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Don't Get Me Started: a Pokemon blog

Thread Description
In which I talk way too much about my favorite topic


Kitten of Lore
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
Jun 30, 2019
Gatto Region
She/her, Aetherai Lorekeeper
Pokémon Type
Fairy, Clever
Pokédex Entry
Autistic writer who starts more things than she finishes. Hyper asexual Twitch Plays Pokemon lorewriter. Rather be a happy shill than an angry critic.
So... this was inevitable. At some point or another my tendency to massively overthink my favorite things simply had to manifest itself into some form of outlet. I could have done this on Tumblr, but I'm wildly allergic to social media drama (and let's face it, Tumblr is the absolute last place you want to be on in 2020 because it's 2020). I wanted to do this on DeviantART, but Eclipse. So I'm doing this here. The plus side is that here, I can use spoiler tags to separate my articles into sections, so a reader can quickly jump between specific sections if they should so desire on the particularly long articles (and I do have a tendency to 'talk' on and on on the Internet about subjects that truly interest me).

I was inspired to do this by a series of PokeTubers whose work I really enjoy, such as Lockstin & Gnoggin, HoopsandHipHop, Bird Keeper Toby, and one of my favorites, the criminally underadvertised The Ruin Maniac Files. (Seriously, check him out. He's awesome.) But since I'm better at writing than talking, I chose to take the form of a blog instead.

My goal is to publish one article a week. Not all the articles will be as long as this one, because I do have other projects I'm working on. And while my hope is to eventually blog my way through the entire Pokedex, not all of my articles will be writeups on specific Pokemon families. Just so you're aware. I do want variety in what I cover. Each article will also end with a discussion question or two, to encourage reader interactivity. (And also because I just love talking about these things.)

So without further ado...

While not nearly as iconic or oversaturated as the Charmander line, the Bulbasaur line is well known for being the 'easy mode' starter of the Kanto games and Red's starter of choice in the Pokemon Adventures manga. (Yes, I know, technically Red's actual first Pokemon was Poliwag. What is it with him and frogs?) But as with many much-loved Pokemon species, Bulbasaur's line runs deeper than one might think at first glance.

As with most Pokemon, that's actually a complicated question. There was much debate in the past over whether the Bulbasaur line was based on frogs or dinosaurs, compounded by the fact that while many of its translated names involved references to dinosaurs, its Chinese names translated to "wonderful frog seed," while its original Japanese name translated simply to "strange seed" or "strange, isn't it?" Even in the anime, Ash's Pokedex states "Researchers are unsure whether to classify Bulbasaur as a plant or animal."

In an interview posted shortly prior to the release of Let's Go Pikachu and Eevee, Ken Sugimori, one of the founding members of Game Freak, revealed that the Bulbasaur line was based on frogs to evoke the experience of having a small animal pet, to give the game "a sense of reality" and allow the player to emotionally connect with their Pokemon. This was later confirmed in-canon with Venusaur's hopping animation and with Bulbasaur in the Detective Pikachu movie having slimy, amphibious skin.

Interestingly enough, Pokemon fan artist RJ Palmer (aka Arvalis) helped create the realistic Pokemon of the Detective Pikachu movie, and was scouted based on the realistic Pokemon fan art he was already well known for on DeviantART -- and prior to his work on the movie, he was firmly in the "Bulbasaur is not a frog" camp. (I wonder how he feels about how things turned out in the end.)

Interview source: https://www.pokemon.com/us/pokemon-news/creator-profile-the-creators-of-pikachu/

But why a bulb? And how exactly does a frog get a bulb on its back to begin with?

(WARNING: The following paragraphs contain NATURE, and certain aspects of said nature may be unsettling to the faint of heart. Nothing mature-rated here, just... unnerving biological realities.)

While I'm not sure whether these particular inspirations were ever actually considered in the Bulbasaur line's design, there are some interesting frog species that have unusual similarities to Bulbasaur. The most obvious are the various frog species that live within bromeliad plants. Both tree frogs and poison-arrow frogs (Grass-types and Poison-types?) will keep their tadpoles within the pool of water within the bromeliad, making Bulbasaur's setup an ironic reversion of species roles. Notably, the poison-arrow frog will go so far as to lay unfertilized eggs into the pool for her larvae to eat. Much like frogs themselves, this is equal parts awesome and disgusting.

However, the most awesome and disgusting (and egg-related) real-world counterpart to the Bulbasaur line would have to be the Surinam toad. Like Venusaur, it has a flattened body, a triangular head, and tiny eyes. Also like Venusaur, it has something alive growing under its skin.

When Surinam toads mate, after the male fertilizes the eggs, he very carefully places the eggs on the female's back, where they get absorbed into her skin. The skin grows back over the eggs, which are carried to term inside the honeycomb-like 'chambers' that form around them. The young grow into tiny toadlings, which eventually break out of their chambers and head out into the world. You can probably find videos of this process somewhere on the internet, but quite frankly, I'm too squicked out to search for one and risk having who knows what wind up in my YouTube search history.

