Tuesday, 4 August 2015

pokédex or psychomanteum

I suppose both iterations of the popularity of Pokémon came at the wrong phases of life for me since I really never understood the appeal of collecting pocket-monsters but I nonetheless found the fact that this bestiary, via Neatorama, has origins rooted in Japanese mythology and folklore—with sometimes a direct correspondence though the inspiring legendary creatures are far more imaginative and disturbing—really fascinating. Tornadus is basically the Shinto Elder god Fūjin—master of the winds and cultural-transmission of the Greek demi-god Boreas (Septentrio to the Latins).
Whishcash (I love these naming conventions that make me think of the Wizzrobes, Peahats and Octoroks of the Legend of Zelda) is patterned after the observed behavior mortal catfish thrashing about and swimming erratically just prior to a tremor and it was believed that a gigantic cousin, the Onamazu was in turn responsible for causing earthquakes by throwing its weight around. There are several more darker fables and ghost stories to read at the link. Moreover, this fascination with play and acquisition (got to catch ‘em all) is not a recent phenomenon either, but dates back to parlour games hosted in the homes of seventeenth century Japan. This was a very superstitious age for many, correlating with the popularity of séances and spiritual mediums in Victorian England and of course later incarnations—that sort of slumber party game, like light-as-a-feather or looking into the bathroom mirror with the lights off and conjurating Bloody Mary or that new elevator ritual where one runs the risk of being trapped in a parallel ghost dimension, and as night fell men and women came together for the Gathering of One Hundred Supernatural Tales and took turns exchanging nightmares, folktales and general unexplained encounters. After each round, the player retreated into a separate room, a sort of containment field where a wall of one hundred paper lanterns stood opposite a single mirror and extinguished one light. Generally the evening’s entertainment—involving elements of catoptromancy, divination from mirror gazing, which saw new demons and monsters summoned up with each epic session, did not last all one hundred rounds and was customarily called off by ninety-nine out of fear that all those spirits would become uncontrollable and their haunting permanent.