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Thread: What qualities main characters need to have for you to consider them successful?

  1. #1
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    Default What qualities main characters need to have for you to consider them successful?

    Hi to all. This is my first thread i made in here(took me long enough).

    But as someone who has been part of this community for more than 8 years i noticed if anything lot of division, shift in opinions between fans and controversy when pokemon characters(especially those who were/are part of main cast)are discussed about. And what can be considered as good or badly written anime protagonists.

    So with that thought in mind i decided to make thread where everyone can offer their share of opinion and expectations of what to you main characters(TR can be included given how they're basically main characters) in pokemon series are required to possess to get passing grade in your book.

    As you all know over last 19 years of pokemon anime existence we had many characters come and go. From main stays like Ash and TR and big variety of traveling companions who had various adventures, stories, dreams and plots of their own giving their contribution in building this series and enriching them with more life and energy.

    However with all this variety aside from very few and rare examples like May and Dawn(since they are criticized the least)almost everyone else are exacerbated with heavy criticism, bad reviews and lot of negativity.

    Some examples:
        Spoiler:- examples:


    Imposing question of its own? Does every main character, previous, current or future needs to receive same amount of exposure, screen time and equally big enough role like Dawn for example had to be viewed in fandom eyes as well written character?

    What exactly in people minds constitutes as engaging, interesting and satisfyingly developed protagonist?

    Let alone character who managed to live up to his/her purpose and managed to do its job successfully in helping making pokemon anime enchanted with their own activities, history, goals and personality. Entertaining thus audience?

    Now im not saying how foundation for justified critique and complaining didn't existed for every character thanks to less than stellar writing pokemon anime is known for and wasted opportunities.
    But frequent heavy complaining whenever past main characters are topic of discussion, most being remembered in highly negative light accompanied with lack of interest in any of them coming back and ever becoming relevant to story through sequels.
    Gives out impression that according to viewers expectations and standards only very few and far between characters were worthwhile and as such being remembered in positive, rather than negative light?

    Here is my take on this:
    In my eyes even if protagonist failed to live up to his/her purpose properly and lacked proper development. If he/she still managed to add entertainment value with their own quirks, agendas and interests. Battled having quality action moments, helped other characters and plot to go forward in some shape or form, even if as result he suffered from being explored enough. But most of all had success in making audience emphatize and become attached to it.

    Than such characters can still be considered successful in my opinion even if their own story path left a lot to be desired. Some notable examples would certainly be Clemont, Misty, Jessie or Ash(when taking whole journey in account) for that matter.

    But that's my interpretation on this.

    So feel free everyone to give your own thoughts and interpretation of what in your opinion pokemon characters needs to have in pokemon series to be viewed as successful/good to you?

  2. #2
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    Well for Ash,

    He needs to rotate his Pokemon a lot more(especially at the league) and also take what he learned and implement it to his future journeys.He rotated a bit in Johto but after that he stopped doing it and decided to start off fresh ever since.He used the counter shield strategy throughout Sinnoh but dropped it after that point.Had Ash continued doing all of these things he indeed would have won both the Hoenn and Unova Leagues.





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    I wonder if other animes get so much criticism, or is pokemon anime just really bad/hated?
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    For me, a main character has to have substantial development as a character. There are certain traits I look for when the character is developing...

    1: Confidence. Either in themself, their Pokemon, their friends... ect. Ash has been seen time and time again to have confidence in his Pokemon, knowing that they can win if they're both at their very best. A cowardly character who has no confidence in not only them self but no confidence in their Pokemon for the whole series... nobody will want to see them, really. Who wants a character who's just there taking up the screen? Ash and his friends are very confident, which is a good character trait for a main character.

    2: How well they contribute to the story/show's plot. If we're just dragging along a character for the sake of giving them screen time... yeah, that's not a main character. Every one of Ash's companions have contributed something to any kind of plot. They're travelling with our main hero for some reason, and their reason does help move the story line.

    3: Overall enjoyability. Fans only like characters they enjoy seeing. That's why they're on the screen practically every episode! And you don't have to like a character to enjoy them (ect: I enjoy watching Dawn because she's my favorite!!!), but you can simply enjoy how they're pushing the story forward. We can all agree in DP Paul was a jerk and nobody liked him, but he was enjoyable to me for how he kept motivating Ash to get stronger in his own way to prove him wrong.

