The Pokémon series is nearly as old as I am, and yet the energy around it feels stronger than ever. Detective Pikachu trounced my (low) expectations, and aside from the grumbling about the “National Dex,” Sword and Shield hype is off the charts. I just can’t keep my mind off of Pokémon! I’ve always daydreamed about what kind of trainer I’d be, so for once, I thought it’d be fun to make it formal. Here’s my best guess at the Pokémon I’d want to be friends with. Let’s Go!
Gaze upon this enormous boy, and bask in its grandeur! Wailord is incredible and needs no explanation, but sure, I’ll indulge you. According to an encyclopedia entry in Super Smash Brothers (Wii U), this smiling, sentient long john is as large as a five-story building. Seriously, they’re calling that a “pocket monster”…? If I can only choose six Pokémon to be my adventure pals, then obviously one of them will be the blue tree trunk from the ocean deep.
As a kid, I briefly maintained one of those weird, childish facades that I didn’t actually like grass type Pokémon. I was young and impressionable, and wanted to be some kind of Cool Guy™! Someone like Lance or Blue - both of them used Gyarados! But as one set of games came out, and then the next, I realized that I kept picking grass-type starters. Who was I trying to fool? I’m sure now that if I was a gym trainer, I would raise grass-types for sure. Out of all the grass types, Whimsicott is the most joyous and the most fluffy. Easy choice, right? The friend potential is off the charts!
Solrock is very weird, and I’m here for that. This might come as a surprise, but I think Solrock’s design is one of the best in the series. They’re said to read people’s emotions, while lacking human features that would otherwise convey their own. Seriously, what does this rock from space think of me, and of this beautiful, tragic planet that it traveled to? Its design evokes the unknowable vastness waiting just beyond our atmostphere. I, uh…I kinda’ want one.
How do you make a spider charming? Apparently you could give it big, adorable eyes and cover it in tufts of yellow fur, I guess, I don’t know. Galvantula does something for me! This one’s an electric spider, which means it makes electric webs to attack? That’s so rad. It’s probably big enough to ride around on, too.
Galvantula is a bug type, which gives it that inherent “underdog” appeal. Bugs don’t have to be pests! They can be cute, or cool, and Galvantula is a clean mix of both. I want to see them succeed and do great things! I’d be proud to raise one, even if I would attract weird looks while nuzzling it.
Duskull is surely meant to grow more intimidating as it evolves, but I’d say the base form is the one that’s actually scary. It obscures its glowing eye with a skull mask, and somehow that’s the least scary part about it. Is this whole thing alive…? Maybe the cloth and mask obscure its true essence: a nightmare, barely contained.
The “shiny” form adorns a scarlet cloak, further amplifying the ominous energy of its eye. Back in my first playthrough of Pokémon Ruby, I encountered one on Mt. Pyre! I’d say that entitles me to use one here. And to be clear: I see no issue with leaving them unevolved! Early stage Pokémon are valid, too.
Every trainer has their “partner” Pokémon, and I can only imagine Altaria as mine. It hits this perfect balance of comfort, fluff, grace, and friend, and really, that’s exactly what I need in my life. I get so stuck in my own head! I worry ceaselessly, and often it just takes a little stimulus to yank me out of that downward spiral. Altaria would be exactly the boost I need when I’m at my lowest.
“If you hear a beautiful melody trilling deep among mountains far from people, it is Altaria’s humming.” Pokémon Fire Red & Leaf Green Pokédex
That serene presence means more to me than my own benefit, though, it’s an energy I want to put out in the world. I don’t know that I’m very good at this, but I think…when I’m able to ease someone’s burden, it makes me feel alive. I’m constantly doubting myself, but when I can help someone else, that doubt has nowhere to go! The proof is right there: you did a thing, and it was worth it. If Altaria can be that for me, then I know I would have more opportunities to be that for someone else.
In all its iterations, Pokémon has encouraged us to set our own goals, and to achieve them in our own way. I think that must be why after all of this time (and well into my adulthood), I’m still so quick to fantasize about which Pokémon I would want to befriend. Pokémon lets us imagine a world where the path to our wildest dreams is always nearby, and in fact, it’s already waiting for us! We only need to be brave enough to take that first step, and venture into the tall grass.