My Poke-Pinion: 004-006 – The Charmander Line

Charmander

Name: Charmander’s name is a combination of ‘char’ as in something burned and ‘salamander.’ Charmander’s name, in my opinion, is really nice. It rolls of the tongue quite well while also being kinda cute.

Originally, in Japan, it was known as Hitokage, which is ‘hi’ for fire and ‘tokage’ for lizard. Hitokage’s name is cool on paper, but saying it out loud is just the slightest bit awkward to me for some reason.

Fun fact: It’s French name is Salameche….I don’t have anything to note about that besides the fact that it’s an oddly sexy word.

Design: Arguably even more simplistic than Bulbasaur’s, just being a lizard with fire on its tail, Charmander’s design is adorable. Like Bulbasaur, it has big expressive eyes and a cute smile. The orange color is great on it, and the fire on its tail is so simple yet such a solid trademark of the Charmander line.

Sprite-wise, Red and Blue are classic and Yellow is adorable.

Green looks weird because it makes it look like its nose is bigger than it is.

Silver is derpy, but cute.

Crystal’s is adorable the way it claps its paws together and calls out to you.

Other than the animations for everything beyond Gen IV looking like Charmander’s trying out for Dancing with the Stars, they’re all good.

Shiny:

Charmander’s shiny version never appealed to me. The gold-ish yellow color could be worse, and it does fit somewhat into a fire theme, but it just doesn’t look good to me.

Cry/Voice: Charmander’s cry brings up all sorts of nostalgic feelings for me because Charmander was the first Pokemon I ever used in the games. I remember hearing that cry all the time when I first started playing the games, and it’s dear to my heart.

On a more objective level, it’s a great cry. It sounds slightly cute, but also definitely sounds like a growl.

(Ash’s) Charmander’s anime voice has grown sour to me ever since I read on Dogasu’s comparison that Pokemon’s voice director, Michael Haigney, didn’t put any thought or effort into the voice. He just jumped into the recording booth, thinking Charmander was a one-off character, and tacked on a high-pitched voice to make him make a sound.

It’s hard to love a voice rooted in laziness, even if I still find it a little cute.

The fact that they were too lazy to look ahead is one thing, but they were also dumb. Ash caught Charmander in that episode – of course he was going to stick around. (I know there are some exceptions to that rule, but this is a starter we’re talking about.)

Dex Entries and Backstory: Most of Charmander’s Dex entries speak of its tail flame – and the specifics of the tail flame stay true throughout its evolutions. When it’s in good health and happy, the flame burns brightly. When it is in poor health, the flame weakens. When it’s angry, the flame grows and burns intensely. It is said that, when healthy, the flame can withstand getting a bit wet. Most notably, Charmander will die if its flame is snuffed out.

While many people associate Charmander, name wise, with a regular salamander, its origins may be based on mythical salamanders, which is a lizard-like being closely associated with fire.

I like Charmander’s story. It’s not very intricate, but it’s fairly unique. The fact that the flame dying means Charmander dies is interesting and kinda dark. It also makes you think the Charmander line has a really difficult life. Yeah, the flame can survive getting a ‘bit’ wet, like in rain, but how do you go your whole life avoiding getting it submerged or even just moderately wet?

Charmeleon

Name: The same char logic applies, but the ‘Meleon’ part is derivative from chameleons. I love Charmeleon’s name. It’s fitting and a lot of fun to say.

In Japanese, it has the much more boring name of Lizardo, which is literally just the Japanese way of saying the English word, lizard. I don’t much care for Lizardo as a name. It sounds like an annoying neighbor in a sitcom from the 80s.

Fun Fact: In French, its called Reptincel – A combination of ‘reptile’ and ‘etincelle,’ which is French for ‘spark.’ That sounds like a fairy tale character. Not really sure how much I like this one.

In other news, it’s called Glutexo in Germany, which is something.

Design: I’ve always felt that Charmeleon’s design suffers from ‘Middleman-ism’ Basically, mid-evos sometimes have the problem of looking like they’re merely filling the role of a middleman instead of establishing their own identity. There’s plenty done to Ivysaur to make it stand out on its own, and the same goes for Wartortle, but Charmeleon just seems like a middleman.

When you actually take inventory of all the differences between Charmeleon and Charmander, this seems like an unfair assessment. It’s bigger, the lines are a lot sharper, its face got fiercer, it gained bigger claws and got a horn-ish protrusion on its head.

Oh and its red.

For whatever reason, Charmeleon gained a stark red color, which is very odd. The coloring between most evos usually stays unchanged, or, if it does change, it’s usually a transition color on its way to the final evo’s color.

With the Char line, we get bright orange, bright red then back to the same bright orange.