    Those are my big three. I don't really think any of Ash's companions were bad because they all had some version of the three things I mentioned.
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    pretty much as long as ash is determined and has that "never give up" mindset, i think i'd enjoy watching him no matter how long

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    For me, this would be the criteria.

    Step 1: A Defined Goal
    So Ash wants to be a Pokemon Master. Well, what the hell does that mean? What are the requirements? What are the duties upon reaching that goal? How does he plan on meeting that goal?

    If all or most of those have "I don't know" or "I guess that..." as an answer, then I'm already suspicious. A journey is defined as having a point A and a point B.

    Step 2: Relevance to the Plot

    Honestly, who wants to sit and see a bunch of gags from one person spread over 100 episodes with no bearing on the plot. Comic relief. The last word is relief. It's a break from tension. Clemont's problem is that he became the walking gag from a good character, making it more annoying. The show emphasized what made him want to overcome his flaws, his lack of athleticism which represents wimpyness and weakness, something he wished to overcome. It was like they forgot the whole first year.

    Step 3: Pacing of the Plot

    I cannot stress how pacing affects opinion on characters. If the plot moves too fast, one-dimensional characters with no sign of development or depth makes the audience apathetic to these characters because they are symbols and tropes rather than actual human beings. This was the problem with Serena's rivals in general.

    Conversely, if the plot moves too slow, the patron who asked for his drink left to go look elsewhere for satisfaction. Why should we care about the character that travels forever, leaves all these other characters (people and pokemon) behind, and can be reset at a whim, undoing any character development that happened? Also, a longer plot may cause character exaggeration or flanderization, flattening the character right then and there.

    Step 4: Character Interactions

    People change people for better or worse. Interaction is important. Since these characters have been interaction for over 100 episodes, logically, they should have interacted with both positive and negative sides of a person. If one side is shown all the time, then it makes it seem more like hero worship rather than interaction. This is where group conflict should come into play. Conflict resolution is the key to a good relationship.

    If characters don't interact at all especially in a group, then the watcher is left with this odd feeling that there is a wedge in this group. I can't recall one massive character interaction between Serena and Clemont.

    Step 5: Character Traits and Emotions

    Sadness, rage from personal loss, apathy, passion, means of stress relief, causes of stress, hobbies, and hope all tell many things about a character.

    Do they show X emotion? How often do they show it? How quickly? Under what circumstances? To what extent? Can this be said about other emotions?

    Does he have hobbies outside his goal and the means to get there? Is it an influence on him in any form? Does it consistently show up? What does this say about this character?

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    Step 6: Strengths and Weaknesses

    How often and consistent are these portrayed? How often are strengths turned into weaknesses and vice versa? Does the character gain any? And in what quantities? What does this say about the character and their battling style?

    For example, if a character's battling style his highly defensive, would it be wrong to assume that he or she believes defense is the best offense?
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    To put it bluntly, the character needs proper development. What proper development is can be subjective, but for me the character needs a strong introduction, establish the path/direction early, have some recurring experience the character can call back upon, make them fail in ways that they have no one to blame but themselves and learn from the mistake, have some depth/backstory, have a non-linear build-up, and have a proper conclusion, whether it's open-ended or finished.

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    Successful is different for everyone, I don't think we can judge a character on their qualities that make them successful.
    You could look at their qualities to see why they are liked, but again, it all comes down to personal opinion.

    Misty isn't a character I see who gets bashed a lot, in fact she's praised and thought of highly. The only characters I see bashed often are Tracey, Iris, Cilan, Clemont and to an extent Max, as well as DP Brock (which I find unfair because he's exactly the same in AG).

    For me I liked Misty, she's the first female character we are introduced to, she added a lot to the show, she's one of my favourites to this very day. I liked her tomboyish ways and her angry outbursts I find quite accurate for some girls. I loved the pokemon she had too, Togepi and especially Psyduck.

    May - I didn't like her at first, I found her quite bland in comparison to the fiery Misty. Plus I wasn't interested in her quest. But going back and watching AG as a whole changed my opinion, I don't consider her a favourite but I liked her more during my run through, I can't quite point out why though.

