Pokemon Character Reviews: Generation IV
Pokemonwise, Diamond and Pearl has regrettably become nearly tied with Gold and Silver as my least favorite generation. Sure, it introduced evolutions to many Pokemon that I agree were in dire need of such, but very little in this region stood out to me as a new favorite, and the trainer characters, at a glance, feel like they might only be a step down from the third gen as well.
However, I say this having once again forgotten every single one of them, and I'll be researching this as I go along...so maybe I'll be proven wrong? Let's find out!
I remember this guy now! He seemed like kind of a flat Professor Oak imitation at first, but I like how this serious older scientist loves his own Pokemon SO much, and he also loves candy. His refrigerator was packed full of sugary junk food if you snooped around his house.
Rowan is also another "specialized" professor, specifically studying Pokemon evolution. He has a theory that Pokemon evolve in order to "complete" themselves, and implies that legendary Pokemon, I guess, have attained perfection. It's neat that every region has a unique professor with a unique area of expertise, anyway.
Your rival this generation is also supposed to be the player's childhood friend, and has marginally more personality than some of the other rivals. He's well-meaning and friendly, but a little too energetic and too confident for his own good; a bit of a braggart who rushes into danger and sometimes makes a situation worse. Still, like most rival characters, I found him forgettable.
Barry basically gets all of his personality from his successful, superstar dad, "Tower Tycoon" Palmer, who runs the Battle Tower, which is this generation's answer to the last generation's Battle Frontier. Other than basically being Adult Barry, there's not much else you can say about him.
A unique feature in Diamond and Pearl are the five "stat trainers." These are trainers who focus on different Pokemon stats, with Cheryl favoring high-HP pokemon and healing abilities. Each of these trainers need your help to find their way when you encounter them out adventuring, and can later be fought in the optional Battle Tower.
It's interesting to finally meet other characters on their own respective "Pokemon Journeys" besides your usual rival, though Cheryl's characterization is flat as a plank.
A little kid who specializes in high special attack. Mira speaks in the third person, for some reason. What's with that? Sometimes it's a trait of a fictional child as though speaking in the third person is an actual child trait.
This rich kid is the "high attack" stat trainer. He has a hat. He trains a luckyario. These guys are going to put me to sleep.
The speed trainer. At least she has a cool goth style, I guess? Actually, she looks like a humanization of the Gothita line, even though that would debut a generation later.
This kid trains Pokemon with high defense and special defense. Thank god they rolled both defense stats into one so I wouldn't have to review an entire sixth one of these dorks.
Will the first gym leader of the region be any more exciting than those guys were? It's...not looking like it, no. Roark is a rock trainer. "Roark the Rock." He's into caves and exploring the underground world introduced in this region, which makes a lot of sense for a rock trainer. It's a nice idea, at least.
Okay, I guess I like Gardenia. She's the first grass-type gym leader since Erika, and while Erika was more focused on perfumes and flower pokemon, the "Master of Vivid Plant Pokemon" has a broader love of botany, taking care of both Pokemon and non-Pokemon plant life.
What she does not like however, are...bug types, a natural enemy of grass? Nope. Flying types? Poison types? Fire? Ice?
No, Gardenia's most hated Pokemon type is ghost, because she's terrified of them, but she actually speculates at one point "What if there were a grass-type ghost Pokemon? What then?"
...Can it really be coincidence how much she looks like Decidueye, the grass/ghost starter that would come three whole generations later? Of course, she also has Trevenant, Pumpkaboo and Dhelmise to choose from. I wonder if we'll ever see her again, all over her phobia with a team packed full of leafedy spookers?
"The Barefoot, Fighting Genius" is a fighting type trainer and, again, a bit more realized as a personality than previous leaders of her type. She's apparently not really sure how she became strong enough to become a gym leader at her age, but she kinda rolls with it. She loves food, loves fighting, and HATES wearing shoes, even swearing up and down that it's more healthy and natural to go barefoot, even in the snow, because pokemon do it, right? That's not really how it works, Maylene.
That's his name? "Crasher Wake?" Weird! "The Torrential Masked Master" is an interesting and fun twist on a water type trainer. They're not usually such big, loud tough guys, though as big, loud and tough as he is, he's also laid back and fun loving. In fact, fun is pretty much his whole "thing," choosing Pokemon and moves he finds fun rather than strategic, so exactly the way I play and exactly the reason I lose.
"The Alluring, Soulful Dancer" is a ghost-type trainer, her Pokemon being Drifblim, Gengar and Mismagius. It's a lot of fun to associate the ghost type with dancing, and Fantina is also heavily into the "Pokemon Contests" introduced this generation; a different kind of battle wherein a Pokemon's moves are used to dazzle the audience rather than actually fight. Can I just say what a shame it is that this didn't remain a permanent fixture of the series? It was such a fun concept!
Fantina is also supposed to be a Western foreigner; in the Japanese and French versions of the game, she speaks the local language rather poorly and peppers it with bits of English. In the English version, on the other hand, she mixes in some French.
Also, her Drifblim is nicknamed Loony.
Is that supposed to sound like "iron?" They aren't pronounced the same! This rugged dude is Roark's dad, a steel type trainer and a miner who constantly excavates the underground, all nicely thematic characteristics for a steel gym leader.
"The Diamond Dust Girl" is an ice type trainer who prides herself in being the opposite of the stereotype ice type trainers apparently have. I guess we've definitely seen thus far that ice trainers tend to be calm, cool and serious, and Candice is indeed a louder, more energized, more passionate kid with a love of fashion and romance. Still, it's not THAT surprising of a twist. Previous ice trainers haven't been that "icy" personality-wise.
