Archive

Porn

Without a doubt Generation 4 is the worst set of Pokemon designs. That’s not even an opinion, I can prove it using maths. Observe. This generation contains 89 actual Pokemon although thanks to the marvel of additional forms the number of designs is slightly higher. Of those 89 pokemon 14 are legendaries, the most of any game so far and a big leap from 10 in the last game and a mere 5 in the first game. Now I quite like legendaries and in 4th gen’s defence they do have some cool legendaries and the large amount of them is integral to the plot of the game. However, legendaries are supposed to be rare and exotic beasts, something extraordinary and special, making them more than an 8th of the game is definite overkill. The biggest crime by far though is that of the mere 89 pokemon a whopping 25 of those are either evolutions or prevolutions from an existing pokemon. Now I have stated before how much I hate that. It’s actually not a horrible idea to produce a new evolution for an existing pokemon but the problem is often the original pokemon isn’t available in the new game, so you have to trade from an older copy of the game and if you don’t have an older copy, well tough luck you can’t get these pokemon. And this time around they make up more than a quarter of the available designs. Now the idea here is that Diamond and Pearl were released after Fire Red and Leaf Green which were remakes of the earliest games, green and red, which did contain the original designs. That means a lot of these are available if you trade monsters from green and red. But not all of them are available in fire red and leaf green. And anyway why should you have to own and crucially pay for a different game to get enjoyment out of this one?! Pokemon has always had an element of that even at the start with some monsters in red not being available in blue and vice versa but that was always a small amount of monsters and you could always trade monsters in the same generation with a friend rather than having to own an older game. Diamond and Pearl just seems so much worse since the proportion of unavailable monsters is much higher. And they also have a diamond/pearl split in addition to requiring you to port monsters from an older game. Its blatantly mercenary and money grubbing and it leaves a horrendous taste in my mouth. Worse of the “original” Pokemon that are here many are clearly versions of older monsters. Torterra is Bulbasaur, Chimchar is Charmander, Starly is Pidgey, etc. Its in every way the wrong way to take the lessons learned in the third generation. That generation was characterised by overly complicated but quirky designs inspired by more abstract concepts like the weather, Japanese folklore, ancient dolls and lesser known animals. Here we’ve kept the overly complicated but Pokemon is beginning to eat itself, ripping off its own older designs and going back to the same idea well again and again. The game itself is great. The plot in particular is a stand out with a villain who doesn’t just want to run a criminal gang but wants to exploit powerful legendary Pokemon to literally remake the universe in his own image. As such many of the designs, especially in the legendaries are about aspects of reality, time, space and the human psyche. There is a big move towards more complex themes and ideas and its a better RPG because of it. Unfortunately the game doesn’t introduce anything new in terms of mechanics. Ruby and Sapphire added weather mechanics and double battles. Diamond and Pearl added nothing. Unless you count poffins or the underworld aka pointless mini games that nobody enjoys. Anyway enough bitching, lets look at some specific designs.

Turtwig, Grotle, Torterra

Sigh!

Basically it’s Bulbasaur again. And I like Bulbasaur guys, he might be my all time favourite. But another four legged reptile with a plant growing out of it’s back, really? At least this time it’s a tree and not a flower.

Actually I like Torterra quite a bit just because of the addition of the mountain, turning his back into a kind of bonsai landscape. It’s objectively a much better design than Venusaur whose flower was terrible and who had an ugly, ugly face. You can make similar argument for Turtwig and Grotle too actually, the execution for all three is fine it’s just that it’s an idea they already did. Like I said in my intro, this is a problem for the whole generation.

Chimchar, Monferno, Infernape

Chimchar’s kind of cute but, an animal with a tail on fire? That’s Charmander guys. Again the execution is probably objectively better than Charmander, it’s a cuter drawing, I like the way fire is subtly indicated in the hair style as well as overtly on the tail and I like the pose which conveys a lot of personality. The personality in question being, jokey, which works for a monkey.

What saves this trio really is Infernape which is nothing like Charizard at all. The flaming hair is a nice touch, visually striking and even threatening and I love the elements shared with Chinese/Japanese art invoking a samurai-esque feel.

Piplup, Priplup, Empoleon

Easily the standout of the three starters. The water type starters have never really had much in common design wise and Piplup again doesn’t really match previous entries, it’s an original idea. That said it’s basically a cartoony penguin, not exactly an earth shatteringly original design but how can you hold anything against it when Piplup is just so cute. Look at that guy, he’s straight up adorable. I mean he’s a baby penguin, and if you can’t find it in your heart to love, nay, wub, a baby penguin then you sir have no soul.

I like Empoleon a lot too, I like the pattern of dots on all three turning into a full blown cravat on Empoleon, a subtle nod to how penguins are usually described as looking like they wear tuxedos. He also look’s like he’s wearing some kind of regency era coat. I like his crown too and how they link it in to beak and headress. Teamed with the high collar Empoleon has a lot of dignity and looks pretty imposing. I’m not a fan of the weird protrusions on his wings though which are a busy and distracting element.

Staryu, Staravia, Staraptor

Or this generations Pidgey, Pidgeotto and Pidgeot. Only starlings rather than wood pigeons. Meh. They’re unimaginative but fine. Whereas the Pidgey’s were just straight up cartoon birds these do have a shared design element of the star marking them out as fantasy creatures but they’re over cluttered designs with no real cool hook

Bidoof, Bibarel

.

Bidoof, oh Bidoof. How could anyone not love you?

Although Bidoof seems to get a bit of a kicking online for looking stupid I honestly don’t know how you could not love the guy. I mean, yes, he does look dumb but that’s all part of the charm, he’s a loveable bucked tooth doofus you guys. It’s right there in the name.

And really the ridicule should be saved for Bibarel. Have you seen the expression on that guys face. You can practically hear him saying “duuuuuuuuuuuuuuh”. He’s a fat beaver with downs, why would you not want this on your team?

Kricketot, Kricketune

The first set of designs that I like without reservations. Both of these are working to a classic Pokemon formula, take an existing animal (in this case a cricket or some kind of beetle) add a theme (in this case music) and incorporate elements of the theme organically into the design. What I love about these two is just how many different musical elements have been added and how they can easily be read as musical or insect-like. Are the horns on Kricketot’s head tuning forks? Is that a moustache or musical notation? Claws or a violin bow?

Shinx, Luxio, Luxray

I can’t believe it took us four generations to get a lion Pokemon. Lions have got to be one of the most prominent animals in world culture. They are visually distinctive, have plenty of myths surrounding them and would basically make perfect Pokemon. It also took us till 4th gen to do hippos, penguins,  squirrels and scorpions all of which you’d think would come first before we doubled up on snakes and generic small birds. And even in 5th we’ve still not had tigers, gorillas, orangutans, flamingos, eagles or dozens of other famous animals. But hey, we’ve had an ice cream cone.

I think Shinx, Luxray and Luxio are okay but mostly I think they’re cluttered. They have a lot of design elements that don’t really scream lion or electricity to me which are repeated. Like the star patterning on the tail and Shinx’s ears. I guess it’s supposed to be electric in some way but it’s less like a flash and more like a burning fuse on the tail. Also the bands on the legs which increase from one, to two and then three. That’s a needless element, it doesn’t signify anything. Also the shape of the base of the tail and the mane eventually resembles a star too, again stars are more of a fire or psychic thing than they are electricity. And why are they blue? I do like Luxray though, he’s a nice sleek badass in overall silhouette even if he is a touch cluttered.

Budew and Roserade

Budew is a terrible, terrible pokemon. It’s a doodled smiley face with two stubby legs and some weird bud thing that looks like no plant I have ever seen.

TuxedoMaskSmall

Roserade however is awesome. It’s tuxedo mask the Pokemon  of course but considering I have praised designs that look like Ultraman or Power Rangers before I really have no problem with that.

The colour change and the incorporation of the roses directly into the monsters arms differentiate it enough from Tuxedo Mask that the design stands on its own. Plus romantic swashbuckling plant monster is just conceptually cool.

Cranidos and Rampardos

Other than being based upon a cool dinosaur to begin with (Pachycephalosaurus Wyomingensis, check it out below) I don’t have much to say about these two. They’re overly busy with lots of extraneous lines and patterns but the pose sells the core element. That big, hard, spiked head that is charging towards you.

pachycephalosaurus_782_600x450

Sheildon and Bastiodon

Shieldon is a ceraptosian, aka one of the family of dinosaurs that Triceratops belongs to. However unlike Triceratops he doesn’t have a formidable beak or dangerous looking spikes. Instead his head looks a little bit like an old fashioned bed pan.

Bastiodon in contrast looks like a cross between a dinosaur, a bulldozer and Satan. It’s like construction equipment came to life and started rampaging around town. That thing looks straight up terrifying. The huge head, the short stubby legs, the spikes, the absolutely huge tusks. Its all danger and power and belligerence. I also love the colouring since it evokes a bulldozer so clearly.

Burmy, Wormadam and Mothim

I honestly have absolutely no idea.  That being the case I like to be informative and occasionally educational with these things so I went looking.

180px-Burmy_no_cloak

I found this picture of a Burmy which helps make a lot more sense out of its design at least. It is a caterpillar wrapped in some kind of grass cloak and what I originally took to be it’s nose is actually it’s beak. It’s a real problem however that I couldn’t initially tell what was going on here. I couldn’t tell that was a beak, that those things at the bottom weren’t legs, etc. That just speaks of clumsy design. Wormadam is also a terrible mess. Are those leaves supposed to be wings? Ears? Mothim is less confusing but is the least appealing of any of the moth/butterfly designs thus far due to the tiny body and large, rather uninteresting wings.

Combee and Vespiqueen

Firstly Combee is a terrific pun, well done localisation team.

Combee and Vespiqueen are absolutely fantastic high concept designs. What does everyone know about bees? Well they have a kind of hive mentality rather than individual intelligence. Making that literal by having them being conjoined bodies is a great idea and using the honeycomb pattern for the combined bodies is just inspired.

Vespiqueen I like less but she’s still a good design and an example of anthro monsters done right. She doesn’t look like a bee, she looks like a human queen in a ballgown, but the shape of the arms, the colouring and the honeycomb pattern all say bee and tie the two designs together. Simply inspired.

Pachirisu

I can’t believe it took this long to do a squirrel. Unfortunately it’s not particularly well executed. Like Shinx it’s overtly cluttered and busy with pointless spikes and for some reason it’s blue again. Beyond that it’s just a cartoony squirrel, no suggestion of electricity and no high concept.

