Johto Beasts: Entei vs Raikou vs Suicune

By Codraroll, Drew, FellFromtheSky, Pikachu315111, Recreant, {Pokemon_Vigilante}. Art by monomite.
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skylight

skylight

The internal batteries on Gold, Silver, and Crystal stopped working years ago for most of us. Today is the day that changes. I mean, yeah, our internal batteries are still dead, but we will finally get to return to Johto (and it IS technically cheaper to replace the battery, but who really wants to do that??) through the 3DS Virtual Console. This wondrous occasion would be perfect if not for the fact that Crystal is not included. Alas. That's okay. Life goes on... much like JAPE goes on. Today we're judging Entei, Raikou, and Suicune to solve an important question—which beast deserves to keep roaming Johto?

FellFromtheSky's Alolan Ninetales

FellFromtheSky

Suicune is, without a doubt, the most elegantly crafted of the three "legendary beasts." Though each beast is majestic and unique in its own way, Suicune's lithe, muscular figure, flowing lines, and fierce expression simultaneously suggest grace and power in a manner that Raikou and Entei can't hope to match. Its elegant body shape is reminiscent of quick animals like the stilted fox or the greyhound, in stark contrast to the comparatively clunky Entei and the puffy-cheeked Raikou. In addition, its associations with the north wind, Boreas; the northern lights, aurora borealis; rain; and the purification of water are all effectively communicated in one cohesive design.

The lore behind all three of Johto's legendary beasts is intriguing, but Suicune's aspect in the myth is particularly beautiful. The three beasts were present when the Brass Tower burned down, perishing in the fire, and were given life by Ho-Oh, in a rather atypical phoenix fashion, embodying different aspects of the event—Raikou was born from the lightning that struck the tower, Entei embodied the fire that burned it down, and Suicune was the rain that put the fire out. Of the three beasts, Suicune is the only one that has a benevolent role in their origin story. At the same time, Suicune's design still effectively incorporates the less kind aspects of its element. Its sharp eyes and red irises not only contrast beautifully with its color palette but also suggest the ferocity of a storm while, at the same time, its figure suggests the grace of a gentle rain. The diamond patterns lining its sides also remind viewers of its associations with the north wind and the frigid blizzards that come with it. Yet its flowing mane reminds one of the gentle winds and fairy-dust snow that the north wind can also bring. All in all, it's not hard for me to claim that Suicune is the most elegantly drawn and well-designed of the three legendary beasts of Johto. (Well... so long as you avoid looking at the Colosseum model or several of the older sprites. Stick to the official art and newer models if you want to see the sleek and beautiful Suicune I described.)

{Pokemon_Vigilante}'s Grovyle

{Pokemon_Vigilante}

Suicune, the legendary beast of Johto that is said to be responsible for the north winds, is a piece of majesty to behold in any right. This brazen blue brazen Pokémon is as glorious as it is swift. Because it carries the elusive ability to hide almost anywhere like it did in the games, it's easy to see why anyone would want a Suicune. Here is a Pokémon whose lore, according to some, says that it was a Vaporeon in the Brass Tower, where Lugia perched, when the tower caught fire and killed Vaporeon, Jolteon, and Flareon. Then, resurrected by Ho-Oh in the remains that became known as Burned Tower, it became a legendary force of nature composed of the sorrow of death and the glory of rebirth. The gorgeous sash of ice slate blue that surrounds Suicune as it moves only shows the true purity of body and soul that Suicune is. Power and size are not everything, sometimes you need to remember that the greatest things can often be small. While Suicune may be small compared to Entei and Raikou, it's still a vision of beauty that is a powerful force compared to its counterparts.

Recreant's Houndoom

Recreant

Honestly, I love all three of these designs, they all fall really close together in terms of how much I like them, so this wasn't an easy decision. Raikou was ruled out pretty quickly even though its design is still really solid, but Entei was a very close second to my final decision. Entei looks to be the embodiment of fire. I think out of all the beasts, its mane is designed the best. It actually looks like smoke (and for all I know, it could be) billowing out from its shoulders, and the shoulder spikes look like lava erupting from a volcano. Its bulkier appearance is a nice change from the other two beasts. The only problem I really have with Entei is that its paws seem far too large in some artwork. Now, they usually look fine and I can't tell if it's just perspective, but a lot of official art looks like it jacks up their size and I can't understand why. Either way, it's still a really wonderful design that falls just a bit short of Suicune's in my book.

Eventually, I ended up choosing Suicune, but I do think this is more due to my personal bias, as my Suicune shine is the most sentimental card to me (I do really miss the way its shiny form looked in Pokémon Colosseum, Battle Revolution, and the old TCG, even if it was an "error" back then, though its new shiny form is nice as well). But goodness, every old-time Pokémon fan remembers running through Pokémon Crystal for the first time, chasing the mythical beast all across the region until the final, epic battle occurs with it. Even if you haven't been playing that long, the experience was relived in HeartGold and SoulSilver with just as much pizzazz. I think it did miss the mark on the nostalgia factor though, it just isn't the same when there's new music playing. That's probably just me though.

