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Pokémon Scarlet and Violet’s new Pokémon was inspired by a real painted forest

Likely based off Basque Country’s Oma Forest, which is filled with painted trees

A tree with four painted lines of color: blue yellow pink and green Image: Game Freak/The Pokémon Company, Nintendo
Nicole Carpenter is a senior reporter specializing in investigative features about labor issues in the game industry, as well as the business and culture of games.

A new Pokémon was revealed this morning, Grafaiai — a playful Pokémon iteration on the long-figured lemurs called Aye-ayes. Grafaiai is another Pokémon that’ll show up in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, a unique creature that’s made its home in the games’ Paldea region.

The colors that the “moody” Grafaiai paints depends on the berries it eats, the secretions of which come out of its ... long fingers, one of which is extra long? Sounds about right.

Not only is Grafaiai Pokémon’s take on a real-life lemur, but the Pokémon Company appears to be pulling inspiration from a real-life forest found in Basque Country in Spain. You see, Grafaiai paints on trees in a way that’s strikingly similar to Oma Forest. We’ve reached out to The Pokémon Company to confirm the connection, but haven’t heard back. But given the Spanish influence on the rest of Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, it’s probably not a coincidence.

Oma forest Detail of trees painted by artist Ibarrola in the Forest of Oma, Biscay province Photo by Luis Davilla/Cover/Getty Images

Artist Agustin Ibarrola painted the forest’s pine trees in 1984, according to Basque Country’s tourism website. Ibarrola made all sorts of marks on the trees — together, and from different angles and perspectives, the marks create different pictures.

The original forest was closed to the public a few years back after the forest was damaged by disease. The colorful forest now has a new site nearby, where the original paintings have been reproduced on new trees by restoration experts, artists, and conservators. The new forest is open to visitors on guided tours now, but will close again to paint more trees — 700 in total, 200 more than the 500 that stood in the original Oma Forest. The process is expected to be finished in 2023; until then, perhaps, the closest way to get a look will be in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet’s recreation.

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