Poke the Bear asks:

Since you wrote at such length on Flying types…

god damn it; I knew it was a mistake to indulge that one

Do you think you could rank your favourite ghost-types by design?

I’d love to hear what you think of them…

So… there’s about twenty-seven Ghost-type Pokémon or evolutionary lines of Pokémon, give or take (depending on exactly who you count).  I think it’s reasonable to pick… let’s say a top five?  Does that seem fair?  I’m not sure there are any Ghost Pokémon that I dislike, because Ghost is a type that tends to attract the sort of antiquity/mythology/folklore-based Pokémon that I find really interesting – the ones that I’m the most “meh” on are probably… I guess Rotom and Gourgeist, which are perfectly fine.  That’s… like, honestly that’s a much better hit rate than Grass, which is ostensibly my favourite type.  But anyway, let’s pick some favourites.

In no particular order:

Spiritomb: Mostly I find Spiritomb interesting for the magic that its backstory hints at.  It’s said to be made up of 108 spirits that were bound to its keystone by a spell five hundred years ago.  Whose spell?  What were the spirits’ crimes?  What will happen if they break free?  Can they ever repent?  I think there’s kind of a fine line between a lack of detail that’s lazy and leaves us with a Pokémon that makes no sense, and a lack of detail that gives us hooks and leads us to fill in the gaps, but for me, the Pokémon world is a more mysterious and intriguing place with Spiritomb in it.  Besides… I mean… who doesn’t want a Pokémon composed of the souls of a hundred and eight unrepentant murderers?

Phantump and Trevenant: I’m fascinated by Phantump’s implied reproductive cycle of mimicking human voices to lure people – particularly children – into dark forests, where they die and possess tree stumps that become more Phantump.  I mean, clearly it’s horrifying, but it’s also weirdly elegant.  If we do believe generally that Ghost-types are literal ghosts (which… I think is open for debate, but that’s another problem) then it makes sense that they would persist as species by calling people to the kinds of death that result in their creation.  I’m also a fan of sinister Grass-types that evoke the danger of mysterious forests and strange plants.

Shedinja: Taking a cicada Pokémon, having it moult, and then turning the discarded shell (which kind of does look like a weird alien creature in real life) into a second independent Pokémon is a really fun, off-the-wall idea.  Having that shell Pokémon be eerily still and silent, appearing without being called, in battle being either indestructible or simply gone, and existing as a constant reminder that death is a part of life… I love it.  Pity it’s so useless.

Yamask and Cofagrigus: I have… kind of mixed feelings about Yamask and Cofagrigus.  I’m a big fan of both, they’re some of my favourite Pokémon of generation V (I mean… the archaeologist likes the Pokémon based on an Egyptian sarcophagus; big shock there), but I have always found it totally bizarre that the one evolves into the other.  Yamask has this really sad, poignant backstory and powerfully mournful aesthetic, while Cofagrigus has this wide manic grin and loves to murder tomb robbers, and I want to be clear that I am 100% down for both of those things, but it’s an unusually pronounced jump in both physical design and personality, and I’m not quite sure the shared tomb/burial theme is enough to make it work.

Duskull, Dusclops and Dusknoir: Dusclops and Dusknoir are kind of… the reaper, the inevitability of death… in, y’know, this profoundly upbeat and optimistic series about children making friends with magical animals.  And they’re not ostentatious like Cofagrigus (well, Dusknoir is a little bit; I actually like Dusclops’ design better); they use a limited palette of muted colours, they’re sombre and solemn.  They’re not even cartoonishly evil like Spiritomb, they just… know that death is coming for everyone, and because of that they have a job to do.  They’re everything Pokémon usually isn’t, and to me there’s something powerful about that.

4 thoughts on “Poke the Bear asks:

  1. Ahh the Ghosts. My own choice of favourite type simply because the average quality is so high. Say what you want about picking a fav but picking a *worst* is really hard because there’s no Lumineon of ghost types. I guess my own least favourite is Gourgeist? But they’ve still got a lot of fun culture to them and the size gimmick is not the worst idea they’ve ever had.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I agree that the average quality of ghost type Pokémon is higher than most (if not all) types – there are few ghost Pokémon I don’t care for (and none I hate). Personally I like the ones the darkest ones. Like Gengar (it murders you because it wants a friend!), Yamask (but not Cofagrigus, just Yamask for the fact that they look at their mask and cry remembering who they once were), Drifloon (it tries to drag kids to the underworld, what’s not to love?), Lampent (yes specifically Lampent, and its tendency to hang around hospitals, burning the souls of dying patients), Pollasand (it literally buries creatures alive and feeds off their life energy), Mimikyu (mostly I just want to know what it actually looks like), and Froslass (freezing men as decorations). What can I say? I’m a water trainer at heart but when it comes to ghosts, I want to question why they’re even in kids’ games!

    Also, to add to your mention of Shedinja, I do like the added bit that supposedly staring into the hole in its back “steals one’s spirit”. You know, the part of it you’re facing when you’re using it in battle? 😉


  3. I don’t think there’s anything weird about Yamask evolving into Cofagrigus. The souls of dead humans becoming vicious ghost monsters due to being corrupted by their attachment to their former life is a common trope in a lot of anime, the most egregious example being Bleach where human ghosts will become vicious monsters called Hollows eventually if they don’t pass on to the afterlife and will then seek to devour other ghosts and even spiritually gifted living humans.


    1. It’s a common trope in a lot of *everything*, and it sort of explains why we have Ghost Pokémon at all, but I don’t know that it helps with the transition from “sad mask” to “maniacal sarcophagus”…


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