Zarude has a cape in Pokemon: The Movie — Secrets of the Jungle and is apparently called “Dada Zarude” now. Despite the fact I am all for “Pokemon but what if it was also Tarzan,” this has done absolutely nothing to alleviate my complete disinterest in Zarude, who I firmly believe is the least inspired Mythical design we’ve ever seen.
Zarude is just Shiftry except now it’s a baboon. Don’t get me wrong, I like the Seedot family — Shiftry’s pointy nose and weird feet are great! — but let’s not forget about having seven weaknesses. We obviously want Legendaries and Mythicals that cover all kinds of type hybridities, but Zarude got the short end of the stick despite living in a literal forest. Sorry about that, mate.
To be fair, I don’t even mind about typing all that much. I have loads of favourite ‘mons that aren’t too hot in a competitive match but can get along just fine in PvE. Typing be damned, my primary interest in Pokemon comes from their designs. And let’s be honest: Zarude’s is boring.
To put it plainly, Zarude doesn’t look remotely like a Pokemon. Secrets of the Jungle is clearly inspired by Tarzan, but Zarude would be more at home with Terk and Tantor than shiny Celebi. I can’t believe that: we’re finally getting a movie about shiny Celebi, but Zarude is the one in the spotlight. This is how I feel about that.
To build on that point, let’s look at a few examples. Tyranitar is a gargantuan rock dinosaur. Houndoom is a dog mixed with a skull. Voltorb is a literal Poke Ball, which is a bit lazy, but at least it looks like it’s part of the world. Zarude looks like something I’d see on David Attenborough. If I wanted to see it, I would put on Planet Earth, not boot up Sword & Shield.
Also, for what it’s worth, I’m not just another irritating “everything after Gen 1 is awful!” person. I love lots of more modern ‘mons: Grimmsnarl is a staple of my PvE team in Pokemon Sword, and the two new Regis are wicked. Galarian Moltres is my favourite design in years. It has nothing to do with Gen 8 as a whole — it has to do with Zarude looking like something I have seen in real life a million times before. I know Trubbish is based on trash, but at least it’s been Pokemon’d up a bit (I will have you know that Trubbish has grown on me immensely since I wrote this article).
I know I’m just moaning here. I’m sure the movie will be lovely — most Pokemon films are wholesome and stupid in equal measure, which is the absolute best combination for comfort cinema. I recently wrote about how Mewtwo Strikes Back is a masterclass in absurdism, because — and let me stress this — it is ludicrous. I also quite like the look of Koko, the Tarzan stand-in who Ash meets in the forest. Apparently he’s been raised by Pokemon, which has made me have that feeling of, “I can’t believe they’ve never done this before!” except they kind of have. Let me direct your attention to The Kanghaskan Kid, one of those episodes where Pokemon decided to get really weird for a bit. On that note, a lot of people who watched Pokemon as a kid should really revisit the series just to see how wild it is at points. I did it a while ago and ruined my childhood by learning that actually, Ash is a bit of a wanker.
Back to Secrets of the Jungle: I am very excited by the premise. Pokemon has always nailed the atmosphere of environmental topics — consider how excellently designed Ruby & Sapphire’s Route 113 was — and it appears that the Big Bad in this film is destroying the forest that Koko and Dada Zarude live in, which leads me to believe that this film will boast a mentality not unlike that of Gen 3. We also see Koko saving a little Flygon who’s about to get smacked by a falling tree, which immediately puts him in my good books — although I will admit that Flygon’s futility here is yet another reason why its typing should be Bug/Dragon instead of Ground/Dragon. Let’s not get into that now.
I will definitely watch Secrets of the Jungle when it comes out. I will also most likely wholeheartedly enjoy it. I just wish we got to watch Celebi (good) instead of Zarude (bad) — giving it a little pink cape doesn’t make it look any more like a Pokemon. I’d rather a film about Feebas, if I’m honest, and I don’t reckon that’s something a lot of people would want to watch.
Melmetal movie when?
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Cian Maher is the Lead Features Editor at TheGamer. He’s also had work published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Verge, Vice, Wired, and more. You can find him on Twitter @cianmaher0.
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