Inklings (インクリング Inkuringu?) are a fictional species of squid-like humanoids and also the customizable characters that players take control of within the games Splatoon and Splatoon 2. Inklings live in Inkopolis. As the main protagonists, they won't die, and instead easily respawn after being "splatted." When first starting the game, the player is given the option to choose between genders (boy and girl), eye colors, and skin colors. These can be changed later from the Options menu. They also have no bones. Some may think they have some sort of alternative, such as cartilage. Inklings are said to have some kind of gene that allows them to see certain colors in certain ways.
After rising sea levels killed off the human species, and possibly most land-dwelling life on Earth, squids (and some other marine invertebrates) evolved to become the dominant species on our planet. During this "Mollusk Era" they developed culture, language, and especially warfare. One hundred years before the events of the game, Inklings and Octarians engaged in a great war referred to as "the Great Turf War." Initially, the Inklings were defeated due to their inability to get up early enough, but they rebounded. A young Cap'n Cuttlefish and his comrades won, sending the Octarians away, to live in underground for many years. Octarians return for the events of Splatoon's hero mode, where you have to rescue the stolen Great Zapfish.
Inklings appear in a likely non-canon role in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, where Inklings of both genders and several colors are new playable characters. One of their trick animations involves them turning into squid form. Male and female Inklings also appear as fighters in the new Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. The Squid Sisters, in addition to Octoling Boy and Octoling Girl, appear in Smash Bros. as an assist trophy. Judd and Lil' Jud also appear is Super Smash Bros. as Mii Costumes.
Inklings can alternate between humanoid and squid form, which coincidentally resemble the Bloopers from the Super Mario video game series.
The humanoid form has a black marking resembling a mask around their eyes, pointed ears, and tentacles that change color in battle depending on the color of ink that their team uses. They possess pointed teeth similar in shape to a squid's beak. Their squid form resembles a brightly-colored cephalopod the same color as the Inkling's "hair" with two long clubbed tentacles, four shorter tentacles, and two large eyes that seem to be joined. Inklings evidently have no bones, excellent eyesight, and the ability to leap five feet in a single bound, as shown in 1 of the Sunken Scrolls. They are characterized as being aggressive. Their spoken language is composed of high-pitched gargling and creature noises.
Known colors for Inklings and their ink include orange, blue, green, lime green, purple, turquoise, yellow, and pink. These colors vary in shade slightly depending on the color of the opposing team. Additional colors appear in the story mode campaign.
Inklings are customizable. If the player chooses a girl inkling, she will have smaller, thinner eyebrows, straight cut bangs that are curve toward the left, and two long, flowing tentacles that hang from both sides of the head, resembling hair. A boy inkling has noticeably thicker eyebrows, and his main tentacles are secured into a ponytail, with a camouflage-print hairband, at the back of his head, again resembling hair.
In Splatoon 2, the playable Inklings’ hairstyles are no longer limited to one style per gender, allowing the player more customization options, six different hairstyles are allowed for each gender. Inkling girls have a choice between their original Splatoon hairstyle, a shorter bob cut style with a mirrored bang compared to the original, a style with one long, wavy tentacle hanging on the right side of their face and a small one in the back or have their tentacles tied up into a knot. Inkling boys have a choice between their original Splatoon hairstyle, a spiked comb back hairstyle, a ponytail haircut with a tentacle hanging on the left side of their face, a buzz cut hairstyle devoid of visible tentacles with what appear to be scar marks. In Version 2.0.0, four more hairstyles were added that include two new styles for boys and two new styles for girls. For the females, they can now have a curly, shredded pigtail style (sometimes in a ponytail when wearing certain headgear) or a straight, long hairstyle with a long bang and slightly cut tips. For the males, the new hairstyles consist of a short mohawk hairstyle topped with many tiny spikes with buzzed sides or a bowl cut. Unlike Splatoon, these Inklings do not have the dark spots they had before but instead have glowing oval spots that match their ink color. Sometimes these spots will glow to a slightly different color. The dots also become a darker tone just like in Splatoon when the spots are above the gradient area of their tentacles.
Splatoon 3 offers hairstyles from both games, but also a hairstyle with one tentacle identical to the original female Inkling hairstyle, but with one tentacle in a braid tied with a black bow, a hairstyle featuring bangs from the 'buzz-cut' hairstyle from Splatoon 2. The style's tentacles are short and curly, resembling Callie's tentacles from when she was a child. Inkling's eyes also can have 'gradients', for example, the Splatoon 3 trailer shows an Inkling girl with blue eyes that fade into light purple, and at the bottom of the eyes, light pink.
