Good day, Pokémon Trainers! Have you ever noticed how certain events in Pokémon GO give special attention to a single Pokémon or the community itself tends to hype a new Pokémon up? Have you ever wondered why this Pokémon specifically and what its origins are?
Well, that’s where the Dashing Design series comes in! I’ll be your guide as we take a look at the franchise history, concept, and potential design inspirations of specific Pokémon. We’re halfway from reaching ten. So let’s jump right in and look at the one returning for a second time onto the walkway for fashion week, Mareanie!Mareanie
Source: Pokémon The Series: Sun and Moon Ep. 58
Mareanie was first introduced in the seventh generation of the mainline series. For context, the seventh generation of Pokémon encompasses the Pokémon Sun, Pokémon Moon, Pokémon Ultra Sun, and Pokémon Ultra Moon lineup of video games released for the Nintendo 3DS. The first two games would be released in November 2016, and the latter two would come out almost a year later in November 2017.
It’s worth noting that this was the last generation of games released on the 3DS line of consoles. With the franchise moving forward to the Nintendo Switch afterward. And interestingly, despite the national dex being cut in the next generation of games, Mareanie managed to endure. It appears in both the eighth AND ninth generation of games.
Also of note, Mareanie made its debut in the 12th episode of the Sun and Moon anime. The recurring comical antagonist “James” catches one in that very same episode. This means, Mareanie became a permanent fixture in the anime for that series going forward!
Source: Official Site
Much like the Pokémon we’ve covered prior, Mareanie’s name is a combination of two words. In this case, the words are, “Marine” (a word used to refer to things related to the sea) and “Meanie” (a more modern word used to call someone cruel or unfriendly, traditionally treated as a more “kiddy” word). While the “Meanie” part may bring us closer to Mareanie’s true nature, the Marine part is a bit more ambiguous.
It does help us understand its part Water typing, but not much else. So for a more direct answer, we should take a look at Mareanie’s Japanese name, Hidoide. Again, it’s a combination of two words, Hidoi and Hitode. Hidoi means cruel, so it’s similar to “Meanie”. However, Hitode is what truly gives us a better picture as it is the Japanese word for “sea star” aka starfishes. This is more specific than “Marine”, and brings us to:
So yes, despite the initial sea urchin impression, Mareanie’s main design inspiration is a starfish. We can be even more precise as Mareanie is very likely primarily inspired by Crown-of-thorns starfishes. Before we get further, I think it will be best if I just show you what I’m talking about:
Source: Wikipedia by Ror Bzh
So, ya…these are indeed starfish, even though they might not look like it. And honestly, the resemblance to the Mareanie line is uncanny. From the prickly barb-like appendages to the dome-like structure, you can definitely see how Mareanie’s design took from these marine lifeforms. The similarities between Mareanie and these creatures don’t even end at how they look like either.
For example, if you look at Mareanie, it seems to have a crown growing from its top. This is very likely in reference to the name of its inspiration, “crown” of thorns starfish. Another similarity is how they feed off of the barbs from the Pokémon, Corsola. Quote from Pokémon Ultra Sun:
They eat Corsola branches, so Mareanie are hated by craftsmen who work with Corsola branches that have naturally fallen off.
And again, from the Pokémon Sun Pokédex:
It plunges the poison spike on its head into its prey. When the prey has weakened, Mareanie deals the finishing blow with its 10 tentacles.
Yikes, so that’s probably where the “Meanie” in Mareanie comes from. Not only do they have another Pokémon as a food source. But they are adept at acquiring what they want from them as well. Though of course, as it’s Pokémon, Mareanie only takes the Corsola’s barbs. The same cannot be said for its real-life counterpart, however. As Crown-of-thorns starfishes prey on corals (the inspiration behind Corsola) and are very good at it as well.
So good in fact that outbreaks of these creatures have been a cause for concern since as early as the 1960s. They are a natural part of the marine food cycle, but large outbreaks of them can devastate coral colonies, as adult Crown-of-thorns starfishes can devour entire corals whole. As such, many ways to keep their population at bay had to be developed and research is continuing to this day. Now, as Mareanie’s evolution shares the same inspirations, let’s continue the discussion with:
Source: Official Site
Etymologically speaking, “Toxapex” is a combination of “toxic” (meaning poisonous) and “apex” (meaning the top in terms of capability, but in this case referring to an Apex Predator or top predator). As far as design is concerned, the inspirations are the same as Mareanie, just in a more mature form. And in its fully evolved state, it’s honestly truly amazing how well Toxapex’s design, gameplay, lore, and real-life inspirations all come together so perfectly.
Since we primarily talk about design and lore here, let’s quickly glance over gameplay before we look at the others in detail. If you participate in the mainline series PvP at all, you might know how much of an absolute defensive threat it was for singles for the longest time. It has the exclusive move Baneful Bunker which is similar to the move protect but can also poison your opponent on contact. Also, it can have the hidden ability Regenerator, which heals Toxapex upon switching out. And even in Pokémon GO, Toxapex is one of the bulkiest Pokémon in the Great League.
This does tie into its design. As Toxapex’s “legs” do create a dome structure that almost acts like a protective shell. And even in lore, its Pokédex entries emphasize its strong dome and poison. With the only outlier being the Violet Pokédex:
Toxapex gets into fierce battles with Bruxish over areas where warm ocean currents flow, but the odds are always against it.
So it seems Toxapex’s only real canonical threat is Bruxish. However, I want you to focus on the fact that it says “The odds are always against it”. Grim, but not completely one-sided. This is true to real life as well. Bruxish is based on Triggerfishes, which have been observed to prey on Crown-of-thorns starfishes, but not systematically (according to “Formation and breakdown of Acanthaster planci aggregations in the Red Sea”). In fact, most things don’t prey on these starfishes, because:
Source: Wikipedia by Matt Wright
Just look at this thing! It looks like a living fortress! And it has the ability to match as well. If its thorny venomous exterior wasn’t enough, it has strong regenerative abilities too. Remember when I said outbreaks of these starfishes have been a concern since the 60s? Well, this might be part of the reason why. Much like Toxapex, the sheer survivability of these things means that they don’t have that many predators. And even the ones that do exist have seen decreases in number. So human intervention became somewhat necessary to keep them in check.
On that note, one thing that kept coming up over and over again is COTSBot. A robot created by the Queensland University of Technology to keep the Crown-of-thorns population in check. And if you think about it, most robotic or mechanical-looking Pokémon do tend to be Steel or Electric, at least until Paradox Pokémon were introduced. And Toxapex is a PoisonWater type. Steel resists Poison and Electric is super-effective against Water (Hence why Pincurchin is mentioned in Mareanie’s Scarlet Pokédex). I don’t think this is an intentional design decision, but instead a rather interesting coincidence.
And there we go! The fifth “Dashing Design” down the hatch. While Mareanie and Toxapex’s connection with a real-life creature is very cool, we haven’t quite found an answer as to why they’re so prevalent in fashion week. After all, Mareanie made its debut last fashion week, and it’s back again this time around. I can think of two reasons. First, Crown-of-thorns starfishes can be very beautiful in their own way. They come in many different vibrant colors such as this one found in Thailand:
Source: Wikipedia by Jon Hanson
Also remember, Mareanie is a meanie. So another reason could be the sort of, “mean fashion diva” trope one can often find in dramas or reality TV shows. These characters often play an antagonistic role. And often have bitter rivalries with each other as well. So perhaps, in a sense, you could say that Toxapex and Bruxish’s rivalry could also be one over fashion! And this is why, Mareanie’s design, is quite dashing!
Goodbye for now, Pokémon trainers. Priom-out!