It’s almost like they knew Charmeleon’s design was so middleman-ish that they made it red in order to allow it to stand out more.

That’s not to say I hate Charmeleon’s design, nor can I really suggest any ways they could’ve improved upon it outside of, maybe, giving him a singular dragon wing, which I can’t decide whether it would be awesome or dumb.

Sprite-wise, he looks fairly bad, especially from the back, in Gen I.

He gets good sprites in Gen II, but looks like a complete idiot in Crystal.

(“What do you mean my Thumper impression is bad!?”)

He looks like a caricature of a playground bully.

Lookin’ good through Gen III, looking even better in Gen IV. I particularly Diamond, Pearl and Platinum, because that pose is badass.

Gen V onward look great.

Shiny:

Charmeleon has the same shiny problem that Shiny Charmander has. I am just not a fan of the yellow, and somehow it seems even worse on Charmeleon. In recent generations, it looks toned down, but I’m still not a fan.

Cry/Voice: I love Charmeleon’s cry. It’s a deeper tone, but keeps the same growl effect as Charmander, which I think is more fitting for Charmeleon given its fiercer design and attitude.

Charmeleon’s anime voice is a little awkward, but I blame most of that on the name. Due to the long name, whenever Charmeleon states its full name out, it sounds really forced. Luckily, they usually keep to just having it say ‘Char’ over and over.

Charmeleon’s actual voice is fine. Its voice actor (Ash’s Charmeleon) has changed from Michael Haigney to Eric Stuart – a change I believe was definitely for the better. He adds a gruffness to the voice that is very fitting while also keeping a high enough pitch to suit its attitude. Sadly, we don’t hear much of it because Charmeleon is in all of three episodes before getting kicked to the curb for Charizard.

Dex Entries and Backstory: Charmeleon’s dex entries have more information than we’ve been given so far down the line. They focus on its fierceness and desire to battle as well as its sharp claws and powerful tail. Swings of its tail increase the surrounding area’s temperature sharply, and it will constantly shoot out flames when it is agitated or hyped up. It is always looking for new opponents and, when it finds one, it will not stop brutally attacking them with its razor sharp claws until it is defeated.

It only finds serenity after it has won a battle, and, when excited, particularly for a battle, its tail flame will turn bluish-white, something we never see in the anime, but would’ve been awesome.

Charmeleon usually reside in mountain regions where they are said to resemble stars at night due to their tail flames.

Charmeleon’s design origins are based loosely on a combination of a dinosaur and its namesake, a chameleon. However, it doesn’t share much with chameleons outside of its snout and head crest. The fact that it uses its tail as a powerful weapon may be poking at the fact that chameleons also use their tails for a variety of purposes.

I really like Charmeleon’s backstory, and it may give a bit more support as to why Ash, in the anime, can’t control Charmeleon after it evolves from Charmander. It seems some Pokemon just might gain a personality or behavior change upon evolving. How fitting that this happens in the mid-evo stage, like a petulant teenager. However, this does not dismiss the fact that Ash’s Charmeleon seems to get amnesia upon evolving, and the fact that the dumbass never trains it. And lest we forget that Better-Ash….Err, I mean Richie also has a Charmeleon that has absolutely no behavioral issues.

Charizard

Name: Again, keeping in with the theme, the ‘char’ part is retained and the ‘izard’ part is derivative of ‘lizard.’ Charizard’s name gives off a very powerful and dragon-esque vibe while also fitting into the Char line’s theme perfectly. It rolls off the tongue and is very memorable.

In Japan, it is known as Lizardon, which sounds about as lazy as ‘Lizardo,’ but it works a little better because it’s a combination of ‘lizard’ and ‘dragon’ or ‘don,’ which is Greek for ‘tooth,’ commonly used in conjunction with dinosaurs. Personally, I believe the dragon explanation more, but the latter is possible. Lizardon is also more imposing and is catchier than Lizardo.

Fun Fact: In France, it’s known as Dracaufeu. Not sure how I feel about that. I can barely pronounce it.

Design: As much as I, like many people, find Charizard to be an overrated orange dragon, I can’t deny that it has one of the most memorable and cool dragon designs in recent years. In essence, it’s just a very simplistic western-style dragon with fire on its tail, but it has it’s own personality, style and sleekness to it that can’t be compared to most fancy dragon designs of today.

The orange and blue color scheme really works for it, and it has a fantastic head and facial structure.

In the realm of sprites, Red and Blue seem really awkward. Why the hell is Charizard scrunched up like that? Can he not fit into frame?

His posture is eons better in Yellow, but it retains a major flaw.

The back for Red, Blue, Green and Yellow are the same, and dear god almighty, why the hell does Charizard look like Zombizard? He looks like someone threw skin onto a poorly made Charizard skeleton replica. Who greenlit that monstrosity!?

