Pokemon Type Reviews: Bug


Most of you know that the entire existence of Arthropods might be my single favorite thing about the very universe we inhabit; the one minimum reason I'd bother to keep living if I'd never found anything else of interest on our planet. Their importance to said planet can't possibly be understated...and neither can their importance to Pokemon. Satoshi Tajiri himself cites insect collecting as the entire basis for the Pokemon world, and the idea of a video game in which monsters are traded between players came to him when he spied a tiny beetle walking its way along a gameboy cable.

It's no surprise, then, that arthropods would get their own designated elemental type, or that it would be one of the most common in the game, though its strengths and weaknesses leave a bit to be desired. Bug type moves are resisted by a whopping seven types: fire, fighting, poison, flying, ghost, steel, and now even fairy. Defensively, bugs are strong only to grass, fighting and ground but weak to the extremely common fire, flying and rock.

Where bug types shine is only really in their elemental strengths. Their moves hit harder against grass, psychic and dark, three of the game's most common and popular types with dark in particular posing a constant competitive threat. And why are bug types strong against dark?

Between Kamen Rider and the association between Samurai and "kabutomushi" or horned beetles, there's a long standing tradition of insects as symbols of heroism in Japan, and it's even reflected by a couple of the bug type moves, such as Silver Wind and Signal Beam; move names that reek of the "tokusatsu" genre. This is also why bug resists fighting types and was actually strong against poison in the first generation, because poison was the go-to "villainous" type before dark was introduced.

Heck, really looking at the bug types as a whole, it occurs to me that virtually none of them are designed to look "creepy." Some are designed to look menacing, but like real arthropoda, they tend towards pleasant shapes and colors rather than the usual pop-culture impression of a "gross and crawly" creature. No bug-type pokemon are themed around being pesky, dirty or unpleasant and no mention is ever made in the dex that any bug type is reviled or feared. Whether stylized into a cartoony elf with an exoskeleton or reasonably close to reality, bug types really seem to celebrate the diversity, beauty and ecological importance of their inspiration.

...But even so, I still wouldn't be adverse to some nasty ones. Nasty can still be cute, too!

MY TOP SIX FAVORITES:

I'd just like to say once more how wonderful it is that this franchise has two completely different dead cicadas as monsters, and together with Wormadam, two completely different bagworms with the power to explode.

MY NEXT SIX FAVORITES:

MY LEAST FAVORITES

I CAN'T DO IT AND YOU CAN'T MAKE ME

THE MOST CREATIVE:

Yeah, the fact that nobody can even figure out what Shuckle is supposed to be definitely qualifies as creative. Shedinja, however, really takes the cake as one of the most novel concepts in the entire series.

SCARIEST/MOST BADASS:

There are some creature designs you could just take one look at and know that one or more of your body parts are going on an extended vacation.

MY LEAST FAVORITES

NO. I WILL NOT.

THE PRETTIEST:

I decided I wouldn't allow more than one Lepidoptera in this category, so I chose what I feel is the nicest looking among them.

THE CUTEST:

THE GOOFIEST CHARM:

THE BUGGIEST:

I enjoy the zany stylization throughout the bug type, but it's still really cool when a bug pokemon truly looks like one big, giant arthropod.

WEIRDO ARTHROPODS THAT AREN'T BUG TYPE:

I get that for some of these, a different type combination took priority... but crustaceans and insects are biologically even closer than arachnids and insects. There's simply no excuse for Kingler, Clawitzer and Crabrawler to not be secondary bug types.

TECHNICALLY THE ONLY ACTUAL BUGS:

The distinction has long become pedantic to point out, but originally, "bug" was a term as specific as "beetle" or "fly," referring only to insects of the order Hemiptera. Two flavors of cicada and a water strider - which ceases to even be a water strider at maturity - are presently the only Hemiptera represented in this series at all, unless the "scale insect" theory holds some water for Shuckle.

...ALRIGHT FINE, MY ""LEAST"" FAVORITES

These six are all still PRECIOUS ANGELS, but I guess they're the least "my style" of all the bug types to choose from, or in some cases, such as Ribombee and Armaldo, I just don't love them half as much as I love their unevolved forms. Butterfree, meanwhile, I put here just because Venomoth existed in the same generation. Sorry, Butterfree, you're just not Venomoth.