The flower itself is based off of the Rafflesia arnoldii, the largest flower on Earth. It is the same flower that inspired Vileplume, which is said in its Pokedex entry to have the largest petals in the Pokemon world. (Obviously this was written before Gigantamax Venusaur was a thing.) What makes it all the more interesting to be on Venusaur's back is that the real-world Rafflesia arnoldii (or "corpse flower," so named because of its horrible smell) is a parasitic plant, although instead of taking root on the backs of frogs or toads, it grows on other plants. Also unlike Venusaur's symbiote, which has a clear trunk and leaves, the corpse flower lacks roots, leaves, and stems, and its main body consists of thread-like strands of tissue completely embedded inside the host plant's body. Similarly to Venusaur's plant, the flowers differ in construction based on being male or female, although the plant itself is unisexual.

While humans find the smell of the corpse flower horrendous, carrion feeding flies feel very differently, and are attracted to the stench. While the flies themselves get no benefits from the corpse flower, they do play an important role in pollinating the plant, as pollen from the male flower sticks to the flies and can be transferred to female flowers. Thankfully, the flower of the Bulbasaur line has a more pleasant aroma, and is known to smell sweet shortly before Ivysaur's evolution to Venusaur.

The corpse flower is one of the rarest and most endangered plant species on earth. Unlike the Bulbasaur line, the corpse flower does not thrive in captivity, and environmentalist attempts to grow the plant in protected environments have largely failed. In my research, I was unable to determine whether said environmentalists have ever attempted to grow the corpse flower on the back of a giant toad. That is one thing that, quite frankly, we may be better off not knowing.

(Nature ends here.)
Well, when a mother Venusaur and a father of the Monster or Grass egg group love each other very much...

All right, seriously, I promised no more nature, so my hyper-asexual self is going to back off here.

The difficult thing about pinpointing the region of Bulbasaur's origin is that, as with most starter Pokemon, Bulbasaur is quite rare in the wild. But it had to come from somewhere, which is why I'm going to go through most if not all of its 'wild Pokemon' appearances to try to narrow things down. (For the sake of canonicity, I will only be focusing on its video game appearances, so its appearance in Hoenn in the anime or Rime City in the Detective Pikachu movie will not be counted.)

In Generation 1, of course, Bulbasaur is available as a starter Pokemon in Red, Green, and Blue, and is gifted to the player by a girl in Cerulean City if Pikachu's friendship is high enough. These are not wild encounters, however, and do not qualify them as Kanto Pokemon. However, they are occasionally found in the wild in Viridian Forest in Let's Go Pikachu and Eevee, which could mean they are rare species native to the region. Alternatively, the wild Bulbasaur of LGPE could simply be feral Pokemon descended from captively bred specimens abandoned by their trainers. I do find this very unlikely, as you'd have to be an idiot to abandon your Bulbasaur before even facing Brock. But humans have done stupider things (such as some of the game design choices for LGPE to begin with).

Bulbasaur can also be spotted at the Bus Stop in Mintale Town in Pokemon Channel, which is heavily implied to take place in the Kanto region due to the presence of Viridian Forest. As this is an urban area, I am not counting this as a wild encounter.

Speaking of spinoff games, Bulbasaur can be seen in the wild in Pokemon Snap, specifically in the Pokemon Island river area. Notably, wild Porygon can also be seen in this area, meaning that not all the species on Pokemon Island were originally native there (Porygon being an artificial Pokemon designed by Silph Co.). We do learn some interesting facts about Bulbasaur behavior in the wild from observing these specimens: Bulbasaur will conceal themselves in hollow logs and stumps, not unlike actual frogs.

The first time in a mainline game in which players are able to legitimately capture a Bulbasaur in the wild is in Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, where it is available on Alola Route 2 while using Island Scan on Fridays. Why rare Pokemon appear with Island Scan and how they came to arrive in Alola to begin with is unknown, but many species of starter Pokemon can be obtained via Island Scan -- Chikorita in particular is available on that very route in the original Sun and Moon. Admittedly, it would be rather boring to just assume that all starter Pokemon originated in Alola, so we'll keep on looking.

Bulbasaur has also been available in Sword and Shield via Max Raid Battle events in the Wild Area, and a tame one capable of Gigantamaxing once it evolves exists at the Master Dojo on the Isle of Armor. (It is unknown whether this specimen was naturally able to Gigantamax, or had simply eaten the Max Soup often cooked at the dojo.) So Galar is another possibility for Bulbasaur's location of origin.

Wild Bulbasaur also exist in the Fiore and Oblivia regions, where rather than training and battling Pokemon, the humans of the regions live side by side with them and mostly leave them to their own devices in the wild. It is entirely possible that one of these is Bulbasaur's initial home. In Fiore, Bulbasaur is found in Lyra Forest and Kisara Plains, while in Oblivia, it is found on Dolce Island, Hinder Cape, and the Forest Temple, while Venusaur is found on Latolato Trail, the Dark Temple, and the Odd Temple. Notably, the temples are accessed from the past via Celebi's time travel, so Oblivia may well be the oldest known appearance of Bulbasaur in the games.

By 'may well be,' I must make one final qualifying statement. Wild Ivysaur can be also captured in certain Friend Safaris in X and Y, although whether this truly counts as 'the wild' is up for debate. However, it is largely assumed that Venusaurite was one of the Mega Stones created as a result of the firing of the Ultimate Weapon in the AZ War in Kalos three thousand years ago, making it probable that the Bulbasaur line existed in Kalos at the time. However, this does not state whether they were native to the region or introduced from somewhere else, possibly from Oblivia. Why exactly the three starter Pokemon of the Kanto region are all known to Mega Evolve is unknown, at least from a Watsonian viewpoint -- everyone already knows that Game Freak is playing to the Genwunner crowd and has been doing so for an obnoxiously long time. It's possible that the three starters were specifically chosen as starters because all three of them can Mega Evolve and/or Gigantamax... but it does seem like a particularly strange coincidence. But that's another story (and possibly a future theory article).

