Oh, hey, it’s this little guy!
He’s a little plain, but I think he’s cuter for it. Riding around on his own little cloud, sporting an eye-mask for goggles, and with a wispy little cowlick up top. And hey, he’s mostly made out of water-like substance (don’t ask, he’s artificial), so that cloud-body doesn’t even incur the same kind of low-key horror as does, say, Sylveon. He’s just childlike and very plush-doll in a way that hits the series mascot-character strike zone, specifically calling back to Johto’s line of baby ‘mons.
Of course, it’s basically impossible to talk about Castform without talking about the forms of Castform:
Each of these individually is much more appealing. His little expressions are great, the clouds in each all have different colors and better-defined shapes, and the sun and rain forms immediately evoke what they’re going for while still having some playful abstraction in there. I could personally do with some ice crystals floating around in that Snowy form – as is, he looks more like a hurricane – but otherwise they make up a neat little set.
I’m going to be straight with you, though, Castform is almost entirely a novelty, with a boring Normal type by default, uniformly below-average stats, and a gimmick that takes an extra turn to set up. Maybe being pure-Flying in his base form would help, to represent the wind element of weather, but I don’t think that’d be enough to overcome the friction of needing an extra turn to set up in each encounter. I get the feeling he might have better luck in Legends: Arceus, where weather effects are much more prevalent and swapping moves around is trivial, but he’s regrettably absent from that game, leaving him a bit high-and-dry.
So these fellas are based pretty specifically on teru teru bozu, little ghost-looking charms that you’d hang outside your window. The superstition is that leaving them out is a charm for sunny weather, whereas hanging one upside-down is a charm for rainy weather. And everything about Castform, from his round head and floaty underbody to his weather-centric concept, seems right on the mark.
I really like this in particular since we’ve seen some more sinister Pokémon based on yokai so far; they’re turning into one of the bestiary’s go-to inspirations. Turning that around into a Pokémon based on relatively commonplace, benign “folkore” helps fold that back into the series’ joy and playfulness, and I’m here for it.
It does still feel a little weird that Castform doesn’t have a Sandy Form. Technically sandstorms aren’t really “weather” in the way that we usually think about weather as part of the water cycle. But they’re classified as meteorology and, gosh-darnit, it’s the only regular “weather effect” (aside from arguably fog) that isn’t covered. Even Castform’s signature Weather Ball move respects it, c’mon.
It’s pretty telling that the series gave away Castform’s signature Weather Ball move to other Pokémon early on, and that he only natively appears in two sets of games outside of his native Hoenn. It’s kind of a shame, since I really do feel like he could shine more now that the games are making naturally-occurring weather effects more common, and I think he could be a great Pokémon to take out of Reserve to help show that off. Otherwise, as fun as these novelty Pokémon are, this series is infamous for trying out novelties and then putting them back on the shelf. Love it or hate it, that’s the way it is.
Any and all appreciation for Castform is welcome in the comments!