ComicsAlliance vs. the Best and Worst of Pokemon
We may not all live in a Pokemon world, but with the release of "Pokemon HeartGold" and "SoulSilver" last week (and the upcoming DSi XL making it possible for our aged eyes to process handheld games again), the venerable Pocket Monsters franchise has been on our minds a lot lately here at ComicsAlliance.
For us, the appeal mainly comes from the fact that most of the Pokemon are completely insane, which is why we've gotten CA writers Chris Sims and David Uzumeri to share their thoughts on some of our favorite -- and least favorite--Pokemon!
David: I am at a disadvantage here, having never actually sat down and played Pokemon. I did, however, sit through the entire first feature film.
Chris: Well, at least you learned the power of love and true friendship.
Chris: I think it's important to note that when the makers of Pokemon needed to decide who got to be #001, they picked a dinosaur made of trees.
David: Man, everyone knows Bulbasaur. He's ... the flower bulb ... wait, I just realized he's supposed to be a dinosaur. He looks nothing like a dinosaur!
Chris: Sure he looks like a dinosaur. He's got that big friendly smile.
David: He looks like someone glued a tulip to a cat and painted it to look like a lizard.
Chris: Twenty words into this article and I'm already sensing some friction here, Dave. You should know that I straight up love Bulbasaur and I am not afraid to admit it. I am a 27 year-old man who loves Bulbasaur. I love his stumpy little legs, I love his... well, I guess they're more head-points than actual ears.
David: I am afraid of his adorable, mischievous smile. And the tulip krazy-glued to his back. Honestly, of the original ones I was always more of a Squirtle or Psyduck fan.
Chris: Squirtle has the edge in evolutions. I mean, Bulbasaur just turns into a bigger dinosaur with a bigger tree, and that's pretty cool, but Squirtle eventually turns into a giant tortoise that is also a tank with actual cannons in his back. But I still love Bulbasaur.
David: I ain't hatin'! But compared to the brilliance of Bronzong...
Chris: Nice segue. So you like Bronzong, the ceremonial temple bell with a face on it that shoots lighting out of its... I don't know, are those technically arms?
David: No, seriously, Bronzong is awesome. It's like a Final Fantasy random encounter built out of a Jack Kirby/Osamu Tezuka joint design for a Dalek.
Chris: Well when you put it that way, yeah, he's pretty awesome. But I'll admit it: The way that it looks like it's always asking for a hug freaks me out more than a little.
David: Aw crap, now I can't un-see that.
Chris: There's a real "COME TO HATEMOTHERRR" vibe to it.
David: SANTY CLAUS!
Chris: According to Bulbapedia, Delibird isn't just a bird that looks like Santa Claus, he's actually one of the Pokemon that Santa Claus owns. And really, I can barely get my head around the fact that Santa has Pokemon, let alone that he has a little one that looks just like him but is also a penguin.
David: Santa Claus exists in the Pokemon universe? I was not aware of that, although I suppose it makes sense. I'd thought maybe it was just a coincidence. The name's weird, though. Like, delicatessen? Or is it a Deli-bird because it tastes so delicious?
Chris: Santa does, in fact, exist in the world of Pokemon. He has eight tiny Stantlers that can fly, and delivers toys to good trainers every Christmas.
David: STANTLERS! That's ADORABLE!
David: Bells in the antlers! Actually, they pretty much look like regular reindeer.
Chris: I gotta say though, as much as I love Christmas, I just don't know what to think about a Santa Claus who spends the off-season taking little animals out and making them fight each other so that they can get stronger. I'm not sure if it's the worst thing I've ever heard... or the best.
David: Well, it's all they know. That's the circle of life for the Pokemon. I mean, Santa had to have given out enough copies of "Lion King," he's seen that damn scene. Sometimes, adorable Pokemon must die so we all may live, and that is the greatest Christmas gift of them all.
David: What is he hiding??
Chris: Piloswine is the Pokemon most likely to refer to his wife as "My old lady."
David: Yeah, totally, that Pokemon looks like the avatar of resigned existential defeat. But why even bother with tusks that low? What's it going to do, cut your ankles?
Chris: Believe it or not, he has an amazing vertical leap. But doesn't he just look like he'd ask to crash on your couch for a few days, just 'til the settlement comes through?
David: He'd ruin it with those damn tusks! And he'd shed everywhere! Piloswine would have a house outside if that was required.
Chris: "Yeah, okay. I mean, I'm used to livin' rough, y'know, ever since my old lady gave me the boot. I don't guess I could get a five off you for bus fare?"
David: I'm getting depressed just looking at this guy.
Chris: You think that's bad, wait for the next one.
David: "Ambi" is right, man. Whoever designed this is obsessed with symmetry.
Chris: If you're unaware, some of the Pokemon can "evolve" into other Pokemon. Now, I ain't Chuck Darwin or nothin', but I'm not sure what evolutionary advantage one gains from having no hands, a massively disturbing clown face, and two tails that end in a trio of truly horrifying sex toys.
David: At this point, I think it's safe to say we're dealing with a messed-up offshoot of LaMarckian adaptive evolution and nothing Darwin ever came close to postulating. Either way, this guy looks awesome. I'd want to keep him around, just to scare the crap out of people at parties.
Chris: Even the way he's standing, with that little half-shrug with his flipper arms. He's like "Yeah, I guess I'm a horrible sex monkey! Who's first?"
David: Maybe those ... appendages ... have other uses. I dunno. Maybe they're magic markers. Or erasers. Maybe they secrete a venom that causes chlamydia but cures cancer!
