#Pokemon is a franchise that started on the humble Game Boy and now has a firm hold on pop culture today. When #Pokemon first launched, we had 151 #Pokemon to obsess over on the playground. Now there are about 774 to choose from. With so many different #Pokemon out there, you have to wonder where the guys at Game Freak got the ideas for some of these #Pokemon. For some, it's obviously things like animals and plants, or manmade things like dolls, toxic waste, and keys (ugh).
However, some #Pokemon have origins that are more... legendary. Some #Pokemon have taken inspiration from real-world legends and old folk tales, and those are the folktales we'll be talking about today. Now, since Sun and Moon are here, let's make this interesting. This article will feature six different mythological characters from six different mythologies and the #Pokemon they inspired. Let's waste no more time and get right to it.
There are tales of a creature that lives in the mountains of Japan. Some say that she is a witch, others say that she is a yokai (demon). However, many agree that she is not to be messed with. Her name is Yama-Uba. There are several stories surrounding this character. Some depict her an an elderly woman who lives in a hut, tempting weary travelers with food and shelter before devouring them. Other tales tell of old women who are abandoned by poor families to save food, and thus become Yama-Uba in order to seek vengeance. One particular story, entitled, "Dame of the Mountains," offers up the following quotes:
Yamauba is the fairy of the mountains, which have been under her care since the world began. She decks them with snow in winter, with blossoms in spring; her task carrying her eternally from hill to valley and valley to hill. She has grown very old. Wild white hair hangs down her shoulders; her face is very thin.
There was a courtesan of the Capital who made a dance representing the wanderings of Yamauba. It had such success that people called this courtesan "Yamauba" though her real name was Hyakuma.
Now what #Pokemon could possibly be aligned with such a character? None other than the queen of controversy herself, Jinx. Let's look at her design first. Jinx is a humanoid with white-blonde hair. She also has dark skin, big lips and wears red clothing. Yama-Uba has been depicted as wearing a tattered red kimono and having long white hair and a large mouth. Jinx's type of Psychic and Ice could also be a nod to Yama-Uba's mystical powers and chilly home up in the mountains. There are also many Pokédex entries that tell of a hip-swaying dance Jinx performs that entrances others to join in. This could be a reference to the courtesan Hyakuma and the dance she invented.
This creature is one of China's more positive mythical beasts. Fenghuang rules over all birds and is one of the four creatures symbolizing the four directions and the four seasons, ruling over the south and the season of autumn. Fenghuang supposedly made its debut around 2600 BCE, appearing before Emperor Huang Di. The appearance of this divine bird was said to be a good omen. It signaled the arrival of a benevolent new ruler and a time of prosperity for the land. There is a saying about Fenghuang that goes a little something like this:
“When the Dragon soars and the Phoenix dances, the people will enjoy happiness for years, bringing peace and tranquility to all under heaven.”
There is only one #Pokemon who could fit Fenghuang: Ho-Oh. First of all, just look at it. The crest, plumage, and tail feathers are similar to depictions of Fenghuang. Its Fire type fits in with Fenghuang being refereed to as the Chinese phoenix. The thing that ties it all together are the Pokédex entries that tell of Ho-Oh bringing happiness to all who are lucky enough to see it, much like Fenghuang itself.
3. The Hopkinsville Goblins
So I just finished talking about a creature that appeared in ancient China long before the birth of Christ. So let's move on to an alien encounter that happened in the '50s — 1955 in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, to be exact.
The story begins with two cars driving up to the local police station. Five adults and several children got out of the cars and went straight into the station. They asked the officers inside for help; they they had been fighting “them” for roughly four hours. Who were “them”? They were the Hopkinsville Goblins, aliens about a meter tall with spindly arms and legs, big ears, and glowing eyes that supposedly attacked a farmhouse where two families had sat down to dinner.
The details of their arrival are unclear. Some say they appeared after a bright light shot across the sky. Others say one of the children saw a flying saucer (because it's always a flying saucer) fly over the house and land behind some trees, from which the creatures began to emerge. What is consistent, though, is that when they did appear, the men started shooting at them, with the bullets apparently having little effect. Those who went to the house to investigate found no sign of any such creature.
There is some skepticism as to what these people were actually shooting at that night. However, in the world of #Pokemon, it's a safe bet that these people could have been assaulted by a group of Sableye, which are Ghost/Dark types that go well with the mysterious nature of the Hopkinsville Goblins and the attack supposedly happening at night.
