Character Examination: Dawn
by, 27th August 2012 at 08:13 PM (2393 Views)
To start things off, I will examine a character who is, by far, my least favorite main character. However, I will try to be as unbiased as I can with this, but I will drop a few opinionated remarks from time to time. I'll also have be focusing on my own take on the character, suggesting some fanon to fill in some blanks, and see where that gets us. I'll consult Bulba's pages on the characters, but I'll try to put my own spin on things.Please tell me of any errors or concerns you may have.
Feel free to bring up any questions, concerns, or corrections. Also, I wrote this twice because it deleted itself. As such, a few details I had in the original daft probably aren't included, and some things might be repeated. But I'll try to remember everything. ^^'
Dawn's look emphasizes her most obvious traits: it features a lot of pink and has a scarf, which shows off her girliness. Her skirt especially sets her apart from the other girls, since it shows that she's more feminine than the others (Misty and May had shorts, Iris had pants.) Perhaps her skirt is a little too risque for her.
Honestly, I think lengthening her skirt would have been a good choice. Sure, it would have cost some money if it was a dub edit. And rarely do we ever see anything. But I think a Tori-esque lengthening would make it more appropriate. On a mostly unrelated note, Pokemon Learning League changed her look quite a bit.Her design isn't a big deal for me, really. I actually prefer her design to Iris, one of my favorite main females. Also her hat is a condom, which is pretty awesome.
As for why I have a whole section dedicated to her looks...
[4:37:46 PM] Ruben Galea: Talk about her skirt.
...Well why not? And I'm glad I did, too. Examining her design helped me focus on her character.
First off, let me say that I won't be using phrases like "Mary Sue "or "Deus ex Machina." These are things I'll specifically try to stay away from. Whether or not I view Dawn as a Mary Sue is irrelevant, since I'm trying to be unbiased when I examine her. And these terms have really been abused. But I'll probably get into that if and when I examine Iris and her story, since I feel these terms will come up.As for her growth, I'm going to have to reference the other girls here. Whereas Misty and May had notable changes in their behavior (Misty mellowing out over time after getting Togepi, and May learning to enjoy Pokemon, among other things), Dawn starts off as a bubble, happy-go-lucky person and stays like that through most of the show. Sure, she had her bumps, but for the most part her outlook stayed the same. Don't mistake this for her being a mostly static character. This really isn't helped by the fact that she doesn't really grow too much after DP124.
To contrast May, Dawn is a natural Coordinator: she grew up with Contests, her mother was a superstar Coordinator, and she started off her journey with the goal of being a Top Coordinator in mind. Whether that makes Dawn a better Coordinator is up for debate. She did beat May once, but that was just a battle. It didn't say who was a better Coordinator, just that she and Piplup were stronger in battle than Glaceon. But Dawn does use many complex routines in her Contest. (Which, imo, got tedious after a while.)
One thing many people have noted, and I feel this is very common in all of DP, but Dawn wasn't really known for her interactions with others. Indeed, a lot of her strengths comes from her battling, skills as a Coordinator, and personality. If her interactions with people are actually remembered, it's mostly for how she got along with everyone. Or because of shipping fodder.
Part of her backstory is how she got her nickname, Dee Dee (Short for 'Diamond Dandruff.' Her nickname is Pikari in the original Japanese, a combination of Pikapika (an onomatopoeia for sparkling) and her Japanese name, Hikari.) It comes from her being electrocuted by Plusle and Minun when she was a kid, causing her hair to sparkle. Her friends taunt her, and Dawn feels bad. To add some fanon into this, I think this is what made Dawn so obsessive over her appearance. In the episode she got Pachirisu, she spends quite a bit of time redoing her hair after Pachirisu electrocutes her. Many, many times. When you consider her past history when people laughed at her, coupled with her occupation as a Coordinator, it makes me think that she tries to clean herself up to keep people from making fun of her. As I'll get into later, Dawn seems to be a bit of a people pleaser.
