Pyukumuku

Today’s Pokémon is the weird spiky loofah that lives behind Kahuna Hala’s toilet-

wait

Today’s bathing accoutrement is the weird spiky Pokémon that-

okay, let me start again

Today’s Pokémon is the weird spiky sex toy that lives behind-

no, that’s even worse

Look, we’re talking about Pyukumuku, okay

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Pyukumuku

On account of its willingness to sit placidly between its trainer and certain death, Pyukumuku… is just barely a Pokémon, despite clearly being more closely related to the exfoliating bath sponge. It is, everyone is pretty much agreed, based on a sea cucumber. Sea cucumbers are soft-bodied echinoderms, distantly related to starfish and sea urchins. They’re essentially long, squishy tubes, with a mouth at one end and a multi-purpose respiratory/reproductive/excretory hole at the other. This is a body setup that makes for a pretty passive lifestyle. Continue reading “Pyukumuku”

Sandygast and Palossand

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Sandygast

Before we begin, I want to point out, for the benefit of people who might not usually pay attention to this kind of thing, that Palossand has one of the best French names I’ve ever seen for a Pokémon: Trépassable. It’s a portmanteau of trépas, demise, and sable, sand, but it also sounds like très passable – “good enough,” which is a phrase that everyone who has ever built a sandcastle has uttered at least once.

 

Anyway. Haunted sandcastles!

Haunted castles make perfect sense to anyone with even a vague familiarity with 19th century gothic horror or its 20th century cinematic inheritors. Beginning with Horace Walpole’s 1764 novel The Castle of Otranto, any gothic horror worth the name has a menacing castle on a windswept crag in the middle of a dark forest in Molvania or some similarly dismal place, and said castle is regularly infested with a range of “local colour” including but not limited to bats, vampires, mad scientists, werewolves and, of course, ghosts. Ghosts and castles go hand in hand right down to contemporary fiction, with the entertaining spiritual population of Hogwarts in the Harry Potter series, and ghosts in the haunting business are commonly depicted as pursuing “unfinished business” or grudges left over from their lives. But a haunted sandcastle might be something of a new one… Continue reading “Sandygast and Palossand”

Stufful and Bewear

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Stufful

Let’s start with some simple, direct Pokédex quotes about Bewear.

 

“Many trainers,” Moon version tells us, “have left this world after their spines were squashed by its hug.”

well.

Just in case we hadn’t gotten the message, Ultra Sun clarifies that after you’ve been faced with a Bewear intimidation display “life is over for anyone who doesn’t run away as fast as possible.”

So… yeah. Continue reading “Stufful and Bewear”

Salandit and Salazzle

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Salandit

I think it’s time to explore some of the more hostile reaches of Alola, with the volcano-dwelling salamander Pokémon, Salandit and Salazzle. Salandit and Salazzle could be based on any of several things, or a mix of all of them, or none of them. Physically they resemble fire belly newts (genus Cynops), a group of newt species native to Japan and southern and eastern China (in the strictest scientific sense, newts are a branch of the salamander family and, compared to other salamanders, remain more aquatic even after leaving their tadpole stage; the words are often used interchangeably though). Fire belly newts are so called for their black colouring with bright red or yellow flame-like markings, which warn predators that they are poisonous and unsafe to eat – so we have a ready-made fusion of the Fire and Poison elements right there. Salamanders also have a very long history of being associated with fire, with stories that they bathe in flames going back at least as far as Aristotle. We could almost stop at that – Salandit and Salazzle are fire salamanders that breathe fire, and they’d hardly be the first Pokémon to come out of “real animal + appropriate-sounding elemental powers” (*cough*Beartic*cough*). But no; there’s more to these crafty amphibians, and as so often in Alola, we can look for answers in the real archipelago of Hawai’i. Continue reading “Salandit and Salazzle”

Mareanie and Toxapex

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Mareanie

Today we’ll be looking at some of Alola’s more passive-aggressive denizens, the Brutal Star Pokémon, Mareanie and Toxapex. Their physical designs are a little bit cryptic – Mareanie looks like a sort of spikey anemone, while Toxapex… Toxapex resembles nothing so much as a cancerous uvula glued to the inside of a dilapidated sea mine, with her twelve arms locking together to form an impenetrable dome that protects against not only predators but the force of waves, tides and ocean storms. In appearance, probably the closest animal to Toxapex would be something like a sea urchin, so bristling with spikes that its real body is essentially invisible, and probably not what you’re most worried about anyway. But it’s from their place in Alola’s ecology – specifically their relationship with one particular Pokémon, Corsola – that makes it clear that they’re probably supposed to be based on the dreaded crown-of-thorns starfish, Acanthaster planci, an unusual many-armed, spiny starfish found throughout much of the Pacific ocean.  Continue reading “Mareanie and Toxapex”

Fomantis and Lurantis

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Fomantis

Today we’re talking about Fomantis and Lurantis, the “Sickle Grass Pokémon” and “Bloom Sickle Pokémon,” a pair of deceptive Grass-types that take on the appearance of insects, their names evoking the words “faux” and “lure.” According to the Pokédex, Lurantis is often called “the most glamorous Grass Pokémon,” which… well, I think Roserade, Lilligant, Virizion and fellow Alolan Grass-type Tsareena are all going to want a word with you about that one, Lurantis, but for now we’ll agree that you’re top 5 material. Let’s take a closer look. Continue reading “Fomantis and Lurantis”

Mudbray and Mudsdale

Mubray.
Mudbray

Jim the Editor and I had an American friend once who, while on an archaeological dig in Italy, famously infuriated an old Italian man to the point of explosive outrage by repeatedly addressing a dog “ciao, burro” – burro being (as our friend well knew) the Spanish word for donkey, and therefore already a rather silly thing to say to an Italian dog.  Even worse, though, burro is also the Italian word for butter, so an onlooker could forgiven for thinking that someone saying “ciao, burro” to a dog is completely insane.  Years later, this event has only two substantial legacies: first, that Jim now feels compelled to address all dogs “ciao, burro,” and second, that my Mudsdale now has the dreadful misfortune of being named “Butter.”

Let’s talk about Mudbray and Mudsdale.

Continue reading “Mudbray and Mudsdale”