TL;DR: Lots of possibilities on this one, but I'm going with Oblivia.
(Yes, I am aware that the canonical term for this is 'evolution,' but that's kind of a confusing term because it can be taken to mean the other kind of evolution, so I'm going with metamorphosis. Sue me.)

An interesting quirk of frog Pokemon is that whether they hatch as tadpoles or froglets appears to directly correlate with their typing. Water-type frogs such as Poliwrath and Seismitoad start their lives as tadpole Pokemon, while Poison-type frogs like Bulbasaur and Croagunk start out as frogs. Of course, it's natural that Water-type Pokemon would be more at home in the water and that land-dwelling Pokemon would be less likely to have their offspring live in ponds, but there are of course exceptions (Surskit comes to mind, but mainly because Masquerain is awesome and I can't stop thinking about it).

Bulbasaur largely remains the same throughout its evolution, at least in its animal shape: it's a frog that grows into a bigger frog. (Contrary to popular belief, not all real-world frogs hatch as tadpoles.) The plant on Bulbasaur's back is another story. It naturally grows from a bud into a blossom into an entire tree, eventually (through either Mega Evolution or Gigantamax) becoming so enormous as to threaten to overtake its host Venusaur in size. The Venusaur itself likewise adapts to its own temporary transformation, with Mega Venusaur growing bulkier and developing 'thick fat' to halve its type weaknesses, and Gigantamax Venusaur becoming a colossus that's still dwarfed by its now-enormous flower.

Various forms of media have depicted Bulbasaur's metamorphosis in an interesting manner. In the anime, many members of the Bulbasaur line congregate together in various places to absorb sunlight to mass evolve. This was depicted both in the original generation's Bulbasaur's Mysterious Garden and in the more recent anime's Ivysaur's Mysterious Tower. Notably, even a Bulbasaur that does not evolve can still become larger and stronger, as The Mystery Menace revealed that a Bulbasaur that had been abandoned by its trainer for failing to evolve had grown to an enormous size (while still not evolving) while living in the sewer. It is entirely possible that the lack of sunlight within the sewer had led to Bulbasaur having to eat more than is usual for the naturally photosynthesizing species, which led to its unnatural growth.

In The Electric Tale of Pikachu manga, which is loosely based off the anime, Bill describes watching his Ivysaur evolving into a Venusaur as a slow process of 'bloom(ing)'. This is counter to other media's depiction of the process, which usually has it happen at the same rate as any other species' evolution.
One of my favorite aspects of multi-media franchises is that each new piece of media in the franchise provides its own new lore bits to digest. While this can be taken to unhealthy extremes when the media interpretations are strongly contradictory to each other (see: Sonic the Hedgehog), for the most part, the Pokemon franchise has managed to build itself up with its different interpretations of the canon, rather than tear itself down.

One important, and often overlooked, part of the Pokemon canon is the lore bits provided in the trading card game. From new moves to Shadow Pokemon to regional variants, many aspects of the Pokemon we know and love today originated from the trading card game. In addition, the cards themselves feature a great deal of original art that often depict Pokemon doing interesting things.


One example of the latter is Bulbasaur (Base Set 44), which shows Bulbasaur appearing to fire some sort of mist or cloud of smoke from its bulb. It could be an example of Stun Spore or Poison Powder, or it could be an action similar to how Red's Bulbasaur in the Adventures manga sucks up a Gastly into its bulb and expelling it out its mouth. This is not dissimilar to Ash's Bulbasaur using Whirlwind in the anime episode The Ninja Poke-Showdown, which is not a move that Bulbasaur can learn in the games.


Bulbasaur (Vending S1) depicts an unusual coloration of Bulbasaur, which is a deeper blue and has a spotted bulb. Given that its surroundings appear to be a lab of some sort, and one of its stated moves is "First Aid," it is entirely possible that this Bulbasaur is sick in some way and that its illness is responsible for its altered appearance. Notably, its other move is "Poison Seed," which is not the name of a move, but is the name of an item in the (released later) Pokemon Mystery Dungeon series that poisons the Pokemon hit with it. Other cards have Bulbasaur knowing moves like Sleep Seed, which is also an item in Pokemon Mystery Dungeon that causes the target it's thrown at to fall asleep.

The nature of this Bulbasaur's mysterious illness may well be the result of experimentation to 'close the door to its heart' as in Cipher's shadow Pokemon process, for Dark Ivysaur (Best of Game 6) features an Ivysaur of the same cobalt blue coloration, turned crazed enough to apparently headbutt into a wall/tree (it's hard to tell with the image). It's quite possible that this is the result of Dark Ivysaur entering Hyper Mode/Reverse Mode. Dark Ivysaur later evolves into Dark Venusaur (Best of Game 7), which retains the blue coloration, but its flower is a sickly yellow, rather than the normal pink of Dark Ivysaur. Dark Venusaur produces a "Horrid Pollen" that can inflict multiple status conditions at once; however, this is not unusual in the TCG, even for members of the Venusaur family, so Dark Venusaur's ability to do so likely has nothing to do with its unusual condition.


