My Poke-Pinions #027-28 The Sand Line

Sandshrew

Name: Sandshrew is a combination of—I’m gonna just assume you know what it’s a combination of. It’s not really difficult. As for whether I like it or not – I do. It’s a bit overly simple, but that’s not a bad thing. It’s still memorable and cute.

And hey, at least they didn’t simplify it to a hilarious level like just calling it ‘Sand’ or something, hahah! Isn’t that right Japa–(image of name plate in Wiki)

………*lip smack*…….Moving on.

Design: I’ve always thought Sandshrew had such a simple yet incredibly cute design. It’s a shade of yellow that’s not too loud, it has an adorable face, cute little paws and I love that brick-like design on the yellow parts.

In regards to the sprites, I can say with certainty that practically every Gen is varying levels of adorable. Even right out the gate in Red/Blue, Sandshrew is sitting there look so adorable. I just wanna cuddle it.

The back sprite for Gen I is kinda weird, but that’s all I really have to say in that department.

Crystal is where it gets really cute. Look at that little itching animation and tail wag. N’aw!

Gen III is adorable, but Emerald is a little silly because I don’t know why it’s just flailing its arms like that. It’s still adorable even with the animation, but it’s a little goofy.

It’s in Gen IV where things get strange. The animations are just erratic. DPP makes it look like it’s trying to be a rabbit,

and HGSS makes it looks it had too much coffee.

Gen V is really adorable with its subtle little head shake.

As usual, Gen VI is just okay.

Alolan Sandshrew

I love that there’s an Ice (and Steel) version of Sandshrew, and I adore the igloo theme they got going on here, but there’s no getting around the fact that it’s, ultimately, pretty much just a recolor of original Sandshrew. It has a band on its face and its ears are designed to look more like igloo entrances, but it’s still just a recolored Sandshrew. Nothing wrong with the recolor, I really love it, but I can’t ignore that.

Shiny:

I’ve mentioned before that a lot of people tend to hate green shinies, but I actually really love Shiny Sandshrew. I think it’s a very vibrant and cute shade of green – and for some reason it makes me think it’s a gummi bear, which just makes it even cuter.

Shiny Alolan Sandshrew is pretty cool (no pun intended) too.

The yellow underbelly is replaced with a dark glacier blue, and it fits extremely well with the ice motif.

Cry/Voice: Sandshrew’s anime voice is actually quite….horrible. It’s a very unfitting and screechy voice. The good thing is Sandshrew doesn’t tend to make noise very often.

Sandshrew’s game cry is equally screechy though not as horrifying. It’s not that memorable, but it’s a tiny bit fitting I guess.

Dex Entries and Backstory: Most of Sandshrew’s Dex entries say the same thing – they dislike water and mostly enjoy burrowing in dry sandy areas such as deserts. If they are threatened, they protect themselves by curling into a ball. The plates on their backs are extremely strong and act as armor.

Some other entries note that dew will form on it overnight if it gets particularly cold, and one entry mentions that, should it get too wrinkled from moisture, it will seek out the heat of a volcano and dry off there.

The Dex entry for Alolan Sandshrew is actually a little ironic because, completely contrary to regular Sandshrew, Alolan Sandshrew supposedly cannot curl up into a ball because of their armor-like back plates that are hard as steel. Alolan Sandshrew were said to come about after Sandshrew fled a volcanic eruption and decided to live in the nearby snowy mountains. Given the physiology of regular Sandshrew, I’m not sure how it lived for so long that it adapted into this polar opposite form, but I guess it’s not completely unbelievable.

It’s also a tradition to play a curling-like game with them by sliding them across the ice and seeing how far they can go. They use this super-sliding nature to assist themselves in the wild by sliding full-force into their enemies.

In terms of design, Sandshrew was based heavily on armadillos. The inspiration for its supposedly poisonous claws may be derived from shrews, of which they also share their name (at least in English) and it may also be inspired by pangolins.

Alolan Sandshrew was obviously based heavily on igloos, and the Wiki also mentions it was inspired by a curling stone because of the aforementioned game people play with them. Why they decided to do that with a Pokemon who, in no way, reminds anyone of a curling stone, I have no clue.

