Lickitung is one of the series’ more “monstrous” designs yet, and objectively one of the weirder and more cartoony ones in the first 151. You could argue that she’s got bits of a long-tongued lizard in her, perhaps a play on “iguanadon” given her pointy-bony thumbs and iguanas’ tongues, or even inspiration from a particular yokai. It’s probably some mixing-pot of the lot of them, and the result is ridiculous. She looks like some sort of oddball Slowpoke evolution- roly-poly-chubby proportions, weird yellow stripes that look a little like a bib but mostly just break up her coloration a bit, and that tongue.
Especially with the poses we see her in – arms thrown back and thumbs down – she always looks already in a lunging position, ready to reach forward and just get ya with that taster. The beady little eyes really help to accentuate her hugeness – and its’ easy to forget that she’s got a whole tail that seems to make up half of her non-tongue mass. She’s kind of a wonderful disaster of a creature, and horrible in the derpiest, most endearing way.
I adore that her name has turned from a compound word into a babyish declaration of what she does, but it is absolutely going to look wrong to me every single time I spell it. Lickilicky. Lickilicky. Lickilickilickilickilicky.
Whereas Lickitung had more of an overgrown-child, I’m-going-to-put-my-mouth-on-everything vibe, Lickilicky seems somehow to be a slightly snobby iteration of that idea? She’s standing up straight with proper posture now (her tongue has even straightened?), her stripes are more orderly, her markings have given her a clearer bib over her tubby tummy, and she’s even got a little coif in her fleshy “hair”. On the whole, she looks like she’s been at table nine of the Seven Stars Restaurant for the last hour, cleaning off and critiquing every plate the kitchen puts out, and I think it works. If you don’t like it yourself, though, you could always flip her upside-down and get a Wi-fi signal going.
She’s the prim and proper version of a slobber-monster. Wonderful.
Gameplay-wise, she feels like a very safe pick. Middle-of-the-pack attack and defense, a robust HP stat, and only dragging behind in speed. Normal isn’t typically an exciting type to use, but she does get abilities that make her immune to the ever-annoying Confusion status and weather effects, which is very welcome in-game – plus, a surprisingly wide range of move options from type-coverage attacks to stat-boosting to healing to just good ol’ survivability. As robust as she is massive and grotesque!
Lickitung seems very up-and-down on her popularity. She’s got that same marketability-glow of the rest of her Gen I peers, but she rarely seems to be in focus. Yet she’s regularly around, being a second-string member of Jessie’s team in the anime for a while, and having a whole gag scene all to himself in the live-action movie. She’s weird in a lot of ways.
I love that we kind of don’t have a point of reference for Lickitung – it feels like an instance where the designers played around more freely and cobbled together a monster without truly following a blueprint. At most, it’s like a few artists were locked in a room with the prompt “tongue” and, a few hours later, produced this fantastic mess with a massive tongue on one end and a massive tongue-like tail on the other (the two even move in connection, suggesting horribly that the muscle structure of her entire body is built just to support that tongue).
All of her flavor text references this, too – a two-meter tongue that she can move more adeptly than any of her limbs, and which she uses to explore the world by discovering their texture and touch with its many horrible taste-bud nerves. The whole schtick feeds a perception that Lickitung are collectively infantile in their behavior, which feels like it could almost give them a horror-ish bent in a way. “Lick” being a Ghost-type move and Lickitung herself being partially based on the pretty-creepy Akaname (a gremlin who licks up the mildew that collects in bathrooms) makes a ghost-type evolution seem hypothetically plausible, though I can’t say I’m thrilled to try imagining one.
Lickilicky’s text, on the other hand, loves to brag about that wonderful tongue and all its amazing properties:
- The world-record longest tongue is 82 feet (possibly exaggerated), and Likilickies love to compare their licky-lickers.
- It has fantastic dexterity, picking up individual beans or constricting prey in place.
- Its saliva is great for defense: delightfully sticky and paralysis-inducing, and it lingers and lingers for ages.
- Did we mention just how much saliva it produces? Oodles. And constantly.
At least Lickilicky has the decency to keep most of its tongue inside its body most of the time, unlike its pre-evolved compatriot, who dangerously leaves such a sensitive organ hanging out down its front-side all day. On the other hand, when the tongue retreats, it gets stuffed in Lickilicky’s massive saliva sacs, which is just an inherently gross name for an organ. Knowing what else she can do, it’s like considering a Victreebel-style pitcher plant situation if anything ever made it in there. Thankfully, we’re never asked to think about that, except for the fact that I just made you think about it right now. Sucker.
If it produces that much saliva, though, just imagine how useful it could be in practical situations. It’s a natural anesthetic, produced in bulk for minimal effort! Or it could be used to build pest traps with its longevity, stickiness, and paralytic properties. So many icky possibilities!
Are Lickitung and Lickilicky entirely necessary? Absolutely not. Do I find them delightful nonetheless? Entirely. As great and terrible and creative as they are, nobody is really hankering for a monster based around the concept of licking things – these would be designs the series can Retire if Lickitung wasn’t in the original 151. Even as he is, it’s not hard to argue that he can be left in the series’ Reserves and only pulled out for air every few games.
Any and all appreciation for Lickitung and Lickilicky is welcome in the comments!