Pokémon Black and White have been released in Japan and in Europe and they will be released in the US tomorrow! That means there are now 649 Pokémon in existence. To anyone not following the series, that may seem like a lot considering it all started with 150 over a decade ago. I was one of those people who tried to memorize their names, and I also went even further by researching their origins and how they were thought up. Well, I still do! This is the 18th of my many I Choose You! articles where I will span over five generations of games writing about each Pokémon and what makes it special. That's right - all 649 of them.
After four generation of Pokémon games, we are all used to the same elements that appear in every game. For example, everyone knows that you need to fight all eight Gym Leaders before you can challenge the Elite Four, and there is always a group of bad guys trying to rule the world. Another known fact is that at the start of your game, a friendly professor will always offer you a Grass, Fire, or Water-type Pokémon to use on your journey. Each Pokémon has unique characteristics and stats, so your gaming experience might differ depending on which one you choose. Pokémon Black and White is no exception. Hit the jump for Unova's Water-type starter, Oshawott!
Like the other starters and a handful of Generation V Pokémon, Oshawott was revealed back in May on the Japanese variety show Pokémon Sunday. The show initially just displayed its silhouette, leaving many to question what it was exactly. All we could see was something that looked like it had a flat tail so it left a lot to the imagination. Some people even thought it would be based on a platypus. Once it was revealed, a majority of Pokémon fans and non-enthusiasts alike thought its design was ridiculous and over-the-top. They made fun of its clown-like nose and the shell in the middle of its body and even ridiculed its dopey expression. Poor Oshawott, I thought.
Once I realized Oshawott's species was the Sea Otter Pokémon, my initial reaction was, didn't we just have otter Pokémon, Buizel and Floatzel, in the last game? After reading up on Oshawott and its behavior, however, I realized this is a completely different otter Pokémon with its very own weapon attached to its body. Yes, that shell that many have mocked is actually what it uses to defend itself from its foes. The Pokédex says that its shell is called a scalchop, which is a portmanteau of scallop and chop, and that it is made from the same element as its claws. This weapon lets Oshawott learn sword-like moves like Razor Shell, a physical attack that may lower its opponent's Defense.
It may look ugly to some, but to me, Oshawott's features make it look endearing. Its blue body looks like a baby's jumpsuit. Its face has three dots below each eye that indicates where its future whiskers will grow. And its ears are small blue protrusions coming out of its oversized round head. Its English name may come from a mixture of ocean, water, and otter. Its Japanese name Mijumaru comes from mijuku (naïve) and the traditional first-name suffix maru that references its Japanese roots. Ken Sugimori himself stated that Oshawott's evolutionary line is designed with Japanese elements that set it apart from the French and Chinese designs of Snivy and Tepig. As it evolves, Oshawott slowly becomes a samurai skilled at wielding blades that grow from its own body.
I'm sure you can tell by now that I chose Oshawott as my starter when I started Pokémon Black. I try to pick different starter types with each new game I play, and I had already chosen Piplup in Pokémon Platinum. But regardless of this rule, I decided to stick with Oshawott since having a strong Pokémon on my team with Surf is always convenient. Not only is it a good attack, but it is useful when I need to get in the water, and it's a lot more convenient than simply having a Pokémon in my party for its HM move. That's not to say I don't use HM slaves! While its evolutionary line is inspired by Japanese warriors, Oshawott doesn't evolve into a dual Water/Fighting Pokémon. I was hoping it would. But this aside, Oshawott hasn't disappointed me at all and was an awesome addition to my team. Are you tempted to discover Unova alongside Oshawott too?
When it comes time to choose your starter, you may spend a lot of time deliberating which one you want. Some people base their decisions on power, others on looks, and some base it on practicality. No matter how you do it, make sure you have fun with the one you choose. You can always trade for the one you don't get, but you can never trade back the initial memories you make playing a new game with your first Pokémon. Choose the one you want and have fun exploring all the new Pokémon Unova has to offer! Look forward to my review of the game tomorrow!