Floatzel and Buizel

Another high concept done right. What’s an otter? Well basically a weasel in water right. So they went with a weazel wearing arm bands and a life vest. that’s a great way to communicate the water typing without resorting to having it be part made of water or colouring it blue. I also like the split tail. As well as reminding me of Tails from Sonic it’s yet another nod to Japanese mythology (multi-tailed foxes) but this time employed rather cleverly as a propeller. It’s another well thought out element that makes it look more alien and distinct. These two designs are also pretty streamlined and free of extraneous details for the most part.

Cherubi and Cherrim

cherubi cherrim

I want to know why Cherubi starts with two head but ends with one. Did it eat the other head? Is it like a conjoined twins in the womb thing? I mean the evolved Cherrim looks so cute, but behind those smiling eyes must be the soul of a cannibalistic monster.

Shellos and Gastrodon

shellosgastrodon

I have to admire at least the attempt to make sea slugs cute and interesting but giving them weird head ornaments isn’t the way to go.

Ambipom

ambipom

Possibly the besr example of lazy repetition I could ask for. Apiom was a monkey with a hand for a tail, and it had no evolution. So when it came time to look for new ideas, they decided to give it an evolution with two tails. No other real thought, just a second tail. Was there some kind of deadline guys? Were you so starved for ideas that, the same but more, was really the best you could run with?

Drifloon and Drifblim

drifloondrifblim

These are great designs. Although basically just taking an existing item (a balloon) and adding a face there are enough other touches and changes to make it stand as a monster, for example turning the string used to hold up the balloon into arms.

However, whilst these guys may look cute they really harbour a dark secret. From the pokedex entry;

“It is whispered that any child who mistakes DRIFLOON for a balloon and holds on to it could wind up missing.”

Drifloon is a kidnapper. An evil monster that steals children disguised as an innocent plaything. That is possibly too dark Nintendo. I’m not opposed to some dark themes in Pokemon but implied paedo…. actually I’m not sure what would be implied. What would a Drifloon do with a stolen child? The mind boggles frankly.

Buneary and Lopunny

bunearylopunny

*sigh*

Please, please, please stop making sexy Pokemon Nintendo. Please. I have nothing against furries. I don’t understand furries but they are welcome to have their own corner of the internet and do whatever they want in it. So long as it doesn’t  hurt people. But this, this is hurting people. You have made me contemplate Pokemon sexiness today and that was not something I wanted to do.

Just please, no more stripper boots.

Mismagius

mismagius

Misdreavus was dull but Mismagius is awesome. Although basically just a wiche’s hat and a cloak sometimes one evocative detail like that is all you really need.

Honchkrow

honchkrow

I think being next to Mismagius ( a witch) we’re supposed to read Honchkrow as a wizard, with the white fathers being a beard and the hat being a wizard’s hat. But I always thought he looked more like a gangster wearing a tuxedo. The name honch, as in head honcho, sort of implies that too. Is he a gangster wizard? Because that sounds awesome. In fact screw Pokemon I want a game about wizard gang wars right now.

I’ll wait…..

Glameow and Purguly

glameowpurugly

They’ve done the ugly monster turns into gorgeous one trick before but now we get the reverse and, ye gods man! Ugly doesn’t begin to cover it.

Want me to make it worse for you. Okay, see the bulge under the body and the white markings on Purugly. That is supposed to resemble the kind of tabards older Japanese women often wear. That’s right, this is a pokemon themed around how the designer’s wife got fat and ugly after they got married. And I thought the child stealing balloon was dark, this guy needs therapy.

Chingling

chingling

I like this one a lot. Somebody at the design time clearly noticed that bells kind of have faces already and not much needs to be done to turn it into a monster except give it some arms and legs. I wish more designs worked on similar principles.

Stunky and Skuntank

stunkyskuntank

The best thing about this Pokemon by far, by far is that when it arrives in battle it issues forth a massive fart. I’m 26 years old and monsters using farts to attack their enemies is till fun. Can you imagine how brilliant that is when you’re 10?

Bronzor and Bronzong

bronzorbronzong

Pretty similar design to Chingling actually, take object, turn existing patterns into face only less well done since the faces are so bland and lacking in personality.

Bonsly

The first of a slew of baby Pokemon in this generation. There usually isn’t much to say about baby Pokemon, they’re “cute” versions of existing designs. They have the classic small fat bodies, disproportionately large heads and eyes we associate with babies and that evoke cuteness. Bonsley’s just well executed more of the same.

Mime Jr

Whilst Mr Mime might be my least favourite original gen 1 design I love Mime Jr, probably because he looks much more like a monster and less like a guy in a suit. It helps that his clown hat looks like his head rather than a hat. Actually it might be that he’s clown themed and I just hate clowns much, much less than I hate mimes.

Happiny

Is that really a Pokemon in a poodle skirt? Is that why she’s called Happiny, because of Happy Days? that seems like an odd reference for a Japanese guy to make. Tuxedo Mask, sure, but Grease?

Chatot

Making a parrot themed around sound is inspired. Unfortunately only the headcrest sells that in this design with the rest just being a generic parrot. I’m also not sure why it has the “not sure if” Fry Meme expression.

download (1)

Sprirtomb

“Oh shit! I just spilled my paints everywhere.”

“Wait Gary doesn’t it, kind of look like a face?”

“You’re right Steve it does.”

“Well why don’t you just knock off early and submit that as your Pokemon design?”

“………GENIUS!”

Gible, Garbite and Garchomp

What’s scarier than a shark? A SHARK THAT CAN CLIMB OUT OF THE SEA AND CAN GET YOU ANYWHERE!!!!

These three have more to them than just that, admittedly brilliant, concept though. Gible is a great start with the huge mouth and tiny arms and legs. It’s a similar concept to the baby Pokemon but with a huge scary mouth, a nice little inversion of tropes there. Garbite and Garchomp are more humanly proportioned and look more threatening because of it. You might think I’d complain about the little extraneous spikes everywhere but I actually like them, specifically because they do serve a purpose. Firstly sharks have teeth on their skin, it helps them cut through water and whilst they aren’t literal chompers but rather a sandpaper texture this is a nice version of that idea. The positioning also evokes the idea of the whole body as one giant mouth. Although Garbite and Garchomp have mouths the red pattern on the chest and the teeth on the knees and arms make it appear as if they’re whole body is one big mouth coming at you and that all ties back in with Gible. These are smart well thought out designs that not just look cool but have a ton of neat ideas incorporated into them too.

Munchlax

He just looks so happy, strolling along there. He looks like he’s just about to burst into song.

“I wanna be, the very best, like no one ever was…”

Riolu and Lucario

These two are something of a fan favourite and Nintendo pushed them heavily as icons of this generation. I hate them, I just don’t understand anything about their concept or their execution. It’s a dog, stood up, with spikes on its hands and wearing shorts. What does that mean?!

The basic body shape and pose and the shorts suggests to me maybe a kickboxer but, but why make it a dog?

Oh….oh no.

No way.

Is it, maybe because kickboxing is popular in Thailand and Korea? Did you sneak a joke about Korean people eating dogs into a Pokemon game Nintendo?

I’m starting to think that maybe the “accidental” racism in Jynx was more intentional than I gave it credit for.

Hippopotus and Hippowdon

Like Gible this is an aquatic creature for some reason linked with the land. To that end I think that giving it a camo pattern is a cute way of suggesting a desert dwelling hippo.

When I look at Hippowdon all I get as far as is “OH god look at it’s red eyes! The satanic hippo is coming to eat me” and have to run away from my P.C. for a while until I think it’s safe.

Skorupi and Drapion

What an absolutely wasted opportunity. Scorpions! MOTHER FUCKING SCORPIONS! Scorpions, Nintendo, are one of the coolest animals on the planet. They have huge dangerous looking claws. They have enormous venomous tails. They’re sleek and badass with the body basically being a shiny after thought to those massive claws and tail. They are not, crucially, not, made of accordions.

Look at Skorupi, look at that mess. Instead of a dangerous sting it had some weird grabby thing. Instead of mighty claws it has tiny little stingers. It’s eyes look bizarre and make it look much more like a doodle than a creature that could exist. All of that is wasted but it all is second place to the frankly baffling decision to give it a body that looks like an accordion. That is all you see at first glance and it never gets any better.

Croagunk and Toxicroak

A cross between a poison dart frog and some kind of martial artist, although I can’t tell you what kind. There is a lot to like about these two and a lot that doesn’t make much sense. I love the subtle martial artist elements (the bandages and mouth guard/teeth), I like the dagger hands on Toxicroak and I like the facial expressions switching from goofy to sly and deadly. I don’t like the weird head spike though or the pattern of black lines which make it look as if Toxicroak is wearing some kind of harness.

Carnivine

Who wants a hug guys?

What, no, no, don’t let the big teeth scare you, Carnivine just wants cuddles.

Fineon and Lumenion

Does anyone like the fish Pokemon? I mean, I know Nintendo should make them since there are millions of species of fish and they come in lots of bizarre shapes and it would be weird if there weren’t any fish Pokemon but they’re all pretty uninspired and usually just consist of cartoony versions of whatever Ken Sugimori has in his fish tank at home. Plus I always found it weird to use them in battles. I mean most battles take place on land so how would the fish fight there? It would just be flopping about. With reptiles or amphibians they can come on land and blast jets of water or run over and tackle you, but what’s a Goldeen going to do in the desert?

All of this is distracting attention from the fact that I don’t have much to say here. Ermmm Finneon’s tail looks like a butterfly. That’s, kind of clever, I guess.

Mantyke

That sure is a baby manta-ray, yup.

Snover and Abomasnow

The brown parts on Snover are meant to be roots but with the overall body shape and colouring they make it look like this Pokemon is a miniature snow covered mountain. That’s the kind of duality of design that I like.

Weavile

Sigh, from here on in folks it’s all legendaries and new evolutions for old Pokemon. Some of these aren’t bad designs by any stretch of the imagination but again after the success of Gen 3 it’s a shame to see them go back to the well and rework old ideas rather than come up with something new. Weavile is a new evolution for Sneasel and I’ll be honest I don’t get it. Sneasel already had feathers for no reason I could discern and now Weavile adds more and turns them into some kind of head dress. In fact he looks a little bit like an Aztec. Is that racist? I don’t even know anymore.

