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In this recurring series, I’ll analyze the origins of Pokémon designs, their culture, and their historical allusions to British culture. 

In the August Pokémon Direct, we learned a lot about new characters and Pokémon in Pokémon Sword & Shield. In particular we learnt some new details on the Zigazagoon line, and it was revealed that they each have a Galarian form and a new evolution.

This trailer confirmed that the concept of regional variants will continue, where a previously known Pokémon has branched and adapted to a different environment. This is the first Pokémon line outside of the first generation of Pokémon to get regional variations.

Zigzagoon and Linoone

Zigzagoon and Linoone’s designs are based on badgers. It was common in the 1800s to hunt badgers, and dogs were often bred for this purpose, the dachshund, German for “badger dog”, was bred for its ability to smell and chase badgers. This practice was made illegal by the Cruelty to Animals Act of 1835.

Interestingly, Corgis, the species of dog Yamper is based on, is tied closely to British culture as it is a species that was frequently bred by Queen Elizabeth. Additionally, she cross-bred dachshunds with corgis, resulting in “dorgis”. Could Yamper have an evolution based on a dachshund that may hunted out Zigzagoons and Linoones?

The specific species of badger found in the UK, the European badger, is not particularly aggressive. However, they are known to be very territorial. The Pokémon website description for Galarian Zigzagoon is:

The Zigzagoon of the Galar region move about however they like and never settle down. They’re known to inhabit all areas of the region, including fields, forests, and even towns! There is some speculation that the zigzag movements of the Zigzagoon in other regions stem from the restless nature of Galarian Zigzagoon, which is considered to be the oldest branch of the species. Galarian Zigzagoon enjoy battles and will charge at people and other Pokémon in an attempt to provoke a fight. This behavior usually succeeds in starting a battle with other Pokémon, but humans tend to think Galarian Zigzagoon is just playing or showing affection. It seems to cause Galarian Zigzagoon some frustration when people don’t get angry even though it’s trying to provoke them.

While Zigzagoon may be energetic and potentially aggressive, it also states that they inhabit many different locations. Their energy may just be an attempt to defend their territory from trainers who unknowingly enter it. Zigzagoon is a Dark type Pokémon, which may reflect how European badgers are nocturnal by nature.

The Galarian form of Zigzagoon is noted to be the original form, creating some revisionism with the Hoenn regional variant, which is based on a raccoon.

The Pokémon website description for Galarian Linoone is as follows:

Galarian Linoone can reach speeds of over 60 miles per hour and can deliver devastating Tackles and Headbutts. These attacks have enough destructive force to even knock a car away, but they can also throw Linoone off balance if they miss. Galarian Linoone are rash and fearless, and they will recklessly pick fights even with opponents stronger than themselves. Their fearlessness, as well as their tendency to attack opponents head on, make Galarian Linoone very popular among the disaffected youths of the Galar region, who have nowhere to direct their frustration and anger.

Once Zigzagoon evolves, their territorial energy becomes destructive, due to their weight doubling and their speed increasing. These changes can make them more ferocious, and perhaps become a symbol for people who feel the same destructive, territorial energy.

Obstagoon

Galarian Linoone then has the ability to evolve into a new Pokémon: Obstagoon. The name of this Pokémon is a portmanteau of Obstruct and Raccoon, perfectly mirroring the nature of this Pokémon

The Linoone of the Galar region live in harsh conditions compared to those found in other regions, with fierce competition against others of their species. Their survival instincts have been honed as a result, leading to their Evolution into Obstagoon. Though Obstagoon is extremely combative, it seems that it doesn’t often launch the first attack. It will taunt an opponent, goading it into attacking. When it does, Obstagoon will cross its arms and meet the oncoming attack with its Obstruct move.

This form takes the Pokémon to a humanoid design, with it continuing to have a long tongue and stars around the eyes. Obstagoon looks a lot like members of the band Kiss, a 1970s American rock band. Their performances consisted of them wearing makeup and costumes, and many practical effects.

While the band wasn’t British in origin, it had a lot of influence from British bands like The Beatles and others from the prior decade, which made up the British Invasion.

When Gene Simmons, one of the original and current band members, found out about this design, he commented on Twitter.

Worth noting is also the possible influence of the punk movement in the UK, something the entire Galarian variant line seems to share similarities with.

In summary, the Galarian Zigzagoon line is seemingly based on the concept of European Badgers. These creatures, territorial and angry, relate with many disaffected youth. These are the youth who listened to rock music heavily influenced by British culture such as the band Kiss.

Obstagoon completes the pattern of zigzagging, to a straight line, to stopping completely its signature move, Obstruct, was even shown in the trailer, but its effects are not clear. What effects do you think the move will have? Did you pick up on any other influences for the Galarian Zigzagoon line? Post your thoughts in the comments below and why not head on over to our Discord channel for even more Pokémon goodness?


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Nick Felker

I'm an engineer at Google helping the developer community build voice-first apps for the Google Assistant. In my spare time, I've been an avid Pokemon fan since Gold & Silver, and have spent many long hours walking around New York City with Pokemon Go open on my phone.