THE ULTIMATE POKEMON
as much as i'd love to start ragging on some creature designs i'm really not into, i think a more positive introduction is in order to better show off some of my more prominent design tastes. for that, i'm turning to the series that first got me INTO this kind of thing in the first place.
pokemon has been a big part of my life since i first played through diamond on the nintendo ds well over a decade ago. my top faves have changed more than a few times over the years, but i think now i've got a collection that really solidly encapsulates the kinds of monsters i like best.
clefable is what i've been calling my #1 favorite pokemon for the past few years. admittedly, while i can't pick out exactly what makes me rank this one above the others in my list - not beyond "i just think it's neat," at least - i can definitely say i ADORE the simplicity and roundness of it. both of these features are largely universal constants for a lot of my favorite monsters, as will become evident as i write out my thoughts on more and more of them. i'm a simple
man nonbinary stand-in for "man".
beyond that, another thing i appreciate quite a lot in clefable and a lot of other pokemon is that it doesn't immediately evoke thoughts of "this pokemon is based on this animal" or any variant thereof. i have nothing against pokemon that are obviously based on existing animals or plants or what-have-you, but monsters that are completely their own thing have a special kind of charm about them. some of that may be because there's no existing "prerequisite" to compare them to - especially in cases where the real-life counterpart has a really unique feature that its fictional counterpart doesn't capitalize on - but a lot of it i think also comes from the purely fantastical aspect of it. clefable is round. clefable is pink. clefable is just clefable. i really like that.
garbodor... has a lot of love and hate coming from every side of the community. maybe some people don't want a pile of literal, living garbage in their team of ultra-cool dragons and wolves. people have their own opinions. i don't care. what i DO care about, though, is garbodor. i care so much about garbodor.
garbodor isn't my favorite favorite pokemon, of course - clefable is - but i think it has a TON of charm to it that no charizard or lucario or rayquaza could hold much of a candle to. i can't tell if it's the almost-googly eyes, or the teeth that are definitely shards of broken glass, or the overall asymmetrical-but-cohesive look of it all, but something about garbodor makes the dopamine in my brain do backflips. i just wish its movepool was better.
the newest pokemon out of this list, dracozolt is by far my favorite of what i think is the most ingenious collection of fossil pokemon thus far. "horrible amalgamate as a result of science gone wrong" is one of my favorite design tropes of all time, but i never thought it'd turn up in pokemon of all places, let alone so blatantly. it's totally pg and cartoony here, obviously, but that only adds infinitely to the raw charm this thing radiates. i love how much it looks like a child took the animals on connecting mix-and-match blocks and made them real. i cannot describe to you how fantastic that is to me.
probably my favorite thing about dracozolt is the sheer juxtaposition between the raptor-like upper body - obviously something that would've bolted around pretty quickly in a past life - and the massive, lumbering backside it's fused with. a detail i've never really seen anyone else bring up is that the visible cross-section of its back half is notably brighter than it is on dracovish, the other fossil that uses this part. i've always been under the impression that's from the front half electrifying, or maybe powering, the legs. think of it like running electricity through frog legs to make them dance. or don't! i don't control you.
watching it stomp around in-game is genuinely delightful - it looks like it's just barely getting used to walking around with those things. probably because it is. i love dracozolt.
i struggle to say outright that i strongly dislike any one pokemon - i can usually find something i enjoy in any pokemon i'd otherwise hate - but this whole site is an outlet for me to complain or gush about monster designs. that being said, take the following list and accompanying commentary as you will.
i hate crabominable. i hate looking at it with my eyes. i hate its weird little teeth and its too-human nose and its implied pecs. its pre-evolution, crabrawler, is FINE, for what it's worth. crabominable sucks.
don't get me wrong, crabominable's design is fine in some places. i like its colors, and i think the paw-mimic pincers are a cute detail, but i just can't get over how much this thing looks like the middle stage of a wizard animorphing into a yeti crab. it looks like if you horribly misremembered the abominable snowman and yukon cornelius from rankin/bass' rudolph. i hate it.
i was hoping i could keep image sizes consistent through this whole page, but unfortunately landorus here has two forms, and i didn't want to stack two massive images on top of eachother. not yet.
anyway, unova's forces of nature - tornadus, thunderus, and landorus - are all more or less identical in their base forms, but i chose landorus only because it's my least favorite of the three. i don't feel particularly strongly about the group in one direction or another, but i've never been a big fan of these kinds of humanoid designs. i like pokemon like throh and hitmonchan just fine, but something about the forces of nature just doesn't sit all that well in my brain. i don't think i like the idea of owning a god of weather if that god just kinda looks like a super-tilted body builder. i do like that the vast majority of humanoid pokemon have some set of features (or lack thereof) that make them look a lot more alien than they would without.
unrelated to the almost-human aspect of the forces of nature as a whole, i chose landorus specifically out of the three largely because of its really... awkward tail. it looks like it's supposed to be totally stiff, like a rock, but the lack of texture on the whole thing makes it look more like it's made of plastic. something about it just seems really "off" to me, but i can't exactly put my finger on what.
out of every pokemon on this page, lucario is the one i've had the most mixed feelings about over the years. it USED to be something i'd consider to be one of my favorites, then an effigy of raw hate - though most things were, at the time - and now something i just don't care too much about either way. i think i'm just burnt out on most conventionally-cool anthro designs, speaking as someone who's been drawing and collecting increasingly out-there creatures since the early 2010s. it could also be the sheer amount of questionable content i've seen of this pokemon specifically throughout most of my life. that shit does things to your brain, and none of it is good.
disregarding my own trauma, i just think lucario's design is super bland. it's kindof just a wrong dog with spikes in the most inconvenient places. its mouth isn't even on its snout. i especially dislike its hips - they're like some kind of organic jorts that its legs awkwardly jut out of. worth noting, also, that the yellow-ish fur on its midsection stops abruptly where the jorts start, in a way that almost implies that everything below it isn't fur. is it just the torso that's especially furry compared to the rest? is lucario nearly hairless? i hate the idea that lucario is almost entirely skin.
i wasn't sure how to fit this into the rest of my thoughts on it, but i'm also not a big fan of its color palette at all. i dislike how moderate it all is, like they didn't want to make any one thing stand out much at all. i don't know how exactly i'd change lucario's palette myself, admittedly, but i think i'd start by increasing the contrast somewhat.
this isn't intended to be a comprehensive list of my favorite or least favorite pokemon by any means, but i did try to choose from those that most clearly showed a solid variety of designs i like and dislike. anyway, now that i've introduced myself and my tastes, i can get into the real meat of this site, which is complaining. sorry.