Shroodle and Grafaiai

FIRST NEW POISON TYPE! My favorite type and one that very nearly never disappoints me! Shroodle is the first-ever Poison/Normal Pokemon, reflecting the fact that it's mostly more like an ordinary animal, but it also makes poison. This is because it's a shrew! Surely you knew that many shrews were among the few venomous mammals? If not, now you do! Their venomous saliva allows them to "gnaw" paralyzing toxins into prey such as mice, frogs and reptiles, which they often store in their nest still alive to consume later. If that wasn't lovable nasty enough, certain shrews also defend themselves with a noxious scent gland, like a skunk!

Shroodle's Pokedex doesn't mention such grisly feeding habits, but it does include both the toxic fangs and the stench, adding that the malodorous substance is a colorful poison it uses to mark its territory, because oh yeah, this poison type's theme is also paint! Every generation introduces a poison type for a different kind of toxic substance, and paint is a wonderfully clever addition. Shroodle itself is kind of shaped like the tip of a paintbrush, with a furry little pointed rump, while its front half is black with a big, dorky nose I feel was meant to look like the "handle" of the "brush." It's stylized just enough that you can miss it. There's also another "brush tip" in the shock of hair on top, and the buck teeth protruding from the snout also look like they're soaking up some purple paint.

Most prominent are this Pokemon's eyes. They're positively gigantic for its body, with a beautiful lime green coloration that fades to more chartreuse, and funny little black dot pupils. They almost look more like the eyes of a preying mantis than anything else.

Shroodle's evolution was actually revealed first, and it's quite a change, completely dropping its shrew theme as it evolves into Grafaiai, based on that most lovably spooky of all lemurs, the Aye-aye! Like its real inspiration, Grafaiai has weirdly elongated and knobbly middle fingers, but these also drip with brightly colorful toxic goo still derived from its saliva, which is interesting, because while Aye-ayes don't do this, their distant cousins the lorises secrete a highly toxic oil from their armpits that they lick onto their teeth, giving them a deeply nasty bite. Quite a few layers of zoology went into this Pokemon line!

Grafaiai "graffitis" the trees in its territory with psychedelic patterns of its noxious spit, which you can actually see in-game, and it just makes me wish more Pokemon came with such environmental cues. Let's see some more of their nests, their tracks, their claw marks, anything! This is a great start!

Designwise, Grafaiai's small body and massive head, made even more massive by its big black ears, might have been pushed just a tad too far for a fully evolved Pokemon and could have used a little more balance, but that doesn't really bug me enough to detract from it. Its face is white except for the blue bordering those same huge, green and yellow eyes as Shroodle, now without any pupils for an even more sinister look, and together with its little black muzzle it's basically evoking a painter's gas mask. Pale, spiky hair also protrudes where the top of its masklike face meets the rest of its uniformly grey-black head, so the whole Pokemon looks like a little punk kid wearing a hoodie.

Overall, this creature's aesthetic feels more "Hot Topic" and "Invader Zim" than "Pokemon," in a good way that suits its theme as a toxic graffiti tagger, which in itself is a great motif for a poison type. Coupled with adding not one, but two new animal types to the dex with a little real-world science, and this line is an easy 5/5 for me.

All Scarlet/Violet sprite animations ripped by adamsb0303!