Magnezone

A huge improvement on Magneton. Having the three magnemite fuse together rather than just hanging out near each other is much more imaginative and more focused. I also like this design a lot, I like the flying saucer shape and I love the single main eye. It’s alien and imposing.

Lickilicky

There’s stuff I like here, I like the body pattern evoking a bib and I quite like how fat he has gotten, it sells a gluttonous eating monster quite well. I don’t understand the Jehri Curl though or why his tongue got shorter. And really localistion team, Lickilicky? This guy was named on Friday afternoon wasn’t he?

Rhyperior

Bwa ha, ha ha.

Sorry, I’ll just…

BWA HA HA HA HA!

Alright, whose bright idea was it to combine Rhydon with the Michelin man?

Actually there are a lot of clever things going on with Rhyperior. His nose is a drill, his arms are jack hammers, his tail is a wrecking ball, the orange patterning on his head is supposed to be ear protectors and on his body a hi-vis jacket. Basically he’s a burly construction worker with his tools built right into his body. That’s a great idea but if I hadn’t explained that would you have spotted it? No, because this design is an overly cluttered jumbled up mess. Nice try guys but maybe work a little harder next time.

Tangrowrth

Exactly the same as Tangela but bigger and with some of the tentacles extended to make arms. Lazy, lazy, lazy, lazy.

Electivre

I love Elekid and hate Electabuzz and Electivre is a resounding meh. What worked in Elekid is the electrical elements were obvious and well incorporated into the body shape. Here he just has two plugs stuck to his back.

Magmortar

I’ve made fun of the previous two Magby/Magmar evolutions for being magma ducks with goofy faces. Well, you fixed one issue at least, he isn’t a duck. Instead he’s a fat guy with a hilarious face in a unitard and guns for hands. I don’t think there is a single redeeming feature of this design.

Togekiss

Togekiss looks a lot like Togepi, since Togepi was basically and egg and here we have a flying egg, but almost nothing like Togetic. Togetic had wings and arms, a long neck, etc. I much prefer Togekiss but it’s odd nonetheless.

Also do you think he misses having hands? He doesn’t look like he does.

Yanmega

I think I might have to replace the “just stick a horn on it” gag with “eh we’ll just cover it in spikes” at this point.

Leafeon and Glaceon

Unlike other pokemon I think are going back to the old well too many times I love new Eeveelutions. I want ones for every type. Leafeon and Glaceon are clear examples why. Strong clearly focused designs free of extraneous elements.

Gliscor

How do you make a flying bat/scorpion monster even scarier? You make it look like Dracula, complete with fangs, hypnotic eyes and cape. No criticism here that is inspired.

Mamoswine

I really like this one a lot. It’s a pig mammoth. Not exactly earth shattering but a simple well executed concept.

Porygon Z

I liked Porygon 2 well enough. I liked how the move from square pixels to rounded ones suggested an improvement in computer graphics and how the sequel name sounded artificial and linked in with its computer program roots. This though? What do the floating limbs or the Z title add? It’s just copying an earlier idea without improving on it.

Gallade

A male version of Gardevoir and whilst she was all soft wavy lines and curves he is all sharp angles and slats. And a poop filled diaper apparently. Gallade is a bit of a disaster really, a bunch of randomly connected elements that signify nothing.

Probopass

Hoo boy.

I think at this point the accidental racism excuse is starting to look flimsy.

He’s meant to be a compass with his big nose pointing north. And those weird chicken things on his shoulders are the other compass points. But all you’ll see, all you will ever see is the stereotype of a Jewish man. And it’s on purpose guys, they wouldn’t have added a hat and moustache if it wasn’t. Honestly Nintendo did you learn nothing from Jynx? I mean personally stuff like this doesn’t offend me but I’m flabbergasted that you would make the same mistake twice. Are you just fucking with us? Is that it?

Dusknoir

His torso is a frowny face and he has a stupid hat. Next.

Froslass

Whilst Froslass is million times better than Glalie there are a lot of things here that are just weird.

So she’s supposed to be the ghost of a girl that wandered in the mountains and froze to death. Why make that an evolution then? That, that just doesn’t work, you can’t change from something that isn’t a ghost into something that is except by dying. And if it’s a girl why the ugly face? And why are her arms and her kimono sleeves actually her ears? There’s a good idea here but it doesn’t shine through.

Rotom

Rotom may come from the “stick a horn on it” school but he gets a pass because he is awesome. The basic Rotom is a face with a horn and two lightning bolts. That’s overtly simplistic but again it gets a pass because Rotom’s alternate forms are so brilliant. His high concept is that he’s a kind of electric spirit that possess household appliances and brings them to life. To that end his simplicity works because you can take something like a fridge, add his spike, face and energy aura to it and get something that is clearly Rotom but also clearly a fridge. That’s just ingenious. Rotom is easily the highlight of this generation. As to which form I like best? I like the lawnmower best as the blades of the lawnmower get transformed into deadly teeth.

Uxie, Mesprit and Azelf

Basically the same monster design three times with a different headdress. Nothing about these creatures design really suggests their high concept, that they embody the properties of knowledge, emotion and will but they do look like abstract mystical creatures. They are kind of similar to Mew in body shape which was another abstract mystical beast. All told they’re kind of dull but not incompetent.

Dialga

Dialga is literally the creature responsible for creating and maintaining time itself. It’s special moves relate to its ability to control time. It’s a godlike creature that literally shapes the universe around it. So where are all the cool element’s in its design that evoke time? Where are the clocks, stars, hourglasses, etc? Simply put there are none, for the legendaries in this generation Nintendo decided to go with an abstract design that looks impressive but doesn’t really convey the specific power of the creature just the sense that it is powerful and godlike.

I’d say the Dialga design does a good job of conveying power. The proportions, the massive headress, the armour, the facial expression; they all suggest a formidable quality. It is once again, however, overly busy and full of extraneous elements.

Palkia

Palkia has the same problems as Dialga. Nothing about it suggests its role as controller of space. It’s also less successful at looking intimidating, partly because its pink but also because of the stupid head find and the porportions. Mostly because it’s pink though.

Heatran

I dunno about this guy really. I like his face which has a sort of cutely grumpy thing going on similar to Geodude but his body is waaaaay too stumpy and his little stubby tail is adorable when it really, really shouldn’t be.

Regigigas

I don’t know what it is but something about Regigigas is just hilarious to me. He’s supposed to be the creator of the continent the game is set on and he’s also supposed to link in with the golems from the last game. They successfully made him look like the golems (not hard since all they had to do was give him dots for a face) but does anything about this guy say “creates continent” to you? Maybe his dinky little trees, but certainly not his weird techno piping, his zebra colouring or the flashing lights on his chest. It’s almost like he was designed using Madlibs.

So Ken, today’s challenge is to make a techno-zebra-golem-tree-slot machine-monster. You have ten minutes, do your best.

Giratina

Giratina is the third of a trio with Dialga and Palkia, responsible for the spirit world. Unlike the other two his serpentine appearance and weird shredded wings do actually hint at a ghostly nature. He shares many design elements with the other two so they do look unified but he’s by far the best. Imposing and characterful. I much prefer his alternate form to his regular 6 legged form though since those stumpy little feet are goofy as hell and the snake body is much creepier.

Cresselia

Was this a dare? Did they have a competition to make a pokemon using only crescent shapes? Well, mission nearly completed guys, well done.

Phione and Manaphy

These two are controversial since officially they are considered legendaries but one of the rules for being a legendary is that you can’t breed. Yet the only way you can get a Phione is to breed an egg from a Manaphy. It’s even odder that Nintendo would change the rules for this since the two designs are almost identical, the only real difference being the pattern on the eyes. Did this really warrant two stabs at the same idea? Surely one would have been sufficient.

You may be asking, “What the hell are these strange blue things anyway?” oh you weren’t? Well tough because I’m telling you anyway. Phione and Manaphy are Cliones, a kind of slug often called Sea Angels. Here’s one for you;

220px-Sea_angel

Once again this is an animal Japanese people are very familiar with and that features heavily in their television and culture but which isn’t well known in the West.

The actual designs here are surprisingly decent attempts to translate the strange shape of a Clione into something more traditionally cute.

Darkrai

Hey Drakrai, the 80’s called, they want their shoulder pads back.

Shaymin

Like Togekiss and Togetic these are two perfectly good designs that seem weird to be shared by the same creature. Shaymin is a grass hedgehog and the first design is literally this. That is a surprisingly realistic drawing a hedgehog with leaves instead of spikes and a large flower placed where a woman might wear one, just behind the ear. Simple, iconic, distinctive and basically everything I like in a Pokemon design. Shaymin’s alternate form happens when it wears the sky charm. Firslty it turns into a much cartoonier design, large anime eyes, a disproportionate head, spiky anime hair style, a more human expression on the face. The flower turns into a funky scarf and  for some incredibly random reason the hair also grows wing/ears. What is with this generation and ears being used for other things?

I think both designs are great however, I find it weird that such a realistic drawing and such a cartoony one are variations on the same creature.

Arceus

Arceus is the creator of the entire Pokemon universe. As such he has to fit in visually with Dialga, Palkia and Giratina. They do share many elements, the head shape from Palkia, body shape of Dialga, neck spikes from Giratina and of course the repeated device of the metal piping. On Arceus they look more balanced and less cluttered though. I suspect he was designed first and the others patterned after him exaggerating certain traits. He’s still very abstract but when you’re dealing with the creator of all time and space what signifiers can you use really? So long as he looks wise and powerful, both of which I think the design conveys, then that’s all you need really.

In conclusion I actually like many of the designs in this generation a lot, despite the clutter and complexity. Its main failing in my book is that it tried to recapture the success of older designs too often instead of coming up with original ideas. Fortunately Nintendo seemed to agree since in the next game we got 150 completely new beasties with no new evolutions or baby forms of existing monsters.

Advertisements

After a long hiatus welcome folks to Mummyboon. This site originated as a place for me to describe my life in Japan, post photos and tell stories about the things I did, places I went and foods I ate. Since coming to the U.K. I have been much poorer and have travelled to less interesting places and eaten much less interesting things.

As such the site has now morphed into a place where I intend to write about anything and everything that strikes my fancy, that might be short stories, review of comics or computer games, or humorous list features. Mostly it just exists as a place to practice my writing and develop my craft, if anyone other than family members and friends stumbles across my work, well then that’s a bonus.

