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Competitive battling might be fun, but when you get to the heart of the matter, Pokémon is all about being the cutest. As a follow up to the poll in Issue 9, this article is going to give a rundown of some of the cutest 'mons out there, both those who are widely recognised as being cute and those who are a bit underappreciated.
So, here's the million dollar question—what is it that separates the Pokémon widely considered to be cute from those who are very rarely considered to be so? Clearly this isn't a very objective question, but there's a lot of common features among cute 'mons. Their color schemes are almost always aesthetically appealing, they tend to be towards the lower end of the size spectrum (although Snorlax is admittedly pretty adorable), and they are pretty much without exception portrayed cheerfully, as opposed to the "badass" depiction of Pokémon like Garchomp and Scizor. (Cubone is endearing, however...)
There are also behavioural traits that define cutemons. Loyalty, friendliness, enthusiasm, shyness, kindness, generosity, and innocence are all aspects of their personality that are sure to win the crowd over. Any Pokémon who can elicit the desire from you to protect it, or sympathy so pronounced you just want to hug it and protect it from all the unwarranted misfortunes in its life, is bound to rate high in the lists of more than just a few people. Resembling known cute animals, such as cats, penguins, puppies, elephants, and slow lorises, is a good way to boost your popularity ratings. On a more physical basis, people appear to like sparkling eyes, chubby limbs, rounded features, big smiles, and delicate paws. Who wants to cuddle a Pokémon who's so sharp you'd cut yourself just by putting your arms around it? Well, maybe masochists...
Now, what was that I was saying about this being a subjective thing...?
Let's start by looking at the winner of the cutemons poll, Espeon. Apart from the poll having been fixed by Joel, what is it that makes Espeon such a popular choice? Perhaps it's Espeon's obviously feline appearance and mannerisms. Sleek, soft, and slender, it clearly resembles the most elegant and graceful of cats. Or maybe it's the way it tilts its head to the side, regarding you with those shiny eyes. Actually, that's pretty cat-like too... It could be the fact that Espeon are known to be incredibly loyal to the special trainer who can win their affections—they even evolve through happiness, so it takes a lot of love to raise an Eevee into an Espeon. According to the PokéDex, there's even a widely-held belief that they gained their psychic power as a way to protect their trainer! Now let's move onto the real winner of the poll...
I love my Delibird. Do you want to hear about my Delibird? Good! Then listen up! My favorite Delibird... It... cute... lovely... smart... plus... amazing... you think so?... oh yes... it... stunning... kindly... love it! Hug it... when... sleeping... warm and cuddly... spectacular... ravishing... ... Deep down, Delibird is everyone's favourite Pokémon—after all, what's not to like here? Delibird is one of those Pokémon who manages to be both adorable and incredibly awesome at the same time, and it is the one case that is truly objective. If you don't love Delibird, you aren't human.
What's not to like about Bellossom? Not only is it incredibly cute, but it loves to dance almost as much as Justinawe. Like Delibird, Bellossom is another underappreciated cutemon... now if only the same could be said of the analogous user.
Bellossom has plenty of the "standard" characteristics of cute Pokémon—it's small, brightly coloured, happy looking, and based on a concept that could be considered pretty cute already. In fact, it's a mystery why Bellossom isn't more widely appreciated. Those bright eyes, the rosy cheeks, the flowers on its head, their ritualistic dances to summon sunshine so that other cute Pokémon (such as Jumpluff) can frolic and play in the warmth, the soothing scents and sounds they produce... Despite being overlooked and cast aside for more popular cute Pokémon, Bellossom is clearly a stellar example of what a cutemon should be. It's hard for its cheerfulness NOT to rub off on you! They're talented as well—in the manga, Erika owns a little troupe of Bellossom who help her with flower arranging, a very useful life skill in these changing times. While Pokémon can be cute despite not being very good at anything, there's nothing more endearing than being indispensable. Bellossom literally puts sunshine in the day of anyone lucky enough to encounter them, and it's a shame that their similarities to Justinawe drag them down.
Shaymin is popular as a cutemon, but that's certainly for a good reason! Multiple reasons, in fact. I'm sure I could just replace this paragraph with some pictures of Shaymin and you'd understand why it's cute, but allow me to explain. This diminutive hedgehog (your squeals of adoration can start at the word "hedgehog") has stubby legs, sparkling eyes, a puppy's nose, and a plump underside. Since they are so timid, fearful, and small (despite being fearsome in battle, other Pokémon dwarf it! It's only 8 inches tall), they have to resort to curling up in fetal position when danger is looming. Like a human baby, except it doesn't squeal at all hours of the night and has pink flowers for ears—what an improvement! Don't be fooled into thinking they're pansies, though. The Shaymin in the eleventh Pokémon movie was very mischievous, leading to it eating Ash's pancakes while his back was turned.
Those of you concerned with the environment will also appreciate Shaymin's ability to turn your polluted, weed-strewn wasteland into a garden blooming with flowers. I'm not totally sure about this, but perhaps this useful skill could be transferred to other fields, such as your bedroom. You'll be able to properly appreciate the Gratitude Pokémon after it's cleaned your room—no more hiding your dirty socks under the bed!
