The Snorunt Family

Unless you count Castform's snow morph, Snorunt (pronounced "snow runt") was the first pure ice type in pokemon history, though I always thought it looked more like ice/dark material. Its design comes from a yuki mino, a type of conical snow suit usually made of straw, but this one is occupied by a spooky, indistinct shadowy being with beady, glowing eyes, and you know how much I just adore that style. There's even a yokai that's basically just a ghostly snow-child wearing one of these things, and that's almost definitely what Snorunt references, considering its evolutions. On its own, it's up there with the cutest of all possible pokemon. Look at it shivering!!! NO!!!!!

I just wish it stayed so cute. It's SO so cute.

Snorunt's evolution is one of those that comes completely out of left field with a seemingly unrelated design, transforming from an eerie little snowcoat-shadow to a...snowball devil? It's a big, floating head - actually made of stone - with a layer of icy armor resembling a ski mask, and it freezes victims solid "to eat them at a liesurely pace." How grotesque is that? It encases you in ice and just gnaws at your corpse, bit by bit.

That's pretty brutal, but the real punishment is doled out by Glalie's Japanese name, onigohri. It's a simultaneous play on onigiri (a rice cake), oni (essentially a horned devil) and kohri, or "ice."

Oyaji gyagu aside, a big floating monstrous ice-head is certainly an interesting idea, but that's kind of all you can really say about it. It's interesting, but I don't know if it really works. As big a fan as I am of floating giant heads, I actually find myself wishing this or the Mega evolution simply added a matching humanoid body!

Odd. Punny.

So, a generation later, female Snorunt would receive an alternate option, which makes Snorunt the only other third-gen pokemon besides Kirlia to get a gender-based evolution. In stark contrast to Gallade, however, Froslass is actually cool and interesting enough to justify its own existence. It's also an ice/ghost type, which kind of implies Snorunt dies to evolve into this thing.

Froslass is based primarily on the Yuki-onna or "snow woman" youkai, but it looks only very, very superficially humanoid. What looks like a "dress" is actually hollow, more like a decorative fin or wattle, while the "head" is its true body, a stubby-tailed ghost not unlike the boos from Super Mario. This actually makes a lot of sense from a biological standpoint, like the many fish, insects and other animals who sport a large, non-vital crest, tail or fin for predators to target.

All in all, a creatively weird take on a normally human-looking mythological being, though something always bugged me about its design, and I think it's just a matter of one too many details. It might be the ice horns that throw me off the most, so here's how it would look without them:

Personally, I like this more. I get that the horns tie it in with Glalie, but it's not like Glalie really has anything in common with Snorunt, and it only has horns because of its Oni aspect anyhow.

While I was at it, I trimmed Froslass's color palette as well, just to see how it'd look with more purple instead of both purple and blue. I could go either way I guess.

Neat! A little busy, but neat!

So, thus far, the final page in the book of Snorunt is the mega form they gave to Glalie, and this would have been a great opportunity for that hellish snowman idea, but instead they just gave it a way bigger mouth, three more horns and a little less of the ski mask. Is this based on anything in particular? Some kind of snowball-making implement? Whatever it is, I sure am indifferent to it. It kinda goes too overboard to be as creepy or interesting as vanilla Glalie, and loses a degree of coherency. I can look at Glalie and at least kinda tell what they were going for, but this is just kind of a nondescript scary mouth guy.

Bottom line: The Snorunt family is all over the place in quality. Overall, I like what it set out to be. In practice, each stage feels short of its potential.