Written by Jonathan Wojcik
DAY 14: WOBBUFFET!
Preposterous even by Pokemon standards, this second-generation fan favorite is essentially a living punching bag; it's one of the few monsters incapable of learning any actual offensive battle moves, but can take hits like a pro - and with a little prediction and luck, bounce damage right back to its opponent, twice over. Coupled with its other moves and abilities, it's arguably one of the cheapest, most broken creatures in the entire game, guaranteed to take down at least one enemy Pokemon and outright banned in most tiers of competitive play.
We're not here to talk video gaming, though. We're here to say some words about Pokemon concepts and designs; the parts that really matter, and really make the series what it is. Wobbuffet, at first glance, is basically what you would expect from a "punching bag" monster, a big bulbous sac with a face in a perpetual flinch, but there's one extra detail that makes this thing really intriguing, and it has nothing to do with belonging to the hottest anime character or looking like a giant blue rubber.
Wobbuffet possesses a conspicuously unusual, aesthetically incongruous "tail" characterized by a pair of rather worried-looking eye spots. A tail which, according to the pokedex, harbors a "secret." A tail Wobbuffet protects and hides at absolutely all costs, including using 90% of its body to absorb and deflect injury.
It's also rather interesting that the "eyes" on Wobbuffet's "head" end are never, ever shown to open. Who's to say those are even eyes at all? If that's the end it throws in the way of incoming fire blasts and aurora beams, it can't really have anything too vital inside, or at least anywhere near as vital as that tiny little "tail" it seems so desperate to preserve...because, of course, it's not a tail. It's Wobbuffet. The real Wobbuffet. Its true body is a frightened, fragile little bug-eyed slug, and what we've always thought of as the rest of its body is just a balloon-like puppet, a decoy that exists only as a shield.
Granted, the "decoy" also seems to have a functioning mouth, so maybe the entire thing is actually one giant, external stomach!