Murkrow and Honchkrow (and the Dark Type)

Way back in our first-generation reviews, I said I'd hold off on talking about the dark type until we arrived at the first one ever actually revealed, and today's the day! The lovable Murkrow was one of the first few Gold & Silver pokemon ever leaked, which makes it the entire world's introduction to the dark type, and a corvid couldn't be more fitting, let alone a gloomy, ragged looking corvid whose feathers evoke a broom and a witch's hat (AND I CAN'T BELIEVE I WAS APPARENTLY IN A MINORITY FOR NOTICING THAT). A superb design. I just love the awkwardness of Murkrow's little pencil neck, oversized head, crooked schnozz, scrappy looking feathers and that look of morose weariness in its eyes, excellently capturing our image of crows as unscrupulous, scheming pests. SOLID five here, love this little goth bird.

Now, interesting thing about the dark type, and another reason a sneaky corvid works so well with it: a lot of fans think of this type as representing some sort of "elemental shadow energy" or the power of "the night," but that's really only one of its incidental visual motifs. The central idea of dark type becomes clear when you look at its move names:

"Beat Up"
"Fake Tears"
"Foul Play"
"Nasty Plot"
"Sucker Punch"

Dark type's focal theme isn't actual, literal darkness at all, but good old treachery. The darkness in our hearts. There's a very common concept in Japanese entertainment that "chaotic" and "unfair" battle tactics constitute a kind of "fighting style" all their own, and an attempt to trip, startle or blind an opponent is the classic sign of a villainous character in any choreographed battle.

This is why dark-type pokemon take double damage from fighting and fairy moves, because fighting types are the "honorable," disciplined martial artists, and fairy pokemon, too, tend to focus on themes of purity and order.

It's also, incidentally, why dark types take double damage from bug moves, and why bug and fighting are weak to one another simultaneously, or "evenly matched" as it were; because Japanese pop culture overwhelmingly associates insects with superheroes.

"Dark" pokemon are defined not so much by their "scariness" or an affinity for the night as they are by their lack of honor. They're bullies, cheaters and villains. They are pretty much just asshole-type pokemon, and that's hilarious.

So our first taste of a sneaky, conniving type was a sneaky, conniving crow, but poor little Murkrow's low stats and lack of an evolution would relegate it to the sidelines until, once again, the fourth generation came to its rescue.


Honchkrow sort of looks like it upgraded from a "witch" to a "wizard," (AND I ESPECIALLY CAN'T BELIEVE I'M ONE OF THE ONLY PEOPLE WHO SAW THE PATENTLY OBVIOUS WIZARD ASPECT, SHEEEEEESH IT'S RIGHT THERE, COME ON, THE "DON" THING IS ONLY HALF OF IT AT BEST) which I guess follows thematically and all, and I suppose its newfound look of confidence does as well, but lots of pokemon look that way. There's nothing really special or unique to be had here.

Murkrow looks like a gangly, sarcastic dork. The Daria of flying-type pokemon. I related to Murkrow. Murkrow felt like an underdog. Maybe I'd have liked Honchkrow if its beak were just a little more bent, its feathers just a little more disheveled, its eyes just a little baggier and sleepier, but as-is, I simply can't bring myself to care half as much about this pompous bird as poor little Murky.

Who does this beardo think he is!?