    Dawn - She's my favourite, mainly because she's the one I relate to the most, the whole struggling arc but then redeeming herself and doing well in the end is something I relate to to this day, and that's why I liked her, plus her interactions with characters were something I enjoyed. Especially Ash, that they were equals. Plus her pokemon were great. They all had something about them. Piplup being a main character itself, Buneary being the schoolgirl crush type of character who fancies a boy, Pachirisu being the hyperactive child, the disobedient Mamoswine, the little brother Cyndaquil who turns out to be quite strong, Togekiss the mother of the group, even Ambipom (admittingly had more character with Ash, but still great with Dawn and very useful in her contests).

    Iris - I hated her at first, the whole 'such a kid' annoyed the hell out of me, but again much like May, when I recently went back and actually watched Iris, she grew on me, I hated it when she used her phrase and wasn't impressed with her pokemon. She had some nice development that actually explained why she is, the way she is. So I respected her move after seeing her backstory.

    Cilan - I liked him at first, he was a lot different to Brock in terms of personality. However when watching all BW episodes he began to grate on me. So he's the only character that my opinion changed for the worse. I can stand him, but he annoys me with all of his connoisseur outbursts and tasting time, detective stuff too. Plus like Iris, I wasn't fussed on his pokemon.

    Brock - Loved him, always have, always will, he mastered the knowledgable guide character to a T. He had character, he was smart, he had his quirks. And I never got tired of his running gag, after what 15 years? of him, that gag never annoyed me, so that's impressive.

    Tracey - I quite liked him, I don't understand the hate he gets and find it quite unfair. In fairness to him, in his 30 odd episodes, he didn't do too badly, at the time Ash was the main focus of the anime, he managed to get the odd episode about him, plus capture a pokemon in that time, you compare that to some characters like Serena, Clemont, Iris, Cilan, who didn't do a lot for around 30-40 episodes who finally started doing stuff after all that time. So I don't think he did too bad, plus being an artist was different.


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    Quote Originally Posted by DrLazyEyes View Post
    To put it bluntly, the character needs proper development. What proper development is can be subjective, but for me the character needs a strong introduction, establish the path/direction early, have some recurring experience the character can call back upon, make them fail in ways that they have no one to blame but themselves and learn from the mistake, have some depth/backstory, have a non-linear build-up, and have a proper conclusion, whether it's open-ended or finished.
    This sums it up for me. It's fine being kind, snarky, ditzy, determined etc etc but if you're not relevant to the plot, then what's even the point of including you? That time would be better spent on other characters who are developed. It makes me sad that Brock got shafted so much in DP because with the amount of focus Ash and Dawn got on their goals and relationship between each other both towards their goal and outside of it (Pearlshipping or comradery what have you), they ended up having one of the best relationships between protagonists. Had Brock not been shafted and actually developed some sort of friendship with Dawn and even Ash to some extent, they had potential to be the best group of companions (as bland as Ash's personality was).

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    Whether a character is well-written is different from whether a character is likeable. A character can be well-written but not very likeable, and vice versa.

    A main character should be enjoyable to watch, either because of their personal character or because of what they bring to the story. They should contribute to the overall story and/or be relevant to the plot. They should have proper character development and, ideally, a journey (physical or metaphorical) along which we, the audience, can follow. They should be three-dimensional; one-dimensional characters make good COTDs, but not good main characters. We need to see all sides of a character – the good, the bad, and the ugly. It makes the character more relatable and more realistic.

    Character interaction is crucial. If we have a group of main characters, then the characters should feed off of and learn from each other. Each character should see both the good and bad sides of their traveling companions. If there is conflict (and it would be rather unrealistic to have no conflict), then the characters' relationships should change - whether for better or worse - because of that conflict.

    IMHO, Ash may not be the best-written anime protagonist (far from it, in fact), but he is likeable and relatable. He is enjoyable to watch, and he has developed and grown as a character. I watch the anime to watch his journey - the friends (human and Pokémon) he makes, the challenges he faces and overcomes, and the lessons he learns along the way.

