In-Depth Stories

The Hidden Historical References Behind Pokémon Masters’ Sync Pairs

Pokémon Masters’ Sync Pairs are ready for war, wearing some interesting costumes which may reference some famous real-life warriors.

With all the news coming out about Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, Pokémon Masters EX has not been receiving as much attention. With that in mind, I wanted to highlight a few sync pairs that came out in November that have some interesting, hidden historical references. Each of these four sync pairs either references a specific historical figure or is wearing an outfit that is representative of a certain historical period. The most obvious of these to see is Diantha.


Diantha’s special costume in her sync pair with Keldeo (Resolute Form).

Diantha’s special costume in her sync pair with Keldeo (Resolute Form) references the historical figure Joan of Arc. Joan of Arc was born in France in 1412 and played an important part in the Hundred Years’ War as she was sent by Charles VII to the siege of Orléans which was lifted only nine days later. Joan said that she received visions from the Archangel Michael as well as Saint Margaret and Saint Catherine of Alexandria instructing her to support Charles VII. This along with her swift victory at the siege of Orléans led many of the French to consider her a form of divine intervention. Eventually, she was captured by a group of French nobles allied with the British and was handed over to the British, put on trial by the pro-English Bishop Pierre Cauchon, and burned at the stake in 1431 at around 19 years years of age. After her death, she became a symbol of France and was later canonized in 1920 as one of the nine secondary patron saints of France.

Moving back to Diantha, Diantha is the champion of the France-inspired Kalos region, so it makes sense for her to get an outfit based on one of France’s national heroes. For her clothing, she wears armored shoulder pads, chest plate, boots, and gauntlets, which give her the look of a knight in shining armor, and is similar to how Joan of Arc was depicted in artworks such as this one (see below). 

A depiction of Joan of Arc By Raymond Monvoisin Source: Wikimedia

Keldeo (Resolute Form) was chosen as her partner to continue the theme of French heroes as Keldeo along with Cobalion, Terrakion, and Virizion are loosely based on the French adventure novel The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas, with Keldeo being inspired by the character of D’Artagnan.


Guzma’s special costume in his sync pair with Buzzwole.

Guzma’s special costume in his sync pair with Buzzwole is a reference to the historical figure of Sanada Yukimura. Sanada Yukimura, whose actual historical name was Sanada Nobushige, was a Japanese samurai of the Sengoku period who was most famous for being the leading general in defense of Osaka Castle during the siege of Osaka from 1614 to 1615. The siege of Osaka was a series of battles between the Tokugawa Shogunate and the Toyotomi clan, whom the Sanada clan (and Yukimura) served as vassals. The siege was divided into two campaigns, the winter campaign, and the summer campaign. During the winter campaign, Yukimura created a small fortress in the southwest corner of Osaka castle called “Sanada-maru”, and with only 7,000 men under his command, was able to successfully defend it against the 30,000 men of the Tokugawa forces (more than 6,000 of whom were equipped with European style long guns known as arquebuses)! The fortress remained impregnable during the entire campaign forcing the Tokugawa forces to eventually give up and negotiate for peace with the Toyotomi clan.

The summer campaign began later that same year (1615) and came to a climax at the Battle of Tennōji in which a large Tokugawa force of nearly 150,000 men made a final assault on Osaka castle. While the Tokugawa force was still getting into formation, the Toyotomi clan launched a last-ditch offensive of 60,000 troops who tried to take the Tokugawa force by surprise. These troops, led by Yukimura, charged from Chausuyama into the Tokugawa forces’ left flank and were eventually able to cut their way through to the center. Yukimura hoped to occupy the central Tokugawa forces long enough for the leader of the Toyotomi clan (Hideyori Toyotomi) to lead his troops to crush the now-exposed Tokugawa left flank. Unfortunately, Hideyori’s forces were too late, as by this point the fighting had exhausted Yukimura who collapsed on a camp stool. Legend has it that his last words were along the lines of “Who dares to take my head?” and the Tokugawa samurai, Nishio Nizaemon answered the challenge and killed him. The battle ended with the Tokugawa forces as the victor. Still, Sanada’s bravery and resourcefulness would make him into a legendary warrior with titles such as “A Hero who may appear once in a hundred years”, “The Last Sengoku Hero” and the “number one warrior in Japan”.

He gained another famous title “Crimson Demon of War” due to his iconic red Samurai armor (see below). This gives us the connection to Guzma’s special costume, as he wears a similar crimson samurai armor. Guzma might not be Japanese himself (coming from Hawaii-based Alola) but I think the developers chose him for this costume more for his aggressive “beat-you-down” attitude which is similar to Sanada’s ferocity. 

Woodblock painting of Sanada Yukimura wearing his iconic red samurai armor by Watanabe Nobukazu. Source: Wikimedia

Like-wise, Buzzwole was chosen as his sync pair partner because of its crimson color and powerful attack strength. Yukimura Sanada is also a fascinating historical figure for Pokémon fans as he also appears as a playable character in the Sengoku-inspired Pokémon Conquest. In that game, he uses powerful Fire-Type pokemon like Tepig and Charizard (see below).

Art of Sanada Yukimura and Tepig from Pokémon Conquest.


Hilda’s special costume in her sync pair with Diancie.
A typical image of ladies’ and men’s day clothes around 1825. Source: Historic UK

Hilda’s special costume in her sync pair with Diancie isn’t a specific reference to a historical figure like the last two sync pairs but is rather a more general reference to clothing worn by the British royal family and general aristocracy. The women in the British royal family and aristocracy would often wear elaborate gowns with sunhats like the one Hilda wears. This is to show off their wealth and power. Hilda’s outfit most distinctly resembles the dresses from the Georgian era, specifically the Regency period (between 1811-1820) and the period after it (1820~1825). The outfits of the Regency period are familiar to people all over the globe, as this type of dress is often used in popular film adaptations of Jane Austen novels like Pride and Prejudice. Hilda’s outfit also draws parallels with dresses worn in the period after and around 1825, as can be seen from this picture of a typical dress of the time (see below).

Hilda might not be from the UK-inspired Galar, but the Unova games have many references to western and British culture (such as N being the “King” of Team Plasma), so it makes sense that a female protagonist from the region would be chosen to play the role of a princess in the Poké War Games event. Diancie, similarly, was chosen as Hilda’s partner because of its reputation as the “Royal Pink Princess” when Mega Evolved.


Jasmine’s special costume in her sync pair with Celesteela.

Similar to Hilda, Jasmine’s special costume in her sync pair with Celesteela isn’t a specific reference to a historical figure either but is rather a general reference to traditional clothes worn by Japanese royals. More specifically, the outfit Jasmine is wearing is known as a jūnihitoe, a style of royal court dress that was first seen in the Heian period. This type of dress was often worn by noble women and is associated with Imperial royalty. Thus, this type of outfit is perfect for Jasmine, who plays the role of a traditional Japanese princess opposite Hilda’s western princess in the Poké war games event. Celesteela was chosen as Jasmine’s partner because it is based on Princess Kaguya from “The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter” and thus continues the princess motif found in Jasmine’s overall special costume design.

A young woman modeling a Junihitoe traditional dress by Shealah Craighead (White House). Source: Wikimedia

These sync pairs have become some of my favorite characters in the game because of their unique historical references. I was lucky enough to scout Diantha and she has been one of my most used Fighting-type sync pairs ever since. Were any of you lucky enough to scout some of these characters? Are there other sync pair outfits you would like me to examine? Let me know in the comments below!

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Edited by Arc, bobandbill, and Fairy.