Welcome back to All Pokémon Graded, the feature that continues to give you what you never asked for: letter grades for all Pokémon currently in existence. We made it to the triple digits! Time to roll that beautiful bone footage.
Best Name: Lektrobal (German)
Last time, I threw the book at Voltorb and its meta nature, so it’s natural to think I’d have more of the same in store for its so-called “evolution”, Electrode. Actually. I’m going to do a total 180 and nominate it for Mega Evolution status. “What are you talking about, Jess? That’s madness!” Actually, it makes a lot of sense if you think about it. You could have it potentially Mega Evolve to any of the different kinds of Pokéballs, and have it based on stats. Like, if your stats are all maxed out, it becomes a Master Ball, naturally. If you’re fighting a Fire-type, it becomes a Dive Ball and all its moves gain a Water type. Etc., etc. Tell me that’s not totally genius. In its current form, however, it tops out at a C-.
Type: Grass / Psychic
Best Name: Nœunœuf (French)
I bet Exeggcute has the capacity to get pretty sadistic. For evidence of said capacity, look no further than the one in the back on the left. Its head is cracked open! Did its siblings turn on it when it decided it didn’t want to be part of a sextet and lobotomize it into acquiescence? It gives me the heebie-jeebies just to think of it. Still, pink is not an intimidating color, nor is the ability to be cooked. The one in the middle seems like it’s really enjoying its role as the leader. It is also the only one without any cracks in it. I think we have our prime suspect for poor Back Lefty. C
Type: Grass / Psychic
Best Name: Nassy (Japanese)
Exeggutor is allegedly based on a Japanese monster that is a tree with human heads, but I don’t buy that for a second, because if you want to draw a tree with human heads, then you draw a tree with human heads, not a palm tree with goofy-grinning coconuts. “Exeggutor” also does not quite sit right with me as a name. I understand “Exeggcutioner” would have surpassed the character limit of the day (a limit lifted only as recently as the current generation, with Fletchinder), but as it stands, the name makes it sound like it’s going to handle my affairs when I die, not crush my opponents. A big disappointment all around. D
Best Name: Osselait (French)
A good way for a Pokémon to get a boost to its mainstream reputation is to have a particularly depressing and/or morbid background story or Pokédex entry. No Pokémon ever pulled this trick off better than Cubone. According to the flavor text, the general idea is that Cubone loses its mother at birth and mourns that fact every day. There are numerous iterations of this idea, but the most chilling manifestation of it is the Diamond+Pearl/Black+White era Pokédex entry, which states: “When it thinks of its dead mother, it cries. Its crying makes the skull it wears rattle hollowly.” All of this often causes people to view Cubone as a woobie, but let’s not forget two key things here—namely, that its primary weapon came from its dead mother’s body, and that wearing the remains of others is super-creepy. B
Best Name: Knogga (German)
Notice that the skull that revealed the bottom of Cubone’s chin now envelops the entire head of Marowak. With evolution, the grief has now fully taken hold of the poor creature. Having become the very source of its sorrow, it is now locked in to the inevitable fate of enacting the same postpartum abandonment it once endured. A tragedy for the ages.
