Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Quick Crappy Pokemon Reviews: Generation 5 Part 7 - Tirtouga line to Gothita line

Would you like to know my reaction upon first seeing this?
“Well that’s disappointing”
Would you like to know my reaction now?
“Yeah, still disappointing”
And I say that as a person who considers turtles to be amongst his favourite animals. And yes I know that turtles go back to the time of the dinosaurs and yes I suppose that when you put it like that an animal that is still alive today but was alive then is pretty perfect for a Fossil Pokémon, y’know a Pokémon that is still around today and was alive in prehistoric times (just like Lileep and Cradilly) and there were some awesome prehistoric turtles. The problem is that Tirtouga and Carracosta are just turtles, they’re no more or less prehistoric than Squirtle, Turtwig or Torkoal and decidedly less prehistoric than Turtonator, these aren’t Archelons or Carbonemys, they’re just turtles (well ok, Carracosta is just a turtle that’s also a member of The Shield). And they’re fine turtles and fine Water/Rock types, turtles with rocky shells, completely sensible and Carracosta’s shell incorporating elements of stab vests is clever but there’s nothing about them that makes them Fossil Pokémon other than having a Rock typing, in which case Roggenrolla could be a Fossil ‘mon. It’s especially glaring considering all of the other Fossil ‘mons before it and it’s Fossil counterpart this generation, which is a straight up prehistoric lizard that most people think is a dinosaur. I think maybe they were going for an air and sea counterparts thing? But in that case someone should really have shown them pictures of a Mosasaurus, Liopleurodon or Ichthyosaurus before their brains defaulted to ‘turtles are old, right?’.

This is much better, you could say that Turtouga and Carracosta are more creative, and you’d be right, they’re a far cleverer set of concepts than ‘cute cartoon Archaeopteryx’ and ‘scary big cartoon Archaeopteryx’ and they certainly do a better job of showing their rock typing (these are Flying/Rock) but Archen is far less disappointing as a Fossil Pokémon, as well being based on an actual prehistoric thing and not their ancestors (seriously, Turtouga is like making a Pidgeotto a Fossil ‘mon) these two feel old AND they give some love to the Archaeopteryx. The Archaeopteryx lives in a strange grey area when it comes to prehistoric animals, it’s certainly one of the ‘standards’ for your dinosaur thing, not quite in the ‘must have’ category but still a very common sight in dinosaur parks and cartoons, but it never seems to be anyone’s favourite, a distinction it seems to share with Diatryma and Titanis and holyshititwouldhavebeensomuchcoolerifArcheopswasaTitanis! As it is we get a kind of pleasing, theoretical design that, as someone who genuinely likes the Archaeopteryx, I’m still pleased to see. For you see, while it may look pretty cool in pictures, Archaeopteryx is basically the chicken of the Jurassic era, it’s even roughly the same size, it is not going to be bothering no Allosaur any time soon. Archeops is the Archaeopteryx if it was upgraded to full dinosaur status, an Archaeopteryx that would be big enough and powerful enough to bother than Allosaur - that’s cool.

I don’t care what you say, there is one way to describe these:

But lets see if we can’t squeeze some more words out of ‘em anyway.
I liked Trubbish from the moment I saw it, not just for its undeniable cuteness, nor because it kind of reminded me of Trash Bag Bunch, not Trash Bunch, these were different but the dissolving bags they came in really do bring to mind Trubbish:
But because I recognised it as a counterpart to Grimer and Koffing and an incredibly sensible one at that –  Grimer and Koffing make sense as pollution Pokémon for Kanto because their types of pollution are major issues for Japan, and for Unnova, the region based on New York with its historic trash problem, Trubbish and Garbodor are the perfect local equivalent (because these are as much equivalent Pokémon as Timburr, Roggenrolla or Audino). I was utterly shocked when seemingly the whole fandom decided that the two were crimes against god Arceus. And I still don’t get it, Trubbish is an adorable, utterly loveable little loser of a rubbish bag with cute little ears which, according to the Pokedex at least, has the origin of ‘The combination of garbage bags and industrial waste caused the chemical reaction that created this Pokémon’ while Garbodor is a huge, awesome rubbish monster, a giant Totoro of trash with a poison gun for an arm that grows bigger the more trash it consumes like The fucking Blob – what’s not to like?
No, really, lets look at this a bit more in-depth: Trubbish is a cute stage 1 Pokémon that’s slightly on the odder side, but other ‘mons from this generation that fall into that description – like Darumaka or Elgyem – don’t get the hate. Garbodor (seriously it is Gar-bo-DOOR or Gar-BOW-da, as it’s theoretically based on a combination of ‘garbage’ and ‘odour’ it should be the latter, right? but I hear it both ways) is a monster, it’s not one of the cute or sexy Pokémon, it’s supposed to be unsettling and unpleasant, but this isn’t new in the series nor exclusive to Garbodor.
Is it because it’s made from Garabge then? But it’s not like creatures made from living trash are new in fiction or even new for Pokémon (Burmy’s trash cloak is made from literal trash to): Bogleech (another Garbodor fan) likens them to Hedorah from Godzilla but Hedorah was a pollution monster so closer to Muk, Trubbish and Garbodor are really closer to something like Muckman or The Heap (especially Todd McFarlane’s reimagining of it):

But really it just shows how awesome these two are that we can compare em to multiple cool monsters AND it proves my point, garbage monsters are a thing, Pokémon doing it is no odder than them making many other ‘standard monster types’ and they managed to make a little cutie and a very unsettling big monster out of it, and I KNOW that Hedorah and Muckman are popular in their respective fandoms so it’s not like garbage monsters are always instant fails.
And it’s not even like the two are drawn particularly grossly or detailed, their trash parts look like cookies!
I just don’t get it.

