That…that picture of Shuppet, Sugimori me ol’ son, that…well… well done on making Shuppet’s head look like morning wood mate.
Away from that: Shuppet is such a great way to do the typical sheet ghost, instead going down this somehow completely logical path of throwing in hand puppets, teru teru bozu and the concept of Tsukumogami which of course completely allows the first two to become Ghosts as it’s (at it’s very basic) an intimate object with a spirit in it. Shuppet being so damn adorable doesn’t hurt either, is it the cutest Ghost Type? It’s certainly the cutest Ghost Type so far and it’s had Misdreavus to content with.
Then there’s Banette, who goes far more in the Tsukumogami direction on the surprisingly logical path and becomes a haunted doll that just so happens to look like someone that may or may not have once been found chained up in the basement of a pawn store where Bruce Willis and Ving Rhames may have been held captive once. Yes it does look a bit like a gimp, in fact I think it looks like a gimp version oooof…
It’s Gimp Zippy. That alone is scary, which is fine of course because this is a Ghost Type. Actually, looking at it all of Shuppet’s cuteness has been lost in the evolution process hasn’t it? All that’s left is creepy, creepy gimpiness, I think it’s those eyes, never seen eyes that shape on any cartoon critter of any kind before, and the big, gold smile.
Mega Banette is epic, but I don’t really know how to expand on that, I think just going ‘LOOK AT IT’ isn’t really acceptable but LOOK AT IT! it’s Banette turned up to 12, it has huge hot pink claws being released form mouth-like zippers for hands, it has a gorgeous colour scheme, it has the same upsetting face, it’s gloriously nightmarish in all the best Tim Burton-esque ways. And THAT is how you go LOOK AT IT in more words and trick people into thining you’re remotely articulate
I was initially in agreement with my ‘inspiration’ for all this, Mr Bogleech, about how littles sense this line makes in terms of a progression for an evolution, but having thought about it and done a little Googling during an illness I think these three only made little sense because we’re not Japanese.
What I think we have here is a line of Hitotsume-kozō – a cyclops yokoi that is even usually drawn with the same style of eye as Dusclops - that each take in aspects of at least one other yokoi, with Dusclops being the most obvious, drawing inspiration from Chōchin-obake, the paper lantern yokoi. Looked at like this the line is a pretty sensible progression, well except that it grows legs and then looses them again, that’s kind of weird. What doesn’t help, I think, is that the three look like – and more than likely take visual cues from intentionally – things we easily recognise in the west: cartoon ghosts, the grim reaper, mummies, a Scoleri brother, whatever, that it becomes very confusing because we’re looking at it from our perspective and then seeing things we think we recognise.
Individually? All is good. Duskull is an adorable little ghost with and adorable stance, it floats along with its arms behind it’s back like a thoughtful little boy, here’s that it’s little handy-pandies actually look like:
And it only has one eye, that’s just one red light in there, not two pupils, I like designs that have that ‘ooooh yeah’ element to them, and I like ghosts. I actually find Dusknoir to be very unsettling, it has a dead visage with a staring pupil a zombie-like plot to it and zombies are just close enough to the chewy centre of my automatonophobia to unsettle me, I appreciate the intentional or unintentional mummy aspects of it’s design and it’s cute little whippy ice-cream hair but WHATA THE FUCK ARE THOSE SIDEBURN THINGS? Seriously? What are those? The light grey streamer things that start roughly parallel to its teeth, what are they? Why do we just accept those? Why isn’t there a meme about the weird sideburn streamer things on Dusclops? Dusknoir exchanges unsettling for imposing, not a bad trade-up but it does make it less scary to me personally, and as a design it must be doing something right because it can look super badass while having Mickey Mosue cloves and a face in it’s rolly polly belly that looks like Pac-man, no, you know what it looks like? It looks like those Blobba things from Bubble Bobble, you remember those? These:
They’re called ‘Monsta’ now apparently, they have a wiki entry on the Bubble Bobble wiki, which of course is a thing and let’s be honest with each other – you’re glad it does. ‘Noir is probably my least favourite of the three, but only by a fraction of an amount.
It’s a dinosaur. It’s a dinosaur that’s also a banana tree. It’s a dinosaur that’s also a banana tree that can also fly.
Seriously? What more do you want from me?
Hmm…you know, given that this is so clearly a dinosaur and not in the least bit ‘kaiju-like’ I think I would have preferred this to have been the ‘third fossil’ like Areodactyl, hell amber even comes from trees, it would have been perfect.
Just to recap my feelings on Baby Pokémon: in Generation 2 they served a purpose (getting people to use the new breeding mechanic) and thus were fine, in later generations they are pointless because with nothing to advertise and no use elsewhere they exist just to exist, the only real argument I’ll stand for for these post-Gen 2 baby Pokémon is to fill in a gap in logic, things like Snorlax, Sudowoodo and even Mantine having younger forms can be seen as ‘making sense’ because of the size or maturity of them, it’s not enough for me but I can see why people think this. This doesn’t mean that I think all Baby Pokemon suck, Chingling here is a lovely little design, a lovely way to give us a living bell, yeah it’s a bell, hopefully you’ve noticed but if you haven’t don’t worry because they did a great job of making it look like a living creature and not just a bell with a face on it, which makes it doubly a good fit as a prevo for Chimecho: not only does it make sense that a wind chime would evolve from a bell (a little ringing thing becomes a big ringing thing, see?) but Chimecho also has the same design and same quality to it’s design – it’s a windchime yes but it also looks exceptionally like an organic thing, more so than it does a wind chime.
