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Pokemon Scarlet & Violet’s Newest Addition is a Graffiti Gremlin, and I’m Here for It

Smeargle vs. The Cooler Smeargle

Pokemon's newest gremlin Grafaiai

With the release of Pokémon Scarlet & Violet imminent, the Pokémon YouTube channel has been drip-feeding information to us steadily over the past few weeks. Up until recently, it wasn’t anything that particularly caught my interest, but then, they dropped this little number:

(The Pokemon Company)

I was honestly … shocked? I didn’t think that Pokémon was still capable of creating anything compelling and unique for a mainline title, so everything about this really impressed me to the point where I’m actually getting kind of excited for the next game. Legends: Arceus was a good starting point, but nothing about the new designs or battle implementations made me feel curious like this reveal did.

Part of it is because it feels like the series it taking a return to its eco-centric, naturalist roots. New Pokémon Snap definitely helped us move back that way, and now it seems like that futuristic conservationist aesthetic is here to stay. Love that!

But regarding the critter itself … I mean, he’s just a total gremlin. He’s adorable. Grafaiai will be a Poison/Normal-type Pokemon that can be seen hanging around trees, marking its territory, and generally being the punk of the woods. It looks like a crossover between a bug and a lemur, which is kind of gross until you stare at it long enough. I’m definitely sensing some artistic tension between it and Smeargle, who up until now was the resident “Art Student Pokémon.”

Related: Best Team Builds in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet on GamerJournalist

More than anything, though, Grafaiai’s design feels like one of the series’ best in a very, very long time. We all made memes about the key and gear Pokemon when they first came out, but GameFreak seemed to respond with just a slew of uninspired designs that felt like they were just made to fill up a world. The regional designs were a great, inventive move, but you can only paint over an old project so often before it starts to feel stale.

Grafaiai is just freaky, plain and simple, and that’s a good thing! Compared to, say, pretty much every new Pokémon introduced in Sword and Shield, whose names I don’t even remember (Toxtricity excluded, of course), this design feels inventive, fun, and made by someone who genuinely wanted to create a lasting impression on players.

Am I still on the fence about the motorcycle lizards? 100%. I still don’t know what to make of them. But I do know that I’m much more excited to play this game and finally feel a connection to my team for the first time since the Johto days. I mean, imagine the absolute camp of having both Quaxley (my boy!!) and Grafaiai on your team.

Poetic Cinema | Know Your Meme

(featured image: Pokémon)

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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).