Last week we went over Generation I games and color theory, and after some thought processing we came to conclusion that RED and BLUE are the best primary colors to represent duality, just like BLACK and WHITE. Awesome, isn’t it?
Well, not to burst your bubble, but we just rediscovered a concept that’s been around for at least TWO AND A HALF THOUSAND years. Gee, aren’t we clever?!
Some of you may already have some idea of what I’m going to talk about, but those who don’t – fasten your seatbelts, this will get crazy at some turns.
CHAPTER 2: “TAEGEUK AND TAIJITU. WAIT, WHAT KIND OF COLOR IS CRYSTAL?”
Now what the hell, sounds like moonspeak to some probably. Will you be surprised if I told you that all of you know what those two are? Or if you don’t know what they are, you have SURELY seen them AT LEAST once in your lifetime? Still nothing? Well, let me jog your memory:
Still, though the one on the right is definitely something you all know, the one on the left is not so popular. No, it’s not the Pepsi logo. It’s part of the South Korean flag.
What exactly are taegeuk and taijitu? Those two are the symbols representing the concept of TAIJI – SUPREME ULTIMATE and they’re old as hell. I’m aware I may be still speaking riddles to some, so I’ll explain right away.
Supreme Ultimate is grounded on two principles, DUALITY and POLARITY. Duality is a philosophical concept that describes the order of the universe by using two forces (those can be seen as 2 deities, 2 groups of deities, 2 moral principles, etc.). Polarity then states, that those two forces are OPPOSITE to each other, yet EQUAL and COMPLEMENTARY, meaning that one can’t exist without the other. And apparently, this duality is all that’s needed to describe pretty much every phenomenom in the universe. We will go through some examples in a minute. So far, so good, but what does it have to do with Pokemon?
Well, only EVERYTHING?
What if I were to tell you, that all the main Pokemon games you’ve played so far, the paired versions of every Generation, all stay true to those principles? And not just on the surface, by using RED and BLUE or BLACK and WHITE as the version colors. The franchise follows this philosophical concept PASSIONATELY, deep underneath the covers. In a way, you’ve been served exactly the same design concept for VI generations, only in different flavours (well, V actually, as gen I was a bit messy on that part, as presented last week).
So how exactly does Taijitu and Taegeuk translate to Pokemon? We will go over it in detail for every generation, but now we will agree on some general guidelines for understanding Taiji.
“Taiji is understood to be the highest conceivable principle, that from which existence flows”. The supreme ultimate “divides”, or gives birth to yang and yin. Those two are contrary, yet interconnected and interdependent. One gives rise to another, over and over again. The easiest way to describe the two is to call yang “movement”, and yin “tranquility”. This interaction between yin and yang, when seen as a whole, is taiji, and taiji is understood to have INFINITE POTENTIAL withing the boundary of itself. We branch from there and apply this association to almost everything we can think of. Then we get the extremes:
and so on, and so on… remember, those are only the EXTREMES, they don’t matter on their own. They can only exist as concept when we take the opposite one into account. They must always be in balance. But how does this principle even work in real life? Here are some examples:
We have a seed buried in the ground. That’s YIN
The seed sprouts and grows upward toward the sky. That’s YANG
Then when it reaches the extreme of its growth, the seed falls back into the ground. That’s YIN again.
At the same time, when we look at the plant as a whole, it requires both YIN and YANG to grow – its roots are in the ground, in the darkness, while its leaves are above it, seeking light.
YIN nourishes, sustains and controls YANG and the other way around.
That being said, in every generation, 2 paired versions create the “supreme ultimate” when together, while when separate, they’re two opposites – one being yin, the other being yang. How are they represented thorough the series? Well, care to guess?
Yes. With RED and BLUE. ALL. THE. TIME.
Then, somewhere along the way, GREEN and YELLOW came into the equation, and I’ll tell you how it all fits together. We will get back to the concept of taiji constantly thorough this article, just like the color theory.
We covered the Taijitu and Taegeuk, now let’s take care of… Crystal. In the last part I went over how GameFreak made the first generation a real mess. They realized that themselves, and so they tried to fix the issue in the second generation. “No more 3 starters for 2 version mascots!”. What do we do, then? Limit the choice to 2 starters, or make THREE versions of the game instead? Neeeither, we think out of the box and use something way better than starters for version mascots – legendaries. They’re much more presentable, elegant, unique and majestic. It’s not a new concept, we had that in Generation I (although not really in equal duos), so this time we will just alter the formula slightly and create TWO main legendaries, each representing one game.
Sounds perfect, right? Yeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaah, not really. It would be perfect if they stopped there.
GOLD and SILVER are perfect extensions of RED and BLUE. Silver plays the role of Blue and is the cold, dark, spiritual/abstract (they even called the remake Soul Silver). It’s the Yin of Generation II. Gold on the other hand is the Red version, warm, bright, organic (Heart Gold). It’s even reflected in their legendary mascots (Lugia bears blue, Ho-oh red) and original logos (the ones in the west fucked it up, but redeemed themselves with Heart Gold/Soul Silver logos)
It was very well thought out design-wise. Staying true to the RED/BLUE formula, while still presenting something fresh in the form of GOLD and SILVER. Then Game Freak got the evil idea.
We should make a third, upgraded version.
Gee, great move in your development schedule! Too bad you didn’t think about it from the start, because now it won’t fit, no matter how hard you try. You have only 2 legendary mascots, Celebi is out of the question (it has no relation to the two, and it’s a Mew-like, extremely rare legendary). Color theory wise, you can only use green – the history/culture association is prevalent in Generation II games, so science/nature “yellow” doesn’t fit here, unless the third mascot is somewhat equal to the previous two. Then the situation is reversed. Well, too bad, we have no such mascot.
Let’s improvise this time! Pick Suicune, for whatever reason, merge RED and BLUE into PURPLE and call it Crystal. Most people won’t notice that we pulled it out of our butt, and next time we will totally get it right!
And they did. They finally managed to plan it out in advance in the third generation and finally established a pattern that they will follow in every following generation. That’s not the end, however, as some interesting patterns are embedded in the simple idea of 2 paired versions + 1 upgraded version. This we will talk about in the next part of this article, though.