Pokémon is a franchise that has one of the most interesting mythologies, but is heavily unexplored in the show, manga, or even the video games. The changing landscapes from region to region in the show are also hardly touched on in terms of geography or geology. They are concepts that fill me with many questions and ideas. It’s a complex world, in which knowledge of the landscape and environment needs to be considered. The world of pokémon is vast, obviously in case there needs to be such a variety of pokémon. Over 693 species now (lacking compared to the complexity of planet Earth, but still that’s a lot and supposedly more are being discovered daily), and soon to be more with Sun and Moon now out along with a new world to explore as well. I wanted to explore the older regions and mythologies. Pokémon are diverse, some of which require colder climates, some in the oceans, some live in fresh water, and some inhabit grasslands, tropical forests, or deserts. It is an Earth-esque world, with large continents and island chains. I believe the geography also affects the types of legendaries and the mythology of each region. This analysis is based off the main series of video games only.
The world has no clear global map, but it can be extrapolated from regional maps to imagine what the world looks like. There is Kanto and Johto, two different regions which are connect by a trail to the Indigo Plateau and Victory Road. Kanto is a temperate region; this can be inferred because of a lack of extreme cold and heat. There are both grasslands and forests found throughout the entire region. There are no large deserts in the Kanto region and no tropical jungles. Kanto region centers on Saffron City, the largest metropolis in the area, and home to the creator of the mechanical pokéball. The Southwestern area of the region has a port and leads into the ocean. In the ocean there is an island city called Cinnabar which has an active volcano. In the later games, it is shown to have erupted causing displacement the local population. Cinnabar is also home to a mansion where pokémon, such as Mew and Mewtwo were studied. West to this region is Johto, found past the tall mountain called Mt. Silver.
Pokémon are also studied in Pewter City. It’s a small city in the North tucked in between the mountains. Fossils are especially studied in this city. The fossils found in Kanto include arthropod-like Pokémon and ones that resemble pterodactyls. These indicate a very old planet that is continually undergoing change (in all regions). Pokémon obviously existed long before humans. The climate and composition of the world has also changed if certain pokémon cease to exist in the wild. Fossils are found in all regions, especially if the omanyte (ammonite-type) which used to dwell on sea floors could be found in land-based caves in the region.
Rather than be entrenched in deep history, this contemporary region’s legendary pokémon are Mew (the DNA blueprint for all pokémon) and Mewtwo (a man-made pokémon, an attempt at recreating Mew). This suggests that this region does not have a long culture or history because the three legendary birds (Moltres, Zapdos, and Articuno) aren’t commonly mentioned.
Johto (my favourite region) is home to a lot more man-made/pokémon-made structures than Kanto which fill the lore and mythology of the region. Johto definitely was designed to resemble Japan; this can definitely be noted in the architecture of the buildings in Ecruteak city, which has Japanese style pagodas and old houses. Johto is also a temperate region with cooler winds blowing to the East side of the province due to its mountain range. As a result, it has an eternally frozen cave leading up to a town in the mountains. The region is home to several other caves, such as Waterfall Cave and Dark Cave, and a couple of other less memorable caves which connect to mountainous ranges.
In between the South city of Goldenrod and the island town of Cianwood are famous raging whirlpools, unique to this region. Unlike Kanto, there are no volcanoes. It’s less active and therefore potentially geologically older than Kanto. This may also be the reason that Johto has a more developed culture and mythology surrounding the Pokémon in this region. There is a mythology surrounding all their legendary Pokémon: Entei, Suicune, Raikou, Lugia, and Ho-oh. The three dog-like pokémon were burned in a fire in their old pagoda in Ecruteak city, and Ho-oh came to restore them as the legendary dogs. Lugia is the ruler of the seas while Ho-oh controls the sunny skies. These myths are found entrenched in many aspects in the lives of people in this region. In Ecruteak City, legends state that Ho-oh rests at the top of the Bell Tower, only to be seen by people who have a pure heart. Whereas Lugia rests in the whirlpool islands, creating strong currents so people cannot enter.
Another interesting feature of Johto is the Ruins of Alph. In these ruins, Unown (a type of pokémon) is found to be in various forms. Each form has an approximate shape of the letters in the latin alphabet (including punctuation), indicating this is where written language derived. These Unown spell out cryptic messages about legendary pokémon in the ruins. Furthermore, in the Ilex forest in Johto, there sleeps a guardian named Celebi; a small pokémon which looks like a green fairy that can travel through time. It protects the Ilex forest from danger.
In between the two provinces, technically on the Johto side, there’s the tall mountain known as Mt. Silver. Mt. Silver is a part of a much larger mountain chain which isolates the two regions from the other part of the continent. The Southern side of both regions goes to an ocean, but each region has its own respective chain of islands to the South. Kanto has the Sevii islands and the Orange Islands. South to Johto are the Whirlpool Islands which, as previously mentioned, are home to the legendary pokémon Lugia. Both Johto and Kanto were designed based off of Japan.
