Did you know that with the advent of Pokémon Black and White there are now 649 Pokémon in existence? I remember back in the day when I would watch the anime on television and hear that familiar Pokérap song at the end of each episode naming all the Pokémon that, at the time, totaled 150. I'll admit, I was one of those people who tried to memorize their names, and I also went even further by researching their origins and how they were thought up. And guess what? I still do.
This is the first of my many I Choose You! articles where I will focus on one Pokémon or on its evolutionary line and cover its origins and abilities. I'll also include my own opinions about the Pokémon and what I remember most about them. Sure, we all know about Pikachu, Mewtwo, and Lucario. But what about the less famous ones like Sandslash, Whiscash, and Bastiodon? I've added all 649 Pokémon into a randomizer and I will try to focus on all of them as they come and in no particular order. Even if you are not a Pokémon fan, I hope you'll learn a bit about them, how they affected my own gaming experience, and perhaps realize why the Pokémon franchise is still going strong. Hit the jump for the first I Choose You Pokémon.
First up this week is Espeon, the Sun Pokémon. Though by looking at it, Espeon resembles more of a cat than anything else. Having a split tail, it seems to be inspired by nekomata, a type of bakeneko, or cat demon, from Japanese folklore. Legend says that cats which grew exceptionally long tails would become bakeneko. These demons would haunt homes, unleash ghostly fireballs from their eyes, and even transform into their owners and then kill them to take their place. In fact, one legend that explains the origins of the Japanese bobcat states that a cat's long tail caught on fire and burned many buildings as it ran through its town. The Emperor then decreed that all owners had to cut the tails off their cats to prevent them from becoming bakeneko. Scary stuff, huh?
But Espeon isn't a Ghost-type Pokémon, it's a Psychic-type and is capable of feeling things no other person or Pokemon is capable of. Its English name even comes from the acronym ESP which stands for extra-sensory perception. And its Japanese name, Eifie, seems to come from ESP and the English word "feel" since that's what it's good at. According to its Pokédex entry, Espeon uses the tiny hairs on its body to feel air currents and predict its opponent's next move. This idea is supported in the games since it can learn moves such as Detect and Future Sight.
I remember that when I first got Pokémon Gold over a decade ago, I loved the time system implemented in the game and its effect on the evolution of certain Pokémon including Eevee, Espeon's pre-evolution. This meant that if Eevee evolved during the day, it turned into Espeon, but if evolution occured at night, it became Umbreon, a Dark-type Pokémon. Espeon has a high Special Attack stat, so it's more of an attacker than its Dark-type counterpart who is more of a defensive tank. At the time, I wanted an attacker that would serve me well throughout the game so I had my heart set on Espeon.
In order for it to evolve, Eevee also needs to be at max happiness, so that means I had to give my Eevee constant haircuts from Goldenrod City and lots of sweet Lemonade to drink. These things increased his happiness level and also drained my Pokéwallet. But determined, I kept at it, regardless of whether Eevee needed a haircut or not. To this day, I wonder how some Pokémon without actual hair can get haircuts. But I digress.
It was a bit of a hassle getting Espeon, but once I did, I nicknamed him Kiniro (a combination of the Japanese words for gold and color) and he became the Special Attacker of my team. Nowadays, Espeon is overshadowed by other stronger Pokémon who have higher Defense stats and a wider move-pool of attacks they can learn. Nevertheless, Espeon will always bring me back memories of Pokémon Gold and how much fun it was playing a game whose in-game clocks matched my own.