Starter Pokemon’s ‘Feminine’ Evolution Is Bothering Some Fans

Starter Pokemon’s ‘Feminine’ Evolution Is Bothering Some Fans

Poor Popplio can’t catch a break. First people hated Sun and Moon’s water starter because it was considered ugly. Yesterday, Game Freak revealed Popplio’s evolution, Brionne, leading some fans to feel like they have even more reason to dislike the evolution line.

The problem? Brionne looks too “feminine”. On social media, people are criticising Brionne’s dress-like design, along with its daintiness, for giving the Pokemon too much of a female air:

The main thing detractors are citing is that Popplio can be both a female or a male monster — so they dislike that the evolution seems to lean too heavily in a specific direction, rather than appearing “neutral”. Others may not outright hate Brionne’s design, but they still feel confused about its “feminine” appearance:

“I don’t know how I feel about the design, I just, I can’t get over — why would you make a starter so affectionately feminine?” said TheKingNappy, in a reaction video that mirrors a sentiment shared other YouTubers and commenters. “I don’t get it.”

The curious thing is, this type of design decision is nothing new for Pokemon. Some monsters are visually coded in a way that could be perceived very specifically (like Gardevoir, another Pokemon who appears to wear a dress), but the creatures will still available in a male and female form. Heck, Hitmonchan is a Pokemon that straight-up looks like it’s wearing a dress or skirt, but only actually exists as a male Pokemon. Machoke and Machamp are very beefy creatures, but that doesn’t mean the ‘mons are only males. In the real world, some people may choose to adhere closely to stereotypical gender norms, but when it comes to Pokemon designs, it’s not always as clear-cut. A dress-like design does not outright mean a Pokemon can only exist in the female form, and honestly, that should be considered a GOOD thing, not a threatening thing or a confusing thing. There’s no harm in it, other than letting a cute thing be cute.

While some fans cite gameplay reasons for their distress, the underlying issue is clear: Looking feminine is unfortunately considered a bad thing by some people. After all, femininity has stigma, including the assumption that it embodies weakness, vapidity or meekness. By looking “feminine”, Brionne isn’t afforded the chance to also be considered “cool” or “strong” by some people, and that sucks.

On the other end of the spectrum, we’ve now also got people rushing to Brionne’s defence, citing it’s femininity as a reason to cherish the monster. Just like Popplio gained a large defence squad after the initial backlash, Brionne also seems to be gaining a steady group of supporters who love it just the way it is. By the time you read this, Brionne’s cheering squad may actually outnumber the haters.

“Brionne always acts cheery and positive,” the official Pokemon lore states. “Even when [Brionne is] feeling sad, this Pokemon doesn’t allow its sorrow to show.”

Despite the bashing, I can picture Brionne standing tall, chest puffed out, happily standing by its trainer’s side. You may dislike Brionne for how it looks, but you’ll never gain the satisfaction of seeing it down because of it.


  • “Something something SJW.”

    One starter gets some flappy bits and it splits the internet in half like a g string at a twerk off.

    It’s pokemon, there’s like a thousand others at this point! Where was the outrage when bidoof showed up?!

    Stupid bidoof.

  • Wait…. not even individual Pokemon can escape the ‘don’t make me play as a girl’ issue in games? Ugh.

    • Well it’s not even an individual Pokemon, it’s a midway evolution.

      If you don’t like a Starter choose from the other ones, Also those leaked final evolution sketches are starting to look a bit more genuine now.

    • gen 1 jynx was before pokemon had the gender mechanic, post gen 1,jynx had 100% chance to be female. The main problem alot of people have with this is that it designed to look female but has 87.5% to be male. Seems silly design to me, if they made it so its a 100% to be female then its fine by me. But hey on the flip side it’s just a game

  • ugh, why is this even an issue? Don’t like it, don’t pick it. Just because people have issues with the pokemon, that’s thier issues. Don’t bring it back onto the rest of the world.
    Personally, I like it. Male or Female.

    • I don’t like it, but that’s because it looks like a clown and clowns are Wrong(tm). Hell, I was laughing about it with the GF yesterday morning… neither of us had a clue that THIS bullshit would be the complaint.

      • That’s a valid reason to dislike the design. I have no issues with people disliking the design because, say, they don’t like the colour blue. saying it’s too girly, is stupid though

  • Wth. People don’t know pokemon used to be gender less and both male and female is the same.

    Look at machop evolution line. Too manly for male? Female mr mime?

    These whiners that doesn’t even fucking play the game just like to go vocal and be toxic.

  • Ok, before this gets us all depressed about the state of the gaming community can we take a step back and look at who is being quoted here. It’s YouTube comments and random Tweets. These are places you go if you want to hear the most insane, ridiculous garbage you can imagine. These are the people bigots look down on for being stupid. It’s like building an article around the opinion of meth heads.

  • This article is the equivalent of David Koch asking me about the profit made by the big four banks in the last financial year.

    At 3am. Blind drunk. On a Sunday morning sitting on the curb. While eating a kebab.