Anyways, Suicune's concept has always been one of the coolest for me. A Pokémon created to be the reincarnation of the northern winds? Sign me up. Its flowing purple mane is said to represent the aurora borealis, and it matches up brilliantly with the light blue of its body. The ribbons on its body flow stronger in the wind as well, and they create a rippling effect, similar to the way water would ripple when Suicune stands on it, which obviously fits its lore. Its calm and collected personality is a great counterpart to Entei and Raikou's more outgoing natures. Suicune seems to have a grasp on every dangerous situation it comes across. This is nostalgic pandering at its finest if I have to be completely honest, but Suicune will probably remain my favorite out of the three unless something drastic changes for it.

Man, I want to feel bad for Raikou after writing this. I realized just how forgotten it is compared to the other two. Both Suicune and Entei have their own movie. I still stand by my love for Suicune, but where's the appreciation for Raikou? I remember it getting... a movie of sorts? It was the first three episodes of Pokémon Chronicles dubbed The Legend of Thunder!, but that isn't nearly as important as a main Pokémon movie. I honestly had to do research to find it, and everyone else I asked didn't even know about it. I think Raikou's design matches up fine in comparison to the other two, it just doesn't get enough anime time. Would love to see Raikou get a little more recognition in official merchandise and stuff.

Codraroll's Arbok

Codraroll

The designers of Game Freak did a fine job with Johto's three beasts. All of them look majestic, powerful, and all-around badass. Still, Raikou still stands out to me as a clear favorite. It's hard to tell exactly what does it for me. It could be as simple as yellow being my favorite color, or Electric being an objectively cooler typing than Fire or Water. But I think the favorable impression is more related to its potent elegance. Suicune seems designed to stand on a cliff, in silhouette against the night sky, while the wind blows from two sides at once (seriously, how can its twin tails flutter in the wind along its flanks, while its mane flows out behind it?). Entei is the gruff one that roars and charges its opponent as soon as it spots it. But Raikou is clearly stalking. Not in the "liking your Facebook pictures at 3AM" kind of way, but like a tiger toying with its prey. Its poses all depict it waiting to strike. Not because it needs to wait for the optimal moment to ensure success, but to show its opponent that it's in no haste to finish this. Raikou radiates an aura of power, an attitude that says "I could end this battle at any moment, and you better know it". Raikou is confident in its power, and it shows it by obviously holding itself back.

Design-wise, Raikou had a bit of a rough start. Its sprites in Gold and Silver obviously depict a beta design. It did not have the fangs, nor did it have the whiskers-like face shield, and its sprite's color palette was yellow and red, for some reason (besides black and white, all GSC Pokémon sprites only have two colors available). This gave Raikou a bad case of derp face, and its mane looked like a puff of brown smoke. Even its thunderbolt tail was colored red, making it look like Raikou had a bent drain pipe stuck up its behind. However, from Crystal onwards, Raikou got the yellow and purple color scheme we know and love, with its electric blue whiskers, a mane like rolling thunder clouds, and a tail like a lightning strike. The contrasting color scheme of white and yellow against purple and black creates a striking impression, reinforced by its predator pose, sharp claws, and thirty-centimeter saber teeth. However, despite those, Raikou's bark is worse than its bite. You see, its barks summon ground-shattering bolts of lightning, which will get to you long before it sinks its teeth into your roasted body.

On the competitive side of things, Raikou is no slouch either. It might not have achieved the reputation Suicune earned with its RestTalk sets, but it has matched Suicune on the tier lists over the generations. They were both regulars in OU for three generations after their introduction and have remained in UU since. Raikou dropped out of OU in Gen IV but was deemed too strong for UU, and it found its place in the awkward BorderLine. Later generations allowed it to drop to UU, where it has merrily torn stuff up since.

As mentioned, Suicune tends to have earned its tier placements consistently using Calm Mind, Leftovers, and a single attacking move. Likewise, Raikou has rarely if ever been seen without Thunderbolt in its moveset, its primary tool as a special attacker. With Electric STAB, base 115 Special Attack, base 115 Speed, and oftentimes an offensive item, Raikou has unleashed this fury on numerous opponents over the years, making large dents in their HP before they had a chance to react. Raikou has also enthusiastically used Hidden Power to patch up the imperfect type coverage of Thunderbolt, usually HP Ice or Grass, but HP Fighting made its way to the recommended sets in Gen IV in case of chance Tyranitar encounters. Raikou also tends to carry a defensive move or two, such as Substitute, Calm Mind, or Roar. Coverage is usually rounded off with one of the various moves Raikou has learned over the generations. Shadow Ball is most commonly seen on the recommended sets, but it has also been a terrific user of Aura Sphere, Extrasensory, and even Z-Crystal-boosted Hyper Beam. All in all, Raikou has stuck to a tried and true tradition of smacking foes in the face with Thunderbolt and built a surprisingly versatile number of sets from there.

To sum it up, Raikou is a badass among badasses. It's a confident predator whose striking appearance urges its opponents to run away, but it also tells them running won't do them any good. Raikou itself is prone to fleeing upon wild encounters, but should you meet one on the competitive stage, be prepared for an onslaught of special attacks. The Thunder Pokémon is not one to be messed with.