Bulbasaur (Expedition 94) also has the move Poison Seed, but shows Bulbasaur in an unusual position: on its back in a field of flowers. Given that the bulb on top of its back is used both in battle and for absorbing sunlight for energy, one would think that rolling over would be dangerous for its health. However, Bulbasaur appears blissful and happy in this pose, leading me to believe that the bulb may be sturdier than one could assume. This is not the only card to depict Bulbasaur among flowers; Bulbasaur (EX Team Magma vs Team Aqua 39) shows one standing in a field of daisies, while Bulbasaur (POP Series 2 12) has two Bulbasaur in a field of white flowers. Rather appropriate, given their evolutions.


While multiple cards depict Bulbasaur going after apples, Bulbasaur (EX Crystal Guardians 45) takes the flower association a bit farther than one might expect, depicting Bulbasaur with a pink flower partially in its mouth. However, the context of the picture indicates that Bulbasaur is not eating the flower, but plucking petals off of it -- two petals are missing from the flower and are blowing in the wind. This indicates that Bulbasaur may be engaging in a common human ritual: "She loves me, she loves me not." Given that Bulbasaur is most commonly seen living alongside humans, it shouldn't be all that surprising to see one picking up a human habit. (I do wonder who the heartthrob is. Possibly Ivysaur (EX Crystal Guardians 34), which is the other half of the image and is jumping up to catch the petals as they fly.)


Erika's Bulbasaur (Gym Challenge 39) shows that Gym Leader Erika owned a Bulbasaur, which she used to run errands for her (one of its moves is Errand-Running). This card is also the closest thing we have to confirmation that the status-inducing seeds that we see in the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon games do come from Bulbasaur: this Bulbasaur's other move is Sleep Seed, and its artwork directly depicts its bulb spitting out a seed very much similar in appearance to PMD's Sleep Seeds. Coincidence? Probably, but I'll take my theories where I can get them, thank you very much. This Bulbasaur later evolved into Erika's Ivysaur (Gym Challenge 41) and then into Erika's Venusaur (Gym Challenge 4). No, I don't know what's up with the numbering order either.


Ivysaur (Southern Islands 5) reveals an unusual side effect of the scent of its flower: healing damage taken. While Aromatherapy already exists in the game, the move Strange Scent in the TCG functions more similarly to Gen 8's Life Dew in that it heals direct damage to multiple Pokemon (in this case, depending on a coin flip and the decisions of the player(s) that win the coin flip).


Ivysaur (Bulbasaur Deck 22) depicts an Ivysaur using what appears to be Solar Beam... under a night sky. Interestingly enough, Solar Beam is not one of the moves on this card, which instead uses Leech Seed and Vine Whip. That's a bit of a waste if you ask me.


Ivysaur (EX Crystal Guardians 35) shows an Ivysaur on top of a mound of sand with seashells on it. Perhaps another example of a Pokemon picking up a human habit of play, although let's hope that it didn't get swallowed by a Sandygast shortly afterward. A Grass-type being eaten by a Ground-type would be very much embarrassing indeed.


Venusaur appears to get along quite well with other Grass-types, if the TCG is any indication. The anime confirms this in Grass Hysteria, where a Venusaur is the leader of a group of Grass-type Pokemon in the Forbidden Forest. Notably, Ash's Bulbasaur has been seen in Bulbasaur... the Ambassador! as a peacemaker between Pokemon of all sorts of types.

Celebi & Venusaur-GX (Team Up 1) depicts a Celebi and a Venusaur working side by side, which will prove ironic in the next segment, given the two species' history in the competitive scene. Venusaur & Snivy-GX (Cosmic Eclipse 1) shows a Venusaur fighting alongside a very energetic Snivy. Apparently nobody told those two the story of "Why Frog and Snake Never Play Together," because these two seem like the best of pals.
A number of Venusaur's competitive movesets involve inflicting status conditions such as Leech Seed and Sleep Powder. In addition, Venusaur has access to moves like Synthesis and Mega Drain, which allow it to recover health. Venusaur also has a Mega Evolution and a Gigantamax form.

Please note that the following summary is far from extensive and leaves a great many things out. A link to the Smogon page for Venusaur is provided at the end of this section of the article.

In Gen 1, Venusaur was UU (underused) tier, countered by Gengar, Exeggutor, and the three legendary birds, with Gengar and Exeggutor being especially dangerous. Venusaur does outspeed Exeggutor, though, and can put it to sleep with Sleep Powder (which Grass-types do not gain immunity to until Gen 6).

In Gen 2, Venusaur was put on the UU ban list, but Smogon describes it as "mostly inferior to Meganium due to its typing." (Before you think this is a terrible insult, be aware that Meganium isn't a bad Pokemon -- it's just the more forgettable of the Johto starters, and to be fair, it had some pretty stiff competition in Typhlosion and Feraligatr.) Venusaur also suffers from not being able to learn Sludge Bomb in GSC. Skarmory is a particularly effective Venusaur counter because it strongly resists the Grass type, resists Body Slam, and can use Whirlwind.

Gen 3 Venusaur remained on the UU ban list, and benefited from finally being able to learn Sludge Bomb. It still has problems against Skarmory unless it carries a Fire-type Hidden Power, and while Celebi may be Venusaur's buddy in the TCG, it's a powerful Venusaur counter in the Gen 3 metagame. Sleep Powder means that even Venusaur counters are not entirely safe to switch into, although Hypno and Banette can come in safely with the right ability.

