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

 

Pokemon Episode 11 Analysis – Charmander The Stray Pokemon

num9qgc

CotD: Damian – A pile of dog crap that calls itself a Pokemon Trainer, Damian uses and abuses his Pokemon like tools. He doesn’t even care if one of his most loyal Pokemon dies if they’re seen as weak and useless in his eyes. He’s one of the few examples of a bad person in the Pokemon world who really doesn’t get much in terms of comeuppance outside of getting a quick burn by Charmander. Also, for some reason, he’s Australian in the dub.

Reappear? No, thank god. However, it should be noted that he does appear, in a more polished fashion, later on in Best Wishes! in a flashback.

Pokemon: He has lots of Pokemon according to his Pokeball count. He used to own Charmander, but he’s not seen using anyone else.

Captures Ash’s Charmander: Charmander has a rough backstory in that he was previously owned by a trainer who only cared about power in a Pokemon. He didn’t care about befriending them or respecting their feelings at all.

His trainer, Damian, left him to die on a rock by tricking him into thinking he’d return, but Charmander refused to leave, fierce in his loyalty to his Trainer. After realizing how much of an ass Damian was, Charmander decided to be Ash’s Pokemon since he and his friends made the effort to rescue him. Despite being a fiercely loyal and powerful Pokemon in Ash’s roster, he eventually developed severe behavior problems when he evolved into Charmeleon and eventually Charizard.

Plot: Still lost in the woods on the way to Vermilion City, Ash and the others come across a Charmander laying on a rock. Ash is excited to capture one, but Misty and Brock point out that it’s in rough shape. Ash must forego a battle, and it will need to go to a Pokemon Center immediately after Ash captures it. Ash attempts the capture, but Charmander swats the Pokeball away. He tries again, and is able to get it into the ball, but the capture is unsuccessful.

In an effort to figure out what Charmander’s deal is, Pikachu speaks with it. Through charades, Pikachu tells Ash that Charmander actually has a Trainer and he’s waiting on the rock for him to return. Under the realization that the Charmander has a Trainer, the group finds it best to leave it be while hoping the Trainer returns soon.

Later, Ash, Misty and Brock reach the Pokemon Center just in time to dodge a storm. Meanwhile, Charmander tries its best to keep its tail flame lit since extinguishing it results in the death of any of the Char evolution line.

Brock continues to worry about the Charmander, and his worries are soon realized when a nearby Pokemon trainer, named Damian, starts openly bragging about how he abandoned his Charmander for being too weak and laughs about how he tricked him into thinking he’d come back for him.

Brock, enraged by Damian’s cruelty, walks up to him and demands that he go back and get Charmander. Damian vehemently refuses, and a huge battle between Ash, Misty, Brock as well as Damian and his friends nearly starts before Nurse Joy shows up and reminds them that Pokemon battles are not to be used to settle personal disputes.

Damian and his friends leave, and Brock and the others rush off to save Charmander before his tail flame goes out.

Charmander is suddenly attacked by a flock of Spearow until he is saved by Ash, Misty and Brock. They barely make it to the Pokemon Center in time, and Joy gets to work on treating Charmander.

After several hours of tense waiting, Joy emerges to share the good news that Charmander will be fine after a night of rest. The next morning, the group realizes that Charmander escaped from the Pokemon center in the middle of the night to go back to the rock to wait for Damian. Ash and Brock want to go get him back, but Misty and Joy explain that they can’t force Charmander to go with them or forget Damian. Brock and Ash resign, and the group leaves the Pokemon center hoping that Charmander will soon realize that Damian’s not coming back and eventually return to the wild.

Meanwhile, Team Rocket uses their super duper new hole-digging machine to create another pitfall trap for the group in order to capture Pikachu. They capture Ash and the others in the hole while Team Rocket captures Pikachu in a rubber balloon.

As they’re about to leave, Charmander shows up and demands that they release Pikachu. When they refuse, Charmander Flamethrowers them and they run away.

Damian suddenly returns for Charmander after seeing it defeat Team Rocket. He claims that his abandoning it was for the better since it toughened it up and made it a worthwhile Pokemon without him even needing to bother raising it.

Brock and the others try to convince Charmander that it’s not worth going with Damian since he only cares about winning matches and doesn’t care about Charmander. Damian tries to force Charmander back into his Pokeball, but Charmander swats it away with his tail, causing it to smack into Damian’s face.

Damian attempts to throw out numerous Pokemon to force Charmander to go back with him, but Charmander and Pikachu deliver a nice dose of Flamethrower and Thunderbolt to Damian, causing him to run away.

Once Damian is defeated, Charmander turns to Ash and Brock. Brock decides to step aside and let Ash capture Charmander since he knows he’ll raise it well and have plenty of great matches with it (Well, half of that statement was true anyway). Ash captures Charmander, and they all continue on their journey to Vermilion City with their new fiery friend by their side

——————————————–

– We’re still using the Pokemon logo when we say ‘Pokemon’ in the title screen? I really thought that was a one or two-shot deal, yet it continues…

– Seems really weird to me that Ash and Misty are considering battling Charmander to capture it when they are already well aware that it’s weak and/or sick/injured. That’s like seeing a weak deer in the forest, wondering how to get it to a vet and then thinking it’d be a good idea to sic a coyote on it to make it easier.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to try and get the local Nurse Joy out to treat it? Or maybe try to find an Officer Jenny to help get to a Pokemon Center considering these types of things seem to be somewhat under her job description? They have several options available to them, but they just decide that, since Charmander’s being so difficult, that they’ll just leave it there.

– Misty: “I think this Charmander has an attitude problem.” Wha….no way. There is no way that they actually foreshadowed Charmeleon and Charizard’s behavior problems this early….No way….right? Hm.

