in Articles by Professor Geoffrey

It’s week four of Pokémon of the Week, and we’re going strong! In acknowledgment of the one-year anniversary of HeartGold and SoulSilver, I want to do an Unova Pokémon that’s closely related to the Johto region. But the answer is simple; it’s obviously Pokémon numbers 570 and 571, Zorua and Zoroark – the Tricky Fox Pokémon and the Illusion Fox Pokémon.

As the names suggests, they are fox Pokémon, specifically the kitsune; the foxes of Inari, the god of fertility that can transform into a guy or girl at will. However, they aren’t the only Pokémon based off of the kitsune – Ninetails and Vulpix are as well. Zoroark and Zorua have a special ability only two other Pokémon have; transformation.

However, unlike Mew and Ditto, when Zorua and Zoroark transform, they cannot use their moves, nor do they retain their type. In competitive battling, this can be very handy, especially if you have a fighting type Pokémon (excluding Meditite, Medicham, and Gallade) as the last Pokémon in your party.

“To protect themselves from danger, they hide their true identities by transforming into people and Pokémon.” – Zorua’s Pokémon White PokéDex entry.

As the above PokéDex entry suggests, Zorua and Zoroark seem to transform into other beings (be it Pokémon or humans) in order to protect themselves. But why? If other Pokémon do not have this luxury of transforming into other Pokémon and humans, then why must Zorua and Zoroark transform to hide their identities?

Only one theory may explain this: the “feud” mentioned by a backpacker after catching or defeating Zoroark in Pokémon Black and White (only possible if you have the shiny legendary beasts) – the feud between it and Raikou, Entei and Suicune.

There is another possible theory, other than Charles Darwin’s evolutionary theory of survival, that explains how they got the ability to transform. In Greek mythology, there were two Titans – Prometheus and Epimetheus – charged with the duty of giving special survival skills to all of the animals and humans.

Epimetheus, Titan god of afterthought, enthralled with the animals of the world, gave out all of these skills to all of the beasts in the world. When he saw that he had forgotten about the humans, however, he begged his wise older brother Prometheus, the god of forethought, to help. Prometheus indeed did help by giving the humans the ability to think and rationalize.

In turn, Zorua and Zoroark are very smart creatures and know what to transform into in order to survive. As per Zorua’s Pokémon Black PokéDex entry, Zorua’s favorite thing to transform into is a silent child. A silent child appears innocent; therefore, the number of people and Pokémon willing to hurt that child is reduced to a very small quantity.

There is the possibility, however, that Zorua and Zoroark have a few other influences. To some people, the two Pokémon appear to have markings similar to Kabukia and Noh theater makeup. Perhaps this is because when you act a part in a play or musical, you aren’t really that person?

Some people say that the ability to use illusions in battle make Zorua and Zoroark based off of ninjas, which is very possible (even though the kitsune also fight with illusions), especially since zorro is an English word that means “dark” (in Spanish, it coincidentally also means “fox”), and ninjas are often seen in popular culture to be wearing dark clothing.

There is also suggestion that Zoroark is more wolf-like than foxlike, implying that Zoroark is actually a werewolf. There is no one that can prove this wrong; however, it can probably be debunked by the jewel that Zoroark keeps like a scrunchie. The kitsune carry these balls, or magic jewels (hoshi no tama), as one of Inari’s symbols is the jewel. This allows them to shapeshift. However, Zoroark is probably loosely based off of the kitsune, as these magic balls are typically white, and Zorua does not require one in order to shapeshift.

“Bonds between these Pokémon are very strong. It protects the safety of its pack by tricking its opponents.” – Zoroark’s Pokémon Black PokéDex entry.

Although Zoroark and Zorua are fifth generation Pokémon and have thus not had much spotlight as of yet, these Pokémon are considered to be the most well-known Pokémon of the generation next to Snivy, Oshawott, Tepig, Zekrom and Reshiram, due to their appearance in Pokémon Zoroark: Master of Illusions and their event-only status. They were also the first generation five Pokémon revealed ever; a silhouette of Zoroark was revealed on Feb. 7, 2010, making it – not its pre-evolution Zorua – the first fifth generation Pokémon ever acknowledged, despite not knowing its colors, abilities, type, name, number, et cetera.

In terms of US Pokemon cards, Zoroark can be found on a special jumbo card with “the legendary Pokémon,” even though only Dialga, Rayquaza and Groudon are visible on the card. Zorua has appeared on a card named, “Zorua and Celebi,” which allows the players playing to switch sides of the field for at least one turn.

Zoroark can be caught in the Lostlorn Forest in Pokémon Black and White if you have an event shiny Suicune, Entei and/or Raikou. Zorua can be found in a building in Castelia City in the form of a boy, waiting for you to show him an event Celbi. Zoroark can be caught at level 30, and Zorua is available at level 10, going into whichever Poké Ball you choose from your bag.

And last but not least, our weekly fun facts:

  • Zoroark and Zorua’s full forms were first revealed in the March 2010 edition of CoroCoro.
  • In the games, Zorua and Zoroark take the form of the last Pokémon in your party.
  • Zoroark is often seen as a parallel to Lucario. Both are Stage One Pokémon that have particular bonds with certain legendary Pokémon; Celebi and Mew, respectively. Both are canids (Zorua and Zoroark are foxes, Riolu and Lucario are jackals), and both have been thought to resemble werewolves. They both are in the Ground egg group and need 1,059,860 experience points in order to reach level 100. Coincidentally, they both are based off of fighters; Zorua and Zoroark, as mentioned earlier in this article, are based on ninjas, and Riolu and Lucario are based on boxers.
  • Zorua and Zoroark are the only Pokémon that can learn Night Daze other than Smeargle via Sketch.
  • In Master of Illusions, Zoroark’s name is Meema, and is Zorua’s mother. Also in this movie, Zorua has the innate ability to use telepathy (cue Brock’s typical, “It’s telepathy!” moment).
  • Zoroark seems to resemble a certain Kingdom Hearts II Pureblood Heartless; Dark Thorn.

Here’s a question though; if, according to Professor Rowan’s evolutionary theory, Pokémon emit a special energy when evolving, do Zorua and Zoroark emit something similar when they transform? What about Mew and Ditto when they transform?

To celebrate the coming spring season, the next Pokémon of the Week will be Deerling and Sawsbuck!

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