Have you ever noticed, how Lugia and Ho-oh as a pair are… really weird? Especially compared to future legendary version mascots. Looking at Groudon and Kyogre, those two perfectly represent whatever their games are named after, same goes for Dialga and Palkia, Reshiram and Zekrom, Xerneas and Yveltal. Lugia and Ho-oh, on the other hand… they just don’t work with each other that well.
Other than being “birds” (and the word bird is a big stretch in Lugia’s case), flying creatures, they don’t have that much in common, there’s no common ground between them in terms of design. Groudon and Kyogre have the similar markings on their bodies, the yellow eyes and the set of murder teeth.
Dialga and Palkia work with each other well, they both look like some advanced machines, one to travel through time, the other through space. They both have a reference to their respective games incorporated into their design, Dialga’s diamond shaped crest and Palkia’s pearly pauldrons. Also, much like Groudon and Kyogre, they have the same ugly face and those red, tiny eyes. You can see right away that they form a duo.
Reshiram and Zekrom, following the duality theme of their games, look completely opposite at first glance due to their coloration, but they have more in common than one may think. Their body structure is very similar, their eyes, the wing placement and the most important of all: their tails. They both have tails that generate some kind of energy, either heat (in Reshiram’s case) or electricity based (in Zekrom’s case). As you can see, even though they’re vastly different, they still work great as a duo, they still reference each other (red eyes of Zekrom to Reshiram’s flames and blue eyes of Reshiram to Zekrom’s bolts of lightning) and stay integral design-wise. They’re the closest to yin and yang that Pokemon can get.
The newest addition, Xerneas and Yveltal, are more subtle than the previous bunch. You could miss their connection if you saw them apart and knew nothing about their names, but as soon as you realize that Xerneas is a walking X and Yveltal is a flying Y, you catch the drift instantly. Xerneas being the X axis, runs horizontally, while Yveltal, being the Y axis, can be seen flying vertically. Opposite coloration, as in the case of Groudon and Kyogre or Reshiram and Zekrom, but still nearly half of their bodies are both black. The connection between them goes even deeper, but that is something I’ll leave for another article, as it’s too much to talk about here.
Going back to Lugia and Ho-oh, where lies THEIR connection? They MUST be connected somehow with each other, right? There must be some THEME to them, something that other legendary version mascots all have. Care to guess what that might be?
Now, now, before you call me crazy, I’ll throw in more fuel to the fire: their coloration is the primary aspect that gives them a THEME. Now let me explain.
So vastly different, much like Reshiram and Zekrom, yet without any common elements between the two. But when you analyze their coloration, you can find something interesting. They are, in some way, reversed. While Lugia is mostly white, with bluish belly and very dark “eyelashes” and “feathers”, Ho-oh is vivid and colorful, the only part of it white being its belly. But that’s not enough, is it? We still don’t see the THEME behind them.
What about the names of their games, GOLD and SILVER? Does that work? Not so much.
While Ho-oh DOES have some gold elements, like its feathers, beak and headcrest, it’s still more RED than GOLD. There’s even green in there, for no real reason (?). Lugia speaks no silver at all either. Mostly white, with darker BLUE here and there. Doesn’t make much sense, does it?
No, it makes perfect sense.
Lugia is, in a sense, monochromatic. It’s got only two colors to its name, white and blue. In a way, that’s just 3 different shades of blue. Shadow Lugia accents on that even more, being Lugia in NEGATIVE. Ho-oh, is the opposite of that, it’s vivid, it’s colorful, it has THE FULL palette to its name. Green, Blue, Yellow, Red, you can get any color from that.
Gold and Silver made the first big leap in the Pokemon Franchise, the jump from monochromatic GameBoy screen to the colorful, vivid GameBoy Color. It’s just fitting to symbolize that, somehow, no? Lugia comes before Ho-oh in the national dex, that may be one of the reasons (though the reason is different, but that will be explained in “You played Red and Blue all along!”).
Lugia represents the past of the series, the monochromatic GameBoy screen, Ho-oh is the bright future, the vivid colors ahead of it.
That can be supported even further by the fact that, despite being Generation II Pokemon, Lugia has more connection to Generation I, being a trio master of the Kanto legendary birds. Hell, it’s even Psychic type, the strongest thing Generation I had to offer (but that has no real meaning).
Generation II is like a direct sequel to Generation I. In the whole history of the franchise, that was the only time where 1 generation could be considered a sequel to another. We got Black 2/White 2 later, but that was during the same generation. In a way, you could mash up the whole dex of Generation I and II and crown Lugia as the version mascot of Generation I and Ho-oh as the version mascot of Generation II, and it would work perfectly. Lugia belongs to the GameBoy era, while Ho-oh is the master of GameBoy Color.
This kind of symbolism and allusions to the current state of the series didn’t die with Generation II. It returned in Generation IV, when Pokemon finally conquered SPACE and TIME, making it possible to connect with everyone around the globe, in different time zones, and even transfer your Pokemon into the future generations. It came back once again in Generation VI, the current generation, when the series made the leap into 3D and decided to call itself X and Y.
One can now wonder how the franchise will evolve in the future. Will we get another big leap and be able to play Pokemon in virtual reality environment? Will we finally get an MMO that so many people crave? There’s no way to know, but one thing you can be sure of: GameFreak will reflect that big change in their games. It’s what they love to do.