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Bulbasaur has been the best Pokémon all along

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Plant it and watch it grow

James Bareham/Polygon

Bulbasaur is the best Pokémon. I apologize if you have a different (read: wrong) opinion. I too know the pain of learning a core assumption about how the world works has been misguided for decades. (For years I thought Wheel of Fortune was better than Jeopardy! I know!)

At different times in my life, I even drifted from the truth of Bulbasaur’s greatness, and thought Pikachu, Squirtle and even Klefki were the best Pokémon. Each time a good Samaritan grabbed me by the shoulders and guided me back to the golden path, I resisted. “How could a plant-type Pokémon best the best?” I would scream through labored breath. But with their support and patience, I eventually would find comfort in the supreme excellence of Bulbasaur.

Those who already know Bulbasaur is best know this comfort. For everyone else, I am deeply honored to introduce you to the serenity you deserve, for the universe ultimately leans towards goodness -- and Bulbasaur.

All Pokémon are wonderful, all a gift to pop consciousness. Bulbasaur just happens to be elevated above them by a certain je ne sais quois. Of course, I’m here to convince you of its excellent, so I will try my darndest to say quois.

To create a Bulbasaur you combine everything that makes life worth living: the cuddliness of a real good pup; the smile of a spouse on your wedding day; the eyes of a newborn seeing its parents for the very first time; the soul of the best friend who speaks at your retirement party, honoring you with memories even you had forgotten.

A proud Ivysaur raises his chin to the heavens. Game Freak/Nintendo

Of the three original starter Pokémon, Bulbasaur is well-suited for the majority of early and middle gym battles. I concede neither Bulbausaur nor its evolutions fare as well in the final gyms. Of course not! By that time Bulbasaur, the most affable of Pokémon has acquired so many friends, that it would be rude of it to handle these final challenges. Bulbasaur is like a parent who loosens the tight lid on a jar of jam, then lets their child finish the job, believing they were strong enough all along.

And here’s another piece of deeply rooted evidence of this Pokémon’s superiority. What number is Bulbasaur in the Pokédex? I’ll tell you: Number one. This placement wasn’t an accident, friends. No, I believe this was an intentional statement by the series’ creators. In an interview with Kotaku, longtime series producer and director Junichi Masuda defended Bulbasaur as the best starter Pokémon:

“He’s really cute, as a character,” Masuda explained as he laughed. “It’s kind of strange to say this, but it’s a very Pokémon-like Pokémon. It really kind of exemplifies what Pokémon is for me. It has that kind of monster-like creature, with a plant-like thing on its back—and I think that that simple combination exemplifies what Pokémon is all about.”

Now, you might see my byline and say, “Chris Plante, it seems like you have declared Bulbasaur the best Pokémon simply because your surname is Plante and Bulbasaur is a plant-type Pokémon. Your need for Bulbasaur be excellent speaks more to your specific insecurities about your quirky family name than it does Bulbasaur’s quality.” To which I say “Yeah, so?” and “Watch it, pal!”

You’re darn right I love that Bulbasaur is a plante. Bulbasaur quite literally provides us the air we breath. Bulbasaur, sustainer of our planet! Bulbasaur, giver of life!

Please understand that I don’t mean to diminish other Pokémon. If Bulbasaur is a 10/10, every other Pokémon is a solid 9.9/10. Except Exeggcute. A more appropriate name for Exeggcute would be Knockoff R.L. Stine Cover. Here’s how I would score Exeggcute. One point for simply existing. Three points for having a name that ends in “cute.” Zero points for being a garbage Pokémon. 4/10.

I digress. I come here not to bury Exeggcute, but to praise Bulbasaur.

You might find Bulbsaur and its evolutions comparably dull. When Bulbasaur evolves, it doesn’t turn into a dragon or sprout cannons. It gets bigger and older, its cute exterior becomes leathery and aged. Venusaur is not beautiful, let alone cool. But the steps from Bulbasaur to Ivysaur to Venusaur, of all Pokémon evolutions, is the most true to life.

Bulbasaur doesn’t change, it grows, it buds, it flourishes. Because as we mature, life isn’t about becoming something entirely different; it’s about finding and nurturing the best of what’s inside us. Then, one day, we bloom.

A hulking Venusaur does its best to smile for the camera. Game Freak/Nintendo