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 plain browns and greys broadcast that he doesn’t have any elemental tricks 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. We get even nicer color separation with how his ridiculous neck-muscle is coated with a majestic mane, borrowed somewhat from a bison. Who doesn’t benefit from a distinguished coif?

The tails don’t work so well for me, considering 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 he 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 taken at face value.

Tauros has a pretty great statistical spread on paper – the only thing he’s especially poor at is Special Attack, which he’s safe to tank anyway. 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, he’s kinda plain unless you put some deliberate work into him, 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.

( Author’s Note: The above was originally written in January 2020. See the expansion below for the new state of things! )

That said, I did waffle on whether to include a certain other bovine Pokémon in this piece, since the two are very clear counterparts across 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 amicable pairings, so that’s nice to see when it comes up.

Those tails of his that don’t seem to have much of a practical use? They’re there so that Tauros can whip themselves 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 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 constrained habitat, 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 when left alone by comparison. 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, and they’re gonna get confusing if and when we inevitably get an actual centaur Pokémon.

Tauros is… fine? He’s definitely one of the more straightforward monsters, he’s a great visual interpretation of a bull, and a conceptually-straightforward beast does fit the choice of animal on a meta level. He does that arguably too well, though – before writing this, I couldn’t tell you more than three things 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.

#128pc – Paldean Combat Tauros

…but the series did eventually circle back to give him some color. And not just as one regional form, but three-in-one.

One of the very first Pokémon you see in the opening sequence to Scarlet & Violet is a Combat-form Tauros. And your first reaction to it was likely either “is that a shiny Tauros?” or “man, they didn’t change this form up much, huh?”

There are some differences that become clearer if you look at the two side-by-side: Combat Tauros seems to be a smidge thicker overall, and his horns are notably blunted and shorter. He’s just a tankly ol’ curmudgeon. But if you were to show these two designs to two different people, they would likely have an almost-identical impression of the creature, which doesn’t speak well to the need for a Paldean Tauros despite the new Fighting-type.

Luckily, his other breeds – not forms, but breeds – will speak to that need.

#128pb – Paldean Blaze Tauros

Blaze Tauros is a lot more distinguished – still the same basic Tauros, but we can at least tell them apart at a glance for reasons other than color. The sharper, forward-pointing horns and aggravated mane are particularly standoffish, but how his three tails are wound up into a cord really completes it.

This sucker is even more ornery than Classic Tauros.

There’s also a lovely stealth pun in this design with how his hair is “flared up” considering his bonus Fire-type. We’re unfortunatley flush with popular Fire/Fighting types after three consecutive generations of Starter Pokémon, but this takes such a different form than those that I like it as an alternative, what with his literally-firey temperament.

Besides, Paldea is based on the Iberian Pinensula – gotta have something with the right aggression for el encierro.

#128pb – Paldean Aqua Tauros

The Aqua form of Paldean Tauros is probably my favorite, if only because

  1. I love fun horn-shapes like antlers and these twisted spirals,
  2. The living pun on a water buffalo is entirely too good.

The fur-mane being more-or-less an inverse of the Blaze breed – spread and bottom-heavy rather than pointed and and top-heavy – makes the two stand out in great contrast to each other, even if under the hood their stats are completely equivalent.

In fact, as much as the neutral Combat breed evens out the tried-and-true “two equivalent Pokémon for two game-versions” we’ve seen so many times, I’d almost rather we only had the Blaze and Aqua breed. Maybe there could be a slicker, mane-less Bolt Tauros or a scruffier Herb Tauros instead? In fact, now that I’m thinking about it, quick variants on Tauros and their implications are coming to me faster than Eevee-lutions.

I like these three as a specific fit to Paldea and its theme, and having multiple “breeds” of one Pokémon species is a concept that I’ve been waiting ages to make the leap from the anime and manga over to the games. I don’t know if it needs to be something we see with Tauros specifically going forward, but even if they stay in Reserve, I really want the series to find ways to build on this assuming it doesn’t contribute too much to their ever-present scope-creep issues.

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

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