It’s a twofer equivalentmon line, acting as both Gen 5’s Riolu and Lucario and Gen 5’s Vulpix and Ninetales, and another line that’s just really well designed, although I could be a little biased because it looks like a Sonic the Hedgehog villain but no, no I’m not being biased just because Zoroark looks like it could hang out with Fang the Sniper Zorua and Zoroark are really well designed, they’re a gorgeous colour scheme and every part of them feels just right, like it’s placed in just the right place, everything flows, everything is just right and Zoroark is damn stylish too, taking elements from folklore and ancient art, Kabuki theatre and good old fashioned werewolves to make this lovely what amounts to the Loki of Pokemon, a smiling, stylin’ trickster. The only thing I’m not taken with is the scrunchie, but it’s brilliant blue compliments Zoroarks’ colours so well that it’s hard not to forgive it having a random manufactured thing. Zorua meanwhile manages to be cute but still have that air of deviousness, of menace, to it, I wouldn’t trust this little bastard as far as I can throw it, although according to Bulbapedia it’s only  27.6 pounds so I could probably throw it fairly far and thus regret using that phrase.
These two also have a cool gimmick, inherited from kitsunes and other trickster fox types in myth, it’s an Ability called ‘Illusion’ that means that when sent out into battle, the Zorua or Zoroark appears as the last Pokémon in your party in all ways except level, so your opponent thinks it’s facing a Weedle or something, it wears off after taking damage but it’s still pretty useful in temporarily fudging someone’s battling strategy and maybe getting an extra turn or two out of your Zorua.
So all ‘round awesome then? Yup.

Even though it already has a Pikaclone, Gen V also has these two, meaning that it has its own PIkaclone as all Generations must AND it has an equivalent to Pikachu and Raichu, one that was even designed by Pikachu’s creator (Atsuko Nishida.) I think that might be a bit too much pika for one Generation. Minccino is about as boring a Pokémon can get, it’s a Pikaclone, it’s generically cute, it’s grey, it’s even pure Normal Type, which is the Boring Type and it evolves (into Cinccino) by…not cutting its hair. It’s all very, very dull.
THOUGH it is part of something I wish Game Freak would commit to more readily: Pikachu in different Elemental Types – sometimes they’re up for this with Waterachu (Marril), Normalachu (Minccino), Flyachu (Emolga) or Steelachu (Togedemaru) but then other Gens they’ll just dump another electric rodent on us. I find the idea of each region having a Pikaclone of a different Type to be far more interesting an idea than them just having their own Pikachu, like it was some kind of branched evolution of the same rodent that adapted to each region different, sometimes by electrocuting your ass, sometimes by drowning it, sometimes by whipping with vines, sometimes by Cute Charming it.

Gen 5’s equivalents of the Ralts line are here, now I gave Gardevoir a very high score and I stand by that, it’s a great way to do a feminine humanoid Pokémon and  one of the reasons Gardevoir is such a good feminine humanoid Pokémon is because it doesn’t look like a woman in a funny outfit and that Gothitelle is far more that and thus isn’t as good as Gardevoir by my own standards. That said:
FUCK YEAH, THE GOTH POKEMON ARE HERE! And why not? Fashion trends seem to have been an influence in Jynx’s creation, we have Kabuki in Zoroark and Scraggy and Scrafty are just little lizard gangbangers and Gothic Lolita is a big noise in modern Japanese counter-culture, as big as Ganguro ever was, a completely sensible thing to base some Pokemans on. And things like astrology, psychic and seances are, if not actually big in the counter-culture, considered to be so and associated with the Goth culture and all its sub-sets (I can actually attest to the fact that astrology IS popular, but then it’s popular in every hairdressers in this country) so it even makes sense to make them Psychic types rather than Dark Types, especially as these three ARE based around astrology and palm reading and the like and I didn’t’ just pull those things out of my ass. AND as Dark Type is the Evil Type in Japan I’m rather glad they’re not Dark Types as in the case of the source material, dark doesn’t mean evil. HOWEVER I’m a bit concerned by Gothorita’s habit of leading people astray, hypnotising them and being the ‘Manipulate’ Pokémon…what does that represent exactly? Do you think goth teenagers manipulate other kids and lead them astray, game Freak? Astray to what? To liking good music? Or is it just another case of Japan’s outlook on women? Are girls who take part in countercultures seen as a bad influence in Japan even if they’re still very feminine and not necessarily delinquent? Or are Game Freak just all fucking preps?
Anyway we got three great Pokémon out of it otherwise, Gothita is adorable (and creepy, it just stares, and stares, and stares, it’s another creepy child Pokémon and that is great) and oddly more animalistic than many of the humanoidmons, looking like a little Tim Burtonesque penguin, that stares, and stares, and stares. Gothorita really reminds me of cupcakes, as a design it has a nice alien like quality to it regardless of what it’s pokedex entries possibly say about its creative team and Gothorita grows out of being a manipulative shrew and being a possible case of unfortunate implications and just becomes a cool Goth alien precog with a wicked head design. Actually yeah can we just make this clear: Gothorita and Gothitelle are how you abstract hair for your humanoid Pokémon, you can still tell what it’s supposed to look like but you can still also clearly tell that it’s not just a hairstyle but instead something completely separate, these are the Shiftry’s shoes of abstracted hair. 
See? See all the genuine things I found to praise these three four? See how it isn’t just me liking them because they’re part fo the same counterculture I am? See how unbiased I am? See how I’m pathetically lying to make myself seem better at reviewing creatures in video games? See?

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