Which of the original starting three was the most popular in Japan?
Bulbasaur, Charmander or Squirtle – it was the hardest decision of every kid’s life back when Pokémon was originally released 20 years ago, and it continues to torment us today with the recent re-releases of Pokémon Red, Blue, and Green.
The pocket monster you choose at the beginning of the classic RPG determines your rival’s team, affects the makeup of your own team, and of course, your chosen starter will be your lifelong partner and friend. For most kids whose biggest decision in life up until that point was what to get for lunch at the cafeteria, it’s pretty intense.
So with starter Pokémon being such a big decision, which one of the original three was the most popular?
To find out the answer, Japan’s MyNavi recently conducted a survey of 400 college students, asking them which Pokémon they chose when they played for the first time, and why.
Here are the results, in ascending order:
#3. Bulbasaur (113 people, 28.2%)
When I was a kid, Bulbasaur was perceived as the “easy” choice, since its grass type made it easier to take down the first two gyms. But those are only two out of eight gyms total, and then there’s the whole Elite Four after that, plus the hundreds of battles in between, so that’s not a really fair assessment of this half-plant half… something else little guy.
Here’s what the survey-takers who chose Bulbasaur had to say:
“I feel like it could save me with its vines if I ever fell down somewhere.”
“I chose it because I like plants.”
“There’s just something cute about it.”
Bulbasaur is certainly the most odd-looking of the starters. It doesn’t really have a real-life equivalent with the whole bulb-growing-out-of-its-back thing, which could be enticing for some. But as far as being cute, I think we all know the real winner is…
#2. Squirtle (130 people, 32.5%)
If Bulbasaur is the “odd-looking” one, then Squirtle is the “cute-looking” one. It’s a tiny turtle that looks like a squirrel – it’s basically against the law to not squeal in delight every time you see it!
Here’s what the Squirtle-lovers had to say:
“I chose it because water is good.”
“I’d love to be able to ride waves with it.”
“Its final evolution, Blastoise, is just too cool.”
Blastoise, with its water cannons coming out of its massive shell, is certainly impressive, but if we’re talking about final evolutions, then the clear winner has to be…
#1. Charmander (157 people, 39.3%)
I’m actually surprised this number of people who chose this one isn’t higher. When I was a kid, everybody wanted a Charizard, and the only people who chose Bulbasaur or Squirtle were the poor souls who weren’t lucky enough to have the player’s guide and didn’t know the final evolutions. This was of course back before anyone could look them up online… Aaand now I feel super old.
Anyway! Here’s what the survey-takers who chose Charmander had to say:
“Fire-type is the most useful.”
“I chose it because it’s the cutest of the three.”
“It just looked like the most fun one.”
Really? No mention of Charizard? And they’re calling Charmander the cutest of the three? Now that’s some truly surprising results!
I suppose that’s one of the reasons Pokémon remains popular even today – all of the Pokémon mean different things to different people, and every one of them is just as valid and awesome as any other.
So what about you? If you played Pokémon 20 years ago, or any of the original remakes, which of the three starters did you choose? Let us know why, and we’ll see if we can find some more unique reasons to love these guys for another 20 years.