It's kinda hard to tell really, but the last one certainly fits in with the other gen 2 legends.

    Johto - Very very eastern. Lots of references to Shintoism.

    Regis - Golems (Hebrew) : Pokemon has a ton of golems, yet the one actually called Golem is not one. Wierd, huh?
    Latis - Vaguely reminiscant of yin/yang, possibly based off Aeons (Gnosticism) Immaterial-concepty-being things that always come in Male and Female pairs.
    Groudon - Based off the Behemoth (Hebrew), but looks nothing like it (It's some sort of hippo thing). Visual appearance might be from Dinosaurs, or Godzilla.
    Kyogre - Based off the Leviathan (Hebrew), but only sort of visually (They were sea serpents, but leviathan can mean whale in modern languages)
    Rayquaza - " Ziz (Hebrew) " " " The ziz is a bird, so Rayquaza might also be based off Eastern Dragons, or the Quetzalcoatl (Ancient American?).
    Jirachi - Various wishing myths. The tags are an eastern thing, but it might also be based off Genies (Islamic?)
    Deoxys - Aliens/DNA. More Sci-fi then mythical.

    Hoenn - All very middle easterny. Except for Deoxys. Don't know what he's doing here.

    Lake trio - Pixie (British) / Sprite (Various) / Gnome (Or Elf) (European) : Their appearance and names are all from small tricky humanoid creatures, but they represent the three scared treasures of japan.
    Dialga/Palkia - Spear Pillar is based off the Shinto legend of Izanami and Izanagi, who are said to have created one island with a spear, erected a pillar on it, and from there created the islands of Japan. Otherwise they just seem to be timespace dinosaurs, because why not.
    Giratina - Visually, its based off the Basilisk (European) and the Amphiptere (American). Mythwise Bulbapedia doesn't know.
    Arceus - Again, more Shinto legendy stuff, its based off Kunitokotachi and Amenominakanushi (thank you copy and paste) who summon the guys dialga and palkia are based off. Visually its another Quilin maybe? Otherwise, its based off Creator Deities, which are basically everywhere in mythology.

    ok bored now. look up the rest on your own. ive no idea why i even typed all this
    Last edited by Will-powered Spriter; 4th January 2013 at 12:53 PM.
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    This thread actually reminded me about something. In the past mixing eastern and western would have been unheard of. But, now it's common place. People nowadays are much more open minded about knowing about different cultures and traditions. It's all due to globalization and the internet.
    Pokemon has taught how different Japanese attitudes are when compared to the rest of us. There are so many instances where GF had to change sprites because it was too controversial or not appropriate for the intended audience.

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    Quote Originally Posted by carboncopy View Post
    This thread actually reminded me about something. In the past mixing eastern and western would have been unheard of. But, now it's common place. People nowadays are much more open minded about knowing about different cultures and traditions. It's all due to globalization and the internet.
    Pokemon has taught how different Japanese attitudes are when compared to the rest of us. There are so many instances where GF had to change sprites because it was too controversial or not appropriate for the intended audience.
    Wait, there are? I only know of the Game Corner debacle and that one registeel sprite.
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    This is an interesting topic. Ever since we found out the titles for Black/White and that Reshiram is the legendary for Black and Zekrom is the legendary for White -the setup reminded me of Yin/Yang.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Will-powered Spriter View Post
    Wait, there are? I only know of the Game Corner debacle and that one registeel sprite.
    There are many more. Not just in sprites. Jynx is a good example. Racial stereotype as you know.
    Also, most of poke mangas were never released outside of japan coz they were too vulgar.
    in gsc japanse version the channeler sprites hold some religious necklace thing. that is removed in the International to avoid religious stuff.
    Also, there is a card were grimmer comes out of of a manhole and looking down a girls skirt. These things are funny for japanese, but its not acceptable in US and the card was changed for International releases.
    There are many more stuff, just can't remember. Check some youtube channels, they have lots of these stuff.

