What's so special about N? [May contain B2W2 spoilers]
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June 1st, 2011 (11:12 AM).
Join Date: Jun 2011
New bloke here, my two cents on N. Yeah, ignore the avatar for now.
N is the most interesting character in Pokemon so far.
1) N isn't a strong adversary? Of course he isn't, but neither was Gary, and neither was Silver, etc. N, however, is the only person with a genuine reason not to be a strong adversary. He goes and asks local Pokemon to act as his bodyguards for the time he is in the area. The others have been using the same core team through their games and they're still easy to beat. To me, that puts N as being a stronger adversary than most other rivals.
2) Only N can talk to Pokemon. Enough said, really...
3) N turns out to be a good guy even though his dad is Ghetsis. The fact that he's been brainwashed and groomed to become the Useless and Powerless Figurehead Leader of Team Plasma his whole life is a testament to how much harder that was.
4) Throughout the game, N is applying his own ideals and directly confronting what he considers to be the evils of the Pokestablishment, which has been heralded as the absolute gospel truth by every Pokemon game from Red to Platinum. This culminates in his fiery argument against Professor Juniper's rather wishy-washy views in the Chargestone Cave. He gave a voice to everyone who ever thought it somewhat unethical to trap a Pokemon in a ball simply to complete a checklist, and then to leave it in stasis forever. Game Freak didn't have to do that. They could have glossed over it as they had for more than ten years. But they didn't, and N was their vessel to deliver this viewpoint. Furthermore, I was rather expecting Juniper's feeble argument to somehow convince N, or otherwise leave him without a valid argument - but no. Game Freak surpassed themselves by allowing an honest argument to take place. If anything, they artificially weakened Juniper's position.
5) N is confused. Hey, I said he was the most interesting, not the most competent. He believes that making Pokemon fight is wrong, but whenever he wants to have a little chat with you, it's often on the condition that you can beat him in a battle. What for? He wanted to talk in the first place. It shows that Ghetsis' teaching that Might Is Right really rubbed off on him. This culminates, interestingly to Ghetsis' downfall, when he bets the fate of Unova on his ability to defeat you in battle (in spite of the fact that you've probably never lost to him so far, but hey, that's game design for you). So these two ideologies, Might Is Right and Make Love Not Pokemon Battles, are shown as being in direct contrast to each other, which throws into light the startling fact that Pokemon has taught us that Might Is Right ever since Professor Oak warned us to beware of the tall grass. Everything you know is wrong.
6) You make N inwardly conflicted. All his life he's been made to believe that Pokemon in captivity are miserable and wretched; so much so that he's ready to force everyone in Unova to release their Pokemon for their own benefit. Then he meets you, shortly after his exposure to The Real World. Before long he's become fascinated with you because to him, you represent the clearly impossible; a trainer of happy Pokemon. Throughout most of the game, he's desperately trying to reconcile what he "knows" to be true, what you are proving, and what his own conscience is trying to say. This brilliant turmoil actually had me looking forward to the time when he would next send out the Shadow Triad to invite me to another little discussion.
7) N resolves his issues in a mostly-satisfying way right at the end, when everything reaches a climax. Ghetsis goes from Freudian slips to right-out admitting that he wants to Take Over The World, and mercilessly berates N for essentially being a puppet. But N proves his worth by turning against Ghetsis' plans and then, by setting out to make a new life for himself, with Reshiram/Zekrom. I would elaborate further, but it's been a while since I saw the end. I will say that with all the drama at the end, it wasn't until the next day that I realised, wait, am I the League Champion now?
In summary, my own feelings are that not only is N the most interesting antagonist in a Pokemon game, but in any game that I've played. Including the whole villainous roster of Final Fantasy.
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