My opening salvo in the resurrected Mummyboon is a feature reviewing the weird and wondrous designs of pokemon, EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM! Yes, all 649! I must be stupid.

Pokemon should require no explanation at this stage, and if it does, well you know where wikipedia is.  But seriously pokemon might just be the most merchandised product on the planet, there is a pokemon version of everything, from the expected like computer games and anime, to the obvious spin offs like pencils, backpacks and pencil shapes to the frankly mind boggling like a plane and a special train. Yes, there is a pokemon airplane, gaze upon its majesty.

What has made pokemon so popular? Hell if I know. However, one reason is definitely the strong design sense of the monsters themselves. Unlike similar games like digimon or monster rancher pokemon don’t differ in art styles or design aesthetic, they all look like they belong to the same world rather than an individually strongly designed set of monsters that clash when put together. Also whilst a lot of pokemon designs consists of taking an animal or everyday item and producing a cartoony version of it plenty of the designs exhibit a spark of originality that really elevates them. Often this is a pun or gimmick that gives the monster not just a design but suggests a personality a way it acts and thinks.

Full disclosure, this is kind of blatantly stolen from Chris vs Pokemon over at the wonderful the ISB by Chris Sims. I loved those occasional forays into commenting on the bizarre inventinve genius of pokemon designs and its a shame that the feature, like most of the non comics related content Chris Sims used to write, seems to have gone the way of the dinos. It’s also partly a reaction to all the bitching and moaning people have been doing ever since Black and White came out about the quality of the designs in this generation. People have called them everything from lame, uninspired, unoriginal, pointlessly busy and oddly bizarre. Frankly I feel that’s just nostalgia talking. The original 151 pokemon designs were far from perfect and included a few massive clunkers and some unoriginal entries as well as some moments of pure genius. This series is a tribute to pokemon in all their weird, wonderful and occasionaly horrendously designed glory.

Bulbasaur, Ivysaur and Venusaur 

Bulbasaur’s pokedex entry is 001, he is the first pokemon ever recorded and frankly they got it right first time and have never improved since. He’s just a perfect little monster and a perfect statement of itnent for pokemon. He’s a part plant dinosaur monster. Nowadays we’re all kind of used to the idea that you can have part vegetable monsters running around shooting leaves at each other but at the time this was a pretty original idea. Not wholly original but certainly different. If you were tasked to come up with an aggressive beasty for a fighting monster game would you think flower bulbs? His design is perfectly balanced not overpowering the flower bits or the dinosaur bits, they work in equal harmony and he just has an aesthetically pleasing simple confident design. Plus I have to give props to the localisation team for the name. Bulbasaur is obviously a portmanteau of bulb and dinosaur but it also contains the word bulbous referring to this guys cute fat tubby cheeks. Look at that face! Couldn’t you just eat it up with a spoon.
 
Ivysaur kind of works, he’s a teenaged bulbasaur, the bulb unfolds to show a flower which is a logical progression and the body looks older and more vicious. The name is less inventive but again a logical progression.
 
But Venusaur, damn Venusaur puberty hit you hard.

Firstly what is wrong with your head, whereas the other two evolutions look cute you got whacked by every branch when you fell out of the ugly tree. It’s also waaaay bigger in proportion to the rest of the body than the other two forms. Similarly the flower looks dinky and also the final evolution of the flower just looks ugly and lame too. A big ugly disappointment here.

Charmander, Charmeleon and Charizard

Charmander was always a popular one amongst kids growing up but looking back with the eyes of an adult there isn’t much going on here. It’s a gecko, stood up, with its tail on fire. The only original feature here is the flaming tail which is admittedly a cool idea but they do it better in the same generation with Ponyta. And the name isn’t clever either.

Charmeleon fairs much better with a sleek cool and dangerous design although if you ask me Nintendo missed a trick by not adding fire to the other pointy bits.

Charizard is by far the best of this trio though. It’s not gonna win any points for originality but hey, you can’t go wrong with a classic western style dragon, and it feels like a logical progression from the other two forms too. Charizard is just pure badass through and through.

Also how weird is it that this guy above is considered a dragon but Charizard is not.

Squirtle, Wartortle, Blastoise

    

Squirtle again is not gonna win any points for originality. It’s a turtle, stood up, and blue. Sigh. It doesn’t even have a cool elemental feature like charmander did but instead a wussy little weird tail thing. I will give points to the localisation team for a good name here though as squirtle is not only the obvious squirt + turtle portmanteau but also that tail kind of looks like a squirrel tail too.

Wartortle however is just a mess. What on earth is going on with ear things, or that tail. What do they represent? I guess I can kind of see the tail being a wave but it doesn’t work at all. Nor does the name, I can see that they mean you to read it as water but for me it always evokes war and what does that have to do with anything?!

Blastoise is kind of a cool design on his own but fails as an evolution of the previous too. Even his name is different with the other two being turtles and him a tortoise. The only unifying element between squirtle and wartortle is the watery tail thing, which Blastoise doesn’t have, instead he has water cannons. Admittedly the water cannons are infinitely cooler so Blastoise gets a pass.

Caterpie, Metapod and Butterfree

Caterpie is possibly the worst drawing of a caterpillar I have ever seen. Why is it 4 legged? Why does it have a tv antenna stuck on its head? Is it digitally enabled or will it stop working once the digital switch over starts?

Metapod not exactly the most dyanmic or inspiring of pokemon and mostly loved by pokefans everywhere for learning the move harden. Cue a million immature 10 years olds naming their pokemon penis so they can read “penis used harden”. I’ll warn everyone right now incidentally, I promise no maturity whatsoever in these reviews.

Butterfree is actually one of my all time faves less so for the design than the role it plays in the games. Early on it learns a turn of useful moves including some psychic attacks so for the first 2 – 3 gyms its actually a bit of a powerhouse. It stops working in the middle of the game though. The design is quite cool though, simple and clean, something Gen 1 pokemon have in spades and that gets abandoned later on. Butterfree is quite easy for kids to draw and looks enough like a butterfly whilst also being a dstinct somewhat alien creature. That is the essence of good pokemon design, can I draw it and can I tell what animal its supposed to be.

Weedle, Kakuna and Beedrill

Weedle belongs to the “stick a horn on it” school of pokemon design. This school has a simple design ethos. Follow the three step plan and you two can make a pokemon. Step 1. take an existing animal. Step 2. Stick a horn on it. Step 3. Profit.

Kakuna everything I said about Metapod except somehow Kakuna looks kind of badass, or possibly like a strressed out Japanese salaryman.

Beedrill is awesome sauce. Again everything I said about butterfree applies, simple design easy to copy but very much it’s own creature, primarily because of the sting arms which are just cool.

Pidgey, Pigeotto and Pidgeot

  

Lazy lazy lazy lazy. Lazy name and lazy design.

Pidgeot and Pidgeotto more of the same really, I’m including the two together because they have the wrong names. Surely everyone can see that the porgression should go pidgey, pidgeot, pidgeotto. In fact they make this mistake in the anime dub constantly. Who made this mistake and were they fired for it? Also I love pidgeot’s hair, that do is slick.

Rattata and Ratticate

I don’t think anybody likes rattata, It’s function in the games is purely and simply to be annoying. Nobody uses them in fights they just exist like the vermin they’re based on. About the only value they represent to the world is for easy xp at the start of the game and easy catches for if you’re trying to get all three starters through trades. Oh and they’re purple, because…..because fuck it why not. That counts as originality right? If we just take an existing animal and make it a different colour that should be fine right? Hmmmmm, maybe we should stick a horn on it to be certain.

Ratticate in contrast  is not just worthless but ugly. Ugly and with a stupid face.

Spearow and Fearow

Spearow, its pidgey but not cute and so similar that why even bother?

Oh because it has this…thing as an evolution. What is fearow meant to be? The crest on its head makes it look like some kind of angry vengeful rooster only the rest of the body doesn’t match that at all. Also Fearow is definitely a 3 in the morning, deadline tomorrow, fuck it this’ll do effort from the localisation team. Spearow is a sparrow + spear portmanteau but Fearow doesn’t work at all.

Ekans and Arbok

Ekans is snake backward, that is literally the only interesting thing about this pokemon. They didn’t even stick a horn on it.

And Arbok is Kobra backwards, but they already did that joke once so Arbok is somehow worse.

Pikachu

Pikachu…

where do you start

I have a very much love hate relationship with Pikachu. Obviously as the mascot for the games I have a lot of affection for the little guy, he stands for pokemon and as I have a lot of love for these games that extends to Pikachu. But he is also so freakin’ annoying. The voice is annoying, the fact that he’s EVERYWHERE is annoying and oh don’t get me started on how annoying he is in Smash Bros. The shock rat is practically banned when I play Smash Bros.

But, taken at face value you can see why they picked him to be the mascot. It’s a very strong and very original design. He’s based on an animal but an obscure one, a Pika actually (not a mouse) and he’s really really cute. Pika as well as being an animal is also the Japanese onomatopeia for electricity sparking so of course they incorporated electric elements like the colour and lightning bolt tail. And these are incorporated organically rather than just being bolted on. The design is clean and simple and again, easy to draw. It’s a good strong design with a neat premise and a good punning name.

But he’s banned from Smash Bros, unless we mute the irritating git.

Also check out pikachu in the original games and now.

Man Pikachu lost a lot of weight, I’m slightly concerned he’s developed an eating disorder since becoming famous. Expect him to check in the Betty Ford clinic any day now.

Raichu

Pikachu’s electric motifs are incorporated subtly and organically into the monster design. Raichu…not so much. They basically took Pikachu painted him orange and then slapped lightning bolts wherever they had the space. This looks like a first draft of pikachu before they worked out the kinks.

Sandshrew and Sandslash

I am oddly fond of Sandshrew, he’s a shrew, made of bricks. That’s a nice simply uncluttered concept and a nice simple uncluttered design. You know what you’re getting with Sandshrew and that’s honesty, integrity and a shrew made of bricks.

I don’t have much to say about Sandslash except to tell him that Sonic the Hedgehog called and he’s pissed you stole his look bro.

Nidoran Nidorino Nidorina Nidoqueen and Nidoking

I don’t have a huge amount to say about these designs either. They’re pretty generic and uninspiring. About the only interesting thing about them is that in Generation 1 Nidoran is the only pokemon that came in two genders. Then this was made into a slightly squicky fact when it was pointed out to me that Nidoran is meant to resemble a rabbit, and what is the one thing everyone knows about rabbits? Ewwww, I don’t really want to think about Pokemon fucking thank you very much Nintendo. Actually weirdly when breeding was introduced as a proper mechanic Nidoqueen and Nidoking turn out not to be able to breed with each other which….is too stupid for English words.

