Saying Aloha to Alola #2: Tapu Koko and Friends

Aloha kākou! We are back to another segment of Saying Aloha to Alola, a blog series containing my perspective of references made to Hawaiʻi for the upcoming Sun and Moon games as a player who grew up on Maui and attending college on Oʻahu. If you haven’t read my first segment, Aloha from Hawaiʻi, you can find it here!

In today’s segment of Saying Aloha to Alola, I will be discussing Tapu Koko for quite a lot, Pikipek’s similarity to an invasive bird in the islands, as well as my reaction to Bruxish, one of Pokémon introduced in the trailer released on July 1, 2016.

Tapu Koko

Classified as the Land Spirit Pokémon with the typing of Electric and Fairy, Tapu Koko is clearly an interesting one to talk about because there are so many things I think of after seeing this Pokémon.

First off, let’s try to dissect the meaning of its name. Here, we have both the English name and the Japanese name:

  • ENG: Tapu Koko
  • JPN: カプ・コケコ (Kapu Kokeko)

The first part of the Japanese name says “Kapu”, and I thought of the kapu system that ruled over the Hawaiian Islands before the 1800’s. Although it usually translates to “forbidden”, it can also mean “sacred” or “holy”, and I think all of these meanings might have been used for the naming. You might be thinking “Tapu” means nothing because the Japanese name has the reference to a Hawaiian word for that part. That would be false because the Hawaiian language is actually derived from several other languages of the Pacific Ocean. “Tapu” means the same thing as “kapu”, and “tapu” is part of the Tongan and Māori languages. As a result, “kapu” has been derived from “tapu”. With that being said, I’m actually not exactly sure where “tapu” first originated from between Tonga and New Zealand. “Tapu” is a widely used word in the Pacific Islands, and the word “taboo” has in fact, been derived from “tapu” after Captain Cook’s visit to Tonga. This piece I found online has expanded information on “tapu” if you’re interested in learning more about it.

Now, things get interesting with the second part of both names. I’ll start off with the English name, which the second part says “Koko”. According to Bulbapedia, “Koko” is likely to have been derived from “kokō”, which means the sound of chickens cackling in Hawaiian, or it could also have been derived from “koko”, which means blood in Hawaiian. I think both Hawaiian words are accurate for the naming. As for the Japanese name, which says “Kokeko”, the same source says it’s derived from コケコッコー (kokekokkō), the Japanese onomatopoeia for “cock-a-doodle-do”. All this sounds pretty weird right now, but look at its description from the official Sun and Moon website, then look at its design.

 “Tapu Koko can store up electricity by enclosing itself in the shells on its arms. And it also appears to enter this form during other, special times…”

It’s very interesting how Tapu Koko looks when it closes its shell because it looks like the head of a rooster.

Notice how its hands mimic the beak of a rooster, and with this angle, you can definitely see its resemblance to a rooster.


A rooster has feathers, and there is actually a god in Hawaiian mythology who wears feathers. His name is Kū, the god of war, and I mentioned that both “kokō” and “koko” are accurate for the naming of Tapu Koko because one of Kū’s main kinolau (or forms) is in fact, a rooster.

Tapu Koko is known to be the guardian deity of Melemele Island, which is shown on the map below:

alola region yellow.jpg

Melemele Island appears to be the island based off Oʻahu, and it’s a funny thing to note because “melemele” means yellow in Hawaiian, and the color that represents Oʻahu is yellow. Tapu Koko’s shell is yellow, and its electric typing also makes sense because Oʻahu is the only urban island of Hawaiʻi. Its ability, Electric Surge, just adds on to that reference of the urban setting of the island.

Theorizing About the Other Guardian Deities

So, we know that Tapu Koko is Electic/Fairy, it looks like a rooster, it’s the guardian deity of Melemele Island, and its ability is Electric Surge, which automatically sets up an Electric Terrain as it enters the battle, but would we know anything about the other deities?

There are a total of three terrain moves in existence as of now, with Electric Terrain being one of them, and the other two being Misty Terrain and Grassy Terrain. With that being said, itʻs very likely that all four of the guardian deities will have the fairy typing, and there will also be a new terrain coming up in Sun and Moon. On an additional note, two of the remaining deities will very likely have abilities that set up Misty Terrain and Grassy Terrain.

There also four major islands in the Alola Region. In fact, there are also four major akua (tiki gods) in Hawaiian mythology: Kū, Lono, Kāne, and Kanaloa.

As for their naming, since we know that “tapu” means sacred, all of the other remaining deities would theoretically have “Tapu” as part of their name. It’s also very likely there will be representation of different animal kinolau (or forms) from the shells of the remaining deities.

Here is an outline of my theory, along with a few reasons as to why I came up with these:

Tapu Koko
Type: Electric Fairy
Ability: Electric Surge – Sets up Electric Terrain as it enters battle
Island: Melemele Island (Oʻahu)
Kinolau: Moa (Rooster)

  • Oʻahu’s official color is yellow, and melemele means yellow.
  • Oʻahu is the only urban island of Hawaiʻi.
  • Kū is known to wear feathers, and the rooster is one of his main kinolau.