Sandslash

Name: I like Sandslash’s name, and, again, I’m going to assume I don’t have to explain this one. It’s different enough from Sandshrew, it has a more intimidating vibe to it, to reflect its increase in power, and it’s really cool.

In Japanese, it was originally…..Sandpan?…..That’s a little better than just Sand, but not by much because…what the hell does the ‘pan’ part mean?

According to the Wiki, they’re just guessing that the ‘pan’ part is for ‘pangolin’ which….I suppose maybe, but that’s kinda weird the way it’s arranged. Wouldn’t Sandgolin or something make more sense in regards to composition? No lie, when I first saw ‘Sandpan’ I thought they were referencing bread, because the Japanese word for bread is ‘pan.’

Honestly, I think Sandpan is a pretty goofy name, Sandslash is much better.

Fun fact: In the beta for R/B, Sandslash was originally named Sandstorm, which I think was an equally cool alternative name. Also, in China, its name is Chyūnsāanwòhng, which literally translates to ‘King of going through mountains.’ Okay. China wins here.

Design: Sandslash is just the right combination of intimidating and adorable. It’s just so cute with its big eyes and little nose, but also you know it could cause you some major pain with its quills and claws. I love the hedgehog/porcupine motif it has going for it, and it makes total sense as an upgrade from Sandshrew. The yellow and brown combo is nice, and the contrast makes the quills stand out a lot more. I also like that the quills/spikes themselves are thick and bulky to make it seem bigger and tougher.

As for sprites, R/B looks a little weird, but maybe it’s the perspective.

The back sprite is equally odd because it looks like Sandslash’s face is in the wrong spot.

Yellow looks quite normal, barring the same back sprite, and Green’s looks like someone tries to stuff it into a backpack and smushed it.

Gen II is pretty cute. I love the animation for Crystal. It can either be that it’s slashing its claws to intimidate you or it’s making a gangster-like gesture. Yes, the former makes more sense, but the latter is a lot funnier.

In Gen III, I feel like it’s about to present its butt to me. The weird animation for Emerald doesn’t help at all.

FR/LG is almost boringly normal, though.

Gen IV is pretty cute. Its animation makes it look like it’s cheering.

Meanwhile, HG/SS just looks like it’s spasming out of control.

Gen V is pretty darn cool. Not only is it slashing its claws, but it also has a neat animation for all of its back spikes and its tail.

Gen VI is very okay and boring.

Alolan Sandslash

I absolutely love the glacier/icicle motif they have going on with Alolan Sandslash. That was an awesome direction to go with this alt version. There’s not a lot in terms of color contrast in Alolan Sandslash, but that’s alright because the shades of blue that they chose for it are perfect.

It’s subtle, but I also like the way they changed the style of the claws. There’s a very sharp downward angle that makes the claws almost seem icicle-like too.

Shiny:

Sandslash has one of the best shinies, in my opinion. It has an awesome blood-red color on the spikes and the shade of yellow used on the body made for a more tan look that was great in contrast to the red and really gave off more of a sand vibe.

Shiny Alolan Sandslash, however, is just lazy.

It’s a darker Alolan Sandslash. That’s all. They took Alolan Sandslash’s sprite, turned down the brightness and called it a day. It’s not bad as in ugly or anything, but it’s boring.

Cry/Voice: This is probably going to sound weird, but, in the anime, it always sounds like Sandslash says ‘Slash’ while sneezing whenever it’s attacking. It’s cute, but it’s also a little funny hearing it that way.

Normally, Sandslash sounds…okay. It’s cute, but it kinda loses intimidation points on how high pitched it sounds. It’s even higher than Sandshrew, which is odd. I don’t know why the voice is so nasally, either. Like whoever voices it pinches their nose while recording.

Sandslash’s game cry is alright. It’s low and more intimidating, but not too low for it to sound off-putting or unfitting. It’s a bit too static-y, though – like it was meant for an Electric type or something.

Dex Entries and Backstory: Not too much that is all that interesting to note for several Gens worth of Dex Entries. It can blind enemies with sand, it protects itself by curling into a ball and using its incredibly hard quills as armor, it can climb trees and use its powerful claws for slashing. If or when its quills break off, they grow back in a day. They can use their quills to make enemies flinch then strike with their claws.

