For how common the type is, we surprisingly don’t have that many Grass Pokémon so far who purely amount to “this correlates to this specific flower”. The biggest example is Sunflora, with a runner-up to somewhat-oddball Vileplume or somewhat-unique Jumpluff. And, really, it was only a matter of time until they hit on The Flower that Launced A Thousand Metaphors.
With the thorny “hair”, high-cut “dress”, and heavy eyelids, the closest thing I’m getting from Roselia is a “femme fatale” motif – not a bad pick for a rose-themed monster (albeit one just as likely to not be genetically femme). He even has a bit of a leggy pose, as much as a G-rated children’s series is willing to get away with. And while it’s certainly not the most inventive, sticking different colors of naturally-occurring rose-flowers on her hands is a sure shortcut to selling the imagery.
He’s still a bit “human in a costume” to me, which definitely isn’t where I like my Pokémon designs to end up, but that’s kind of a personal preference. I don’t hate him, but if he didn’t get evolutions later, this might be one of the one-offs I don’t think about much.
Now we’re talkin’.
People tend to decry baby forms as pointless – I’m guilty of spacing them out, myself – but Budew exemplifies their inherent charm. He’s got this adorable Kirby-ish emoji-face ( :> ) plastered on a bright, round “seed” and wrapped up in his own little organic bindle. There’s a little bib-design perfectly placed underneath his sheeky face, and the eventual rose-thorns serve a practical purpose here as his stubby little feet.
And the best part: no arms. This kiddo’s toddling about as helpless as can be, just waiting for the knot at the top of his being to sprout into something useful. This little half-germinated bundle must be protected at-cost.
Ah, we go from femme fatale to voleur fantôme.
Aside from the fact that Roselia got both a pre-evolution and an enhancing evolution in one generation, I adore the idea of a feminine-coded damsel evolving into a caped fighter, read either as a duelist or a gentleman-thief. Both have an elegant “look-don’t-touch” charm in their association with the rose, but with very different airs. It even plays with the idea of evolution, letting Roselia physically flourish when he willingly and personally embraces the more aggressive edge of the Grass and Poison types. *chef kiss*
That said, he’s still too human-ish for my tastes – the pronounced eyes combined with the anthropomorphic body plan are just not what I want in an elemental monster. Maybe more of an objective complaint is that, where we have three flowers on each hand instead of one (presumably to emulate crude “fingers”), they’re decidedly less detailed than Roselia. Just look at those blobby mitts – even his mask is kind of just a plain wedge. I get that Pokémon designs were pretty simple too begin with, but if there was one place to stand for a bit embellishment, this is it.
It’s a shame, because I still like features like his white-rose hair and overall “Tuxedo Mask” design. Maybe the designers could’ve leaned into a bit of a thorny motif, with a more jagged mask and one of his rosy hands more built to maim, or at least showing off the thorny whips that the anime and manga put on display. He’s so close, but I can only imagine him running up and waving a fistful of petals in somebody’s face, which is a bit anticlimactic for a Zorro archetype.
That’s not too far off, considering that Roserade’s Special Attack far outweighs his physical prowess, though I’d expect a thorny Pokémon to have better physical defenses than how he crumbles under a Fire Punch. That doesn’t give him a lot of space to use Poisoning or Absorbing moves, which leaves Roserade as a bit of a trade-off; stick ’em with poison or Spikes now, or hope that you can move first and cut the other guy down first? Of course, this is an easier decision in the main game where you can overpower the opponent more easily, but he’s still prone to ending up in dangerous situations.
There’s also the back half of Roserade – quite literally, the “-rade” half. The visual half-mask and the numerous Pokédex references to its “dancer-like” agility put Roserade firmly in the world of the masquerade ball, where the name of the game is anonymity. But Roserade is quite clearly a Rose, right?
Well, maybe not. As much as animals mimic more threatening creatures, plants do so just as often. Case in point, the Hellebore, or “winter rose”. Not remotely related to a rose at all, and poisonous if ingested, it still often presents the appearance of a rose to discourage predators. It’s even doubly-fitting in this case, since actual roses aren’t poisonous, where this entire family is.
Which retroactively puts Roselia into question. It could be rose-gardenia, or rose-azelea, sure. Or rose-liar.
The truth is out there.
Here’s the thing; the first generation kind of flooded the fields with Grass/Poison archetypes, so it’s inherently difficult to justify another one. That said, I really like Budew and the Roselia-Roserade transition on a conceptual level, and feel like they can add to the series in a way. In a way that we necessarily need represented in plant or animal form? That I’m less confident on. I wouldn’t dismiss him entirely, Maybe that can be left to reserve.
Any and all appreciation for Roselia, Budew, and Roserade is welcome in the comments!