Just as there are one set of animations for human models in other games, each individual pokemon would not need to be animated by hand. They'd be split into groups for animations based on body shape.
These animations wouldn't be used in just one game either, they'd be used in every future pokemon game. From Mobile to Console, From Mystery Dungeon, Stadium, RPG, Let's Go and any other pokemon game.
This isn't workload to attribute to a single game, this is work that can be used in every pokemon game for years to come.
I can tell you've never rigged a 3D model before. It just doesn't work that way with non-human characters.
Every game is going to use every animation then? With the petting example, will every game use those animations? What if the next mystery dungeon needs animations for the Poke'mon inserting a key into a lock? Will those be used heavily in the other games?
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