I’m continuously impressed by how appealing this series’ ghosts are without going in that creepy-cute, Tim-Burton-y direction. Sometimes, though, it’s not so surprising. I mean, who doesn’t love a little floating sheet-ghost?
The thing that cinches him for me, though, is that little pinch at the top of his head, like some invisible hand is holding this little guy by the scalp and dangling him around. The slightly-wobbly mouth and vivid, almost sticker-like eyes don’t hurt the image any; he almost looks like a little toy some kid cobbled together on his own to spook their sibling with.
A shadowy puppet.
That right there is one haunted doll.
You could go on about the funny little floppy arms or frayed tail. The long head with pointy ears that looks like somebody tried to replicate a cat, but just didn’t know how to sew well enough. Or the obvious zipper-mouth, a borderline classic horror image.
But I can’t get away from those eyes, man. Wide open or with angry, droopy eyelids would be fine. But what we have is something between, heavy and angled lids with a corner cut out of the middle so he can be the worst of both worlds. It’s so offputting and I don’t think I’ve ever seen that done anywhere else, which is probably exactly what you want for a creepy-doll-mon.
I’ve enjoyed having a Banette around, myself. Most of her stats are, admittedly, pretty below average, and not balanced in a particularly useful way. But the main game sees more Normal-types around than average, and the one stat that she does have is likely the one you’d want in spades: pure attack. It’s unfortunate that she doesn’t get a very diverse movepool to take advantage of that, but hey; she works surprisingly well as a hammer.
It’s a little funny to get him so close after Castform when Shuppet is the spitting image of an evil teru teru bozu, even hanging out as a “talisman” on the skirts of houses where ill-natured folk live. Sure, well and good, Shuppet are supposed emotion-eaters that feed off others’ malice and spite. But imagine waking up in the morning and seeing a row of these hanging out under your rain gutter. Do you know what you did to earn this judgment?
…I’m off to write some fanfiction.
But before that, one note on Banette’s name. In Japanese, it’s juppeta – the obvious portmanteau of ju/curse and puppet, but also dangerously close to Gepetto. Fitting, since Pinnochio has always low-key been a creepy story to me. And then in all other languages, while bane and marionette make sense, this also plays off the French braguette, or a clothing-zipper. Lucky coincidence, that!
Shuppet and Banette are kinda “gimme” designs as de-facto haunted dolls, a nice compromise between the naturally-occurring creatures and those created by (or that arose in response to) humans. The series is going to spin out a lot of animate objects over the years, though, which both shows how successful the design is and how Banette is about to become the vanilla to a whole range of flavors. But hey – lots of people love vanilla. And a proper vanilla, made with vanilla bean? That’s good stuff; keep it on reserve for me.
Any and all appreciation for Shuppet and Banette is welcome in the comments!