Scyther and Scizor

I actually have some mixed feelings about Scyther, but it's ultimately not at fault for them. This flying/bug type "mantis" is quite cool, don't get me wrong. It's another pokemon interestingly designed more like a dinosaur than its base animal, with a reptilian yet still fairly chitinous-looking cranium. It moves so fast that it can look like there's more than one of them at a given time, and it's another pokemon often characterized as a "ninja."

For as long as fans have clamored for a "velociraptor" pokemon, I've always felt Scyther here was already an adequate if not superior equivalent to the pop-culture Jurassic Park version of what that entails. Why settle for a biologically inaccurate lizard monster with sickle feet when you could have a bug-lizard with sword arms?

By Fir0002 via Wikimedia Commons
My only problem with Scyther, and it's more of a problem with Gamefreak, is that it looks so little like an actual preying mantis and remains the only one in six whole generations. The exact two things that make a mantis cool are its spiny, raptorial forelegs and its otherworldly, bug-eyed face. A lizard with scythes for hands kind of inherently kicks ass, yes, but where's our proper mantid?

How about a bug/psychic mantis with gigantic hypno-eyes? An elegant yet terrifying bug/dragon orchid mantis? A bug/dark "grim reaper" with a skeleton-like body and wings like a tattered cloak? The possibilities are endless! We have about a dozen monkeys and foxes and still only one of an insect for whom there's an entire kung-fu style!?

So, in the second generation, Scyther evolved into the bug/steel type, Scizor, which even dropped the scythes, the only tenuous connection Scyther had to its inspiration, but on its own merits, Scizor is also a pretty kickass bug monster, even if we can't possibly pretend this thing is related to a mantis anymore. Its three-pronged head calls to mind some species of flower mantis, but the rest of it looks distinctly more vespine.

I do love how Scizor's claws have their own "eyespots," like a pair of false heads, and it's cute how even before Scizor's debut, the anime established that Scyther is enraged by the color red. I don't know if that really had anything to do with Scizor's final color scheme, but it's fun to think Scyther actually gets hyper-aggressive when it encounters its own evolution.

In-game, it's also really interesting to note that Scyther and Scizor actually have the exact same stat totals. Scizor simply drops some of its speed - what with being metal-plated and all - to pump up its attack and defense stats.

When it comes to Mega Scizor, my feelings are a more resounding "eh." I like its longer, saw-toothed claws, but the rest of it looks a little too angular and inorganic compared to Scizor. Again, this is a popular complaint about newer pokemon that I don't feel as strongly about as most - I can forgive the action-figure look in a lot of cases - but Scizor's head in particular just looks so nice in comparison to this thing's rather cheesy, jagged knight helmet.

Not my kind of big bugs, but definitely neat.