Volbeat and Illumise



Immediately after the humdrum duo of Plusle and Minun, we get a more interesting if still somewhat underutilized duo of non-evolvers. A firefly pokemon felt like a long time coming, and also felt like a shoe-in for a new typing combination like bug/electric or bug/fire. Instead, Volbeat here is pure bug, which might seem like a waste, but I believe it's because Volbeat produces true, natural bioluminescence, like an actual firefly, without the production of heat or use of electrical energy. That fireflies produce "cold light" was noted even centuries ago as a miracle of nature, and researchers have long sought to truly master that trick with our own technology.

Anyway, you probably think I hate it when a bug type looks like a weird little person, but I'm perfectly fine with that. It has a face that doesn't try too hard to be cutesy, it has a nice color scheme and it has personality. It's got a "homely cuteness" going on, like some kind of goofy gnome. It's also a 100% male pokemon, and I believe this is the first time since Nidoran that two separate pokemon species, unconnected by evolution, represented two counterpart gender morphs.


The female firefly, Illumise, is arguably a lot cuter than Volbeat with her larger, more slanted eyes, V-shaped mouth and speck of a nose, though I'm not as big on her shorter, plainer antennae. I do like that her exoskeleton sort of makes her look like a little conductor, and that's exactly her theme; the pokedex says that by emitting pheromones, she commands a large swarm of Volbeat to draw patterns of light in the sky at night. Her mating ritual makes her the "conductor" of an "orchestra" of light rather than sound! How cute is that for a firefly pokemon!?

Would I have liked a firefly actually resembling an insect? Sure, but that would have only been the bluntly obvious route. In recent years I've really come to appreciate "anthropomorphized" arthropods like these in their own way, and I kinda like that these two are pure bug types. They could have stood to evolve, and maybe branch from a larval glowworm stage, but you can't have it all I guess.


Sadly overlooked and under-appreciated for how nice they are, as designs and as ideas.

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