Ok so I've been thinking about this alot and with the inclusion of Sett a half breed Vastaya it just tipped me over the edge of what I can stand with and whats just plain stupid in the designs.
So if you aren't aware Vastaya are a race originating from humans and the Vastayashai'rei mixing so they contain human characteristics while being humanoid. Great concept since its a pretty popular character type especially in anime hence why they'd originate from Ionia, the asian themed region.
My only issue is the fact that Vastaya went from champs like Rengar, Wukong, Neeko, and Nami to Rakan, Xayah, Ahri, and Sett (Obviously this isn't in release order because if it was people would just talk about how Rakan and Xayah were the 2 champs that created the Vastaya idea and Im talking more design wise stuff). The Vastaya are animal humans right? So why do the majority of Vastaya look like half breeds like Sett? I know its marketing but from a "realistic" side why does Sett fit in without looking like a half breed he was literally suppose to be?
Ill go over the designs real quick and what I think is good about the designs and whats bad so expect alot of "Hurr look like human"
Ahri: Based off a fox or the nine tailed fox,
Foxish ears, nine white tails, female body and head. Stereotypical humanoid fox girl just with nine tails not a big fan of her design BUT it does make some sense since in the lore shes somewhat of a succubus who steals souls so I'll give it that but maybe some animal features would be nice.
Nami: Based off a mermaid, Fish tail, green scaly skin, fin hair and fins on her torso and arms.
Shes what I think is a good mix of what Riot could do with a female Vastaya. Riot CLEARLY wants sex appeal with female champs considering how they can make a champ look completely attractive despite that not reflecting the lore (Looking at you Kai'sa) which Im not a fan of but they mix the aspects of fish characteristics while making them look human and like a mermaid perfectly and they could obviously do a better job but unless she gets a Ezreal level VGU she wont be touched for awhile.
Neeko: Based off a chameleon, long green tail, big eyes, different colored hair, purple leaf thingies, green skin patches across body.
I think her design is good, she looks human but she has features that are lizard like and she isnt just human with tail tada! She reflects both of what she is and you don't really need to think "What kind of animal is she" Because she reflects lizard/Chameleon well with just her tail and big eyes. Though she could have went further into the animal side but the skin patches atleast make her design alot better.
Rengar: Based off a lion, lion face, ears, mane, lion tail, cat claws, fur all over body
I really like Rengar's design. What a vastaya should look like a humanoid animal which is what Rengar is though no design is perfect. He was moved to a Shuriman Vastaya after they were made so maybe he would contain more Shuriman type clothing but the braids are great and they could reflect culture within the type of Vastaya he is.
Wukong: Based off monkey, monkey face and tail, fur all over
Wu is decent. He is a humanoid animal but due to how he doesnt reflect Ionian clothing and plus hes just a literal Sun Wukong that every game that contains asian themes seems to try to shove into their game just makes him not that likable design wise in my opinion. Maybe if he was a asian monkey species like a Japanese macaque and not just general monkey species.png compiled with a modern Ionian design he could turn into a good Vastaya.
Rakan and Xayah: Rakan based off colorful male Galliformes and Xayah based off female birds to a extent but can also be a reference of a harpy, Rakan contains bright colors in his hair and clothing, Xayah contains darker colors and is plainer in color scheme, both have 1 wing, animal ears, bird skulls on them with the opposite champs feathers. Both have bird legs (Thanks ZackTheWaffleMan I forgot about the legs)
Once again I like the designs but they aren't exactly reflecting human bird people especially if you remove the wings. They have normal human hair and only contain feathers on looks like the wings and despite being on their forearms I feel like they are just apart of the arm guards. I DO really like how they made Rakan colorful and like to dance which is literally what male birds are like IRL since they are colorful to attract mates and they usually have some kind of dance to attract the female with too and making Xayah a darker and plainer design reflects how females are plain and camouflaged for safety. 1 other problem is that they're bird people right? So why do they have what looks like fox ears or caracal ears? Ofcourse they can be a mix but if you're gonna go down on the bird theme shouldnt you not include pointy ears that feel like they're rushed because they didnt know what to put as ears? Still good designs and contain Ionian features which helps them alot.
Sett: Based off a wolverine, Vastaya mixed with human, Red hair, small pointy ears.
Sett is someone I like but I can't help but nitpick him. He is partly Vastaya and Noxian yet I dont see him looking different from Ahri or Xayah despite his tribe making his mother leave because he was a mixed breed but HIS MOTHER DOESN'T LOOK ANY DIFFERENT FROM SETT OR ANY OTHER VASTAYA FEMALE!?!? Sett was originally thought of being a badger vastaya due to his name meaning badger burrow and him having his own underground fighting pit fits that idea more but of course he was revealed to be a wolverine from a Rioter and in my honest opinion if you have to tell your community that someone is a certain thing and you can't see it or at least tell they are some type of animal similar to the core one and people think his ears are from a feline you've already failed in his design. What from Setts design reflects part wolverine? Nothing. He is a mixed breed but he could STILL reflect something. Smaller in height to reflect that wolverines are small? Nope. Rounded ears? Nope. Dark brown hair? Nope. He literally has ZERO things design wise that reflect he is a wolverine and he literally looks like he has cat ears and the red hair doesn't scream wolverine though that might be intentional due to his father perhaps having red hair due to him being Noxian. The designers could have done several things to reflect his a half breed in several ways. Patches of hair on random places, different body proportions, different eyes, claws, some kind of skin patches like Neeko, etc. Despite me bashing the designs for failing to capture the animal they used for Sett I'll give credit where its due he does look like a half breed with a more human dominant appearance and he does look cool.
Ending thoughts: I do really like the Vastaya idea since mixing people with animals can create a interesting design yet what makes a champ like Sett have his hardship of being a half breed looks INCREDIBLY stupid when you see every other Vastaya and realize he just looks like a male Ahri. The only issue I have with Vastaya and champs as a whole is that Riot will sometimes sacrifice lore and design for sex appeal, especially with the females.