So I noticed the following: Tailow is much cuter than I always think of it as being and Swellow is much meaner than I always think of it as being. I don’t know how interesting this is but I’m struggling to find things to write about these two. Looking at them with their random choice of colour scheme and their early-Image Comics red markings they’re a pretty good example of Generation 3 which makes them pretty good designs as far as being the Hoenn ‘regional bird’ goes, with them representing the sort of Pokémon in the region (design-wise). Ruby and Sapphire were the games that really cemented the concept of each regional having it’s own version of certain animals – bugs, cats, fish, birds – and I’m so used to it I wasn’t really sure how I felt about it (as I was going to talk to about it here to pad this section out) but overall I think it makes sense, in the real world there are types of creatures – including birds, fish and bugs – that are in just about every region of the world and often there are types of them that are exclusive or far more common in that region. So it’s reflecting real life as much as it is anything else (like being a bit mentally lazy). Back to the birds, they’re both fine, I have genuinely no complaints and they’re one of my friend’s favourite Pokémon so even if I did have complaints I wouldn’t voice them because she has frogs and I fear frogs and she would take horrible frog-themed revenge if I shat on her birdies.
So you remember I said that this generation was designed by a large team? Well I bet you didn’t know that Max Fleischer was one of them? Seriously these things could have flown out of any Pre-War animated short; they could be eating Bimbo the Dog’s rubbish or shitting on Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. They’re a sepia tone away from being Bendy & The Ink Machine enemies.
I like this about them, it’s not exactly surprisingly that this style meshes so well with the older Generations of Pokémon as Manga and Anime as a style grew out of Disney, the early work of manga pioneer Osamu Tezuka would fit right in alongside Bimbo, Oswald, Mickey and Felix, in fact some of those characters look better fits than Bettie Boop or Goofy! Anyway if I had the choice I’d lose Pelliper’s blue head stripe but I’ve a feeling if I highlight every extraneous bit of markings on Gen III Pokémon I’ll become quite annoying very fast. So yeah, good abstracted birds, with a nice hint of Steamboat Willie, very pleasing!
Ok, lets get this out of the way first because I KNOW it’s all you care about and you won’t pay attention until I touch on it: I personally do not want to shag Gardevoir, for me it’s not quite human enough and not quite anthropomorphic animal enough, but a midpoint where (for me) bangability does not lie. HOWEVER If you do want to bang this Pokémon I don’t judge you in any way, it was clearly designed to resemble a human female and the lore surrounding it, like it – in so many words – falling in love with its trainer and remaining faithful until death – were clearly based on Japan’s idea of what an ideal wife should be. Gardevoir is the Waifu Pokémon. So I get it, I just don’t want to doink it myself.
Can we talk about other stuff now? Because I really rather like this line and there’s a lot to discuss other than if I want to fuck it or not. For those who roll their eyes at Gardevoir, I’d like to argue that it’s a pretty logical thing to introduce into the franchise, we’d had masculine-looking abstracted human style Pokémon since Generation 1 (Machamp and the Hitmons) so a feminine-looking set is only fair (especially as we were getting another 8 masculine-looking abstracted human style Pokémon this generation) and admittedly a fairly obvious idea but one that the Pokémon world would feel weirder and less complete without. And while it IS the first overly ‘sexy’ Pokémon, it’s really not that fanservicy if you actually look at the damn thing and it’s official art, sprites and renders rather than all the porn of it, if you’re sceptical please compare Gardevoir to Digimon’s fanservice female ‘mons like Lotusmon or Angewomon and see how sexual Gardevoir ain’t. Of course it’s Mega form does grow the Gardevoir version of stonking great tits…but that’s a critique for it’s Mega form.
Also, there’s a delightful battle-of-the-sexes humour to the fact that all of the male-looking ‘mons up to and including Gen 3 are all weak to the female-looking one’s Type. I’m sure that was intentional and I enjoy it.
I also enjoy the fact that the most lusted after of all Pokémon begins its life as a really creepy little thing, but that doesn’t mean I want one in my house. Ralts is the Pokémon version of the creepy ghost child that Japan loves to freak me out with so much and thought of it shuffling along my hallways with eyes I can’t see…urgh *shudder*. As it’s not real though? It’s cool, a creepy child is definitely an apt basis for the first stage of a Psychic Type line and for an abstracted human style Pokémon.
