Ranked: Pokémon Main Game Soundtracks [Straight Outta Kanto]

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Alola, PokéNerds! Welcome to this week’s Straight Outta Kanto blog post. Straight Outta Kanto is Ireland’s number one spot for Nerd Culture, Nostalgia, Nightmares and… more!

This week, we’ll be briefly discussing and ranking our personal favourite Pokémon soundtracks from the main RPG series. Lightly covering all eight generations so far to see if everything really was better in the old days, or if the modern soundtracks can hold their own against our collective nostalgia.

This is by no means definitive, and entirely personal, so please, enjoy!

(8) Pokémon X & Y:

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Coming “last” in our list is… Gen six! I have a lot of love for poor old Kalos, unlike a lot of Pokémon fans out there. Compared to the epic and intense family dramas of both Gen five and seven sandwiching it, X and Y really does fall flat in comparison.

While the Kalos soundtrack is pleasant, charming and whimsical enough in it’s own right – compared to the unique and original soundtracks of the other games, the music feels like the storyline – safe.

Little sound effects in the themes mimic the environment the player is in (ie. the clock sounds in Anistar City etc.), adding a heightened immersion in the game. Sadly this is still not enough to make X & Y any more memorable than its other comrades in the franchise.

Best theme from the game? Lysandre’s cafe theme:

 

(7) Pokémon Black & White:

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I know I’m placing this at seven, but I do really love the Gen Five soundtrack. It’s darker and more sweepingly epic. The N and Ghetsis storyline was the most intense and plot heavy storyline Pokémon had to date attempted. The entire game was more mature and catered for an older audience – and the soundtrack reflected this.

Keeping the quirky Nintendo-esque game music where applicable, regal choral vocals and crashing organs abound in this magnificently melodramatic soundtrack.

While the themes from N’s childhood bedroom and the Ghetsis Battle Theme would be up there as fan favourites, my personal favourite is:

(6) Pokémon Sword & Shield:

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Gen Eight is coming in at number six! I don’t know whether I’m just blinded by how good everything sounds on the Nintendo Switch or if the music of Galar really is just that good. The themes sound more like full numbers rather than just accompanying music and the diverse range of instruments and effects prove for a really stand-out sonic experience. We will have to wait and see if it stands the test of time as a classic Pokémon soundtrack, but it looks promising. I think everyone’s favourite piece of music from Galar is… :

(5) Pokémon Sun and Moon:

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Gen Seven gets a lot of slack from the online community at large but personally I found Alola to be rich in history, lore, humour and activities. I found Team Skull one of the more engaging ‘evil’ teams, thought the Lusamine storyline to be on par with the Gen Five Ghetsis/N one and found Alola to have some of the most post-game content and mini-games out of all the games. Also. Dat musicc tho.

I find the Hawaiian themes and overtones extremely uplifting and the over-all listening experience a very therapeutic one. Rural and laid-back in places, ominous and atmospheric in others – there’s something for everyone in Alola.

My favourite theme? It’s ya boi…

 

(4) Pokémon Gold & Silver:

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Still torn about whether or not to leave this as is or put it in the Top 3, but I need to pick a pot and piss – so here it is.

Gen Two. The Gen that brought us “…”  The only Gen with a multi-region function. That beautiful retro sound, the Japanese influenced motifs – the soundtrack for Gold & Silver really is heart-wrenching and memorable.

Dramatic and atmospheric in places, unique and surprising in others. The sweeping piano laced laid-back music for Goldenrod Park, the joyous and serene Surfing theme and eerie as feck Ruins of Alph soundtrack.

This is weeby nostalgia at its finest. And guess what I love!? That’s right:

(3) Pokémon Diamond & Pearl:

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SEND… IN… THE… … … WHAMMY BARS!

I love Gen Four so much. I feel the soundtrack embodies everything charming and wonderful about the original early Pokémon game soundtracks. Which as Gen Four was meant to be a love letter of sorts to the earlier generations, it makes sense. Jaunty and hopeful with enhanced sound effects and atmosphere due to the greater capacity of the Nintendo DS’s sound system. And of course, the whammy bars. Some great little power rock numbers in these games (and I don’t just mean Geodude…!)

My favourite track of all time from any Pokémon game ever has got to be (oontz oontz oontz oontz oontz):

(2) Pokémon Red & Blue:

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The generation that started it all! One of gaming’s single most well-loved, endearing and iconic soundtracks of all time. Every single last one of them standing the test of time and even incorporating themselves agelessly into the newer games.

The literal soundtrack to my childhood… teenage years… and twenties. And let’s face it. It’ll soundtrack my thirties too.

Here is the single most dramatic and nostalgic music my little nerdness can summon up for you. The ab. so. lute. tension:

(1) Pokémon Ruby & Sapphire:

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TRUMPETS BROTHER! HARK! THE TRUMPETS!

My. Arceus.

Where do I even begin!? The most playful and jubilant soundtrack that just sucks you in for a full Hoenn immersion. AND THE TRUMPETS! MY GOD! The trumpets.

