Chansey. Her whole design is “the Egg Pokemon”, but not in the sense that she directly is an egg. Rather, she’s an egg-shaped incubator-sum-nursemaid of a sort; that big, blobby body shape is probably pretty good at generating heat for her egg pouch and all. I really do appreciate when the series goes after a theme while keeping the monster organic rather than a literal, somewhat-anthropomorphic version of the subject. Granted, she would basically be a big egg if not for her axlotl-hair and the stubby limbs that make her look like a delightful, rubbery Kirby character.
The main thing that gets me about Chansey is that her name is less about her exactly. It’s more an on-the-nose moniker about how it’s rare for her to spawn, hard to catch one, and rarer still to find one holding the ever-valued Lucky Egg that doubles the experience from battles (blessedly given for free to the player in most contemporary games). Having a name based around her gameplay function in a series that’s otherwise more setting-forward kind of rubs me the wrong way. Still, Chansey has an adorable and clear design without being bang-you-over-the-head obvious, so two thumbs way up.
Back in Johto, where baby forms and split evolutionary lines were the new hotness, Chansey’s evolution was showing off a different gameplay feature – happiness (it’s even literally named Happinas in Japanese). Mechanically, this re-enforces the idea that the trainer-party bond is supposed to be a more supportive “coach-and-player” or even “pet-and-owner” situation. Rather, it would, if there were any mechanical consequences for not treating your Pokémon well. I understand that this would be really frustrating to put into a game with a young target audience, but I do wish that there were some teeth on the premise that Pokémon have some degree of independence and will only battle when they agree to the idea. But I digress.
Blissey’s a sweeter, more fairy-like version of Chansey – though neither of them are Fairy-type, which feels like a bit of a misstep in some ways compared to the other pink Normal-types that did get retconned into the Fairy-type later on. I kind of like how the pink-on-white kind of makes her torso look like a cutesy egg in a way, and that coloring in tandem with the curlier hair makes her visibly take after Nurse Joy a bit – making her one of the few cases where the anime directly drove character design. Good evolution, but probably more meaningful at the time that she was introduced; if the games were willing to break up evolutionary lines, I’d be pretty nervous for Blissey.
Chansey didn’t dodge the child-form craze forever, tough, and eventually we got Happiny. I appreciate how she looks like she has a very infant-like hairstyle and is stuck in what looks like something between a permanent diaper and a built-in baby walker. She absolutely tales the “young Pokémon” concept to heart much more than any of the other pre-evolution Pokémon so far, which makes her uniquely worth having compared to her peers.
It’s also just a little weird to see little Happiny carrying an “egg” around while herself being an immature creature, even if it’s made clear that it’s just an egg-like rock. I guess that’s not too far off from toddlers and preschoolers carting around dolls in little doll-strollers, so I’ll take it as an endearing “just like mommy Chansey” trait. As far as baby Pokémon go, this one’s all right by me.
Blissey is really weird in battle; she has absolutely maxed-out health pool and fantastic special defense, but horrid physical defense and not much offensive ability. That combination is obscene and completely abusable in a bunch of ways for both the user and the opponent, but the upside is that she makes for a fantastic support teammate, getting a ton of party- and teammate-healing moves (and some great status-inducers) as well as the right bulk to use them safely. Support characters don’t seem exciting to some, but we respect them in this house, gosh-darnit.
Chansey is a very high-visibility monster, but in a very narrow sense. She’s a bit so-so as for game appearances and I can’t recall seeing many toys or advertisements that feature her, but Chansey (and, to a lesser extent, Blissey) is featured very heavily in the anime as a regular assistant at Pokémon Centers and hospitals in a nursing-assistant role. She provides one of the more visible ways in which Pokémon participate in and contribute to a joined monster-human living situation, which makes her stick in the craw just based on that one aspect of the series.
If you read Chansey’s in-game biography on its own, she sounds more like a chicken than a health-care worker, though. All the text is about how she regularly lays very nutritious eggs of which she is very protective, but she’s naturally cowardly and a quick runner (in the opposite direction of anything resembling a threat).
It does note that she’s a sweetie-pie who shares her own eggs with any injured creature, though. Aww. Presumably that’s why they’re rare in the wild – they’re more likely to give their eggs away for other creatures’ benefit and sustenance rather than let any new Chansey or Happiny hatch. That also suggests that either they’re deliberately laying unfertilized eggs in the wild, which would be biologically weird, or that everyone is horribly eating fertilized Chansey eggs. Another one of those things we’d best not look at too hard.
Speaking of, it always strikes me as odd when these Pokédex entries enforce a certain stereotype personality on a whole species of monster. Surely there have to be at least some Chansey out there who are naturally ornery or even mean-spirited? What is a rebellious, spiteful Chansey to do when her entire biology is built around bringing benefit to other beings? (Ten bucks to the fanfic writer who can get on that premise.)
Blissey’s eggs seem to evolve with her, healing not only physical damage, but emotional and psychological damage, as well. After being treated with kindness by the player, she becomes acutely aware of others’s suffering in the same way that a cat is acutely aware of an approaching thunderstorm, and offers up eggs that straight-up induce happiness. That has to either be some miracle drug, reason for them to be poached even further below their already-sparse population (Blissey eggs are a canon delicacy), or both. Good thing that in the series they seem to only live in the custody of medical professionals and – lemme check my notes – ten-year-old children. Lovely.
Happiny feels the most inconsistent of the lot about her “eggs”. On one hand, she’ll collect anything sufficiently pale and egg-shaped like a toddler hoarding toys, to the point that she short-shortsightedly weighs herself down and can’t move. Adorable little greedy gremlin, that one. On the other hand, she’s said to be well-behaved and will willingly share her egg-“child” with her friends. Apparently they’re not that dedicated to playing parent, which honestly seems accurate considering how actual three-year-olds act with their dolls.
The whole Happiny species is also, oddly enough, almost universally self-conscious about their curly hair. That seems like the type of thing that they would collectively evolve out over time in the Darwinian sense. It’s pretty cute to note that their “hair” straightens out as Chansey and then goes back to aggressively curly as Blissey, though – the little squirts have the most tame “I’m my own person now” phase in their middle evolution before coming to terms with their own appearance when fully-evolved and flaunting it. A true story of character growth.
Chansey has a lot of staying power in the series’ lore that makes her hard to get rid of, is more mechanically-interesting than most Pokémon, and even gives us one of the best “pre-evolution” forms in the roster. Not quite part of the Must-Have echelon, but definitely something to be kept in heavy rotation in the Reserves.
Any and all appreciation for Chansey, Blissey, and Happiny is welcome in the comments!