Gallade does what it does well, it compliments Gardevoir’s grace with a Three Musketeers/Errol Flynn style cool and it has weaponized elbows, which is just neat whenever it shows up, I wish my elbows could be used to stab motherfuckers with. It IS an exceptionally obvious thing to do – this is another of Generation 4’s cross-generational evolutions – and there were certainly Gen 1-3 Pokémon that could have done with an addition to its evolutionary line more and these would have lead to more creative creatures than ‘boy Gardevoir’ and as a boy Gardevoir it doesn’t really do anything radical or even that interesting beyond its knifebows. But I don’t think anybody was really calling for that. Fans who wanted a boy Gardevoir wanted a boy Gardevoir, with the same appeal as Gardvoir Classic but without the cooties or uterus implications, not an example of the creative skill or subversive mentality of the people who work for the people who work for Nintendo. As someone who didn’t need a boy Gardevoir because I’m a heterosexual male who is completely comfortable using feminine Pokémon in battle and talking about his Care Bears and Rainbow Brite collections I can sit there and say ‘oh, well, it’s not that creative’ but I’m not the target audience, the target audience wanted Gallade and they got Gallade, so now everyone can wank over the Ralts line regardless of sex or sexuality. Yay.
Meanwhile, two generations later, Game Freak readily admitted popularity was a big factor in which ‘mons got Mega Evolutions so it should be NO surprise that Mega Gardevoir and Mega Gallade exist. But aren’t they a bit… reserved? I mean they make sense within the concept of Mega Evolution: they take elements of the regular forms and exaggerate them and in the process look more powerful, and they make sense in terms of real-world design process – Gardevoir is even more feminine and more attractive to nerds (and now has the aforementioned equivalent of stonking great tits), Gallade gets a stylish cape and huger knifebows but…y’know… Mega Aerodactyel has rocks jutting out all over its body and Mega Tyranitar looks like an explosion of spikes and badassery, these two are just a bit…tame.
I don’t quite get why they’re green and white though, nothing about their colour scheme makes you think of Psychic, it makes you think of Grass. You might be saying ‘oh it doesn’t matter that much’ or ‘they might just have wanted to do something different’ or even ‘the Abra line isn’t purple either, mate’ and you’re not wrong but with hundreds of ‘mons to remember even at this stage, visual short-hand like colours can be a big help. I’m not holding it against them too much because their colour schemes do suit them and do look pleasant, it’s more I don’t understand the thought process, maybe these weren’t gonna be Psychic types at first? Anyway they’re now Psychic/Fairy types and they do look more like fairies than psychics, so I’ll shut up and move on.
So these got a buff in Gen 7 and are now quite well thought of, which is nice I guess
I don’t know what to put here, I’m VERY apathetic to these two. Surskit is almost Digimon levels of simple but at least has the fact that its based on a real creature to elevate it above the uncreative doldrums of Digimon’s circles with monster faces drawn on them and the little markings that look like its blushing do at least make it impossible to hate, stop looking at me like that Surksit I’m trying to give you an honest review that gets across what I think about you as a design and you keep being too cute for me to do that!
Masquerain (good name, that) is a step up, most of it still simply but I’m guess I’m saying it’s the right kind of simple, Ramones style simple. It’s also very… Epcot. Do you know what I mean? That kind of concrete soulless futurist style from the 70’s and 80’s, from after Space Mountain but before the Apple Mac? Mind you – a whole set of Pokémon based on Disney rides would be awesome, you could have a Turtle thing with a shell like Space Mountain’s show building, or a big angry floating Spaceship Earth, or a Doom Buggy based ‘mon, or one based on that dopey sea serpent from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, another based on Harold the Yeti, there’s sure some mileage in that - yes I am padding this out.
That all means that I’m not a big fan of the style of Masquerain or the colours, it reminds me of a ‘futuristic’ art style I’ve always found unpleasant and unsettling but I like it’s teardrop shaped head and that it has a false face on it’s wings and head, which is cleverly and subtly done (it has a mouth by its eyes, see?) which puts the score back up so that in the end result is three balls apiece for these two.