Poképrotagonists: A Bunch of Twerps

The definition of twerp is “a silly or annoying person” and I’ve been, and possibly still am and someday will again be, a twerp. I’m therefore highly qualified to recognize and judge other twerps and that’s why we’re here today, and in this case the twerps are every single default male protagonist in the mainline Pokémon games.

We start, as we must, at the beginning with Red, from Pokémon Red/Blue/Yellow, along with two remakes and cameos in other Pokémon games. The most striking thing about Red is that he has chosen to dress like a long-haul trucker and looks as if he’d rather be driving his rig down the highway than catching any Pokémon, his supposed dream.

The many face of Red.

In this instance, Red’s self-seriousness belies his inner twerpiness, and also the fact that after his adventures he just went off to sit on an island until people came to fight him. Who does that? He does leave later, to travel the world with Blue, though I don’t think he ever speaks and forces his partner to communicate for him. That’s pretty twerpy.

Our next protagonist is Ethan from Pokémon Gold/Silver/Crystal and its remake. Ethan’s twerpiness comes from the fact that he looks like a frat boy, or perhaps some shade of jock, with his shorts and jacket combo. The remake did diminish his twerpiness a little, since his original incarnation was wearing clothes that looked to be about two sizes too big, as if his mother had bought him them to “grow into” and, honestly, he looks like he’d start punching you and make some crack about how you were punching yourself.

Now, we come to the true inspiration for this article: Brendan, from Pokémon Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald and its remakes. The inspiration for this is immediately obvious: that stupid hat. When I first played Ruby, I thought it was hair and thought it was a weird stylistic choice and couldn’t get into the game because of that mass of white flopping around behind him and hadn’t yet started playing as the girl in games where the option was given to me. That hat is just the worst hat I’ve ever seen, but that’s not even the worst part.

Ruby/Sapphire were the first games to include the option to play as a male or female trainer from the outset, and so they decided to make whoever you didn’t choose your rival. Brendan is arrogant and casually misogynistic from the outset, citing that he just assumed a Gym Leader’s kid would be a guy. He just makes you want to fight him, because honestly, anyone who’d agree with Brendan’s assertions would never see his dialogue. May, on the other hand, simply hopes that the Gym Leader’s kid is nice and that they can be friends. To be fair, her hair situation isn’t that great. They made some weird design choices in this generation.

Our next trainer is Pokémon Pearl/Diamond/Platinum‘s Lucas, currently in the news because his game is getting a remake for the Nintendo Switch. The beret/scarf combo isn’t great, but what really escalates Lucas towards twerp status is his Platinum re-design, where his scarf becomes a fluffy ascot and he looks like he’s a food critic or a fancy waiter. Someone involved with food, in some fashion.

This is Hilbert, from Pokémon Black/White. No notes for Hilbert, he actually doesn’t look like a twerp. Good job.

They saved all their bad decisions for Nate from Pokémon Black/White 2. This is actually the only game in the series I haven’t played, but I needn’t have played it to know that this look is a lot and I’d say I don’t know where to start with this but it’s obviously the hair bursting out of the visor. I think he might be wearing a wetsuit underneath his baggy shorts and what appears to be a short-sleeved jacket, completed by sneakers with no socks. They also gave him a ridiculously giant bag which just pulls everything together. He looks like he’d definitely have a spirited monologue at you about the joys of the fad diet some authority figure in his life has tricked him into trying, or an obscure sport that’s become his life.

Pokemon X/Y had the distinction of being the first game in the series where you could modify your character’s appearance. For Calem’s default, they played it safe. It’s reminiscent of Hilbert’s outfit with the only weird thing being the sunglasses perched on the brim of the hat. Serena has the same thing, and it’s a weird choice they made.

Elio, protagonist of Pokémon Sun/Moon, is fine in that game and it’s another one where you can alter your appearance so they went with a safe, basic look. In the game’s follow-up, Pokémon Ultra Sun/Moon, they decided to make him look like that sticky kid at the beach who won’t leave you alone and keeps trying to talk to you about crabs. Actually, he kind of looks like Monkey D. Luffy from One Piece, doesn’t he? Different color scheme but same sort of energy. It’s worth noting that in this generation, Selene, the game’s female avatar option, got the weird hat.

Here’s something I just learned: Pokémon Let’s Go Eevee/Pikachu is half-remake/half-sequel to Pokémon Red/Blue/Yellow and it has its own protagonists. This also means there’s two mainline Pokémon games I haven’t played. Anyway, here’s Chase. He’s actually fine. I would willingly listen to him talk at me about all his Pokemon because he seems like the kind of kid who’d be super into it and knowledgeable.

Finally, we have Pokémon Sword/Shield’s protagonist, Victor. He looks like he’d verbally assault me outside a store, and when I asked for clarification he’d laugh at me and call me a daft wanker and then punch me in the gut and run into an alley, cackling, and when I went to see where he went he’d be shimmying over a wall and he’d do that V thing British people do instead of giving the finger. The hat he’s wearing looks dirty, like he found a bag in the street and put it on his head, and I think he has the biggest bag out of everyone in the series. It’s not even a bag, that’s a full-on camping sleeping bag, which makes him the most prepared Pokémaster here, at least. You can change all of this about him in game.

With that, we’ve gone over all the main male avatars from the Pokémon series. In a very real sense, I’ve just spent hundred, perhaps thousands of words mocking the fashion sense of a bunch of twelve-year-olds. I think we can all count ourselves lucky that they’ve allowed us to alter their appearances, and even luckier still that if we really hate the male avatars, we can always play as the girl.

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