Gen 4 saw Venusaur's return to the UU tier as a bulky sweeper -- not uncounterable, but not to be underestimated either. It can run a special attack set with Leaf Storm and Sludge Bomb, a physical set with Swords Dance, Power Whip, and Earthquake/Return, a physically defensive set, a specially defensive set, a mixed attacker set, a Choice Scarf set, a Substitute/Leech Seed set, you name it. Notably, every single set that Smogon lists for Gen 4 Venusaur involves Sleep Powder, which just goes to show why Sleep Clause is a thing.

In Gen 5, Venusaur finally officially made it to the OU (overused) tier, but the eventual Chlorophyll+Drought ban in that generation limited its effectivity, leaving it outclassed by Ferrothorn, Amoongus, and its old frenemy Celebi. It did see better usage in VGC, however, particularly alongside Drought Ninetales. Ironically, Venusaur's own ability works against it, as Fire-type moves are super effective on Venusaur and deal even more damage in heavy sunlight. In addition, Abomasnow can take away Venusaur's sunlight and deal massive damage with Blizzard.

Gen 6 saw the arrival of Mega Venusaur in OU, which negated Venusaur's Fire and Ice weaknesses through the Thick Fat ability. Mega Venusaur's bulk and defensive typing allows it to check a great many common threats in Gen 6 OU, including several other megas such as Altaria, Diancie, Gyarados, Lopunny, and Manetric. However, Mega Venusaur retained its Flying and Psychic vulnerabilities, which are two relatively common offensive types in the Gen 6 metagame (I'm looking at you, Brave Bird Talonflame). Mega Venusaur is countered by Fire types, Flying types, Psychic types, Chansey, and Kyurem-Black.

In Gen 6 doubles, non-mega Venusaur (which is RU/rarely used tier in Gen 6 singles) has strong offensive synergy with Mega Charizard Y, which packs Drought to boost its Chlorophyll (the combination is no longer banned in Gen 6). If Venusaur is the one mega evolving, Heatran makes a good partner to it with Heat Wave (eat this, Skarmory) and itself benefits from Mega Venusaur, which can counter rain teams. And of course Quick Guard users can protect Venusaur from that obnoxious Smogon bird.

Gen 7 Venusaur remains in the RU tier, while Mega Venusaur is on the UU ban list. Smogon describes Venusaur as "exclusively a choice for sun teams, as it is outclassed by Roserade and Shaymin otherwise." Growth is notably mentioned as a move for Venusaur because its effects double in strong sunlight, increasing Venusaur's Attack and Sp. Atk by two stages. When paired with Chlorophyll and possibly a Grassium Z, this is a force to behold. Torkoal is a recommended teammate for Gen 7 Venusaur teams, as this is the first generation in which it bears Drought. In this generation, Venusaur is countered by Dragon-types, Steel-types, Gigalith, and of course Fire-types, including Venusaur's old buddy Ninetales.

While Gen 8 canned Mega Evolutions indefinitely, it also saw the arrival of Gigantamax Venusaur, which was placed in the Ubers tier as with all G-Max forms. Venusaur itself is currently in the UU ban list, although the recent release of the Isle of Armor DLC for Sword and Shield (in which G-Max Venusaur debuted) has left the metagame in a tizzy, so it could be a while before Venusaur's definitive place in this gen's metagame is solidified.

For much more information regarding Venusaur in the competitive scene, you may consult its various Smogon articles: https://www.smogon.com/dex/ss/pokemon/venusaur/
Discussion questions: What is your favorite depiction/interpretation of the Bulbasaur line, either in fan works or official canon? Do you have a favorite Bulbasaur/Ivysaur/Venusaur character from a nuzlocke?


Kitten of Lore
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
Jun 30, 2019
Gatto Region
She/her, Aetherai Lorekeeper
Pokémon Type
Fairy, Clever
Pokédex Entry
Autistic writer who starts more things than she finishes. Hyper asexual Twitch Plays Pokemon lorewriter. Rather be a happy shill than an angry critic.
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #2
Originally, my plan was to just go through the entire Pokedex with articles on each Pokemon family in order. But it occurred to me that with the vast number of fan works created for this franchise, I could actually do two articles on each family: one for official content, the other for fan works such as species redesigns, variants, fusions, gijinkas, that sort of thing.

Let me just say, there is a LOT of cursed content on the Internet, and you should consider yourselves fortunate that I respect the creators of such content enough as human beings that I have resisted the urge to share said cursed content out of my refusal to further humiliate them.

So yeah. I'm only sharing what I consider to be the good stuff out of what I've found.

One of the most interesting aspects of the Pokemon fan community is the reimagining of canon monsters into alternate forms. Real-life animals can come in many different breeds and subspecies, so it's natural (no pun intended) that the same thing would happen with Pokemon. Which it did, eventually, first in the Orange Islands season of the anime, then in the Delta Species of the TCG, and finally into the games with Alolan and Galarian forms. In addition, many fans have redesigned Pokemon as realistic designs, humanoids, and even fusions with other Pokemon.

For this article, I shall scour the Internet in search of the Bulbasaur family variants that are the very best, like no one ever was. I'm aware that it's extremely difficult to improve upon perfection incarnate, but that's never stopped the fans before, and it certainly won't stop me. If you've found any that I've missed, then be sure to throw me a link!

