In this recurring series, I’ll analyze the origins of Pokémon designs, their culture, and their historical allusions to British culture.
Falinks is a single-stage Fighting-type Pokémon classified as the Formation Pokémon. However, a cursory look at it suggests it is really more like six Pokémon working together. Its centipede-like design breaks it out into six separate independent characters, following each other in a line. The one in front appears to be the leader, with a larger red horn, while the others have smaller horns. All of them have short bodies with stubby hands resembling shields.
Part of their design comes from the Imperial Roman Army, the land forces controlled by the Roman empire during their heyday of the early common era. The Roman Empire’s reach peaked in this period, stretching all the way through the Mediterranean and to Great Britain.
The Roman Empire did not last forever. Faced with attacks around the peripheries, as well as destabilization in Rome, the empire began to pull back its forces. In Great Britain, the Anglo-Saxons settled in their place, leading to the modern British culture.
Roman centurions were the leaders of roughly 100 soldiers, called legionaires. Soldiers wore helmets made of brass and would carry a javelin and a shield. These shields, called parmas, were round with a shield boss in the middle to deflect other shields. These centuria were made of ten contuberniums, small squads made of eight legionaries and two support staff. Each contubernium were led by a decanus, whose name was later used as the leadership position “dean”.
It should be noted that Roman military history is much more complex and these facts are only true for a fraction of the empire’s existence.
Five of them are troopers, and one is the brass. The brass’s orders are absolute.
The six of them work together as one Pokémon. Teamwork is also their battle strategy, and they constantly change their formation as they fight.
This history is used to inform the design of Falinks, who represents a contubernium of Roman legionaries. The one at the front is the decanus, and the rest of them are the soldiers in the group. Their bodies have a yellowish tint of brass, and their hands look just like parmas. Their horns look much like the galea helmets of the Romans.
They have been given the signature move No Retreat, which boosts each of its stats one stage but also prevents it from escaping. The name is inspired in part by the Battle of Jingxing in China, where the Han could not retreat and had to fight with their backs to the river to a great victory. Movies in the west, like 300 also depict ancient soldiers fighting vigorously while knowing retreat was not an option.
Falinks may in particular be based on the Legio IX Hispana, a legion in the Roman army that was stationed during occupation of Britannia. However, they disappear in the year 120 without a trace. They are the most famous Roman legion in British culture, and this mystery has led to a lot of speculative fiction.
The Roman Empire was a powerful force for many centuries, defining a lot of western culture. Their soldiers were trained effectively and were able to hold lands for a long time, including all the way in Great Britain. While we may never know what happened to the Legio IX Hispana, the influence of the contubernium who occupied the nation won’t be forgotten.
It may have been interesting to see if Falinks was originally a two-stage Pokémon, with its leadership being an evolution that was triggered by having five other base-stage Falinks in your party. Instead, its design resembles Pokémon like Exeggcute and Kangaskhan that have multiple separate individuals that are grouped together.
Either way, Falinks fits into its role very well. Its representation as a formation of multiple independent lifeforms resemble closely the designs of Roman soldiers during the early centuries although the allusions may be anachronistic.
Let us know what you think of this unique group of creatures that function as a single Pokémon in the comments below or join in the ongoing discussion Discord!
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