    Quote Originally Posted by KingMinun
    Tracey - I quite liked him, I don't understand the hate he gets and find it quite unfair. In fairness to him, in his 30 odd episodes, he didn't do too badly, at the time Ash was the main focus of the anime, he managed to get the odd episode about him, plus capture a pokemon in that time, you compare that to some characters like Serena, Clemont, Iris, Cilan, who didn't do a lot for around 30-40 episodes who finally started doing stuff after all that time. So I don't think he did too bad, plus being an artist was different.
    IMHO, the problem with Tracey was that he replaced the very popular Brock. On top of that, he wasn't as over the top as Brock. He was a more subdued character (read: his hormones didn't control his brain), and since the focus was mainly on Ash, he rarely got any time in the limelight, and so he doesn't stand out as much as a character.
    Last edited by Satomine Night; 11th October 2016 at 9:37 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PokemonBattleFanatic- View Post
    He needs to rotate his Pokemon a lot more(especially at the league) and also take what he learned and implement it to his future journeys.
    Rotation doesn't work properly in the anime, though. Satoshi tried that a lot in Isshu, and it was a disaster since he kept playing favorites with Waruvile, while at one point his Gamagaru was ignored for more than half a year.

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    Quote Originally Posted by datdimfb View Post
    Rotation doesn't work properly in the anime, though. Satoshi tried that a lot in Isshu, and it was a disaster since he kept playing favorites with Waruvile, while at one point his Gamagaru was ignored for more than half a year.
    When I said rotate his Pokemon I meant using some of the pokemon from the other regions like Her across,Noctowl,Corpish, and Infernape.This is something he hasn't done since Johto(Sinnoh if we're only mentioning the league.)





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    I don't want to give an extended opinion like most of the people did here so I'm going through my points:
    1.Enjoyable. If a character i enjoyable to watch, you will automatically enjoy the whole series. Someone who is anoying can still be enjoyable, if the character doesn't get over-anoyed.
    2. Progression. Not like some big progression in 5 episodes. No. I want progression during the whole series. It's like this: if you compare the first episode ever of a character to the last one it must have been improved a lot. But if you put 2 episodes next to eachother, you should not be able to see a lot of difference. So slowly but surely is here the key.
    3. Character traits. I enjoy the show more if I like their traits. This one is different to anyone because it's an opinion. There's no 1 character you can name that everybody hates or love. There will always be haters and lovers no matter what. But some traits are just more enjoyable than others (rather someone plain stupid but funny than super smart but boring)
    4. And last but not least: Lacks. Wait what? Yes you read it right: lacks. A character (imo) always need lacks. If you got a series about a perfect person then it would be plain boring and there will be no excitement at all. We want to see te struggles, the problems, the though times. And also not to forget character lacks. Something in their traits that is not perfect or should be worked on. Something that has to be resolved after the series. I maybe sound a little bit vague abut this but I'm trying to use 'plot' and 'difficulties' in the same point.

    Overall I think from all the character we got nobody was perfect and we can't say someone was the best or the worst. The stories are handled different and you should not compare them. You shoud only compare the character from the start till the end.
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    1: they have to be a compelling character. If all this character does is just sit there, not being relevant to plot, then I won't like them, simple. Why are they there if they're just for filler?

    2: they should have a motive for what they're doing. Nothing is as bad as a character who does something for no reason. Say if they want to go berry picking "because they do" then I would hate that.

    3: they should show some growth. I'm sorry to Serena fans, but I'm using her as an example. I probably might've clicked more with her if we had actually seen her come in the bottom places, then work to the top, instead of mostly winning without changing much. A character needs to be shown to have gotten better since they began, instead of either not improving or being amazing at the get-go.

    4: they should be bearable. Gags may be kinda funny the first few times, but depending on how the gag works then it my get annoying by the 15th time. A long-running gag should be funny, but not enough to get on people's nerves.

    5: this one is more a personal thing I just tend to look for in characters. They should have at least one scene in which they're bad**s as f**k. If a character never really does any cool stuff, even if they're plot-relevant, it kinda makes me lose my motivation to see them, as they'll probably be just sitting around saying something. It doesn't have to be battling - some cool contests, or just plain psychic stuff while sitting down is enough, as long as it gives them a reason to do s**t that is cool.
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    Exhausted tropes and dead-horse gags aside, I think what truly constitutes a compelling protagonist is their ability to be memorable yet imperfect while also remaining tolerable and generally likable. To me, Ash accomplishes the first two criteria but not the last two. While he exudes some modicum of character improvement as the show progresses, it seems that his unfettered rashness just reboots itself at the start of each new generation. This is an argument that fans raise over and over, and I am definitely no exception, but it's one of the many reasons why I simply can't bring myself to like Ash as a character. Even as a kid, I always felt myself more drawn to Brock, Misty, and occasionally Tracey.

