Greetings and salutations fellow forumers,
I am asking for help or advice here because Bulbapedia is seen as the most comprehensive Pokémon encyclopedia on the web by most accounts. Therefore I assume this community would be considered the most knowledgeable on this topic of Pokémon. My question revolves around Pokémon origins. While most fansites/people have consensus on the self explanatory Pokémon (an example of this would be Pikachu based on some sort of rodent) it seems there is no singular consensus on the basis of Eevee. A quick search on Google or any equivalent search engine yields contradictory results. While Bulbapedia states that Eevee's origin are predominantly vulpine, other sites contradict this; simply calling it feline. From what I have gleaned Eevee and its evolutions seem to have characteristic of cats, dogs, and foxes. However, the dominance of these characteristics seem to be heavily disputed. My question to you is: what animal is Eevee based off on?
I initially assumed that Eevee's origin's resides mostly in canids due to its first debut in the anime episode 40:The Battling Eevee Brothers where Eevee was presented bound to a leash and collar, while displaying behavior and demeanor reminiscent of a domestic dog. I also assumed that Eevee itself was vulpine due to it having the distinct brush tail and large ears aesthetically associated with foxes.
Images provided from Serebii.net Click photo to enlarge
I have compiled a list of reasons to substantiate this position mostly ascertained from multinational forums (such as the French and German forums) to Bulbapedia itself.
First and foremost, arguments in favor of Eevee being vulpine will mention biological plasticity; the foxes' ability to adapt to different environments. One can conclude that this may serve as the basis of Eevee's multiple evolutionary variants: apparently a testament to the foxes' hardiness.
Source:The Red fox shows what we call biological plasticity – in other words, they’re capable of adapting their form to handle different environments. The result is that Red foxes living in different parts of the world can look significantly different to each other. Consequently, there are currently 48 proposed subspecies of Vulpes vulpes, based on differences in size, skeleton, teeth, color, etc.
Wildlife Online - Natural History of the Red Fox
Eevee's design seems to have origins in Japanese mythology as it may be based on some sort of Yōkai: a supernatural being with magical powers. Bulbapedia outright mentions the Tanuki: the Japanese raccoon dog notorious for shape shifting. Be as that it may, the Tanuki is not the only Yōkai with that that notoriety; the Kitsune (fox) also shares this trait being able to take on different forms.
Oinari, Fox Spirit, God of Japan, Photo Dictionary of Japanese Buddhist & Shinto Deities
Then there are misconceptions of fox behavior: despite being clearly canine the fox actually displays behavior synonymous with felines. The paragraph below can give some insight on the Eeveelutions' behavior in the anime/Pokémon Amie.
SourceThe red fox is called the "cat-like" canine. Although quite obviously a member of the dog and wolf family of predators with overwhelming anatomical and behavior similarities to other canine species, the red fox's long, very thin canine teeth and its ventrally slit pupils with their well developed tapetum lucidum are extremely obvious cat-like features. These anatomical "cat-like" characteristics are accentuated by the fox's slinking, "mousing" hunting behaviors, and by its use of its sensitive front paws to capture and pin prey. Also, the red fox's sustained, piercing bite to effect a prey kill (as compared to the bite and shake killing method of most other canines) are remarkably cat-like in nature. The eye features unquestionally have evolved because of the nocturnal hunting behaviors of the fox. The teeth, use of paws to catch and pin prey and specific stalking behaviors are evolutionary strategies that are most efficient in the capture of small prey items like mice and voles. The "cat-like' nature of the red fox, then, is most logically due to the similarity of prey items and activity times that many cats and the red foxes share. One other cat-like behavior, though, that is not so easily explained is the lateral threat display used by foxes in aggressive displays (stand sideways, back arched, fur erect etc). This very classic "cat pose" seems out of place in the behavioral display of a canine.
The Virtual Nature Trail at Penn State New Kensington
Shredd, W. (2000). Owls aren't blind and bats aren't blind. New York: Three Rivers Press.
Examples of foxes in captivity
Fox go FLOOF - YouTube
Kevie meows - YouTube
The foxes' cat like behavior is a product of convergent evolution as vulpine and feline both share the same ecological niche. Some foxes such as the Blandford fox or Grey fox even have semi retractable claws. (Perhaps Eevee is based on convergent evolution between vulpine and feline. It would explain the inspiration of Espeon and Vaporeon (blatantly cat-like) or the existence of Jolteon and Flareon (blatantly dog-like) existing in the same evolutionary line.
Left: Sylveon Right: Blandford Fox Click photo to Enlarge
SourceDespite the resemblance, foxes are dogs not cats; the feline similarities are a result of convergent evolution, where two species look similar because they occupy a similar ecological niche and/or habitat. (Sharks and dolphins provide a good example of convergent evolution. They look very similar but aren’t related. They have evolved the same basic body shape because it works very well in aquatic habitats).
