The Pokémon franchise is currently in the midst of a planned renaissance, with several games and other media coming out within the next year. One of the tentative titles coming to the series is the mysterious Project Piplup, which involves the water-type Penguin Pokémon to some unknown degree.
This project is still incredibly esoteric, with one of the few known features being that real-life companies can actually apply for Piplup to come and visit them. While the available facts about Project Piplup may leave people scratching their heads, the choice of mascot Pokémon actually makes sense. Here's why the Pokémon Company was wise to choose this Generation IV Pocket Monster for such an unusual endeavor.
Piplup Represents the Polar Opposite from Pokémon's Past
When it comes to having a spinoff or multimedia project involving the Pokémon franchise, many fans would expect to see Pikachu, the Generation 1 starters or even the vulpine Eevee. The fact that Piplup is none of these, however, is a wise choice. Pikachu and even Eevee may have been too obvious and expected, especially for such an off-the-wall experiment. Likewise, the video showcasing the project has someone visiting a company in a Piplup suit, and the more humanoid physique of the suit's design obviously wouldn't work with quadrupedal animals like Eevee or Bulbasaur.
Generation 1 has also become particularly played out among the Pokémon fandom, who have continually come to resent the focus on this inaugural part of the franchise. The mixed reception of the Let's Go remakes, which starred Pikachu and Eevee, only added fuel to the fire for those who were sick and tired of anything Kanto. Piplup is from the 4th Generation of Pokémon, so this keeps things from digging back into that well.
Pokémon: Diamond and Pearl Remakes
The 4th Generation's title games, Pokémon Diamond and Pokémon Pearl, are soon to be remade for the Nintendo Switch, and that's not the only new treatment the games are getting 15 years after their original release. Pokémon Legends: Arceus will also be releasing on the console, shining further light on the Sinnoh region and one of its Legendary Pokémon.
With all of the focus on Sinnoh, there's no better time to feature one of its starters in such a spotlight manner. After all, Piplup is arguably the most popular starter from this era, with Chimchar and definitely Turtwig failing to be even half as popular. In fact, Piplup and its final form Empoleon have continued to be incredibly loved far beyond their debut generation, a difficult feat to achieve among many starters. Thus, it makes sense to feature the penguin as a mascot in the return to Sinnoh.
Piplup's Cuteness Factor
More than anything, Piplup is ridiculously cute, and fits right in alongside the mammalian Pikachu and Eevee. Penguins are already considered adorable, and a baby penguin that can adorably squeak its name while using a variety of water-based powers is an incredibly easy sell. Cute Pokémon have almost always been the brand ambassadors to the wider audience, with "cooler" and more dangerous looking monsters such as Mewtwo or Arceus being used in more hardcore-oriented projects. The goal of the Piplup Project seems to be having the cute creature show up for people to take pictures with it, so its diminutive nature works better for that goal than a mutated, megalomaniac psychic cat.
What exactly the Piplup Project will end up involving is still uncertain, but its selection of the Pokémon meant to be its flagship is definitely beyond reproach.