Today, just out of curiosity, I decided that I wanted to see what the six remaining animals were in the Chinese zodiac. I've long bought into the idea that the fire-type starters are based off of it, so I was interested to know what was left for future generations of Pokemon. In doing so, I noticed that there are a lot of people out there who claim that this is a "theory," or that it's been "debunked."
Look, I'm well aware that Cyndaquil evolutionary line aren't rats, and I did just recently learn that foxes are not part of the Canis genus, but are instead a part of the Vulpes genus (hence, Vulpix), meaning they are not "dogs." I guess that means that Gamefreak is not following the Chinese zodiac! Ha!
Well, that is true - to a point. They're not strictly following the Chinese zodiac. Rather, they are using it as a - and I'm going to use a big word, here - "guide." If you're unfamiliar with what this word means, consult your friendly dictionary. Or jump off a cliff.
All sarcasm aside, Gamefreak uses the Chinese zodiac as a guideline for their fire-type starters. This doesn't mean that everything that they create will need to strictly follow the zodiac; Pokemon is a franchise that is founded more on myth and perception than it is cold, hard facts, and, as such, they are free to take any liberties for their designs that they wish. We're talking about something that is built upon imagination and folklore more than it is scientific research.
Let's look at the two biggest examples that "dispel" this "theory." First, Cyndaquil is not a rat. No, it's not. Of course it isn't; to think otherwise would be absurd. Do you know what it is, though? It's a needle mouse. Although there are obvious differences between mice and rats, they are connected by the fact that they are both rodents. The Cyndaquil line was also released the next generation after the Rattata line, so going back to a "rat" evolutionary line probably didn't seem appealing. So, they turned "rat" into "mouse." BFD.
Second, there's the Fennekin evolutionary line. "BUT BOB, FOXES AREN'T DOGS LULZ!!!!!11" From a classification standpoint, which, in itself, is based upon genetics and biological fact, this is absolutely true. Do you know what else is true? Dogs and foxes are share an incredible amount of traits, both behaviorally and morphologically, resulting in most people making a mental connection between the two different animals naturally. This fact has resulted in experiments that have domesticated foxes, so that they behave like - wait for it - dogs (as a side note, I find the story behind that statement incredibly fascinating; you can find out more about here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domesticated_silver_fox).
What Gamefreak is doing is called "artistic license." When you're designing something specifically to be creative or stylized, you're to bend, twist, embellish, distort, warp, or do whatever else you need to obtain the desired effect. This is seen in poetry, narratives, or any other type of art. For example, in music, when a singer rhymes two words that wouldn't normally rhyme by slightly changing the sound of one of the words (e.g. "rain" and "again").
Bottom line: until Gamefreak releases a new core series game that has a fire-type starter that has absolutely no connection to an animal represented on the Chinese zodiac, it is decidedly clear that they're basing the fire-type starters off of it. There's no "theory," no "myth"; they're taking liberties. Deal with it.
"When I said that I was lying, I might have been lying." -Elvis Costello FC: 0447-5638-5355
That one's stupid, too. The key (well, only) piece of evidence is what Blue says at the Pokemon Tower fight. Clearly no one who believes this theory went and checked what he said. Courtesy of Bulbapedia:
- Before battle
"Hey, <player>! What brings you here? Your Pokémon don't look dead! I can at least make them faint! Let's go, pal!"
- After being defeated
"How's your Pokédex coming, pal? I just caught a Cubone! I can't find the grown-up Marowak yet! I doubt there are any left! Well I better get going! I've got a lot to accomplish, pal! Smell ya later!"
There you have it, folks. He was in the tower looking for Cubone and Marowak, ran across you and left. And he boxed Raticate because it sucks.
3DS FC: 2707-1832-0432 (Sid) Statement: Just a simple droid here, ma'am. Nothing to see. Move along.