I tried to keep to just the original main games with this post but I can’t mention Hoenn without mentioning the absolutely stellar soundtrack from the Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire reboots. They took the original themes and enhanced them magnificently with the improved technology at their disposal for the 3DS.

From the epicness that is Wally’s Theme, the Apocalypse Theme, Zinnia’s Theme, the Hurtling Into Space on A Rayquaza To Battle Deoxys With Your Cosplay Pikachu Theme, the rapturous Slateport City song even all the way down to the lowly Hiker’s Battle Music – Gen Three is just bursting with numerous classic anthems.

I think we should honour our fallen little warrior wally with this:

 

There we have it, nerdlings! Keep watching the skeys! I mean, skies!

For more information on Straight Outta Kanto, feel free to follow our Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/StraightOuttaKanto91/

Listen out for the Straight Outta Kanto Podcast Radio Show

Join our Pokemon Fan Club Ireland group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1623889321229114/

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Pokémon Sword & Shield Top Ten! [Straight Outta Kanto]

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Alola, PokéNerds! Welcome to this week’s Straight Outta Kanto blog post. Straight Outta Kanto is Ireland’s number one spot for Nerd Culture, Nostalgia, Nightmares and… more!

We hope you all found last week’s blog post about handy convention tips and tricks useful and can’t wait to see you all at our “Horror in Pokémon” panel at Akumakon 2020 this coming weekend!

It’s been a jellies-shakingly exciting time here at the S.O.K HQ. Producing, recording and editing our very first and very own Straight Outta Kanto Podcast Radio Show – launching Tuesday 14th of January over on the Nerd To Know Media site on iTunes, Spotify etc. This will be a weekly magazine show all about nerdly news, nostalgia nods, spooky spots, hard-hitting petty fandom grievances and and weird things we’ve learned about Japan during the week. So do keep a cheeky ear out for that…!

It’s also been an emotional roller-coaster here because of last week’s Pokémon Direct announcement. Not only are we getting a *drum roll* brand new Sword and Shield Expansion Pass “Isle of Armor” and “Crown Tundra” we are also getting… *inhale* A BRAND NEW POKÉMON MYSTERY DUNGEON GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAME!!! “Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Rescue Team DX” will be released March 6th 2020.

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No, it’s not a Gen 4 remake announcement. And YES. We would have preferred a Pokémon Ranger instalment. BUT. Taking everything into consideration, a new Mystery Dungeon and extra content that will hopefully complete an incomplete game, things are certainly looking up.

There’s once again been tremendous controversy over these new Expansion Passes. Paying $30 for access to content that should have already been included in the games? It sounds dreadfully mercenary. It does. Yet. It’ll be cheaper than a new third Galar game (such as Red/Blue then Yellow, Gold/Silver then Crystal etc.) but it will be interesting to see whether or not Game Freak keep up this trend of pay-to-play or if this will be a once off. The great Sword/Shield divide sadly continues to tear the PokéCommunity apart.

However. I’m willing to give Game Freak the benefit of the doubt. This opinion in the past has had me scorned, ridiculed and called a “shill” by the Pokémon community at large, but Pokémon has been there for me these last 22 years. I will weather this storm. My loyalties aren’t so easily cast aside.

To counter all this anti-Game Freak and Sword and Shield hate, let’s celebrate the positive aspects of the game with a little… “Sword and Shield Top Ten!”

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10. No HMs:

Let us raise a salute to the many fallen Bidoof of past Gens. In Galar we are living in a free world where unsuspecting Normal types are no longer taken under our dirty wing for the sole purpose of corrupting their youth and innocence. As our HM (Hidden Machine) slaves.

This frees up our teams meaning we can focus on building a full team of six with four fully functioning moves, thus improving competitive battling and game play. It also improves game play by making the Corviknight Taxi Service a fun new function. Plus, we get to ride our bikes on water now. Which is very, very cool. (In your face, Professor Oak…!)

9. CURRY!!!

In recent Pokémon games there’s been a non-essential function that allows a more pastoral and nurturing interaction with your ‘mon. Camping is Sword and Shield’s function. It allows you to heal the health of your Pokémon without items/Nurse Joy, raises EXP points and can boost friendship – which is essential for certain evolutions and can be handy in battle. Wild Pokémon can also wander in to your camp and join your team, which is very sweet. (And incidentally pretty much how Mr. Mime wandered in to the life of Delia Ketchum.) You also get to make… curry! And have a “Curry Dex” – which is a hilarious little side game and challenge.

8. Jedward of the PokéWorld:

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Swordward and Shielbert (or make that “Shillbert…) are the two post-game villains and I love them. They are as camp as Christmas, slightly incestuous, have bizarre hair and are double-entendre dropping weirdos with delusions of grandeur. Standard Pokémon character design, basically. They also remind me horrendously of notorious X-Factor twins: Jedward.

