Spritzee and Aromatisse are two more of those Pokémon that can only make you think “well, of course the French would have that.” French companies dominate the modern perfume industry, and only Italy can possibly compare to France’s reputation for perfume production. Kalos, not content with that, has also cornered the market on perfume Pokémon (anime Erika would kill for one of these things). While I have much more to add now, I have to stand by my original assessment of Aromatisse from my playthrough journal of X: “I feel like Big Bird’s French cousin is trying to seduce me.” Don’t you try to tell me you’re “just doing the can-can,” Aromatisse. That is a suggestive dance and you know it. I see the way you look at your trainers as you bare your leg salaciously. I’m watching you…
Spritzee always smell enticing, although the exact character of the scent apparently depends on what they have eaten recently. The Pokédex doesn’t explicitly say that they mimic the smells of the things they eat, but that seems to be the expected inference; they’re able to isolate and reproduce aromatic compounds in their food. Spritzee doesn’t seem to be able to control her scent directly; her large and presumably sensitive nose is probably used to select foods that will complement her own natural scent in particular ways. I am broadly assuming here that Spritzee and Aromatisse are herbivores, although the Pokédex is characteristically tight-lipped about that, and their ability to attract and enthral other creatures by smell would hardly be the weirdest hunting strategy in the world. Just something to think about. In any case, controlling Spritzee’s diet would allow its trainer to produce a standard range of scents, and indeed this is exactly what Kalosian royalty used to do instead of using perfume. Why Spritzee are no longer used for this purpose is not explained – considering the price of good perfume, feeding a Spritzee (who is, let’s face it, not an energetic Pokémon) and getting a pet to boot seems like it would be an economical option. Perhaps keeping a Pokémon just to replace your perfume is now considered extravagant or even demeaning. In any case, it’s the much rarer Aromatisse who would be truly interesting to producers and consumers of perfume alike. Aromatisse hone their powers to a much higher degree than Spritzee. They are said to “devise” fragrances and can change their scents on the fly to baffle and discomfort enemies. Some of their techniques, like Calm Mind and Skill Swap, also suggest that they’re highly intelligent. It seems that these things can actually manipulate their own body chemistry and experiment with different combinations of scents. The apparent degree of control seems at odds with the Pokédex’s statement that trainers have trouble even walking alongside Aromatisse unless they particularly love her current fragrance, since the smell is so powerful that even pleasant odours become overwhelming. Why wouldn’t an Aromatisse tone it down for her trainer’s comfort? Well, to that I ask, if you were a perfume Pokémon, would you want a trainer who didn’t appreciate your obviously glorious scent?
“What did I just hear you say about my fine-ass aromas? B!tch, I have been scientifically proven to smell amazing, all of the time. Haters gonna hate.”
Why exactly a perfume Pokémon should look like a French dancer is just a little bit beyond me. Aromatisse’s furry pink lower body resembles nothing so much as the voluminous skirts and petticoats traditionally associated with the can-can, while that saucy pose common to her official art and her in-game model has a similar effect. The link between that and perfume might be through the powder puffs used to apply makeup powders, to which the pink fluffy bodies of both Pokémon bear a passing resemblance (just don’t actually use them that way!). To throw in another element, the distinctive shape of their pale grey faces is generally thought to recall the masks worn by guests at a French or Italian masquerade ball, and the appearance of an elaborate costume fits with that as well. The overall effect is of extreme artificiality – masks, fancy clothes, makeup, perfume (and here it’s worth noting that Spritzee and Aromatisse have a 50/50 gender ratio) – a Pokémon who is, in a variety of ways, evocative of stereotypically French decadence and elegance. There could also be something more sinister behind these Pokémon, though.
When Spritzee was originally revealed, the shapes of her ‘mask’ could also owe something to the beak-like masks worn by plague doctors of the Renaissance – itinerant ‘medical’ staff, sometimes with no formal training, who were hired at civic expense to treat sufferers of the bubonic plague, both rich and poor. The distinctive masks, normally accompanied by heavy, full-body robes, became common in the 17th century, though the profession itself goes back at least to the time of the Black Death in the 14th century. Medical science of the time held that the bubonic plague, amongst other diseases, was caused by foul smells or ‘miasma’ emanating from diseased people and animals or rotting matter. Doctors treating the sick wore the distinctive masks, stuffing the beaks with dried herbs, flowers, spices and other fragrant substances, so that the air they breathed would be filtered and purified to remove the toxic stench of the disease. Laughable as it seems today, the masks would presumably have offered equivalent protection to any surgical mask (I mean, that’s not the main way bubonic plague is transmitted – it’s the infected fleas that get you – but letting people cough in your face isn’t exactly a good idea either), as well as possible psychological benefits, which might translate into a strengthened immune system courtesy of the placebo effect. In an age without antibiotics, it’s not a terrible idea. Spritzee and Aromatisse may owe to these masks their variety of healing powers: Aromatherapy, Heal Pulse, the Healer ability and, as egg moves, Wish and Refresh. I say ‘may’ because healing powers are such a standard thing for fairy Pokémon (in the broad sense) that it’s difficult to say whether this is part of a reference or just fleshing out the movepool, and the Pokédex doesn’t say anything to stress it. I don’t think people really believe now that Spritzee and Aromatisse are based on these guys, since the masquerade hypothesis just fits so much better with what Aromatisse is like, aesthetically and temperamentally, but the plague doctor’s mask provides such a fascinating link between perfumes and healing that I would be very disappointed if it weren’t part of their inspiration. It’s also difficult otherwise to explain why Spritzee looks like a bird. Perhaps the passing similarity between the two kinds of mask, accentuated by Aromatisse’s beak, is the basis of some sort of dark joke on the designers’ part. I wish the designs drew more heavily on that aspect, since it’s easily the most interesting thing about them – it wouldn’t even have to make them dark and sinister, if the designers felt that conflicted with either the Fairy type or with Pokémon’s general light-heartedness. If anything, a sweet, loveable plague doctor Pokémon whose aromatic treatments actually work would be a nice change from the way popular culture usually spins that image! Ah, well. I can dream.