Southeast to the large continent where Johto and Kanto are located is another region called Hoenn. Hoenn is an interesting archipelago. Hoenn is more tropical and requires more water travel between the cities. Most of the cities are located on the coast because of this. Likely early settlers needed to fish for food. Hoenn is similar to an archipelago range like the Philippines or Indonesia, with a big island and many smaller islands. This tropical region is still geologically active, and probably has the most recent geology than most of the other regions because of the active volcano, Mt. Chimney constantly smoking and bursting. There are even geothermal hot springs in the nearby town. The landscape might still be expanding due to all the volcanic activity.
Hoenn differs in landscape from desert to tropical forest to mountains, only lacking colder climates. Again, this hints it is closer to the “equator” of the pokémon world than Johto or Kanto. Desert landscapes exist on the largest island in Hoenn away from the coast. Hoenn is also home to a space center on an isolated island where meteors are studied. Likely many more islands will appear in Hoenn in the future due to the geothermal activity in the region.
The legendary Pokémon in this region reflect the ongoing battle between sea and land in this geologically active region. There is a constant fight between new land being made through volcanic activity and the sea’s dominance. Like I said, this region has a lot of water. So Kyogre is the legendary pokémon that controls the seas and Groudon is in charge of the land (a fire-ground type, how telling). Rayquaza also exists, who is the legendary Pokémon that lives in the atmosphere allowing for harmony between the two battling for land and sea. This indicates that this region has a lot of weather phenomenon that has been addressed through this mythology.
Jirachi is another mythological pokémon found in the Hoenn region. It appears once every thousand years with a comet in order to grant wishes. This may be a legend that coexists with a natural phenomenon, much like Hailey’s comet on Earth appears once every 75 years or so.
Sinnoh is a Northern region, with a long continuous mountain range cutting the region in two. At the Northern point of the mountain range is Snowpoint city, home to Snowpoint Temple. It is a city where evergreen trees grow and snow is eternal; this is likely due to its high altitude and Northern latitude. Cities closer to the North also have snow, but not as much and not all year-round, indicating it isn’t in the Arctic Circle.
The mythology in this region relates to a temple found in Snowpoint where a large legendary pokémon is said to be sleeping. It has been sleeping there since lava flowed in that area, which indicates when the Sinnoh region was created several hundreds of thousands to millions of years ago. Especially since when the lava stopped flowing, iron, rock, and ice were created on this world. This could be reasoned as there is no volcanic activity Sinnoh, so it is an old region.
Sinnoh’s tallest mountain, Mt. Coronet, is rumoured to be a portal to a different world. It is likely this land is very old, and the tectonic plates (if such exist) are still in convergence to make Mt. Coronet so tall. Sinnoh also has three important large, divine lakes, believed to be home to three respective Gods. Despite being a colder climate, Sinnoh still has jungles in the South and a flowery peninsula. For this to be the case, either the altitude in the North is much higher, or the Sinnoh region is long enough vertically to stretch to higher latitudes as well as reach the subtropics.
Arceus hatched from an egg and then created the region where the pillars of time and space now stand. These pillars are the legendary Pokémon Palkia and Dialga which created the universe’s flow. Arceus created antimatter too. The pokémon Giratina is the ruler of that, including the distortion world parallel to this world of the living. This also suggests that Sinnoh is geologically the oldest land in the Pokémon word. Other guardians exist in the Sinnoh region, such as Manaphy/Phione guardian of the sea and Shaymin guardian of the land. Shaymin can purify polluted lands and Manaphy/Phione are sensitive to polluted waters.
In Sinnoh, there are three freshwater lakes found in unlikely locations. It is believed Arceus created these lakes and these act as homes to three more legendary Pokémon: Uxie – to give humans knowledge, Mesprit – to give humans emotions, and Azelf – to give humans willpower. This mythology furthers the belief that Pokémon inhabited the Earth since prehistoric times and before, and are quite literally Gods. The mythology of the Sinnoh region is similar to a religion.
Darkrai and Cresslia are counterparts. Darkrai inhabits dreams and the shadow world, eating the dreams of people sleeping and sending them into comas or even death. It can even give people endless nightmares so their death is a horrific one. The only way to stop Darkrai once it has overtaken a person is with Cresslia. Cresslia is a pokémon which can dispel nightmares and cause sweet dreams. Both of these pokémon are said to originate from the moon.
Unova/Isshu is the most populated of all the regions, containing the largest metropolis in the Pokémon world. It is supposed to represent New York in the United States. This region is on a continent far away from all of the other regions. It can be assumed there is a big ocean between the continents like the Pacific Ocean on Earth that is heavily unexplored (home to many more sea/ancient Pokémon). Only the land bases have been addressed in the series and never the distance from each region to the next (other than Johto and Kanto).
Unova has large bridges between large rivers, mountain ranges on both the east and west, a dessert to the south, and forested areas near the mountains. However, this region, like Hoenn, has no snowy northern region. There is a lack of volcanic activity too. The region has huge skyscrapers, generally unseen in the other regions previously mentioned. Technologies in this region are more advanced than previous regions, indicating it is a more technological savvy area. Despite the technological advancements, the region is home to relics dating back thousands of years, back to when the legends said Unova was created. However, these legends do not have a deep history like the myths in Sinnoh or in Johto. It is possible that Unova had not been settled until late human history, resulting in the lack of mythologies and tradition entrenched in daily life.