7. Challenging Gyms:

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The inclusion of formal Gym Missions as well as an increased difficulty from the Gym Leaders themselves – higher levels, harder stats and more challenging move sets – meant more engaging game play. Each gym required more time investment and a more tactical approach to battling. Type-Advantages will always be a thing, but the Galar Gym Leaders weren’t going to let you get away with that old trick so easily…

6. Greater Game Differences:

It’s only been in later years that the differences between the two Pokémon games has become more pronounced. Initially the difference was slight Pokédex variations (to encourage trading), Legendary ‘mon, and a corresponding different hue tinting the exact same game. Later games increased the differences between the games, Black and White being the prime example with Black City/White Forest. In Galar, not only do you get the different Pokémon variations, you also get different physical Gym Leaders depending on what version you have. This leads to a richer and more varied fan experience.

5. You Came To the Wrong Neighbourhood:

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I think the Wild Area is fantastic. The variety of wild Pokémon, the camping, the PokéDens for Watts and Dynamax Raid battles, the Rotom Challenge, CURRY and, of course, being chased around in the open by wild Pokémon! This last point in particular I find encourages a more realistic trainer experience for the player. I think being chased out of a patch of grass by EIGHT Stufful guarding a flipping berry tree is an enormously realistic situation an actual Pokémon trainer could find themselves in…

4. Challenging Evolutions:

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Don’t get me started.

Just get Googling.

Game Freak certainly aren’t spoon feeding you the new Pokémon Evolutions for certain ‘mon anyway, that’s for sure. No one can accuse them of being too lazy in that regard…

3. Responsible Adult:

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The number one thing for me with any new Pokémon game is the story. I love a good over-the-top villain (or two) and some end-of-the-world drama. But that’s just me.

I struggled with the story for Sword and Shield. It had no real evil team, per say, and there wasn’t really anything majorly apocalyptic, nothing spectacular, anyway. Any of the main “action” was mostly managed in the background by Champion Leon and other appropriately aged and experienced adults.

While I would have liked a more hands on Dooms-day journey in the game, it’s actually a more fitting and realistic scenario to have the Champion take care of things without handing it all over to a ten year old. The focus for your character is the Gym League, the actual core purpose of the games.

2. Galar Pokémon Designs:

872Snom

The Galarian forms, evolutions and the new Galar Region ‘mon are fantastic. Charming, adorable, surprising and endearing. You look into the eyes of a Snom and tell me otherwise. I DARE YOU.

1. THE SATISFACTION OF DESTROYING “HAU 2” :

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While I appreciate that the Rival set-up for Gen 8 is pretty much the exact same Rival set-up as every other game (bar Gen 2) … Come on.

There’s just something extra, extra satisfying about literally not only tearing down Hop’s dream every step of the way but also fulfilling his exact destiny right before his very eyes.

His one sole purpose in life was to knock his brother off the top spot as Champion. That’s a hardcore family odyssey right there and what did you do!? What did you do you smug bastard!? You DESTROYED Hop and everything he ever knew and loved and lived for. This rivalry was almost as grotty feeling as defeating Little Orphan Wally in Gen 3.

Grotty. But oh so satisfying. Because he was so bloody annoying. And a carbon copy model of Hau. Hop was basically just born to be hated from the get-go.

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There we have it, nerdlings! Keep watching the skeys! I mean, skies!

For more information on Straight Outta Kanto, feel free to follow our Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/StraightOuttaKanto91/

Listen out for the Straight Outta Kanto Podcast Radio Show

Join our Pokemon Fan Club Ireland group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1623889321229114/

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“Pokemon Horror: An Illustrated Serial. Volume One: The End.” [Page 6]

Front Cover

Pokemon, but not as you know it…

Except in your nightmares.

[Page 6]

6 Page

“Pokemon Horror: An Illustrated Series –
Volume One: The End. [Page 6]

“Pokemon Horror” is a weekly illustrated Pokemon horror serial. Volume One “The End” is set in Kanto. There will be a spooky fanfiction volume corresponding to ALL Pokemon regions. Each instalment will aim to be more gruesome and strange than the last.

It is a non-profit, free to read, illustrated fan fiction. It is written and illustrated by Straight Outta Kanto founder Venus de Vilo and is entirely fictitious. Venus de Vilo does not claim to own any rights over Pokemon or related trade marks. This is just for fun. And fear!

https://www.deviantart.com/venusdevilo

https://straightouttakanto.wordpress.com/

www.facebook.com/StraightOuttaKanto91/

www.facebook.com/VenusDeViloTheVoiceOfHorror/

Don’t forget to “like”, comment and share! 

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“Pokemon Horror: An Illustrated Serial. Volume One: The End.” [Page 5]

Front Cover

Pokemon, but not as you know it…

Except in your nightmares.

[Page 5]

5 Page.jpg

“Pokemon Horror: An Illustrated Series –
Volume One: The End. [Page 5]

“Pokemon Horror” is a weekly illustrated Pokemon horror serial. Volume One “The End” is set in Kanto. There will be a spooky fanfiction volume corresponding to ALL Pokemon regions. Each instalment will aim to be more gruesome and strange than the last.