Clefairy and Clefable

Clefairy is, I think, extracted directly from the brains of 5 year old girls. It’s soft, fuzzy, round, pink, a fairy and magical, from the moon, that’s a doll/pet. The only thing missing is a unicorn.

Clefable is a stretched clefairy, I don’t think this was an intentional design I think this was a photocopying error.

Vulpix and Ninetales

 

Vulpix and Ninetales are based on the Japanese myth of Kitsune, magical foxes with shape changing abilities that disguise themselves as human women and basically fuck around with Japanese farmers. There are hundreds of myths and legends regarding Kitsune in Japanese mythology, that they’re the messengers of the gods, that as they grow older their tales split signifying that they are becoming more powerful, hundreds. And Nintendo did nothing interesting with any of them, instead they made a fire breathing fox with extra tails. What a waste.

Jigglypuff and Wigglytuff

Jigglypuff is a pink ball and Wigglytuff is a bean bag chair with ears. Jigglytuff does get props for having his own personality in the anime, he’s a singer who loves to perform but his songs put people to sleep, this pisses him off so he draws on them. It’s not much of a character but it’s a damn sight more than Wigglytuff has.

Zubat and Golbat

 

Zubat is the only Pokemon ever invented that’s more annoying than Rattata. You know why? Because you can avoid Rattata, you just don’t walk in the grass. But Zubat! Step into that cave and one will attack you approximately EVERY FUCKING SQUARE!

I hate everything about the fucker, I hate it’s lack of a face, I hate it’s lack of legs, I hate it, hate it, hate it!

Golbat is somehow worse though. Someone literally drew a mean face and added wings and feet. At least Zubat looks like a bat, this thing looks an abberation before god. Seriously where is it’s body? Where does it put the food it eats? How does it use feet that are at the side of its head? This thing mystifies me.

Oddish, Gloom and Vileplume

Oddish is another Pokemon I like a lot, it’s cute, it’s a simple design but reflective of what its meant to be (a raddish). Not much to say here.

Gloom is weird but again I like it. The design is meant to evoke carnivorous tropical plants. The drooling represents the sap they extrude to lure flies into them but the designers have used it to suggest character and make Gloom look like a bit of a moron. That’s actually really cool, most pokemon designs don’t obviously communicate a personality like this one. And it still works as an evolution of Oddish.

Finally vileplume completes a trio of nice designs, based on the infamous  Rafflesia arnoldii the largest single flower in the world that takes months to develop but blooms for only a few days and also stinks of rotting meat. Vileplume is basically a drawing of that but with a body to match the evolutions of gloom and oddish. Not as cool as gloom but this is a nice little trio.

Paras and Parasect

Paras is like Bulbasaur only lamer in every conceivable way. Instead of a dinosaur a crab, instead of a flower mushrooms. Yay

Parsect is much, much better. I love the integration of the mushroom with the body to form a continuous shape. It makes it much more unique and makes it a more balanced design. Plus its a reference to that creepy fungus that turns ants into zombies, and zombie ants are always cool.

Venonat and Venomoth

Although Venonat is an ugly little bugger the design works, nice and simple evocative of the animal it’s aiming for but with enough distinctive fantasy elements to make it a Pokemon. Strong entry.

Okay so here’s what’s weird about Venomoth, take a look at it, now look at Venonat, now look at Caterpie and Butterfree.

Clearly Venonat should evolve into Butterfree and Caterpie into Venomoth, Venonat and Butterfree both have compound eyes and antenna whereas Caterpie and Venomoth both have that weird tv antennae and eyes with pupils.

Diglett and Dugtrio

Diglett is such a brazenly awful design you kind of have to admire it. Partly that’s intentional, the fact that you can’t see the body is the joke they intended and every illustration of Diglett ever has him sicking his head out of the ground like this. But that head design is scrawled off in seconds. That is a kids doodle and nothing else. Diglett you’re so bad you’re actually kind of awesome.

Dugtrio however, sigh. I despise pokemon whose evolution is just that they have 3 of them together. Fortunately so does everyone else so outside of gen 1 this stops happening. But did Diglett really need an evolution? Diglett? The design is a joke for god’s sake, how does adding 2 more improve the joke in any way shape or form?

Meowth and Persian

Meowth looks like a manekinekko, a statue you often see in Japanese shops and restaurants of a cat holding a coin and beckoning customers in. They are supposed to bring good luck and bring lots of money into the property. Appropriately Meowth learns a move that gets you money when used. The design isn’t particularly strong but is basically fine, it evokes what it means to, is uncluttered but generally uninspiring.

Persian is just flat out disappointing. Meowth at least had personality (money grubbing) this is just, boring. The only remotely clever bit is that coin has upgraded to a jewel but basically somebody just drew a Persian cat and said “good enough.” At least they didn’t slap a horn on it.

Psyduck and Golduck

Psyduck, like Gloom, is a design that just screams personality. Psyduck is a luckless dork, you can see if straight away in his face, in the way he holds his hand partly from the headache and partly from shame and those eyes. Those are the eyes of a man who has had life tread on him repeatedly for decades but has endured. I love psyduck.

Golduck is fine I guess. It’s a sleek design in fact he looks kind of cool and badass but he’s kind of a disappointment after psyduck since he retains none of the goofy charm of the prevolution. Also the pokedex says he resembles the Japanese monster kappa. Here are how kappa are usually drawn.

Okay other than the head, ish, and the duck beak I’m not seeing it.

Mankey and Primeape

Mankey is an angry monkey with a pig nose, one from the “combine two animals randomly” school of design I feel.

Primeape is like Mankey but with badass heavy metal accessories. After this pokemon match he’s off to the mosh pit to head bang to slayer bro.

Growlithe and Arcanine

 

Growlithe is a tiger dog that breathes fire, another one from the random animal combiner I think although it is another okay design.

Arcanine does a nice job of having the hair tufts evoke flame without being obvious and the face design does look like a really inviting big goofy dog. Strong design.

Poliwag, Poliwhirl and Poliwrath


First of all I think it’s kind of brave of Nintendo to name a pokemon after a pollywog, considering the name has unfortunate racist associations.

For years I struggled to think how Nintendo looked at a tadpole and a frog and came up with this design, I mean poliwag does look like a tadpole but the other two evolutions look nothing like frogs at all, and that weird spiral design seemed to have been tacked on from nowhere. I mean the design is fine on its own but it isn’t evocative of frogs in the slightest.

Then I saw this picture.

and after that it made a lot more sense.

Abra, Kadabra and Alakazam

First off well done to the naming team that’s an excellent pun. Although considering the Japanese version is called Yunghelor a reference to famous psychic spoon bender Yuri Geller it might actually be taking second place.

There’s elements of these three I like. I like the idea of using a spoon to convey psychic power, I like the moustache harkening back to stage magicians and I like the expression of the face but, the monster these elements are stuck on is juts kind of an abstract mess that looks like nothing in particular. Not brilliant but okay.

Machop, Machoke and Machamp

I despise Machop. First off I hate any and all pokemon designs that are basically just “ a guy”. And there are loads. I prefer my monsters to be based on insects, mammals, birds, fish, inanimate objects, etc than humans. I find nothing lazier than taking a humanoid shape (2 arms 2 legs stood up, roughly human proportions) and just fudging it to make a monster. And what a dull monster Machop is. He’s just a basic human shape but with visible ribs and some kind of head crest, the head crest is the only thing to differentiate him from a blob of humanoid putty and it in no way is evocative of anything about this monster. He’s supposed to be a fighting type but nothing about him says fighting except the name. And the name is awful too. Why ma? I get chop from the fighting move but just adding ma to the front is almost digimon esquemon inmon namingmon techniquemon.

Machamp is marginally better since I do like the bulging muscles and pro wrestling belt but…. why does a wild animal have a pro wrestling belt?

Machoke is the best of the lot since the addition of the extra arms makes it look like a frigging monster and not a lump of putty.

Bellsprout, Weepinbell and Victribell

I think it’s kind of disgusting that Nintendo made a pokemon out of a male sex toy, let alone 3 evolutions of it.

Tentacool and Tentacruel

Tentacool is more annoying than Ratata, not as annoying as zubat (nothing is) but for me not in their league since I actually like the design. Specifically I like the fake eyes and mouth on the top part. That’s something real animals do in nature all the time, make their arse look like their face and vice versa and it’s nice to see a pokemon design evoke nature like this. Other than that trick its fairly meh but it’s sleek, uncluttered, easy to draw, etc.

Tentacruel of course is drawn in such a way as to ruin that nice fake face idea and adds a big pointy nose/ hook thing. Because of course jellyfish have big noses, famous for it they are.

Geodude, Graveller and Golem

Firstly, bravo naming team, bravo. A pun on geode, well done you all. It’s a rock with arms and a face. Again as a statement of purpose its a strong one. Yeah some of our monsters are just rocks, we don’t care, anything can be a Pokemon, even a rock. For a simple idea gGeodude is pulled off quite well he’s a very distinctive rock and again has bags of personality, you can’t look at this Pokemon and not picture an incredibly grumpy old man shaking his fists in impotent rage at those kids on his lawn. Oh if only he had legs he’d see to them.

Graveller has less personality but is actually my fave of the three for no other reason than I think it looks cool. It’s a boulder, with arms and legs, can’t go wrong there.

Golem though just makes no sense. His two prevolutions are sentient rocks whereas he is some kind of lizard/dinosaur thing encased in rock….rocks don’t turn into lizards nintendo, they just, they just don’t. Also he appears to have lost two limbs which must have been a bit of a blow.

Ponyta and Rapidash

Ponyta is a simple idea done well, we’re going to take a horse but replace the mane, tail and fetlocks with billowing flame. Awesome! That’s a great original idea and a very strong visual and Ponyta is simply a strong execution of that idea.

Rapidash however is Ponyta but with a horn stuck on it. Sigh. Horns do not equal fantasy Nintendo.

Slowpoke and Slowbro

Slowpoke is awesome, he’s an idiot Pokemon, a complete and utter total buffoon, with vast psychic powers. That’s hilarious  and even if I can’t even hazard a guess as to what kind of animal he’s supposed to be I love him and his goofy, stupid face. He is herp personified.