Eye color and skin tone choices also return, and Inklings now have a choice of legwear. Inkling girls can choose between their Splatoon shorts, a skirt with black shorts underneath, tight capri sweatpants, loose sport shorts, or tight black pants. Inkling boys can choose between their Splatoon shorts, looser shorts with leggings, cargo pants, leggings, and denim shorts. Legwear, unlike other pieces of gear, are part of a character's customization and have no impact on an Inkling's stats.
Inklings take on a unique appearance when they have a special weapon ready: they give off sparks, the tentacles on their head become very brightly colored and glow, bubbles form at the top of their head as if from boiling water, and they appear to be caught in a strong wind even when completely still. Their appearance goes back to normal once their special weapon has been used.
Some Inklings (namely Callie, Marie, and Pearl) have special features such as a black/grey color on the majority of their "hair" with their ink color on the tips of the tentacle and plus-shaped pupils. These pupils are either brown or white, as opposed to the standard Inkling's black. Callie and Marie (along with some Inklings shown in Splatoon official art) have tipped curves at the bottom of their ears, giving them a slightly angular appearance. The ears can also, in Pearl's case, be incredibly small. Inklings can additionally have different skin colors (seen with KAGI of Wet Floor) and multiple different ink colors at once (seen with Yōko of Ink Theory).
They gain the ability to transform between humanoid and squid form at the age of 14. Art from the Sunken Scrolls shows that prior to this, they resemble squids with four limbs, and as infants they appear fully squid-like.
All Inklings' forms have abilities associated with them. In humanoid form, Inklings can splatter a special type of colored ink by using various weapons, such as a gun that resembles a Super Soaker. This ink can be quickly spread over many surfaces with the exception of things such as green barrels, tarps, and glass. This ink can inhibit the movement of Inklings that do not have a matching color. When used as a projectile, ink can damage opposing Inklings. In squid form, an Inkling can swim and jump quickly through ink of the same color to swim up walls, through wire fences, and grates, into areas that are not typically reachable. Squids cannot travel past striped barriers, typically at the top of walls, to swim into inaccessible areas. While in squid form, if Inklings are in their own ink color, they will be invisible if they stay still and when moving quickly, only slight ripples will appear. While submerged in ink, they will also refill their ink reserves, which the humanoid Inkling can use for their weapons. When squid form Inklings are on an inkless surface, they will be visible and move slowly, even slower than a Humanoid Inkling.
Inklings are unable to swim in water. When submerged, their body dissolves, leaving their clothes behind. The official American Splatoon Tumblr has mused that this may be because their bodies are made of liquid. Another reason to support this is that squid form Inklings can go through grates, which is also cited by the Tumblr account to possibly be related to them being made of liquid. Interviews with the producer for Splatoon and Splatoon 2 Hisashi Nogami revealed that Inklings have a very thin and permeable outer membrane, which causes their ink to bleed out when in contact with water. They evolved this way to be able to transform freely between their squid and humanoid form, but lost the ability to be in water as a consequence.
A piece of trivia from Super Smash Bros. Ultimate also states that the Inklings' ink from their bodies will diffuse when submerged in water and which causes them to dissolve.
Inklings are capable of producing light, possibly from bioluminescence, an ability some real-life squid such as the firefly squid possess. In the dark, either during a Splatfest or some Octo Valley missions, the player's Inkling will glow brightly in humanoid form, lighting up the area immediately around them. This glow disappears entirely upon assuming squid form. Other Inklings remain dark, helping to differentiate them from the player's. However, all Inklings (as well as jellyfish) in Inkopolis Plaza do give off a very faint glow during a Splatfest, seen only on the ground around them. It is also very noticeable underneath their hair which shows off many tiny rainbow dots slightly in the sunlight and brightly in pitch darkness.
Vintage and his teammate Omega from the Splatoon manga have the ability to sense opponents behind them moving. Bobble Hat, also from the manga, has similar abilities. It is unknown if any other Inklings have these abilities.
In Splatoon 3, Inklings can perform 'squid rolls' and 'squid surges', which respectively are a squid being able to 'roll' out of the ink and jump really high over an opponent.
In the Nintendo Switch teaser, there are inklings with new and interesting hairstyles, such as the green inkling boy's greased hair, and the pink inkling girl's with short hair.
