Is This Pokémon Couple as Suggestive in Japanese?


On Twitter, a reader named Maxime asked about a peculiar Pokémon battle in Pokémon HeartGold / SoulSilver:

For reference, the image in question was basically this:

My first time playing this game sure is memorable!

For context, this is a lovey-dovey couple that you encounter on Route 47. And, as you might notice, their Pokémon combination seems a bit… symbolic.

Anyway, after doing some quick searching and hacking, I jumped to this part in the Japanese game and checked it out:

Gotta catch 'em all! (insert your own joke here because you know what I'd probably say otherwise)

So, nope, this wasn’t the localizers having fun – it was in the original game! I think I’d actually be shocked if the localizers had done this; if anything, I would’ve expected them to change it ever-so-slightly somehow, based on past findings such as this and this 😛

For further reference, here’s what one of these characters says before battle:

The ocean is full of gunk and monsters thoughThe ocean is full of gunk and monsters though

Eda: My heart’s feelings for my boyfriend are as wide and deep as the ocean.

And in Japanese:

Oh myOh my

Umi: I want to always wrap my boyfriend with a wide, deep, and big heart!

I’ve heard that a Japanese Game Freak interview once mentioned that they like to include things in games that kids won’t notice but will come to understand once they do grow up. I haven’t looked into seeing if this interview or mention really happened, but this sort of playfulness isn’t uncommon in Japanese entertainment – here’s Ted Woolsey talking about this in relation to Final Fantasy IV a few decades ago, in fact:

Hey it's that guy from those games

This also does remind me a lot of Shigesato Itoi’s approach with certain aspects of MOTHER 3. I don’t know a whole lot about Pokémon, though, so take all of this however you want!

If you liked what I've covered here and know any other fans of Pokemon, I hope you'll share it with them. Thanks for your help!
  1. Rusty Shackleford

    That’s pretty strange.

  2. I wouldn’t’ve expect any actual gameplay changes to come from a localisation.
    And, uhh, I never even noticed Cloyster’s uncanny resemblance before.

    1. It does happen from time to time – FFIV is a good example of game changes, as is EarthBound Zero. As for enemies that have been replaced with other enemies, I’m sure it’s happened but right now I’m drawing a blank.

      1. I remember Working Designs did this a lot, for good (a few of their mechanical changes are big improvements) or ill (they broke at least one game doing them)

        1. What game did they break?

          1. Silhouette Mirage.

            1. Oh, right. I think I sorta heard about that.

    2. Also I believe in Pokemon G/S/C, one trainer that had all pokemon with “king” in their name had to have his Magikarp switched out (its Japanese name is “Koiking”) to retain his theme. (I don’t remember what it was switched to, but I believe he also had a Seaking.)

      1. Right, they changed the Magikarp to a Seaking. The change didn’t stick in the remakes, probably to kept the fact dude randomly now had a level 65 Magikarp. The rest of his team is still level 29.

  3. Oh wow, this. Part of me wants to say its a coincidence, but trainers like these usually have some sort of theme going on with the Pokémon sent out…

    Also, wow, there are quite a few Pokémon articles on here. I wonder why its such a popular subject.

    1. Yeah, it’s definitely one of my most-requested games to look and the series that gets the most Q&A submissions.

    2. It is a very popular game series after all. 😛

      Yeah, I feel the same way about the article though. Intended or no, though, someone picked up on the meaning either way.

  4. Um, never noticed that one before. O_o

  5. Aww, they look so adorable! :3

  6. Bahahahahahahaha I don’t remember that! Very funny Game Freak.

  7. And they’re both male!

  8. I never would’ve thought that was “suggestive” in any way until now. I guess some people just need to get their minds out of the gutter.

  9. The Cloyster’s not female?
    Someone dropped the ball. (hurr puberty joke)

  10. I’ve seen this come up before, on a Talk Page on Bulbapedia if memory serves. As I recall, they refused to add it as trivia since it seemed to them to be merely coincidental or something, not intended to be suggestive in any way. I think it’s a bit silly to see it that way, but if people want to, hey, I won’t stop them. What goes on in their mind is their business. Me, I’ll just shrug and move on, heh.
    But hey, there’s worse possibilities, so I won’t judge too much. XD

    1. While searching Japanese resources I came across a number of other assumed instances of the developers inserting this sort of humor into the game. I forget all the details off the top of my head, I’ll have to research it another time. All I vaguely recall right now is something about obvious ball jokes everywhere, something about something in another couple’s garbage can, possibly something about a miniskirt girl, and I forget the rest.