Wildlife Online - Natural History of the Red Fox
The Eeveelutions show both the desirable traits of canine and feline as without any repercussions of having the undesirable traits of either species. The Pokémon in question are steadfastly loyal and are able to act on their own cognizance. The franchise itself provides an ideal picture of a domestic animal. A comparable version of this in the real world would be Belyaev's foxes.
Foxes have been experimented on and were domesticated in only 50 years in Russia after being bred for tameness under controlled conditions. This experiment sought to replicate the process of how early man domesticated animals. Said foxes were selected for desirable traits by scientists and put under a selective breeding program. Under these controlled laboratory conditions the foxes began to show physical and behavioral changes. These changes showed a stark contrast in appearance when comparing the tamed foxes to their wild counterparts. The tamed foxes had much shorter legs and snout; developed floppy ears and curled up tail, followed by spotted/discoloration of fur. Behavioral wise the foxes themselves are described to have the loyalty of a dog and the independence of a cat. The experiment was deemed successful and the foxes are sold at exorbitant prices to private owners.
http://www.eebweb.arizona.edu/Courses/Ecol487/readings/Early Canid Domestication, AmSci.pdf
Eevee's body structure is strikingly similar to the character Teto the Fox squirrel from the movie "Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind" that preceded Pokémon by 12 years prior in 1984. This movie has been been written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki. Hayao Miyazaki is regarded as one of Japan's greatest directors who ever lived. His notoriety has given him the title: "The Japanese Walt Disney". Eevee's design may have been a homage acknowledging one of Japan's cultural icons.
Teto the Fox Squirrel compared to Eevee. Note the Similarity between Nausicaa and Gary. Click photo to enlarge.
Eevee, Flareon, Umbreon, and Glaceon all have characteristics synonymous with foxes, citing either the bushy tail/large ears seen in most Fennecs. They also share the same profile and or body type/markings seen in most foxes. Jolteon in the anime has been debuted as being used as a sort of sheep dog, herding Magnamite and exhibits dog like behavior in Pokémon Amie. Flareon has the body structure not out of place with foxes and Pomeranian dog breeds and thus also exhibits behaviors not out of place with most canids in both the anime and Pokémon Amie. This info is mentioned on the Bulbapedia wiki and as such has been used as the baseline of information of Pokémon fans everywhere.
As much I want to believe that Eevee itself is some kind of fox (its evolutions being based on the concept of convergent evolution). It seems that Eevee's cat like qualities more are more "official". Most proponents arguing for feline classification cite the existence of Espeon and Vaporeon, respectively based on a Nekomata and Merlion. These two mythological creatures blatantly described as feline and as such are depicted in the anime with appropriate behavior. Leafeon outright meows in the anime and is portrayed as a stereotypical feline. The Eeveelutions lack the long snout present in foxes; instead it is blunt and synonomous with felines. While 4 of the Eeveelutions origins seem to be uncontested, the other 4 seem to be mired in ambiguity: Umbreon and Sylveon for instance, have traits of rabbits while Leafeon and Glaceon have traits of cats and foxes. It has been argued that Eevee is based on a Cabbit: A imaginary creature crossed between cat and rabbit. This animal is used by Japanese animators as a template of "generic cute creature".
While most Pokémon have a self explanatory explanation on their basis; Eevee does not. What is your interpretation of Eevee?
Sorry for being verbose. English is not my first language.
1. Shredd, W. (2000). Owls aren't blind and bats aren't blind. New York: Three Rivers Press.
2. Trut, L. (1999, April). Early Canid Domestication: The Farm-Fox Experiment. Retrieved from http://www.eebweb.arizona.edu/Courses/Ecol487/readings/Early Canid Domestication, AmSci.pdf
3. Baldwin, M. (2012). Wildlife Online: The Red Fox Vulpes vulpes. Retrieved from Wildlife Online - Natural History of the Red Fox
4. Hamilton, W. (2002). Red Fox. Retrieved from Penn State University, New Kensington, Biology Department: The Virtual Nature Trail website: The Virtual Nature Trail at Penn State New Kensington
5. Schumacher, M. (1995). Oinari, Fox Spirit, God of Japan. Retrieved from Oinari, Fox Spirit, God of Japan, Photo Dictionary of Japanese Buddhist & Shinto Deities
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7. Dickens, D. 20 Most Adorable Supporting Hayao Miyazaki Creatures. Retrieved from
8. Hayao Miyazaki Biography. (n.d). Retrieved from http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0594503/bio?ref_=nm_ov_bio_sm
9. Geffen, E. (1994). Mammalian Species: Vulpes Cana. Retrieved from http://www.science.smith.edu/msi/pdf/i0076-3519-462-01-0001.pdf
10. Fritzell, E., & Haroldson, K. Mammalian Species: Urocyon cinereoargenteus. Retrieved from http://www.science.smith.edu/msi/pdf/i0076-3519-189-01-0001.pdf
11. Eevee. (n.d). Retrieved September 5 2014, from http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Eevee_%28Pok%C3%A9mon%29