Discussion in 'Pokémon Animé Discussion' started by Hanto, Jun 21, 2019.
They are rivals in the sense that they are rivals for the same competitions, c'mon now.
I have to agree, especially regarding that part about Elle during Master Class. Her win was inevitable no matter what Serena did since Elle had support from most of the region since she was already well established as the Kalos Queen. The people voting during the competition were always going to be biased in her favor as a result, so she was more like an insurmountable wall than just a simple rival.
I feel sorry for Hau fans. He's introduced in 1 episode and doesn't appear again till the league. lol, this character should have been in SM from the start or at least after the first year. What a waste.
You should watch Project Runway. They always talk about how important it is for a stylist to think about the model's mobility when he or she is walking down the runway. Serena commited the same mistake a lot of people in that show commit. She even said it herself that she should have cut the ribbon shorter so it wouldn't make Fennekin's paws slip.
You have to remember Fennekin can't keep her head down the entire time when modeling, she has to look forward and look unbothered. If the clothes Serena picked require the wearer to keep looking down at her feet the entire time in order not to fall, then she simply didn't do a good job as a stylist. So to put all of the fault on her pokemon is just unfair.
Regarding her loss to Aria, i would like to point out that Showcases are not only inspired by events like fashion shows, but also idol competitions. You might find competitions like that rigged and a lot more subjective than battles, but that is what Serena chose for her life and, if she were to accomplish her dream, she should have known how to build her popularity, that is just how show business work. I mean, can you imagine an idol who doesn't interact with her fans? Who doesn't advertise herself?
Besides, even though we don't see much of Aria's perfomances, all of the characters remark just how beautiful her perfomance is and how there is no one else in the world that can put on a show like her. So yeah, she didn't win just because she was more popular, but also because she had more experience.
I think that's the thing though we just HEAR how good she is without them bothering to actually show the substance in her performance. They do similar for the rivals, saying their good but not really establishing how they're a threat to Serena, and we've been through how many thought Serena didn't change things up that drastically. Like maybe the performances weren't identical but there wasn't much expansion or style upgrade.
I think this is a recurring issue with the least developed rivals in the show, they rely on exposition rather than display. A lot of rivals in the series are pretty much glorified 'straw losers' for the protagonist, there to be undeveloped lower talent so the protagonists can win without needing to develop as drastically. It punctuates the feel that plot armour and formula has already decided how everything plays out and the rivals don't actually play much into the protagonist's role and arc at all.
Which makes no sense since Amelia lost in her home town that was clearly supporting her in the beginning of the episode.
The thing is...every other character does this. Shauna uses the same performance. Miette uses the same performance. Nini uses the same performance. It's their trademark. Their signature. They change it up, but at the end of the day, that's how they're recognized by fans, which is what Showcases are all about. Is it a possible flaw of Showcases? Definitely. But it's also applicable to real life in the vein of how singers will more likely play their more popular songs than the lesser known ones at concerts.
The big difference is that Serena's rivals bar Jessie never really tried to improve. Shauna's final performance is virtually the same as in XY 60. Jessie is so over the place that she has no specific style for fans to see as recognizable. Serena does, which is why her final performance incorporates literally everything she's shown to that point. It made her well-liked enough to proceed to the finals.
The difference is that a singer probably has an arsenal of “popular” songs. I’m pretty sure if Drake rapped/sung the same songs and just changed one word or Ariana was singing the same song just changed some notes; they’d be victims of criticism because that’s BORING.
It was just a baseline. You can think of it more as idol/beauty pageant stuff. In a pageant, the contestant has their "talent", which is akin to the freestyle performance. They're not going to master numerous talents because you lead into a "jack of all trades, master of none". They'll hone in on one talent, or in this case, style.
You're free to not care for it, but I do think that was the guiding principle they had with Showcases. The fact that near every contestant repeats the same performance with variations to look different or potentially more elaborate highlights that. This isn't like Contests where everything needs to be constantly different, and I think people are trying too hard to force the comparison.