But Chingling was the exact opposite of what Chimecho needed. Oh Chimecho (initially a single stage non-evolving ‘mon) needed another stage to its line but it didn’t need one that was weaker! Chimecho is a pure assist character and has a move pool that should make it a damn good one, but it’s stats are so weak that it’s really not worth using it because 87% of the time it’ll be knocked unconscious before it can assist, whereas as other ‘mons (like Chansey) can do its job for more than 20 seconds. Chimecho needed an evolution in Generation 4, not prevolution.
Chimecho btw has since got a little buff (in gen 7) to up some of its stats and make it slightly less pathetic and it’s still an adorable and very nice way of making a wind chime Pokémon with a very pleasant ‘dinner service’ colour scheme and again a very organic, abstracted look that keeps it from looking like a real life thing with some eyes slapped on it – y’know, what fans call every Pokémon based on an inanimate object whether it’s true or not (and mostly it isn’t). All of that doesn’t make Chingling any less pointless though.
And people complained about Lucario being designed to be popular? Absol seems to have been the result of an in-depth scientific process into making something appealing, form its anime face to its tragic misunderstood lore to its fucking ying-yang symbol elements if Absol wasn’t made specifically to make fangirls want it and fanboys want to be it then it’s one of the happiest accidents in video game history.
And it works, I end just like all the rest going ‘aww it isn’t bad really, it doesn’t really cause bad things! it just can’t tell you about the disasters because it’s a Pokémon! it knew and it wanted to tell you but it can only make a GBA-quality roaring noise” and it’s also a pretty sweet design, it’s tail looks better in 3D models by the way, Sugimori draws it really stuck on because….I dunno, he hates Absol and wants to stab it in the butt?
Mega Absol might be a bit much though, making it a fucking sexy angel with Jessica Rabbit hair? That’s a bit…obvious? Do we not think? I mean it IS very pretty and it does have the right presence but… I mean… it’s really… baiting, I’m not sure what it’s baiting, but it’s baiting.
for Wynaut see here
So Absol really doesn’t seem to be based on anything other than the need to dampen fangirls knickers, I’ve heard a few suggestions but nothing really seems to fit right, it’s just a made up animal with an in-universe legend attached to it that resembles several real-world legends. I bring this up here because we got from that to three Pokémon explicitly based on real-world things myths, and a hockey mask.
Snorunt is a weird little thing until you know what it’s based on: it’s based on the Yuki warashi (or Yukinko) a snow spirit that takes the form of a frozen child wearing a mino (or yukimino) to lure the unweary, sometimes to its mother the Yuki-onna, which Froslass is based on. But what this translated to when it becomes a Pokémon is a shivering, snow eating little cutie who is said to brings prosperity and live in little groups under large leaves. Somehow Game Freak – who love to make everything dark and horrible – turned a human-eating snow spirit that takes the form of a dead kid into a lucky, social, adorable ball of adorable that you just want to cuddle.
Originally Snorunt just evolved into Glalie, but Generation 4 gave it into a split evolution when – presumably – someone realised the glaringly obvious missed opportunity in having a Yuki warashi evolve into a Yuki-onna, it still evolves into Glalie when levelled up but will become Froslass if it’s female and given a Dawn Stone (which also evolves male Kirlia into Gallade, to prove the Dawn Stone ain’t sexist).
I don’t much like Froslass, in fact I’d say it was my least favourite Ghost Type (it’s Ice/Ghost) and we’ll see if the scores back me up on that overall. It makes a great deal of sense in terms of the evolutionary line, more so than Glalie where I think the theory was ‘it’s an oni wearing a snow thing to let’s make its evolution another oni wearing another snow thing’ but, I just don’t like it as a design, but everything I don’t like about are things that make sense:
I don’t like its head design, I don’t like the ice-horns or the random diamond cut-out but both evoke Glalie and make sense as this is ‘girl Glalie
I don’t like how obvious it is with its inspiration - it clearly a monster in a kimono – but that’s what Yuki-onna ARE and it’s not like Charizard or Onyx’s obviousness is an issue.
I don’t like how they gave it a sexy body ‘tail fin’ (that’s what it is right? it’s not actually a body is it? the thing is still a head with arms on it and a long tail-like thing, have I been reading Froslass design wrong all this time?) because it’s a girl but that’s true to the Yuki-onna legend and the in-universe Froslass legend (about it being the possible spirit of a dead woman)
As such I think the problem is not with Froslass as a design but with Froslass as a design connected to Snorunt to Glalie, which are more abstracted and not as busy or detailed and thus I should get over it and not hold it against Froslass as a design by itself.
Glalie I’ve always liked, Game Freak combined Oni masks and hockey masks into the world’s most menacing Madball while still making it look a good deal like it’s previous form, even though it’s a floating devil head Glalie feels like it evolved from Snorunt, it’s still a black creature with a shell and those teeth but now it comes for you when you sleep and is apparently made from rock embedded with the distress and regrets of a mountaineer who died (again, this is from the Pokédex, Muk size piles of salt please) and will freeze it’s pray so it can ‘eat them at it’s leisure’
Then for Generation 7 Glalie (but not Froslass) breaks its jaw, grows a unicorn horn and becomes Mega Glalie, a huge gaping maw coming straight for you. It’s alright, it’s intimidating but feels a bit generic (yes I did call the floating oni head with a unicorn horn ‘generic’), like it could be a standard random encounter monster in any old RPG.