It is a non-profit, free to read, illustrated fan fiction. It is written and illustrated by Straight Outta Kanto founder Venus de Vilo and is entirely fictitious. Venus de Vilo does not claim to own any rights over Pokemon or related trade marks. This is just for fun. And fear!

https://www.deviantart.com/venusdevilo

https://straightouttakanto.wordpress.com/

www.facebook.com/StraightOuttaKanto91/

www.facebook.com/VenusDeViloTheVoiceOfHorror/

Don’t forget to “like”, comment and share! 

cropped-kanto

“Pokemon Horror: An Illustrated Serial. Volume One: The End.” [Page 4]

Front Cover

Pokemon, but not as you know it…

Except in your nightmares.

[Page 4]

4 Page.jpg

“Pokemon Horror: An Illustrated Series –
Volume One: The End. [Page 4]

“Pokemon Horror” is a weekly illustrated Pokemon horror serial. Volume One “The End” is set in Kanto. There will be a spooky fanfiction volume corresponding to ALL Pokemon regions. Each instalment will aim to be more gruesome and strange than the last.

It is a non-profit, free to read, illustrated fan fiction. It is written and illustrated by Straight Outta Kanto founder Venus de Vilo and is entirely fictitious. Venus de Vilo does not claim to own any rights over Pokemon or related trade marks. This is just for fun. And fear!

https://www.deviantart.com/venusdevilo

https://straightouttakanto.wordpress.com/

www.facebook.com/StraightOuttaKanto91/

www.facebook.com/VenusDeViloTheVoiceOfHorror/

Don’t forget to “like”, comment and share! 

kanto

“Pokemon Horror: An Illustrated Serial. Volume One: The End.” [Page 2]

Pokemon, but not as you know it…

Except in your nightmares.

[Page 2]

 

2 Page.jpg

“Pokemon Horror” is a weekly illustrated Pokemon horror serial. It is a non-profit, free to read, illustrated fan fiction. It is written and illustrated by Straight Outta Kanto founder Venus de Vilo and is entirely fictitious. Venus de Vilo does not claim to own any rights over Pokemon or related trade marks. This is just for fun. And fear!

https://www.deviantart.com/venusdevilo

https://www.facebook.com/StraightOuttaKanto91/

 

See you next Monday…

dcc me

“Pokemon Horror: An Illustrated Serial. Volume One: The End.”[Cover and Page 1]

Pokemon, as you’ve never seen it before.

Except in your nightmares.

Front Cover.jpg

[Front Cover]

1 Page.jpg

[Page One]

“Pokemon Horror” is a weekly illustrated Pokemon horror serial. It is a non-profit, free to read, illustrated fan fiction. It is written and illustrated by Straight Outta Kanto founder Venus de Vilo and is entirely fictitious. Venus de Vilo does not claim to own any rights over Pokemon or related trade marks. This is just for fun. And fear!

https://www.deviantart.com/venusdevilo

https://www.facebook.com/StraightOuttaKanto91/

 

See you next Monday…

Dublin Comic Con Special: Horror in Manga & Japanese Pop Culture – A History.

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Alola, PokéNerds! Welcome to Straight Outta Kanto, your brand new Irish blog for nostalgia, nerd culture, nonsense and… more! Since last October we’ve had the pleasure of touring around as many Irish conventions as would have us hosting our infamous panel on “Horror in Pokémon.” This summer, your dear old Straight Outta Kanto had the honour of all honours and hosted a panel at (drum roll) Dublin Comic Con at the Convention Centre, Dublin on August 10th.

As Dublin Comic Con is kind of a big deal (ya think…!?) we decided to up the ante panel wise and write a talk on… “Horror in manga as the original comic book format and it’s influence today on modern Japanese Pop Culture.” A bit of a mouthful, but boy is it spooky!

Please, lock the doors, lower the lights, grab yer rosary and welcome to… Horror in Manga – A History.

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*Photo courtesy of Vixen Ninetails*

Come little children, come with me, safe and happy you will be, away from home now let us run, with Hypno you’ll have so much fun/Oh little children please don’t cry, Hypno wouldn’t hurt a fly, be free to frolick, free to play, come with me to a cave to stay/Oh little children please don’t squirm, these ropes I know will hold you firm, now look to me the pendant calls, back and forth your eye lids fall/No little children, you cannot leave, for you your families will grieve, minds unravelling at the seams, allowing me to haunt their dreams/Now do not wail and do not weep, it’s time for you to go to sleep, little children you were not clever, now you’ll stay with me… forever… … …”

– Hypno’s Lullaby, anonymous.

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We’re here today at Dublin Comic Con to celebrate all aspects of alternative pop culture. It’s a wonderful and open environment with a community feel; embracing all forms of creativity with comic books as the gateway. I first got into comic books in the early 1990’s through such English publications as the Beano, Dandy, Bunty, Beezer and so on. Although I know for a lot of you present today the worlds of Marvel and D.C. would have been your initial introduction.

