In this recurring series, I’ll analyze the origins of Pokémon designs, their culture, and their historical allusions to British culture.
The three starter Pokemon take their inspiration from contemporary British culture. In the case of Sobble, it is inspired by the British espionage.
Sobble’s name is a combination of “sob” and “bubble”, describing its tearful nature. Visually it is inspired by lizards. In particular it resembles a veiled chameleon. It is a reptile that comes from the Middle East.
This chameleon shares the same bright blue and yellow coloring, as well as the casque at the top of Sobble’s head. Its forehead even shares some purple coloring that is adopted by Drizzile.
As Sobble is easily frightened, its chameleon nature allows it to camouflage into the background. This skill is later useful in its life as it grows up and gains confidence.
When scared, this Pokémon cries. Its tears pack the chemical punch of 100 onions, and attackers won’t be able to resist weeping.
When it gets wet, its skin changes color, and this Pokémon becomes invisible as if it were camouflaged.
The Pokedex entry suggests its crying is not simply due to being sad but may be a chemical response. The chameleon does not have such a defense mechanism, but there are examples of lizards that use chemical defenses.
The Texas Horned Lizard is an American horned lizard that has the ability to constrict its blood flow to its head, forcing it to be shot out of its eyes. The blood is mixed with a chemical that smells and tastes terrible to predators. Sobble seems to be expelling tears from its eyes, but it seems like it’s a mild reference to this lizard.
Drizzile has a continued resemblance to the veiled chameleon, sharing the same colors. It is now standing up, and its once large fin has turned into three smaller fins that resemble hair in its eyes. Its name seems to be a combination of “drizzle” and “reptile”.
A clever combatant, this Pokémon battles using water balloons created with moisture secreted from its palms.
Highly intelligent but also very lazy, it keeps enemies out of its territory by laying traps everywhere.
At this point it has begun to gain some confidence and intelligence. It does continue to remain in a position of camouflage, rather using traps in order to keep enemies away. It no longer cries, now generating water from its palms.
The veiled chameleon in particular is good at collecting moisture. Living in the dry terrain of the Middle East, the chameleon’s casque collects moisture in the air which then drips into its mouth. Drizzile’s body seems designed to easily absorb moisture and use it in battle.
Inteleon becomes a fantastic agent of espionage. It has grown much taller, and skinnier, allowing it to move around swiftly. Its casque has returned, larger than before, and its back now has an extra flap of skin that allows it to glide moderately well.
Inteleon’s design in some ways alludes to James Bond, a famous fictional British spy. James Bond originates in a book series by writer Ian Fleming in the early 1950s. Ian Fleming worked in intelligence for the British navy during World War II, which gave him the background to write expertly.
James Bond is in the British Secret Intelligence Service, known as MI6. This agency formed in 1909 with the goal of collecting intelligence from foreign nations. During the world wars, this service became invaluable through the practice of espionage, collecting information about enemies and using that to win battles.
As World War II ended and the Cold War began, espionage continued. Finding information about the Soviet Union during a period of relative peace often included infiltrating secure areas to steal information or serving as a double agent. If a spy was discovered, they’d be captured and tortured for information. Spies had to “take out” enemies before being spotted, or they’d have to make a quick getaway.
It sounds pretty thrilling. How much of that is actually true? It’s hard to say. Matters of secrecy are kept classified by governments, and so we can only surmise what spies do through popular media. James Bond is the longest running film series of all time, grossing over $7 billion in revenue. It’s been a big part of western film culture.
It has many hidden capabilities, such as fingertips that can shoot water and a membrane on its back that it can use to glide through the air.
Its nictitating membranes let it pick out foes’ weak points so it can precisely blast them with water that shoots from its fingertips at Mach 3.
The hidden capabilities of Inteleon may be a reference to Q, an employee of MI6 who creates gadgets for James Bond to use throughout the movie. Inteleon’s gadgets include small projectile weaponry and a hang glider. It has the exclusive move Snipe Shot, referencing the needs for a spy to snipe an enemy quickly.
In the Isle of Armor DLC, Inteleon gets a Gigantamax form. Its tail grows incredibly long, taking its height to over 131 feet. Using its newfound height, it forms a sniper tower, allowing it to take shots from a long distance. Its finger has now extended out to something resembling a harpoon.
The Pokémon website provides this information:
Inteleon has gained an extremely long tail thanks to Gigantamaxing. The tail’s length is said to be over 130 feet. While Gigantamaxed, Inteleon will stretch its long tail out and hold it straight to form a pillar, and Inteleon will take up a battle position at the top. This Pokémon has an incredibly sharp mind and calculates the precise effects that gravity will have on the trajectory of its shots, enabling it to be an extremely effective sniper.
Inteleon has many hidden tools within its body, and these have also been enhanced due to its Gigantamaxing. The nictitating membranes on its eyes not only allow it to measure the distance to the target—they now let Inteleon detect temperature, air pressure, and even humidity! Inteleon is a skilled sniper as well—easily hitting a Berry that’s rolling around over nine miles away!
Inteleon’s nicitating membrame that common to many types of lizards. It is a translucent eyelid that allows it to blink without blocking its vision. For a Pokémon focused around striking enemies with high precision, the ability to maintain its eyes on the target is critical.
Britain’s MI6 has played a large role in the country’s intelligence for over a century. Today many nations has espionage agencies in order to exfiltrate confidential information from other nations. Stealing matters of national secrecy is a dangerous job. The potential thrill of espionage has caused the character James Bond to become a large movie franchise.
Sobble, Drizzile, and Inteleon pay homage to this culture and history. With the design of a chameleon, an animal that is familiar with disguise, these Pokémon slowly evolve their confidence and their fighting ability. A defense mechanism of releasing chemically enhanced tears becomes water balloons and then a water gun. Even in its Gigantamax form, Inteleon serves its role as a great spy.
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