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Pika-who? Pokémon Concierge has made me a Psyduck lover now

Can we all be Psyduck fans now?

A still from the stop-animation show Pokemon Concierge. It shows Haru and Pysduck sitting outside and eating ice cream. The Pysduck is cuddled up next to her. Pysduck is made with a fuzzy, felt-like cloth. Image: dwarf studios/Netflix
Ana Diaz (she/her) is a culture writer at Polygon, covering internet culture, fandom, and video games. Her work has previously appeared at NPR, Wired, and The Verge.

Step aside, Pikachu! Pokémon has found its new star, and that glittering beacon is a round yellow duck with chronic headaches. Psyduck is the scene-stealing pal of Pokémon Concierge, a new stop-motion animated Pokémon series from Netflix and dwarf studios. Like any good Pokémon show, this series contains plenty of cute little guys to go gaga over, but Psyduck stands out from the crowd. Pokémon Concierge is pure Psyduck propaganda, and I’m here for it.

Pokémon Concierge follows a young woman named Haru as she takes a new job working at a Pokémon resort. In her role, she must keep the Pokémon happy and make sure they’re having fun (the concierge to the Pokémon, if you will). At first, she has trouble finding the perfect Pokémon partner, but after a chance encounter, she sets her heart on befriending Psyduck, who goes on to be her main bud for the show.

If you want to love this Psyduck, all you need to do is see the dang duck do anything. I love the way it scrunches up its eyes when it uses its psychic powers or the look of absolute horror as it goes underwater despite being a water-type Pokémon. No matter what, Psyduck delivers. Even the way it rides in the scooter — it makes an adorable sound to the hum of the motor — is iconic. In another moment, you can see it put a regular old shell up to its ear, presumably to try and hear the ocean. Every scene with Psyduck is like viewing a brief, but fleeting moment of pure, unadulterated thoughtless bliss.

A still from the stop-animation show Pokemon Concierge. It shows Haru and Psyduck sitting outside and decorating floaties. The Psyduck is closing its eyes and trying to listen to a sound in the shell. Image: dwarf studios/Netflix

The Psyduck redemption arc feels especially notable given the historical treatment of the Pokémon in other series. Haru has a Pikachu-print scarf and fangirls over a group of Pikachu that visit the resort. (Hilariously enough, one of her co-workers comments on this: “Another hopeless Pikachu lover.”) But even her love of Pikachu can’t take away from the irresistible charms of Psyduck. When assigning Pokémon to specific flavors of candy, she says, “And the yellow one is Pika— I mean, it’s Psyduck,” and the once-shy duck snuggles right up to her.

OLM, the animation studio behind the original anime, picked Pikachu to be the mascot because of its popularity with young kids in the early years of the franchise. Today, Pikachu is the powerhouse behind Pokémon: Pikachu has been featured in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade for over 20 years. Pikachu was the only Pokémon that stuck with Ash from season to season in the anime. It also gets to be on an overwhelming amount of merch and stars as many of the themed plushies. There’s a Pikachu train, and Pikachu even gets entire Pikachu parades.

Few others have withstood the all-shining stardom of the electric mouse. Sure, Eevee has become the second-string mascot and Charizard gets to be in a lot of games, but no Pokémon has ever come close to Pikachu. In Pokémon Concierge, we do meet an adorable Pikachu, but this Pikachu doesn’t get the prized role of being the pal of the main character. Now that honor goes to Psyduck!

As a kid, I remember watching the original Pokémon anime with Misty’s Psyduck. She verbally abused her Psyduck and openly hated it. It was portrayed as being unreliable and dumb. Because of this, I sort of wrote off Psyduck as a dud of a Pokémon. However, I leave my viewing of Pokémon Concierge a changed woman: I will not ever tolerate any kind of Psyduck slander ever again — even from Misty.

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