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Alchemical Symbols In The Designs Of The Starter Evolutionary Lines


Well-Known Member
Pretty sure everyone is familiar with the Alolan starter's alchemical symbol inspirations and this image below by now:

Rowlet's body shape and bowtie or beak makes up the symbol for salt, Litten's eyes and markings are the symbol for sulfur, and Popplio's body shape, when standing, looks like the symbol for mercury.
These were the only notably obvious and widely known ones, so I decided to take a jab at finding any other alchemical symbols or variants in the later evolutionary lines.

Rowlet Line:
The Rowlet line seems to be based on minerals and standard metal elements. Their alchemical signs seems to be integrated into their main weapon and/or posture when readying for attack. (For Rowlet, it can be its beak or its general shape and bowtie.)
Interesting side note: this evolutionary line has leaves on their backs that split with each evolution.

Starting with Dartrix (the hardest to attempt to figure out). His main alchemical symbol may be based on the alchemical symbol for tin. The hair-shaped leaves may be based on the symbol for silver and the moon, which fits with its design as a barn owl, a nocturnal species of owls.

Decidueye seems to be based on the alchemic symbols for iron. The markings on its face may be based on either an inverted symbol for arsenic, another symbol for silver, or both. The beak may have been chosen to form the symbol for silver to follow the possible Silver motif from Dartrix's "hair" leaves.

Very interesting side note: The element of silver is synonymous with the Moon. The moon is thought to be connected to spirits in alchemy and different cultures. In alchemy, it is seen representing the "Spiritus" section on the Azoth Mandala. Decidueye is a Ghost-type and learns "Spirit" Shackle. The Moon-based inspirations may be another reason for its typing.

Litten Line:
The Litten evolutionary line's designs are based on the element sulfur and its derivatives. Their alchemical symbols are formed from their markings and accessories.

Torracat features an alternate alchemical symbol for sulfur, while also forming the previously-noted sulfur symbol. The collar tag/bell forms the symbol for gold and the Sun, which are seen as being warm and "filled with masculine energy"; perfect fit for this line. The cross-like symbol on its back resembles a double-barred cross, double dagger, or diesis. They don't hold any significance, it's mostly a typographical symbol. In Torracat's case, likely to keep it stylistically consistent.

Incineroar's belt and "abs" appear to form one of the many alchemical symbols for vitriol, which, again, is the archaic name for sulfate. Like Torracat, he also features sulfur symbol from Litten, but with the added bonus of looking like the Kanji character for "big, great"; same Japanese character composing the Fire Blast move. (An alternate symbol for gold has yet to be found in the design.)
Credit to JWNutz on DeviantART for finding this.
Original link:https://www.deviantart.com/jwnutz/journal/Litten-Evolution-thing-626532206


Popplio Line:
The Popplio line seems to be based off of, ironically, toxic heavy metals. (Especially with a final evolution that's fairy type and a soloist. This just screams for some Aggretsuko-Primarina mashup fanart.)
The Popplio line uses their body shapes, in certain positions, to resemble their alchemical symbols.

Brionne's design may be based on the symbol for "red lead", or what is now called minium (lead tetroxide). In the Middle Ages, Minium was actually used as a cheaper alternative for cinnabar, a mercury sulfide, in the production of vermilion pigments. It could also be based on the mercury symbol or variation of said symbol.

Brionne's head shape may also be based on the symbol for platinum, the element was believed to be an amalgamation of gold (sun) and silver (moon), which is where its symbol from. Platinum is representative of eclipses, and is thus a mixture of both the masculine and feminine energy of the sun and moon, respectively.

Primirina's general depictions match up to the symbols for lead. The heart-shaped tail may correlate to the vitriol written about on Dartrix's section.
Note: Primarina's hair on her in-game model stays in the same relative position and shape, so it appears in-game as nearly identical as it is on the concept art.

Do note, if you want to verify that these symbols are real, you aren't going to find all of these symbols from a single Google search. This is archaic chemistry we're talking about, most of the deeper stuff won't be as readily available online.