We do learn in Gen VII that people will use shed Sandslash claws and quills to make tools to till their farms and fields, so that’s pretty neat. However, the Dex entries for this Gen are also worded oddly. Ultra Sun claims Sandslash’s claws and horns break off….I have never heard anyone refer to Sandslash’s quills as horns. Spikes, yeah, but not horns. That’s just not accurate.

Also, in Ultra Moon, they say they ‘Park themselves in trees and go right to sleep.’ That is correct, but it’s weird that they said ‘park themselves’ like they’re a car. (I am aware that people sometimes say ‘park it’ when telling someone to sit, but in this situation it just sounds weird. I’m being very nitpicky here, admittedly, though.)

In Gen VIII, the Dex mentions that Sandslash’s spikes will feel smoother and harder if it’s in drier climates, which makes sense, and when they’re in trees they will drop berries for Sandshrew waiting down below, which I thought was sweet.

In regards to design, it has obviously drawn inspiration from hedgehogs, echidnas, and porcupines, and pangolins have been mentioned already, which I can definitely see in the face. Like Sandshrew, it is also based on shrews and supposedly have poisonous claws as a result. I keep saying ‘supposedly’ because I can’t find anything that says Sandshrew or Sandslash has poisonous claws. Only their Wiki and Bulbapedia pages say that, but I can’t find anything in canon.

The only poison ability it has naturally is Poison Sting, and I always thought that was utilizing their spikes, not their claws. In Gen IV and onward, it can use Poison Jab, but only through a TM so that can’t possibly count.

Alolan Sandslash’s Dex entries explain the same origin as Alolan Sandshrew, but also include that its icy spikes are actually steel spikes covered in ice. These spikes don’t only cause deep wounds, but they can also quickly cause frostbite, which is pretty scary. As opposed to trees, it has adapted its claws to climb icebergs. Utilizing its claws to plow through the snow, it has become the fastest Pokemon to travel within snowy mountain regions.

There’s nothing mentioning the design inspiration for Alolan Sandslash, but it’s safe to assume icicles and glaciers were a big part of it. Not sure where the steel came into play, though, because steel has nothing to do with ice, igloos, glaciers etc. Even taking its origins into play, Sandslash didn’t originally have steel spikes, so I’m kinda confused on that front.

Next up, the entire Nido-line: Both male and female!


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Pokemon Episode 8 Analysis – The Path to the Pokemon League

This should just be Ash’s default character design.

CotD(s): AJ – A promising young Pokemon trainer with a strict yet extremely effective method of training, AJ creates an unofficial Pokemon Gym in the middle of the woods to train his Pokemon and beat passing trainers. He manages to get 98 wins on a perfect record and aims to get 100 wins before going for badges and entering the Pokemon League. AJ is a tough, but a very smart and skilled Pokemon trainer who definitely earned a spot in the Pokemon league if he ever made it there.

Reappears?: No. 😦

Pokemon: He has numerous, but Sandshrew is his main.

Plot: With two Gym badges under his belt…..well, on his vest, Ash starts to get pretty cocky. When the group stumbles upon an unofficial Pokemon gym in the woods, Ash is ready and raring to chalk up another victory. However, the owner of the gym, an equally confident boy named AJ, easily wipes the floor with Ash by using his Sandshrew, giving him victory 99 in an undefeated streak with his ultimate goal being 100.

After the battle, Ash hears commotion from inside the gym and peaks in to see that AJ’s training regimen for his Pokemon is extremely tough. He views it as being overly tough and worries for the well-being of the Pokemon.

In a mix-up, Team Rocket accidentally captures Sandshrew instead of Pikachu, leading Ash to believe that he was right in his assumptions. He condescendingly assumes that Sandshrew ran away because he views AJ as a jerk and saw how good of a relationship he and Pikachu had, so he went off to find a better trainer.

AJ vehemently denies this, but Ash hops up on his high horse again. In an effort to ‘save’ the Pokemon from AJ’s strict training, Ash offers to take all of the Pokemon away from the Gym and train under him instead. The Pokemon won’t give Ash the time of day, however, because they don’t feel abused. They love AJ, and he loves them. They deal with the strict training regimen because of that love and caring – they want to see AJ succeed and they know he’d never do anything to hurt them.

Sandshrew quickly escapes Team Rocket’s clutches and immediately returns to AJ’s Gym with an unconscious Meowth attached to its tail. AJ and Sandshrew are reunited, and Ash sees that AJ really does love his Pokemon and vice versa.