The first thing you need to know about using Aromatisse is that she is slow. In fact, she is the sixth-slowest fully evolved Pokémon in the game, behind Musharna, Avalugg, Gigalith, Ferrothorn and Shuckle. She’s also fairly bulky – not amazingly so, but certainly solid, and as a pure Fairy-type only has two weaknesses, Poison and Steel, both relatively uncommon attack types (but getting more common all the time precisely because of the importance of Fairy Pokémon). She sounds like she should be a supporter, and this is exactly what she is, with a wide selection of extremely useful support moves. Aromatherapy isn’t just for flavour; the ability to cure your party’s status ailments can be critical if you’ve got a burned or paralysed sweeper on your hands, or if something important has been put to sleep. Not many Pokémon have access to this move, or to its sound-based counterpart Heal Bell, and this is probably Aromatisse’s biggest selling point besides her Fairy typing. Wish is a great move for any Pokémon with an HP stat like Aromatisse’s; like Aromatherapy it can be used to heal your team by switching after using it, and if you do, then the target is healed by half of the user’s HP, which may be significantly more than half of its own. Light Screen and Reflect serve to fill out Aromatisse’s support options. She has few offensive status moves other than Toxic, and although her own defensive aptitude makes her very good at stalling with poison, it should be used with caution since Fairy-types are already bait for Poison and Steel Pokémon and they don’t need another excuse to switch in on her. However, she can at least make switching in as comfortable as possible for your more fragile attackers.
To keep herself in top condition, Aromatisse can use her own Wishes for healing, potentially with Protect to keep her from taking any more damage while waiting for the Wish to come true. She can also heal allies’ status ailments in a double battle thanks to the Healer ability, but since her Aromatherapy is one of the more attractive reasons to put her on your team in the first place, her hidden ability is a lot more interesting: it’s unique to her, and is called Aroma Veil. Aroma Veil provides immunity (both for Aromatisse and for her allies, if she’s in a double or triple battle) to a variety of mind-affecting conditions: Attract, Torment, Heal Block, Disable, Encore, and most importantly Taunt. Honestly, since Encore was nerfed to hell and back in Black and White, Taunt is probably the only one you care about, but disabling all status moves is so potentially devastating to support Pokémon that immunity to it is a pretty sweet bonus for something like Aromatisse, especially if your opponent forgets about it and wastes a turn trying to Taunt her. If you’re using her in a double or triple battle, Aromatisse can hit her allies with Heal Pulse to keep them around longer, and her astonishing slowness combined with her other support skills makes her an ideal candidate for using Trick Room. She also has a signature move, Aromatic Mist, that can raise an ally’s special defence, but I’m not sure why you would use that when a Light Screen can protect all of your Pokémon, including Aromatisse herself. On the offensive side of things, Aromatisse has good special attack and access to Moonblast, which is not a pleasant thing to switch into, as well as a few other special attacks: Flash Cannon, Psychic or Psyshock, Thunderbolt and Energy Ball (although this last is to be discouraged as Fairy and Grass just don’t go well together). Thunderbolt, I should note, is the only thing on that list that isn’t resisted by Steel-types. Pump up her defence to keep her from dying to physical attacks, and she has the material for a decent Calm Mind set with one to three attacks, although if that’s what you want, you’re really a lot better off with Sylveon, who’s more powerful and can get better neutral type coverage with Shadow Ball.
I don’t know what to think of Aromatisse. The design seems a little bit all over the place at first, and I think it would have benefited from a more focused approach, but it’s far from a cliché pink fuzzball; actually, Aromatisse’s strange, birdlike face makes her look more than a little alien. Weird, but not bad weird. She’s not a great Pokémon in battle, largely because of her unremarkable physical defence and great vulnerability to Steel-types, but her unique immunity to Taunt (and to a lesser extent Encore and Torment) allows her to ignore one of the greatest difficulties of life as a slow supporter. Take her for a spin some time; she might be just what you need to keep your team healthy.