The myths in Unova mainly revolve around two legendary pokémon, Zekrom and Reshiram. Both are dragons, Zekrom is also electric-type whereas Reshiram is fire-type. These myths are not as old as the ones in Sinnoh, as these dragons were created from one singular pokémon owned by two human brothers. The brothers fought and the dragon split into two, and because these pokémon attacked humans, they were locked away in separate castles found in the region. Another dragon also exists, named Kyurem (an ice-type), which crashed from the sky. It is supposed to be related to the other two and is their missing piece. This myth may have started due to a giant crater found near a town in Unova that was full of ice and star pieces. If one chooses not to believe in the myths, they can be seen as explanation for craters and castles.
Unova has more mythology which shapes the region. Again these myths were from when humans and pokémon both existed on this planet, so not as old as Sinnoh. Back when humans were at war with each other, the pokémon Cobalion, Terrakion, Virizion, and Keldeo helped to stop the incessant fighting in order to protect the lives of other pokémon at risk from human’s rage. These pokémon were unsuccessful and many pokémon’s lives and homes were lost, but it is said in legends that they will reappear when the next wars will be fought. Likely this mythology began to defer people from fighting, and as a story to help bring peace to neighbouring regions.
Unova has more legendary pokémon mythologies still. There another group of legendary pokémon that represent the forces of nature. Thundurus and Tornadus represent two natural disasters, such as severe thunderstorms and tornadoes (as their names indicate). Landorus acts as a mediator to bring peace to their conflicts so that they do not destroy the world. These myths may have started as an explanation of the severe weather found throughout the region.
The latest region (until Sun & Moon) is Kalos, a star-shaped region. This is my second favourite region of the pokémon universe. Kalos was partially designed to resemble Metropolitan France, which can be seen through the architecture of castles and in the alleys of cities throughout the region. There are tons of cafes and boutiques! The culture in the Kalos region has a deep history. Although the cities aren’t as large or as populous as Unova, this region still is home to haute fashion, expensive restaurants, fancy museums and a large landmark called Prism Tower.
Kalos has a network of rivers that run through the entire region. It has a colder city in the mountains of the Northeast where there is often snow. The mountains snake down to the South, only remaining on the Eastern fringe of the region, whereas the West is coastal. Kalos has a jungle as well in the Western areas, close to the ocean. I really admire the diversity of this region as there is a lot to explore, and this can be the reason for the diversity of the pokémon.
Xerneas and Yveltal are the two main legendary pokémon in Kalos. To begin, Xerneas is the legendary of eternal life. It is a deer-like pokémon which represents the spirit of nature and life. It can create forests on a whim, and turn into a tree for a thousand years when it sleeps and rejuvenates. Unlike Xerneas, Yveltal absorbs life energy causing death and destruction. It also sleeps for a thousand years but in a cocoon rather than as a tree. Zygarde is another legendary pokémon found in the Kalos region, but is not very well known. It is said to monitor the ecosystems and help keep them in check. Other pokémon of legendary status in Kalos include Diancie – can create diamonds at will, Hoopa – can teleport items by warping time and space, and Volcanion – can destroy mountains and boil water instantly.
I’m excited to see what pokémon Sun & Moon will bring. I have not completed the entire game yet and am trying to avoid spoilers. From what I can tell, Alola is a tropical island region, with many more lush jungles than Hoenn. It is a fairly new region due to the volcanic activity as well. As a result, there’s a lot more bug type and grass type pokémon.
Because of the islands being far away from other regions, several pokémon found in other regions have adapted to Alola. These adaptions (or mutations) in pokémon also found in Kanto allow them to live successfully in the wilderness in Alola. They remain the same species because their isolation has not happened for a long enough time. They remain genetically the same species. The fact that pokémon that are normally from Kanto are found in Alola indicate that a long time ago, the regions may have been connected or there was an ice bridge connecting them in an ice age. It could also just be invasive pokémon that were brought when people first settled in Alola from other regions.
The legends relate mostly to diurnal and nocturnal cycles. Solageo is the sun pokémon, known as being able to devour the sun. Lunala on the other hand is the moon pokémon, known to call the moon and be the reason for the beautiful night sky. Day and night cycles are important to the legends in the Alola. In addition, each area in Alola has a guardian. These are the pokémon in charge of protecting the natural beauty and sanctity of the lands. Ultra beasts exist in certain areas too, and comparatively, these pokémon pose a risk to both pokémon and humans alike.
What does this all mean?
Pokémon mythology is a result of the geological and geographical of specific regions in this world. An area with more water and volcanic activity has those types of legendary pokémon. An area which is culturally new like Unova, has mythology which isn’t deeply entrenched in every day life, whereas Johto has pagodas and shrines worshiping certain pokémon. Of course legendary pokémon are powerful and can be viewed as Gods. However, in the end of the day, they can still be caught and life will go on. So, are these myths real, or just made up to represent pokémon which are rare?
It’s an interesting world, and many fans can easily make their own separate theories and conclusions.
The pictures in this post are all either official or promotional artwork from the Pokémon franchise.