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Bionicle Generation 1 Misconceptions

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Over the years, I've encountered a lot of misconceptions about the Bionicle storyline (had some myself too :P), and it can get tedious either trying to retype the answers or trying to dig up where they were typed before. I've been planning this topic for a long time and putting it off, but now that Bionicle is officially coming back and interest in the line has been renewed, I think it's time to actually sit down and make it. (I've done things like this before, but they were while new story for Gen1 was still coming out and much of it is out of date.)


Eventually we'll probably have a Gen2 Misconceptions topic too, but for now this will only be about Gen1.


To make linking to each answer convenient, there will be one per post, and this will be set up like the Epics forum; this topic will only have my (or maybe approved guest writers) posts with the misconceptions and answers themselves, but there's a separate discussion topic, here:


Discussion Topic


The part in quotes, opening each post, is the misconception; the rest is the reply. (The quotes are not of anybody's particular phrasing; just my paraphrases of the average for common ones.) Most of them will be written after a lot of prior forum discussion (in some cases, a decade of it :P) so changes are somewhat unlikely, but please feel free to suggest them, or if you're still confused about anything ask the questions and I may decide an edit is warranted to avoid the confusion in the future. They'll be in no particular order, just as I pick them, though I may add a categorical links table of contents to this post eventually. And there's no set schedule for releasing new ones.


Also, please suggest future picks in the discussion topic! Whether misconceptions you personally had that you'd like others to avoid, or that you have commonly seen, etc.


Note that the emphasis here is on story. Probably obvious, but there are some misconceptions about the story that were related to the sets; they're fair game but set-only misconceptions aren't. If you're confused about what else could qualify, ask away. :)


Enjoy! ^_^

Edited by bonesiii
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"Mata Nui awoke at the end of the movie The Mask of Light"


No, but this misconception was somewhat understandable, since in the commentary for the movie, the producers mentioned in passing that Mata Nui awoke, at the part where Takanuva lights the way to Metru Nui at the end. They were in error (they didn't check with the story team on this), but many fans didn't realize that.

Most have realized it was obviously a mistake since the continuing story not only portrayed him as still in slumber but then he was actually awoken at the end of 2008 (and the whole Makuta takeover thing). But I've encountered a few fans who thought he had some kind of multiple awakenings thing going on. He didn't.

And there was nothing Takanuva or anybody else did in MOL anyways that would even suggest that it would result in awakening. I guess the moviemakers just figured it must be some mystical thing. Thankfully, they did not make their movie in such a way that it had to be interpreted or even seemed to be intended that way just from watching it, probably because their script itself would have been checked over by the story team.

Hahli did make a comment that she believed Mata Nui would be awoken, which might be where some other fans who didn't listen to the commentary heard it (others may have just heard it as a fan rumor). But she had no way to actually know that, of course, and the movie never says that she was right.

The commentators seem to have taken one scene as symbolically implying it -- when Takanuva lights up Metru Nui, the camera briefly snaps back to looking at the door they just went through from the Makuta's lair side of it. This door was shaped to look like the mouth section of a giant Mask of Shielding (Kanohi Hau), which was also often used to symbolize the Great Spirit. The gaps on the sides of the mask, and the eyes, seemed to glow because of what the Toa of Light was doing on the other side. Since open eyes of Bionicle characters glow, it could be taken as implying Mata Nui had awoken.

In hindsight, it's a good thing they used such a symbolic method, as there's no need to take it as meaning he HAD awoken; it could instead be used canonically to mean that hope that he would soon be awoken had been given new life.

Edited by bonesiii
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"A glitch made the Matoran sentient"

There are two issues here; the cause of the change, and the nature of the change. Let's put off the second as that's a trickier one.

The cause 'misconception' actually happened because it was once canon, but Greg Farshtey later retconned it in favor of the new explanation (after much discussion with fans) -- that a Great Being who went into hiding in the Matoran Universe actually caused the change. Exactly why has not (at time of writing, to my knowledge) been finally confirmed, but one suggestion Greg has given credence to is the idea that this Great Being would not be able to blend in well with beings that were not fully sapient as he was.