Since the dawn of time the human race have used pictures as a way of expressing themselves. From the cave paintings of France 60,000 years all the way through the satirical political comic strips of the Georgian and Victorian era. While not given the same level of prestige as perhaps the great paintings or compositions of the day, the endeavours of the common man to to encapsulate a particular moment in time or give voice to the silent through sticking their hands in some mud and sprawling it across a wall or caricature their political oppressors is just as important to humanity as any art work hanging in a gallery today.

The first formal “comic book” as is widely accepted as being the first (although there is great debate about many predecessors) is the 1930’s “Famous Funnies” starring Superman.

However! (Or, Go Tobann! If you’re Irish.) One of the oldest and most statistically commercially successful comic book markets is Japan, with… manga!

In my research I stumbled across three of the most common theories on the origins of manga:

The earliest Japanese cartoons were construction worker doodles on a ceiling beam in Horyu-Ji Temple in Nara dated back to 700CE. These were raunchy and bawdy scribbles never intended to be seen and were only discovered 1,200 years later in the 1930s.

In the 1100’s (and this is gas craic lads) a Buddhist monk by the name of Toba Sojo drew anthropomorphic animal pictures to illustrate and aid his religious teachings. However these gained such popularity with the masses (pun intended) they were actually sold separately as Toba-e or “Toba’s Pictures”. (I literally cannot imagine Fr. McGrath from my church doing that…)

The origin story that seems to hold most weight and public consensus originates in the famed and mythical Ukiyo-e prints of old Japan. Ukiyo-e means “floating world” and refers to the almost stereotypical ye olde style image of Japan such as Geisha and Samurai, tea ceremonies, delicate sakura and temples. Ukiyo-e come from when Tokyo was called “Edo” and Kyoto was still the capital of Japan. A romantic period of time lost to the ages that Hollywood can try and re-create with such films as The Last Samurai and Memoirs of a Geisha, but never fully replicate.

By the late 1700’s there were ample supply of books spanning many genres such as romance, adventure, horror illustrated in the Ukiyo-e style. A good example of some of these prints are actually in the Chester Beatty museum in Dublin, which I heartily recommend for a visit.

One of the key figures in the Ukiyo-e movement and a gentleman considered the “grandfather” of manga is none other than Katsuhika Hokusai. A diverse and prolific artist of the Edo period alive from 1760-1849. If manga translates to “irresponsible/a million pictures” – then Hokusai certainly lived up to that.

Hokusai was an art fanatic who drew everything imaginable and left a body of work that would make any artist insane with jealousy. His most famous body of work is his “Hokusai’s Manga”. Literally a sketch book of thousands of drawings, doodles and full pieces. This is where the term manga is generally accepted to have been standardised.

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In 1902 the first Japanese manga narrative serial was published in Jiji magazine. In 1946 Osamu Tezuka made his professional manga debut with a four panel comic strip in a local newspaper.

The structure of manga as we know it today was most certainly starting to take shape by this point.

However, one thing I’ve noticed, I don’t know if you’ve noticed is… Japanese manga is just that little bit darker than the comic books of the west. With such a rich and twisted folk lore you can’t really blame Japan for having a darkness underlying in their artistic psyche.

One example of Japanese folklore influencing modern pop culture would be the Tanuki and Kitsune. Just like the man-beast legends of Native Americans, Tanuki (raccoon) and Kitsune (fox) are shape shifting animals who can take the form of humans. Any Studio Ghibli fanatics out there will recognise these guys from the film Pom Poko.

There’s an urban legend in modern Japan of terrifying “Nopperabo” or faceless/egg faced person or persons appearing on dreary, empty night time walks home from the office or on public transport. In essence, Japanese Slenderman, which is most freaky. There’s a theory that the Nopperabo are actual young Tanuki forced out of their woodlands by the forward march of progress and who haven’t quite mastered the art of living among us, hence the humanoid form but featureless expression.

Urban legends such as Kuchisake Onna and Toire no Hanako are further nightmare fuel for the massess. Kuchisake Onna is better known as “The Slit Mouthed Woman” – who appears in front of people while wearing a sanitary face mask wielding a pair of scissors and asking “Am I beautiful?” Say “yes”, you die horribly. Say “no.” you die horribly. Your best method of defence is just legging it…!

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Toire no Hanako or “Hanako of the Toilet” is a relatively benign Japanese equivalent of Moaning Myrtle. She hangs out in the female bathrooms of Japanese schools mildly spooking youngsters with her presence. Unlike the far more malevolent “Blue Cape/Red Cape” toilet ghost. BC/RC will knock on your cubicle door while your pants are round your ankles and ask if you’d like blue bog roll or red bog roll. Answer “Blue” and you’ll be exsanguinated and left a shrivelled blue shell. Answer “Red” and you will also be exsaguinated. But all over the bathroom walls. Just like Kuchisake Onna, there is no right answer, just pray you never need to use a Japanese bathroom alone at night…

Teke Teke, Onibaba, Moku Moku Ren and all manner of Yokai have their origins in Japanese folk lore that then mutate in modern Pop Culture and Urban Legend.

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The figure from Japanese folklore who has, in my opinion, had the most influential impact on Japanese modern horror as we know it today is the Yurei. The Yurei is a vengeful female ghost all in white with long black hair. Sound familiar?

