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Espurr is a Psychic-type Pokémon introduced in the 2013 Nintendo 3DS role-playing video games Pokémon X and Pokémon Y. Upon the titles’ release in October 2013, the character quickly developed a fan following online for its vacant stare and aloofness. Its popularity is reminiscent to that of Snivy, a starter Pokémon introduced in Black and White, that earned the fan name “Smugleaf” for its seemingly conceited facial expression.
On May 18th, 2013, PokeBeach and GoNintendo both released a number of details about Pokémon X and Y considered “insider information.” One of these tips was the introduction of a Psychic-type Pokemon named Espurr that evolves into Meowstick, which the poster assumed would be a cat.
Espurr is the only character in the species of Restraint Pokémon. They can be captured in the wild on Route 6 and will either have the ability Keen Eye, which makes the user immune to accuracy-reducing moves, or Infiltrator, which allows the user to bypass the effects of the moves Reflect, Light Screen, Safeguard and Substitute when used by the opponent. In X, Espurr is described as having an organ that emits its psychic power covered by its ears while in Y, its description suggests the creature’s energy can destroy everything within 300 feet of itself. At level 25, it evolves into Meowstic, which has two different move sets depending on the creature’s gender.
Also on May 18th, a screenshot of the PokeBeach article was shared on 4chan’s /vp/ (Pokémon), where a poster pointed out the name “Espurr” was already being used for a fan-made Fakémon created by members of the Bulbagarden Oekaki forum in November 2012. Posters initially believed that the existence of Espurr as a Fakémon was proof that the rumor about Espurr in X and Y would be false. However, this was disputed on the GameFAQs boards, where posters found other examples of official Pokémon whose names had been used previously by fans. Throughout the month of May, dozens of posts about Espurr were made on /vp/, as some artists on deviantART began drawing their interpretations of what the Pokémon would look like (shown below).
On October 1st, an Instagram user who got a copy of the game early leaked a now-deleted photo (shown below) of Espurr’s appearance in the Pokédex. That day, the screenshot was reposted to PokemonXandPokemonY.com and fan art based on this design began appearing on deviantART. On October 2nd, the image was reshared on the /r/Pokemon subreddit, where it received 218 upvotes, 159 points overall and 27 comments
Pokémon X and Y were released worldwide on October 12th, 2013. The same day, a screenshot of an Espurr mid-battle was submitted to /r/Pokemon with the title “Espurr has seen some shit.” The post accrued more than 1,000 upvotes, nearly 850 points overall and more than 100 comments all discussing the character’s blank stare. On the 14th, an image macro titled “Espurr, are you okay?” showing the character having a war flashback (shown below) was shared on both /r/Pokemon and /r/Gaming where it received more than 24,00 and 1,500 overall points respectively. The image was also reposted on FunnyJunk, Pokememes and Dorkly.
On October 20th, the role playing blog Actual-Deranged-Espurr was created on Tumblr, posting as if the creator was an Espurr. The same day, @Espurr_eBooks launched on Twitter as a parody of Horse_Ebooks. On the 21st, the single topic blog espurrs-face-on-things began posting photoshopped images of other characters with their eyes or other facial features replaced with those of the Pokémon (shown below).