Slowbro if anything has an even better face and a better name, he’s slow, bro. But he is also deeply confusing. That shell on his tail is supposed to be a Shellder, but it looks nothing like a Shellder meaning that the Shellder evolves when it bites a Slowpoke. That makes as much sense as anything regarding Pokemon evolution but since Slowbro and Slowpoke look basically the same doesn’t that make this technically an evolution of Shellder?

Magnemite and Magneton

I usually have no problem with the inanimate object designs but something about Magnemite bugs me, something about how all the elements seem separate. And I have nothing to say about Magneton I didn’t say in the Dugtrio entry.

Farfetch’d

Farfetch’d has to be one of the odder concepts for a pokemon going, he’s a fairly realistically drawn duck but…holding a leek. Wow, a leek. Get it? Because duck cooked with leeks is a popular dish in asia. Yeah, this one is definitely the result of a drunk designer looking at his dinner and becoming, for want of a better word, inspired. We really need a word for inspirations that are unutterably awful, badspired? Unspired? Outspired? Yeah I vote for outspired. Farfetch’d is an outspirational design.

Doduo and Dodrio

Another one I don’t have much to say about, the gimmick is cool and well executed, it fits the Butterfree test, the evolution is logical. It’s competent designs like this that made Pokemon such a winner in the first place.

Seel

Seel, a more classic example of “stick a horn on it” design you will not find.

Dewgong

Really, really? Was Seel crying out for an evolution? The one that was basically a seal drawn in a cartoony fashion with a horn on its head, what inspired idea do you have for its evolution. Oh, you just drew basically the same animal at a different angle. This is beyond lazy it’s actually verging on slothful. Your pokemon design is actually one of the seven deadly sins. It’s that bad, it’s biblically bad.

Grimer and Muk

Grimer, people pick on grimer for being basically a blob but, well, why not. A sentient blob of pollution is a really strong idea for a monster, oozing towards you inexorably melting everything below it in poisonous acids. It definitely didn’t warrant an evolution that was basically “the same, but bigger” though.

Shellder and Cloyster

I got nothing on Shellder guys, sorry,….it’s a shell, and a tongue….I got nothing.

Cloyster looks a vagina. There, I said it. Admittedly an evil and pointy vagina but a vagina nonethless. You can see outer labia, inner labia and a big ol spiky clit. This is Gen1, a kids game and right there it is, a vagina monster. Well played Japan, well played.

Gastly, Haunter and Gengar

Aside from the terrible English name Ghastly is okay, he’s one pokemon you can’t say much about because his design works and evokes what it’s meant to without being particularly great. Same goes for Haunter. Gengar though is interesting because for years I struggled to figure out what it was meant to be until somebody pointed out to me that it looks like the shadow of a Clefable.

That’s actually really clever and very subtly done.

Onix

I never liked Onix because I don’t get how he works, are those rocks separate? Are they linked? How does he move if they’re separate? I know its weird that I don’t pick on other monsters that clearly don’t make sense biologically (like geodude) but something about his design just seems weird and off to me.

Drowzee and Hypno

Drowzee is based on a Japanese monster that sneaks into people’s rooms at night and eats their dreams. And also a tapir. That’s perfectly fine, it’s a nice mix of design and gimmick and his moves in game back up his concept. However what is going on with his evolution? What is a Hypno? A lazy anthro monster is what it is.

Krabby and Kingler

We’re deep into, not much to say, territory here.  Both of these designs are perfectly fine hitting the Butterfree test of “can I draw it?” and “can I recognise the animal?” but there is nothing inspiring about either of them.

Voltorb and Electrode

If anybody ever tells you that the original designs are full of originality and the new ones are just basically taking an everyday object and making it into a monster; show them voltorb. It’s a ball. Just, a ball….with a face. Now admittedly there is something of a gag to Voltorb, it looks like a Pokeball and has the move self destruct allowing it to explode. So unsuspecting trainers pick it up thinking it is a Pokeball and instead get a nasty surprise. That’s fine and all but then…

why the hell does it need an evolution that is basically a bigger ball.

A bigger ball.

….this is supposed to be originality folks.

Execgute and Execgutor

God I hate Execgute. Everything about it is just so confused and muddled. First of all it isn’t an egg Pokemon it’s a seed Pokemon. Secondly it’s not one Pokemon but six, but oh wait, they’re in telepathic link with each other so really it kind of is one Pokemon. But then why are some broken? Are they always like that? Is it meant to be broken, can it survive like that? Out of every six is one brother always broken? This Pokemon just confuses me deeply.

Exxegutor just confuses me more, do all 6 evolve and combine together, which is odd, or does one evolve into one exxegutor and the others go away? This pokemon just raises more and more questions.

Also that face is irredeemably goofy.

Cubone and Marowak

I like Cubone a lot, less so for the design than for the pokedex entry, check this out.

“Wears the skull of its deceased mother. Its cries echo inside the skull and come out as a sad melody.”

How messed up is that? It wears the skull of its dead mother. That’s beyond morbid and moving into vaguely creepy territory. But is also raises many questions. Does this happen to every Cubone? Does this mean that Cubone mothers (or marowak’s I guess) all die shortly after childbirth? If that’s the case how do you get more Cubone’s. Well actually one theory is that a Cubone mother is actually a Kangashkan, check this out.

Another thing I like about Cubone is that he’s one of the few pokemon to carry a weapon, a dinosaur weilding a bone club is a pretty neat idea and it makes him distinctive from most other Pokemon, even in later generations.

Marowak is much less interesting mainly because the skull Cubone wears is supposed to fuse with it’s real head as it evolves into Marowak. I know its silly to talk about common sense when dealing with dinosaur monsters wearing skulls that magically transform into slightly different dinosaur monsters but something about that idea just defies my own suspension of disbelief. Yes I can buy a dinosaur monster wearing it’s dead parent’s remains like a hat but not that it’s own head would organically fuse with said hat. And that may be the strangest sentence I have ever been called upon to type.

Hitmonlee and Hitmonchan

Hitmonlee is an abstract humanoid monster with nothing of interest to it at all and a silly name.

Hitmonchan is an abstract humanoid monster with nothing of interest to it and an even sillier name. Seriously the joke is that Hitmonchan is named after Jackie Chan and Hitmonlee after Bruce Lee, that makes some sense for Bruce Lee since he was famous for kicking but Jackie Chan is more famous for hitting people with ladders than boxing. He should be Hitmonali or Hitmontyson or something like that.

Lickitung

Generic abstract dinosaury monster with a really long tongue. I actually kind of like these single gimmick monsters, there’s something simplistic about their design that just kind of works for the gaming concept. This monster has a long tongue so all it’s attacks will be tongue based. Also the best thing about Lickitung’s existence is this screen cap.

Moving on.

Koffing and Weezing

I’m never sure what Koffing is meant to be. He looks a bit like a sea mine but he’s supposed to be a flying bag of smoke. Is he modelled after a germ maybe? Confusion aside it’s a nice strong design, simple, clean lines, evocative of the idea of poison (particularly the skull and crossbones) and again with plenty of personality. Look at this guy, he’s adorable, he just wants to goof around and mess stuff up. He’s like poison but cuddlier.

Weezing is the sole, SOLE exception to the 3 pokemon togther = an evolution rule since he actually works as an evolution. This is because the other two heads look like they’re growing out of the main head. This idea of a kind of mutation rather than evolution works well for a poison themed monster or if he’s supposed to be germ themed it looks like cells splitting and dividing.

Ryhorn and Rydon

Ryhorn is just a mess of extraneous lines. It’s really hard in the actual computer game sprites to get a sense of what shape this thing is supposed to be. You can make out the horn and the fact that it sweeps off to either side making a kind of u-shape on the head but beyond that it’s just a mess of spikes. Not great.

Rydon is an improvement  since you can actually see what it’s supposed to look like but is still nobody’s favourite.

Plus it’s called ride on and has what appears to be a phallic symbol for a nose, make your own jokes people.

Chansey

Chansey is a big pink ball carrying an egg with long pink hair and that works as a nurse. I’m fairly certain this is a fetish for somebody.

Tangela

Tangela. What I love about Tangela is that technically you can’t see the Pokemon at all. The face is completely obscure in darkness, all you can see is the vines it uses to surround itself with and hide it’s face away. That’s a great concept and this is a slick execution of that idea.

Kangashkan

Kangashkan, my abiding memory of this monster is that it was UNBELIEVABLY rare and hard to catch in the games since you could only catch it in the safari zone and it would run away at the drop of a hat. I hated this thing purely for that and an uninspired design doesn’t help it either.

Horsea and Seadra

They pass the Butterfree test and that’s all you can say for them really.

Goldeen and Seaking

Slap a horn on it design at it’s finest.

Staryu and Starmie

I don’t think there is anything interesting about star fish the actual animal or starfish the fighting pocket monster and the application of girly gems doesn’t fix that at all. Actually that’s probably being unfair to real starfish who at least have the ability to regrow limbs if damaged. That’s kind of neat.

Mr Mime

Mr Mime, Mr Mime howfore dost thou suck, let me count the ways

  1. everybody hates mimes
  2. you’re the most egregious example of abstract humanoid design I have ever seen
  3. everybody hates mimes
  4. the expression on your face is eminently punchable
  5. everybody hates mimes
  6. the weird pointy haired boss hairstyle you have going on
  7. everybody hates mimes
  8. the pointy curly shoes
  9. everybody hates mimes
Scyther

Scyther is the byword in sleek badassitude, is badassitude a word? It is now, Scyther just declared it. This is the Chuck Norris of Pokemon, not because it’s an overplayed and tired internet meme but because everything about it screams I will come and kick your ass and you have zero chance buddy. I mean it has swords for hands. Nothing quite pleases my inner 6 year old like sword hands and it puts Scyther in the rareified company of wolverine and Shredder.

Jynx

A black face opera singing Pokemon. They can’t actually show this on american TV without recolouring it a violent purple hue. Jynx is walking evidence that Japan just doesn’t understand racism at all. Now plenty of people in Japan are proper racists, or more correctly, proper xenophobes, convinced that Japanese people are superior in almost every respect and prepared to drive black vans around Tokyo announcing this on loudspeakers but the vast majority of Japanese people would be perfectly nice and polite to anyone regardless of race or ethnicity. But the fact is the vast majority are also really racist without intending to be so, because their media and culture is woefully lacking in coverage of the world outside of Japan and so they think it’s perfectly acceptable to dress up in blackface and do things like this.

