Tauros

#128 – Tauros

Tauros definitely gives off the right impression at first glance; he’s clearly a bull, those tails mark him as a fantasy bull, and the browns and greys tell you that he doesn’t have anything elemental up his sleeve. He’s exactly the plains-roaming, body-checking steer that he appears to be.

Actual bulls are even more monochromatic, so I do appreciate breaking up his forehead with a few studs – very cowboy-like, and they probably double as pain points when he headbutts you – and covering up a bull’s ridiculous neck-muscle with a mane borrowed somewhat from a bison. Who doesn’t love a good, majestic mane?

The tails don’t really work as much for me, since it’s pretty clear that there’s supposed to be just one business end of his critter and the tails won’t reach to it. Tauros doesn’t even look like it can see behind itself, so using them as a rear-facing defense doesn’t exactly check out, either. It’s not enough to completely undermine what’s otherwise a fairly solid monster, but it’s an odd choice on its face.

Tauros has a pretty great statistical spread on paper – the only thing he’s especially poor at is Special Attack, which he can safely ignore. Physical normal-types tend to be like hammers – inflexible, but good at doing a great job at the one thing that they do (blindly hitting things without worrying too much about type advantage). Granted, his best passive ability isn’t normally available, but he has enough ways to smash things that he still makes a solid teammate for mowing down the main game.

Tauros is used pretty broadly, but rarely deeply in the series. He shows up a lot in the show, but usually as filler to set a “great plains” scene or as cannon fodder to show how strong or fast another Pokémon is by comparison. He makes for great visual shorthand in that way, but rarely comes into his own; nobody even notably uses him in the games, either.

Tauros is unique even among the other first-generation Pokémon for having no expansions on his design at all in the last twenty-five years. No evolutions, pre-evolutions, regional forms, Mega Evolutions or Gigantimax, and no gimmick like Ditto to make those all unnecessary. Good on you, Tauros, standing your ground like that.

That said, I did waffle on whether to include a certain other bovine Pokémon in this piece, since the two are very clear counterparts in the series. Since they don’t share an evolutionary relative, though, they’re staying separate, but it is interesting to note that a monster was later designed with Tauros specifically in mind without making them part of the same family. Usually we see this because the series wants to create a “rival” for an existing monster, but rarely because they want peaceful pairings, so that’s nice to see when it comes up.

Those tails of his that don’t seem to have much of a use? They’re there so that Tauros can whip themself into charging, which is patently ridiculous. You only whip a bull when you need to force him to move, and if a Tauros is whipping himself, he clearly already has the necessary motivation. It’s maybe a neat visual idea, but in practical terms it seems like unnecessary masochism on the monster’s part.

That said, Tauros in general is just a violent sonofagun, as the text reminds us constantly. The only place where he isn’t rampage-hungry enough to charge a tree for lack of another body is Alola, the island region. Again, patently ridiculous; you’d expect a pains-roaming animal to go stir-crazy and become more agitated with a more limited space to inhabit, regardless of what the climate does for them.

Alola centered itself a lot more around the day-to-day coexistence between squishy humans and fantasy monsters, though, as is evidenced by people regularly riding Tauros there like a horse (whereas normally bull-riding has much more “exciting” connotations). Maybe Tauros just need a calm hand to guide them down; the self-flagellation and herding around with other violent Tauros probably create a really negative feedback loop. Looking forward to that thesis paper on Tauros psychology, professors.

Last note: while Tauros is as good and straightforward a name as this creature warrants, its Japanese and Korean names are Kentauros, the literal Greek word for the Greek centaur, which this thing 100% is not. Words mean things, folks.

Tauros is… fine? He’s definitely one of the more straightforward monsters, and definitely a great visual interpretation of a bull, and straightforward does fit the idea of a bull on some “meta” level. He does that arguably too well, though – before writing this, I couldn’t tell you a thing about him that would distinguish him from an actual, living-on-a-ranch-in-Kansas bull, which doesn’t speak strongly to him filling a niche in the series. Not a hard first-generation monster to stick in Reserve.

Any and all appreciation for Tauros is welcome in the comments!

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