Inkling culture has been heavily influenced by the ancient human cultures that came before them; as a result, Inkling architecture, fashion, art, and even the Inkling written language shows influence from Japanese, American, and other ancient human societies. It was implied that Inklings adapted much of their own culture and mannerisms from the cities and towns they have taken as their own, and the fossils of human civilizations they have unearthed.
Though much of their culture has been appropriated from humans, the Inklings have a modern rendering on certain subjects, as well as cultural ideas of their own. Turf Wars as a sport are cultural high-point to many Inklings, with many youngsters participating in Turf War events as a means of entertainment and relaxation. Turf wars also can be seen as a means of recreation and celebration, since the Inkling victory of the Great Turf War. The Art of Splatoon states that many young Inklings come from rural areas and seek a more trendy and up-to-date life in Inkopolis.
Inklings seem to vandalize walls and other surfaces commonly, as their creations are seen a lot, stating that they are proud of pictures, messages and advice they have put up. This graffiti can be seen on walls and other structures across Inkopolis and in battle stages. Some name-tag resembling stickers can also be found, with words written and typed, possibly printed, in Inkling. The art book from the first Splatoon clarifies that the idea of it stemmed from the Turf War concept of spraying and drawing ink to claim territory, implying that some Inkling graffiti is drawn in ink.
Fashion is a major part of Inkling societies, to the point of coining the term "fresh" to signify how recent and cool an Inkling's attire and general style is. Freshness can be applied to many other aspects of Inkling life, such as weaponary and linguistics. Heavy focus on Inkling gear is commonplace, as Inklings spend lots of their time and Cash shopping for new and interesting headgear, clothes, and shoes. Inklings can be seen gathered both inside and outside of local shops, socializing and buying themselves new gear.
Inkling music can be heard throughout Inkopolis, from the rock band Squid Squad to the worldwide pop idols, the Squid Sisters. Many bands have members from completely different species, such as the anemone and crab members of Chirpy Chips, but the music industry seems to be largely comprised of Inklings.
Every so often, a Splatfest is held, a special event that brings Inklings together for a large concert and celebration of two opposing ideas, and can be seen as a merging of music and turf wars. Two teams are formed around two opposing topics (such as Callie versus Marie) and compete in turf wars against each other. The more popular and/or the higher-scoring team wins. For the entire duration of the Splatfests, the Squid Sisters or Off the Hook perform. Messages and drawings by participating Inklings are highlighted during the event, showing up on billboards in the concert area and around the selected stages for that event.
In Splatoon, Inklings who compete in Turf Wars hang out in Inkopolis Plaza, which is also the location of Booyah Base, a strip mall containing different stores. This plaza is the hub for Splatfests and is where Inkopolis Tower, holding the Great Zapfish that powers all of Inkopolis and also allows access to Turf Wars and Ranked Battles, is located. Two years later, in Splatoon 2, Inkopolis Plaza has been replaced by Inkopolis Square as the new hotspot, being a location that can be accessed from Inkopolis Plaza through the use of the subway, and more stores have been opened there.
Inklings have been described as easy-going, inattentive and living for fun; they did not take further concern when the Great Zapfish went missing and didn't seem too worried that Octolings were coming to Inkopolis. They easily forget about old trends and shift their interest on what is new, which is evidenced by the focus on being "fresh". Their work ethic seems to mirror their carefree and pleasure-seeking nature as The Art of Splatoon 2 mentions that many Inklings take on part-time jobs at Starfish Mainstage but they stop working while on the job when a live show starts. The Sunken Scrolls have even described the Inkling mind as being simple and hedonistic, though this could be written as Octarian propaganda.
It was confirmed that Inkopolis resides in Japan, where Splatoon was created, so Inklings' clothing and architecture has some of Japan's customs, namely kimono wearing as shown by Squid Sister Marie, rice as a popular food (as seen in the Rice vs. Bread Splatfest), and the summer dress yukata, as shown in a promotional art of Squid Sister Callie. Gear based on Japanese sushi shop employee uniforms were also released, hinting at Inklings eating sushi. This was hinted at again when Inklings were seen to eat 'hot dogfish' and 'fried catfish'. Splatoon developers say that some Inklings may eat early squids. This is further pointed at when Callie says she is not good with seafood. The type of seafood is unknown, however.
Squidmas is an Inkling holiday that is assumed to be celebrated in the winter. Much is unknown about this holiday aside from its obvious likenesses to the human holiday of Christmas. From this, it is assumed that in the winter, a figure named Father Squidmas goes around the world giving out presents and freshness to all the good Inkling children.