Kayako Saeki from Ju-on (The Grudge), Sadako from Ringu (Ring) and all manner of other long-haired white dress wearing vengeful female ghosts have been terrifying audiences across fright flicks from all across Asia since the mid 1990’s and it’s a trope the west have most certainly picked up on in the 2000s. And why not? When done well it is an incredibly effective scare – especially when coupled with a well made film filled with an engaging storyline and a tension built through-out the movie.

However, as much as the Yurei concept put “J-Horror” on the map, I also feel the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction and now a lot of critics write off a lot of today’s Asian horror movies as just being further Grudge/Ring knock-offs and the genre has lost a certain amount of weight it would have once carried. I don’t blame them entirely. As an Asian horror movie obsessee, I’ve watched an unfathomable amount of lazy, lack lustre movies where the director clearly thought that chucking a long haired white dress wearing ghost at the end of the movie would distract from lack of plot and intelligence. And it doesn’t. That’s a shame, because the Asian horror genre has some absolutely stunning offerings out there for the spooky aficianado.

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It’s not just movies that have been tainted with darkness, look at some of the manga topics themselves. Even titles not out-and-out horror, series such as Death Note, Assassination Classroom, Battle Royale – all popular as hell, all about youngsters killing youngsters! In the west we most likely think twice about producing such envelope pushing topics but in Japan, it’s totes fine babes.

Actual horror manga/anime from Japan worth mentioning is Elfin Lied, Attack on Titan, Vampire Knight, Black Butler, Blood the Last Vampire, Tokyo Ghoul, High School of the Dead, Parasyte. All stellar, all spooky in one way or another, and all very, very dark.

My personal favourite horror manga would be “Ibitsu” by Haruto Ryo (I actually just got the the lead Lolita ghost girl from this series tattooed on my arm literally immediately after my panel), “I am a Hero” by Kengo Hanazawa, “Higurashi” by Ryushi07 and “Octopus Girl” by Toru Yamazaku. And of course. Ab. So. Lute. Ly. ANYTHING by Junji Ito. My Junji Ito top three would be Uzumaki, Tomie and his Dissolving Classroom series.

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Junji Ito would be considered one of the “Big Three” of Japanese horror manga. Kazuo Umezu of The Drifting Classroom fame was a massive influence of Ito himself and considered one of the fathers of Japanese horror manga. All-round badass Hideshi Hino was also another influence of Junji Ito (and now one of mine!) who created works such as Hell Baby, Hino Horrors, Panorama of Hell and directed not one but two of the notorious 80’s Japanese video nasty series “Guinea Pig.”

This is all some seriously dark stuff, especially for someone whose first introduction to Japan was Pokémon. And Pokémon is a kid’s show… right? Right? Wrong… Pokémon is just as disturbing and urban legend filled as the next nightmare fuelled creepypasta. But that’s a panel for another day… There we have it, PokéNerds, we hope you enjoyed reading about a very brief history of manga, horror and pop culture as much as we did writing it. Obviously the panel was way more lively than words on a screen can ever be, so close your eyes and imagine you yourself were there… can you hear the screams?

Until next time..

For more information on Straight Outta Kanto, feel free to follow our Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/StraightOuttaKanto91/ or join our group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1623889321229114/

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Disclaimer: All research for this historical talk was done on the internet and through some majorly weeby books in my personal collection. Apart from my own personal opinions about the information presented in this casual, hobbyist blog, I do not claim to have discovered or own any of the historical information nor do I claim it as my own. If anyone has any queries about the bibliography or where I found what, please don’t hesitate to get in touch for clarification. I am by no means an expert or a professional smart person, this panel was hosted as one nerd chatting to a large audience of other nerds and treated as such. Arigato.

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Pokemon Movie Review: The Power of Us (2018) [Straight Outta Kanto]

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Alola, PokeNerds! Welcome to the 27th blog post of Straight Outta Kanto! Straight Outta Kanto, your brand new home-grown Irish blog for nostalgia, nerd culture, nonsense and (on occasion) more!

I hope you’re all gradually recovering from the heart-break that was Wednesday night’s Nintendo Direct conference where we were updated on all the new and shiny up-coming games for Nintendo Switch this 2019… WITH NOT A SINGLE POKEMON GAME MENTIONED!!! 

Now, some reasoned individuals in various Pokemon forums and groups online have asserted that new Pokemon games are never announced during a Nintendo Direct and that a specific Pokemon Direct on say the official Pokemon Day this February 27th is more probable a source of PokeNews or even the E3 gaming conference on June 11th – 13th this summer than Nintendo Direct was ever going to be. (Damn their logic, I was all hyped up into a frenzy…!)

I’m holding out hope for a Pokemon Direct this Spring because if we have to wait until Summer to hear news for winter/spring 2020 games for Pokemon…!? That means we’ll have little to NO Pokemon action this year which is unheard of because there’s usually SOMETHING in Spring/Summer for us PokeNerds!

But anyway, on with the show! I mean, the er uh, review.