Chris: I can't look at this thing any longer. But the next one... Yeesh.
David: So needy-looking. Like, go away.
Chris: Smoochum is the "baby" version of Jynx, the Pokemon that looks like a drag queen in blackface.
David: I.... what? That is one racist-ass opera queen. Wait a second, Jynx is just the Eggplant Wizard in a wig! Well, and two eyes. MINOR DETAILS.
Chris: So someone looked at Jynx and was like "You know what this needs? A younger version."
David: Well, this is Japan.
Chris: Yeah. It's like, I don't even know what to say about it other than "This exists."
David: Maybe it's the fact that I just read it, but it reminds me oddly of Penny from "Phonogram: Singles Club."
Chris: I have no idea how you got that, but hey, thanks a lot Dave. I was hoping someone would come along and just thoroughly ruin the idea of a pretty girl dancing to the Pipettes. No really, that's great. That's just great.
David: I live to serve, Chris. And completing this metaphor, Kid with Knife is the next guy.
Chris: I call Shennanigans! Look, I understand that they have to design like a hundred and fifty of these for each game, and that some of them aren't going to be that creative. But come on, guys, you can't just look out the window and put eyes on the first thing you see.
David: Ah, the patented reverse Batman. <stares out the window> I shall become... a pinecone!
Chris: Maybe the guy who designed this worked all night trying to come up with something totally boss, like a dragon, and then the guy at the meeting right before him pitched Charizard. Then they go to this guy and it's like "So what do you have?""
"Uhhhhh Pineco. He's.. a pinecone."
And then everyone gets real quiet.
David: A slow clap rises...
Chris: Yeah. Seriously though: Pineco. Was this really the best you could do, Pokemon?
David: Well, you're gonna have some clunkers out of ... what is it, 400, 500 now? They're even making up colors now. What the hell is "SoulSilver?" Is that like True Blood?
Chris: I think it's what Scott Pilgrim's sword is made of. So we agree that Pineco was phoned in, right?
David: Yeah, perhaps literally over the phone.
Chris: Because this next one is on the complete opposite end of the spectrum.
Chris: Camerupt: A big fat camel with volcanos for humps.
David: I've heard less badass ideas. I dig the perfect concentric blue circles on the side. What do they mean? I have no idea!
Chris: It's like the perfect synthesis of what a fourth grader would come up with in biology class. "Camels store fat in their humps so that they can go days without sustinence." "Yeah? Well what if they stored MOLTEN LAVA that they shot at STUPID PINECONES?!"
David: Where does the lava come from?! I mean, does it absorb magma through its paws? What does it evolve into? Does it like, grow more volcanoes?
Chris: You're not far off: It evolves from Numel, which only has a little bump on its back. A bump that turns into two volcanoes.
David: That's one painful puberty.
Chris: I have no joke for this one, I just legitimately think it's adorable.
David: Is that a tail? Also, is the ball between its ears part of it on a biological level, or is it just holding it in a completely adorable fashion?
Chris: It is a pearl that increases its psychic powers. Because of COURSE the spring-pig is going to have psychic powers.
David: That... is adorable. Whoever came up with this one deserves a raise, seriously. Or an extra bag of whatever they were doing.
Chris: In the world of Pokemon, there are so many websites with pictures of this thing asking horribly misspelled questions. "I can haz psychic powrz?"
David: I can totally see that. Honestly, I just want one for a friend now.
Chris: Dave, I want you to buckle up, because I'm about to take you on an emotional rollercoaster. From Bulbapedia: "It possesses no hind legs and motion is achieved by bouncing on its spring like tail. However, the bouncing serves a far more vital function in that it keeps its heart beating; if it's stopped from bouncing, it will go into cardiac arrest and die."
David: AND KIDS PLAY THIS?!
Chris: I know, right? But wait, it gets adorable again: "It is able to constantly bounce, even while sleeping" EVEN WHILE SLEEPING! Dawwwwwwwww!
David: But you could just... accidentally... through ignorance... kill it, by trying to hold it.
Chris: And if you take away its pearl, it gets sad:
David: Incredible. I'm pretty sure you could use that image to make domestic terrorists talk. How could you say no to that face?
Chris: All right, our final entries...
Chris: I will guarantee you the guy who designed this is in an unhappy marriage right now.
David: Does one evolve from the other, or are they just two sides of the same thing? Is this like the chick in that Seinfeld episode that only looked good in certain light?
Chris: Glameow evolves into Purugly.
David: Oh wow, that is pretty misogynist.
Chris: She starts out sleek and slim, and then one day you wak eu and the whiskers are frayed, the smile's gone, it doesn't take care of its ears like it used to, it keeps saying you spend too much time drawing monsters, starts nagging when you stop off for five lousy minutes to get a drink on your way home from the Nintendo offices...
David: All at once, too. Why is Pokemon evolution not incremental at all? Seriously, did these guys not read a book??
Chris: And just in case you missed the message, they named it "Purugly."
David: Does it get angry if you then catch another Glameow?
Chris: I would not doubt it. Also, if your Glameow knows the ability "Limber," when it evolves the ability changes into "Thick Fat." Which means there is an ability called "Thick Fat."
David: That's not even subtle.
Chris: It's pretty rough, but seriously, how funny is Purugly's "shirt?"
David: Oh wow, I hadn't even processed it that way. I wonder sometimes if this subtext is intentional, and then I realize it almost definitely is.