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Old July 3rd, 2012 (05:11 PM). Edited July 4th, 2012 by Dragonfree.
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Dragonfree
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Join Date: May 2004
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Age: 24
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You know, I actually think this is a pretty interesting idea. The canon discrepancy between the player being able to play as Leaf in FR/LG and the champion always being Red in HG/SS, while understandable from the developers' point of view, is a neat concept to run with in a fanfic, especially since G/S/C arguably wanted us to feel a bit jarred and alienated when a character we'd been thinking of as ourselves had suddenly isolated himself from society and stopped speaking. So I really enjoy the idea of Leaf coming back from a trip abroad only to discover all her achievements are suddenly being attributed to some kid named Red who is now living as a hermit somewhere in the mountains (though I found it a shame to hear about all this only through a summarized prologue, since portraying Leaf's confusion and existential crisis as everyone tells her she doesn't exist would have been very interesting).

But I'm afraid I'm not really a fan of where you ran with it. I was all for Red being portrayed in a morally dubious light, but you seem to have just stripped away everything that was potentially interesting about Red in the process. Canonically, Red is intriguing because his silence and self-inflicted isolation suggest something abnormal in his psychology. This could be interpreted charitably or uncharitably, positively or negatively - I honestly don't favor any particular interpretation of Red, and if anything I find the darker ones more interesting. But the thing is you went and removed psychology from the equation altogether by giving these puzzling facts simple, practical explanations: he went to Mt. Silver to hide his drug operation, and he doesn't speak because he physically can't. And then you just pile on cartoonish atrocities instead, in an overzealous attempt to make us hate him as much as you do - Red isn't only not the rightful champion and instated through a conspiracy against Leaf (which I'd have had no objection to in itself), but he is also a comically incompetent trainer and a drug dealer and misogynistic and indirectly responsible for the destruction of ecosystems thanks to Pikachu overpopulation and a violent psychopath. Ultimately, you've taken a character with a perfect canonical basis for dark or sinister interpretations and ditched that to make him into a generic over-the-top villain who does evil things because he's evil. That was a massive disappointment to me given all the potential the basic concept had for exploring what on earth could really be going through the head of someone who pulls off such a crazy stunt and then retreats into a cave where he can't even enjoy his success.

Your portrayal of Red, though exaggerated by your personal hatred for him, is part of a wider pattern that was bugging me all throughout Lurking in the Shadows and seems to be repeating itself here, namely that you tend to write things as being very black and white. The world is split into good guys, who are nice, friendly, righteous, competent, polite, always agree with one another, and think Pikachu is annoying; and bad guys, who are stupid, rude, incompetent, completely morally bankrupt, and think Pikachu is great. There is no such thing as someone who has a real character flaw but isn't rotten scum made to be hated, or an antagonistic character who has genuinely sympathetic motives, or any other position on the spectrum of character morality than the two extremes. This simplistic portrayal of the characters makes not just the characters themselves but also the plot of the story less interesting: it's obvious to the point of inanity who we're supposed to root for, agree with, and generally like, not just in the main conflict but at every step of the way.

Obviously you've got this story going already with Red as a straightforward villain, so going on complaining about that would just be complaining that you're not writing the story I wanted to read, which is not what I'm shooting for here. But I would like to encourage you, since you're writing a new fic, to try to get a bit out of your comfort zone with regards to the other characters. Let the good guys disagree passionately on something that matters, or some villains have motivations that aren't obviously and straightforwardly evil. Try some characters who are morally righteous but bad-tempered and arrogant, or a murderer who genuinely believes and can argue that he is doing the right thing. Let a villain be genuinely more competent at something than Lisa, or someone be well-meaning but misguided. There are so many more nuanced ways for a character to be than just generally good or generally bad, and more of that nuance could do wonders for your fic.

A couple of other brief comments:

I don't think the thing with the mass hypnosis holds water if it was really only mainland Kanto that was affected. The Sevii Islands have plenty of contact with the rest of Kanto; surely somebody would have noticed that suddenly the champion was supposed to be someone else, especially since Leaf herself had a role in stopping Team Rocket in the Sevii Islands so they'd be pretty familiar with her. And what about Johto, which shares a league with Kanto? The sudden champion switch shouldn't have gone unnoticed among Johtoan trainers. The rest of the world should have noticed too, to a somewhat lesser extent. Your fics are pretty tech-heavy, and a tech-heavy world is a communication-heavy world where what happens in Vegas doesn't stay in Vegas very long if it was any combination of significant and public - which the champion of a league definitely would be.

I really balked at the bit where apparently Lisa can land a plane with math. At the absolute least, any math Lisa can do, the plane's navigational equipment should be able to do more precisely and with more ease - that's the point of navigational equipment. The mention seems to serve little purpose other than to make Lisa look cool.

I was somewhat confused by how resigned Leaf was to apparently being an outcast for good near the end of the prologue. She brought a camera, and as far as I can tell from the text, it recorded the battle where she creamed him just fine. So why can't she go and show that around as proof that Red is a lousy trainer and couldn't possibly be the real champion?


There is more stuff I could comment on, but this is getting way long enough already. Good luck, anyway.
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