Welcome back to Lorekeeper’s Logs! This series hopes to delve deep into the strangest lore of the Pokémon world and investigate the unexplained, the unanswered, and the unknown. You can find past Lorekeeper’s Logs articles here!
Sorry for the long wait, Loreseekers — like many of you, I’ve been on a Paldean adventure recently, investigating the deep and rich history of this brand-new region. Yes, Paldea is a grand tapestry of the old and the new–a region where past and future combine into something incredible. Anyone who’s paying attention at this point should be able to figure out where I’m going with this–but there’s plenty of time for that.
Despite our recent and quite abrupt introduction to time travel as a major plot point within the series in the games that came out in 2021, anyone who’s been paying attention to the franchise long enough knows that looking into the past–or, occasionally, the future–is nothing new.
Whether it’s bringing history to us, hopping through a portal to fight a grumpy mob boss in a cave, or any of other several ways, time travel is nothing new to Pokémon trainers. So what say we hop into our own time machine and look back at time travel within Pokémon? And maybe then I can jump back in time and write a more interesting introduction… But for now, let’s turn back the clock!
The Voice of the Forest
Celebi, of course, is the epitome of time travel within the series. Literally known as the “Time Travel Pokémon”, this little cutie is said to exist throughout all of time simultaneously, and only appears in eras where there is peace; its existence is inherently said to prove that a bright future still awaits us. Of course, in the games, this was all merely conjecture and Pokédex entries, until one certain event happened…
In Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver, Celebi — the mischievous little all-powerful scamp that it is — sends you back an indeterminate amount of time to confront the former boss of Team Rocket, Giovanni. While the original versions of these games imply that Team Rocket failed to contact Giovanni in the first place, HG and SS make it clear that Giovanni was about to return to his team, only to be foiled by your timely (man I’m funny) arrival. In defeating him, you manage to prevent his return, thereby allowing you to defeat Team Rocket in the future.
This is now the second article in a row where I’ve discussed the bootstrap paradox–your defeating Team Rocket in present-day Johto is what allowed you to meet Celebi, which is what allowed you to defeat Giovanni, which is what allowed you to defeat Team Rocket… It’s a nice, neat little circle, and a perfectly acceptable thing for the Time Travel Pokémon to get you into. Thanks for being so cool about this, Celebi! Sorry about what happens to you in Mystery Dungeon Explorers!
The One Above All
It wouldn’t do for us to talk about time travel Pokémon without going to Hisui/Sinnoh, the region where time and space rule supreme. While one might of course look to Dialga, the Temporal Pokémon, when thinking about this, it’s worth noting that in the main series we have never actually seen Dialga time travel–it only uses its power over time to warp reality or attack, never to actually travel. No, within this hallowed realm, our time travel comes from one a little stronger, the Alpha Pokémon, Arceus.
Pokémon Legends: Arceus spoilers ahead, you’ve been warned!
While Celebi was the first Pokémon to allow a human to time travel, Arceus took it to a bit of a ridiculous level. Catapulting the protagonist of Legends, as well as Subway Boss Ingo, for whatever obscure reason, back in time hundreds of years, Arceus kicks into motion the entire plot.
While it remains unclear at the end of the game whether this is yet another bootstrap paradox, with Rei/Akari’s saving of the region being the only reason the region exists and therefore allowing them to be born to save the region, what is definitely clear is that Arceus is absolutely taking time travel to a more ridiculous level than we’d seen at this point in the series. Between basically time-kidnapping two people, opening rifts all over Hisui, and outright making an absolute mess of things, I can safely say that Arceus is a very naughty divine horse who deserves to be put in a tiny ball for the rest of eternity. It’s not cool to mess with time like that, my guy!!
Pokémon Scarlet & Violet spoilers ahead, you’ve been warned!
Of course, if we’re talking about “messing with time”, we absolutely have to look to none other than our most recent adventure. You all know the drill by now–whichever professor has custody of Arven at the moment happens upon a time machine in Area Zero and uses it to capture Pokémon from either the past or the future (depending on their preferred flavor) to study, experiment on, and just generally cause absolute chaos with. This deeply, deeply backfires, and results in one of our first explicit human deaths in the franchise, along with the injuring of a very good boy.
The whole thing is wrapped up pretty nicely–the past Paradox Pokémon are pre-domestication and interaction with humans, and the future Paradox Pokémon are from a future where humans have modified them to our own ends into recognizable but twisted forms. Simple enough, right? Sada and/or Turo just let their scientific and personal desires get ahead of them and paid the price for it.
But, of course, there’s a question raised here. It’s glossed over a bit in the games, but it’s made clear by several lines of dialogue that the professors did not create the time machine. In fact, they can’t possibly have–Area Zero was already considered dangerous because of the Paradox Pokémon hundreds of years before Arven’s parents were even born, and both Sada and Turo’s AI successors seem to admit there’s no way they could have invented something like that. So… who did invent it? Is it from the future? The past? Space? One thing’s for sure–the DLC for this game is going to be absolutely outrageous.
Looking to the Future
Time travel is nothing new to the franchise, of course–even before any of these examples, we had fossil resurrection in Generation 1, Bill’s Time Capsule in Generation 2… The list goes on and on. Messing with time, with history and the future, is ironically a rather historical concept in Pokémon, but it is fascinating that we’ve now had two straight games with time travel as a major plot point, and potentially a DLC as well. Who knows what the future holds? Who knows what the past holds? As a Lorekeeper, these questions fascinate me, and I absolutely can’t wait to explore them with you. To 2023, Lorekeepers! To days of auld lang syne, and to many more days in the future! Let’s head into that horizon together, shall we?
What do you think about time travel within the series, or about the future DLC? Leave your own thoughts about these chronological complexities in the comments below or share them on Discord!
Next time on Lorekeeper’s Logs: I’m taking suggestions! I’d prefer to cover topics about Scarlet and Violet for now, but if anything fascinates you and you want to hear more, leave those suggestions in the comments or in my suggestions thread on the PokéJungle Discord! I look forward to hearing from you, and until next time…