Pikachu315111's PhD Pikachu

Pikachu315111

While looking distinct from one another, the Legendary Beasts do share design traits that gives them some uniformity. They're a combination of animals composed of the body of a quadruped mammal, a decorative head piece, a "cloud" cape, and a stylized tail. Between the three, I think Entei looks the best, mainly due to how smoothly its combined animals, a mastiff dog and lion, mix together with a volcano theme. Entei's body is different from its brethren; instead of being lean it's more built. It also has a mane of thick fur and a chest crest that, combined with its decorative head piece, resemble an erupting volcano. Its "cloud" cape and tail look like gray ash smoke that spews from a volcano (with its back spikes looking like mountains to get the imagery across). Overall Entei's appearance has a more natural feel (even with the odd leg rings) than Raikou's and Suicune's more intricate designs; from head to tail you know it's supposed to look like an erupting volcano, while the other two you have to know their mythologies to get their design aspects (and even then there's odd elements, specifically their decorative head pieces).

There are two pieces of lore the Legendary Beasts have. First is the three events of the Brass Tower burning. Entei represents the flames that burned down the tower. Its Fire typing makes this obvious enough, but its stats can be interpreted as representing this too. Entei has the highest offensive stats, representing the fire being the most destructive event (its access to Sacred Fire enforces this), and its Speed is between the faster Raikou and slower Suicune, representing how the fire was the "middle event". The second pieces of lore are individual, ones mentioned by the Pokedex. Entei is unique in this, as it has two while the others only get one. When combined, they create a frightful image. One says whenever Entei barks a volcano erupts someplace in the world, but another says whenever a volcano erupts an Entei is born. So not only can Entei cause a volcano to erupt, one of the most destructive natural disasters, it also creates another Entei in the process that can do the same! There's also the fan theory that the Legendary Beasts' original forms, the three Pokémon that perished in the burning tower and were revived by Ho-Oh, were the original Eeveelutions: Jolteon, Flareon, and Vaporeon. Nothing really to discuss here, though I like this theory, especially since it means Entei was created from my favorite Eeveelution, Flareon. That's enough justification to give Sacred Fire to Flareon, right?

In summary, I feel Entei is the best designed of the Legendary Beasts in both its appearance and its lore (and how they, in turn, affected its stats). In the end you come out with a strong and intimidating volcanic beast, a representation of the destructive power of fire. It can also hit like a truck; a truck that's ON FIRE!

Drew's Alolan Sandshrew

Drew

Entei and Suicune are two of the best designed Pokémon Game Freak has ever made, although to me Entei is a bit better. A mastiff-esque beast, Entei embodies the power of fire. Although it has a pretty simple design, Entei has some defining features, a billowing smoky cape-like structure on its back, four grey cuffs, and a regal sort of headdress being chief among them. These, along with the spike structures along its side, give it an excellently crafted look of a regal volcano beast. Its Pokedex entries even further cement this: "It is said that when it roars, a volcano erupts somewhere around the globe." gives you just a glimpse of the power they ascribe to it. Entei's color scheme reflects its themes perfectly, with brown, gray, and even some red and yellow.

Suicune on the other hand, is more of a graceful presence, with a large crystalline headpiece atop its head and ribbons alongside it. Suicune is the most dog-like of the Legendary Beasts, slimmer and more smooth than Entei. It has a beautiful purple mane running across its back as well, loosely resembling the aurora borealis, an event in which charged particles from the sun hit atoms in the atmosphere that release photons and create a beautiful icy light. This ties in with Suicune's polar theme, as do the aforementioned crystal atop its head and its Pokedex entries, one even saying that it is "said to be the reincarnation of the north winds." Its color scheme also helps this, composed of mainly light blue and white with some purple.

Now some may notice that Raikou is absent from the above paragraphs, and I'd like to just give my reasons for this. First of all, I think it looks, put simply, stupid. It has mini little fangs, puffy cheeks, a weird purple cape that, unlike Entei's and Suicune's, feels wholly and completely out of place, and a sparky little tail that seems more suited to a Pikachu clone. I must admit, a sort of saber-toothed beast sounds quite cool in concept, but Raikou does nothing with this wonderful idea, having baby tusks and more of a cheetah-like structure. Its color scheme seals the deal for me, with blue, purple, yellow, white and black. I guess you could stretch it and say these colors correlate to a thunderstorm, but the purple ruins this a bit.


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skylight

skylight

According to our panelists, Suicune is the best (clearly, I mean, it got a game dedicated to it after all). Entei, being the second best, only got a movie... and then there's Raikou. All it got was a shitty Pokémon anime spinoff series. See, our opinions are totally relevant and true.

Are you downloading Pokémon Gold and Pokémon Silver? Or are you just going to go catch Johto's beasts in Pokémon GO instead? Share your thoughts on our comments section on social media!

Planned by skylight | Avatars by Bummer, Cretacerus, FellFromtheSky, HeaLnDeaL and Tikitik | HTML by ScarfWynaut | Script by Toast++
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