Alola, an archipelago of four natural islands and an artificial one; the centre of Pokemon Sun and Moon. Already set to be a game-changer in the Pokemon franchise, with gyms likely to be replaced with trials, and the addition of Z-moves to possibly change the tactics of competitive battling. But it’s the new Alolan forms of some Generation One Pokemon that has left Pokè Maniacs minds boggled in the past month. However, there might be a plausible reason for this quirk in Alola: An Alolan Theory.
Evolution is at the centre of Pokemon. There’s always been a Darwinian strand of DNA that wraps around the franchise; adaptation keeping the franchise alive for twenty years. Unlike the franchise, the Pokemon themselves evolve in much more of a metamorphosis; shown beautifully by the evolution of Caterpie to its final form of Butterfree. A phenomenon that happens on our own planet Earth equally as beautifully, and crucially, equally as adaptive. The new Alolan forms show a closer comparison to how evolution works on planet Earth.
Whilst Alola is based on the Hawaiian islands, (Alola derived from the world “aloha”, a greeting in Hawaii, and “ola”, which means life in Hawaiian) a better comparison would be the Galapagos Islands located west from Chile in South America. An archipelago where Charles Darwin first conceived the idea of Evolution, based on how the finches on different Galapagos islands adapted to different situations (Oricorio appears to be inspired by this phenomenon). This is crucial to understanding why some Pokemon have changed on the islands of Alola. The best example is Exeggutor, which has changed the most in appearance when compared to the other Alolan forms that have been revealed. Oddly, the adaption takes place after it evolves from Exeggcute.
This only raises more questions than answers. Eevee, the Evolution Pokemon, takes on many different forms depending on its situation. If location can change a Pokemon, such as its evolutions to Leafeon and Glaceon, then why is Alolan Exeggcutor still an Exeggcutor? Leafeon and Glaceon display similar characteristics, at what point were they considered different species? Why isn’t the Alolan Exeggcutor considered another evolutionary branch from Exeggcute in the same way Politoed and Poliwrath are to Poliwag?
Similar questions are asked even on our own Planet Earth. What separates a species isn’t quite as straightforward as it looks. There’s been much study into whether the African Forest Elephant is a separate species to the African Bush Elephant, with no clear answer to this day. This is the complication that the new Alolan Forms bring to Pokemon. What was once straightforward Pokemon evolution, now has all the troubles of Planet Earth evolution. The Pokemon World has closely related species such as Pikachu, Pachirisu and Dedenne which are obviously separate species. But then we have the addition of the Alolan Raichu which may show the diversion of a new electric rodent that hasn’t quite completed the separation from Raichu just yet.
Oddly enough, Pokemon has already hinted at an answer to this question. There’s a Sinnoh myth that suggests that all Pokemon and people were once the same species. Over time, some of these creatures split from the rest and became humans. This myth would also assume that once upon a time all the electric rodent Pokemon were one species of Pokemon. This would explain similarities between other pokemon, such as Seel and Spheal. If Mew is the ancestor of all life, then this theory would also mean that people were descended from Mew. This brings up the question of whether or not people still are Pokemon, but that could be a question for another article. But it could suggest that there was once more Mew in existence, but they changed to form other species.
However, this could all be fundamentally wrong. Biological taxonomies of cellular and genetic structure have revealed that all Pokemon are a single species; suggesting that all ‘species’ of Pokemon are actually sub-species. This makes the Alolan Theory even more complicated. This answers why many different Pokemon can interbreed, but doesn’t really examine what the Alolan phenomenon is. And if the Sinnoh myth is to be true, it is also a worry as to how Jynx came into existence.
This goes back to the African Elephants all over again. What makes a species, a different species? If all the Pokemon are the same species, and therefore each ‘species’ is a sub-species, then disturbingly enough, wouldn’t that make the Pokemon World cannibalistic? It’s well documented in a number of Pokedex entries that Pokemon consume other Pokemon, Farfetch’d being one of many victims. Suddenly the Alolan Theory has a sadistic tone, but it’s quite important to explore the interactions between each Pokemon. Cannibalism isn’t uncommon on Planet Earth, and if the Pokemon World is inhabited by technically only one species, then cannibalism would have to exist to keep balance. And what drives balance in the natural world? Evolution.
The Alolan Form is therefore just the start of another sub-species of Pokemon. It’s exactly like evolution on Earth. There is no conclusion to evolution, it’s always a start to something else. With some imagination, it’s possible to see how Vulpix and Zoroa were once the same, but have changed greatly due to different situations. The Alolan Vulpix is merely at the beginning of that cycle, and in the future it might well be completely different, a new Ice-type. This means the Alolan Theory is equal to the Theory of Evolution. Essentially, Darwinism in Pokemon has never been stronger.