The Pokémon series is no stranger to wordplay. Puns are practically built into each Pokémon’s name and many of the characters in the series are no different.
Gym Leader names tend to be a reference to the type that they command, ranging from blatantly obvious to subtle. For example, in the first generation, we had Lt. “Surge” with an Electric-type Gym, but we also had the Grass-type Gym Leader “Erika”, whose name is a reference to the Erica genus of flowers.
The same is of course true for the Gym Leaders in Pokémon Sword and Shield, but did you know there’s a further element of wordplay built into their jersey numbers? It’s a form of Japanese wordplay based on numbers called goroawase. There are so many ways to sound out numbers in Japanese that people combine them to create puns with numbers. An example of this would be 4649, which spells out yoroshiku, a greeting that means “nice to meet you”.
This type of wordplay extends to all the trainers with numbers in Sword and Shield. Leon’s is pretty obvious: his athlete number is 1, which makes him Number One, but what other secrets are hidden in everyone’s numbers?
|Hop||189||hi-ya-ku||飛躍: leaping, making great strides|
|Nessa||049||o-yo-gu||泳ぐ: to swim|
* In Japanese, the Dark Type is called the “Evil” type, so this is likely a reference to that.
So, what do you think? Do the hidden meanings in the numbers match the characters?