Since I'd previously mentioned Arvalis in the previous Bulbasaur article, we'll kick off this one with his original take on the Bulbasaur line, which are, in his own words, "like a cross between a Horny Toad and a Scutosaurus." Notably, the Bulbasaur is eating a Nincada, while the Venusaur's plant is attracting some Ninjask which are almost certainly also going to be lunch. This isn't entirely unlike how the smell of the real-life corpse flower attracts carrion-feeding flies to pollenate it, except that these 'flies' aren't going to be pollenating anything if Venusaur eats them. Just sayin'.

JoshuaDunlop is another well-known realistic Pokemon designer, and his Bulbasaur is all kinds of adorable. Another reptilian version of the creature, this one sticks a bit closer to the canon version's proportions, and those eyes really get me.

Lo0bo0's Bulbasaur is definitively tree-frog-like, and is rendered with motion blur on the 'vines,' which are mostly white rather than green in color. This is more reminiscent of newly grown plant shoots than vines, which honestly works rather well for a first-stage Grass type.

Twarda8's Ivysaur is far more dinosaur-like, and bears some pretty wicked tusks and sharp claws. While the pattern on the skin looks natural, I do wonder why Ivysaur would have its skin patterning in areas where it would be covered up by the bulb's leaves anyway. What purpose would it actually have?

These 'realistic' takes by CamusAltamirano are most likely the closest (bar Detective Pikachu's beautiful designs) to the original artwork, while still bearing more detailed skin and plant textures to invoke the real-world flora and fauna that these Pokemon are based off of. Are they frogs? Are they reptiles? Or are they something in-between?
Rather than a fusion or regional variant of the Bulbasaur line, this image by Cryptid-Creations is a reimagining of the original creatures themselves. The pot on the back is a whimsical touch, leading to so many questionsas to the biology of these creatures. The plant has been redesigned as a venus flytrap of sorts, with the Pokemon bearing it growing increasingly grumpy as its symbiote develops. Maybe it's the weight of the pot? Or maybe it's the constant movement of the plant snapping at anything that moves (bye-bye, Butterfree).

This vaguely mammilian redesign by Sony-Shock evokes the concept of nature spirits, reflecting the Venusaur line's role as guardians of nature (as seen in the anime and in The Electric Tale of Pikachu manga). Ivysaur in particular is a favorite of mine, its face resembling some form of Animal Crossing cat. The vines and their patterns further enhance the piece, drawing the viewers' eyes across the image and towards its three subjects.

This "Bulbasaur 2.0" by Tooscoo goes for a more dinosaur-esque design, with the bulb and vines forming a ring around the animal portion of the Pokemon. Its body shape is more angular than the official Bulbasaur design, but is oddly adorable in its own way, even a bit turtlish.

Unlike the original Ivysaur, this design by VolatileT1MES retains the ability to stand on its hind legs, and has what appears to be fingers and thumbs rather than the original's claws. But perhaps the most striking aspect of its reworking are the rootlike vines that wrap around its arms, legs, and face. I must say that I'm partial to its catlike expression, especially with the wooden growths resembling whiskers.

https://deviantart.com%2Fshinygazza%2Fart%2FKanto-Reboot-800497425 https://deviantart.com%2Fshinygazza%2Fart%2FKanto-Reboot-2nd-stage-800739176 https://deviantart.com%2Fshinygazza%2Fart%2FKanto-Reboot-Final-Stage-800892958
These starter redesigns by ShinyGazza make Bulbasaur more easily identifiable as a tree frog, although I do have to wonder a bit about the 'bulb,' given that its patterning and lack of discernible 'leaves' makes it seem a bit more like a nut or a mushroom. The skin patterning is top-notch, though, and I love those cute little toes. There are also second and third stage versions, although I do have to wonder about Venusaur's 'hand' sticking out of the flower. That part just seems wrong, and this is coming from someone who's had to search up Pokemon gijinkas for this very article and whom has discovered some extremely cursed content (which, before you ask, I will not be sharing in this article, because no one deserves to see what cannot be unseen).

Another 'tree frog' redesign of Bulbasaur shares the spotlight with Charmander and Squirtle in Stabbler447's cute yet complex chibi designs. This time, the bulb is more of the proper bulb that original Bulbasaur had, but it bears a more vibrant, contrasting color scheme of light green with orange highlights, and it, too, has cute little toes. (I have no idea why the toes get me. They're just toes. But they're adorable.)

This figurine by Hontor bears special mention for the interesting swirling patterns in its 'skin,' although I'm not really sure what's up with the shape of the bulb. Maybe it's lightning, or perhaps the angle of the photograph, but the bulb does seem a bit lopsided.

And finally, another design by Twarda8 (who also drew a realistic Ivysaur featured above) shows a more infantile Bulbasaur, this one with smaller ears and a rounder head shape. Featured solely because it is a bean and deserves to be seen.

This first piece of work, by Steph Walker, is a beautifully rendered version of the Bulbasaur family line, but instead of their usual 'corpse flower' plants on their backs, they instead bear cacti. They are described as a 'desert variant' of Bulbasaur, which explains their sandy orange coloring, which replaces the canon Bulbasaur's greener hues and provides excellent camouflage from predators. In addition, this Bulbasaur line appears slightly spikier and toothier, looking something similar to the desert-dwelling horned toad (which despite its name, is not actually a toad, but a species of spiky lizard). Walker has specifically said "Please don't take these and put them on reddit I swear to GOD," but they never said that I couldn't put them on the Nuzlocke Forums, so I'm gonna drop a link here and hope it all works out.