But seriously, I give Marowak situationally high marks because I’ve been enjoying its BREAK evolution in the TCGO of late. I’ve gotten a surprising amount of use out of it considering it’s technically a Stage 2 evolution, and it’s turned a few matches in my favor with the effect of its attack. Plus, how can you deny the awesomeness of an attack name like BONE REVENGE?? I submit that you in fact cannot. A
Best Name: English
Of the two Pokémon you can potentially receive from the fighting dojo, Hitmonlee is definitely the weirder one. It’s focused primarily on kicking, but the way it’s designed, it looks like it can stretch all its extremities Dhalsim-style. So the legs don’t feel super-special as a result. The overall lack of features is creepy, however, and therefore intimidating. It feels like some eldritch nightmare that assumed a humanoid form and decided it really liked hitting things with its feet. Honestly, there could be worse things for such a spectre to decide it liked doing. B-
Best Name: English
In English, Hitmonlee is partially named after Bruce Lee, and Hitmonchan is partially named for Jackie Chan. Because Jackie Chan is a world-class… boxer? Because of the hit Kids WB cartoon Hitmonchan Adventures? Because Hitmonchan was an affable yet talented film presence whose movies became increasingly goofier and reliant on magical MacGuffins while opening to diminishing returns? Wouldn’t it have made more sense to name it Hitmontyson, since Japanese developers already like modeling characters after him anyway? And yet, I can’t be too hard on the lovable scamp. The fact that it actually has a face humanizes it a little more, and its type-based punches make it a more versatile threat. Plus, tell me it’s not pulling off those frilly shorts right now. B+
BONUS GRADE: KIYO, THE FIGHTING DOJO GUY. In Red+Blue, you meet a guy in Saffron City who runs a fighting dojo. It isn’t an official gym, however, because Sabrina and her troupe of weirdos kicked his butt so hard that they revoked his dojo’s gym status and gave it to her. Don’t feel sorry for ol’ Kiyo, however, because he’s enjoying the revenge of living well: he shows up in X+Y starting a new dojo in Lumiose City, and as of this writing, fighting is arguably the best type in the card game, receiving tons of offense boosts in a format that currently favors raw power. Way to make good, Kiyo, old boy, you’re reaching for that dream. A
Best Name: Schlurp (German)
I get a little squicked out by tongues the way a lot of people claim to be disgusted by, e.g., the word “moist”. I know my tongue is definitely weird; I can inflate it into a puffy pink slab of muscle or I can flatten it out, and it’s got ridges and bumps and grooves all over it. It’s gross, but fascinating. That said, Lickitung is still only the third-most abominable tongue-centric creature I can think of off the top of my head, after Tung-Tung from The Tick (not to get too far ahead of my fledging episode reviews) and Gene Simmons. Depending on the Pokédex entry, the tongue can either cause a “tingling sensation” or paralysis, so use only as directed by a licensed physician. B
Best Name: Dogars (Japanese)
One of the various cosplay subgenres on the Internet is called gijinka, which is a sartorial anthropomorphization of a non-human anime character. It’s especially popular with Pokémon, since there are so many to choose from and so many possibilities for interpretation. I was introduced to the concept by a guy I used to work with named Sumner Bukoski, one of the co-founders of Titanesque Cosplay. He made the Koffing costume he wears in this skit from A-Kon 2015, which you should definitely watch, and which I dare not spoil, except to say 1) it makes me choke up every time, and 2) holy cow, that Attract attack really worked.
None of this really has to do with Koffing itself, about whom I really only have to say that I think it’s funny that the sprite artist goofed and put its skull and crossbones above its face in Red+Blue. Good grief, those were some janky games. B
Best Name: Smogmog (German)
I feel really bad for Weezing, because it looks like it is genuinely suffering, like one of those failed clones in a sci-fi movie that has just enough life left in it to be able to say “kill me”. Koffing was so happy and carefree, but now it’s sad and tired, and is forced to be conjoined with its underdeveloped twin by some frightening ligature made of God-knows-what. (This is all driven home even harder in the anime, where Koffing’s voice is deep and guttural yet boisterous, while Weezing’s more than lives up to its owner’s name.) Perhaps this is the effect of all that smog it’s putting out, breathing its own secondhand smoke. Captain Planet was right, y’all: looting and polluting is not the way. Hear what Captain Planet has to say. C+
Next time: Rhyhorn to Staryu
 You might be saying, “Jess, aren’t you the same guy who brought the hammer down on two innocent nerds for daring to have a Zelda-themed wedding?” To which my rebuttal would be that this is different, because the people watching the skit were there for cosplay shenanigans and got the, uh … ending as a pleasant and unexpected bonus. The people at the wedding were there for a wedding and knew in advance about the Zelda theme and that it would be at GameStop and chose to put themselves through it anyway.