Pokémon Power Vol. 1, August 1998 (pages 1-10)
I’ll be scanning and posting more of these in the near future. Enjoy the nostalgia!
I already talked a little about it (cautious: image heavy and long post that could crash your browser), but…
See, during the Kanto arc, Shigeru was always somehow associated to light. He appeared, mostly, by daytime; to the point he even often left before the episodes’ events themselves when they took place during the night or in dark places (EP031 with the Digda found its resolution during the night; part of EP046 took place in a cave for Satoshi; in EP074, when Satoshi was having trouble sleeping because he thought about people saying he would fail in the league, it was night for him but he recalled events which took place with Shigeru during the day). In EP058, Shigeru did appear at night but still in a luxurious and brightly lit room, from which Satoshi was excluded (the group didn’t have a shelter), and didn’t have any participation in Satoshi’s nightly gym battle. When Shigeru was present for the duration of the entire adventure of the episode (EP018, EP065, EP075), he took his leave during the day. When he left during sunsets — the passage from day to night — he in fact missed a good part or the entirety of the events of the episode (EP046, EP074). Somehow, saying he wasn’t presented as a being of the night would be a euphemism: he fled night.
There was, however, a first rupture in the Tokiwa Gym (EP063): the light was outside, the gym was shadowy, Sakaki was the one in the light, his face backlit and therefore hidden for Shigeru until the end – and, in this closed space, Shigeru failed, was beaten by Mewtwo and somehow trapped inside the dark building until Satoshi and the others came.
This is something I say a lot, but I really think that, implicitly, the Tokiwa Gym episode wasn’t considered an isolated occurrence without any consequence by Shigeru, but something akin to a traumatic event. When he lost during the Kanto league (EP077), his last round had the exact same setup than in his first round in the Tokiwa Gym (Shigeru using Nidoking against a Golem). The similarity between the two is too strong: I really think the League battle was made to be seen as a re-enactment of his loss at the Tokiwa Gym. Except, this time, Shigeru didn’t even win against the first Pokémon he could face without any problem at the time. So, was Yoshiki’s Golem stronger than a Gym Leader’s, to show that the League was assembling strong trainers? Or did something happen in Shigeru between the moment he walked inside Sakaki’s gym and the moment he got out?
Then, Shigeru left for a journey, a personal journey (without his cheerleaders), and came back alone with an Eievui who, somehow, became quite iconic of him:
- It was a G1 Pokémon having new evolutions during G2, hence serving as one of the bridges from Kanto to Johto.
- It somehow mirrored Pikachu. In the Original Series, Satoshi and Shigeru only had two battles: Eievui against Pikachu after the Orange Islands, and then, their battle at the Johto League where they didn’t use Pikachu nor Blacky. They had a special status – in Satoshi’s case, it was also surreptitiously highlighting the fact Shigeru was someone from a time “before Pikachu”, so it could have been kind of the same for Shigeru (he still used his starter, Kamex, so Blacky really appeared special by comparison. Kamex was Lizardon’s opponent to make a call-back to a G1 endgame type of round, disadvantaged starter against a Pokémon with a resistance to and effective against it, but Lizardon wasn’t Satoshi’s starter.)
- Shigeru was mostly characterised, during the Kanto arc, by his arrogant personality and his way of mass-capturing Pokmon, but Eievui only evolve into Blacky with a high level of friendship: it proves Shigeru was (/ had turned into) a good trainer, who was loved by at least one of his Pokémon. In the episode of its first appearance (EP171), Blacky was indeed seen out of his monster ball outside of battle and living with Shigeru as a partner.
But, more importantly, Eievui evolve into Blacky at night, and it was implicitly saying Shigeru’s Eievui somehow gained experience by night: that Shigeru lived, at least partly, during those moments.
In Johto, his apparitions became mainly nocturnal: in EP121, he encounters the group in the dark forest and is able to cross it (so, darkness doesn’t harm him); in EP171, he camps out in the open (while Satoshi’s group was at a PokéCen in the city Shigeru could see from a cliff: he consciously isolated himself) and helps the group; he meets Satoshi twice near the Silver Conference’s lake in EP266 and EP270 (to have personal and calm conversations), both times at night; he also helps the group during the night in EP272, understanding the Muma (a Ghost type, so associated to shadows) better than the others. In EP266 again, when Satoshi is captured by Team Rocket, Shigeru rescues him at dusk and, when night has fallen, leaves to him the honour of lighting the arena, while staying in the shadows himself.
