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In this recurring series, I’ll analyze the origins of Pokémon designs, their culture, and their historical allusions to British culture. 

Darumaka and Darmanitan were introduced to the Pokemon franchise in Unova, the region based on New York City. Here, it appears that they have migrated to Galar and as such have taken on a chillier demeanor. Similar to the potential relationship between Frosmoth and Volcarona, their fire has been extinguished and they’ve become Ice-type.

Darumaka originally was based on a daruma doll, a Japanese doll which resembled the Buddhist monk Bodhidharma. Darumaka’s Galarian form maintains its classification as the ‘Zen Charm Pokémon’.

However its design now looks closer to a snowman, a type of sculpture that is made out of several large snowballs in a stack. Like a small snowman, Darumaka’s body is covered in a white snow and it has two icy buttons on its front.

The history of snowmen is vague, but it appears to have origins in northwestern Europe. Historical artifacts like woodcuts dating to the 1500s show a basic person made of snow. Perhaps this served as some of the design origins.

According to the Pokédex:

It lived in snowy areas for so long that its fire sac cooled off and atrophied. It now has an organ that generates cold instead.

The colder they get, the more energetic they are. They freeze their breath to make snowballs, using them as ammo for playful snowball fights.

When it evolves into Darmantian using the ice stone, it takes on a form resembling its Unovan counterpart. It now has a large snowball on its head which it uses along with its Zen Mode ability.

In Unova, Darmanitan is classified as the “Blazing Pokémon” due to its “hot-blooded” attitude. When it enters Zen Mode, its demeanor becomes calm. In Galar, Darmanitan maintains its “Zen Charm Pokémon” classification as it does not appear to become too aggressive.

According to the Pokédex:

On days when blizzards blow through, it comes down to where people live. It stashes food in the snowball on its head, taking it home for later.

Though it has a gentle disposition, it’s also very strong. It will quickly freeze the snowball on its head before going for a headbutt.

This changes when its Zen Mode ability activates, although it may be exiting the Zen Mode rather than entering it. Its form changes to that of a snowman with a fake face that emits fire. The snow on its head becomes a head of snow.

According to the Pokédex:

Anger has reignited its atrophied flame sac. This Pokémon spews fire everywhere as it rampages indiscriminately.

Darmanitan takes this form when enraged. It won’t stop spewing flames until its rage has settled, even if its body starts to melt.

In this form its attack and speed stats jump up as its rage grows, rather than its defenses and special attack increasing with the Unovan Zen Mode. As its flame sac returns, it now gains a secondary Fire-typing rather than Psychic-typing.

This makes it the only Fire/Ice-type Pokemon in the series, and its descriptions show why. The contradictions of fire and ice together could be dangerous to itself as its own icy body starts to melt. As this form only activates when it gets below 50% health, it is likely to keep burning until it faints.

While not the most obvious selection for a snowman-based Pokemon, the new forms for Darumaka and Darmanitan present an interesting reversal on its original Buddhist inspiration. Now it becomes more aggressive as it gets weaker.


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Nick Felker

I'm an engineer at Google. In my spare time, I've been an avid Pokemon fan since Gold & Silver, and have spent many long hours walking around New York City with Pokemon Go open on my phone.