Tapu ???
Type: Grass Fairy
Ability: (Unnamed) – Sets up Grassy Terrain as it enters battle
Island: Kauaʻi
Akua: Lono
Kinolau: Puaʻa (Pig)

  • The guardian deity of this island would be the one with Grassy Terrain because Kauaʻi is known as the Garden Isle.
  • This Pokémon would be based off Lono because he is the god of agriculture.
  • The pig is the only animal kinolau Lono would turn into.

Tapu ???
Type: Fairy
Ability: (Unnamed) – Sets up Misty Terrain as it enters battle
Island: Maui
Akua: Kāne
Kinolau: Pueo (Owl)

  • Kāne is the god of life, which is why I associated him with the pure fairy guardian.
  • Maui’s official color is pink.
  • The pueo is the only animal kinolau Kāne would turn into.

Tapu ???
Type: Dark Fairy
Ability: (Unnamed) – Sets up newly introduced terrain as it enters battle
Island: Big Island
Akua: Kanaloa
Kinolau: Mūheʻe (Squid) or Heʻe (Octopus)

  • Kanaloa is the god of the sea, but he’s also depicted as the god of the underworld.
  • I’m against having a water terrain because it would essentially make rain teams too powerful, so I used the depiction of Kanaloa representing evil to determine this guardian’s typing.
    • It is also said that Kanaloa is a companion of Kāne, so with this scenario, think of yin and yang.
  • I’m fine with either the squid or the octopus, although I would prefer the squid since it smells worse. Both have tentacles, which are found on those creepy creatures from science fiction movies.
  • With the new Dark/Fairy typing means there would theoretically be a dark terrain. I’m predicting the effects of the new terrain based on the effects of the other three:
    • Effects:
      • Reduces all Pokémon’s HP by 1/16 every turn (only those that touch the ground)
      • Halves the power of Psychic-type moves
    • Reasons:
      • There should be something to balance out Grassy Terrain’s effect of restoring HP.
      • Dragon doesn’t affect Fairy, and Psychic doesn’t affect Dark. In Misty Terrain, the power of Dragon-type moves are reduced by 50%, and it would make sense for this dark terrain to reduce the power of Psychic-type moves by 50%.
      • It shouldn’t boost Dark-type moves because Yveltal already does that with Dark Aura, like how Xerneas boosts Fairy-type moves with Fairy Aura, and Misty Terrain doesn’t boost Fairy-type moves.

Would these terrains have an effect in competitive play? Yes! They would basically define the metagame of the VGC 2017 season with a likely ruleset of Alola Dex only. Pairing up terrains with weather can be viable for the first time, and these terrains would help improve creativity in team building.

Is Pikipek Really That Bird?

I’ve seen many claims from other local people in Hawaiʻi saying Pikipek is based off this bird:

This bird right here is commonly seen in Hawaiʻi, and it’s known as the Red-Crested Cardinal. Although there is a slight bit of resemblance, I can confirm this claim as false.

Pikipek is classified as a woodpecker Pokémon, and there is a woodpecker that Pikipek happens to actually be based off of, called the Pileated Woodpecker.

The Region Fish?

Bruxish, a Pokémon that looks very much like a triggerfish. In fact, Hawaiʻi’s state fish happens to be a type of triggerfish, known as the humuhumunukunukuāpuaʻa, or simply the reef triggerfish.

There was this show called Calabash Kids, and here’s a clip of them teaching how to pronounce humuhumunukunukuāpuaʻa:


Then, we see its ability, Dazzling, which prevents priority moves from happening. Basically, it’s like an automatic Quick Guard, and it can potentially stop Pokémon with the ability of Prankster (i.e. Thundurus, Whimsicott, Liepard, etc.). For competitive play, this seems huge, but it really depends on how good Bruxish’s base stats are because Thundurus can still deal a lot of damage to it with a super-effective Thunderbolt.

Side Notes:

  • I usually don’t refer to myself as a Hawaiian as well as others, unless they are of Hawaiian ancestry. There are native Hawaiians in Hawaiʻi, and I say “Hawaiʻi resident” or “local” so I don’t offend the Hawaiians in any way.
  • There are unique symbols I’ve used, and I could only type them out by installing the Hawaiian keyboard.
    • The apostrophe looking symbol between the two I’s in Hawaiʻi is called an ʻokina, which is a letter that makes a glottal stop in between two vowels.
    • The slanted line above any vowel is called a kahakō, which makes vowels sound a bit longer than normal.


I hope you enjoyed reading about the Sun and Moon hype in the perspective of someone who grew up in Hawaiʻi. This is honestly something I haven’t seen from my friends, and I think this what we need to see in the community because of some inside jokes you might not know. I had a lot of fun researching information to come up with theories about the guardian deities, and if they appear incorrect in the end, that’s okay with me. Mahalo for reading, and we’ll find out what’s in the next segment of Saying Aloha to Alola! Shoots, buggahs!

DISCLAIMER: This blog post contains only my personal perspective on the Sun and Moon news, so some of the information cannot yet be confirmed as fact, although I did research on these topics. I’ve tried my best to make it sound as accurate as I possibly can, and I continue to do research on such topics and update whenever I spot mistakes. Mahalo for understanding.

© 2016 Kasoman’s Sea of Thoughts
Published on 7/7/2016 at 7:38 AM HST

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


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