It’s a shame that I don’t think about Whismur more than I do, because her design is absolutely spot-on.
The round, balloon-y, Kirbyesque body. The oversized ear-flaps, covering tiny earholes. The pigeon-toed stance and warbling mouth. I even don’t mind her creepy eye sockets; they kind of make her feel like a walking emoticon. Poor little nervous thing.
She’s more of an abstract monster, but it’s hardly the first time we’ve gone there. Besides, it’s kind of nice to have something like that to break up a long string of animalistic critters. Give us something really weird and wonky to keep us on our toes.
Loudred is more of a goofy goblin, with a generic “cartoon” look after the filling-in of her empty eyes, but that’s not the worst way to evolve from a perfectly-round mascot.
She’s still got the same general shape – a big central lump with a few limbs sticking out – but now she’s got a gullet that takes up a solid half her body mass. The stumpier legs just help enforce that heavy-set, blocky look, while the two woofers up top help give her a little more of a unique silhouette.
…woofer-ears, an idea seen nowhere else.
I think “a walking speaker system” is one of the odder themes for a Pokémon so far, but hey – why not? She still looks mostly functional as a living creature. My problem with this design is more in the details like how her teeth and toenails appear to be exactly the same, which has some very worrying implications.
Exploud always struck me as a pipe-organ kaiju, which is such a funny pitch for a monster that I can’t help but adore the doofy result.
Okay, she still looks like the kind of thing you’re worried about crashing your campsite, but c’mon. She’s got exhaust tubes out of her butt.
This also feels like a much more natural expression of a “sound-wielding animal” than how Loudred pegs some speakers to his noggin. Animals already produce breath and wind – we even think some dinosaurs used their hollow horns to amplify their vocalization. Creating a natural formation to amplify and direct that feels almost sensible.
And that’s my favorite balance of creature: would probably never pass as a real animal, but you can see the logic there nonetheless. It’s almost got the same vibe as the Elemental Oni from way back in the day: a monster that exists to embody a theme.
Even if that theme is just YELLING REALLY LOUD.
Normal-types aren’t super-exciting, and Exploud is kind of just safe. Average-and-even attack stats, an okay combined defense, and a little bit on the slow side. On the other hand, from Generation VI onward she gets access to Boomburst – the most powerful Normal-type move in the game without a drawback – and she even gets access to some curveballs like Surf and Overheat. If you’re just looking to attack-attack-attack, she’s actually not a bad choice. Just expect to take a few hits along the way.
I kind of love the progression from Whismur to her noisy mature forms. She starts out so averse to sound that she can only live in secluded caves, her ear cavities perpetually covered by clamp-like flaps, then immediately does a 180 when evolves. She could always scream with the best of ’em – her moveset has to have some continuity after all – she’s just more open and proud about her own voice after a few levels. I can’t figure if that’s a metaphor for finding your confidence or the stereotypical difference between younger and older siblings, but either way, it’s such a fun reversal.
Amusingly, we get to stay on the “passive abilities matter” train, as these three all get immunity to any move that logically uses sound, like Screech ant Roar and the like. But they get it for different reasons – Whismur because she uses her ears as earmuffs, and the others because they’re so loud that they drain everything else out. Non-straightforward ways to maintain continuity like that are a personal favorite.
And, because we have to couple that with some Ridiculous Zoology, Whismur has possibly the most ridiculous form of circular breathing ever put to paper:
It inhales through its ear canals. Because of this system, it can cry continually without having to catch its breath.– Pokémon Emerald
Poor baby will literally not stop crying if she’s threatened or even disturbed until she cries herself to sleep. Adorable, and also one of the worst features for a potential pet.
Exploud falls into the bucket that so many do: I love her for how unique she is, and nothing else really scratches the exact same itch. But ultimately, she’s also one that I don’t think many people would notice if she sat out a game in Reserve.
Any and all appreciation for Whismur, Loudred, and Exploud is welcome in the comments!