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    Quote Originally Posted by datdimfb View Post
    Rotation doesn't work properly in the anime, though. Satoshi tried that a lot in Isshu, and it was a disaster since he kept playing favorites with Waruvile, while at one point his Gamagaru was ignored for more than half a year.
    Usually I'm neither for nor against Ash rotating pokemon, but now I can see the benefit of him using his Oak's lab pokemon more since many of them are his strongest pokemon in general. I would like if he would bring some of them to his team at least occasionally instead of him simply relying on his new pokemon. This way he could be portrayed as stronger and more consistent. :]

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    I was planning in making a longer post but I'd just end up parroting most of what U.N. Owen said. Although, I will add that a sense of continuity is important to me, both for characters and the plot. You don't have to throw in a flashback to Kanto or a line like "I wonder how Brock/May/Dawn/any COD is doing" every other episode or anything but it irritates me that only the current season ever matters in the anime* and everything else is barely referenced at best and more often than not completely ignored. Given how long the anime has been going it would be difficult, if not impossible, to link every region together and make it feel like they are all part of one long journey but I can't say I care for the writer's tendency to not even try on that point.

    *Except when the writers want to plug Charizard into everything and this is coming from a huge Charizard fan.


    But I think that's just a symptom of the larger problem: from a story telling point, Ash really needs to go. Let him achieve his dream then give him the boot from the show and get a new protagonist. Start all over, maintain stronger continuity and character consistency from the get go, have Ash be a sort of emblematic totem like how Yugi to Jaden was handled in Yugioh GX but don't have him actually appear in person. (I'm guessing anyway. I never actually watched GX.) At this point, I don't think anything short of a complete reboot can break the anime out of its status quo obsessed, filler heavy 20 minute commercial position. BTW, I'm not trying to sound bitter or anything. Just my 2 cents.

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    Really just be an entertaining, well-rounded character. Hard to put in words for things like this. My main problem with the anime is its enslavement to the status quo and formula
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    Quote Originally Posted by tommytoe View Post
    Ash really needs to go. Let him achieve his dream then give him the boot from the show and get a new protagonist. Start all over, maintain stronger continuity and character consistency from the get go, have Ash be a sort of emblematic totem like how Yugi to Jaden was handled in Yugioh GX but don't have him actually appear in person. (I'm guessing anyway. I never actually watched GX.) At this point, I don't think anything short of a complete reboot can break the anime out of its status quo obsessed, filler heavy 20 minute commercial position. BTW, I'm not trying to sound bitter or anything. Just my 2 cents.
    I agree with this entirely. I remember for around half a year I was convinced Alain would be the new protagonist (or rather, Mairin with Alain being her companion). What they should've done was given Ash the league title, made him accept the role of champion, hook him up with Serena and make him chill in Kalos with Ash-Greninja, while Alain, from the battle, decides that he is better off as a Mairin mentor than an all-out battler, and since he hears there is this cool place named Alola, decides to take Mairin there. But that's just part of a trio. Who would be the new Brock? Simple. Steven. Capable trainer, yet has some kind of obsession that results in a gag - rocks and steel types. Then they threw all that out the window and made Ash lose, but still move on to the next region, complete with team rocket, who has the gag I am getting most fed up with. Ash needs a break. He's been going around doing too much stuff for a ten-year-old. It's time he and pikachu finally settled down somewhere.

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    A compromise might be to have more non-Ash centric episodes and focus on older characters whether it's former traveling companions or CODs. Maybe have an episode here and there that shows Misty hanging out at the Cerulean Gym, Brock working as a doctor, May doing contests and so on. They wouldn't have to meet up with Ash or even mention him but it would be a nice gesture towards fans of the previous region's characters and show that Ash isn't the center of the Pokemon universe and if you're not in his presence you essentially don't exist.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tommytoe View Post
    A compromise might be to have more non-Ash centric episodes and focus on older characters whether it's former traveling companions or CODs. Maybe have an episode here and there that shows Misty hanging out at the Cerulean Gym, Brock working as a doctor, May doing contests and so on. They wouldn't have to meet up with Ash or even mention him but it would be a nice gesture towards fans of the previous region's characters and show that Ash isn't the center of the Pokemon universe and if you're not in his presence you essentially don't exist.
    They did this in Pokemon Chronicles then stopped after that,the writers were planning on making an episode towards the end of DP showing Paul's rematch with Brandon but canceled it due to a lot fans not liking Paul at the time.





