Concept Corner Monochrome: The people who fight you and give you stuff

Monochrome: The People Who Fight You and Give You Stuff
Oh, the shippinz.
I love characters in Pokemon. Whether it’s your rivals, from the rich spoiled jock Gary to energetic and ambitious Barry, or the champions, from heroic and courageous Lance you mysterious and knowledgeable Cynthia, all of the characters in Pokemon fit well into their places. This generation, we saw characters get more development than ever before. We see Bianca struggle to find a path in life while dealing with her father’s disapproval, the ever going saga of Cheren’s quest to become stronger, and even the gym leaders seem to have more substance, with gyms doubling as things like restaurants and roller coasters. The supporting characters of Pokemon deserve to be written about, so that’s what shall be done! 


Before we jump into this, let me warn you that this will be another spoiler-filled article. Ejecting all who have not finished the game in 3...2...1. *katchunk* 


Okay, so without further ado, let’s get started!


Gym Leaders


Back in the day of Red and Blue, gym leaders didn’t really do much outside of looming in the distance, waiting for your challenge. We saw some small changes to this in generation 2, with Jasmine in the lighthouse and Morty investigating the burnt tower in Ecruteak. We didn’t really see full-scale the lives these trainers had until gen 4, when we started seeing them outside the gyms more often. Roark is found mining away in Oreburgh mine, Volkner has a long history with Flint of the elite 4, and Maylene and Crasher Wake can be found n Johto of all places. We began to realize that gym leaders aren’t just recluses who lock themselves in a building and train every day. They have lives.
Never is this more present than in gen 5. Burgh is a master artist, Skyla flies jet planes, Clay is a mining tycoon with years of competition behind him. And with the exception of Cilan, Cress and Chili, who I’ve decided are just huge wusses, all the gym leaders come out at one point or another to aid in the fight against Team Plasma. The gym leaders take pride in the region where they are revered, and actively work to protect it and keep it running. Clay operates the import and export business of Driftveil City, Elesa’s gym is a well-known part of Nimbasa’s entertainment hub, and Drayden is the mayor of his town, which most other people would find to be a full-time gig. 


On the subject of Drayden, I want to talk about him and Iris for a minute, before we move on. Drayden is gruff, militaristic, and more than a little cold at times. Iris is the complete opposite, friendly, outgoing, and more than a little headstrong a lot of the time. The two are opposites, so why is it they live together? Some people have theorized that Iris is Drayden’s adopted daughter, or a child taken into his care, but I believe she is his apprentice. Training dragon-types is taken very seriously, as seen in the Dragon’s Den in Johto. There, one must train under the masters for a long time in order to even be allowed use of dragon-types. We could be seeing the same kind of thing here. In Black, where Drayden is the gym leader, Iris still hasn’t reached her master’s level of strength, but in White it would seem she has surpassed him, sucessing him as gym leader. Whatever the truth behind them, they make an interesting duo.




Every game has had a champion, who we meet long before we fight them. This time around, that champion is a silly-haired man named Alder. Alder plays the part of the wise man, sullen but knowledgeable. He tries to advise Cheren, who is determined to claim the champion’s throne, while silently observing the fight against Team Plasma, not getting involved until near the end. Alder is the first champion who we know to be champion as soon as we meet him, which would have bothered me if it had happened with Cynthia or Lance, but it seems to work with Alder. Alder doesn’t try to keep his identity secret, not really caring who knows who he is. He’s in a flunk when you meet him, aimlessly roaming Unova after the trauma of witnessing his starter Pokemon die from illness. He’s kind of like how Volkner was until you fought him in gen 4, only this guy has actual legitimate reasons, instead of just being an emo jerk like Volkner.
Alder’s clothes are based on the garb of the Yamabushi, Japanese mountain ascetic hermits. This fits Alder’s wandering mountain-man mantra. Alder’s hair, dumb-looking as it is, is modeled after the wings of Volcarona, the strongest Pokemon on his team, similar to Cynthia’s head bangles as a reference to her Lucario. Alder’s name comes from the Alder Moth, possibly a reference to his Volcarona(which is actually not based on the Alder moth, but the Atlas moth). 




Bianca is a more interesting character than a lot of people give her credit for. When you first meet her, she seems like an obnoxious airhead, and while that doesn’t really change too much, we do eventually see that she has another side to her. She’s a bit of a wayward soul, not really sure what she wants to do in life, and so accepts the mantle of trainer not as a path for her life, but to open up different possibilities by exploring Unova. This choice triggers her shift from a bumbling ditz to a competent trainer and assistant to Professor Juniper. This is reflected in her team. When you begin the game, Bianca chooses whichever starter is weak against your own choice. Later on, however, she gets much stronger, arguably stronger than Cheren at a couple points, and has a formidable and complete team by the time you fight her post-ending.


Bianca’s team-building is reflective of her personality. She’s a little stereotypical, loving anything cute, but also has an understanding of power. All of her Pokemon have first stages that are varying degrees of adorable, but all turn into formidable fighters. Bianca is more like Brendan/May than, say, Gary or Silver, competing with you more to see how good you are then to actively try and beat you, and supporting you and Cheren however she can. She and Cheren are another yin-yang system, like Iris and Drayden. And speaking of Cheren…




Cheren is probably my second favorite character in Black and White, behind N. He is the more classic rival, determined to become champion and strategic in his choices. He seems to be a bit of a melting pot of past rivals, having Gary’s competitive spirit, Silver’s stiff determination, and Barry’s ambition. He also has a softer, less secure side, which we begin to see after his first time meeting Alder. Alder’s words confuse Cheren a little, and we see that maybe he’s not as confident as he seems. We see more of this after you have defeated the elite 4 and N. After congratulating you on your victory, Cheren leaves, and is found at route 5, where he first met Alder, pondering what it means to be champion. We see a growing philosophical side in Cheren. After that, he is found in Victory road, and will gladly fight you in order to make himself and his Pokemon stronger. Cheren begins the same way other rivals tend to, ambitious and determined, but his personality takes an interesting turn into self-doubt, and then returns to indignant determination. 


Unlike Bianca, Cheren’s team is more thoroughly strategic. While Bianca chose to catch a Lilipup because she thought it was cute, Cheren probably caught a Patrat, Lilipup, and Purrloin, spending time deciding which was strongest. Eventually his team becomes like what you might expect from a champion, a variety of very strong Pokemon with particular, selected move sets and items. Cheren is a strategist who hasn’t given up his dream of becoming champion. If the inevitable grey version is a direct sequel instead of a remake, as many are theorizing it will be, I’ll be hoping we see Cheren take his place as champion at last.


So, there we are. Characters. Yep. But hey, remember when I used to write about actual Pokemon? That’s what’s happening in two weeks! Next time on Concept Corner, we take a look at the titanic and ferocious legendary Pokemon of Unova!


Dividing by zero,


I’m IatosHaunted, signing off.
Concept Corner is (c) Jay Petrequin, 2011