All 720 Pokémon, Graded. Part 9 — Nos. 81 to 90 (Magnemite to Shellder)

It’s time once again for All 720 Pokémon Graded, where we judge Nintendo’s famous creations on an academic scale and see which ones rise to the top and which are found wanting. In this installment, I reject Pokémon’s reality and substitute my own.
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081. Magnemite
Type: Electric / Steel
Best Name: Coil (Japanese)
This is where things start to get dicey for me, biologically speaking. So it’s times like this where instead of trying to wrap my head around the idea of a robot made of magnets, screws, and hovering apparatuses undergoing natural evolution, I retreat to my headcanon, which is as follows: Perfect Man visited Earth once already, and his voice was heard. The voice of Imperfect Man must now be made manifest, and I—wait, no. That’s the beginning of the Willie Nelson album Yesterday’s Wine. THIS is my Pokémon headcanon:

Pokémon are hard light holograms, making Pokéballs like flash drives, albeit holding a single Pokémon, so more like an Amiibo, I suppose. When you encounter a Pokémon in the wild, you’re really just seeing the data being transmitted at set intervals from a node hidden somewhere nearby (which also accounts for why you encounter one Pokémon in a given area more often than another, because the transmission intervals are set differently). So that explains not only the ghosts and the weirdos based on things like trash bags and ice cream cones and a set of keys, but also your legendaries, pseudo-legendaries, and alleged deities. That means written anything about them in the Pokédex is just flavor text. So e.g., Phantump isn’t actually made from the souls of children who died while lost in the woods, and Cubone isn’t actually sad that its mother died.

This isn’t a perfect theory—for one thing, it requires everyone on all continents to participate in a social construct on a massive scale involving no less than total commitment to belief in myths and supernatural phenomena, and anyone who chose not to participate would be at best excluded entirely from the most basic elements of society, if not ostracized and/or vilified—but it keeps me from wanting to automatically give any Pokémon not modeled on a carbon-based life form an F.

All that said, I don’t dislike Magnemite because it’s an unholy affront to nature. I dislike it for its astronomical encounter rate. I’m trying to trespass on an abandoned power plant here. You’re like little robo-gnats. Go away! C
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082. Magneton
Type: Electric / Steel
Best Name: Rarecoil (Japanese)
Attaching three Magnemites to each other is not “evolving”. It is building an erector set. D+
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083. Farfetch’d
Type: Normal / Flying
Best Name: Canarticho (French)

Considering some that came afterward (to say nothing of some from the same generation), it seems quaint to think that a duck wielding a scallion earned the title of Farfetch’d, as though this is the one that will finally make the barrier to entry too high for newbies and make them throw up their hands and say, “Nope! Too weird. I’M OUT.” I suspect the Farfetch’d moniker may in fact be a Western commentary on its Japanese name, which derives from their proverb “a duck comes bearing green onions”, meaning “something surprising but convenient”. In which case, “Contriv’d” might have been a more fitting name.

In Red/Blue, you can trade with a NPC for a Farfetch’d named Dux. If you’re a connoisseur of fine action cinema, your brain should go straight to Frank Dux, the protagonist of Bloodsport, played by Jean-Claude Van Damme. Sadly, there is no climactic scene in the game where your rival’s Pidgeot throws glass in Farfetch’d’s eyes and it has to fight blind. I will probably rate Farfetch’d way too highly because of this connection. B+
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084. Doduo
Type: Normal / Flying
Best Name: English
One of my favorite mythological creatures, for as long as I can recall, is the roc. It speaks to my love of simple yet elegant idea equations—in this case, give a scavenging bird an extra head and supersize it. You might see, then, why I’m not terribly enamored of this gawky ostrich-looking thing. The children are right to laugh at you, Doduo. These beaks couldn’t cut butter. C
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085. Dodrio
Type: Normal / Flying
Best Name: English
Now we’re talkin’. Mean faces are on point. These triplets are spoilin’ to Drill Peck some eyeballs out, and I don’t want to be the first guy to walk around the corner when they’ve gotta scratch that itch. What was once a wimpy kindergarten doodle is now a legitimately intimidating avian hydra. Three heads are definitely better than two. Solid work. B+
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086. Seel
Type: Water
Best Name: Otaria (French)
Not sure what’s up with the wolfpupy look, and even less sure of the unicorn horn, but I’m digging both choices. I could compare this Pokémon to a kiss from a rose on the grey, but that would be neither relevant nor funny. B
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087. Dewgong
Type: Water / Ice
Best Name: English
A lithe, elegant, majestic sea mammal … that still looks like a puppy. Underwhelming, not to mention a bit visually jarring. Still, a seaworthy companion, even if the cons of Ice types tend to outweigh the pros. Apropos of nothing, I’d like to see one disembowel a penguin, for nothing more than my personal amusement. B
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088. Grimer
Type: Poison
Best Name: Tadmorv (French)
Grimer—or Grimey, as he likes to be called—is a hillock of lilac-colored diarrhea with wide-open hypercaffeinated eyes and a mouth that never closes. Seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Grimer shut its mouth. Such behavior would dry out a lesser creature’s tongue, but Grimer’s poisonous liquid innards (and outards) keep it well-lubricated. Always looks like it’s doing an impression of Judge Doom melting in The Dip in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, which was the first movie scene that ever gave me nightmares (at age four). B
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089. Muk
Type: Poison
Best Name: Betbeton (Japanese)
So, the way to evolve a mound of poisonous goo is to pour more poisonous goo on it. Roger that. Muk seems like the kind of guy who would talk to you at a party if he noticed you looked nervous because you didn’t know anyone there. Fun to chill with.[1] You can bet his farts will be absolutely vile though. I don’t have much to say about Muk, but 12-year-old me would like everyone to know that “Muk” spelled backwards is “Kum”. Clearly, the Ekans naming system is a powerful tool that must be kept out of the wrong hands. B
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090. Shellder
Type: Water
Best Name: Muschas (German)
Sticking your tongue out is very rude. Besides, what have you got to be impudent about? You should be smiling! You’re a clam, after all. You have a reputation to uphold. C+
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Next time: Cloyster to Voltorb


[1] This was originally “Netflix and chill” before my wife informed me that that phrase implies the eventuality of sex. I’m glad I don’t have to date anymore.

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