7 Things You Didn’t Want to Know About Lickitung’s Tongue

There’s a new trailer out for Detective Pikachu, the upcoming live-action Pokemon film staring Ryan Reynolds as Not Ash’s Pikachu and Justice Smith as Not Ash. It’s mostly the same stuff they’ve shown before, with the exception of our first glimpse at Lickitung, as seen above.

Everyone has an opinion about whether this “realistic” take on Lickitung is disgusting. Personally, I think it pales in comparison to the cosmic horror that is this thing and its varicose eyelid veins, but I get why some people are upset. Lickitung in the anime is a sweet little goofy baby, and while the show does acknowledge that getting licked by one is gross, it’s always played off as silly gross, and never, like, grotesque.

And that’s the true inaccuracy here, I think. I don’t think Detective Pikachu‘s Lickitung is the one that got it wrong. I’m here to argue that this new, glistening Lickitung is the first accurate representation put forth by The Pokemon Company. My supporting arguments will be made below, as I list out seven things you probably didn’t want to know about Lickitung.

The Tongue Is Prehensile

Lickitung’s tongue isn’t just huge — it’s also the Pokemon’s primary appendage for manipulating the world. The tongue is capable of a greater range of motion than its arms and hands, according to the Pokemon Yellow Pokedex, which makes Lickitung a kind of gross(er), tongue-based, land-dwelling spider monkey.

The Tongue Is over Two Meters Long

While most Lickitung are between three and four feet tall, the creature’s tongue can grow to a length of more than two meters. That’s nearly seven imperial feet for us norteamericanos, or to put it in more tangible terms, around the length of a king-size bed. Your average Lickitung could lick the length of an average human body all at once, stem to stern, and probably still have some tongue left over.

There is no readily available, official information about Lickitung tongue width, unfortunately, so I can’t definitively say whether the Lickitung would also be able to wrap the human up completely, like a big tongue burrito.

Hopefully the next fully-fledged entry in the Pokemon series will include this data in its Pokedex. For what it’s worth, a human/tongue “pig in a blanket” scenario would likely be possible given the current data.

The Tongue Is Unbelievably Sticky

The anime always framed Lickitung’s tongue as being wet, yet smooth, like an oversized dog tongue, but the games paint a different picture. According to the Pokemon Silver Pokedex, a Lickitung’s tongue is “slathered with a thick gooey saliva,” which is sticky enough to adhere to anything. Several Pokedex entries from various Pokemon games refer to this as being “very useful,” but fail to elaborate how exactly.

The Tongue Stinks

According to the Pokemon: Ultra Moon Pokedex, “whatever [Lickitung] licks always stinks afterwards,” implying that the viscous, gluey saliva covering its two meter long tongue also smells bad. Since Lickitung uses its extremely prehensile tongue to clean its entire body — like some kind of advanced ultra-cat — this would mean that Lickitung itself also constantly stinks. As will you, after becoming a human/tongue pig in a blanket.

The Spit Causes a Rash

Trainers have long known that a lick from Lickitung’s tongue can induce a state of paralysis on the lickee. In fact, this is one of the Pokemon’s strongest and most useful attributes in battle. Based on how it’s portrayed in the anime, I had always assumed that Lick paralysis was mental paralysis; the result of a mind shattered after an unimaginable experience. My assumption, I’ve now learned, was incorrect.

Brief exposure to a Lickitung’s saliva can cause a “tingling sensation,” according to the Pokemon Red, LeafGreen, and Black 2 Pokedexes, whereas prolonged contact causes humans to “break out in a rash,” according to Ultra Sun. This undeniably implies that Lickitung spit contains some form of naturally occurring toxin, which has both neuromuscular and dermatological properties. As far as I’ve been able to find, Pokemon researchers have yet to determine if Lickitung saliva works presynaptically by inhibiting acetylcholine synthesis in the brain, or postsynaptically by affecting acetylcholine receptors on the muscle.

The Tongue Is Crammed Full of Nerves

The Pokedexes contained in Pokemon Gold, HeartGold, and Stadium 2 all make mention of “well-developed nerves that run to the very tip” of Lickitung’s tongue, and I’m just gonna let that sit on your brain like it’s sitting on mine.

The Tail “Quivers” During Tongue Use

Finally, one last bit of upsetting implication from the handheld games. According to Pokemon Platinum, Black, and White, a Lickitung’s tail “quivers” when it extends its tongue. “There is a possibility they are connected,” the Pokedexes read. Black 2 and White 2 further this unsettling image by saying that “extending its tongue retracts its tail,” which implies that, under gruesome enough circumstances, it might be possible for a Lickitung to turn itself inside out.

In summation, Detective Pikachu hasn’t somehow maligned, misrepresented, or otherwise tarnished the respectable image of Lickitung. To quite the contrary, Detective Pikachu is the first Pokemon property brave enough to portray Lickitung as what it really is: a smelly, poisonous monster. And if you can’t love it for who it really is, maybe you don’t deserve to be wrapped up in gooey, stinking human/tongue pig-in-a-blanket.

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Jordan Mallory

Jordan Mallory is a 10-year games industry veteran with more heart than sense. Lover of frogs and dedicated Girls' Generation S♥NE. Mr. August, Men of Game Development 2015.

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