Some Pokemon Sun And Moon Fans Don’t Believe Hau Is The Real Rival

Some Pokemon Sun And Moon Fans Don’t Believe Hau Is The Real Rival

Hau is a nice, cheerful boy. He gives you presents. When defeated in battle, he is gracious and tells you that he had fun. Nothing about Hau seems competitive, which might explain why Pokemon players keep theorising that he isn’t your real rival in Sun and Moon at all.

Image source: Mixeli

Image source: Mixeli

Historically, Pokemon fans associate the word “rival” with “arsehole”. In Red and Blue, it was tradition to name your rival the worst curses you could think of, and these games cemented what fans expect from a Pokemon rival. Hau embodies none of those negative traits: Really, he’s your buddy in Sun and Moon.

The effect is that Pokemon players keep insisting that Hau is not your rival. In particular, one theory points out a number of odd choices the developer, Game Freak, made for Hau. When you pick a starter at the beginning of the game, Hau picks the creature weak to yours. Historically, rivals go right for the monster that would be strong against your starter. Hau also carries a Pikachu, a Pokemon that players associate with the “main” characters. Finally, you always seem to be one step ahead of Hau, clearing trials and battles before he does — fans still have memories of the Red and Blue rival defeating gyms first. Taken together, some fans now have the conspiracy theory that the player is the rival (ignoring, yes, that a rivalry requires two people).

Since release, players are constantly questioning Hau’s status as a rival:

Here’s where things get interesting. While Hau may not fulfil our expectations of a rival, there is another character in Sun and Moon who fits the bill rather nicely: Gladion, the Team Skull minion. From the outset, Gladion’s very appearance looks menacing, especially when placed next to Hau’s wide, doofy grin. Gladion is also terse and combative, immediately demanding skirmishes for no purpose other than to flaunt strength:

Image source: Mixeli

Image source: Mixeli

When Gladion loses, he seems devastated:

Image source: Mixeli

Image source: Mixeli

It appears that Gladion captures the spirit of rivalry we’ve come to expect from Pokemon games, but hardcore fans are also pointing to a more compelling piece of evidence. Hackers and data miners claim that the in-game files don’t refer to Hau as the rival at all:

While I can’t dive into the files to verify this, we can all hear a difference in the songs. Hau’s battle theme is happy-go-lucky:

Gladion’s theme, on the other hand, sounds epic, like a serious showdown — which is what people expect out of rival battles.

Maybe the song file stuff is bullshit, or an oversight on Game Freak’s part. Whatever the case, one thing is clear: Fans are holding on to an old rivalry framework, and it’s influencing how everyone interprets poor Hau. Sun and Moon aren’t the first games to change the paradigm — X and Y gave players multiple rival friends to battle throughout the story, all of which weren’t outright adversarial, so really, this is nothing new.

Still, it’s pretty fun to think that maybe the rival isn’t who we think it is.

Theory via suchomochlus

Theory via suchomochlus


  • Next you’re going to tell me that Trial Captains aren’t really gym leaders.

    It’s almost like they designed a different game that doesn’t follow all the historical conventions.

    • Agreed. Also, as for the music – game filenames don’t necessarily mean anything either. It’s quite common for them to change something further down a game’s development cycle, and they don’t have to change the internal filenames to suit.

      I think they just tried to make Sun and Moon as new and fresh as possible.

  • Having no experience with the game, my theory is that Hau is actually priming you to be his rival. All through the game he’s just helping you to learn how to win and be the best Trainer so in the sequel (Pokémon Solar/Lunar Eclipse) he can finally have someone worthy of being called his rival.

    • Hau is such a pile of pathetic a rock is his rival. Not one of them fancy evolving rocks, a boring earth rock. Seriously the guy has like 3 pokes. He’s ash with no plot armour. I want to punch his face inside out and then kick it. So damn annoying.

      Now Lillie, that’s a sidekick. Step your game up Hau, she beats you and she isn’t even a trainer.

  • It could be that there IS no rival, given the way there going with the games and the show, I think there aiming for a friendlier ideas.

  • A pretty stupid theory. Honestly, it’s always been like this in all the games, because rivalry goes BOTH ways. You’re both the rivals. A better way of wording this would be that you take the role that the previous rivals had.

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