The other issue is one of terminology, though this can be just semantics (however, I have seen it be a more involved misconception often).

That is that in the official Bionicle terminology as defined by Greg, "sentient" just means self-aware and refers even to higher animals, like in the real world a dog, or a Rahi in Bionicle. A dog is intelligent (compared to a plant :P), can learn, can imagine, can solve problems, etc. and there can be varying levels to that. Matoran were definitely meant to be sentient, but not "something beyond." Now in some story franchises, especially sci-fi, it has become popular to use both "sentient" and even "self-aware" as shorthand for that something, but this doesn't actually make a lot of sense, and in any case is not how Bionicle uses the term.

The term Greg uses for that something is "sapient", meaning wisdom, as in of a human level.

It's difficult to pin down exactly what it means, but we have two main clues. First, a Great Being named Angonce noticed that the MU characters were sacrificing themselves for a greater cause and evidently saw this as proof that they had changed beyond their original programming, to become truly alive like him. Second, the change enabled some to choose evil (especially Makuta), so it seems it involved a granting of something like freewill.

A lesser known aspect of this is that at one point, Greg stated that the Great Beings actually did intend for the Matoran (etc.) to be sapient in some senses, just not in others. So we traditionally call what they were "partial sapience" (or words to that effect) -- that is, they were not just "sentient" like a dog, but somewhere in between -- and what they gained "full sapience."

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"Aren't the Bionicle elements of Fire and Plasma the same thing?"

This is more of a common question than a misconception, but I have decided to include basic issues about elements like this in this topic, and occasionally I have seen it as a misconception. But it is frankly an extremely understandable one, as is widely agreed. To try to clear it up, first we need to understand why Generation 1 did this.

It happened for a rather convoluted reason, but one that does actually make sense given the (out-story) history of Bionicle. Five of the later elements were chosen because they were the powers of the Bohrok-Kal, other than green. Green was exempted from this because the normal Bohrok also had something wonky going on with green; five were from the normal six elements (like Tahu's team), but green was Acid (as it was felt Air wasn't effective enough for cleaning an island). And the story team didn't want Acid being an element because it felt more like an evil power (or at least not a Toa element).

So, the green Kal's power of Vacuum was decided not to be elemental either, to keep that consistent. But that also implied that the other five Kal elements SHOULD be elements. This was not adopted right away; there was a long period of fans pointing this out, and noncommittal answers, and then a few were adopted (I forget the order), and eventually they all were.

The problem with Plasma was that this was not thought through when the Kal elements were chosen. Plasma was picked to be a cool power, and sound really powerful, not with intent to become an element.

So, to keep that consistent, a reason had to be come up with to differentiate Fire and Plasma.

Greg chose that Fire is a lower-temperature element that works based on combustion; flammable materials react with oxygen*, plus a little heat, and that makes fire, but only while combustion is still going on. (This IS the fourth state of matter, hotter than gas; little-p "plasma", but the Big-P Plasma was used in a narrower sense in Bionicle; read on.)

For Plasma (the element), the idea was that there's no extra help in getting it into the fourth state of matter -- so no combustion. Instead, the gas is heated all the way to that state the hard way -- superheat. And it will stay in that state until the heat dissipates.

As a comparison, with Fire, Tahu was able to slowly cut rock by melting it with his sword, but Pahrak-Kal was able to instantly turn large areas of rock into lava. (Note that Plasma does not control lava; a related misconception that's been going around due to that scene. Rather, the superheat from the ionized gas - the Plasma -- could melt rock if rock was already present.)

So, that basically made Plasma the "super-fire" element. Fire is better for everyday situations, but Plasma Toa would be like super-soldiers you'd call in for extreme situations (or super problem solvers, etc.). :)

In hindsight, it probably would have been better had they done things some other way (like pick a better power for Pahrak-Kal). Nonetheless, it does at least provide some interesting (though basically unrealized canonically) story potential.

