Let’s talk about angry comments!

So, about five months ago, someone apparently wrote a very angry and disjointed rant in the comments section of one of my old entries (this one, about Plusle, Minun and Pachirisu) which I never actually noticed at the time.  I’m not sure what exactly I was busy with five months ago that would have occupied my attention to such a degree, but I tend not to prioritise responding to comments on entries that are almost two years old.  I doubt this person ever returned to check for a reply anyway, so it’s no great loss.  Also, I honestly think it wasn’t really directed at me (it says, at the beginning, “I wrote this rant a while ago,” but that would imply that this was something the writer had actually put thought into, which is perhaps even worse), and strongly doubt the author actually read the whole entry.  I wrote a reply for posterity’s sake, and that would be that, except that Jim the Editor found the original comment so hilarious he convinced me to post it here and rebut it in detail – which, come to think of it, is a good opportunity to reflect upon what I value in Pokémon designs and why, in preparation for when I have to discuss all of the X and Y generation.  So, here we go…

“Hater…

I wrote this rant a while ago, I’ll just post it here… :<

I’ll start out by saying that Plusle and Minun are both equally my favorite pokemon! :la: I do love them both for their reasons, though. I’ve seen and heard a lot of people say really bad things about these two, calling them pikachu look-alikes. That’s the first topic I’ll cover.

Face the facts, there will be some sort of electric rodent every generation, and just because Pikachu was the first doesn’t mean every other is copying it.If you dismiss pokemon like that, you’d be being awfully close-minded… :< The electric rodents in these generations look like the rodents they’re based off of, not Pikachu. Pokemon like Pachirisu, Emolga, Pichu and Plusle and Minun is what they call that. Yes, electric rodents have cheek patches that store electricity, it’s not trying to capture that pikachu feel all over again. That’s just how electric rodents work! Plusle and Minun don’t even look all that much like Pikachu, and if you think all of these electric rodents do then you’re sticking with the ‘if it has long ears and cheek patches it’s a pikachu twin’ thing. Honestly, Plusle and Minun, like every other electric rodent besides emolga, have that. Their bodes have different structure than Pikachu! They’re alot more rounded! In fact, they look way more like bunnies than mice!

[img]http://www.smbhq.com/users/sss/pics/biopramai.png[/img][center][img]http://rlv.zcache.com/kawaii_bunny_and_carrot_photo_plaques-rf5cf1150a583452f884f74d717a81622_ar56b_8byvr_512.jpg[/img][img]http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-KZAhZS5QB_A/UFpH9xPmaII/AAAAAAAAH6Y/U2ziNn5WRCo/s320/28ltaxg.jpg.png[/img][img]http://fc08.deviantart.net/fs70/f/2013/039/6/a/dd_bunny__kawaii__by_amis0129-d5uaqun.png[/img]

[This person evidently didn’t realise that Disqus comments can’t deal with html tags, and never bothered to check after posting.  Either that or they are stylistic and supposed to add to the amateurish impression of the piece.]

If they were standing up it would be the exact same anatomy! Also, that’s more of why you shouldn’t dismiss them so quickly as lame or useless pokemon and not why I like them so much. These pokemon are what I like to call sister pokemon, that’s what makes them so special! These two were literally made for each other, and still 2 completely different pokemon! I just can’t get over that fact. I love them so much. There is probably only one more pair of pokemon in existence like that(That I don’t know the name of). That’s something very special! Yet there are haters that cling to the fact that they are electric rodents, and try to think that they’re trying to be new pikachus. It’s plus and minus, more like a pikachu town in half into two amazing twinsies! The red and blue scheme they have is even more amazing. I’ve never seen that! These two are opposites whom attract, just like twins. But less on personalities, let’s talk about their design… Red and blue are opposite colors so it goes perfectly, but again, that’s not why I love them the way I do. It’s the whole theme of interspecies teamwork that really makes me love these pokemon. The fact that they work together endlessly in the anime, that they depend on one another and remain loyal and helpful to each other that is natural for them as a species… In the anime, they were depicted this way, and in the games too! I have never seen that theme anywhere, of interspecies teamwork and just the two red and blue pokemon being meant for each other. No other pokemon are like that in all honesty, besides maybe a few that aren’t made so closely the way they are. That whole theme of friendship is just beautiful! These two are insanely adorable too!

