Wednesday, September 21, 2011

46. Paras

Now, we may move away from the part of the pokedex with the dark, obscure and bizarre organisms for biology nerds. And instead ruminate on mind-controlling insect brain fungi.

Paras might just be my favourite pokemon, and it is largely for this reason: if I'm ever in the position of having to defend Pokemon to someone intellectually scrupulous, I'm quick to bring up real-world curiosities that inspire creatures in the series. Among them being pangolins, and parasitic insect brain fungi. Then I steer them towards HeartGold/SoulSilver, as it's imo the best Pokemon game, and features both of them. Digimon can't claim that shit.

Bulbapedia's blurb says there are “many forms of fungus that grow on insects, any one of which could have inspired Paras's design,” and then they stab at Entomophthora muscae, an abdomen-enveloping housefly fuzz. Yawn. They somewhat dropped the ball there, because Paras is very clearly a victim of CORDYCEPS, which you should be familiar with if you've seen that eerily beautiful youtube video with David Attenborough.

If you want that to get even creepier, know that people proceed to EAT this fungus because they think it has medicinal properties. Apparently it's good for your chi, has both ying AND yang (because it's both plant and animal), and like all folk medicine, will give you an erection. Tochukasu mushrooms, or Coryceps sinensis, are apparently harvested in huge amounts for these reasons— hence the Tiny Mushroom item you find on Paras in the game that “certain maniacal fan segments” really like! Now we know what the Move Relearner on Two Island wants with them. And I can add to my list of Pokemon curiosities the economics of boner medicine.

They're not actually cute, red Mario mushrooms, though; Wikipedia has a nice, gross picture of a collection of tochukasu— they grow out of caterpillar noggins in these long, creepy tendrils that look like the hill from Nightmare Before Christmas.

The best part about Paras though, is despite the grim background, its design is SO CUTE. Especially those perfect, plastic googly eyes. They almost make you want to knit a Paras out of yarn just so you could stick said eyes onto i— OH MY GOD

I love you, internet. You seem to really like making Paras! Here are some more, and notice how even official TCG artists want a tactile Paras they can keep on their desks and love forever.

That is Paras from the EX FireRed & LeafGreen expansion, if you want to go out and get the card. I kind of do. The plushes are from and

Paras also has the cutest little stabbing claws. If a Paras scratches you, you think, “Aww, I can't get upset, scratching is all he knows!” It's got a button nose, and a tiny version of Pinsir's sideways mouth. But my favourite element of its design is probably the forehead dots. I think maybe they're supposed to be more eyes, like a spider would have, cold and soulless. But it's also easy to imagine them as nose bridge freckles.

The Winner:
Black and White

They're all so good! Whenever I put these posts together I download all the sprites to my desktop, and it was completely great to have a bunch of Paras scuttling across the screen. It's clearly impossible to make Paras look bad. Although Yellow is a bit plump (blood-engorged?), and R/S has a shoulder thing going on, and R/G is floating by its mushrooms almost exactly like a Zerg Overlord. SPAWN MOAR PARAS

R/B, Gold, and D/P all have really dynamic poses, especially Gold. Those are Paras ready to get down to business. Ultimately I choose B/W, though, because it's just so detailed! Check out the depth to it, and the portion of its body in shadow. It's practically three-dimensional. And they definitely didn't have to go back and spiff up Paras' sprite for Black and White, but they did anyway. Which gives me hope that I'm not the only weirdo who loves this little guy.


  1. no, you're not the only weird one. i think paras' are so adorable, and i actually 'squeee'd' when you said about the little scratching paras. thank you for this inside look to a paras :) looking forward to 'sect and the veno's ^_^

  2. This is possibly my little brother's favorite Pokemon as well! I adore the face of the B/W sprite.
    And that video was hauntingly beautiful. C8

  3. MOAR! Parasect!!! >:D

  4. Paras can actually take the tochukaso off of their backs, but they don't like to because their spores are their best means of fighting.

  5. Imagine that fungi growing on YOU.

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