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I was tremendously surprised to discover that the brand new Pokemon movie “The Power of Us” is released for home-viewing and relatively easy to procure from local DVD stores. I wandered in to my nearest Tower Records on my way to work Friday morning and picked up a copy of the movie – which I had literally just watched in late November/early December 2018. Speedy turn-around.

I know a lot of fans are wary about giving The Power of Us a shot because of the disaster that was 2017’s I Choose You Pokemon movie but honestly, I find The Power of Us to be a strong, vibrant film which with a bit of tightening up here and there plot-wise could even be considered on par with the original first three Pokemon movies.

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The movie sees Ash and his posse head to the fictional Fula City, City of Wind (pass the beans…!) where he crosses paths with a few too many characters. The over-all plot however involves fighting Zeraora’s Curse to return the magic Lugia flame to the top of Fula City so that Lugia will come and return strong winds to this ecologically wind-powered city – which can then in turn continue to thrive and prosper. However, considering Fula City‘s murky past, should they really continue to prosper…? *Dun dun duuuun!* (Note here in the movie the Ghibli-esque Pom Poko leanings of the plot.)

There’s also a big important science conference in there. And a massive Pokemon Catching Tournament. An annual Pokemon festival. A hyped up TV show presenter. And a sister’s promise to her hospital-ridden brother. And Ash’s mandatory ass-kicking the local lads in a high-tensity Pikachu heavy Pokemon battle.

Other than Ash and Co., this Generation 2 influenced movie centres around the glamorous (but dispirited) sports star Risa, the mayor’s young daughter Margo, a sickly young girl called Kellie and her hilarious, irascible and dodgy-as-heck Uncle Callahan. And an anxiety ridden scientist named Toren who looks like he’s definitely a cousin of King N from Generation 5. Oh. And a grumpy old lady with a dark secret and a heart of gold.

Like I said, a lot of characters and a lot going on in the story that occasionally muddies up the plot – but not in any serious way, the film is still relate-able and relatively easy to follow.

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As this is Generation 2 influenced the film is absolutely littered with cameos from some of Johto‘s finest Pokemon stalwarts, we’ve got Togepi, Teddiursa, Cyndaquil, Totodile, Xatu, Hitmontop, the works and more, all portrayed in the most charming and whimsical fun-loving manner.

As Ash’s Pikachu and Risa’s Eevee are the two lead Pokemon characters in the movie you can bet yer bottom euro looove that some low-level subliminal Pokemon Let’s Go: Eevee/Pikachu advertising was at play here… YVAN EHT NIOJ!

Genuine warmth and humour through out, a positive and up-lifting over-all message about everyone’s inner-Pokemon power and team work yada yada yada, a suitable amount of feelz (oh brace yo’self fo’ da feelz, they are in there…!) and a startlingly amount of peril (you will openly weep during certain scenes, OPENLY!) with a satisfactory resolve.

A bonus point is the feeling that you have just invested 93 minutes of your life in a movie that didn’t actually suck like you thought it would and was, dare we say it, a pretty good attempt at a classic Pokemon movie.

I would give this movie 5 PokeBalls out of 6 – only losing marks for too many characters and storylines going on at once.

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So that’s the review guys I hope you – wait a minute! I’m forgetting something. Or rather… someones…!!!

Everybody’s favourite ever-enterprising and odd-jobbing loveable losers once again make another doomed appearance in The Power of Us. Jesse, James and Meowth actually play an integral part of plot-propulsion and resolution in the movie this time and look both screamingly-hilarious and ridiculous in their latest “disguises.”

I’ll say no more, but there’s a beautifully nostalgic nod to the original Inidgo League incarnation of Team Rocket that would satisfy even the most hardened Gen Wunner. (Eh, also known as me…!)

So, give this new Pokemon movie a shot, at the very least just to say you watched it and to tide you over until you see the new Detective Pikachu movie…

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There we have it nerdlings! Keep watching the skeys, I mean skies!

For more information on Straight Outta Kanto, feel free to follow our Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/StraightOuttaKanto91/ or join our Pokemon Fanclub Ireland group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1623889321229114/

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Thanks for reading!

memea

Pokemon Review: Let’s Go Eevee! [Straight Outta Kanto]

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Alola PokeNerds! Welcome to the first Straight Outta Kanto blog post of 2019. Straight Outta  Kanto – your brand new number one blog for nerd culture, nostalgia, nonsense and… more!

So, first and foremost, I wish you all a (belated!) wonderful New Year. May 2019 be the year we finally get our Gen 4 remake – it is the tenth anniversary of Pokemon Platinum‘s release after all so fingers crossed…!

Also, exciting news, Straight Outta Kanto has just been recruited by the fantastic Valkyrie Con to host a Pokemon Panel at this year’s Valkyrie Con convention in Dublin, more news on that sooooon!

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Right, down to business. I got Pokemon: Let’s Go Eevee for Christmas 2018 and needless to say I crawled into a vat of gooey Switch based nerdness and did not climb out for several days. (I’m receiving Let’s Go: Pikachu for my birthday later this month!)

