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SITPW: Celebi

Anime Psyclone

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Science In The Pokemon World. I didn’t deliver one Tuesday, so you only get one this week. But it’s on the adorable little Celebi.

In terms of appearance, it looks like a tiny green nature spirit. The strangest thing about Celebi is it’s time traveling powers. And I looked and looked, but there did not seem to be a reason for it. Possibly it’s because of some sort of fairy magic, but it’s strange.

Celebi is cute and powerful, but strange. And while today’s SITPW may be short, I did as much digging as I could.
 

Maniacal Engineer

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While I am not sure why Game Freak chose to have the Forest Guardian Pokemon having time traveling powers, it's Psychic typing does lend itself well to time traveling.

After all, psychics are known for being able to both see the past and the present, even in the Pokemon games, the Psychic trainers often make comments about seeing the player's past or future. Celebi just takes it one step further, by actually visiting those times.

I can speculate as to why a Pokemon with as deep roots and ties to nature like Celebi would be given temporal powers. As is always with the cycle of nature, Spring comes around, the flowers bloom. Summer comes and the fruits ripen. Autumn comes, and the leaves die. Winter comes and wipes the slate clean so that spring can come again and begin the cycle of rebirth.
Natural is as eternal as time itself. Like k said, just speculations.

It is important to distinguish between the power of Celebi, to travel between times, and Dialga, who can slow down, stop, or fast forward time, essentially altering time itself.
The former, and idiot with a box and screwdriver can do.
The latter shows much more of a direct control over time. Hence why Dialga is considered the master of time, and not Celebi.
 

Anime Psyclone

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While I am not sure why Game Freak chose to have the Forest Guardian Pokemon having time traveling powers, it's Psychic typing does lend itself well to time traveling.

After all, psychics are known for being able to both see the past and the present, even in the Pokemon games, the Psychic trainers often make comments about seeing the player's past or future. Celebi just takes it one step further, by actually visiting those times.

I can speculate as to why a Pokemon with as deep roots and ties to nature like Celebi would be given temporal powers. As is always with the cycle of nature, Spring comes around, the flowers bloom. Summer comes and the fruits ripen. Autumn comes, and the leaves die. Winter comes and wipes the slate clean so that spring can come again and begin the cycle of rebirth.
Natural is as eternal as time itself. Like k said, just speculations.

It is important to distinguish between the power of Celebi, to travel between times, and Dialga, who can slow down, stop, or fast forward time, essentially altering time itself.
The former, and idiot with a box and screwdriver can do.
The latter shows much more of a direct control over time. Hence why Dialga is considered the master of time, and not Celebi.
I applaud with the speculation and the nature cycle. I personally think Celebi was originally going to be the only user of Future Sight before they gave it to Xatu and other Pokemon, and that was the basis for it’s time travel.
 

Maniacal Engineer

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That could very well be the case, WRT Future Sight, although that would be a rather awful signafure move to have, at least IMO. It also only covers half of the time spectrum, since it only mentions future, not past.

Still, it is a little upsetting that Celebi was never given a signature move. I mean, Mewtwo managed to get one...four generations after its creation. Wynaut Celebi?

If I were to give Celebi a signature move, it would probably be a Grass type move, based on the changing seasons. Like I said above, it ties together the nature and temporal aspects of Celebi.
 

Anime Psyclone

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If I were to give Celebi a signature move, it would probably be a Grass type move, based on the changing seasons. Like I said above, it ties together the nature and temporal aspects of Celebi.
If Celebi was to get a signature move it would probably explain why it can time travel. Like you said, a season-based Grass move would work.
 

Esserise

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I think there's a lot to be pondered about Celebi's abilities, because they call into question the nature of time in the Pokémon universe.

Celebi is a being that can travel through time at will, under its own power. That is... monumentally intriguing. What must life be like for such a being? The Pokédex says that it only appears in times of peace, which does make some sense for a being with such capabilities to do, even if it is a bit like burying its head in the sand. Unless there's a reason for it - maybe Celebi cannot interfere in times of war and strife, because whatever it does may alter the timeline significantly.

That brings up the possibility of paradoxes. Does time work in the Pokémon world in such a way as to allow paradoxes? That is, can time be changed at all, or is everything fixed in place, making Celebi little more than an observer?

