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These Are Your 3 New Pokémon Starters, Reviewed by Two Experts

Few rituals hold as much importance as the one Nintendo performed today: The three new starter Pokémon were revealed.

It only happens once every few years, and it happened again today. Whenever Nintendo releases another version of Pokémon (this year, the pair of games are Sun and Moon), players are presented with three new fighting monsters. This is a momentous occasion for Pokémon fans (a group that includes … nearly every single person in the U.S. and Japan under the age of 30), and experts such as ourselves are closely watching the announcement.

You can see the new trailer and our very thorough analysis of the new Pokémon below.

Brian Feldman: Even before we get to the new Pokémon, I would like to point out that Professor Oak looks super chill.

Christine Friar: Yes! Everything is, like, vacation-themed. The guy who presents these three new Pokémon to you is wearing a yellow kimono and looks blissed as fuck. Take me there.

BF: That guy is ready to party, for sure. It’s weird that vacation in Pokémon is just the same as normal life: You’re still making small creatures fight.

CF: You have a belt of sweet hostages who have to listen to your every command. But now there are palm trees.

BF: “Hey, guys, let’s take a break from fighting, and go fight … on an island.”

CF: “I’m wiped from telling you guys which fights to fight, so let’s hop over to this island, and I’ll tell you what to do there.”

BF: Do you have any thoughts on the new starters overall as a group?

CF: Initial reactions: Litten is who I would probably choose (even though I could see it being a throwaway vanity plate of a Pokémon, like an Eevee). And I think the owl has a surprising number of traits for a starter. Flying and grass are two types! Usually they’re just like, “I’m blue, which means water; I make bubbles.”

How about you?

BF: Oh, man, Nintendo knocked it two-thirds of the way out of the park. Litten and Rowlet: great; love them. Popplio: absolutely not.

BF: I guess we should just get this out of the way: I hate Popplio already.

CF: Talk to me about that.

BF: Look at Popplio’s face! Popplio is a child. Like, a circus-dog-seal? No. Popplio is going to get stomped.

CF: The sound he makes is “bwark.” But he says it with a question mark — “bwark?” — which I think is very telling.

BF: Indecision will get you killed in Pokéland.

CF: Popplio is not an aggro battle Pokémon. He is … a goof.

Can I show you maybe his one redeeming trait?

BF: Sure.

CF: The pose he does around :54 is very endearing.

BF: That is, I will admit, a great pose. I guess I just have a beef with clownish Pokémon. It’s a terrible gimmick.

CF: He’s definitely a clown.

BF: Popplio with his goddamn Patch Adams nose.

CF: What would it take for you to pick Popplio over the other two?

BF: Each of these guys has another two evolutions, so if his next two are crazy-cool, I could see pushing through the early stages with Popplio.

CF: Right, like if that hands-on-hips pose manifested into a prissy business seal down the road I think I could get onboard. If he remains a benign tumor with large sympathetic eyes, I cannot imagine ever electing to give a shit.

BF: I figured it out: I don’t like the Pokémon that are literally wearing clothes.

CF: Holy shit. You’re right.

BF: Otherwise, that’s … some sort of flesh collar? WTF.

CF: That word pair.

CF: Wait, Rowlet has a leaf bow tie. And you stan for him.

BF: I go hard for Rowlet; let’s talk about Rowlet. The bowtie is not really a bowtie; it just looks like it, which is cute.

CF: Oh, yeah, the tail is green. I just referenced the trailer. Green feathers in the shape of a bow tie.

BF: Right, I love that stuff. Same reason I love how penguins look like they are wearing tuxedos. They’re naturally fancy birds.

Okay, at 00:40, do you see what I see?


BF: That’s an Exorcist demon move.

CF: The slow pan of his head turning to face forward again could be pretty chilling with a different soundtrack.

Rowlet … sees you

Rowlet … has been watching this whole time.

BF: Rowlet sees all. I don’t think Rowlet can close his eyes. He is cursed to see all things and bear witness.

CF: Fuck. He also has the only exclamation of this lineup: “Koo!” Decisive daddi.

BF: Not to read too much into it, but:

Flying = heaven, angel

Grass = six feet under, grave, dead

Rowlet is caught between two planes of existence.

CF: His purgatory is being your fight servant.

I just imagined what he might evolve into for the first time. For some reason the idea of just a much bigger owl is very satisfying.

BF: Right, the same shape. Just a larger feather orb.

CF: Very large skull. Huge pupil-only eyes

BF: I would not be surprised if Rowlet hacked up a pellet, and it was the bones of Pikachu.

BF: All right, let’s discuss what we really came here to discuss: Litten. A perfect Pokémon. A real “me IRL.”

CF: Truly. Its punctuation is an ellipsis — “Mrowr … ” — which, same.

BF: I made that exact same noise getting out of bed this morning.

CF: Also, I like that its mouth is one of these: ^

BF: Yeah, that and the flat-topped eyes. He can’t open them more than halfway.

CF: I was telling my friend Tom earlier that it looks like a pissed-off step-daughter. Which is honestly how every Pokémon should look.

BF: Yes.

CF: Their quality of life is so low! When you release a small fighting monster from your ball-prison to fight a random opponent, its attitude should be “What fresh bullshit is this?”

BF: “Ugh, again?” Litten is, like, the meta Pokémon, who understands that Pokémon is a grind. Litten’s just trying to make it to Friday.

CF: It literally cleans its face before it attacks, like, “I’ll get to it, just give me a sec. Got some other shit on my docket.”

BF: “Excuse you.”

CF: It’s a power move, TBH. Litten doesn’t need you. Litten humors you.

BF: Litten used Shade!

CF: Can you imagine?

Do you think they knew what they were doing with Litten, in terms of “it’s lit”?

BF: I want to believe they did, but in my heart I know that they were just referencing fire.

CF: In Pokémon Y you can give your Pokémon nicknames, like I have a Froakie named Sweetieboy. I wonder if Nintendo tracks the nicknames and was like, “Hmmm, everyone is naming their shit Woke and Lit and Bae.”

BF: I would keep it as Litten, TBH.

CF: Rowlet is obviously woke. Litten is lit.

BF: Popplio is a thirsty rando if there ever was one.

CF: I have to say I agree.

Legendary Pokémon

BF: How do you feel about the other guys at 1:20? Space Lion and … Space Bat?

CF: They are fucking wild-looking. I’ll be honest: The lion is pretty lame. Like, leading with that definitely buries the lede on this weird cyborg space-god aesthetic. Because that bat, hoo! That bat is gorgeous. When it becomes a glowing disc, it’s pretty peak.

How do you feel?

BF: I think they look great. My main hope is that we get to fight the legendaries in space, on their home turf, the sun or the moon.

CF: Oh, fuck. You’re right. Fly me to the moon, bat, that I may battle a Mew.

BF: If you had to spend most of your life as energy trapped in a tiny ball, only emerging to engage in combat, but at the end you got to go to space … would you do it?

CF: Wow, no. If the only stakes are “Christine gets to see space,” then no. Space is tight, but I don’t think I’d thrive there. How about you?

BF: Same. I’d also say no, but I’d think about it.

CF: I’d feel really lame for saying no. But, like, definitely no. Give me a phone and a couch and my agency.

BF: It does seem like a deal with the devil (Rowlet).

Okay, last question: sun or moon?

CF: Oooh, I think I gotta go moon. You?

BF: I’m gonna go sun, just because I’m definitely going to choose Litten, and I want a cool Fire Cat Duo.

CF: It does not get more lit than the sun.

Two Experts Discuss the 3 New Pokémon Starters