I love that this electric type trainer, the "Shining, Shocking Star," is just sitting down and brooding in his official artwork. Apparently he's bored and sad because he seldom faces a real challenge, and in his boredom, he rigged an electrical puzzle throughout his gym that wound up causing rolling blackouts in the surrounding city. That's all pretty funny I guess.
The first-ever bug-type Elite Four leader is a bit of a let-down. Nothing stands out about Aaron or particularly says "this guy likes bugs." About the only thing interesting about him is that, according to the anime, he became a bug type trainer out of guilty for abandoning a Wurmple when he was a child. Wurmple trained itself extra hard into a Beautifly, and they were eventually reunited. This still isn't going to earn him a higher rating; it's really Wurmple's story more than Aaron's.
Bertha is a kind little old woman who trains ground-type Pokemon, and she looks a little bit like the first game's ghost-type Elite member, Agatha. This is pointed out by another character in the next generation, but we're never told what it means and that's pretty much the extent of what I can say about this character.
This one is a fire one and he has poofy hair. God. This is so grueling. They barely tried with this region's Elite Four.
Psychic trainer, likes books, does anybody care?
I think Cynthia here almost the entire reason some people remember the Diamond and Pearl characters fondly. The champion of the region is a massive fandom darling, and I'm sure that's due in large part to being such a powerful trainer who also looks like a Hollywood starlet and dresses entirely in black. She does get a lot more involved in the storyline than most champs, actually aiding in your adventure against the villain team and destructive legendary monstrosities, on which she's a bit of an expert as a mythology buff.
I guess I have to agree she's a fairly badass character.
The leader of the evil "Team Galactic" is at long last a Pokemon villain with more of a backstory and motive. Asocial and unemotional, he spent his entire life preferring machines over either humans or Pokemon, and despite his hard work as a student, his parents were apparently still disappointed with him.
Cyrus came to believe that emotion, or "spirit," was the cause of all war and suffering in the world, and sought a way to eliminate it. Getting rid of all feelings is SUCH a cartoonishly evil goal, but they actually bothered to try and rationalize why.
One of three Team Galactic executives, Mars is another one a lot of people seem to like, but I can't for the life of me find a reason other than, I guess, the cute skirt. She's pretty much just another "mwahaha! We'll get you!" villain.
...And basically the same rings true of Mars's rival, Jupiter.
...And likewise, Saturn, though he does reveal that he didn't even know Cyrus's ultimate plan and thinks his boss a bit of an extremist.
"FACTORY HEAD" THORTON
Now we're into Pokemon Platinum, the third game in this generation, and its new "Frontier Brain" characters, just like Ruby and Sapphire's Frontier Brains. The new "Factory Head" trainer is said to be a genius inventor, constantly analyzing battles with his various gadgets. Other than that, not much to say here. The Pokemon he uses are entirely randomized.
"ARCADE STAR" DAHLIA
There sure aren't a lot of Pokemon characters that aren't white or Japanese, are there? This is actually the only exception in this particular generation, but at least she seems really cool. She's apparently into dancing, as Fantina mentions admiring Dahlia's dance style, but she's more famous for her gambling skills, which is what they mean by "arcade" here, rather than the cooler kind of arcade with real games for real adults like Pac Man and the Jurassic Park one that was like, a little keep ride in a booth.
Music notes and some repetitive dialog indicate that Dahlia sings instead of speaks. Her first pokemon team has no apparent theme to it, just Dusknoir, Medicham and Ludicolo, but she later uses Zapdos, Blaziken and Togekiss; a "bird" trainer that isn't limited to flying types, for once!
"CASTLE VALET" DARACH
This guy, amusingly, is the butler of a wealthy young woman who simply lets him do all the battling for her...at least in this generation. He always uses the same team of Staraptor, Empoleon and Houndoom, which are strangely fitting. I guess rich people are known for having falcons and hounds and also looking like penguins.
"HALL MATRON" ARGENTA
Another one with randomized Pokemon, Argenta is the toughest of this game's Frontier Brains, and I really like her entire style. She's kind of written, dressed and animated like some sort of Hollywood talent scout or something, even praising your pokemon's supposedly rare charisma. Mostly, she gets points for looking fashionable as heck.
A new Team Galactic villain added in Platinum, Charon is your typical angry scientist who doesn't feel recognized enough for his genius, though an optional journal and other text reveals his soft spot for Rotom, a Pokemon he was also the very first to discover. We even have him to thank for the knowledge that Rotom can enter and possess different machines! Without this megalomaniacal creep, there would be no Rotomdex!
The journal is actually pretty sweet. He discovers Rotom as a child and becomes close friends with it until he startles it one day and chases it off. Many, many years later, he finds his favorite childhood toy - a small robot - in a junkyard and discovers it possessed by his old friend. Adorable!
Yes, he's called that because he's handsome. His Japanese name is even basically "handsome," and he works as a detective for the Pokemon world's international police, travelling wherever there's mystery and villainy afoot. He's actually now appeared in every generation since his introduction, from investigating Team Galactic here in Platinum to hunting the Ultra Beasts in Sun and Moon!
Looker's only known pokemon is a Croagunk...or was. In Pokemon X and Y, it's indicated that his partner Pokemon was killed during an unspecified mission.
In the anime, Looker actually befriends Team Rocket, earning their eternal adoration and loyalty when he gives them some food, and convinces them to help him against other villains on multiple occasions.
Did almost nobody earn five balls in this round? Sheesh. Human characters seem to consistently reflect my feelings towards the Pokemon they were introduced with. Diamond and Pearl were exciting at the time and introduced some cool stuff, but ultimately didn't do a whole lot to stand out in my memory.
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