The Pokémon Quaquaval in Pokémon Scarlet and violet

Everyone’s New Favorite Pokémon Is a Fabulous Samba Duck

Muito legal, patinho!

The minute I saw Quaxly, I knew he’d be mine. Modern Pokémon are just too soft and sweet for my liking, so when I saw this little duck’s flawless attitude being broadcast for everyone to see as Pokémon Scarlet and Violet made their way into players’ hands, my heart melted. Yes, Sprigatito is aesthetically my speed, but Quaxly speaks my language.

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Speaking of language: I took some Portuguese courses in college, since my family has roots in Portuguese-speaking nations, but the specific form of Portuguese taught was Brazilian Portuguese. As a result, we learned a lot about Brazilian history and culture, and it left me with a strong fondness for Brazil as a whole.

So imagine how giddy I was when I saw Quaxly’s final evolution: Quaquaval, a fabulous fighting duck who was obviously inspired by Carnaval in both name and design.

What is Carnaval? And why should we care?

Carnaval is an annual tradition in Brazil that marks the beginning of Lent, and although its origins are religious, it’s far from repressed. Various samba schools (always samba, never bossa nova) throughout the nation organize parades for their dancers to perform, play music, and generally make merry. It’s an absolute blast that I hope to see in person someday.

What’s really notable about Carnaval is how flashy everyone is expected to be—everyone, including queer participants. Considering how much homophobic and transphobic violence goes on in Brazil, Carnaval is often regarded as an opportunity for the LGBTQ+ community to fully present themselves as their happiest, flashiest, most outgoing selves, with no hesitation.

Therefore, in more ways than one, Carnaval is one of the most gorgeously transgressive human rituals of our time: subverting rigid Christian expectations, using a genre of music that runs counter to colonialist subtypes, and allowing some of the most marginalized groups in Brazil to truly be out in the open as they are.

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Of course, it’s also just incredibly fun. Samba as a genre is ingenious and electric, making it an easy genre to dance to. So imagine an entire parade full of this gorgeous music, and gorgeous people backing it up to boot—gorgeous people who often dress as Brazil’s gorgeous birds, which is why Quaquaval works so well! Not only is this samba-inspired bird fighting fit, but it also visually represents a total culmination of this festival.

Even tactically, its dual-type of Water and Fighting might represent the Brazilian fighting style Capoeira, although considering the style’s origins in Brazilian slavery, I’m hesitant to definitively make a statement on that. It would make sense though, considering Capoeira combines fighting with dancing, and Quaquaval’s move animations are full of a dancer’s flair.

Either which way, I think this was such a brilliant design choice on GameFreak’s part. As I am not Brazilian, I cannot claim to know it from the heart, but what I do know is that it’s a nation whose culture deserves all this praise and more.

Everyone loves Samba Duck!

I followed the Scarlet and Violet evolution leaks leading up to the games’ release, so I’ve been waiting to share these reactions with all of you. They’re absolutely hilarious, and I was right there with everyone on how much we’ve all fallen for this little patinho.

Someone on another post commented on how they, as a Spaniard, also love Quaxly’s transition from “Catholic Cayetano” to “Canary Island Carnival Queen.” Yes!

Girl, Quaquaval transcends labels. But yes, this is absolutely true.

I would crumble into a million horrid little pieces if this happened to me.

I can’t. Oh my god.

And finally, this one is my absolute favorite. It plays in my head all day, nonstop. I truly love this samba duck, and even if Pokémon Scarlet & Violet has been a trashfire release thus far, they still somehow raised the bar with this alone:

(featured image: Nintendo)

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Image of Madeline Carpou
Madeline Carpou
Madeline (she/her) is a staff writer with a focus on AANHPI and mixed-race representation. She enjoys covering a wide variety of topics, but her primary beats are music and gaming. Her journey into digital media began in college, primarily regarding audio: in 2018, she started producing her own music, which helped her secure a radio show and co-produce a local history podcast through 2019 and 2020. After graduating from UC Santa Cruz summa cum laude, her focus shifted to digital writing, where she's happy to say her History degree has certainly come in handy! When she's not working, she enjoys taking long walks, playing the guitar, and writing her own little stories (which may or may not ever see the light of day).