The three other times he made an important appearance in the Original Series, he also took his leave at sunset, or when sunset was coming (in EP115/EP116, there was a clear blue and white sky, but from the moment Shigeru appeared to rescue Ookido’s lab contained under the Rocket trio’s fabric to the end of his match against Satoshi, the sky was full of colourful nuances: dusk was coming; in EP228 and EP272, he left at sunset), so at the moment of passage between night and day and after having participated in the episode’s events.
Overall, either Shigeru appeared in front of Satoshi at night, either he took the road again after having participated in the adventure at dusk: the two exceptions where Shigeru came and left during the day took place in Masara Town at the end of a series (EP273 and AG192), so when the episode was focusing on Satoshi’s new path to follow, and during his special (SS015) in which Satoshi didn’t appear at all.
Now, PokéAni often features lakes and separations during sunsets (a moment that marks the end of a cycle, a pause before a new one). But Shigeru systematically gives his farewell to Satoshi in the frontier between day and night during Diamond&Pearl: sunset at the end of the Tatetops’s crisis in DP045, sunrise after the kidnapping of Satoshi and the evolution of Glion in DP085 (in which Shigeru also safely guided Takeshi and Hikari to a location throughout the night: he can make his way in the dark), sunset at the end of the Ginga-dan crisis in DP152.
They were moments of transition, from one universe to another. And again, they were moments filled with lakes or water: after the two occurrences during the Johto League, Shigeru studied on an island in SS015, and again appeared in front of a lake in Satoshi’s projection of him in AG187 (based on his postcard, and we indeed see the lake on one side: at the same time a reminder of their talk at the end of Johto, and also introducing Sinnoh’s lake which would bear importance); DP045’s separation took place near a lake; Shigeru was explicitly going to Rishii Lake to investigate it in DP085; he did witness Hunter J and Ginga-dan’s actions in front of that lake during DP151, where he was beaten and reduced to watching helplessly (he also saw J’s ship crashing into it.)
Water is often associated to night: because of its peacefulness and, also, because water is deep and hides its secrets, contains the unknown in itself, a form of primal life which gets out of reach (the moon attracts water to form tides), and is thus tied to metaphorical obscurity. It’s something that shapes Shigeru, that is part of him – and that’s also something that was kind of denied during the Kanto arc. So, Shigeru’s resolution, at the end of Johto, was actually prepared: because Johto was the season he was himself and living at a rhythm that suited him best in the first place, and could choose a path that corresponded to him due to that travel.
The lyrics are quite clearly alluding to Satoshi, but remember the first opening from Johto, just after Shigeru’s cameo in it? “Golden Sun, and Silver Moon.”
Satoshi is a sun.
Shigeru, despite pretending it at first, was never one.
This is the only reason I’m happy that summer is ending. My clothes can finally appropriately represent the darkness of my soul.
Colorful diagrams…so convincing…must resist…
rest easy, heroes….
I FINALLY FOUND THE WHOLE COMIC
Aww, I love the child-friendly, easy-to-read Japanese these comics are written in! This is so adorable, I love how angry and protective Mimiroll/Buneary is of Pikachu. You do NOT hurt her saviour, bub, even if they have the same trainer! Let’s translate.
Hikari: Come take a dip in this bath!
Satoshi: One by one, come in slowly!
Hikari: Try not to move, okay?
Satoshi: I’ll give you a shower!
Hikari: There, you’re clean now!
Satoshi: Feels great, doesn’t it?
Hikari: You’re next.
Satoshi: Hey, keep it quiet over there!
Hikari: I’m sorry, are you alright?
Satoshi: Try to avoid bustin’ into people like that, will ya?!
Hikari: Mimiroll got mad…
Satoshi: That’s an Ice Beam, alright…
Hikari: Hurry up and wash them…
Satoshi: Sheesh, quit messing around…
(Satoshi has such a rough speaking style, it gives me a tiny bit of a challenge to recognize the phrases he’s using, but otherwise, this was a fun and easy exercise! \o/)