Let’s Go Eevee is literally a direct re-make of 1998’s Pokemon Yellow. Pokemon Yellow was the Gen 1 game created entirely as a T.V. franchise tie-in but captured the hearts of fans better than a Master Ball primarily due to the upgraded addition of being able to obtain all three starter Pokemon and a heavy dose of Kawaii As Feck-ness smeared all over it by mascot Pikachu. (And the inclusion of Jesse and James… JOY!!!)

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When the news first broke last Spring that the first main Pokemon excursion on the Switch would be a Pokemon Yellow/Pokemon GO mash-up, the feedback was divided. I’ve been championing a Pokemon Yellow remake for years now but don’t play GO myself so was excited but also apprehensive about how skewered a traditional gaming format we were going to get. Thankfully the game was almost completely playable as a standard Pokemon game, the Pokemon GO elements were more light touches and nods than heavily integrated features.

The main things I loved about Let’s Go Eevee are mostly superficial upgrades such as improved and and updated graphics and soundtrack – with each game and console we’re getting a more and more life-like Pokemon gaming experience which I don’t know about you but I am totally okay with. The more immersion in the Pokemon World the better if you ask me.

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Sadly there was little or not plot development beyond the basic Pokemon Yellow story line. Game Freak surpassed themselves in 2014 with the Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire remakes and have set a standard of rebooting that sadly Let’s Go falls far short of meeting. Don’t get me wrong, there are the odd tweaks and turns in the story that make an enjoyable and engaging time for old and new players alike but nothing that deviates too far from the original format.

There were also moments in the plot that felt like wasted opportunities – such as: Lorelei from the Elite 4 swimming down the lake by Rock Tunnel on her Lapras like a BOSS and helping you tackle Team Rocket. I thought that this meant the game was going to draw influence from the original Pokemon manga series (out at the time that Yellow was released) and have the Gym Leaders and Elite 4 members take a more invested interest in wiping out Team Rocket, but alas! Lorelei’s appearance was the one and only time the Elite 4 showed up in the fight against crime. This was a sore disappointment as all signs pointed to an increase in story development.

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Another high-point/disappointment was the fantastic show down in Team Rocket’s Celadon City Game Corner hide-out. There the game play became more like a Pokemon Ranger/Detective Pikachu game where Pokemon Eevee herself becomes more hands-on in the adventure. A really cool function I thought, but sadly this was the only instance in the game of this happening. If Game Freak were just testing this out this time around, I sincerely hope they’ll include it in future games.

Another controversial point was the method of catching Pokemon in Let’s Go. Instead of carefully battling the wild Pokemon you’d mimic GO‘s capture method of lobbing balls at the Pokemon instead. While I did feel a lack of emotional connection to my party Pokemon because I wasn’t grinding them and using moves in battle, I did enjoy this method of capture as it emulates how I primarily capture my own Pokemon in other games. Yes. I’m lazy.

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The complete lack of HMs was a godsend! Eevee learning all the cutsie techniques such as “Chop Down” and “Sky Dash” and “Sea Skim” was a welcome addition and also Kawaii as Feck pottering about the sky in a balloon machine with my Eevee. Eevee travelling with you outside the PokeBall and getting all dressed up in sweet little outfits was an adorable (yet superficial) part of the game. Also having the option to have an extra party Pokemon travel outside the ball with you and in some instance become a method of transport (flying over Kanto on Aerodactyl and leaving cool-as-hell Game of Thrones style dragon shadows over the buildings was an amazing feeling…!)

The Gym Leaders posed relatively no major competition, the stats of Pokemon grow considerably fast in Let’s Go, thankfully so getting to whup the old gang’s ass in beautifully renovated gyms was a pleasure! The option to re-battle all eight Gym Leaders once a day post Championship is also a new addition that is most welcome. Gary Oak taking over from Giovanni is also a great touch that, correct me if I’m wrong, could also hint at a Let’s Go: Gold & Silver version in the future, which I would dearly welcome.

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Beyond battling a terrifyingly hyper-powered MewTwo in Cerulean Cave, re-battling Gym Leaders and the Elite 4 and fighting with Alolan Fairy Trial Captain Mina every day in Vermillion City there’s not a whole heap of post-game content. Also, the PokeBall Plus console that I paid nearly as much as the game for was a disappointing and malfunctioning waste of money – it was nice to get the free Mew inside it, but oh my Jigglypuffs, what a fiasco, stay away from it!

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Look, as a non-main RPG Pokemon game this was a light and entertaining bit of fluff with really intriguing new elements that I hope they integrate into future Pokemon Switch games. I would give this game 7/10  for lack of plot development but for Eevee based cuteness it gets full marks. Wait till it comes down in price in the January sales and give it at least one decent play through, it’s worth that alone!

There we have it nerdlings! Keep watching the skeys, I mean skies!

For more information on Straight Outta Kanto, feel free to follow our Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/StraightOuttaKanto91/ or join our group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1623889321229114/

Follow us on Twitter: @KantoOutta.

Thanks for reading! 🙂

memea