The Pokédex entries don't offer very much of a connection. Most of them tell how Sableye live in dark caves and eat gems. The real connection in this case is Sableye's design which, when you take away the gems, fits the popular description of the goblins almost perfectly.
4. Turtle Island
There are a number of different cultures in the world that hold the belief that the world is supported on the back of a very big turtle. There is one story that has been passed down through the Iroquois people that tells of a floating island in this sky, where the Sky People lived. At one point, Sky Woman discovered that she would soon give birth to twins. When she told her husband, he flew into a rage and tore up the light-bearing tree in the center of the island (they needed that tree for light because the sun had not yet been created).
He then pushed her into the hole the tree left behind, causing her to fall through into the sea. She was saved by the animals who lived in the ocean, who scrambled to provide her with land. Since there was none, they tried to bring mud up from the sea floor. Their attempts failed until Little Toad managed to bring up mud in his mouth. The animals took this mud and spread it on the back of Big Turtle. The mud spread until North America was formed.
Speaking of continents, what better #Pokemon for this story than the continent #Pokemon Torterra? This #Pokemon has a mountain range and a tree on its shell and its lower body is brown like soil. Its Grass/Ground type fits perfectly with the mythology, and so do the Pokédex entries. #Pokemon are born and live their whole lives on Torterra's shell. When they migrate together they look like a big moving forest. There is even an old belief inside the world of #Pokemon that the whole world sits on top of a massive Torterra. It's like a myth inside a myth!
5. The Golem Of Prague
Golems are everywhere when it comes to fiction and mythology, especially when there's gods or magic involved. Case in point: the Golem of Prague. This fine fellow was said to be constructed out of mud and clay by a rabbi named Judah Loew ben Bezalel and animated with the Hebrew word “emet,” meaning truth. The Golem was then put to work protecting Prague's Jewish population from antisemitism.
There are some branching paths to this tale. Some say that the Golem went mad and became destructive. Others say that the Golem was no longer needed and was deactivated. Heck, maybe the Golem exists to this day. Either way, the Golem's fate is unknown. The common belief seems to be that the Golem did indeed lose control and the Rabbi stopped it by rubbing out the first letter in “emet” resulting in “met,” which means death.
Now, take Golem and mix it with #Pokemon and what comes to mind? Golurk, of course. Golurk's design is quite similar to several depictions of the Golem of Prague. Both have a crack in their chest with metal slabs bolted onto them to hold them together. Golurk's connection to the Golem of Prague is further supported by Golurk's Pokédex entry, which states that Golurk was created to be a protector of ancient people and #Pokemon.
6. The Djinn
Before Aladdin came along and associated these guys with the legendary Robin Williams, the djinn were prominent figures in Arabic and Islamic lore. I should also point out there they weren't called genies until 1665, when A Thousand and One Nights was being translated. Crafted from smokeless fire, the djinn come in several different flavors and have a range of mystical powers at their disposal. They can fly, turn invisible, shape shift, and inhabit any object.
Some djinn are not very strong, while others possess near infinite power. Djinn also possess free will and are very similar to humanity in terms of how they behave. Some are good, some are bad. Some get married while others like to go to the pub and get smashed. It all depends on the individual. Also like humans, djinn can be killed and are judged by their deeds the same way humans are. They are also known to be very vengeful to those who wrong or exploit them.
So, when you think of genies in the same space as #Pokemon, the first ones to come to your mind might be Tornadus and his two clones. However, there is another #Pokemon out there who fits the myth even better. Hoopa is so obviously a djinn that it's almost painful. His two forms could be a nod to the fact that djinn are both good an evil. His cute and mischievous Confined form is a Psychic/Ghost type, while the large and intimidating Unbound form is Dark/Ghost.
His Pokédex entries have info on both forms. One tells of a troublemaker who sending objects to other places with his hoop. Another speaks of a creature so powerful and greedy that it stole a castle just to get the treasure within. His Prison Bottle is required for him to change forms, not unlike the lamps that are commonly associated with Djinn.
These six Pokemon just scratch the surface. There are so many other Pokémon that take inspiration from folklore, so odds are you'll be seeing another article like this one in the future. If you enjoyed this article, share your thoughts in the comments below. Don't forget to check me out on Facebook and Twitter for updates on upcoming articles.