In a way it feels strange to do all three of these characters together – like, it makes sense to have Hau and Gladion together because they both fit Pokémon’s existing “rival” archetypes, and it makes sense to have Lillie and Gladion together because (uh… SPOILERS, I guess???) they’re family, but the three of them don’t fit together quite as neatly at first glance. In fact, though, they play off each other in ways that I think are worth talking about. Hau, Lillie and Gladion all act as foils to one another – Hau’s carefree optimism, Lillie’s self-effacing dutifulness, Gladion’s edgy pragmatism. All three of them also have certain issues with their parentage (granted, in Lillie and Gladion’s case, it’s the same parent), which is important not just in terms of their own characterisation but because tradition (and, by extension, ancestry and inheritance) is a minor theme of Sun and Moon. Lillie’s relationship with her mother is also basically what the entire climax of the game turns on. So let’s talk about these three, their personalities and what happens to them, and see what we can be come up with – starting with Hau.Continue reading “Hau, Lillie and Gladion”
This one isn’t going to be super heavy on sweeping themes and allegory; I don’t have, like, a hot take about how Hop’s character arc is actually a commentary on British masculinity, or anything like that. Nor (thank Arceus) do we need to get especially deep into the lore of any particular legendary Pokémon to understand what Hop’s deal is; Zacian and Zamazenta are relevant to his story, but we can do this without them. That means I can just… talk about what Hop does in the story, then say what I think about it, like I used to do back when I was still pretending that my life made sense. The theme here isn’t even all that complicated or particularly unusual in a Pokémon game: Hop’s story is about growing up in other people’s shadows and learning to find your own path and excel in your own way, not comparing yourself to the achievements of others. It’s sweet, it’s uplifting, let’s talk about it.Continue reading “Hop”
Last time, on A Pokémon Trainer Is You:
What do you do next?
– Leave Viridian City to the west.
Well, as long as you’re in the Viridian City area, you might as well look around and do some training. After your morning coffee, you and your Pokémon take the west road out of Viridian City and start exploring. The houses gradually thin out, the land begins to slope gently upward, and you follow a river valley into rockier, drier territory, where wild Pokémon scrap over sparse vegetation and small pools of water.Continue reading “A Pokémon Trainer is You! VII: A Rival is You!”
The day has finally come! Having reached at last the ripe old age of [data not found], you are ready to leave Pallet Town all on your own and quest for glory! A Pokémon trainer is you! Your Pokémon legend is about to unfold! Y’know, unless you get lost in the woods and starve to death. That can happen. I knew a guy once who that happened to. Poor Larry. Rest in peace, man.
Whatever, whatever. You’ve gotta be at Professor Oak’s lab, kid! You don’t want that other jerk to get a head start on you!
Remember, kid: this journey’s gonna be all about choices. It’s a crazy world and it’s easy to run out of time, so you won’t always have a chance to go back and try everything, and you gotta make your decisions carefully. Sometimes, especially if you get in a fight, you can try something that won’t be guaranteed to work, and you’ll have to use your head to decide what the best choice is. But remember: trying new things and being creative probably won’t get you killed! Larry… Larry was a special case; he was pretty dumb.
Oh, right; I was supposed to read the script. Uh, something something, dreams and adventures, blah blah, let’s get going!
[Each week’s polls will remain open from Friday morning until Monday evening (US Eastern time).]
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).
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.
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.
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.
…Jim, do you feel like we’re forgetting something?
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”
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”