The Slowpoke Family

For the first time, we've arrived at a pokemon line I've already reviewed before, although that was pre-mega. I considered just updating and integrating my existing pokemon reviews into this feature, but that feels like it would be kind of a cop-out, so I'll be doing my best to write a fresh review - even if I retread the same territory - and see how my tastes and writing skills have evolved.

So, Slowpoke. A fascinating water/psychic type that supposedly "fishes" for aquatic prey with its sweet-tasting tail, and lives an existence even more sluggish than a sloth. Slowpoke's cognitive processes are so slow, there's allegedly little difference between its conscious or unconscious state, and it can take hours for it to actually register sensations. Like Psyduck, it's pretty inventive for a monster's powerful, telekinetic mind to be rather lacking in the actual thought department, but unlike Psyduck, the theme remains through its various other incarnations.

In-universe, Slowpoke only "evolves" when its tail is bitten by another pokemon, Shellder, which we'll be seeing soon enough. For whatever reason, Slowpoke's tail transforms the bivalve-like Shellder into a gastropod-like spiraling shell, now with angry eyes and jagged teeth, which constantly gnaws on its Slowpoke partner.

This is a good thing for Slowpoke. The endless stream of new stimulation apparently keeps that brain firing away, as does venom supposedly secreted by its mollusk friend. Does that mean Slowpoke is perpetually high, now?

This incredibly strange duo represents the pokemon Slowbro, though I feel like the Slowpoke half of the symbiosis gets a little too much more attention than the Shellder half. Everyone focuses on the dopey sea mammal more, but he'd be nowhere without Shellder!

As I do discuss in my existing review, the true basis for Slowbro seems to be the youkai Sazaeoni, a sea monster born from a sazae or "turban shell" sea snail, the same specific type of seashell our Shellder has evolved into. There's a lot of debate over what sort of animal Slowpoke is supposed to be, the leading theory apparently wavering between hippo and sea otter, but I think this is another case in which a first-generation pokemon is just a "monster," like Nidoran, Abra or Machop, only loosely similar to any real wildlife.

In the second generation, Slowking was introduced, which I actually kept thinking for years was a Slowbro evolution. It's actually an alternate evolution for Slowpoke, representing what happens if a Shellder bites down on the thing's head and starts injecting that psychotropic toxin directly into its brain. It's basically got a snail monster for a "thinking cap," which also sort of invokes a mystical turban. It's a great concept, though once again I kind of wish the Shellder took center stage.

I finally got my wish, almost, with the addition of Mega Slowbro in the sixth generation games. It's only the Shellder which undergoes growth during Mega evolution, very nearly engulfing the rather distraught-looking Slowpoke, who now bounces around on its tail.

It's a pity megas have no pokedex entries, because I'd love to read some trivia about what's going on here. Is the Shellder still actually chewing on its symbiotic partner? As funny as it is when pokemon go off the dark and tragic deep end, I prefer to think these two are still good chums and Slowpoke adjusts fairly well to life inside a giant snail's mouth.

The line pretty much can't get any better to me than this, unless a Mega Slowking comes along and it winds up nothing but a scary snail-shell monster with little Slowpoke feet sticking out of it. That'd probably be good enough for a gold rating, though as a mega, I couldn't actually use it on my team if it ends up conflicting with some other Mega. Why must Gamefreak theoretically eventually do this to me?!

The symbiotic partnership between a venomous seashell and a dopey, yet telekinetic otterpotamus is one of the weirdest, most original concepts in the Pokemon world. Every form it comes in offers a distinct twist on this delightful and iconic idea.