Toedscool and Toedscruel!!

Excuse me WHAT!?!?!! is what I'd have said if this were my first time seeing this Pokemon, instead of having been spoiled on it in steps during the buildup to these games, but it still surpassed my expectations even after I knew it was coming.

So this may appear at first glance to be a regional form of Tentacool, but it's really an entirely new concept to the Pokemon world; a biologically unrelated creature that just "coincidentally" looks 99% like another well-established monster. In this case, it's a grass/ground fungus that happens to look just like a pink-skinned Tentacool. It replaces Tentacool's red nodules with yellowish spots, it's a grass/ground type, and instead of living in the ocean, it runs around using its two tentacles like a set of feet! Hence the English name, which makes a pun out of "toed" and "toadstool," which is great, because then it still works with no prior knowledge of Tentacool at all.

The conceptual reasoning behind this is that a commonly eaten mushroom, the "wood ear," has a Japanese name that basically means "tree jellyfish." The in-universe explanation is never addressed, but fans have taken to calling it "convergent evolution." I'm not so sure that'd really be what's happening here, however; convergent evolution is when organisms evolve similar forms due to having such similar habitats and behaviors, the reason why sharks and dolphins look so similar. Clearly a walking fungus does not occupy the same kind of ecological niche as a jellyfish, so in this setting, it reads more like a grass/ground Pokemon imitating a water/poison Pokemon as a defense mechanism, even if actual Tentacool aren't found native to Paldea.

So naturally we get a mushroom Tentacruel, which is now predominantly a creamy yellow with a black cap and pink bubble-spots, but that's not all! The serrated "beak" of Tentacruel, or whatever that was always supposed to be, has also been swapped out for a delightful little tubular mouth, like the siphon of a cephalopod, and together with the particular way it stands up on its tentacles, it's obviously intended to resemble Japan's popular image of a tentacled Martian! I'm sure that was already some of the intention behind the real Tentacruel, but here, it's unmistakable:

I just can't tell you how much I adore almost everything about this concept. I already thought the Tentas were some of the coolest looking of all Pokemon, but they could never quite compete well enough with my personal favorites for a team spot. A fake Tentacruel that's actually a giant fungus that also references H.G. Wells's War of the Worlds though? AND it's another grass type with leech seed!? This was even more eerily "made for me" as Bramblin was! My ONLY little bitty complaint is that I wish it was still also a poison type. That conflicts with the intention of it being an edible mushroom, but I'm such a poison fan, I'd have loved the option to make an all-poison theme team with this jellyfungus.

As a mushroom Pokemon, Toedscruel can learn the fungus-exclusive Spore, the only sleep inducing move with 100% accuracy. It also happens to be a fairly fast Pokemon, however, and it would have been a little broken to put Spore on something that commonly ends up moving first. That's why the only ability Toedscruel can ever have is the new "Mycelium Might," which causes its own status effects to always go last. The ability compensates by circumventing any enemy abilities that would otherwise block a status-inducing move, but I dunno, I feel like maybe the ability should only "cut" Toedscruel's speed when using spore, and maybe only when using spore? Still, Toedscruel gets a lot of great moves. Like yesterday's Bramblin and Brambleghast, it even gets leech seed!

Not only is this one of my new personal favorites, but it's currently one of my "must-haves" on a Pokemon team. A jellyfish octopus martian mushroom with Tentacruel's good looks is basically a Pokemon I never even knew I was missing all these years...and I have to say I positively adore the possibilities of these "convergent" or "mimic" Pokemon. Maybe it'll only ever be a quirky gag in this single generation, but technically, it means even my oddest "what-if's," like a non-grass Tangela, aren't completely off the table anymore.

All Scarlet/Violet sprite animations ripped by adamsb0303!