In either case, Showcases are the vehicle for development rather than the destination, and Serena's rivals are the same. They're not driving her in her career so much as they're driving her character.
Even if it is the case that Fennekin and Eevee tripping are 100% Serena's fault (though I think the Pokemon deserve some blame), the greater point still stands that there wasn't any occasion where Serena lost to a rival simply because she wasn't good enough, excluding Aria which is more due to her being more popular rather than much more skilled.
Showcases in general were boring and rushed. Serena's debut should not have happened 60 episodes of a 140 episode series, and it ended by episode 112.
The dancing/appeals in the showcases were fine and I liked the development Serena got out of most of them. It's just the goal itself that didn't have much substance.
I think you are not only missing the entire point of my original statement, but also failing to understand what being a performer actually means and which skills it requires.
You could spend all of your day speculating how much fault did each one of them had, but the fact is that they are a team and if one of them fails, they both fail. Just like Ash's job is to make sure his pokémon are strong enough to beat their opponent, Serena's job is to make sure her pokémon are able to perform at their best. Not only that, but she also has to find a way to captivate the heart of the audience.
Now, whether you disliked Serena's performances or even Showcases in general, that is a conceptual matter and therefore entirely subjective, which i have no interest in discussing.
What i do want to talk about is your statement that, aside from Aria, Serena's rivals never succeeded over something that she failed. And that is just an outright lie, for the reasons that i already mentioned above, regardless of you liking those rivals or not.
It's admittedly strange because I had far less problem with Sophocles' handling, despite him only getting TWO kind of arbitrary competitions that he never lost. His rival only appeared three times and only in the last one did he feel like much more than a straw loser. Much like with the showcases, they were a vehicle for development rather than the destination.
And yet I don't feel nearly as ripped off with Sophocles than I did Serena, I still feel like he got a reasonably solid and cathartic run, besides maybe using one or two more competitions. I can't quite pinpoint fully, maybe it's because I just felt Sophocles' dynamic and agency got more to run with out of his Vikavolt stuff, Horacio felt more relevant to Sophocles' development than Serena's rivals did to her. Also maybe also because Sophocles only had two or three episodes of rival focus and otherwise could do good and full stories as an individual, even his battle focus making a more believable transition in spite of how much more compressed it was, while Serena never quite grew out of requiring someone lamer than her to keep the story dumbed down. That's the thing I don't like about rival overuse, sometimes it can become about trying to make the protagonist look good by relation.
If you try to dismiss Showcases being awful as a “driving character force” what about if you think Serena’s characterization is terrible? Showcases being excusably awful only works if you think Serena characterization was worth it (spoiler I don’t). And it isn’t about comparing Showcases to Contest. If Ash used the same Pokémon in Gym battles people would be complaining. Nobody likes repetition (at least on tv) and Showcases had a lot of that. Also keep in mind Dawn’s goal and rivals were both driving forces in her character, it isn’t one or the other.
So Serena made a rookie mistake and from then on made sure the clothes were properly outfitted. I don't think outfitting Pokemon takes some great skill tbh. And we're talking about Pokemon here, those creatures that have physics-breaking acrobatics and mobility. Is being cognizant of Serena's slightly longer ribbon while walking too much to expect from Fennekin? As you said, they are a team. The other loss was because Eevee had a character flaw that Serena had to get out of her system by making her do a Performance; there was no way around it. Only the final loss to Aria was she actually outplayed (though really it's because Serena just doesn't have the same degree of popularity yet), but Aria is the equivalent to a Champion; she's not a rival like Shauna, Miette, or Nini.
In none of those losses was a situation where the rivals outperformed Serena either in the Theme or Freestyle without Serena making a mistake. If Fennekin didn't trip, Serena would have probably won that Showcase. If Eevee didn't trip, Serena would have definitely won that Showcase. For example, Jessie had routines where she did everything right, but it just wasn't good enough because......reasons.
Take Ash vs Tyson or Ash vs Alain. Ash just about battled as well as he possibly could with his regional team, but it wasn't good enough against those guys. Serena's rivals weren't compelling because there was never a moment where Serena checked off the boxes but came up short against them.