Another underappreciated cutemon. There's been a lot of fuss about Pokabu, the fifth generation Fire-type starter, but you don't need to look further than the third generation to find the cutest (and most overlooked) pig Pokémon. It's chubby, with a pink snout, large ears, and, of course, a spiral-shaped tail that was used as a baby to bounce about and is used as a grown-up to propel itself from the ground when using Bounce. Its build is akin to a panda's, except not quite as rolly. These features don't lend themselves to ruling the dance floor, but Grumpig has been confirmed to be a talented dancer. Mesmerising, literally! It is a Psychic-type, after all. This dance has been reported in-game as having sparked a craze overseas. Soulja Boy has been made defunct—Pokabu may be cute, but can it boast about being such a trendsetter? No! As for why this is relevant to being a cutemon, just imagine an extremely endearing animal doing a strange dance in front of you and replace the animal with a plump pig. Overwhelmingly cute!
As long as you avoid getting bogged down with the question of what exactly is Ampharos, you'll find that it ranks pretty consistently in people's lists of the cutest 'mons. It's a sheep, but it stands on two legs. It also appears to have had a recent haircut, considering that Flaaffy has wool, and, as we all know, Ampharos don't have wool. This gentle, giving Pokémon has a sweet facial expression and adorably simple limbs—its arms look more like flippers! Their tails serve as beacons for the lost and wandering—if you were lost in the dark at sea and found your way home due to the light of a faithful, hard-working Ampharos, you would surely be so moved as to give it a cuddle. You can see this depicted in the picture of Delibird and Ampharos, where a grateful Delibird found its way through a snowstorm thanks to Ampharos's Tail Glow. (The snow then melted in adoration.)
It's probable that even your life has been graced by an Ampharos; in HGSS and GSC, Jasmine's Ampharos (Amphy in-game, Sparkle in the anime) fell ill and was unable to continue to light up Olivine City's lighthouse. It was unthinkable that such a cute Pokémon should suffer, and Jasmine's love for Ampharos saw her staying beside it in a lighthouse vigil while you journeyed across the ocean just to bring it some medicine. In HGSS, the Pokémon walking behind you often wants to play with Amphy, and if you bring your own Ampharos, their tails are said to sparkle in concert! Ampharos is clearly capable of inspiring great love in those around it, a result of its sweet disposition and appearance. As you can see, Ampharos embodies everything desirable in a cutemon.
Teddiursa is pretty much a given in any rundown of the cutest Pokémon, seeing as when it comes to straight up looks, there isn't much that comes close to Teddiursa in terms of cuteness. After all, it has drawn inspiration from a pretty simple source in a teddy bear, and you don't really need to look much further than its Crystal sprite to see what Teddiursa is all about. Everything about this sprite is practically perfect in terms of cuteness, from the way it nibbles on its paw, to the way it innocently blinks at the end.
In the anime, Teddiursa use their charm to convince humans to give them food, proving their widespread appeal. Not to mention, the anime PokéDex says that they are cuddly, and everyone likes cuddles—a warm, friendly cuddle causes the same overwhelming affection that seeing a cute little teddy bear suck honey off its paw does. Lastly, Teddiursa are easily frightened, and often run to their parent Ursaring for protection. Doesn't that make you want to hug it and tell it comforting bedtime stories?
It's a pretty safe bet that almost everyone on Smogon will have seen the anime at some point, and did anyone honestly not love Ash's Squirtle? Ex-gangster turned firefighter, and adorable to boot... you can't really ask for much more from a Pokémon. I think the best way to explain what makes Squirtle cute is to quote my co-author Bloo's description of it: "Every time I see it jump in the air, I want to hug the **** out of it".
Squirtle can appeal to anyone—it has the basic cute elements, like a smiling face and chubby turtle physique, but also has the same awesome factor that its gangster associations bring. For anyone who is turned off by Ash's Squirtle's misdeeds, consider this—the only reason the Squirtle Squad came into existence is that the Squirtle were all abandoned by their trainers. So, basically it's the fault of humans for making them bitter, and as the anime shows you, Pokémon aren't inherently good or bad. It's the trainer who imparts that on them. Plus, they're talented firefighters, and if they see a fire, they'll work hard to extinguish it. Anyone looking for a sweet, spunky pet with some practical uses should look no further than Squirtle!
Baby elephants are right up there with the cutest of animals, and Phanpy is no exception to what real life leads us to believe. Large floppy ears, sparkling eyes, eager smile, rotund little legs... everything about Phanpy is clearly designed to make you think "roly-poly", including the fact that, like its less sweet evolution, it rolls. It also has an innocent, juvenile appearance. Look at it—it doesn't even have tusks yet! In their earlier sprites, they adopt an enthusiastic pose: leg up, happy face, swinging their trunk up. One can conclude that Phanpy is an energetic, dynamic young Pokémon who loves to play, just like a small puppy.
Phanpy are shy, but naturally full of love. They like to show this by headbutting their friends with their snouts. Unfortunately, they don't know their own strength, so when a Phanpy loves you, or even if you are just observing it in the wild, don't let it bump you with its trunk—it'll send you flying! They're also friendly creatures who work well in teams. When Phanpy gather, they lend a hand (or trunk), dousing each other thoroughly with water, just like their real-life counterparts.
What better way to end a look at the cutest 'mons is there apart from looking at the cutemons of the future? Pokabu is easily the highlight of the revealed Pokémon from Generation 5 when it comes to cuteness, and really, who doesn't like the sound of bacon that cooks itself? This smiling little piglet has a lot of potential to grow even cuter, so let's hope that Game Freak capitalizes on it. Unfortunately, Torchic and Cyndaquil just didn't live up to what they could have been, but there's always time to change this disappointing trend, Nintendo!
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