Team Rocket show up to take Pikachu, and after they sling insults at AJ’s Pokemon, he challenges them to his 100th match. AJ blows Team Rocket away easily with Sandshrew, finishing them off in a powerful Fissure attack. With 100 wins under his belt, he heads off on his journey to get eight badges and enter the Pokemon League. Ash has gained a newfound respect for AJ and vows to find his own path to achieving his dream of becoming a Pokemon master.

——————————————–

– Gotta love how cocky Ash is with his two pity badges….

– Wait, why are we using the logo to say ‘Pokemon’ again?

– Ya know, as much as I like AJ, his voice blows. Sounds like a cowboy who got hit in the face with a brick. I am aware this is Maddie Blaustein, but that doesn’t change my opinion.

– I do admire AJ’s work ethic and his plan. 100 wins, undefeated mind you, under his belt before going to get badges is a great plan. Gary and the others didn’t even have that advantage.

– Geez, Ash is being obnoxious in this episode. Between him being so full of himself it’s like ego-ception and him snapping at Misty for giving him legit advice on a topic that he’s shown time and again to have problems in (Pokemon Type matchups) he’s pretty insufferable.

– Ash: “You can do it! Flying versus Ground should be no problem!” He said after his Flying type, Pidgeotto, just got thrashed by Sandshrew, the Ground type.

– Hey, they did the thing where you can see Ash’s skeleton when he’s getting electrocuted again.

– You also get to really see the stark contrast between Ash’s work ethic and that of…you know…a good Pokemon trainer. Yes, AJ is strict with his Pokemon, yes, he uses a whip, though he never seems to actually hit his Pokemon with it, he just hits the ground near them and uses the sound as a cue, but it’s like Ash doesn’t understand intense training regimens……or work.

All he says in defense of his own work ethic is you have to make friends with your Pokemon….and that’s it. Does he really not think it’s important to keep Pokemon trained on a regular regimen outside of the one or two battles every now and then? Does he also not realize that you can be strict and a Pokemon’s friend at the same time?

– I love that scene where Pikachu goes into a ball due to the Yousei Gips thing (the ‘strength enhancer’ that Sandshrew wears) and then Sandshrew laughs and goes into a ball too.

– Team Rocket’s getting some good lines too.

– Meowth: “Just ‘biting’ my time. *munch* AHHHH THE MOMENT OF TOOTH!”

…….I said some.

————————————-

I really love this episode outside of the obnoxious Ash we have to put up with. It’s made more tolerable because it’s brought up time and again that he’s making an ass out himself. I especially like it because, if this were made today, I guarantee it would end in a lesson for the CotD instead of a lesson for Ash.

They didn’t decide to go the predictable route of making AJ a legit asshole who does basically abuses his Pokemon, then have Sandshrew run away and AJ learn the error of his ways. AJ stays true to form, Sandshrew stays loyal and Ash is the one who has to learn that, just because you’re strict, tough and hard working doesn’t mean you’re abusive or an asshole to your Pokemon.

I also very much appreciate that they didn’t end this episode with Ash beating AJ. Not only would that have tarnished AJ’s dream, but it would’ve been another BS win.

Plus the ending battle with Team Rocket was just awesome. Fissure is freakin’ amazing.

This could’ve been a great time to have Ash actually learn a lesson for a change, but, sadly, this is another drop in the ‘One-shot lessons’ bucket. He’ll never reach even a decent work ethic in his training. He only ever gets close to such a thing near Gym matches and Leagues and even that’s short lived.

I especially hate the completely missed opportunity for actually making AJ another rival. Sure, he already has Gary, but he rarely ever shows up and never battles Ash when he does. AJ could’ve actually been a friendly rival that would definitely give Ash a run for his money. But nope, just another forgotten CotD who doesn’t even reappear in the Pokemon League episodes. *pfft*

And while I would find it interesting for AJ to have taken Ash’s offer to join him on his journey…..I don’t think I’d handle that voice very well for the rest of the series.

Here’s to AJ. We hardly knew ye.

Next episode, The School of Hard Knocks where the gang finds a Pokemon academy where, if you pass, you’re automatically qualified to enter the Pokemon League without traveling to get badges.

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