I think now I’ll talk about how I feel about the other rodents so you don’t make any assumptions. Even though they don’t have as much of a deep and very special meaning like plusle and minun do, I still love pokemon like that. Marill looks nothing at all like pikachu except the cheek patches.[img]http://imageshack.us/a/img255/4790/pikablu.png[/img]

WAIT, NEVERMIND!

[img]http://lh4.ggpht.com/-WqUhzv1JbLE/TTSNeSZuNCI/AAAAAAAAAOo/Yd_UG0T6IbA/MINI-troll-face.png[/img] The fact that people even ever thought that proves that this pokemon fandom is prone to judging a pokemon so insanely easily. I also love pichu. Pichu basically is pikachu, stop complaining! Pichu is Pikachu’s unevolved form guys. It’s like complaining that Plusle and Minun looking alike just means one of them shouldn’t exist. [b]NO!![/b]

 

As you’d guess, because I admire these twinsies for what I do, I really don’t like when people try and combine them two into a single pokemon like Minusle. I hate that!! And when they try to add more like Equalla. [img]http://fc07.deviantart.net/fs70/i/2011/278/7/a/fake_plusle_minun_additions_by_avenraichuxx0-d4bxktf.png[/img]

[b][i][size=150]^HATE SO MUCH!![/size][/i][/color][/b] That completely removes what I love about them so much, and what separates the pair from any other pokemon out there. It’s proving the bad things they say about these two true… ;u; I suppose they may be weak pokemon, but base stats don’t define pokemon. They define how they do in battle, but not the pokemon. It’s like saying a rather weaker physically compact person is less than someone who’s buff and capable. That’s why I still like pokemon like magikarp and unown. People hate these pokemon for not having strong abilities and basically being useless in battle and games, but that doesn’t make them less or worthless pokemon. They’re still creatures, or at least I think of pokemon like creatures and animals and less like a game mechanic or an object like people who say that do. The ‘less’ pokemon unown has very, very poweful roles in the anime. In one of the first movies they could control time and space… Plusle and Minun also have been in many episodes! Don’t dismiss the two pokemon as nothing but additions to show off the double battle feature, either. Don’t be so close minded!! In the anime they had several episodes that revolved all around them. If you’d dismiss a pokemon with this kind of special theme as just being a novelty pokemon, then that proves again how quick the pokemon fandom can be in shoving pokemon! (In a general sense, not saying that everyone part of the fandom is like that..)

But anyways, that’s why I think plusle and minun are more than just weak when separated. I love them both, even when separated, but perfer them together, not because they’re stronger, but because they’re a [b][i]team[/i][/b].

I’m not finished yet, far from it in fact, so I’ll be adding more about everything I love about plusle and minun later! There’s alot!

Again, this is more for a rant, and just me jotting down why I care about them alot, but feel free to say something in return if you think they shouldn’t be loved… ;w;

Honestly, I love these two like the world…

[Here the author pauses for breath before posting a second comment.  In spite of the earlier assertion that “there’s alot”  more to add, the second comment is far shorter and contains few new points.]

Also, if you’ve watched any of the many anime shows they actually have been in they fight. ALOT. Really good. With trainer help. .-. Try to know more about pokemon besides their pokedex entries before bashing them around like that, especially plusle and minun…

I’ll also say that pokemon are animals. They’re monsters to us, but they’re basically the animals of their world. There are rodents that are alike… Rats and mice don’t copy off of each other… x3 Just like no pokemon copies off of one another. They’re based off real animals… That should make it clear enough?

You… You just hate everything don’t you? xD If it’s a cute cutie pokemon, you hate it. I’m sorry you think like that. It’s really sad. Maybe you shouldn’t be so angry at so many of the pokemon. It really doesn’t make anyone feel better when you’re mad. And yeah, hate comes from anger, so you’re mad.

Also, if you’re trying to argue these are bad then you’re doing an awful job because I’m no where near convinced. :3 These are all just opinions, and if you’re bash your opinions around like this you should keep them to yourself. These are sweeties that people love and there’s nothing you can do about it! -w-“

———————————————

Probably the most entertaining part of all this is how long it takes before the author suddenly realises that I am, in fact, a monster who cannot be reasoned with.  Everything in that paragraph is, of course, completely true.  I instantly despise all cute Pokémon the moment I lay eyes on them and cannot bear the thought of anyone taking pleasure in anything so sickening.  This is a serious problem for me in my day-to-day life because, as we know from the words of Jedi Grand Master Yoda, anger leads to hate.  I am consumed by boiling rage every minute of every day, which often leads me to lash out against innocent bystanders with whatever brutal improvised weapons I can seize.  My friends will attest that this has placed serious strain on my personal relationships, excepting of course those with other sociopaths.  Luckily, this comment’s insight has caused me to have an epiphany, and I am finally seeking the psychological help I so badly need to become a functioning memb-

BAHAHAHAHA sorry; I just couldn’t get through that part with a straight face.  Why would I try to be a less hateful person when I can just drag everyone else down with me into my bleak, horrible pit of loathing and despair and feed on their tears for the rest of time?

