Villain teams are nothing new to Pokémon, but Pokémon Horizon created his own unique team of villains just for the anime, a group called explorers. These opponents are still very mysterious, appearing much less than Team Rocket ever did. Here’s everything that’s known about the Explorers at the moment.
The adventurers were first introduced in the first two episodes of Horizons, attempting to claim protagonist Riko’s pendant for themselves. The group proves to be highly capable, at first carrying out a complex infiltration, then using Liko as leverage when Friede and the Rising Volt Tacklers become involved. The first adventurer introduced is Amethio, a young man with half-black, half-white hair whose partner is the new Paldean Pokémon Ceruledge. He is also accompanied by two subordinates, the type commonly referred to in the game as “Grunts”, who are named Zirc and Onia.
Explorers are a new type of Pokémon villain
The first thing to realize about the Explorers is that they are clearly not like Team Rocket. While Team Rocket appeared in almost every episode of the original Pokémon anime under Ash, the Explorers have only appeared in a few episodes so far and have sent various agents to track down Riko, rather than just sending sent back and forth by the same team. They had much more reliable technology at their disposal than Team Rocket ever had, including a submarine which Amethio used to track the Rising Volt Tacklers’ airship. In episode #6, Amethio is shown to be just one of many agents of the Explorers, and another of these agents, Spinel, has also been pursuing Riko.
Spinel is especially devious as a villain: he uses the common Pokémon Magneton to create electromagnetic interference around spaceships, cutting off their transmissions and isolating the crew. When he actually came into contact with Riko, Spinel did not hesitate to use his Pokémon’s hypnosis ability to disrupt Riko’s mind and steal her pendant that way. Spinel also kept it a secret, fighting Friede from afar through a small transmitter he used to give orders to his Pokémon. Although Spinel was ultimately defeated, he came very close to success and there is no reason why his methods should not be effective in the future.
Who are the explorers?
The expedition team is led by a man named Gibeon, who has not yet appeared in the anime. Like Team Rocket’s Giovanni, he communicates with his followers from afar and they seem to have a widespread base of operations. His second-in-command is a man named Hamber, who dresses like Gibeon’s butler. When Amethio failed to retrieve the pendant, Gibeon had no trouble removing him from the box and delivering Spinel in his place. In addition to Amethio and Spinel, there are three other known “Administs” (to borrow another term from the game): Agate, Onyx (names may be changed in the dub to avoid overlap with popular Rock-type Pokémon language) and Sango. All members of the Explorers have gem-themed names.
Gibeon and the Explorers have not yet made their intentions and motives clear, instead they doggedly pursue the airship wherever it goes. They are mainly after Riko’s pendant, which has been shown to have protective abilities, the ability to transform into a mysterious Pokémon, and react to Ancient Poké Balls, much like the one Roy has. Their interest in the pendant suggests that they may be hunting down the Pokémon in these Ancient Poké Balls, all of which are said to have belonged to the most powerful Pokémon trainer in history, an explorer. Ancient devil named Lucius. With Amethio removed from pursuing Riko, his new mission is to track down Black Rayquaza, who escaped from Roy’s bubble.
That said, the organization is not a monolith that operates in perfect order. Amethio used Black Rayquaza as an excuse to catch up with the Rising Volt Tacklers, who were also on Rayquaza’s trail, and apparently went against orders to engage Friede again. Amethio and Spinel also don’t seem to get along very well, much like the relationship between Jesse and Cassidy. The other administrators haven’t appeared much in the series yet, but they certainly seem to be opinionated and difficult to get along with.
What awaits the adventurers?
The adventurers are determined to get Riko’s pendant, but with Amethio and Spinel having failed, the job will likely soon be turned over to a new administrator. They also agreed that the pendant would not react to anyone and that Riko was the only one who could activate it, so kidnapping Riko with the pendant became another goal. To that end, the Rising Volt Tacklers swore to protect Riko and the necklace, making the Adventurers their enemies.
Many fans have speculated that Amethio, who was introduced before the show first aired, could have some sort of future redemption, and his subsequent defeat and punishment We can be the catalyst for this. So far, Amethio has remained loyal to the Explorers, but his repeated failures and constant going against orders could cause him to leave the organization, either by force or by choice. Zirc and Onia have proven themselves to be more loyal to Amethio than the Adventurers, following him when he went against orders, so in such a case, they would likely leave as well.
The Explorers is still a very mysterious organization, with many secrets yet to be revealed. As the main antagonists of Pokémon Horizons, they will definitely continue to appear, at least until this pendant arc ends. It is clear that without the support of experienced adults like Friede and the other Rising Volt Tacklers, Riko and Roy would be in very big trouble, which has turned the Explorers into a very dangerous organization, unlike Team Rocket. Hopefully the next episodes of Pokémon Horizon will reveal more about the Adventurers and what drives them to pursue the pendant.