Who Is Professor Willow In "Pokemon Go"?

by Elizabeth Ballou

I am unafraid to admit that I am a huge "Pokemon Go" fan, and have been playing it whenever I have a few minutes to spare since it came out on July 6. Pokemon has been a part of my life since I first played Pokemon Red at age seven, so I'm overjoyed to finally fulfill my dream of becoming a Pokemon Trainer. But, while I'm familiar with Pokemon characters like Ash, Brock, and Professor Oak, I was momentarily taken aback when I booted up "Pokemon Go" for the first time and was confronted with an unfamiliar gentleman. "Who is Professor Willow?" I thought, as I tapped through the customization options in the character creation menu. Since "Pokemon Go" features the original 150 pocket monsters, I'd figured that Professor Oak would make a reappearance. But Professor Willow was — ahem — definitely different from Professor Oak. In the best of ways. By which I mean... Professor Willow is kind of hot.

Which is not something I ever thought I'd say about a Pokemon character. But take a look at that hint of beard. Those glasses rakishly pushed back into his hair. The way he looks like he raided the REI sale section. Even his shoes are sort of cute.

In case you haven't played the game yet, Professor Willow is pretty much a tutorial in "Pokemon Go." He introduces you to the "Pokemon Go" world, explains how to catch Pokemon, and rewards you with candy when you send him extra Pokemon you've caught. The professor role exists in each Pokemon game and is a standard feature of the series: Professor Oak appeared in the first games, while Professor Elm showed up in the second generation. While I only took momentary notice of Professor Willow and then moved on to the game itself (Pokemon don't catch themselves, you know), it seems that many players found him to be the most, er, exciting aspect of the app.

This Twitter user is struggling to conceal their feelings about Professor Willow:

While this one does not beat around the bush:

And this one has imagined Professor Willow in a welcome state of semi-undress:

Who even cares if the "Pokemon Go" server is still down when Professor Willow tweets like this abound? I'll bet my Scyther that fanfiction featuring this new internet favorite is going to become The Next Big Thing in the fanfiction world. Remember, guys, you heard it here first.

Images: Elizabeth Ballou; Pokémon GO; kevnthepro; na_insoo/Twitter