Interestingly enough, the fangame Pokemon Infinity also has a version of the Bulbasaur line with a more earthy color scheme and a cactus on its back. Its type is Grass/Ground, its ability is Solid Rock, and it learns a few moves that regular Bulbasaur does not learn, such as Harden and Mud-Slap. It also learns an all-new move called Dry Needles, which is a Grass-type version of Fury Swipes. And no, that's not just a reskinned Bullet Seed, as Fury Swipes has 18 Power and Bullet Seed has either 10 Power (Gens 3-4) or 25 Power (Gens 5+).

This Desert Spiny Bulbasaur sculpture by Carcardontalicious is another desert-dwelling member of the Saur family, "inspired by animals of my hometown." Unfortunately they failed to identify the plant on top of this warty creature's back, but it doesn't appear to be any species of cactus that I know of. Not that I'm an expert or anything, mind you. The general body shape and coloration appears to draw from the same 'horned toad' inspiration that Steph Walker's Bulbasaur line came from, proving that great (and creative) minds often think alike.

This interesting collection of Bulbasaur variants by AltabetStudios is drawn in a simple, cartoonish style, and portrays a number of different plants and the adapted breeds that host them. Most notable are the fearful Fungus symbiote, the spiky and toothy Rosethorn, the adorable Dandelion (which oddly enough appears to be in the final stages of the dandelion life cycle rather than the bud form), and... yet another Cactus variant. I'm beginning to sense a pattern here.

This Autumn Bulbasaur line by TheMeekWarrior is a bit different, portraying the Bulbasaur evolutionary line with, instead of a plant bulb, a rapidly growing pumpkin on their back. If you can look past the biological incongruity of the pumpkin growing despite the stem already being cut (Pokemon has done worse things to science), the patterns on Bulbasaur and Ivysaur and the garnish of leaves on the latter two evolutions make these one of the most well-executed Bulbasaur line variants I have yet seen.

Darksilvania's Kroelian Bulbasaur line is a Grass/Fairy variant, bearing an unusual 'bulb' on its back that bears aspects of both mushrooms and crystals, two items well known to have connections to fairies. What makes this variant stand out from the crowd is its Mega Evolution, which is not in fact a Grass-type at all, but Electric/Fairy, a creature with organic 'wires' and a 'satellite dish' resembling the type of design you might find in Pokemon Uranium. All in all, this is certainly one of the more unique Venusaur variants out there, and dare I say, at least a bit more creative than the more well--known other Fairy-type Venusaur line from Pokemon Insurgence.

https://deviantart.com%2Fpurplehairedtrashcan%2Fart%2FFemale-Delta-Ballsbasaur-redesign-701035938 https://wiki.p-insurgence.com/Delta_Bulbasaur_(Pok%C3%A9mon)

And speaking of Pokemon Insurgence's Delta Bulbasaur, here's PurpleHairedTrashCan's take on reworking the original design by EchoTheThird. This Fairy/Psychic type bears some resemblance to the original, but its colors and patterning are altered, and it bears a set of feathered wings. (For the sake of comparison, I have also linked to Insurgence's actual Delta Bulbasaur, but it's easily the weakest of the three Delta starter designs if you ask me.)

https://deviantart.com%2Fmidnitez-remix%2Fart%2FPkMn-Purple-Bulbasaur-Redesign-2-0-744420665 https://deviantart.com%2Fmidnitez-remix%2Fart%2FPkMn-Purple-Ivysaur-744422727 https://deviantart.com%2Fmidnitez-remix%2Fart%2FPkMn-Purple-Venusaur-744430706
Midnitez-Remix designed an entire Bulbasaur variant line, this one being Grass/Rock type, with crystals sprouting from its skin much like the bulb sprouts from its back. Ivysaur bears sharper crystals, some growing out of the bulb itself (which, notably, has not yet bloomed into a flower.) Finally, the Venusaur variant has its leaves spread out to accommodate an enormous bulb-shaped crystal, and also bears a long, spiky, draconic tail that the official version lacks. I can only imagine what this thing looks like Mega Evolved... or Gigantamaxed. (Honestly, its bones must be made of rock to carry a bulb that big.)

https://deviantart.com%2Fnyjee%2Fart%2FStarter-Pokemon-Regional-Variant-690598084 https://deviantart.com%2Fnyjee%2Fart%2FStarter-Pokemon-Regional-Variant-2-690773077
Finally, Nyjee of DeviantART has created not simply a Bulbasaur variant line, but variants of every starter Pokemon from generations one through seven. Their Bulbasaur is a Fire-type with a volcano mounted on its back, which evolves into a Fire/Rock type Ivysaur. Unfortunately, the artist has yet to supply us with the final evolutions of these unique Pokemon variants, yet alone their Mega Evolutions or Gigantamax forms. Perhaps another day, far in the future...
This Bulbasaur/Sandile fusion line by Puppsicle is very well rendered, depicting shading and skin patterns quite well. The plant remains mostly unchanged, although the final evolution's plant seems a bit flattened -- most likely to ensure it stays within the picture's borders. They are chonks and I love them.

