Analytic Mareep asks:

One thing I’ve noticed about Bianca and Cheren: Bianca always ends up being the more useful of the pair. In the Relic Castle sequence, Cheren just tags along behind you, ultimately adding nothing to the situation. Bianca, meanwhile, gets ahold of Juniper–which turns out to be really important since they find the dark/light stone. In the Elite Four sequence, the same thing happens. Cheren tags along and beats the Elite Four as well (not contributing much of anything to your predicament) while Bianca rounds up all the Gym Leaders (who save your ass). I think this was probably intentional, and it sheds light on how the writers wanted us to view Bianca and Cheren.

Hmm.  I think that’s a little unfair to Cheren; he does fight alongside you against Team Plasma on multiple occasions, and fighting usually makes up most of the player’s contribution to advancing the plot.  And I don’t… think Bianca is responsible for getting Professor Juniper involved in looking for the Dark/Light Stone, or at least I don’t believe anyone ever says that’s what she’s doing.  I’d be more inclined to assume that that was the elder Professor Juniper, who is present at the Dragonspiral Tower when the player confronts N, and works together with his daughter to identify the stone.  There is a general point to be made about Bianca and Cheren as foils to each other, though.  The early part of the game kind of sets up Cheren as more organised, more ambitious, a better trainer, more… well, frankly, more competent, whereas Bianca doesn’t really know what she’s doing or what she wants.  Over the course of the game, though, Cheren comes to realise (through Alder’s example) that his ambitions are basically hollow, leaving him somewhat listless at the end of the story; Bianca, on the other hand, grows into herself, figures out what she wants to do with her life, and becomes a researcher.  She’s ultimately the one who comes out of it with a stronger conception of her own goals and identity.  I think the message is supposed to be about taking time to explore life, and figure out what your goals are gradually and organically, rather than focusing on the single-minded pursuit of just one aim in the belief that it will complete you as a person (Cheren actually credits Bianca, as well as the player, Alder and N, with helping him realise this).

Anonymous asks:

Having just replayed red, I cam honestly say… I just dont get what people mean when they say Blue is a jerk. Like, is it cos he’s kinds cocky? Hes not that hard to beat, so I cant really relate to the whole “rivals used to be challenging!” Rhetoric. imo the hardest rival was probably N.

I wasn’t aware there was such a thing as “rivals used to be challenging” rhetoric.  But sure, if there is, it strikes me as probably quite silly.

Anyway, Blue.  I think he’s clearly meant to be a jerk, because the whole thing with Oak turning up at the end of the game to call him out for not loving his Pokémon enough doesn’t really make sense if he’s not.  Personally I think that, above and beyond just thinking he’s better than you, he consistently goes out of his way to be insulting to you and diminish your accomplishments.  Like, I don’t know if he’s necessarily a bad person (well, I mean, he probably is, since he turns up at Silph Co. during the Team Rocket takeover and doesn’t lift a finger to help, but you could easily put that down to poor writing) but he always struck me as rather unpleasant to be around.

Anonymous asks:

I miss douchebag rivals like blue and silver. Why dont they make more characters like that? Do you think they should?

Hmm.  Well, it sort of depends what you mean by “douchebag rivals.”  

I think rival characters should say something interesting about what it means to be a Pokémon trainer, and sometimes characters with major negative qualities can be good ways to do that.  “Nice” rivals like Bianca can do the same thing in different ways, though.  Blue was a douchebag because he was supposed to illustrate what a good trainer is not; Silver was a douchebag because he was supposed to illustrate how being a trainer changes you.  The closest thing we’ve had to that since Silver is Hugh, who isn’t really a douchebag but does have his troubling anger issues, but he’s sort of doing something different because the point of him is to reframe the Team Plasma conflict with a new perspective.  So I suppose I think it’s a matter of whether you can do something clever with it, and what kind of message you can use the character to create.

Anonymous asks:

Which of the major rivals from the anime do you like the most, and why? It can be Ash’s or one of his companions’!

Tricky… I’m not as familiar as perhaps I should be with the anime after maybe the first half of Hoenn, bear in mind, and that doesn’t help a lot.  Having said that, I’m rather fond of the anime’s portrayal of Bianca.  Most of Ash’s rivals have a way of making you want to punch their stupid smug faces in, but Bianca just makes you want to root for her… from a safe distance.  She’s basically girl Ash – headstrong, determined to succeed despite the odds, a little clueless – but with some of the same backstory stuff that makes her interesting in the games.  And her dad is awesome.

Rivals, part 8: May, Brendan and Wally

…Jim, do you feel like we’re forgetting something?

No.  Why?

I don’t know.  Just… I have this nagging feeling we’re supposed to have done something.

Probably nothing important.

Hmm.  Okay; if you say so.

Well, we never did do the last entry in that rivals series.  About Mrayndan and Wally.  So, I mean, it could be that.

The what now?

We were talking about all the rivals?  You know, like how you did that series on the Champions years ago?

…OH S#!T!

Continue reading “Rivals, part 8: May, Brendan and Wally”

Rivals, part 7: The X/Y Kids

Serena.
Serena

Okay.  Just me this time.  Jim’s played Omega Ruby, but not X or Y, so he’s not terribly familiar with Serena/Calem and the rest of the gang from X and Y.  Let’s… see if I can still write one of these on my own, then.  So, first impressions, then; what do we think of the X/Y rivals?

…right, right; it’s just me.  Bollocks; this is harder than I remember.

Continue reading “Rivals, part 7: The X/Y Kids”

Rivals, part 6: Colress

Colress, in all his scientific glory.
Colress, in all his scientific glory.

Okay, I realise that we’re pushing it by including Colress in this series; it’s easy to come up with reasons to lump in N with the list of ‘rival’ characters, even though he behaves very differently to the rest of them, but Colress is very clearly not the same thing.  However, I don’t care and I want to talk about Colress, because shut up.

Nice reasoned argument there.

Thank you.

So, Colress.  Crazy mad scientist character.  I was underwhelmed by him, to be honest.  I mean, what does he even do?

I actually liked him!  I enjoyed the fact that he was working pretty much at right angles to what literally everyone else in the story was trying to do.

Continue reading “Rivals, part 6: Colress”