Okay, get a load of this. This here is an Azurill.
History has been kind to this little mouse, but that helps that it started out as kinda mean in the origin. Azurill is a particular type of Pokemon we tend to group as a baby Pokemon; when they first showed up, Azurill couldn’t be found in the wild, but you could breed one, and then it would evolve into a Marill, which you could encounter in the wild. This was some of that gameplay thingummy, where there were Pokemon that, if you wanted to catch ’em all, you’d have to, you know, make sure some of ’em all were even around to catch.
I’ve talked in the past about how the Pokemon games, thanks to a need for backwards compatability, could only introduce new systems through deriving information from previous systems. That meant until there was a major shakeup (translating across to an entirely new system in the Nintendo DS), all the strange stuff from Generation 1 lasted throughout. That included gender being a derived value, and that meant that the way that gender derived could – accidentally – be mistaken.
If you’re not familiar, back in Generation 2 when the gender rules were set out, it was derived – sort of – by checking the Pokemon’s physical attack stat, then checking that against a distribution range. So if the physical attack stat ranged from 1-16, and the Pokemon had a 50/50 split of genders, Pokemon with attack stats from 1-8 would be girls, and 9-16 would be boys. Yeah this meant that physical attacking Pokemon were better off being boys, one of many ways that back in the day, Pokemon liked to feed into some gender essentialism. This was shifted in Generation 3, where instead, it tracked a personality value – sort of. It gets into binary math at that point.
Here’s where this gets weird, though.
Azurill are only 25% male.
Marill, the thing Azurill evolves into, are 50% male.
You could probably work out a whole easy explanation for this. After all, if a percent of female Azurill never evolve and remain Am Baby their whole lives, then the remaining population that evolve into Marill can sort out that population distribution. Thing is, the game doesn’t do that. The game just derives the value for gender on Azurill and on Marill.
That means that if you’ve got a Azurill whose ‘gender value’ stat was 1-8, it’s female. If it’s 13-16, then it’s male and unremarkable. For those Azurill with a ‘gender value’ of 9-12, though, when they evolve from Azurill to Marill, they go from being female to being male. It’s the same game entity, it’s not doing anything strange, it’s just once where it was getting the female symbol and the game treated it as if it was female… now it’s male. Bam!
Does this mean that Gamefreak secretly were setting up one of my favourite Pokemon to have a potential example of being a powerful transmasc hero in their backstory? Oh absolutely not, that’s silly as heck, it absolutely isn’t about that.
But y’know what, I’ll take it.
I really like Azumarill.