Venonat! It’s really impressive how the designers created something of an amalgamation of pest-like insects that most of us probably resent, but assembled it into a critter that’s utterly adorable. Her compound eyes seem wide with curiosity, her round and hairy body makes her look like a precious puffball, and her mandibles evoke a snippy mustache on a button nose. The hairy feelers characteristic to moths even turn into playful antennae with lil’ oblong bobs on the end. Her fleshy little hands and two-toed feet are more of a bizarre choice, suggesting that there’s some fleshy animal with big bug-eyes under that fur, but on the other hand, that also describes Jigglypuff, who we generally accept to be a cutie. If you had a kid (or adult) who liked both insects and stuffed animals, Venonat would be laser-aimed at them. Nice lil’ buggy-buddy.
Yup, sure is a moth. Yet those feelers that Venonat has, characteristic of the insect? Totally gone once it evolves into the winged form. Jeez. She drops moths’ hairiness, too, and loses the more distinct compound eyes for those same glossy marble-eyes that Paras has. Her abdomen definitely looks like it’s layered like a moth’s, at least (even if it doesn’t seem properly segmented), and the horned head makes for a much more distinctive profile, especially given she’s something of a more offensive Pokémon than Butterfree, which otherwise has a pretty similar silhouette. Come to think of it, Butterfree even looks more like Venonat visually than Venomoth does – same eyes, limbs, and antennae, similar coloration… begs the question of how closely-together those lines were designed.
I always feel bad for these winged Bug-types, though, considering they never seem to get limbs long enough to do anything useful with. What’s Venomoth supposed to do with arms half as long as its torso?! She’s a pretty cool moth-monster overall, but there are some odd choices in there.
As much as flying Bug-types can be a punching bag in the games, Venomoth has it pretty good. She gets some good poison and other-status moves, isn’t terrible with special attacks, and even gets Quiver Dance, which raises three stats at once (which she can then Baton Pass onto a teammate). She can be a little Jack-of-all-trades-y, but that’s a good thing in the game itself where you’ll probably use roughly the same three-to-six teammates for the entire game.
Venonat also suffers from Butterfree being a more popular Bug, but not quite to the extent as Paras. Venomoth gets thrown around enough as a cute critter – she was a regular for the show’s second season, was one of the only evolved non-Grass Poison-types for a while that wasn’t drawn in an obviously-malicious way, and appears as often as her peers in the original roster. Present, but not exactly star material.
In an interesting play on the whole “moths-drawn-to-light” thing (which she still totally is), a few bits of the text suggest that Venonat and Venomoth actually hide up in trees and wait for prey to wander into the light, then go in for an ambush. It still plays into the common knowledge around moths, but in a way that doesn’t make her look like a total dweeb, which is very much appreciated.
Like Butterfree, this leverages the dust-like wing scales that moths and butterflies naturally have for defensive purposes by loading them up with toxins and dusting enemies with them. It’s a pretty common trick across a lot of winged Bug-types, but it’s something that the Poison-type nature of Venomoth really sells.
The fact that Venomoth is a giant moth that naturally learns moves like Psybeam and Psychic, along with using powdery scales to attack from its wings, brings to mind the characteristics of Mothra, my personal favorite kaiju. She even shoots beams from her eyes as Venonat, which is 100% certified Mothra imagery. As a nice sly bonus, her typing and signature moves give her a natural advantage over our other kaiju thus far,
Baragon Nidoking! Heck yeah, she’s Queen of the Pocket Monsters!
Venonat is cute, and Venomoth is pretty hard-looking for a moth, but the points of interest past that are pretty lean if we’re being honest. Nothing particular against them – I personally really dig Venonat and Venomoth – but more interesting moths will show up later, which make these easier to keep on Reserve, or tentatively even Retire if you’re cool with axing the more “pretty okay” designs from the first generation.
Any and all appreciation for Venonat and Venomoth is welcome in the comments!