There are countless Pokémon fan theories. One of the most famous in Japan is that the Regis represent hibakusha—the survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings.
In Japanese, the word for an urban legend is toshi densetsu, and while this toshi densetsu is one of the more famous ones in Japan, it’s perhaps less well-known internationally. With Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl coming out next month, now seems like a suitable time to visit the theory.
The premise goes back to Ruby and Sapphire, and its three Regis—aka the Regi Trio—that appear in the game: Regirock, Regice, and Registeel.
Japanese YouTuber Kakeru recapped the theory last year, noting that as with many Pokémon locations, Ruby and Sapphire’s region, Hoenn, seems to be inspired by the real world. In this case, the Japanese island of Kyushu, pictured above in a green and white map. One of the most famous cities on the real island is Nagasaki. But, if you flip the map, the island is a good match for Hoenn.
According to the theory, the locations in which each of these three Regis are found correspond to real locations in Kyushu: Registeel in Miyazaki, Regirock in Oita, and Regice in Nagasaki. Oita was home to an important military base and was bombed heavily during the war, as was Miyazaki. The U.S. dropped a second atomic bomb on Nagasaki.
Kakeru pointed out that, according to the theory, Wailord and Relicanth, which are needed to catch the Regis, resemble the shapes of the atomic bombs Little Boy and Fat Man. Meanwhile, as noted on Reddit, in Ruby and Sapphire, there are cryptic Braille messages in the Sealed Chamber areas. One reads, “First comes Wailord. Last comes Relicanth.” Another cryptic message mentions how occupants lived in this cave, with the inference, according to the theory, that this would have provided cover during a bombing. Of course, the game doesn’t explicitly state this.
However, Japanese site Kowai Toshi Densetsu points out that in Diamond and Pearl, Regigigas (the Trio Master of the three Regis) is found Snowpoint City in the Sinnoh region. That location corresponds to Wakkanai, Hokkaido, which is home to the Monument of Peace. It’s also home to the Soya Kaikyo Navy War Memorial, which is engraved in Japanese with the pacifist message, “We must not repeat war once more.” The Regis are not that great at fighting, either, underscoring the pacifist theme, according to the theory.
Among the most obvious support for this theory is the Regis’ move set, Explosion. In Japanese, the move is daibakuhatsu or “great explosion.” Moreover, as site AniWota Wiki explains, since Gen IV, Regigigas learns the Hyper Beam at Level 89. In Japanese, the Hyper Beam is actually hakaikousen, which means, “destructive beam.” The number 89 is suggested to be a reference to August 9, which is when the U.S. dropped a nuclear bomb on Nagasaki on the island of Kyushu, the real-world model for Hoenn.
The Regis also know Ancient Power, which is genshi no chikara (げんしのちから). As explained on Reddit, the word can be written in kanji as 原始の力 (genshi no chikara), but it’s also a homophone for the word 原子の力 (genshi no chikara) or “nuclear power.”
There are several other elements that round out this theory, some of which are thinner than others, and can really feel like reaches. But is this Japanese fan theory more than that? As far as I know, Pokémon developers GameFreak have not confirmed. Kotaku reached out for comment, but did not hear back prior to publication.