She only had 3 pokemon, I don't see the problem with the "appeals." Animation wise they blew most previous appeals out of the water simply due to XY having better animation than AG or DP. Likewise they weren't always exactly the same despite Braixen being in all of them.
Serena's characterisation through the first two showcases was very good (the one she lost, and her first win with her tear at the end, especially since Millifeui was also in that one if I remember correctly). The ones in the middle were a bit routine, but the last one versus Amelia I think had a lot of drama between her and the old woman potentially guiding her and taunting her about not being as good as Ellie.
Honestly, the rivalries we've got in the bast few years are so are somewhat a product of Pokemon franchise's emphasis on friendly competition rather than jerk or cocky rivalries.
The anime has a good deal of terrible rivalries. Let's start with Trip.
Putting aside Trip trying to ride off of Paul's success, Trip had the trappings of a good rival and then promptly threw them all out. He doesn't have much of a unique history other than an admiration of Alder. There was also some underlying level of classism with Trip and how he believes Ash to be some kind of hillbilly with his "the boonies" remarks. Thematically, this would have led to a good clash of themes and characters. These remarks don't even go anywhere to make this rivalry more thematically appropriate. They didn't even do the simplest thing of have Trip's pokemon fight elegantly or, I don't know, have him get along with Cilan over Iris and Ash better than anyone else.
They're rivals. Let their themes clash.
Then there are power levels. Putting aside the debate on power levels and how battles are random and full of lucky strikes, I believe rivals should be around equal power to the protagonist to raise the tension due to the uncertainty of who will win. It's more interesting than seeing a sweep from either side (laughs in Alain and Shouta). This is why I find Ash and Paul's rivalry highly flawed. I felt like it leaned in Paul's favor more often than not.
The characterization should also be unique. No one likes a glorified robot who really is there to bark orders, Tobias. Let them have their own history, philosophy, battling style, etc. You can certainly tie it to the theme of the rivalry.
Let's just get this one out of the way. I hate league rivals. Rivals should have an impact throughout the story. You can't just cram a rivalry at last minute and expect the themes to be developed or expect me to give a crap about a rivalry when the interactions between the two can be watered down to the same four lines repeated over the course of 10 episodes to a grand total of 5 minutes of interaction.
In your opinion. Three Pokémon who each can learn four different moves
They didn’t do it for me but if you think she had this amazing characterization I commend you, I (and others) just simply disagree.
We saw a lot of variation despite few attacks. We had Sylveon lift Serena into the sky with air currents and have her "flying" through the air. Pancham constantly making those dark pulse blocks or whatever those were, Braixen's ring of fire. Yes, she did need at least 1 more pokemon for more variation, but it's not like they repeated the same thing. Even ignoring the animation improvements, most past Contest appeals always focused on one specific thing (making giant ice sculptures which both May's Squirtle and Dawn's Buneary did), the usual contest fireworks when two attacks collide, etc. There were some unique ones, but after awhile they all felt very similar.
The amount of inner-development Serena got from them seemed to work wonderfully. You can tell how much she was breaking out of her shell compared to the first one. Dancing proudly and wildly in the Master Class to put smiles on people's faces was the point of them.
Serena's name has a double meaning, "serene." Serena was a quiet/shy girl, something we never had on the cast before. Also "lady-like." Which is why when Serena got mad, she just scowled instead of that explosive anger past girls like Misty, May, Dawn, etc. had from time to time.
I'm not saying her development was perfect, far from it, and the showcases/tripokalon's felt like an experiment and something that was only half-baked, but for what it was, the writers did an admirable job.
I don't think this is a flaw with the Ash/Paul rivalry, but rather a difference in priorities. Knowing Paul was a very tough opponent for Ash created the tension. As the audience, we knew there was a legitimate chance that Ash would lose, but also that Paul wasn't so strong that Ash would never win.
I felt that it had to be that way, because trading wins would have only left the rivalry at square one. Inevitably, one side has to be that one step ahead most of the time, as it makes the moment the other side catches up and finally triumphs all the more dramatic.
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