Anyway.

I think the only thing I really, genuinely find offensive about these comments is the seemingly innocuous assertion, near the beginning, that I am dismissing Plusle and Minun.  It seems to me that I actually spent a good deal more time thinking and talking about Plusle and Minun for the sake of that article than their valiant defender here did, and offered a number of suggestions for fixing what I, if no-one else, perceived to be problems with them, in spite of my own conviction of their illegitimacy.  This is, and I must be blunt here, unequivocally not dismissal.  I know what dismissal looks like; it’s what this comment is trying to do to me.  However, there are in fact two important and worthwhile points in here, even disguised as they are by the author’s questionable spelling, punctuation, sentence structure, vocabulary and logic.  While obviously I disagree with these, I think they represent legitimate concerns about the sort of thing I do when I review Pokémon, and so I would like to draw them out to a more readily comprehensible form and respond to them.

The first, in essence, is an argument that having more electric rodents every generation is not bad.  Part of what the writer is saying here seems to be drawn from a delusion that electric rodents are a real-world phenomenon, as expressed here: “Yes, electric rodents have cheek patches that store electricity, it’s not trying to capture that pikachu feel all over again. That’s just how electric rodents work!”  The fact that “electric rodent” is even a recognisable trope in Pokémon design at all is due to Pikachu’s success; I don’t think there’s any point trying to deny it, nor do I see any merit in pointing out that Pikachu is a mouse while Plusle and Minun are rabbits when (and I did make a similar point in the original article) Pikachu himself looks as much like a rabbit as a mouse anyway.  As I said, though, there is a legitimate point here: the suggestion that having multiple very similar Pokémon is not a bad thing.  I believe that it’s lazy and shows an inability to prioritise, but it can be said, fairly, that the real world works like this too – there are many different kinds of mice, and many different kinds of rabbits, and many different kinds of squirrels, and so on and so forth for any other animal you care to name.  The electric rodents possess a unique ability to draw my vitriol because they are unsatisfied with simply being based on similar animals and must also have the same elemental powers, the same distinguishing design feature (the cheek pouches), the same general battle strengths, and even similar colour schemes (with the notable exception of Pachirisu).  That, quite simply, is recycling an idea because it worked so well the first time.  It is, in fact, entirely possible to do Pokémon based on the same animal in very different ways.  Take, for instance, Blastoise and Torterra: both tortoises, one a Water-type with literal cannons on his back, the other a Grass-type who draws on the mythological ‘world tortoise’ motif.  Try Politoed and Toxicroak: both frogs, one an indolent Water-type with sonic powers related to a frog’s croaking, the other a Fighting-type with poisonous skin like an Amazonian poison arrow frog.  Or perhaps Tentacruel and Jellicent?  Both jellyfish, both dangerous Water-types, one a vicious marauder, the other a cold, enigmatic stealer of souls.  Hopefully I may be excused for thinking that “that’s just how electric rodents work” is an extraordinarily uninspired line of thinking.

Electric rodents are hardly the only class I complain about, though – I also like to bitch about the Normal-type rodents, the generic birds, and really anything else that I see as derivative of an earlier design.  I’ll have more to say on this when I talk about Diggersby and Talonflame, but my general stance is this: why, when you already have multiple Pokémon which are based on small, common birds and have wind powers, would you add another Pokémon which is based on a small, common bird and has wind powers when you could instead add, say, a Pokémon based on a cassowary that has earth powers, or a Pokémon based on a hummingbird that has electric powers, or a Pokémon based on a quetzal that has plant powers, or any other permutation of the many very different and quirky kinds of bird out there that Pokémon has never covered?  The world has lots of animals that are similar, sure, but it also has lots of animals that are completely different, and one of Pokémon’s great strengths is in its capacity to capture that variety.  But hey, why spend time and effort playing to that strength when you can just rehash the same idea every generation?