*As far as I recall at time of writing, it still hasn't been confirmed that the air in Bionicle contains oxygen. We know something works roughly like oxygen, though, and we know normal matter does exist on Spherus Magna (such as the water).

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"Glatorian are robots... Matoran are naturally biological... (And various similar misconceptions)."

Today I'm covering several misconceptions together about the biomechanical nature of characters in the Bionicle universe, partly because these were suggested a lot in the discussion topic for this project. Instead of going into detail on the misconceptions themselves this time, I'm going to sum up a way I have found makes it fairly easy to remember what the canon answers are, and explain what we do and don't know about some of the details.

The key is that the Spherus Magna inhabitants (Glatorian, Agori, etc.) are basically aliens; naturally biological beings, who predate the other beings. Their technological and metal components are implants and addons.

As their history progressed, it makes sense that they would advance technologically. So we see the in-story chronology of the characters following a basic pattern that the natural beings are 85% organic, and only 15% mechanical, while the later artificial beings (Toa, Matoran, etc.) of the Matoran Universe inside the giant robot flip that around, so now they're mostly technological -- 85% mechanical, and only 15% organic.

In other words, the original Agori were 100% organic, then 85%, and then the Matoran were made to be 15% organic.

You don't have to memorize the exact percentages, as those are likely just approximations anyways; the point is that the ratio moved toward less organic as time moved on in their history.

But what about the robots? Like the Baterra and Bohrok? Well, in the case of those two, it helps to remember that they look similar to each other. That round, hunched look is seen in both, and the eye design looks the same (in some portrayals of Baterra at least), plus they both have upward-pointing teeth decorations, as seen in these two images. See the end of this answer post for more detail on these two.

Many new fans at first glance will assume that all Bionicle characters are robots (as seen in the common saying among fans as to why 2001's story had instant appeal; "robots on a tropical island"), but actually the above two examples of Baterra and Bohrok are the only really major examples of robots in Bionicle Generation 1. The others are generally biomechanical. This of course is in addition to the giant robot that was later revealed to be the body of Mata Nui and contained atmospheric domes with islands and seas inside them -- the Matoran Universe -- and the prototype version of the giant robot on Bara Magna that Mata Nui used to battle Makuta, after Makuta took over the main giant.

Note that usually the technological components of the MU beings are simple -- mechanical rather than electronic, though it's thought that some components like the artificial ears are probably something similar to electronics.


MU Details

Specific examples of confirmed organic components in Matoran Universe beings (at least Matoran) include lungs and muscles.

The heartlight is confirmed to be technological, but its function has not been determined. We know they do not have blood, but presumably something needs to be pumped or controlled throughout them to aid the mechanical functions, and the heartlight itself somehow indicates health.


Greg has said he leans toward it pumping mechanical lubricant, but has (at last check I've made at time of writing) declined to establish that for sure. If that is the case, the health indicator function is probably a side effect, as death would make the lubricant pump stop working, so the indicator light would stop. Some fan interpretations like one that I personally prefer would have the heart distribute energy in some way to the other mechanical components and even the biological ones.

We also don't know if the brain is biological, technological, or some mixture. We do know of totally biological brains existing in the Matoran Universe; the Krana brain-creatures are organic, and the brains of the totally organic Kraata creatures made by Makuta are organic. So this is generally used to support the theory that Matoran brains are organic, but it has not been confirmed, and alternatives are possible.

Most MU beings have not been depicted as having skin. Their muscles seem like bundles of cords, which are resilient enough to be open to the air in places seen through gaps in the armor, probably for self-cooling purposes. The standard color of these muscle cords seems to be a purplish-gray. They have entirely artificial metal skeletons, and a layer of metal armor that functions in place of the skin, in addition to pistons (presumbly muscle-operated), sometimes gears, and the like. And they can also have pieces of special armor on top of this that is easier to remove and swap for other armor, especially chest armor and shoulder armor.

Many MU beings need to wear Kanohi masks too, but I will not be describing this system in detail here; see this Biosector01 page for more.


