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Smugleaf is a fan name given to the 495th Pokémon that functions as the Grass-type starter for the 5th generation of Pokemon games. Because of its seemingly conceited facial expression, the character was dubbed Smugleaf on /v/ board of 4chan and on DeviantArt. Although its official name was later revealed to be Snivy, or Tsutarja in Japanese, the fanmade name stuck and the character soon came to receive the most attention out of the three starter Pokémons.
On May 9th, 2010, the 5th Generation starter Pokémon were revealed on Pokémon Sunday. The starters for Pokémon Black and White included the Grass-type Snivy (Then called Tsutarja), the Fire-type Tepig (then called Pokabu, and the Water-type Oshawott (then called Mijumaru). However, Snivy (whose name was unknown at the time) began to rise above the others, as described as this post on Kotaku:
Pokémon’s ‘Smugleaf’: A Meme In The Making*
It’s been a couple days since the new starter Pokémon for the upcoming Black/White were leaked in a Japanese magazine, CoroCoro. But already, we may have a new meme.
The grass starter Pokémon, whose Japanese name is Tsutaja, has risen above the others and become an overnight internet sensation, inspiring conversation and not a small amount of fan art.
Due to his half-closed eyes and apparent smirk, the green starter is quickly becoming known as “Smugleaf” or “Grinleaf” by English-speaking fans. “Smugleaf is the new trollface!” is a new rallying cry, referencing the face a person might put on while trolling on a forum. And looking at that new Pokémon’s self-contented grin, it isn’t hard to see the appeal.
However, some people believe this Kotaku article “killed” the Smugleaf meme, in a way reminiscent of the Family Guy Effect.
Popularity & Search Volume
Smugleaf compared to other starter Pokémon in search volume:
Fan art started appearing on DeviantArt and image macros started appearing on /v/ before spreading to other boards.
Smugleaf by Shouting Ryan on DeviantArt.
Smugleaf’s appearance has also been compared to the character Excalibur from the manga/anime “Soul Eater”. Because of this, fan art has been created that features Smugleaf wearing Excalibur’s signature top hat and cane, as seen here:
Smugleaf has also been spotted on Meme Generator and has reached a peak of being in the Top tier:
Smugleaf trolling in action