Written by. Nick Mosier based on the original Japanese article (original article’s publication date: 2022-06-02 17:20 JST)
The Pokémon Company released a new trailer and information about Pokémon Scarlet and Violet on June 1. While it was announced on May 31 that a new trailer would be coming, it was actually predicted even earlier that new information would be revealed by a group called the “Masuda Scholars’ Society” (増田学会).
The Masuda Scholars’ Society is a group of people that research Pokémon series director and producer Junichi Masuda. Masuda has been a part of Game Freak working on the Pokémon series for a long time and just recently moved into a role at The Pokémon Company. He’s considered the face of Pokémon and is the subject of research by Masuda Scholars’ Society members like Pulnaref.
According to Pulnaref, “to know Masuda is to know Pokémon.” In other words, by analyzing the images Masuda uploads for the clothes he’s wearing, what’s going on behind him, or even what he’s eating, it can give us hints about upcoming games and what to expect. By the definition of studying examples and coming up with theories, you could say the group is doing full-fledged scholarly work.
On May 29, Pulnaref and the Masuda Scholars’ Society started getting excited. That’s because Masuda had posted an image on Twitter of Omotesando, Tokyo. The following day, Masuda then mentioned getting a haircut. It was at this point that many started predicting we would see new information about Pokémon Scarlet and Violet in the near future. The day after that, we got an official announcement that a trailer was incoming meaning the predictions were dead on.
But how did a picture of town and the report of a haircut allow them to make such a prediction? We reached out to Pulnaref to find out.
According to Pulnaref, looking into Masuda’s haircut routine dates all the way back to 2016. That was around the time it became known that Masuda had a regular salon he used in Tokyo’s Omotesando district, something Masuda himself tweets about from time to time. After that, while looking through Masuda’s tweets, Pulnaref started to notice that he would often make media appearances after visiting this salon in Omotesando. For that reason, it started to spread among Masuda scholars that Omotesando and haircuts meant a hint at new information.
That trend was proven correct with this latest development. While Masuda didn’t make an appearance for the trailer on June 1, it’s possible that he will appear in the media to coincide with this latest reveal. At any rate, they were able to correctly guess the timing of new information coming out based on Masuda’s previous behavior.
Masuda scholars also believe that Masuda has been doing this kind of foreshadowing for a long time. Pulnaref first noticed an example of foreshadowing in 2013. At the end of 2012, Masuda tweeted that he was going to France. About a week and a half later, Pokémon X and Y were announced. The region in X and Y are based on France, so Pulnaref started to think maybe Masuda was leaving behind hints in his words and actions.
Pulnaref’s hunch then changed to belief. In February of 2016, Masuda tweeted, “The sun is still out but the moon is shining bright!! The birds are still chirping too lol.” And around 2 weeks later, Pokémon Sun and Moon were announced. Because of this announcement, Pulnaref says they believe Masuda leaves hints for fans.
Speaking of Masuda, he’s loved in part for his laid-back personality and for actively interacting with fans. He also seems to enjoy seeing fan reactions, so it isn’t a stretch to think he may intentionally leave some hints for them.
As for Pulnaref, they didn’t originally just research Masuda. Pulnaref also dove into games like Pocket Card Jockey and other Game Freak titles to discover Pokémon easter eggs. However, after noticing the selfies posted by Masuda and the hints left behind, they started focusing more on looking into what these could be foreshadowing.
Pulnaref thinks of the foreshadowing from Masadu as a message to fans and enthusiastically explained, “looking into these hints is like a sort of conversation, so I think doing so is like communicating with Masuda.”
Certainly, if you look at Masuda’s active engagement with fans, you could see the foreshadowing as him issuing them a challenge. By accepting the challenge, their case studies get deeper, which can even lead to a feeling of connection through their interactions. As long as Masuda continues to give hints, the work of these Masuda scholars will go on.