Harder-to-find symbols:

  • The vitriol symbol in Dartrix's section. (Nearly non-existent, overshadowed by other vitriol symbol variations.)
  • Decidueye's arsenic symbol (Practically non-existent on Google images. There are no cleanly drawn black-and-white versions images; the best you'll find is a handrawn version being used for t-shirts.)
  • Incineroar's vitriol symbol (It's there, it just gets overshadowed by other vitriol symbols.)
  • Brionne's "red lead" symbol (Finding this was slightly difficult. Similar to arsenic, no standard black-and-white images.)

For anybody who doubts this theory:
Why would Game Freak drop the alchemy motif after they applied it the the first stage? Litten clearly has one of the symbols of sulfur as its markings.
The legendaries even played along with the idea for alchemy-based inspirations. Steel/Physchic for Solgaleo instead of Fire? Necrozma being a prism Pokemon with a star on it's back?
In alchemy, the sun was thought to be made of molten metal and is commonly depicted with a lion devouring it; Boom, Solgaleo. The Azoth Mandala sports a Sun, a moon, and... a prism surrounded by five stars. Solgaleo, Lunala, and Necrozma; they're a trio.

Considering the theories revolving the designs for the other starters, it's not too outlandish. People go on about Unova's starters being based on empires and stuff, Sinnoh being based on mythological figures and legends, and Kanto being reptiles or engineered animals. Alchemically-based starters isn't too much of a stretch.
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Veteran member
Like you said, it might be tying in and foreshadowing the mascot legendaries. Type: Null and Silvally are also important Pokemon in the game, and they are alchemic chimeras


Well-Known Member
Yeah, there's a lot of alchemical influences in the recent games. The starter designs, the legendaries and their many inspirations regarding alchemy, Type:Null & Silvally, like you said, are chimeras, and the Aether Foundation. Aether just so happens to be an element in alchemy.

ORAS also had PROJECT AZOTH, which is named after Azoth, "the universal solvent" and was apparently, maybe, probably... mercury. (Everything about Azoth is pretty vague, but apparently it is supposed to be really important and apparently perfect knowledge and stuff while also being mercury.)
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Young Battle Trainer
These are just coincidences brought on by Lockstin's theory which has been debunked.


Well-Known Member
These are just coincidences brought on by Lockstin's theory which has been debunked.

Yeah, Lockstin's megatheory did boil down to being a fancy crackpot theory, but it was still fun and thought-provoking.
Despite being wrong on most of the plot-related subject matter, he did go through a lot of interesting possible and blatant inspirations for some of the game elements. Just because he wasn't completely right doesn't mean that he was completely wrong.

Despite him being mostly wrong on some points in his theory, a lot of this generation does, in fact, borrow from alchemy for its inspirations:
  • Team Aether is named after Aether, the fifth alchemical element; foundation's symbol loosely resembles a symbol for Aether: two overlapping triangles. (Alchemically, the four elements are represented using up-facing or down-facing triangles; the symbol for aether follows suit on that.)
  • Solgaleo and, possibly, Lunala's typing being based around alchemical/mystical beliefs of the sun and moon: The Sun being made of metal, and the Moon being strongly connected to spirits or a spirit world. (Solgaleo's ability name might also be Game Freak's playful reference to Full Metal Alchemist)
  • Necrozma has a design based around prisms and stars, things that are found on the bottom of the Azoth Mandala, which also includes a sun and moon on the opposite edges of the inverted triangle. Necrozma just so happens to be in a trio with Solgaleo and Lunala.
  • The "three alchemical primaries" are salt, sulphur, and mercury apparently connections in alchemy to earth, fire, and water, respectively. Matching up with the typing of the three starters. Even without alchemy, salt is a mineral and can be attributed to being "earthier" than the other two; sulfur is found in volcanic areas and has a lot of attributes that could match up with fire; and, under standard conditions, mercury is the liquid at room temprature.
I was trying to find some more solid connections for themes. Most of this analysis on the starter evolutions was to provoke some discussion on the possible themes and inspirations of the starter evolutions. There was stuff on the inspirations surrounding the base evolutions, but practically nobody even looked into the later evolutions.
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