Monday Mysteries: The Pikmin Theory

There’s something beautiful and strange about the world of Pikmin. Untamed wilderness gives way to an inviting imagination of nature juxtaposed against an adorable world seemingly as monstrous as it is domesticated. The beauties of this land underlie a savagery all its own for its hapless alien explorers. Beneath its wonderfully bizarre and mesmerizing world lies a creature of equal measure, something unspeakably terrifying.

What is this “thing?” Behold, the mighty Plasm Wraith. It’s a peculiar little bugger, isn’t it? As the final, awe-inspiring boss of Pikmin 3, you most famously throw down the gauntlet with it in the appropriately named arena of the Formidable Oak. A virtually featureless, vaguely humanoid Water wraithlike being, its body is composed entirely of a gold, protoplasmic mass, allowing it to split its body parts into semi-independent entities. Gross. Fire, electricity, and water all wrapped up in one, it requires the knowledge and utilization of every Pikmin type in a frightening display, all to save the helpless form of Captain Olimar from its slimy clutches. What force could have birthed such a horror?

There are a variety of explanations as to the Plasm Wraith’s seemingly impossible existence. A freak of nature? An experiment gone wrong? Maybe a stranger yet all the more likely scenario is the case. Players may recall the notorious event of the original Pikmin, that of Olimar’s tragic crash landing thanks to a meteorite collision. Though he smartly avoided such by its sequel, its apparent by the time of the third entry that he and his compatriot, Louie, have crashed again as their sorry remains of a ship lies in the muddied soil of the Quaggled Mireclops’s abode. Fans may note that the ship’s trademark gold paint, earned after amassing every treasure in the second game’s collection, is strangely absent. Where did it go to? Or to whom?

Enter the meteor question again. The Hocotate Ship could have no doubt crashed into it (again) thanks to whatever bad luck befell poor Olimar. The impact would’ve scraped off the gold skin, or could’ve created enough heat to melt the gold off. If anything, the gold skin would’ve been burnt off during the Ship’s crash anyway. Can we assume that the meteor itself could very well have absorbed the gold paint, making it the Plasma Wraith incarnate? The meteor may have landed in the Forbidden Oak as well, manifesting into the form of a gold blob since he knew Olimar would be looking for something valuable to return to Hocotate, cleverly masquerading as a treasure. Maybe the Plasma Wraith only wanted Olimar because he had the Cosmic-Drive Key, which was the Koppaian’s “treasure.” It could very well have wanted to lure in the Koppaians so it could shipwreck or capture them.

It’s a theory that adds undeniably adds a very creepy undertone to the series and not far off from its probable inspiration. Much in the manner of the Umibōzu, an evil spirit in Japanese folklore, the Plasm Wraith could be intent on “ship-wrecking” passersby out of either spite or some genuine, biological need for captives/food. The Umibōzu is meanwhile said to live in the ocean and capsize the ship of anyone who dares speak to it. This spirit’s name, combining the character for “sea” with the character of “Buddhist monk,” possesses an uncannily large, round head, resembling the shaven heads of Buddhist monks. They are believed to be drowned priests, and exhibit the shaven head and typically appears to be praying and is usually reported as having a grey, cloud-like torso and serpentine limbs. According to one story, if angered, they ask that the crews provide a barrel that it proceeds to fill with sea water to drown them. To avoid this disastrous fate, it is necessary to give him a bottomless barrel. This folktale is likely related to another Japanese tradition, which says that the souls of people who have no one to look after their graves take refuge at sea. Considering Olimar’s beloved family back home, that would be more of Louie’s department. Ouch.

Granted, the aforementioned theory does have one major hole in it though. In Pikmin 3, the Plasm Wraith is seen taking care of Olimar, and Olimar states the main reason it’s keeping him there is because it wants to take care of him. The main reason the Plasm Wraith is after the Koppai crew is because they try to take Olimar from it. If the beast was intent on killing Olimar to the point of form shifting several times in each game, why does it suddenly want to take care of Olimar and make sure no harm befalls him in Pikmin 3? Olimar never explicitly said he was being taken care of however. All he really said was that he was being held captive by the Wraith. Eventually, the breathable air in his suit would run out and he would die anyway. It’s possible that the Wraith wanted to shipwreck the Koppaians next, and he held Olimar captive because he held their cosmic-drive key, which they needed to return home.

Still, we can’t be sure of what the Wraith’s intent was. What Olimar saw as a “liking” may just have been the Wraith stalking him or something. Not only that, but the Wraith was intelligent enough to figure out how to activate Olimar’s forced-sleep mode. The fact that the Wraith held him captive doesn’t just signify a “liking,” it signifies an obsession, with Olimar, or something Olimar had.

At the start of the game, it’s mentioned that something went wrong that caused the Koppaians Drake’s crash. Even in the ending cutscene, it’s still left up to the imagination why it happened or what caused it. Maybe the Umibōzu caused it to crash like it did Olimar’s ship, and tried to take the Cosmic Key Drive because it was the most precious ‘treasure’ the Koppai crew had. However, Olimar ended up getting to it first, and because of that the Umibōzu captures him.

However, it’s unable to get it off his person. It may have attempted to kill Olimar shortly after, but before it could it starts to sense the Koppai crew feveriously searching for Olimar, holding him in such high importance because he has the drive key that the Umibōzu starts to consider him as a ‘treasure’ regarding the Koppaites, and thus starts to treat him as such. After all, Olimar was apparently still searching around the planet while the Koppai crew was sense he planted some upgrades there shortly after Charlie landed, so we don’t know the exact time Olimar got capture, which might give the Umibōzu enough time to reconsider killing him.

On top of all this, there’s the deeper question of whether the Water Plasm Wraith are the same creature, or even a product of an earlier one. Players may remember that hideous, liquid Pillsbury Dough Boy in the “Submerged Castle.” As apparently sentient as the Plasm Wraith (and even sharing the same moniker), the Water Wraith seemed to share an equal amount of intellectual capacities. Compare that to the only other protoplasmic lifeform in the series to date: the original Pikmin’s goolix, who would further show interest in Olimar himself as opposed to Pikmin in particular. From this slower, dumber liquid-like enemy to the Water Wraith to the Plasm Wraith, there’s an undeniable evolution. Could that gold paint have done the trick, or was Olimar’s oh-so alluring presence the spark to advancing its growth into a pilot-snatching, ship-wrecking beast?

Could the Plasm Wraith indeed be the product of such terrifying genius, or simple fan fiction fantasy? Write your thoughts down below!

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