Numel, Camerupt

#322 – Numel

As far as “yup, it’s a cartoon animal” designs go, you could do a lot worse than Numel. That pale yellow color, splash of bright green, and thick, sleepy circles around the eyes all feel very Animal Crossing. And if you want recognizable animals that aren’t necessarily shaped like the real thing, that series sets the gold standard.

The thing about Numel, though, is that they’re aggressively shaped like a camel, to the point of looking like a living plush doll. His whole torso is just the one hump, and the stubby legs make the long neck really stand out. In fact, the only thing that stands apart from actual camel anatomy is his stumpy limbs, where actual camels have hard, knobbly legs on sticks. He’s still goofy and awkward, just in a different way.

The main thing for me is that nothing about Numel especially says “Fire-type” to me. He’s a great baby-camel, but not necessarily a great baby-fire-camel, though I’ll admit not every first-stage Pokémon knocks it out of the park. Usually people pay more attention to the evolution, anyway:

#323 – Camerupt

Camerupt looks somehow more and less like a camel. The neck is gone, but he has something of a more nose-heavy equestrian face. His whole body is still heavy-set rather than gangly, but those volcano-humps are an obvious-but-solid merging of “fire-type flavor” and “exaggerated anatomy”. And those ring-markings are… weird? Not bad or anything – they help break up an otherwise fairly muted color palette – just a bit of a curveball.

I dunno, lop off those humps and he reminds me more of a cow-critter or even a yak than a camel, which is a shame when “camel” is the whole first syllable of his name. The lumps are enough of a “signature body part” that a kid will still recognize this as a camel, and it makes some sense that a more mountainous creature would be chunkier, so it’s kind of a wash for me. If nothing else, he has a more distinct silhouette than he might if they went a more direct “lava camel” route, so ultimately they probably made the right choices.

Camerupt also feels hard to recommend considering he keels over if he gets within fifty yards of any of the game’s populous, pervasive fish. Abysmal speed and a quadruple weakness to the game’s most common type are a nasty combo, and his defenses aren’t doing much to mitigate that. Thankfully his chunky attack stats make him a fair tactical deployment against main-game opponents that focus on a single type, but you have to be very choosy about when to let the guy lumber on out.

Let’s breeze past their crazy internal anatomy for a second – apparently they create and store lava inside their fleshy bodies, which seems both unsafe and physically impossible? Their external anatomy is what feels more odd to me, given that those humps are rock-like formations made of protruding bone. Which, one one hand, is metal as heck. And, on the other, seems a bit unnecessary?

Yes, we’ve seen Pokémon do mimicry before over and over again. But most of the time, it’s by growing an actual leaf from their head, or coating themselves in a shell of proper granite, or some other fusion of an animal and their environment. And while their very-implausible lava blood (or is it more like a venom sac?) does do that for us, that almost makes it more noticeable where molten real rock is erupting from a false rock.

But then you have a bit of a Sudowoodo situation going on where Camerupt looks like a Rock-type, but is really a Fire-and-Ground monster, presumably because of the lava theme and a camel’s sand-y-ness. But if the core elements for this guy are heat and sand, it seems like the designers missed a trick by not tying these two into glasswork somehow. And volcanoes are more of a tropical phenomenon – how does a very land-based animal split their habitat like that?

It’s almost like this is a cartoon animal that the writers didn’t intend for people to analyze too thoroughly. Huh; imagine that.

I certainly don’t mind Camerupt, and they’ve gotten some traction as a major “boss Pokémon” in Ruby and its remake. But while a camel is a bit of a staple animal, I don’t think they’re to a level that the series needs to keep around a middle-of-the-road one for the sake of it. He honestly feels interchangeable gameplay- and lore-wise with Magcargo as the resident “slow-moving lava animal”, which puts Camerupt firmly in Reserve.

Any and all appreciation for Numel and Camerupt is welcome in the comments!

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