WHAT'S MISSING?

....WHAT ISN'T??? Allow me to just rip from my own "Animals Begging to be Pokemon" feature from a few years back...


A Flea

One of my favorites, fleas are easily mankind's favorite bloodsucking parasites, considering how many times they've been made into cartoon characters. There are many ways a flea pokemon could go, but I think the most fun would be if it were truly the very tiniest pokemon of all time, even half the size of Joltik or less, but with surprisingly tough defenses. Have you ever tried to defeat a persistent flea with your bare hands?


A Tick

Unlike fleas, ticks seem to be completely ignored by most of our popular culture. I guess if it hops around to suck your blood and you can barely see it, people are more willing to project "cuteness" onto it, but if it kind of looks like a spider and it buries its face in your flesh, nobody wants to think about it. Whatever. I think ticks are awesome, and I still say that as someone who was scared to death of them. The aforementioned "Joltik" seems to borrow a bit from these oversized mites, but it's still mostly spider, and evolves completely spider, so a proper tick is still in order. As I've mentioned in the past, my own concept for a tick pokemon would be a bug/psychic type that sucks on brains instead of blood, or in pokemon-friendly terms, "draining psychic energy" I guess. Make its body actually resemble a cartoon brain and we're really talking.

(image source) I guess we can't talk fleas and ticks without a louse, completing the trifecta of the most infamous ectoparasitic arthropods to bite us humans. Lice are a lot cooler than people think they are, though; a different species is unique to almost every bird and mammal on our planet, their bodies shaped especially for their host's specific skin, fur or feather texture. Did you know elephant lice have long noses and llama lice have long necks? No, seriously, the elephant ones need a proboscis to penetrate their host's thick skin and the llama ones use their necks to reach through extra thick and curly fur.

So, for a pokemon, we could have another super-tiny bug type, like my flea suggestion, but once it evolves, it could gain a secondary typing that's super effective against the last pokemon it fought, and learns a draining move that automatically matches that typing. Just like the real thing, it adapts to a specific kind of host.


The Orthoptera

With Kricketot and Kricketune borrowing their designs from beetles, we actually don't have a real cricket pokemon at all. Nor do we have a katydid, or most shockingly of all, a grasshopper. With that aforementioned popularity of Kamen Rider, I feel like a grasshopper would end up with a sentai hero theme for sure, and it would be especially cool if it had a dark-type counterpart, or better yet, the ability to change into a dark type, like how locusts are actually just grasshoppers who entered a feeding frenzy mode under stress.


Termites

I feel like an opportunity was seriously wasted when Durant had no evolutions or alternate forms. Where are the queens and soldiers and all that cool eusocial stuff?! We'll just have to leave it up to termites, who could also fill the empty niche of fully evolved bug/ground pokemon. You could have a big, defensively oriented queen whose eggs only ever hatch into genderless workers, which in turn could evolve into either a large-jawed physically offensive soldier or a specially offensive "nasute" soldier - that's the kind that sprays a poisonous gunk from its gun-like forehead! I think it may also be interesting if pokemon termites ate something other than wood, so I'm going to go with rock. They're bug/ground and eat rocks.


A Velvet Worm

(image source) Still a relatively obscure animal and not so obvious to some, velvet worms are closely related to the earliest ancestors of the arthropoda, and cool for all sorts of reasons. One would also be the best possible reason for a bug/ice pokemon, both because some species prefer cold environments and because an ability to freeze their prey isn't that far removed from the real animal's natural "glue gun" attack!


A Fly

Yes, technically we finally have a fly thanks to the Cutiefly line, but you know what I mean. A housefly, a horsefly, a blowfly, a tachinid fly...the kind of insect people actually think of when they think "fly." As long as it's a hairy, scuzzy little trash-eater I'll even accept one with one of those weird cartoon-man faces like they put on Volbeat or Weedle...which would ultimately just be a Pokemon equivalent to Baikinman, I guess. As I've mentioned before, a big and menacing reference to Beelzebub would also be amazing, and of course, I'd also enjoy a reference to The Fly with a "mad scientist" motif. In any case, bug/dark is my typing of choice, even if it would have some pretty terrible weaknesses. Speed, status moves and prankster would make up for that anyhow.

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