  • I didn’t think it was too much of a big deal. There are a lot of pokemon that look more male or female, but that still have the opposite gender (Clefairy, Alakazam, Jigglypuff, Kirlia, Mr. Mime, Bellossom. Granted a lot are 50-50 ratio but at the end of the day, it’s just the way Pokemon is regarding genders most of the time.

    Personally I think the whole thing with Nidoqueen not being able to breed is more of an issue really.

    EDIT: Oh, and I just remembered Delphox. Personally I think if Brionne is subject to this, then I think it’s a bit silly something like Delphox isn’t (or it’s pre-evolutions).

  • I remember watching my Chespin evolve from his original cuteness.

    “No Chespin.. what are you doing? Stahp!”

    It just got worse as his forms shifted.

    • I had evolution regret with my Fennikin. At least the final form looked a bit better than the mid form, but it still looked bad compared to how cute the starter pokemon looked.

  • So its ok for starters to look more masculine eg Emboar, but give one a skirt and its all hell to pay.
    Grow up children, skirts are comfy as fuck and western society is lame for excluding them from men.

  • “Oh no I chose a starter Pokemon that now appears feminine and now my balls have shriveled up into my intestines and I think I’m growing breasts. I’m not racist… er, sexist… but this is too girly for me!”
    There’s a Pokemon that looks like a coffin, FFS. Quit yer cryin’ manbaby.

  • There are real issues in the world, people starving, the climate changing, war and hey remember when a commercial flight got shot down? But let’s focus on a Pokemon that looks too girly. Is it because they feel they can actually change some thing so irrelevant?

    I’m going with Rowlett still, I’m not a fan of the middle Evolution. I’m still excited for Sun and Moon. There’s a ton of cool changes, like the Pokemon in your PC actually get to hang out on an island Paradise and play rather than be stored in what I can only hope is Status.

  • No one wanting to talk about how much we push for men to desire masculinity and then we ridicule them when they oppose something that compromises their own “strong-man” image? Just look at blue and pink, you make something pink and all of a sudden you can’t play with it anymore if you’re a boy, it’s somehow wrong. It’s drilled into our brains from a young age and we oppose anyone who strays from the norm and yet here we are having a go at people who are just unfortunate productions of their environment’s beliefs and principles?

    Hell, this is a thing even in Japan, I’ve read in the past that some opinions held in Japan regarding muscled men indicate a belief of homosexuality, as it’s giving your own form a lot of attention(instead of a women’s, I guess?)

    But no, instead of having a better conversation let’s just continue the shit-show but on the opposite of the spectrum. Good fucking job you heroes, good job.

    • And if we were going to talk about design, in regards to whether there are “female or male” designs, I feel that majority of Pokemon are easily genderless in their appearance, and that it’s not really fair to bring in Gen 1 to the picture if you’re also going to be discussing the gender mechanic of the game as it didn’t exist in Gen 1, but that’s a really pedantic discussion thread.

      Also, remember that since the NES days video games have become less family and heavily targeted towards boys, that much is clear as day. Pokemon is also going the route because of Yokai Watch, if they hadn’t already done so, in marketing their game to young boys, so of course a feminine design is going to at least stick out like a saw thumb if not rile a couple people, justified or not.

      Speaks more to several issues in gaming in general that I feel aren’t being probably addressed, even by people who milk others for money to have an internet show discussing the very topic.

  • Honestly, it looks like it’s supposed to be performing in a circus, nothing particularly feminine about it. Also, even if it was feminine, so what?! The way these morons are going on it’s like being feminine (or female) is the worst thing in the world.
    I really don’t get why there are so many people complaining so vehemently. It’s a frickin digital animal in a VIDEO GAME!!! Don’t like it, pick something else!!

  • I love the way that people are going nuts over a feminine male pokemon, but they’ve never said a word about a female pokemon looking masculine.
    Oh how easy it is to shatter the fragile masculinity and trigger the sexism of society today.

  • The Popplio evolution line is rather disappointing not because of its typing or whether it is feminine or not, the problem lies with the execution of its design and aesthetics.

    Popplio it resembles that of a seal pup, it’s cute and looks happy go lucky.

    Brionne looks like it is wearing a poorly designed version of the Flamenco skirt, a slightly different looking clown nose and has odd clownish pompoms on its ears. The design would have looked better if the Flamenco skirt looked a little more realistic and was placed around where its navel would be rather than starting at its armpits. Other than that the Poke’mon looked rather interesting.

    Primarina looked rather cute, however the only thing I disliked about the Poke’mon was the spikes that jutted out where its waist would be.

  • The Popplio evolution line was a disappointment, at least it wasn’t as poorly executed as the Litten evolution line, trust me, it’s nowhere near as bad as the Litten evolution line.

    Litten is really cute, Torracat looks like a Litten that grew up in the wild and became feral. Incineroar makes absolutely no sense what so ever. It looks like a bipedal cat that has heavily abused steroids and its fire attacks come from its crotch, it’s practically urinating fire at its targets.

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