I'm going to assume that most people reading this are anime fans, thus familiar with Dawn's character mini-arc, where she suffers a string of Contest losses and loses all confidence in her abilities. She gets over when she defeats May in the final round of the Wallace Cup. She went from being at her peak, to her hitting rock bottom, to her struggling and getting back to her old self, if not better. But was this arc really necessary? I'll cover that in the next section.
Have Their Character Changes Been Good?
Had Dawn's growth as a trainer been good? Of course. It's easy to write a trainer who's just starting off: you start with a clean slate, have them learn the basics, and take off from there. It's a formula already done with Ash and May before; now they have more room to work with because Dawn's backstory, personality and goals were quickly established. And yes, she grew believably as a trainer.
Was the aforementioned spirit-breaking arc necessary? Yes and no. Yes, because not only was it nice padding that entertained the audience (especially me, since I hated Dawn and wanted to see her suffer), it also showed that Dawn wasn't just some bland, happy person all the time. We learned that she had deep insecurities and fears. I know many people who were sick of Dawn just being so confident all the time, as it came off as shallow. No, because it didn't really affect her in the long run. Sure, she never moped about her losses after it, but she never really did before. If you took the arc out of her story, you wouldn't miss anything. In the end, she remained mostly the same, so it wasn't anything too important. This is my main problem with Dawn: she changes, but she also stays the same.
Dawn's team has been somewhat controversial, arguably only being less of a hot topic than Ash's and Iris's teams. She had a Pokemon with an interesting personality (Pachirisu), a Pokemon who liked Contests but preferred to destroy the competition (Mamoswine), a whored out, bratty mascot who was in love with her (Piplup), and Quilava. I'll examine three of her Pokemon.
Buneary is probably the most like Dawn: she set herself apart from the others (with her crush on Pikachu) and had skills that would be great for Contests (Ice Beam and the fact that she wore this ugly vest all the time.) And like Dawn, she mostly remained the same throughout her journey. She never learned nor forgeot any moves since her debut, much like Dawn didn't really change in the end. She remained the same Pokemon throughout.
Togekiss, as we all know, was obtained when Princess
SalivaSalvia gave the Pokemon to her. Dawn spent the episode pretending to be a princess while Salvia pretended to be Dawn and participated in a Contest. The fact that Dawn was given a strong Pokemon just before the Grand Festival rubbed people the wrong way. And indeed, Togekiss didn't really seem to belong at some points. Whereas Iris worked to help and interacted with her Dragonite before catching it, Dawn just got Togekiss. Now I'll draw comparisons between Dragonite and Togekiss in the Iris examination, so I'll stop there.
I was just starting to get over my hate of Dawn when something happened: Ash traded Aipom to her. I was livid: I really liked Aipom, and to see Ash give it to HER?! And on top of that, she evolved it! I really wanted Ash to evolve it for some reason. But don't worry, Ambipom was written out! She suddenly gained a new life passion: ping pong. Despite only playing it a couple of times, and only having it alluded to in a last-minute Contest battle, Ambipom eventually leaves to become a ping pong star. In a way, this completely goes against Dawn. Whereas Dawn remained the same, Ambipom went through wild, fast changes.
Is This Character Memorable?
This is a tough one for me, because I mostly found her bland. But looking at the anime forum, it's pretty clear she made a big impact: she was a skilled Coordinator and battler. May set the trail for Coordinators, but Dawn nearly perfected it. Her matches were memorable (well, not to me) and she was very, very close to reaching her goal, moreso than any of the past girls. And I will always remember her as that boring girl I hated. I can honestly say that Dawn is a memorable character.
How They Rank
Now, how does she rank next to the other characters I've reviewed? Considering she's the first I've reviewed, she's at the top of the list. I can assure you that this won't last long, assuming I do another character examination.
Are They a Good Character?
Dawn may not exactly be incredibly deep, but she is a subtle character. As I mentioned, she remained mostly static. But she is memorable, we did see growth in her, she had an interesting team, and she has a lot of facets to be explored in fanon. So I very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very begrudgingly admit that she is a good character. But I still dislike her.
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