The Stylish Cyndaquil Design.

Good day, Pokémon Trainers! Have you ever noticed how certain events in Pokémon GO give special attention to a single Pokémon or the community itself tends to hype a new Pokémon up? Have you ever wondered why this Pokémon specifically and what its origins are?

Well, that's where the Dashing Design series comes in! I'll be your guide as we take a look at the franchise history, concept, and potential design inspirations of specific Pokémon. And this time, the fire-quilled starter from Johto returns for this month's community day classic. So let's take a look at the newly buffed starter from Johto, Cyndaquil!

Franchise History
As mentioned in the intro, Cyndaquil is a starter/ first partner Pokémon from Johto. This also means it's one of the oldest Pokémon covered here in Dashing Design. To be more precise, Cyndaquil is a Pokémon introduced in Generation Two. Generation Two encompasses the Pokémon Gold, Pokémon Silver, and Pokémon Crystal lineup of video games. With Gold and Silver later getting remakes in Generation Four with Pokémon HeartGold and Pokémon SoulSilver. Cyndaquil reprises its role as the Fire type starter in these games.

Being one of the starters of the very second generation of Pokémon, of course, Cyndaquil appears in many places other than the mainline games as well. As far as the anime series are concerned, the protagonist, Ash catches a Cyndaquil in Episode 141 of the original series and it becomes a permanent part of Ash's team for the remainder of his Johto journeys. One of the seasonal protagonists other than Ash also ends up with a Cyndaquil. As the female protagonist, Dawn, also hatches a Cyndaquil from an egg in the first special episode of Pokémon the Series: Diamond and Pearl. Not only that, in The Legend of Thunder!, a part of a side series called Pokémon Chronicles, one of the protagonists, Jimmy has Cyndaquil's evolved form, Typhlosion, as his partner Pokémon.

Cyndaquil also makes appearances in various Manga. This includes Exbo the Cyndaquil, who appears in the popular Pokémon Adventures manga series. Other than these, Cyndaquil is also the starter in a more recent mainline game, Pokémon Legends: Arceus, alongside the 7th Generation starter Rowlett and the 5th Generation starter, Oshawatt.

Etymology and Design

Cyndaquil's name is decidedly simple. It's a combination of “Cinder” (Typically meaning partly burnt coal or wood) and “Quill” (A type of spiked protrusion some animals have on their back). Thankfully Cyndaquil's Japanese name goes a bit further. It's Hinoarashi. Very likely a combination of Hi (Meaning Fire) and Yama-Arashi (Meaning Porcupine). Hi No Arashi, read separately like this can also mean “Storm of Fire” or “Storm of Flame”. Rather directly referring to its pure Fire typing.

On first impression, Cyndaquil looks like some kind of small, four-legged mammalian animal. This assumption would be accurate, as about every Pokédex and other materials refer to Cyndaquil as the “Fire Mouse” Pokémon. Which is a name shared by a Chinese folklore creature. But hold on, as we saw in the etymology section, Cyndaquil's Japanese name seems to be taken partly from the Japanese name for porcupines. So which one is accurate?

Well, it might actually not be a problem or a contradiction in the first place. Porcupines and mice both fall under the rodent category and “mouse” is a common enough word where it is sometimes used to mean rodent. So yes, Cyndaquil is a porcupine. This is made more obvious when Cyndaquil's back is lit up on fire.

Cyndaquil's back can light up on fire like this. And when it does, it looks similar to the spiky quills that can be seen on porcupines. Granted, porcupines aren't the only animals to have quills on their backs. As any Sonic fan can tell you, Echidnas and Hedgehogs can have them too. To me, Cyndaquil's snout definitely looks akin to those seen on Echidnas. So they could be a potential inspiration.

But the main inspiration, I think, is definitely porcupines. Cyndaquil even has different colored fur on its front and back. Similar to how certain porcupine quills start with darker tones but become more white-colored the further up the tip you go. Giving them a sort of dual coloration. Though to be fair, the same can often be seen in hedgehogs as well.

An additional Note
Despite their imposing appearance, porcupines are herbivorous animals. And even echidnas and hedgehogs really only pray on small critters, such as insects. The quills mostly exist to deter predators. When they feel threatened, these animals extend their quills out and often roll into a ball. They do so to scare away predators and avoid direct confrontations.

This is actually properly represented in both Cyndaquil's Pokédex entries and moves. It can naturally learn moves such as Defense Curl and Rollout in the mainline games. And its Pokédex entries make mention of its timid nature and how it curls up into a ball. Just for one example, here's the Pokémon Gold Pokédex entry:

“It is timid, and always curls itself up in a ball. If attacked, it flares up its back for protection.”

Quilava And Typhlosion
Just like every Dashing Design prior, our look into Cyndaquil isn't complete without taking a look at its evolutions. So let's take a look at:

Cyndaquil's evolution into Quilava may seem standard at first. It grows larger, now having a more elongated figure. Its head is also now less pointed, and more rounded. However, these changes actually seem to hint at a more significant change in Quilava's design inspirations from that of Cyndaquil.

Quilava now looks more similar to a Mustelid. Further enhanced by the fact that the flames on its back have now concentrated on its head and back. As such it looks more like a tuft of fur and a tail respectively. Rather than quills.

But anyways, many long, carnivorous, hunting animals make up the Mustelid family. This family includes the likes of ferrets, badgers, and weasels. Otters also fall under this category. Which would make the previously mentioned Oshawatt line a relative to the Cyndaquil line.

Another interesting thing to note about Quilava is that while it keeps the “Quil” part of Cyndaquil's name, the Cinder has now been replaced with Lava. This is true for its Japanese name as well. Magmarashi keeps the “Arashi” but removes “Hi” with Magma. To understand why that is let's move on over to the final stage in the Cyndaquil line:

The change from Quilava to Typhlosion is even more subtle. It still largely looks like a Mustelid. Its body is now larger, more triangular and sharper, more ferocious looking overall. Its front legs are now more claw-like to add to the ferocity. And the flaming tail on its back as Quilava has now been replaces with a tuft that looks like an actual tail. Now leaving an explosive flame only at the back of its neck.

So…what's up with that? The flames certainly don't look like quills anymore. Well, the answer lies in Typhlosion's name. Typhoon + Explosion. A natural calamity and a burst. The same is true for its Japanese name Bakphoon as well. The meaning is the same. To explain why this is relevant let me provide you with another dex entry. From the Pokémon Silver Pokédex:

“It has a secret, devastating move. It rubs its blazing fur together to cause huge explosions.”

This secret move is referring to the move: Eruption. As in a volcanic eruption. That is what the explosion in its name comes from. And why Quilava's name refers to lava. The flame on the back of Typhlosion's neck is meant to represent a volcano erupting. Typhlosion is a walking calamity!

And there we go! Honestly, I'm super happy to do this one as Cyndaquil is one of my favorite starters. And really, one of my most favorite Pokémon in general. However, I tend to think of early generation Pokémon as having rather clear and direct inspiration. But with Mareep and now with Cyndaquil, it's very interesting to see how even earlier on in the franchise's history, they were blending in elements from multiple sources.

Cyndaquil goes from a timid porcupine with a cinder of a flame to a ferocious mustelid with the power of a volcanic explosion! Quite fitting for a Fire starter meant to follow in the footsteps of the mighty Charizard. Oh, and if you want to read more about Typhlosion from Hisui, we have that covered as well. And this is why, Cyndaquil's design, is quite dashing!

Goodbye for now, Pokémon trainers. Priom-out!

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