Among the many crowning glories of Detective Pikachu is its ability to marry the cartoony designs of the original games with the photorealism of a live-action film. We buy into Detective Pikachu as a corporeal being because he looks a) exactly like what we know on a cellular level to be a Pikachu and b) like a cuddly critter.
A lot of this comes from concept artist RJ Palmer, who was hired to develop concepts for Pokémon for the film based on the strength of his realistic Pokémon fanart. (Sidebar: The next time someone tells you to take your fanart out of your portfolio, hit them with your portfolio.) Palmer’s work, alongside the work of countless other designers and concept artists, help take these familiar concepts and root them in reality. Every Pokemon we encounter in the film feels rooted in real-world animals, from dogs (Growlithe) to cats (Sneasel) to kangaroos (Mewtwo, obvs).
Except, of course, for one: Mr. Mime, who is clearly the product of a mad scientist and defnitely not PokéMother Nature. Case-in-point: his joints are kickballs.
Yeah, take a closer peep next time you can bring yourself to look directly upon his maddening form. His shoulders and hip are all made of those familiar, textured rubber balls school children and grown adults throw at each other for participation grades and leisure, respectively. There’s even seams where the “skin” (I’m not sorry) of each ball was joined together by some mechanized horror.
You may be charitable and propose that maybe Mr. Mime has armored himself with kickballs purloined from a nearby high school. To that I say “yikes” and also that doesn’t explain why his enormous belly button is also made out of kickball rubber. I think the only conclusion is obvious: he’s a man-made monster. A Pocket Monster, if you will.
In terms of effortlessly communicating both familiarity and deep, deep unease, Mr. Mime’s kickball joints are a coup of character design.