I don't know what's been done with Celebi in any other canons, but in the games, at least, its time-traveling ability has only been unambiguously demonstrated once. That was in HGSS, where it takes Ethan and Lyra back in time to three years prior, to witness Silver's falling out with Giovanni after the latter lost to Red. After that moment, Celebi transports them again to the now-ellapsed time of Team Rocket's takeover of the Radio Tower. Celebi brings the two of them to a cave in which Giovanni dwells, right as he is about to set off to answer his subordinates' summons. After battling Giovanni and forcing him to abandon his efforts once again, Celebi brings the two Trainers back to their present time.

This would seem to be what's called a Stable Time Loop, or a circular paradox, among other similar names. Essentially, it is when time forms a circle of events due to temporal travel. Team Rocket's call was never answered because Giovanni was, at that moment, being defeated by an Ethan/Lyra from the future, all while the Ethan/Lyra of the present were thwarting the Radio Tower takeover itself. What this means is that "present" events were shaped by an influence from the future, and that eventually, the "present" Ethan/Lyra will also meet a Celebi, go back in time, and stop Giovanni. It's a loop, and it goes on and on into infinity.

But stable time loops can get even wilder than that. A corollary to the Grandfather Paradox is the I'm-My-Own-Grandfather Paradox. The classic scenario is that a man goes back in time, conceives a child with an unfamiliar woman, and then by a twist of fate, that woman's grandson ends up becoming a time-traveler, who eventually goes back in time, meets that same unfamiliar woman... and so on. This illustrates the way in which time-travel would fundamentally alter our understanding of cause and effect. The future could create the past.

Where stable time loops get complicated is in the opening of the possibility for the Grandfather Paradox itself, a thought experiment which poses the question: "What would happen if I were to go back in time and kill my own grandfather?" Would time be rewritten so that you cease to exist, having made it impossible for your father and, subsequently, yourself to be born? Would it create an alternative timeline, wherein events from that point-onward play out different, and you yourself are merely a foreign visitor from a different reality? Would the universe collapse altogether as a result of being able to reconcile the two incompatible scenarios? Or would your murderous endeavor be destined to fail, with the course of time having already been determined by hard cause and effect? Personally, I prefer the fourth interpretation.

But what interpretation does the Pokémon world follow? If it were the first or the third, that could explain why Celebi is reluctant to manifest in times of strife. It may feel compelled to intervene in such a way that soothes the conflict, but doing so could prove to be catastrophic because it introduces a contradiction into the timeline. And neither self-erasure* nor universal destabilization are outcomes that Celebi would desire.

* Although this assumes that Celebi comes from the relative future of the wars or times of suffering that it might be considering putting an end to. Factually, we don't know when Celebi's native era is, and it's yet another interesting thing to consider.

Even the fourth interpretation could provide an explanation. If time cannot be affected even by time-travelers, and is destined to always play out the same way, then Celebi may not want to dwell on the futility of such dark times, and so simply avoids them outright.

What's worth wondering, then, is whether or not Celebi understands the nature of time. I suspect that it must have at least some notion of its affectability (or lack thereof). If it were unaware, I would have to assume that it largely affirms the fourth interpretation, because a Celebi that doesn't know how time works would be liable to make many mistakes in its trans-temporal activity. Therefore I find it easier to conclude that Celebi has some awareness of time's nature. This could explain why it navigates time in such a way as to avoid crossovers with itself (which risk the creation of paradoxes - assuming them to be possible), and why it restricts itself to peaceful eras. Additionally, it being a Psychic type could imply that it can see the past and the future, although that much has not been suggested by the games as far as I'm aware (but it hasn't *not* been suggested, either).

Another curiosity is that Celebi is said to sometimes leave behind an egg from the future. This could be another Celebi egg, or perhaps it isn't. In the games, Celebi has been shown to have made the acquaintance of the Spiky-eared Pichu as well as a Zorua. Maybe these were Pokémon that hatched from eggs transported by Celebi? Or maybe that's just the case for Pichu, with Zorua merely being a friend that Celebi met indepedently. But consider Pichu - it appears in the Ilex Forest, near Celebi's shrine, when you are accompanied by the "Pikachu-colored" Pichu. And old man appears, saying that the Spiky-eared Pichu has lived in the forest for some time. And later on, Prof. Elm tells us that its ear and its inability to evolve is likely a DNA mutation caused by having traveled far through time with Celebi. Plus, it's a Baby Pokémon, so to association with eggs is immediate. It could be a Pokémon that hatched from an egg brought back in time by Celebi.
 
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