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    Quote Originally Posted by PokemonBattleFanatic- View Post
    They did this in Pokemon Chronicles then stopped after that,the writers were planning on making an episode towards the end of DP showing Paul's rematch with Brandon but canceled it due to a lot fans not liking Paul at the time.

    Really, shame d*** shame.

    But for the thread:
    1. Not a Mary-Stu!!!
    2. Has a life goal no matter how big or small
    3. Firm belief in his/her morals
    4. Not have a flat personality
    5. Does not have BS reasoning for what he/she does
    6. Character flaws/ticks
    7. Protective of what he cares about most
    8. Strive to better themselves
    9. Thoughtful of others
    10. There creative, and not have 20-30 variations of one or two technique/moves
    Last edited by Kaiser-Bisharp; 13th October 2016 at 4:35 AM. Reason: reworded

  23. #23
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    * Have vibrant character traits that play into the story:
    They must have a decent set of positive and negative traits that make them interesting. They can develop over time, so long as the show doesn't forget their base personality (character development ISN'T turning someone into a Purity Sue). For their flaws they must be developed by the plot and they must be called out or punished. For their positive traits, they must have positive effect on things to be seen as such and recognised. Actions have consequences must be a recurring plot line.

    * Must be effective to the plot:
    While I don't mind filler characters, a character that is designed to have a big part in the plot must have a meaningful role. If they are a hero, they must accomplish things and prove their competence. If they are villains, they must foil the heroes and give them enough threat to prove said competence. A character that is forced into the plot meaninglessly without accomplishing much will get on the audiences' nerves and be considered superfluous or even harmful to the plot. Please note that a character who has good or bad things HAPPEN TO THEM isn't the same as this quality.

    *Chemistry with the rest of the show:
    The character must have the ability to bounce off of at least one or two other characters in a developed way. This is more than just a few running gags. This interaction must help develop on both sides' characterisation and make them more interesting and developed. If they are friends they must show blatant care and bond with each other. If they are rivals or enemies their antagonism must be developed. Avoid forced or shallow relationships.

    * Must have SOME gratification in watching their role:
    A bit of a personal preference, but I tend to prefer characters who have worked hard enough to make some sort of difference in the plot. The 'winners vs losers' plot is funny in doses, but it dumbs down the plot after a while. A winner that always wins without having to even try will not seem competent or sympathetic, while a loser that never succeeds in progressing or having effect on the plot will seem static (and border on depressing in time). I want to see a character work and strive to accomplish something. PROVE THEIR WORTH. I want someone to root for, and it doesn't necessarily have to be the same person over and over.

    The more I think about these, the more I think XY has failed in a lot of regards to them.
    Last edited by DatsRight; 13th October 2016 at 12:23 PM.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by tommytoe View Post
    A compromise might be to have more non-Ash centric episodes and focus on older characters whether it's former traveling companions or CODs.
    We need a new Chronicles series for something like that I think since the main show focuses on Ash's adventure. But as much as I'd like seeing what Ash's old friends are up to, I don't think we'll actually get to see what Misty, May, Dawn and the others are doing since continuity in this series is pretty rare. :[

  25. #25
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    Mar 2015
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    Dialogue

    If dialogue is too forced or out of place, then the character will be a chore to get through. Having generic dialogue like "Never give up!" suddenly instilling hope is just forced. Professor X saying "If you allow yourself to feel it, embrace it, it will make you more powerful than you ever imagined. It's the greatest gift we have: to bear their pain without breaking. And it comes from the most human part of us: hope." would resonate much better.
    "Everyone creates the thing they dread. Men of peace create engines of war. Invaders create Avengers. People create... smaller people? Er... children! I lost the word there. Children. Designed to supplant them. To help them end."

    "Momentai!"

    But this is the traditional royal Canterlot voice! It is tradition to speak, using the Royal "we", and to use THIS MUCH VOLUME WHEN ADDRESSING OUR SUBJECTS!!

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