All Pokémon Graded, Part 13: Nos. 121 to 130 (Starmie to Gyarados)

Welcome back to All Pokémon Graded, the highly unscientific serial listicle for the discerning time-waster with impeccable taste. In this installment, an inordinate amount of non-evolvers, many of them problematic.

250px-121starmie121. Starmie
Type: Water / Psychic
Best Name: Akusta (Korean)
To a far greater degree than with Staryu, I fear Starmie’s total lack of sentient indicators. I do not believe there is a single organic component in Starmie’s body. I would more readily believe that it is made of fiberglass than of some chitinous exoskeleton. Starmie wigs me the frig out. But in the words of jam band moe. in their epic song “Plane Crash”, “fear is a good thing, it teaches us humility / and it can keep us sane.” And if you bring the wrong team to Misty’s gym, boy howdy, will her Starmie teach you some humility. Thanks for keeping us down to earth with your frightening jewel eye, Starmie. B

250px-122mr-_mime122. Mr. Mime
Type: Psychic / Fairy
Best Name: Señor Mime (Spanish)[1]
In Red/Blue, you can only get a Mr. Mime by trading in-game for one, and its nickname is Marcel. This is no doubt a reference to Marcel Marceau, but I prefer to think it’s a reference to the monkey from Friends, on account of the fact that I hate working with it so much that rumors have circulated that I am allergic to it.

Mr. Mime has a male honorific in its name, yet somehow 50% of all Mr. Mimes are female. Do these 50% make 75 Pokécents on the Pokédollar? How do they feel, traversing their conflicted existences, being almost unanimously erroneously perceived as male? Mr. Mime may pretend to be trapped in an invisible box, but the glass ceiling is all too real. Truly, in the Kanto region as in real life, it’s a man’s world. Deplorable. D-

250px-123scyther123. Scyther
Type: Bug / Flying
Best Name: Srak (Korean)
Scyther may stand on two legs, and it may have scary sickle-like appendages, and it may have big wings, and it may be nearly five feet tall, but at the end of the day, it’s a Bug Pokémon, and Bug Catchers are still the worst type of trainer, and all I have to do is torch it with a Flamethrower attack—or, since it’s also Flying type, bring out the bug zapper (a.k.a. Pikachu)—to send this big bug into the fetal position. C+

250px-124jynx124. Jynx
Type: Ice / Psychic
Best Name: Rossana (German)
Oh, honey. We cannot go anywhere without first talking about that shameful cover-up job. Don’t pretend like you don’t know what I’m talking about. Your face, of course. Nobody fell for it when they changed Mr. Popo to blue and no one’s falling for your purple getup. Though in fairness, you can’t help it that you were created in a country that portrayed blackness as sensitively in the 1990s as America did in the 1890s. Also, Ice/Psychic is a pretty sweet type combo, especially in Gen I. Only Pokémon to walk into a salon, request “the Rachel”, and have the hairdresser get it 100% right. B-

250px-125electabuzz125. Electabuzz
Type: Electric
Best Name: Elektek (German)
Consigned to living in Pikachu’s shadow, could never be as cool or cute as Pikachu even if it wanted to be. Shows up far too late in most games to have any real enduring impact. Has attended at least three music festivals based solely on the appearance in the lineup of a band whose music you have never heard and would hate if you did. Probably sheds like crazy. Three-quarters of Electabuzzes are male, which feels exactly right. Does not understand why it is not cool to admit that you still own a pair of Hammer pants. C+

250px-126magmar126. Magmar
Type: Fire
Best Name: Boober (Japanese)
Not at all sure what’s going on here. The only thing I can think of is if Howard the Duck drank too much revitalizing nerve tonic and took up bondage play and customizing hot rods. Excretes solid waste from its forehead in my headcanon. The details are very foggy, and I don’t know how canonical it is or when it started, but Magmar and Electabuzz have been implied to have this kind of bizarre odd-couple friendship based solely, as far as I can tell, on the fact that they are next to each other in the Pokédex. I suppose lifelong bonds have been forged from less. I don’t understand anything about this Pokémon or this brolationship and frankly, I refuse. Gen VI Pokédex entry says it’s found “near the mouth of a volcano”, which if applicable to Pokémon GO would add more great (if largely apocryphal) stories of Darwinian stupidity to the already substantial pile. C

250px-127pinsir127. Pinsir
Type: Bug
Best Name: Scarabrute (French)
Among Pokémon I’ve seen and heard people excited to catch in Pokémon GO, Pinsir has come up quite often, which surprises me, since most normal people would freak out if they encountered Pinsir in the wild the way Misty did when she saw a Caterpie. I personally wouldn’t worry, however, as its bark has long been known to be worse than its bite. If you think regular Pinsir looks scary, Mega Pinsir looks downright possessed, and grew wings, which it probably needs because the evolution process inexplicably decided to leave it without functional feet. B-

250px-128tauros128. Tauros
Type: Normal
Best Name: English
Tauros is among the more resolutely normal-looking Pokémon, except for the three tails. I thought they were weird, so I looked into it, and it turns out he BEATS HIMSELF WITH THEM to whip himself into a frenzy for battle! Tauros! Buddy! Self-flagellation is not the answer! Chug a Red Bull, dump a bucket of ice over your head, or something, but seek help. I would be inclined to rate it higher if it wasn’t Normal type, but I don’t know what type it would qualify for otherwise, except maaaaaybe Ground. B-

250px-129magikarp129. Magikarp
Type: Water
Best Name: Ingeoking (Korean)
Despite the fact that we are told as children never to judge a book by its cover, we go on to spend our adult lives constantly being judged by covers—besides résumés and interviews, and the perception of our work performance is often far more important to our immediate supervisors than the truth of it. Magikarp is pretty much the only reason I can come up with  that phrase is not complete and utter bunk.

The legend behind the Magikarp line, originating from China, is that carp that leapt over the waterfall known as the Dragon Gate, they would turn into dragons themselves. It’s an allegory for tenacity and perseverance. If you face the Gate and keep leaping, then one day you’ll leap high enough, and then you too can emerge from your hardships a mighty dragon.

It’s difficult to properly rate Magikarp. On its own merits, it’s completely awful. Its offensive options are extremely limited (when they exist at all), and all it does is flop around and make a fool of itself. On the other hand, it would be silly to kid ourselves after nearly two decades that we don’t know what it eventually evolves into, and it’s not proper to review things in a vacuum. The best way to go is likely to split the difference. C

250px-130gyarados130. Gyarados
Type: Water / Flying
Best Name: English
Gyarados is one of the few Pokémon to achieve a rarefied Pikachu level of cool in that they were able to keep the Japanese name on it when they exported it because they knew nobody would ask questions and everybody would think it was awesome. And you know what? That’s exactly what happened. Except in France, where it’s called Léviator, which sounds like half of a Harry Potter incantation. Sorry, France.

One enduring source of bafflement surrounding Gyarados is the fact that it’s never had a Dragon typing, either as its main or subtype, and consider me as curious as anyone. If Gyarados doesn’t qualify as a Dragon, then what does? Mega Gyarados incredibly also fails to rectify this bizarre mislabeling (Dark? Really?? Ugh), and on top of that, looks bloated instead of intimidating. Still, not enough to bring this O.G. down. A

Next time: Lapras to Kabuto

[1] According to Bulbapedia, some Latin American dubs of the anime refer to him by this name. We will hereafter refer to these as “the superior Latin American dubs”.

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