On February 27, 2016, Pokemon will celebrate its 20th birthday. Over the course of those twenty years, the game has grown to include 721 different designs. With so many different creatures, it’s not surprising that the designers would look to real life things to help with inspiration. On occasion, the influence of these designs were quite obvious – Klefki is literally a keyring, while Vanillish is a big ol’ ice cream cone. But other times, the creators got, well, creative, incorporating real life mythology into their designs. This gallery will look at 8 of the little Pocket Monsters who were inspired by real world mythology.
Froslass and Jynx
Ok, so I lied when I said there would be 8 – but a few of these are different iterations of the same myths, and it would be weird to only include one! Take Froslass and Jynx, for example. They have completely different appearances, but they’re both thought to spawn from the myth of the Yuki-onna, a terrifying spirit that takes the form of a beautiful woman cloaked in white. The Yuki-onna uses ice and cold to target, trap, and kill with cold.
Poor Absol. Absol can sense changes that lead to predictions of natural disasters. He’ll come out from the mountains and try to warn people – but unfortunately, his appearance during disasters tends to lead to him being blamed for them. Absol bears a striking similarity to the Kutabe, thought to be a variation of hakutaku, which lived in the mountains and warned nearby villagers of a coming plague.
Dunsparce may be one of the most obvious out there, unapologetically wearing its influence on its sleeve. Dunsparce appears to be based on the Japanese tsuchinoko, which has a stubby body, a pair of fangs, and a poisonous stinger for a tail. Some say it slithers, while others say it leaps/flies.
Pokemon‘s thunder bird Zapdos is based off, well, the Native American thunderbird. The thunderbird is capable of producing thunder with each flap of its wings. This one might be unfair because of how obvious it is – but “obvious” isn’t enough to keep it off the list.
Mawile is sugar and spice, cute and deadly. It’s a cute and sweet little girl-looking species from the front – but has a horrifying jaw loaded with teeth coming off the back of her head. This design was based on Futakuchi-onna, a monster from Japanese mythology that is a typical woman, but with a big ol’ mouth on the back of her head under her hair.
Espeon, the stunning Eeveelution, has roots in different mythological beasts, and it frequently compared to bakeneko due to its split tail. However, Espeon actually more closely resembles the Carbuncle, a Latin-American mythological beast that is said to have had a precious jewel embedded in its forehead. Many tried, and failed, to capture this creature, which could sense what was going to happen.
Drowzee and Hypno
These goofy looking designs also have roots in mythology, this time in the form of the Baku, and it’s not strictly limited to appearance (although that’s also there). According to legend, the Baku are Japanese beings that devour dreams and nightmares, and are said to have been created with “leftover pieces” when the gods had finished with all the other animals.
There’s a reason Sableye looks like an alien – it’s based off one. Or rather, it’s based off the description of one. In 1955, people began to report sighting of a strange alien-like creature in what became known as the Kelly-Hopkinsville encounter. These creatures were described as having pointy ears, glowing eyes, and bullets bounced off their bodies. And Mega Sableye does have Magic Bounce….