– Brock: “Hey Ash, why don’t you try to figure out what Pikachu’s trying to say?” Hey Brock, he was totally already doing that, pay attention.

– While I love Maddie Blaustein’s portrayal of Meowth, she is just so awkward as Damian. And I don’t know why he was made to be Australian either.

– I know that Damian is a totally over-exaggerated antagonist, but I really do hate this guy. If you really want to piss me off as quickly as possible, animal (or in this case, Pokemon) abuse will do the trick. Laughing about animal abuse will make a few veins in my face pop up to say ‘hi’. Laughing about the possibility that the animal is dead (which they actually do here, holy crap) is white hot flash of rage.

– Not only all that, but he pronounces Charmander as ‘Charminder,’ and that bugs me a lot more than it should.

– I know its still early in 4Kids’ career, so hearing ‘die’ over and over in this episode shouldn’t be that noteworthy, but it does seem like Charmander is the exception to the rule when it comes to talking about death.

– Ah, the 90’s, when ‘nerd’ was a valid random insult. Nowadays you have to go on the Internet and find a poorly prepared troll to get that insult thrown at you.

– I honestly don’t know why Brock and the others are trying to demand that Damian take Charmander back. It’s quite obvious that this guy is a complete asshole who likely abuses what Pokemon he actually keeps, if his laughter at abandonment and possible death by neglect are any indication. Why would they want Charmander to go back with him? He abandoned him. Just go back and get him. I know Charmander’s super loyal and wants to stay on that rock no matter what, but if it’s a matter of life and death, just go and grab him.

– Speaking of which, how do wild Charmander deal with nearly dying at every rain shower?

– Nice faces in this shot.

cqkxw5s

>^<

– Okay, is there ever an instance where Spearow aren’t a bunch of complete jerks? I am legitimately curious.

– I don’t know why, but it’s bothering me that Team Rocket’s voices aren’t muffled in those anti-Pikachu suits.

– I get the science behind the rubber balloon capturing Pikachu, to a degree, but how is it following him? Static?

– Ah, it’s so nice to see that it’s never too early in the series for Ash and the others to completely forget that they have other Pokemon besides Pikachu. Bulbasaur could Vine Whip them out of the hole. Pidgeotto could pop the balloon and tear holes in Team Rocket’s suits, which they aren’t even wearing after they capture Pikachu, so that makes it even easier. Onix could make a staircase/ladder out of the hole. Staryu or Starmie could fill the hole up with water with their Water Guns and they could swim out. That would take a long time, but I needed another viable example.

– Another instance of the skeleton showing up when someone’s electrocuted.

– What the….did Damian’s other Pokemon just disintegrate after the Flamethrower and Thunderbolt? One second he’s holding like 100 Pokeballs over his head, defying the laws of physics I think, then after the attack the Pokeballs are just gone.

– Ash’s first capture not involving a battle. Definitely won’t be the last.

—————————

Two down and one to go in the Kanto starter trilogy, and this episode, despite being the most memorable, does have a few big problems with it. It is really weird that they set up the entire episode like Brock will get Charmander in the end, yet Ash gets it. Why? Because he kept his tail flame from going out. Yeah, he deserves Charmander for holding a jacket over its tail and watching it. I’m not saying it wasn’t kind, I’m just a little confused.

Brock was the one who carried it away. Brock was the one worrying like crazy over it, even when Ash and Misty had mostly gotten over it. Brock was the one who nearly beat up Damian and demanded he return to Charmander. He was the one we kept cutting away to with worrying thoughts of Charmander. Misty had about as much to do here as Ash did, so why does Ash get him?

One reason – because Brock is or will eventually become such an inert character that Charmander would rarely come out and we’d never get Charizard. Giving him to Ash is the only way that we’d see Charmander on a regular basis and eventually get Charizard.

Even so, why couldn’t they have had Charmander and Brock have a little bit of a friendship? A special connection? Something? Brock and Charmander don’t act any more friendly to each other than Brock and any other of Ash or Misty’s Pokemon.

Also, this episode just really brings to light the confusion behind Charmeleon and eventually Charizard’s later behavior issues. Ash and the others were Charmander’s supposedly first loving connections with humans, and it was one of Ash’s most loyal Pokemon. Then it evolves into Charmeleon and suddenly its entire personality changes. It becomes an insufferable ass who constantly reminds us that Ash is an idiot trainer.

I mean, neglect, possible abuse and abandonment would probably do a number on you, emotionally and mentally, but it was just so jarring. No other Pokemon I can think of had such a drastic change of personality merely because of evolution, but then again I haven’t remained current on the series in years.

It is a thing in the games that training a Pokemon with a level higher than your training abilities, indicated by your badge numbers, will mean they will disobey you. Though that’s something I never had happen since I don’t think I ever entered into that situation (I always went for badges underleveled or just at the proper level, and I never grinded much nor traded). However, Ash gets all of his badges, goes through some of the Indigo League tournament and even most of the Orange League before Charizard finally listens, but that’s a mini-rant for another day.

Finally, while I can believe full heartedly that people this asshole-ish exist, Damian is a really bad character. He’s so hammy, they’d probably serve him for Christmas dinner. His dialogue, the way he looks, the way he acts, especially his voice, just everything. Also, early Kanto seems to have a real issue with horrible accents.

I do like this episode, though. I love Charmander, the story is believable, sad and memorable, and it was a darker episode than normal dealing with possible death, Pokemon abandonment/neglect/abuse and even a near fist fight. It’s just not a great episode as a whole, though.

Next episode, the end of our Kanto starter trilogy – the Squirtle Squad! Prepare for a really silly threat, a weird hostage situation, darker themes yet again and the first appearance of unedited guns on Pokemon!

Previous Episode….