Before we get to the author’s second worthwhile point, I need to talk about some of the nonsense in here first, as well as some things that (apparently unbeknownst to this person who, again, probably did not read the original article) I actually agree with.  The suggestion that Plusle and Minun have an interesting design focus in the theme of teamwork and co-operation, for instance, is entirely fair (most of my ideas for potential evolutions of Plusle and Minun are based heavily on this idea).  The comment that “I have never seen that theme anywhere, of interspecies teamwork” on the other hand, is astonishingly oblivious because interspecies teamwork is a central theme of the entire Pokémon franchise.  Furthermore, Plusle and Minun aren’t even a very good example of it, as it’s sort of questionable whether we are meant to understand them as being different species – personally, I wouldn’t, but then Pokémon has always been extremely hazy on what constitutes a “species” (I’m pretty sure in Pokémon a juvenile and an adult are considered different species, which is a little weird) so I suppose that one can slip by.  There also seems to be a very insistent belief in there that Plusle and Minun are unique in being ‘paired’ Pokémon designed to complement each other – in that respect they are, of course, not even unique within their own generation (Volbeat and Illumise, anyone?).  The similarly oblivious “the red and blue scheme they have is even more amazing. I’ve never seen that!” is even more bizarre, since red and blue are extremely common colours for ‘opposite’ characters, as we can in fact see in Throh and Sawk, and are even standard colours in science textbooks for illustrating the poles of magnets, which is precisely why they appear in Plusle and Minun’s colour scheme.  The irritation at people who try to add extra members to the Plusle/Minun family, like Dividi, Multiko and Equala, I can get behind (although notice I say “irritation,” and not “[b][i][size=150]^HATE SO MUCH!![/size][/i][/color][/b]” – after all, no internet argument is complete without a dash of hypocrisy), because it misinterprets the + and – signs in their designs as mathematical operators when they in fact represent electric charge (appropriately, for Electric-types) – although I wonder whether similar spleen would be justified against, say, Neutri here, who is based on charge neutrality.

The other really interesting idea in here (there are two lines of argument, but I think they’re closely related), is that being weak doesn’t make a Pokémon bad, and that you can see in the anime how powerful Plusle and Minun really are.  Fair enough.  I agree completely.  That doesn’t excuse the fact that they’re terrible in the games.  Another central theme of Pokémon is that all Pokémon can be powerful, in their own way, if trained with love and care.  The fact that this isn’t actually true is a failure of the way the games work, not of the individual Pokémon themselves.  The set of weaknesses, resistances, attacks, abilities and stats a Pokémon has are an expression of what that Pokémon is about (something I want to talk about in more detail in another upcoming article), just like its art, its Pokédex entries, and its anime characterisation.  If a Pokémon like Bibarel were actually, say, a Ninjask-fast special attacker with electrical powers and access to Hi-Jump Kick, that would be a failure of the game mechanics to express what Bibarel is about (even if the result were actually very powerful!).  To take a real example, when Darmanitan is given an ability which expresses the unique nature of the powers described by his design but is ultimately inferior to his more standard options and actually detrimental in the vast majority of cases, that is a failure of the game mechanics to express what Darmanitan is about.  When a Pokémon like Plusle or Minun has appalling stats, a unique but incredibly situational ability and a narrow movepool, to the extent that it can’t actually do anything useful, that too is a failure of the game mechanics to express what Plusle and Minun are about – more specifically, they’re about teamwork, particularly in double battles, but there are dozens of Pokémon who do teamwork better in both double and single battle contexts (Pokémon with weather-influencing abilities, for example).  This is the whole reason I spent a chunk of every “Top Ten Worst Pokémon Ever” entry trying to come up with ways to make them mechanically better while still expressing what those Pokémon were supposed to be good at.  It’s not their fault they’re bad (they’re fictional beings who had no hand in their own creation); it’s the game’s fault – but where we locate the blame doesn’t stop it from being true, or from being a problem.

Was this strange individual just trying to troll me?  Perhaps.  I don’t think so; the flaws in the argumentation seem too bizarre, too random, too haphazard to be intentional and stylistic.  However, the internet has produced some trolls of remarkable proficiency in its lifespan, and at the highest levels of skill there is no sure way to tell.  Does it really matter though?  I feel like I got a lot out of it.  I had an odd but invigorating opportunity to talk about design philosophy and why I judge certain Pokémon the way I do, which is kind of important given the next big project looming on my horizons – and I feel pretty good about that.

I don’t feed the trolls.  The trolls feed me.

One thought on “Let’s talk about angry comments!

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