Jirachi is just on the edge of where I feel less strongly about mythical Pokémon – at three monsters they’re starting to be a pattern – but they definitely have their own twinkling charm.
More specifically, this star-kid gives me very Le Petit Prince vibes, in the way where I’m positive some Hoenn tots have books about Jirachi wandering the night sky. Making a literal shooting star as they travel from world to world, fluttering their little twin capes… Jirachi gives me very much the impression of a child who’s tied a blanket around their neck and put on a large hat to go exploring through the woods.
The big hat is, naturally, a huge shout-out to the core theme that we’ll get to in a bit, but I really dig that it’s both playful and ceremonial in one go. The only thing that doesn’t get me are their clown-eye markings, but even those make sense in context. Jirachi is just a cute little bean, and I have a hard time thinking too ill of ’em.
I just don’t think too hard about the mark on their chest. I’m not so much a horror person, so the third eye blooming across their torso – while a striking visual – might be a bit much personally.
Jirachi’s also quite a fun little prankster in the main games. You’ll likely not get a chance to use one – Jirachi seems like one of the rarer Mythic event Pokémon to get hold of – but the Mythic Pokémon aren’t too game-breaking, and Jirachi’s Psychic/Steel typing resists half the types in the game. Unfortunately, their move list is decidedly wacky – their more useful recovery moves and especially the tactical-blast Doom Desire aren’t learned until way late in the game – so they’re more interesting as a hypothetical than for actual use. But man oh man do they have all sorts of wild-and-wacky tricks on paper.
Speaking of paper (and horrible segways), Jirachi is most notably a whole-Pokémon reference to the festival of tanabata. At risk of trying to explain somebody else’s holiday, the specific thing that Jirachi seems to be after is the tradition of writing a wish on a slip of paper, then hanging it from a bamboo tree in the hopes that it will be seen and granted by dieties in the stars above.
Jirachi here fills both roles, being both the tree from which you hang wishes and the star that grants them all at once. Especially with their penchant for sleeping a thousand years (likely more to do with recurring comets), they slip more into a Aladdin-style djinn role in this way. Granted, that seems almost a casualty of there being so many wish-granting dieties across various cultures and traditions.
How convenient that the seven days out of 365,250 that Jirachi is awake always seem to coincide in the modern era, by the way. Even 100 years would at least put them more on the scale of something like Halley’s comet; 1,000 is so wacky to feel like extreme concidence across the anime, manga, games, and every other form of Pokémon story. Granted, this is all hearsay and folklore entered into a field guide by pre-teens at best; who knows if anybody actually did the record-keeping on this across literal millenia?
Darned science-fantasy writers and their miserable sense of scale.
The other thing I want to note here is that Jirachi is actually the split for version differences across a story – not in the games, but in the manga and anime. The Wish Maker movie notably featured a sneaky Team Magma member wishing (with hubris-like success) for a monster in the visage of Groudon, whereas the core Adventures manga features a disguized Team Aqua member doing the same for Kyogre. The stories themselves otherwise don’t really mirror each other, and were released several years apart, but otherwise it’s another nice instance of the series trying to keep “sets” of Pokémon relatively equal across the franchise even if they don’t always get the exact same treatment.
Really, the major thematic sticking point I have with Jirachi comes back to that constantly-sleeping theme. While we won’t see something exactly matching this until later, the series was already experimenting with very distinctive one-off passive abilities even in its first stab at them. It might have been especially insteresting to see Jirachi’s near-perpetual nap represented mechanically, through an ability where Jirachi was perpettually treated under the status effect “Asleep” but still able to move and attack. Y’know, like the Pokédex claims it can. But this is retroactive, armchair design, and at least its current status-effect-boosting ability mirrors a trainer’s “wish” that using Confusion would actually trigger the Confusion effect more often.
Like all other legendary Pokémon, I’m inclined to think that Jirachi should be reserved for special occasions where they make contextual sense. Of course you couldn’t retire Jirachi entirely when they’ve headlined a series movie, but as one-off, or even for celebrating the holiday itself? Jirachi seems like one of the more purposeful event Pokémon, and I’d be happy to see them pop in every once in a blue moon.
Any and all appreciation for Jirachi is welcome in the comments!