In another example of great creative minds thinking alike, the fangame Pokemon Fusion Origins has a Bulbasaur/Sandile fusion known as Bulbadile as one of its starter Pokemon. Unlike Puppsicle's version, Bulbadile retains Bulbasaur's aquamarine coloring, but bears the black mask and toothy snout of Sandile. (Voltsy's playthrough linked here shows a later version of the sprite used in a more recent update to the game -- we don't talk about what it looked like before, although a YouTube search of "Pokemon Fusion Origins" should lead you to a video with that image by HoodlumScrafty. It's not as bad as you might think, but not as good as to be worth looking up, IMO.)

This Bulbasaur/Mudkip fusion was a commission drawn by Mondlichtkatze for Claire-Cooper, and while its body and head design are cute as heck, what really makes it stand out is the 'plant' on its back. Instead of a common bulb, this fusion's plant is a blooming flower with petals resembling Mudkip fins and a pair of blue vines extending from the flower. I'd say Claire-Cooper got their money's worth on this one!

These "Bulbasaur Breeds" by DurrCo-Arts not only have aspects of different Pokemon species, they even have a few extra moves gained through their breeding. The first breed, which carries aspects of Snorlax, Slowpoke, and Slowbro, inherits Amnesia or Curse. The second, fathered by the Blastoise line, inherits Skull Bash. One can only imagine how this could affect the metagame, or what their final evolutions' Gigantamax forms would look like.

Firmly in the "wrong as hell" territory (and I mean that in the best, most unsettling way possible), we have Voltaisa's sprites of Bulbasaur/Duskull line fusions. A Pokemon of life and a Pokemon of death unite into the shapes of horrors beyond all imagining. They are completely bizarre and I love them for it. I'm not sure I would trust the final evolution to be my partner Pokemon, yet alone to Mega Evolve or Gigantamax (neither of which are depicted, but both of which would almost certainly be the harbingers of Eldritch horror).

Another unsettling creation is TBROFusion's "Bulbasaur edit," which is described as a mix between Bulbasaur, Furret, and Scizor. While the creator claims it obvious what parts came from which sprites, the color scheme doesn't really fit with any of them, which is curiouser and curiouser. Very much like this sprite itself, which seems to be staring into my soul.

For a look into the process of creating a fusion, watch D.T Drawing's video in which a fusion of all three original Kanto starters is completed. (No, I didn't leave out a period on their name. That's literally how it's spelled. Heck if I know why.)

And of course, RaZzi has gone and made a video showing Bulbasaur fused with literally every single other Pokemon in the original Kanto dex, because Wynaut.


Honorable mention: the original Bulbasaur family fusion, Venustoise. Starting life in the official anime as an illusion created by a Gastly to frighten Ash's Bulbasaur and Squirtle, this is arguably the 'original' fusion and has inspired countless fusions the world over.
In this piece by Alukelele, the 'bulb' on Bulbasaur is depicted as a backpack held on with straps. The color palette and shading are soft and understated, and the somewhat androgynous gijinka somewhat reminds me of the gym leader Bugsy. There's even a little regular Bulbasaur standing at their feet for comparison.

This adorable -- and adorably simple -- Bulbasaur gijinka by Howwiee also shows the bulb as a backpack. Its subject, a small child, wears a hat somewhat similar to Brendan's from the Hoenn games, complete with a little bit poking out to symbolize the ears. The child bends down to touch fingers with a non-gijinka Bulbasaur, leading to some interesting philosophical questions as to the nature of gijinkas and just how close they are to their Pokemon counterparts. (Well, at least that's how I see it.)

Though this Ivysaur gijinka by Nirvna-chan is only shown from the waist up, their plant aspects are expertly worked into the character design, with the flower bud growing out of the hair, the leaves sprouting from the back, and the vines serving as additional 'limbs' to clutch an Ivysaur trading card. Judging from the gijinka's expression, they didn't expect to be photographed.

https://deviantart.com%2Fmizuki-minoru%2Fart%2FVenusaur-Gijinka-592444741 https://deviantart.com%2Fmizuki-minoru%2Fart%2FIvysaur-Gijinka-583189349
This Venusaur gijinka (excuse the watermark) by Mizuki-Minoru has no true animal or plant features on the body, simply depicting the humanoid dressed in clothes bearing a Venusaur motif. Most notably, a pattern of palm leaves adorn the dress in the form of an extra skirt, and the hat carries the pattern of the flower on Venusaur's back. Even the tree trunk is referenced in the lady's top.

A similar pattern is seen in the same artist's Ivysaur gijinka. Her top is formed from Ivysaur's flower, and the leaves form a pattern on the skirt. Even her headband and shoes bear tiny Ivysaur flowers.

And finally, while not actually a gijinka art piece per se, GL-Gloria has designed an interesting set of fashion pieces based off of the Bulbasaur line. Given the high number of cursed images I had to go through to give you this small sampling of actually decent Bulbasaur gijinkas, I feel like padding the article out just a tiny bit is justified. (Seriously, don't go searching for Bulbasaur line gijinkas on DeviantART, especially the later evolutions. Why? You don't want to know. Which means you'll probably do so anyway, but trust me, you'll regret it. I certainly regret it.)
Discussion questions: If you were to redesign the Bulbasaur line, which aspects would you change, and which would you keep? Are there any moves or abilities you wish that the Bulbasaur line had?
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