Jinx is therefore one of the more abstractly inspired Pokemon since she’s the walking embodiment of unintentional Japanese racism.

There’s plenty more racist designs by the way, just not in Generation 1.

Electabuzz

What the hell is this? What is it supposed to be, did somebody mess up whilst drawing Pikachu and just decide to submit it anyway? What is this design meant to evoke?

Magmar

Magmar, because when I think fire monster I immediately think of a duck, yup, duck’s well known for loving magma. Hence the well known expression, like molten magma off a duck’s back.

Pinsir

And I thought Cloyster was a scary vagina monster but looking at that thing’s mouth has just made little Adam retreat up into my body faster than you can say vagina dentata.

Tauros

Tauros is completely dull except for one fact.

It was the one pokemon I never caught.

My pokedex contained 149 pokemon and the only guy I never got was Tauros. Like Kangashkhan he was only available in the safari zone and like Kangashkhan he was skittish as hell and would run away before you could catch him. I wasted hours and hours of my life going after that thing before Gold and Silver came out and I decided to just give up, accept defeat and move on with my life.

So when I see Tauros I don’t see a cartoony bull looking at me, oh no, I see a failed and wasted childhood staring into me, mocking me, laughing cruelly at my childish efforts.

Magikarp and Gyarados

Everyone, and I mean everyone loves these two. The heart of it being that Magikarp is completely and utterly useless. It knows one move, splash, which does no damage whatsoever. It’s completely useless in a fight, it can’t be eaten and just look at that face. That is a dopey, ugly, unloveable face.

And then it evolves into this.

Badass personified. A giant sea serpent with moves like dragon rage that sweep everything before it away in a tidal wave of fury and anger.

Magikarp into Gyarados is like the ugly duckling story as pokemon. Or better yet the Charles Atlas ads in the back of 1960’s comics. Are you a skinny pathetic weakling always losing fights, well if you can just make it to level 25 you can turn all that repressed anger back on the bully’s and destroy their posteriors totally.

There are some weird things about gyarados though. Why isn’t it a water dragon? It learns dragon type moves, it looks like a dragon, why not a dragon? Instead it’s a water/flying, but it learns no flying moves whatsoever so derives no benefit from flying at all just an additional weakness to rock attacks it wouldn’t normally have.

Lapras

For years I thought Lapras wasn’t actually introduced until generation 2. I have no idea why I thought this since the surfing animation in gen 1 is a Lapras and he’s in the credits for the original TV show but memory is a funny thing. I can see why I may have thought this since Lapras is kind of boring. I mean it’s fine and all, the design is perfectly solid but it’s just basically a pleisaur with a shell on its back and no more clever ideas than that.

Ditto

I love ditto. He’s pure gimmick but what a gimmick. He. only learns one move, transform, which allows him to turn into an exact copy of the Pokemon he’s fighting. Unfortunately this means he’s completely useless in fights since his moves are always not very effective and can’t gain type advantage. From Gold and Silver onwards though the real use of ditto became apparent. Ditto is a dirty, dirty slut who will fuck anything that moves. Yup, Ditto will breed with any Pokemon in the game, of either gender. Ditto doesn’t care, he takes it anyway he can get it. Look at that cute little pile of purple splooge, he is having the nastiest and most varied sex life you can possibly imagine. Skank.

Eevee, Vaporeon, Jolteon and Flareon

Eevee is again a gimmick pokemon but a great gimmick .Eevee himself is a cute little squirrel/dog thing, a nice design but nothing special. No what makes Eevee great is his ability to transform into, originally, 3 different evolutions (and now up to 7). This is a nice riff on dog breeding and the endless variety of dog shapes people have been able to come up with and is also a fine example (like ditto) of playing with the mechanics of the game itself to come up with an original idea for a monster. The 3 evolutions themselves are all pretty cool, they all look like dogs, they’re all clearly evocative of the element they’re linked too, they’re also pretty cool designs individually only enhanced by the eevee concept. My favourite is Jolteon because I think he has a really sleek and dangerous looking design.

Porygon


Porygon is a digital pokemon, which is a dumb idea to start with. He looks like nothing in particular and has no personality. Plus this is the guy responsible for giving all those Japanese kids seizures. Basically beyond those dull lifeless eyes there is a sadistic monster, plotting something.

The Fossil Pokemon, Omanyte, Omastar, Kabuto, Kabutops and Aerodactyl

I don’t have much to say about any of these, they’re all competent designs (Kabutops is the coolest) but the concept behind them, fossilised pokemon brought back to life, is pretty neat and differentiates them from other monsters pretty cleverly.

Snorlax

Snorlax is another pokemon everyone loves. Again it’s a fairly abstract design but enlivened by a great gimmick, he’s a fat sleeping monster. So big and so fat that he actually poses a blockage to traffic. Hes a got a great simple design a neat concept and scores of personality. I mean who wouldn’t want to fight with a giant tub of lard whose moves actually allow it to fall asleep in the middle of a battle.

The Three Legendary Birds, Articuno, Zapdos and Moltres

There’s not a huge amount to say about these guys, they’re slick designs, they’re all evocative of the element they’re linked to, they’re just baseline cool. My fave is Zapdos, both because his design is spiky (I like spiky electric types apparently) and because in game his typing is a great combination. Electric types are weak against ground but he has flying moves to take out ground types and flying types are weak against electricity but being an electric/flying he has no such weakness.

Dratini, Dragonair and Dragonite

Dratini and Dragonair are fine and all but nothing special. However Dragonite is hilariously awful. The other two are sleek and elegant, this guy looks like barney the dinosaur’s retarded cousin. Look at that face. That is a face that had to repeat a school year, possibly twice. He reminds me of lenny from of mice and men.

Mewtwo

Mewtwo looks like a science experiment gone wrong, an unholy genetic aberration. Which is exactly what they were going for so well done design team. I also love his name, Mewtwo works as a clone of Mew and sounds exactly something artificial and created in a lab. Mewtwo’s design is fine not too crowded but full of little touches which suggest his artificial origin (like the weird neck tube) but what really makes him stand out is his back story. Mewtwo is the villain of the first Pokemon movie and really one of the only Pokemon intelligent enough to actually be a stand alone villain rather than just a tool for somebody else. His origins as an artificial being of immense power is of course a riff on, well take your pick, Frankenstein, Pinnochio, Star Trek’s Data, etc but whilst it may not be an original idea it is a gimmick shared by no other Pokemon so it makes him stand out and grants him a lot of personality. In fact I think Mewtwo qualifies as not really a monster but a character in his own right with his own emotions, desires and character arc something you can only really say about Ash’s Pikachu otherwise and that’s only in the TV Show and not the games. He’s also bastard hard and easily the most powerful monster in the games for the first two generations.

MEW

Mew has quite a few cool qualities but all of them are meta qualities to do with the game such as the fact that he’s the 151st Pokemon only obtainable at special events, or the fact that he can learn every HM and TM in the game. These are all cool unique things about Mew but they’re all just ways he’s weird in terms of game mechanics, there’s nothing intrinsic about Mew himself that’s very cool, his design is meh and unlike Mewtwo he doesn’t have any kind of character or personality.

And that’s all 151 original pokemon reviewed, mocked and discussed. I hope to get the Pokemon from Gold and Silver up here next month but stay tuned because non-pokemon related Mummyboon content will be up at least once a week between then and now.


















Pokémon And All Respective Names are Trademark & © of Nintendo 1996-2012

Kyushu Day 1

Very late I know but I’m finally going to get around to talking about my summer vacation in Kyushu. When this is finished I aim to take you on a tour of Tokyo and then it should be more kit-kat reviews.

For those not in the know Japan is comprised of 4 main islands (Honshu, Kyushu, Hokkaido and Shikoku) as well as many smaller ones. Kyushu is the southernmost of the main islands.

Consequently it is the hottest and balmiest. Not the smartest of choices for a summer trip.

Oh and the island possesses several active volcanoes.

The whole trip was somewhat unplanned on the spur of the moment. Fran and I had planned to go to Aomori and Matsushima in the north of the country. However after a friend of ours visited for three weeks our finances were not looking particularly healthy. Consequently we couldn’t afford to fly up to Aomori and pay for the hotels there.

However we were so disappointed at not getting a holiday this summer that we decided to look at other options. Kyushu popped up and a little digging proved that 6 days in Kyushu in 3 different cities was cheaper than just 3 days in Aomori during the festival time we wanted to go see.

And so in less than three days we booked it, packed it and completed a Peter Kay gag.

The general randomness of the genesis of the holiday would permeate the whole vibe of the trip. Everywhere we went strange, odd and somewhat random events would happen to us. It was a very ramshackle vacation but a very fun one.

The first of the strange detours was taking the bus to the ferry port. A special shuttle bus had been laid on and Fran and I boarded quite happily and sat down. As did a few other couples.

Then an entire football team with multiple squads tried to get on. All told about 30 high school kids, all with massive bags of gear and their coach were trying to squeeze onto a tiny bus.

For the better part of twenty minutes kids piled onto the bus squeezing into every available inch of space but no matter how far they moved up there seemed to be no way they would all fit. Surely the coach could take the next bus with some of the kids right? Nope, he was determined to send the whole team at once.

Finally, miraculously the whole team managed to fit on, leaving little room for breathing or moving for the rest of us and we set off; passing many other bus stops with long lines of people with bags that looked excited and then subsequently more disappointed than a child whose just been informed its hamster had died as we zoomed past without stopping.

The ferry was a bargain. 8,800 Yen for an overnight trip from Kobe to Beppu in Kyushu. That 8,800 Yen bought you space in a room. The room was about sized for 20 people with a tatami mat floor and every person got a futon, a pillow and sheets. The journey was about 12 hours long arriving at about 7:30 in Beppu after a good nights sleep. I can think of no more agreeable way to travel. I’m sure if this was Britain then people would stay up all night being noisy or drunk and if this was another Asian nation that set up would be excuse to have everything you own stolen. However being Japan everyone was courteous, honest and reserved. There was even a little television on the wall displaying the weather.

What was the forecast?

Thunderstorms…for the whole week.

Arse.

Oh well.

Sadly the only thing the ferry lacked was anything entertaining in the slightest little bit so after a not amazing dinner and a best of 7 game of connect 4 (which Fran won) we went to bed.

Day 2, Beppu.

After awaking and refreshing the Ferry drew into the port and took the train onto Beppu.