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    something that I really appreciate is that HO-OH and ARTICUNO are based on Iranian legends, both are simorgh pokemon and that's awesome!
    here's a link. simorgh is pictured in a lot of forms and this is one of it forms, it may look like moltres, but the main theme is like this. http://shadowness.com/MKHDSGN/persian-art-simorgh-2
    zekrom and reshiram are based on persian beliefs, ahriman and ahuramazda((zartosht))***((( beside of yin/yang )))***, ahriman is the devil and ahuramazda is a prophet that was loved for hundreds of years in iran. zekrom is known as the devil mainly because of being the idol of ideal, and reshiram as ahuramazda for being vice-versa
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahura_Mazda --------> ahuramazda
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angra_Mainyu -------->ahriman
    Last edited by destinydude000; 4th January 2013 at 4:29 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Absoltastic View Post
    (save possibly Orre, which appears to have American midwest roots)
    Apparently, it's based off of Arizona.

    Quote Originally Posted by carboncopy View Post
    There are many more stuff, just can't remember.
    Here's a page that shows a lot of them for G/S.

    Pokémon's definitely always had influences from all over, which makes sense. They're trying to appeal to people everywhere, after all! (Well, after first gen showed that it could be popular everywhere...) Junichi Masuda even says he wants Pokémon to be a kind of universal language, which is pretty cool.
    In terms of the actual regions, Johto's pretty clearly the most "Japanese" and Unova's the most "American". They even brought an American to help design Pokémon for gen 5 (look in the credits). I'm guessing they did the shift to "American" flavor for gen 5 to shake things up - that's part of what they were explicitly trying to do! But I'm not sure why Johto ended up the way it did.

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    What about Jiggly? Obviously, it, Wynaut, and Wobbuffet are based on Asian emotes, and even have 'kawaii' appeal, but what about Pika? One could say America's been 'ruled' by a mouse for years.
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    Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh are all very real regions in Japan, or well based off of regions
    Kanto is an actual region in Japan
    Johto is based off of Kansai
    Hoenn is Kyūshū Island
    And Sinnoh is based on the Russian controlled islands in the northern part of Japan and Hokkaido.

    Unova is based off of New York City.

    This is only for the actual geography, and isn't exact.
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    Aesthetically, I kinda miss the eastern feel to the regions - I know that it might be as simple as running out of regions to use, but I really really liked the feel of the Johto region and its multiple towers with that very Japanese feel.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bulba the Great! View Post
    Aesthetically, I kinda miss the eastern feel to the regions - I know that it might be as simple as running out of regions to use, but I really really liked the feel of the Johto region and its multiple towers with that very Japanese feel.
    The second gen games were probably my least favourite, gameplay wise, but Johto is probably my favourite looking region of all for the same reasons you state. That being said I would love a future generation to have a strong African or maybe even an Indian feel - I think both of these would provide some very interesting design opportunities (for the latter, think Ganesha-based legendary.. awesome)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Combo View Post
    The second gen games were probably my least favourite, gameplay wise, but Johto is probably my favourite looking region of all for the same reasons you state. That being said I would love a future generation to have a strong African or maybe even an Indian feel - I think both of these would provide some very interesting design opportunities (for the latter, think Ganesha-based legendary.. awesome)
    An indian or african theme would be a refresher ! GF is going more global with it's design.

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    Yeah, but what about parents?

    Back on topic: does it seem that the Deino line's kinda Westerny? Especially compared to other PLs and with their army tank design?
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    Ludicolo is clearly based off of Mexican culture. Lapras the Loch Ness Monster.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Elliot View Post
    Ludicolo is clearly based off of Mexican culture. Lapras the Loch Ness Monster.
    It seems that it's based of the Kappa, with Mexican touches for aesthetic pleasure.
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    Well Sableye is based off the Kelly-Hopkinsville Goblin or whatever it is called, and that supposedly happened in Kentucky. So I would say that Sableye is rooted in Western culture.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nesquik3D View Post
    Well Sableye is based off the Kelly-Hopkinsville Goblin or whatever it is called, and that supposedly happened in Kentucky. So I would say that Sableye is rooted in Western culture.
    The reason that thing was chosen for Pokemonification was because urban legends of that sort are unusually well-liked in Japan, though. So it's rooted in Western culture for a Japanese reason.


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