Tuesday, January 4, 2011

35. Clefairy

Ah, good ol' Nidofair-- I mean Clefairy.

Did you know Clefairy was originally intended to be the (post-Nidorino) mascot of the Pokemon series? I'm no huge Pikachu fan, but thank goodness they didn't do that. Even Jigglypuff has turned out to have wider appeal than Clefairy. So why is this? What went wrong?

The one thing Clefairy has going for it is, like real-world fairies, it's pretty elusive. The game mentions this to you, and if you're a completionist you set out to Mt. Moon full of determination to catch it. Do you remember that time? Back when cave pokemon seemed like a really intriguing thing, before you realized that each and every of the fifty caves in each and every Pokemon game is spilling over with the same fucking Geodudes and Zubats? When I eventually caught a Clefairy in my first pokemon game, it was a rewarding experience. I got the feeling of having done something special. And then... I used it for a few battles, then put it in a PC box. It just didn't seem as interesting to have a Clefairy, as it was to catch one.

On top of being a brutally underpowered pokemon, its design doesn't do much either. It's a Kirby with ears, wings, and swirly bits glued on. Except less cute than that. Maybe it just seems less believable next to other pokemon, being so cartoonish and far removed from any sort of existing organism. But it's not like there aren't great folklore-based pokemon from later generations. Look at Mawile (a futakuchi-onna), one of my favourites:

Now THAT is how one designs a cute, cave-dwelling, mystical-creature-inspired pokemon. But then here's Clefairy, perhaps the world's least interesting interpretation of the world's most overused magic entity. I can't say I'm a big fan of designing something by making a decent silhouette and then slapping a smiley face on it. Here, let me draw you a Clefairy.

...actually that's pretty cute still.

Anyway, I'm probably overanalyzing. But I maintain: Clefairy is too generic. The fact that it was designed with mascotdom in mind is probably its downfall. They were trying too hard to make it appealing to everyone, and wound up with it appealing to no one.

Now I need only wait for a heretofore unheard-of legion of Clefairy fans to take unprecedented notice of this blog and call for my head

The Winner:
Ruby and Sapphire

So which of these utterly uninteresting puffballs does the best job of looking interesting? I was tempted to say Red and Green's, since they all look the same, and it looked the same first. But that's unfair.

Gold and Silver's are too hot pink, and recent ones seem too heavy-set, or too sitting-down, or too having-arms-unnecessarily-extended. The Gameboy Advance ones were good though, because they gave you that sense of hopping or bouncing that I guess Clefairies should have. And a good view of their oddly geometric ears. I don't know why they got rid of R/S's metronome finger wag; it wasn't the most well-drawn but it's probably better for Clefairy to be demonstrating its one notable move than not.


  1. Dangit. Now you got me interested in your evaluations.

    No, but seriously, it sounds at least like you have an understanding of character design enough to go through with these, which is what I like about reading these. I never really thought about it before, but you're right. Clefairy does have a unique silhouette wasted on a smiley face. I should've known, but to be honest, I personally felt like at least the designs were kept reasonable, so I never had a problem with anyone from the first two generations. While I like the third, if I can even remember it, it started to feel like at that point and beyond, the designs were becoming extreme/challenging for the sake of being extreme/challenging (like Rayquaza), which absolutely seems like a Japanese design school of thought. I know you aren't there yet, but I suppose I'm slightly defending Clefairy. Slightly. Plus, I like how someone referred to Clefairy having Van Pelt eyes. I admit it, I like that about Clefairy.

    But I have no qualms with any 1st gen Pokemon. I'm way too nostalgic/neutral to it to be all that objective (live and let live, I guess). Though some designs are better than others, nevertheless.

    Also, Mawile is cute indeed.

  2. What's Van Pelt refer to? Linus? It also has Charlie Brown's hair poof.

    Legendary pokemon are kind of a bad example of what recent generations have to offer. I for one hate them, almost without exception, since Gen. II or so. I don't see why there needs to be 15 more in every set of games now.

  3. I like your Clefairy face so much better.

  4. I like the Red/Blue clefairy the best. Its feet seem to get smaller with every generation, so it looks less and less able to support its increasingly rotund body. Plus, the Red/Blue clefairy sprite is kinda floating in the air, which seems appropriate. And I think it had the best shade of pink.

  5. Personally, I like Clefairy but they did make it too useless. They should have thought of another type for Pokemon like her and Jigglypuff, maybe Magic or Light type or something. And given it some at least decent damaging moves.

    I also am annoyed by Legendary Pokemon. There's fifty something now, and they're legendary for the stupidest reasons. Victini could and should be non legendary, for example. It's not all that important. And Heatran. And Arceus should go die in a hole. And Kyurem and Genesect and Palkia and Giratina and Uxie and Mespirit and Azelf and Manaphy and Shaymin and Deoxys... anyways, there's a lot of bad ones. But as patrick said I think they're overdoing it with a lot of Pokemon, for example Emboar has so much going on it's almost hard to comprehend.

    1. Well, they did make Fairy type in X and Y that CleFAIRY and Jigglpuff are part of, so... You said it first.

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