Revisiting Kanto – Pokemon Fans, We Don’t Appreciate Silence Bridge Enough

Welcome, intrepid explorers, to my ongoing adventure through Kanto. If you’ve been with me from the start, then welcome back, and if you’ve never seen me before in your life, just plain old welcome friend. I’m visiting Pokemon Blue’s Kanto region and trying to see it as a tourist rather than a trainer, taking in exactly why Kanto has stuck with me for all these years.

Kanto is one of the most recognisable settings in video game history, so anyone with even a passing knowledge of Pokemon will know all the places I’ve been to so far. SS Anne? You betcha? Lavender Town? I love that creepy place. But Silence Bridge? Uh… you lost me.

Silence Bridge is not a fondly remembered piece of the Kanto mosaic. So far, with limited exceptions, I’ve skipped over the parts of my journey that have involved walking along routes in favour of the places those routes have led me to. With Silence Bridge, it was important to slow down and smell the Roselias. I know Roselia isn’t in Gen 1, but ‘stop and smell the Voltorbs’ doesn’t really make sense. In any case, Silence Bridge is the route that leads south from Lavender Town.

In most walkthroughs for the game, it will simply be called Route 12, but that doesn’t quite do it justice. Silence Bridge is one of the most fascinating stretches where nothing much happens, and if the point of this column is to understand why Kanto is so memorable, I think the small moments like Silence Bridge are far bigger factors than we think.

Some experienced Pokemon trainers might either be confused, dismayed, or nodding in chaotic glee at this point. That’s right, we’re going south, which will eventually lead us to Fuschia City. Canonically, Fuschia is the fifth gym but since you can do gyms four-seven in varying order, others prefer to hit Saffron after Lavender Town. It makes some sense; it’s closer, and Fuschia leads more neatly into Cinnabar Island. The levels of the four Pokemon each leader has also add up to the same amount. However, Fuschia is a) correct, b) has the Safari Zone to diversify your team, and c) gives you a break from Team Rocket, whom you’ve just fought. I also think as a tourist the natural inclination would be to continue onwards, not loop back to Celadon again.

With that out of the way, the rest is silence. The rest of this column, at least. Silence Bridge is where the Fishermen gather, and while it’s possibly a little annoying from a gameplay perspective (fighting the same basic trainer over and over again eventually gets dull), from a world building perspective I think it deserves far more respect.

Often in Pokemon you find people in random places. What exactly is a Juggler doing in the middle of a field, why is there a Youngster all the way out in the forest on his own? Why is a Fire-Eater just out here eating fire? It’s not like it’s a snack for them, it’s part of their circus routine. The Silence Bridge however grounds the Fishermen in a very real place. We see them in their natural element and it’s the perfect continuation of Lavender Town. That’s a macabre, solemn place of tragedy, but the Silence Bridge keeps the soft tones but makes them tranquil. It’s the sound of grief healing. It’s the peace we find in emptiness when the hurt abides.

Plus we also get a neat fishing rod! No more Magikarp for me ya jerks! Smell ya later!

Part way through the Silence Bridge, I come to a sleeping Snorlax. Ordinarily I would wake this bad boy up, but playing as a tourist, I don’t need to get past him right now so I let him slumber. This is the first Pokemon I’ve seen out in the wild like this, and it’s a nice reminder of how impressive these beasts are simply to wonder upon. Anyway I keep going and make some of them fight for my amusement.

Next week we will arrive in Fuschia City, where I’ll likely take in all the sites the city has to offer first, then hit up the Safari Zone on its own to fully appreciate it. Until then, smell ya later.

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