Green seems like it’s more serpentine. I can’t tell if I like it all that much. There’s nothing wrong with it, and it’s kinda cute, but it doesn’t give off a very strong feeling of Charizard.

Gold and Silver are much better designs, and thank the designers for fixing his back sprite.

His Crystal animation is also kinda cute. He just twitches his wings at you.

Ruby and Sapphire go for an even more intimidating pose, and the Emerald sprite goes further by having him roar at you, which is cool.

FireRed and LeafGreen are good.

There’s no way around this, but Diamond, Pearl and Platinum make it seem like Charizard is trying to go to the bathroom.

HeartGold and SoulSilver look like they’re trying to emulate Ash’s Charizard quite a bit with that pose, and I can appreciate that.

Looks like Black/2 and White/2 tried their hand at remaking the DPP sprites so it doesn’t look quite so much like you have to break out a shovel soon, but it’s still weird because now the animation makes it look like it’s out of breath.

Gens VI and VII now have Charizard flying, which I find really cool. Wish it was a bit more dynamic, though.

Shiny: Gen II’s shiny is a bit odd. It’s less ‘shiny’ and more ‘stained by rolling around in mud for 12 hours.’

We get better in Gen III when the colors get changed to a darker color palette that is closer to its beloved black and red, but it’s more of a very deep olive green than a true black.

Gen IV is where we finally get its kickass true black and red pattern. It is not one of the absolute best shinies, in my opinion, but it’s still awesome.

Mega: Charizard is speshul and gets TWO mega forms. Oohlala.

First is Mega Charizard X, which is the best thing to ever exist. Fight me.

I may be over-exaggerating, but I fell in love with this design. It’s like everything I ever wanted out of a Shiny Charizard design only not as much of a pain in the ass to obtain. Look at that thing! The black color with the beautiful shade of blue flames, the added blue spikes and the flames billowing from its mouth. It’s amazing.

Mega Charizard Y is what I was expecting of a Mega Charizard.

It’s basically Charizard with more points. I don’t know why so many people find Y to be so great, even favoring it over X (though I agree that X might seem more busy.) I don’t find it bad, in fact it’s pretty sleek and cool looking, but I greatly prefer X.

Well, there is one area where Y shines more – the shiny versions. Considering Y keeps the color palette of regular Charizard, it also has the same shiny colors as shiny Charizard.

Since shiny X has an entirely new color palette, they have to give X a new shiny version….and it’s poo.

It’s a widely held opinion that the worst shinies are the green shinies. Personally, the yellow ones are my least favorite and green is one of my favorite colors. That being said, shiny Mega Charizard X is a hot green mess.

Why green? Why? What part of Charizard screams ‘yeah, I’m thinking green.’? I know Charizard is named for a lizard, but come on.

They maintain the blue color for the fire and change the spike and wing colors to red. Green and blue go together, but mixing red and green will always give whatever you’re coloring a ‘Christmas’ vibe about it. Not to mention that the three colors mixed together just look like garbage.

Unlike a lot of green shinies, at least this one’s not a highlighter lime green, it’s more of a forest green, but it’s still ugly.

Voice/Cry: Charizard’s cry is a beloved classic in the games (Mostly because it’s the cry you hear in the title screen of Pokemon Red) as is Charizard’s roaring in the anime. I love Charizard’s cry, not just for nostalgia, but because it’s an intimidating growl-like tone that works well with its previous evolutions.

Likewise, Charizard’s roar is an imposing ‘I’m a dragon and I’m gonna kick your ass’ roar that really highlights how awesome the Char line’s final form is. Compare Charizard’s roar to Venusaur’s or Blastoise’s yell and it’s no contest which would make you soil yourself if you ever heard them out in the wild.

Dex Entries and Backstory: Most of Charizard’s Dex entries talk about its intense flames. They can melt almost anything and can blast through a 10,000 ton glacier quickly. Like Charmeleon, they claim that the flame turns bluish-white when its extremely angry or amped up, but no one ever sees it.

There are some odd things about its Dex entries too.

“Breathing intense, hot flames, it can melt almost anything. Its breath inflicts terrible pain on enemies.” The intense, hot flames inflict terrible pain? You don’t say.

“Charizard flies around the sky in search of powerful opponents. It breathes fire of such great heat that it melts anything. However, it never turns its fiery breath on any opponent weaker than itself.

UHM.

By the way, apparently Charizard Flamethrowering Ash in the face is now written as a form of affection?…..Right. That’s like saying your dog mauling you is their way of licking your face.

If that’s true, it sounds like damage control for making Charizard a dick for so long.

Next up, the Squirtle line.

Previous – The Bulbasaur Line