I've said more than once that modern Pokemon media is excellent at showing us a world where the lives of humans and Pokemon are entwined. 2016's Pokemon Sun and Moon gave us Alola, a tropical paradise where Pokemon work with humans to build, travel, and farm. The bond is still tight in Pokemon Sword and Shield, where Pokemon and humans continue to thrive with each other's help.
The series of Pokemon: Twilight Wings animated shorts only recently kicked off on YouTube, and it's already treating us to in-depth examples of humans and Pokemon depending on each other. In the latest episode that went up today, Pokemon Sword's Fighting-type Gym Leader, Bea, is forced to turn to her Pokemon for physical and emotional support after a training session goes very wrong.
It's a short video—about six minutes, all told—and doesn't exactly offer a deep psychological examination of a Pokemon's thought process. Still, the animation is another welcome example of Game Freak illustrating how the link between people and Pokemon runs deeper than the universe's fighting culture. Twilight Wings is also proof Game Freak has lots of cool stuff it wants to tell us about the Galar Region, and it's happy to let fans pursue more detailed bits of Pokemon's story on their own terms.
In the second episode of Twilight Wings, Bea loses a match to the Galar champion, Leon, and retreats to the Wild Area for training. Bea, always the serious and stone-faced trainer, gets a little intense while she spars with her Machop, Machoke, and Machamp. She pushes herself to the limit, refusing to eat or rest, and forces her Pokemon to run themselves ragged as well.
Unsurprisingly, Bea soon injures herself badly. Worse, a landslide traps her and her Pokemon in a barren cave with seemingly no other exit. Bea is forced to slow down and clear her mind in hopes of coming up with a solution. A solution presents itself—and so does some valuable hindsight. Bea realizes she's treated her Pokemon poorly, and she'll never beat anyone if she continues down her path of self-destruction. She apologizes to her team, and they accept the apology because I guess it'd be too weird if they all walked out on her or something.
Again, the second episode of Twilight Wings isn't even deep enough to submerge a Tynamo, but it's a nice little distraction that adds a splash of color and character to the Galar region. These shorts also help beef up Pokemon Sword and Shield's story, which some fans feel is thin compared to Sun and Moon. Last year, I argued Game Freak simply opted to tell us about Sword and Shield's plot and characters through less obvious means. Twilight Wings might be another example of Game Freak moving the bulk of its Pokemon storytelling offshore.
Does it work? I think so. I prefer keeping a game's story in-game, but I'm also an established RPG fan who doesn't mind having characters yap at me. The Pokemon fandom practically encompasses Earth; despite the series' classic RPG roots, not every Pokemon fan is an RPG fan. They want to catch Pokemon, not read a novel.
We can look forward to a new episode of Pokemon: Twilight Wings every month until the Summer—which is incidentally when the first bit of Pokemon Sword and Shield DLC drops. If you're a Pokemon fan, the shorts are worth your time. They're short, they're sweet, they contain some good character development, and they let you see a more human side of the Pokemon universe.