SM Details

The Spherus Magna beings' natural forms are totally organic, but with bones with a much higher metallic content than the bones of real-world Earth creatures; the bones of dead creatures that also have this trait are commonly carved into weapons that are portrayed in the sets with the standard silver plastic.

This may have partially inspired their adding to their form with metallic armor and technological implants. We don't know who originated these additions, but we do know the scientist-kings of the Agori culture in ancient times, the Great Beings, made many of the implants, if not all. However, the Great Beings left for another undefined part of the planet after it was broken into several pieces as a result of the Core War (the giant robot was made to research and carry out the healing of the planet), so the Agori and the taller warrior class beings (now called Glatorian) who remained in the area the story focused on have had to maintain their armor and implants by themselves.

We don't know how much personal maintenance is needed, for them or the MU beings; it's possible both types of technology have some sort of advanced self-repair mechanisms. This would make sense because both types live incredibly long periods of time; more than 100,000 years in the case of the Agori and Glatorian, and in some MU cases at least a little more than that (like Takua). However, if any maintenance is required, the Agori must have enough know-how to do it themselves, so it's possible they did play a large role in inventing the devices in the first place.

Note that the SM beings wear cloth between their skin and the armor to keep from burning themselves as the metal heats up in sunlight. They also are confirmed to have hair; neither of these things was depicted in the set forms or official art, however. Their appearance seems to have some reptilian traits too, and it's been theorized they may have bumps in the skin like scales in addition to the hair, establishing a sort of a fan convention for what this alien species probably looks like.

Instead of masks, the SM beings wear helmets. Some of the helmets cover the face entirely, though, and the word for mask in the Matoran language, Kanohi, may derive from the Agori language, so it's possible some SM beings have occasionally worn mask for cultural or maybe even entertainment purposes. The helmets are optional, and the normal total coverage of metal armor is not essential; some may wear clothes with only a little armor, etc.


Robot Details


With the two main types of robots, the easy way to remember things described above breaks down; the Baterra (which came first in-story) were totally robots (with a power of shapeshifting), but while the Bohrok themselves can operate on their own without any organics (albeit not very intelligently), Bohrok are designed to carry organic brain-creatures in their heads that control them, Krana. So while the Agori and Matoran go to less organic over time, the Baterra and Bohrok went from totally robotic to slightly organic (normally).


Also complicating things is that the Bohrok actually are the results of a (rather creepy) transformation of one type of Matoran (of the Light element, prefix Av) into Bohrok, so the Bohrok themselves have a bit of the same direction of change as the Agori but way more so -- they started out 15% biological as Matoran and changed so that now only the brain (whatever small percent that would be) is biological. (The Matoran's brain turned into the simple robotic processor of the Bohrok itself, though, rather than the Krana creatures; the Krana were made separately and placed in the Bohrok later.)


These complications make the simple way to memorize things fall apart, but it still works as long as you keep the robots out of it.


It may also help to remember that as technology advances, higher percentages of technological fusions with organics are easier to make, so it does make sense that both the Matoran and Bohrok came later; earlier the Agori being mostly organic and the Baterra being totally robots makes some sense. In real life we have known for a while how to make robots, but integrating robotics and organic life is a field we're only recently entering (mainly with prosthetics).


I don't know what to suggest for the Matoran turning into Bohrok part, but that detail really didn't have much relevance to the plot, so I wouldn't worry about it (unless you wake up someday and find out Bionicle is real and you're an Av-Matoran!). It was inspired by a line the rulers of the Bohrok (the biomechanical Bahrag) said to the Toa which implied that they were somehow related, and hinted at in the flashback story when the Matoran Nuparu theorized that Bohrok were once Matoran, so probably the best way to remember it is to remember those details rather than trying to fit it into a general formula.


Note that contrary to another misconception I've seen going around, all Bohrok were once Av-Matoran. None were made just as Bohrok from the start. There are theories as to why, but that's beyond the scope of this answer. I will probably do an answer about major Bohrok-related misconceptions at some point that may cover it.

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