All 720 Pokémon, Graded. Part 8 — Nos. 71 to 80 (Victreebel to Slowbro)

Welcome back to this blog’s ongoing mission to assign a letter grade to every existing Pocket Monster. To anyone who thought I had gotten bored with this feature and abandoned it, I regret to inform you that you just lost your office pool. In this segment, we take it fast and slow, and set our feet on a sturdy rock.


071. Victreebel
Best Name: Utsubot (Japanese)
Type: Grass/Poison
Last time, Bellsprout ably demonstrated why its name maybe should be initialed a certain way. If you get my drift. So it’s a relief today to see that it made good in the end. You earned your Victree, ‘Bel. James had one in the anime—in fact, he had two, and at least one liked to show affection by putting James’s entire head in its mouth. I find that amusing, giving such a lovey-dovey nature to a Pokémon that typically dissolves its prey with acid to digest it a la Brundlefly. Hey, what do you call a tiny Victreebel? A Babybel. Sorry, that joke was really cheesy. OH GOD I CAN’T TURN IT OFF B+

072. Tentacool
Best Name: English
Type: Water/Poison
My brain is just a Tentacool in the ocean of my head
‘Cause I played too much Pokémon
And I woke up seein’ red (and blue)
And now all I really want from life is to make Team Rocket dead, on account that
My brain is just a Tentacool in the ocean of my head[1]

The Zubat of the sea. Pikachu, ready to do some dynamite fishing? (C-)


073. Tentacruel
Best Name: Tentoxa (German)
Type: Water/Poison
Ditching the Brainiac dome was a smart move. I’m still roasting your face with a lightning bolt, though. C+

074. Geodude
Best Name: Racaillou (French)
Type: Rock/Ground
I’m not about to go back and check, but I’m fairly certain we’re on the first Pokémon (in numerical order) modeled after an inanimate object and not an animal or other organism. Hooray! We’ll see this particular category go off the rails later, but a rock is a good place to start. Rock makes for a sturdy, unwavering foundation, and who’s a sturdier friend and ally than Geodude? I bet you can’t even think about it without imagining it saying its own name in the anime, in that unforgettable monotone rasp. Even its ubiquity in Mt. Moon isn’t a strike against it, because Geodude is someone you want on your team. Well, not so much for Misty, but it’ll give Lt. Surge what-for, I can tell you that. A-


075. Graveler
Best Name: Gravalanch (French)
Type: Rock/Ground
Is it odd that I think Graveler looks weaker than Geodude? Something about his texture. He looks made out of papier-mâché, like a big rock piñata. It bears out in the name too—”Graveler”. When you want rocks for power, you’re not looking for gravel. At the very least, I want something that meets the C.W. McCall standard. C


076. Golem
Best Name: Geowaz (German)
Type: Rock/Ground
Another real-world name, sad face. Strangely, even though golems are usually composed entirely of rock and clay, this is the only ‘mon in the Geodude line with carbon-based external body parts. I understand that mythological creatures and their depictions are open to interpretation, but there are some real liberties being taken here. Every time I’ve ever seen it in action, Golem has had the thankless job of blowing itself up to take an opponent down with it. Has anyone ever told Golem it can have its KO cake and eat it too? Incidentally, if you’ve never read The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker, that’s an oversight you need to rectify immediately. C-


077. Ponyta
Best Name: Basically the same everywhere.
Type: Fire
Okay. So I can understand Grimer running around the abandoned Pokémon Mansion. There’s no upkeep happening, the place rots, gets moldy, etc., and that decay and mold and grossness all manifest as this poisonous blob thing. I’m with you so far. But letting wild horses overrun the place? That’s way beyond any forgivable measure of irresponsibility. Whoever owns the lease on that joint needs a stern brow-beating. I can’t hold that against Ponyta, of course, but what I can dock it for is showing up too late in the game to be a viable fire option. Bonus points for being a clever play on “bonita” (Spanish for “pretty”). B-


078. Rapidash
Best Name: English
Type: Fire
Once upon a time there was a Nintendo 64 game called Pokémon Snap. You rode on a rail in a protective vehicle and took pictures of Pokémon in the wild. It was way more fun than it had any right to be. It was a good game for my FWAHTCCSECTHHTPG[2] to own, because each Pokémon had a score that was based on how well you photographed it, and since anyone could contribute a high score, it wound up being a nice communal experience. Anyway, on this friend’s copy, one of our mutual friends had the high score for Rapidash, and she told us all do whatever you want, but don’t touch Rapidash, that one is mine. Long story short, I touched it, and to this day, if I immerse myself in the memory, I can still feel where she punched my arm. B-


079. Slowpoke
Best Name: Flegmon (German)
Type: Water/Psychic
One might be tempted to draw a throughline from Psyduck to Slowpoke, on account of the fact that they’re both slow-witted (or at least appear as such). But Psyduck put forth genuine effort. He held his head in his hands, quacked aloud his insecurities, and lived a life mired in question marks. Slowpoke just sits there. That’s why he gets that name. He’s got more in common with Abra, though the latter can at least teleport away from danger. Slowpoke is the turkey that drowns from staring up at the rain, the lobster at the center of the question “does it feel pain when you boil it”. Truly, it is the village idiot of Pokémon, an argument supported best by the fact that according to the Pokédex, it is known as the “Dopey Pokémon”. C


080. Slowbro
Best Name: Lahmus (German)
Type: Water/Psychic
Slowbro definitely bros like a bro. That might not make any sense, but it feels correct. Sometimes it’s portrayed in artwork with a Kubrick glare that I find distinctly unsettling. I don’t know what you and that conch shell are planning, but I don’t like it, y’hear?

When I hear or say or think “Slowbro”, my mind goes to the dude in “Yertle the Turtle” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers who goes “look at that turtle go, bro”. I never read Scar Tissue but I recall hearing Anthony Kiedis or someone say that that guy was their coke dealer, and they gave him a part in the song so that basically he wouldn’t break their kneecaps. I really hope that’s true but I’ve already got a sizable reading queue and music memoirs don’t really figure into it right now. I’m not a big fan of the 80s, despite the fact that they earn huge bonus points for me being born in them, but you can’t entirely write off any decade that gave us a George Clinton-produced funk band rap-rocking about Dr. Seuss books. B-


Next time: Magnemite to Shellder


[1] One (1) internet cookie to anyone who knows what I’m spoofing here.

[2] That would be “Friend Who Always Had The Current Consoles So Everyone Came To His House To Play Games”.

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