According to Callie of the Squid Sisters, Father Squidmas can be found in the North Pole of the Earth, making gifts all year in preparation for Squidmas time. According to her cousin Marie, Father Squidmas isn't real and all of their interactions with him are simply their grandfather dressed up as him.
Squidmas is an additional element associated with the localization. The Japanese edition originally did not have it, as well as other regions, though official art celebrating the holidays does use the term "Squidmas" in the art.
Halloween seems to be another holiday that Inklings celebrate as evidenced by the Trick vs. Treat Splatfest and its rematch. Just like the human holiday by the same name, Inklings and other species dress up in usually scary costumes and go out trick or treating. Locations are likewise decorated with scary decor such as ghost, skeletons and glow-in-the-dark graffiti.
The event is also known as "Splatoween", though Marina specifies that Trick vs. Treat is a Halloween Splatfest, implying that the holiday's official name is Halloween. Official art has also been made celebrating the holiday, and uses the term "Halloween". The Japanese version also uses Halloween when referring to the event. Dialogue for a previous Splatfest, Fancy Party vs. Costume Party, refers to the holiday as "Squidoween", though this could also be an element added in the localization as versions in other languages do not mention the term.
"Death(s)" and Splatting
See also: Splat
Inklings do not actually die in-game. However, they can be "splatted" in one of three ways: from water, enemy ink, or falling off of a ledge.
When they fall in water, because they are already made of liquid, they will dissolve, leaving their clothes and weapon in the water. When they are splatted from enemy fire, the Inkling's weapons and clothes will fall to the ground and dissolve, while the Inkling will explode in the enemy's ink color. When they are splatted like this, a ghost that looks like the squid form Inkling will float into the air. Also, if an Inkling falls off of a level in Hero Mode, they will explode as well, but in their own ink color after which they will respawn at the Spawn Point or at a checkpoint.
However, in the Octo Expansion campaign, developers revealed that during the escape phases, Agent 8, an Octoling, does die if they get splatted as they are not connected to a spawn point, only checkpoints without respawning capabilities. This suggests that Inklings and Octolings do indeed die when splatted and need a means for them to respawn, possibly true due to the visual effects (i.e the 'ghost') when splatted.
- The developers said when they came up with the Squid idea, they didn't think of the resemblance of the Inkling squid shares with the Blooper from the Super Mario Bros. series.
- Both the male and female Inklings have 10 limbs and can be seen from their "hair" which feature 6 tentacles, which when added with their arms and legs make 10.
- They are not specified what sort of squids the Inklings may have a evolved from, but it is possibly a predatory species such as the Humboldt squid, which is known to be intelligent and aggressive, and has the ability to rapidly change color. However, it is more likely that they are based on the Japanese Flying Squid, which can glide up to 30 meters using jet propulsion, something the inklings can do in-game.
- Originally, the developers were going to only have Inkling Girl playable. But in later development of Splatoon, the Inkling Boy was then designed after her and in likeness.
- In the Splatoon manga included in CoroCoro Comic, Issue 4 shows the Inklings attempting to swim in a pool at Mahi-Mahi Resort; forgetting they didn't know how to swim, they nearly drowned in the water (not dissolving like in the game).
- Inklings and Octolings share many physiological similarities, despite having evolved from separate animal species. This could be a case of convergent evolution, where species of different lineages evolve similar features.
- Inklings are shown drinking liquids at The Crust Bucket; so it is theorized that Inklings can drink cold liquids only as they are made of warmer liquids and can withstand only colder liquid consumption, though they will still likely get splatted if attempting to swim in it.
- Inklings seem to have multiple hearts, as implied by Craig Cuttlefish at the beginning of the Octo Expansion. This could be a reference to how real-life cephalopods have three hearts.
- According to the EDGE article, Inklings get full control of their squid and human forms at age 14.
- Despite this, Inklings might be able to control both forms at ages much younger than 14 as shown in Sunken Scroll 17 where the Squid Sisters are shown as children in their humanoid form, and in Sunken Scroll 1 in Splatoon 2 where Pearl is seen in humanoid form as a child, much younger than the age 14. However, Pearl looks like a child despite being 21 years old, so she could have been over 14 in the photo.
- An Inkling's ink color is random online unless the Ink Color Lock option has been turned on, while in Octo Valley, it depends on the mission.
- A full gallery can be found here.