Monday, January 17, 2011

37. Vulpix

Vulpix has one of the best pokemon origins. If Clefairy/able leaves you thirsty for an actually cool reference to mythology, then thirst no further:


Right so in Japanese mythology, foxes live for centuries, grow multiple tails as they age, breathe fire, shapeshift, possess people, turn invisible, bend time and space, and fly. Note that these abilities aren't ascribed to some spirit world version of foxes, but to just... old, everyday foxes. Kitsune is the word for fox. There isn't another one.

To be more precise though, they breathe a mixture of fire and lightening, called fox-fire. Foxes have their own state of matter, you see. It also serves as their life force, carried around in little orbs, or sent floating through the night to lead travelers astray. I bet you didn't know this about foxes!

There are shrines built for foxes in Japan. Fox statues are commonly placed to ward off evil. If foxes were held in any higher esteem, they would have their own religion. Perhaps they do!

It turns out people in medieval Japan lived pretty closely with foxes, even on a domestic level. Because that's just how they roll. So that's one reason why the animal is on their minds. A lot of legendary properties were also borrowed from Korea and China, where there are evil fox spirits who mostly do malicious things. Japan didn't quite run with that however. Their foxes mostly just turn into hot babes and marry humans, or each other in human form, and... go about their business, basically! Not much bad happens. Sun showers are sometimes called “kitsune's wedding,” because apparently that's the time disguised foxes like to get hitched. Isn't that pretty?

Also even when they possess people's bodies, the side effects are things like eating a lot of tofu and azuki beans (foods foxes like), and suddenly knowing how to write and speak languages you never knew before. That's right—foxes will make you literate. While western doctors were diagnosing women as hysterical for unexplained maladies into the 20th century, Japanese doctors were telling people, “Oh no! A fox has got you!” It's not fair! Here we are all preoccupied with fairies, little sexy women with no real purpose besides being captured, and meanwhile Japan gets preoccupations with cool animals that trick the fuck out of people.

All this speaks of an interesting sort of relationship with reality; an ambivalence with good and evil, where something can be malicious but relatable; an appreciation for nature. All of these I enjoy.

More pokemon like this please! Wait, no. I don't mean that literally. Too late. Ah well, it's not like Vulpix is the first videogame character based on this concept.

The Winner:

So I'm not sure of the inspiration behind turning the kitsune into a bouffant-wearing, prim and pampered poodle thing. Clearly this idea outdated the anime though (in which Vulpix was featured as Brock's grooming object) as we can see in the original gameboy Vulpices. Since then, Vulpix has more or less gotten darker and more capable looking.

This is not a perfect sprite, by any means. I think its head overlapping its tail is completely unnecessary, and its stance isn't the most elegant or refined. Black and White actually has a really good sprite; it's much more foxlike in the ears and snout than some of its predecessors, and looks tough but also has... good posture? But it's also boring. Silver's has more intelligence in the eyes, and a look like you'd better take it seriously, when it's dropping burns and Confuse Rays on your pokemon.

D/P has a brave sprite, if nothing else. Usually these sprites don't show pokemon with their rear to the viewer. But then, I'm not sure Vulpix was even in those games. I should probably get around to actually playing them.


  1. Vulpix is my absolutely my favorite pokemon. I loved it since I was a child, since foxes have been my favorite animal since I could form sentient thoughts. I used to hate that silly hair, but now that I'm older and more feminine I adore it. XD

  2. Scratch that. My favorite is Ninetales, of course! <3

  3. I like to think that the silly hair is a product of people grooming Vulpix, and if you encountered one in the wild its fur would look more bedraggled. But maybe it just wills itself to look fancy.

  4. "Here we are all preoccupied with fairies, little sexy women with no real purpose besides being captured, and meanwhile Japan gets preoccupations with cool animals that trick the fuck out of people."

    You don't know jack shit about European Mythology, do you? Trust me, if The Fair Folk knew you were talking smack about them, they'd make damn sure you'd regret it.

  5. Vulpix has a lot of good sprites, I think, Except for its butt face in red and blue.

  6. Pokemon - Emerald - Hack (all pokemons) GBA ROM+SAVE+CHEAT