Beppu is a smallish town at the base of the active volcano Aso. Tourism and bamboo are its main industries and what it mostly has going for it is lots of varied and very traditional onsen.

It is also the quirkiest place I have ever visited in Japan. Japan is usually considered to be weird and odd by outsiders but live here long enough and you start to take most of that in your stride. Crucially most places in Japan are not odd by Japanese standards, they are fairly homogenous. The Japanese don’t like quirky, they like conformity. Beppu though was quirky and very proud of it. The first inkling of this I got was the announcement the lady on the train made as we approached the station. Normally announcers mumble a place monotonally in the bored way you would if you had to say the same place names for hours everyday. Instead this woman pronounced it in a rising inflection like someone calling suh-wee to a pig. Bep-pooooooo Bep-poooooooo. Fran and I had to immediately pause in our conversation to check what we had heard.

The second wondrously quirky thing was our hotel which was a gleaming art deco and chrome monstrosity transported wholesale from the middle of the 50’s.

The third thing was probably this statue. I say probably because whilst it is definitely odd I don’t know if it is quirky of downright bizarre. It is, as the base of the statue says.

“The man called Shiny Uncle who loved Children.”

Another inscription describes how he pioneered tourism to Beppu from the main land.

Now clearly this guy is something of a local hero who probably cared deeply and genuinely about kids like a nice grandparent. However the statue makes him look like some kind of paedophile super-hero. The expression on his face is one of a cackling Mr Burns look-alike. The cape makes him look like some kind of mental case. The pose is borrowed from the child catcher from “chitty chitty bang bang” and there is a genuine child hanging from his cape. He properly looks like he is going to sweep down from the sky and kidnap children whilst cackling menacingly. It is the most horrifyingly unflattering portrait I have ever seen.

Stopping to drop our bags off Fran and I went off to take a trip.

TO HELL!

As I mentioned above Kyushu is full of active volcanoes and Beppu sits on the slope of one of them, Asoyama. Consequently Beppu is something of an onsen town with dozens of hot springs making use of the volcanic sulphur and natural hot springs.

However a few of these hot springs are far, far too hot for people to actually bathe in. Not to be outdone the enterprising people of Beppu have cobbled together a tourist attraction out of them, dubbing these hot onsen “hells” and tarting them up a bit with some statues and signs.

Most of them seemed unutterably naff. Particularly a pair that had small zoos which reportedly kept animals in very poor condition. A few were just pools of water with some statues by the side. However three of the hells were genuinely quite interesting.

Water spout hell has a geyser which erupts at regular intervals of about half an hour. A few pictures in Japanese explained how it works and Fran and I waited for about five minutes to watch it erupt and then go oooh and ah. It was bloody hot and very steamy and all this steam is used to grow a tropical garden. Fran and I had a quick wander round the garden and then fled the humidity by standing in the gift shop until the ac freeze dried the sweat to our bodies.

Monks hell is full of bubbling mud pools which apparently resemble the bald head of a monk. Although these were pretty cool to look at what most impressed me is how the sides of the pools had built up. Layers and layers of mud had formed little baths about three foot high filled with boiling and bubbling mud.

Finally blood pool hell is easily the most impressive out of the whole set. Iron in the mud at the bottom has mixed with the water to give it a bright red hue that looks like a lake of steaming boiling blood. Hell seems an apt description, although actually it was rather pleasant, if a bit hot, and had a lovely foot bath.

I even indulged myself in eating an egg….FROM HELL!!! I.e. boiled in the onsen water,

It tasted…of egg. And it didn’t half stink too.

Having visited hell we set about trying out Beppu’s other famous attraction, the sex museum.

My apologies guys but for obvious reasons there will be no pictures from the sex museum.

I have visited the sex museum in Amsterdam and my main memory of that was being overwhelmed to the point of desensitisation with cocks. From the first room right until the end the entire edifice seems all too obsessed with transforming any object you can imagine (hairbrush, jug, chair, vase, smoking pipe, etc) into some kind of phallus. This is at first shocking, then funny, then quite interesting and finally utterly boring. “Oh look,” one drearily moans “yet more cocks, this time arranged to form an entire chez lounge.”

Gratifyingly the sex museum in Beppu is much more balanced in terms of gender and gives equal opportunities to transform common household objects into phallic and yonic (which is apparently the female equivalent of phallic I was pleased to discover) sculptures. It’s also much smaller then the one in Amsterdam and so you’re still square in the funny stage of the experience by the time you leave. One particularly enlightening section devoted to the relative size of animal genitalia was particularly enlightening, although the sculpture of a Whale’s vagina will haunt my nightmares for many years to come I fear.

There were a few problems with it. Many of the exhibits were broken and in need of repair (that poor zebra) and of course in Japan it is illegal to show uncensored images of human genitalia which somewhat puts the kibosh on the whole museum really. They rather neatly got around this by displaying all their antique Japanese erotica in glass cases with a little frosted bit about 6” in front of the actual print. If you look at the print straight on it is censored however if you are not yet a complete and utter drooling buffoon you can take a step to the right and look at it completely unhindered from an angle.

Since we were now so hot and sweaty (from all the steam you perverts) Fran and I decided to try out the thing Beppu is really famous for; Onsen.

Beppu is one of the premier Onsen towns in Japan sporting some of the best and most unusual Onsen in the country, many of them completely free. Fran and I set off to Kannawa, just up the mountain to try some of them out.

Kannawa was a very cool place to have a wander around. It is a tiny little village and almost all the buildings have traditional thatched roves. Even better some of the old buildings were a kind of traditional bath salt farm. Basically a pipe is dug into the earth from which steam and sulphur can emerge. Above this is built a thatched roof that is set directly into the floor kind of like a wooden tent. Steam rises and floats out through the roof but the sulphur stays behind and settles on the floor. Eventually the local people scrape all the sulphur up and use it to make bath salts which they flog to tourists who wish to smell of eggs.

And in fact pretty much the entire town stinks, horribly, of eggs. The stench of sulphur is omnipresent and choking. As much as I enjoyed the scenery and just wandering around; it was almost impossible to stay that long because the smell was so awful.

So we quickly scuttled down the hill and made our way to a lonely planet approved “mud bath.”

Unlike the swish and organised onsen I’m use to in Kansai this was a decidedly home made and ramshackle affair. Much of the baths had a rough and ready quality to them as if they were made on the cheap a few weekends ago.

The onsen itself was split into four stages. First we had to shower and clean ourselves. Secondly we got into a lovely hot sulphur bath. This made us smell of eggs (why people would want this, I do not know) but was wonderfully relaxing on our tired limbs. Kyushu is very hilly and after trudging up and down a mountain all day a nice bath really does a world of good. Thirdly there was an indoor mud bath. The bath itself was mostly more sulphur water but with a layer of soft, silty mud at the bottom like some kind of velvet cushion. This was squelchy and felt awesome to run through your fingers but the bath was so poorly designed, and the mud so slippery that I kept sinking in.

Finally there is an outside mud bath which is mixed gender. There is a wall of towels in the middle protecting modesty but both boys and girls can come up to the wall to have a chat.

I say protecting modesty, protecting female modesty at least. There was no male modesty to protect. Women can enter the outside bath from their inside bath simply by rounding a corner. This means that as they approach the wall all the relevant bits are nicely underwater. In contrast the men have to stroll across the courtyard, in full view of the ladies, with tackle flopping around in the breeze.

Fran had gotten to the outside bath before me and was waiting at the towels for me to arrive. All the other women were sitting around the corner out of sight meaning Fran looked like some kind of massive pervert sitting and staring at all the naked boys as they emerged one by one. Not that she isn’t a massive pervert; but she doesn’t like to look like one in public.

And on that note I shall bid you sayonara. Next time we will explore Beppu further. If you like bamboo, you’ll love it.

My computer has a bad case of being really, really irritating tonight so I’m going to postpone the longer post I had in mind until I can be sure it will behave itself.
3
Until then I’m going to re-post something I’ve spotetd on a few other sites. Mum and Dad you probably don’t want to read this.

From this week’s edition of Time Magazine we have, porn for young people but featuring really old people.

Japan is repeatedly found to be one of the most sexless societies in the industrialized world. The WHO reported in March this year found that one in four married couples in Japan had not made love in the previous year, while 38% of couples in their 50s no longer have sex at all. Yet, at the same time, the country has seen a surge in demand for pornography that has turned adult videos into a billion-dollar industry, with “elder porn” one of its fastest growing genres.

Tokuda’s exploits have proved to be a goldmine for Glory Quest, which first launched an “old-man” series, Maniac Training of Lolitas, in December 2004. Its popularity led the company to follow up with Tokuda starring in Forbidden Elderly Care in August 2006. Other series followed, and soon elder porn had revealed itself as a sustainable new revenue stream for the industry. “The adult video industry is very competitive,” says Glory Quest p.r. representative Kayoko Iimura. “If we only make standard fare, we cannot beat other studios. There were already adult videos with Lolitas or themes of incest, so we wanted to make something new. A relationship between wife and an old father-in-law has enough twist to create an atmosphere of mystery and captivate viewers’ hearts.”

Japan’s adult video industry is believed to be worth as much as $1 billion a year according to industry insiders, with the largest rental video store chain Tsutaya releases about 1,000 new titles monthly, while and the mega adult mail-order site DMM releases about 2,000 titles each month. Although films featuring women in their teens and 20s are the mainstay of the industry, a trend toward “mature women” has become evident over the past five years. Currently, about 300 of the 1,000 adult videos on offer at Tsutaya, and 400 out of the 2,000 at DMM, are “mature women” films.

Now I am aware of some really weird fads in this country but this one simply mystifies me. I was, for instance, well aware of what this article refers to as the “lolita” fetish in Japan (i.e. that there is an awful lot of anime/manga porn in this country that we would consider paedophilia in Britain and that is kind of brazenly stuck up around palces like den den town.) which creeps me out but is sort of understandable. This though? I get that old people might want to look at other old people getting jiggy with it and young people may actually want to get jiggy with an elderly person but watching two elderly folks play a rousing game of hide the sausage is pretty much the first thing the devil will do to me when I get to hell.

Still, different strokes for different folks I guess.

Oh god, I just realised what that sounds like.

I will give the spokesman this, it is a novel twist.

Oh and “Forbidden Elderly Care” is the best title of a Japanese film I have heard since “Fight! 10 Million Power Warriors!”

%d bloggers like this: