Maybe it’s a side-effect of growing up entirely in the American Midwest, but I have a hard time telling shellfish apart. A crawdad looks the same as a crayfish looks the same as a mudbug to me, and –
What’s that? Check my notes?
Anyway, Pokémon has always been great about illustrating the odd, abstracted version of an animal probably lives in your head if you don’t interact with them outside of zoos or a dinner plate. And I know in my heart that Corphish is hardly a close representation, but it still checks all the boxes – orangey and vaguely lobster-like, cute little pincers, and a bit skittery.
In fact, I think Corphish low-key does a great job of capturing how closely crustaceans are related to insects, particularly with those big, popped-out eyes and his six-to-eight legs. Just compare those gams with an Ariados or a Ninjask – same vibe, right?
We’ll come back to aquatic arthropods in four generations, but until then, I appreciate that he shares just a bit of the buggy visual language while staying distinct. Those raised claws, separated from his other limbs, help give him a nice upper and lower body for people who aren’t so bug-inclined, making him feel like his own animal. And what a cute lil’ semi-bugger he is.
Now this is just a horrible mess of spines and appendages, and frankly he looks rad for it. He’s all hard and crunchy, armored with sunken eyes and extra little grabby-arms to tear into you on top of this big ol’ claws. The yellow star is a bit of a miss for me – I would’ve preferred some crusty antennae – but hollow out that center area on his upper body, and frankly this guy would appear straight-up haunted.
Which makes sense for a Dark-type. I’ve talked about that “evil” moniker being interpreted as “invasive species” before, but this is technically the first time it turns up in the series. Frankly, I like it here even more – crayfish are unsuspecting creatures that most of us encounter as cuisine, and not normally one of the first five animals that comes to mind as a pest.
But that seems to be a very North-America-centric view, since these two are inspired by a very specific crayfish that’s been invasive to non-American territories for most of a century now, despite and even because it’s imported for food. Makes sense, then, that Pokémon designers turned a fairly routine animal into one of the gnarliest critters of its generation, even spitefully noting that Crawdant claws don’t even taste good in-universe. Vendetta much?
And with its potent attack and a passive ability that pumps up its natural Water- and Dark-type moves, including the almighty Crabhammer, Crawdaunt is fierce on offense. Slow as mud and with passable-at-best defenses (amusing for his constantly-noted hardiness), he’s gonna be taking hits as much as he gives them, but man does he usually give the bigger wallop.
I’m a big fan of the Pokédex entries that include some form of care notes for prospective trainers, and Crawdaunt’s ties nicely into its territorial ecology, violently pushing out every other living creature in its habitat. If nothing else, it explains why Ash’s Corphish never evolved in the anime – after dealing with Charizard for most of two seasons, the writers probably wanted a break from aggression and drama within the team, It could have been fun to watch him form a posse with the too-cool-for-school Grovyle, but c’est la vie.
Also, there’s a Corphish in Pokémon Mystery Dungeon that says “Hey! Hey!” all the time because its Japanese species-name is Heigani, and I think that’s an adorable little bilingual Easter Egg.
Anyway, I’m a much bigger fan of these two than I expected, given that I’ve never properly used them. Realistically, they should be in Reserve and trade turns in the roster with that other crustacean Pokémon, but with a little bit of context, I’m personally on the lookout for these two even more.
Any and all appreciation for Corphish and Crawdaunt is welcome in the comments!
This week’s programming is not at all brought to you by The Invasive Species Action Network.