      1. Heck, even the anime intro in Japan (season 1 specifically) supposedly has lyrics talking about searching for Pocket Monsters “even under girl’s skirts”. So I guess this is hardly a new thing, heh.
        Though there was an unofficial strategy guide for Red/Blue/Yellow I recall that included a line talking about the shop in Lavender Town (if memory serves, at least, but some town’s shop, anyway). “They’ve got Great Balls! (Stop laughing, you pervert!)” Let’s just say that I didn’t get it when I was that age…heh. XD

  11. I saw this on your Twitter feed yesterday and was confused as to what this guy was talking about, but now looking at the proper comparison side-by-side… :3

    That’s hilarious, though part of me wants to preserve whatever shred of innocence I have left and assume it’s just a coincidence. Augh! Who knew the people at Game Freak were such perverts?! Guess that explains the name then 😛

    I wonder if there’s any 4-koma made in the Japanese web realm that poke fun at this and other jokes in the series? I can imagine its layout right now: the 1st panel basically being the game screen (same as at the top of this page) introducing the couple, the 2nd panel having the Pokéballs release the 2 Pokémon, the 3rd one having Onix and Cloyster shadowing over and facing the player (with game stats overlayed on the left side), and the last panel having the player character with a dark grim face and a huge sweat drop. At least that’s how I’d imagine things would go 😛

  12. Wow… Just looking at the pics, I didn’t get the suggestiveness on this for a good while. Took some time to sink in.

    What I found interesting instead is that the couple’s name is “Mountain and Sea”, with Pokémon to match!

  13. For the record, here’s the dialog leading up the battle:

    1. Thanks, I updated the post with the pre-battle stuff for further context!

  14. You already looked at a bit of it, but the new X and Y games are FULL of this kind of stuff. Right from the start of the game, there’s the implication that the local Pokemon professor sent your mother a saucy love letter. And it just keeps going!

    One of the best bits is in the big hotel in the game’s Paris expy, Lumiose City. You can work in the hotel part-time, and one of the things you have to do is make the beds. VERY few of the descriptors you get on the state of the beds can’t be taken in some suggestive way. They’re soaking wet (oh my), drenched in perfume (ohh myy), and chewed straight through (ooh mmyyyy). There’s also one joke in there that kids are liable to get: The bed looks like it’s had lemonade spilled on it. Lemonade. Sure. Let’s go with that.

  15. I just looked up their movesets; sadly, they don’t have any confirmatory suggestive moves:

    Admit it. You were hoping the Onix had Harden and Explosion.

  16. And yet it’s a male Cloyster… maybe this wasn’t intentional after all.

  17. Rusty Shackleford

    Where could I submit Q & A?

    1. You can contact me here:

      For Q&As, though, I have a 200+ backlog, so it helps immensely if you can provide screenshots and videos already. I really ought to make a Q&A submission page, I just realized my contact page doesn’t really talk about it, oops.

  18. Opinionated Vector Chimera

    Game Freak, more like Shame Freak.

  19. Considering how 4Kids-level they treat Pokemon localizations, it’s good they left this stuff alone…at least for older players. Kids wouldn’t get these comments unless they happen to know about relationships (and considering the youngest age groups who play the series, they shouldn’t know a thing about them).

  20. The original Gold and Silver did do some party editing for localization, actually. There’s a Poke Fan somewhere in Kanto who has a team consisting of Pokemon with the word “king” in their names – the first two are Nidoking and Slowking in both versions, but the third was originally a Magikarp (Koiking in Japanese). For Gold and Silver, the localizers caught on to the theme and changed the Magikarp to a Seaking, but HeartGold and SoulSilver have him use a Magikarp like in the originals.

    1. Right, this is mentioned above. The trainer kept his Magikarp in the remakes because it’s freaking level 65 now.

  21. Is it worth mentioning that Umi is a possible reading for 海/ocean?

    1. Someone mentioned it already. The couple’s names are 山(mountain) and 海(ocean).

      1. Ahh, I must have completely missed it. Thanks.

  22. I personaly think that it would be a complete innuendo if the Cloyster was female:
    wet female pokémon + rockhard male pokémon.

    Don’t worry, I will kick myself out.

  23. Regarding the playfulness that is removed in translated games – there actually IS a lot of American media that does this kind of thing. Just in a different way.

    For example, Shrek is enjoyable by both kids and adults, yet it has the obvious (to adults) grown-up joke here and there. Another good example of this is Animaniacs, where a joke is made about fingerprints/finger Prince (the singer) and similar occasional jokes like those. The jokes are almost never visual but purely expressed through language, though.

  24. If only this had been a Triple Battle…Cloyster/Onix/Cloyster, in that order…oh well.

  25. Of course, those people on imgur have to make nasty jokes. :/

    1. Yea unfortunately people always make everything perverted in some way.. even worse when young kid characters are involved.