Friday, September 17, 2021

Friday Creature Feature - Bulbasaur

In case you missed it, this year is the 25th anniversary of the Pokemon franchise. For those of us in North America, it’s more like the 23th anniversary, as the anime and the Gameboy games Red and Blue came to the Western Hemisphere in September 1998. So while we were a couple years behind Japan, it’s appropriate for us to celebrate Pokemon this year here too. So in honor of Pokemon’s anniversary, I wanted to spotlight the first Pokemon in the Pokedex: Bulbasaur.

Bulbasaur is the butt of many jokes, as Charmander and Squirtle are largely popular starter Pokemon--probably helps that the game in North America featured Charizard and Blastoise on the cover. But to be honest, Bulbasaur was always my go-to as a kid. He was the obvious choice to take on Brock and Misty with ease when playing Blue. Evolving into Ivysaur at level 16 and Venusaur at level 32, he was also the easiest to get to his highest form.

Based on video game Pokedex entries, Bulbasaur seems to be able to photosynthesize their own energy, able to go days at a time without eating solid food. As they do this, their bulbs are supposed to grow (presumably transforming into the flowers that Ivysaur and Venusaur have). Additionally, in the anime, Ash’s Pokedex claims their strongest attack is Solar Beam. Granted, that was before Frenzy Plant was a thing. 

In the video games, Bulbasaur can be obtained as your starter Pokemon in Red/Blue and Fire Red/Leaf Green or from a kind-hearted girl in Cerulean City in Yellow. These would be the last times you could receive a Bulbasaur without cheats or trades until Professor Oak gives you the opportunity to take one in Heart Gold/Soul Silver after defeating Red. Similarly, in X/Y Professor Sycamore gives you one of the Kanto starters in Lumiose City along with its Mega Stone. In Let's Go Pikachu/Eevee, they can also appear in rare spawns in Viridian Forest (as well as given as a gift in Cerulean City again).

Along with other Kanto starters, Bulbasaur also got a spot on Ash’s original Pokemon team in the Indigo League. Found in a hidden forest Pokemon village, Bulbasaur was initially distrustful of Ash and all trainers. However, after Ash saved the village from Team Rocket, Bulbasaur was willing to be caught by Ash. He ended up staying with Ash through the rest of the Indigo League (refusing to evolve into an Ivysaur along the way), throughout the voyage through the Orange Islands, and well into the journey into the Johto Region. He only left Ash’s side when Professor Oak needed him back at the lab to act as peacemaker.

While Ash’s Bulbasaur was helping Professor Oak, Ash’s new friend May also got the opportunity to catch a Bulbasaur in the Hoenn Region. After May helped Bulbasaur save the Forbidden Forest, she went with her and became part of her contest team. Still a bit aloof at times, May’s Bulbasaur helped her through her contests and the Grand Festival before going to the Kanto Region. She’d end up staying with Professor Oak while May traveled through Kanto and Johto, eventually evolving into a Venusaur before Ash saw her again in the Sinnoh Region.

While any individual of any species (even Pokemon species) is going to have its own personality, both of our main Bulbasaurs had strong wills and tons of confidence. Even when seemingly outmatched by Team Rocket, both of them were brave and resilient, never wanting to give up taking care of their trainers or their fellow Pokemon. So you may not love Bulbasaur the way he deserves, but that’s okay. Bulbasaur doesn’t need your love to be confident. Oh to be confident like Bulbasaur.

So if you love Bulbasaur, share this post and show our frog/plant friend some love!

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