The Dashing Design of Smoliv

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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! Where I’ll be your guide as we take a look at the franchise history, concept, and potential design inspirations of specific Pokémon. This is the first in the series. And to inaugurate this new format, we will be taking a look at the star of the harvest festival event. Coming straight from the region of Paldea, it’s Smoliv!


Franchise History General icon

Source: Trailer

Smoliv is a relatively recent Pokémon. It was first introduced in the ninth generation of mainline Pokémon games, Pokémon Scarlet and Pokémon Violet. In fact, it was one of the first Paldean Pokémon introduced. Paldea being the region the ninth generation of Pokémon games takes place in. To be more precise, it was the fifth Paldean Pokémon ever introduced. It appeared right after the three new partner Pokémon and Pawmi in the second trailer for Pokémon Scarlet and Violet. After which it became a quick fan favorite thanks to its cute rounded look and timid demeanour.

Etymology and Design General icon

Thankfully, Smoliv’s name and design are both decidedly simple. Smoliv’s name, of course, is a fusion of the words Small and Olive. Though it’s worth noting to merge with “Olive”, the word “Small” is written as “Smol”. And as anyone who has spent a decent amount of time on the internet can tell you, “Smol” is a pretty common way to intentionally mistype the word “Small”. It is particularly used to emphasize a sense of endearment, such as when talking about cute little pets. I found it worth noting, because, with this and Lechonk, it seems Gamefreak has decided to embrace a more humorous direction when it comes to naming newer Pokémon.

Source: Official Site

Smoliv’s design, much like its name, is simple but effective. It has a simple teardrop-shaped olive-like body, with an olive growing on top. With the olive itself being a simple green olive, which is replaced with a black olive in its shiny form. The fact that its design is based on an olive by itself is interesting. Because you may be wondering, “Why an olive Pokémon now exactly?”

It’s because ever since generation five in the mainline Pokémon series, each region has been based on places outside of Japan. And Paldea is no different, being based off of the real-world country of Spain. Olives are native to the Mediterranean area, and Spain in particular may as well be the largest exporter of olives in the world, covering about 48% of the world’s olive exports in 2022 according to Google. 

The second most striking feature of Smoliv is its timid, anxious-looking face. This might be partially because, despite being found in the wild, Smoliv definitely has shared DNA with baby Pokémon that often possess similar traits. But I believe there may be another important reason for this, one which I will get to when we talk about its evolutions next.

Dolliv and Arboliva General icon

Since both of Smoliv’s evolutions will be available in the Harvest Festival Event as well, I think they are worth a look. Starting with, Dolliv! 



Source: Pokémon Horizons: The Series, Episode 10

Much like Smoliv, Dolliv is a combination of two words Doll and Olive. As to why doll specifically I’m not entirely sure. However, the name is somewhat consistent in Japanese as well. In Japanese Dolliv’s name is Olinyo. Which could be a mixture of the words “Olive” and “aliño”, the latter being the Spanish word for Salad Dressing. However, the later part of that name also sounds similar to Ningyō, the Japanese word for doll.

I tried to find if there was any sort of Spanish folktale connecting olives or olive trees to dolls but didn’t find anything concrete. So my best guess is that the “Doll” part of the name comes from the fact that Dolliv has a small feminine design akin to other Grass Pokémon from previous generations. Considering “Doll” and “Baby Doll” are terms sometimes used to refer to women, and particularly young girls, in an endearing way, perhaps that is where the name origin comes from. I would love to hear if there is a more solid reason for this name though.

Another thing about Dolliv I want to note, according to its Scarlet Pokédex entry:

“Dolliv shares its tasty, fresh-scented oil with others. This species has coexisted with humans since times long gone.”

For some context, Pokémon Scarlet and Violet introduced the mechanic of being able to make sandwiches. And the Pokédex entries for Pokémon such as Dolliv, Fidough, and Veluza imply how one could get ingredients for the sandwiches from the Pokémon without bringing them harm. I love small world-building details like this, that further explain how people and Pokémon co-exist in the Pokémon world.



Source: Official Site

And we finally arrive at the final form of Smoliv, Arboliva. Its name is a combination of “árbol”, the Spanish word for tree, and “oliva” which is just olive in certain Romance languages. The name implies that this is a Pokémon in the Smoliv line that has fully matured into a tree. With branches full of ripened olives. This brings us to a point I have been ignoring till now, the olive branch is a global symbol of peace!

A golden olive branch left on the moon as a symbol of peace. Source: Wikipedia

While the roots (haha) of this symbology lay with Ancient Greece and Rome, it was at some point picked up throughout the Mediterranean, and eventually the world. So it’s again quite fitting for a Pokémon introduced in the Paldea region. This ties well into a sort of micro-narrative within Smoliv’s evolution line as well. Remember how I mentioned I’d get to Smoliv’s anxious face eventually?

Well, Dolliv’s Violet Pokédex claims that when Dolliv’s …olives ripen, it goes on a journey.  And Arboliva’s Pokédex entries emphasize how it’s a calm Pokémon that’s nurturing of other weaker Pokémon, feeding them with its olives. While using its olive oil to deal with threats.

So we have a story that goes full circle. First, Smoliv is a small, timid, and anxious Pokémon, using its oil to drive off anything it fears. Then it evolves into Dolliv and goes on a journey of self-discovery. Finally, it becomes an Arboliva, finding inner peace and using its ability to bring peace to people and Pokémon alike. Quite fitting on account of the inherent symbology behind the olive branch. And it makes for a personal story that anyone can take inspiration from!

Conclusion General icon

And there we go! The first (of hopefully many) article of the “dashing design” series. As a final note: Not only are olives generally harvested in October, but all three of the Smoliv line can possess a secret ability called “Harvest” in the mainline games. As such, I think it’s quite fitting that this is the Pokémon that is making its highlighted debut during the harvest festival. And this is why, Smoliv’s design, is quite dashing!

Goodbye for now, Pokémon trainers. Priom-out!

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Pokémon fan since as early as object permanence allows. Me and my Pokébuddy, PoppyGO are here to hopefully help you with all of Pokémon GO's going-ons!

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