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Iris's Dragonite and good writing

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Look, everyone! Karamazov's coming to the defense of his precious little Best Wishes season. Isn't that super exciting?!

Honestly, I think it was a good idea to introduce Dragonite. Maybe the whole story could have been handled a little better, but the idea and how things have been going have been for the best. Let me break it down.

1. Dragonite's debut

The weakest point of Dragonite's debut episode is how everyone was sidelined in order to glorify Iris. This really isn't something new to the show; a lot of characters practically vanish so one can shine. Cilan had an episode just before. Not that I'm trying to justify the screentime imbalance, but it's something that should have been expected.

The episode goes down as thus: After being seriously injured in a fight with a wild Hydreigon, a wild Dragonite crashes into a power plant and barricades itself inside in order to recover. It causes a blackout in Undella Town, and the police (naturally) are lead to assume the wild dragon did it on purpose. Which isn't too wild of a guess: it did appear out of nowhere, scare people off, cause a power outage and refuse to leave.

Iris is all, "No dudes, Dragonite's totally innocent." And she and her friends sneak inside the power plant to confront Dragonite themselves. Iris learns of Dragonite's battle with Hydreigon and stands up to Officer Jenny when confronted. Soon, Dragonite is proven innocent, and is free to go once it recovers from its injuries. But what's this? Maybe it's because Iris was there for it in its time of need, the one who understood it and protected it. Maybe it's because it was scared of Hydreigon attacking and wanted a meat shield But whatever the case, it decides to join Iris's team.

The episode was a great way to show how committed Iris was to becoming a Dragon Master, and how she would fight for her convictions. The plot is reminiscent of a story in a previous episode, where the Elder from Iris's Village calmed down an enraged Druddigon, showing that the Pokemon wasn't bad once it was treated with some love and understanding.

2. Why Dragonite?

It was almost time for the gang to meet Iris's mentor, Drayden. And look at Iris's team: Excadrill, Emolga, and Axew. Only one Dragon type, and it's development has been, well...yeah, let's not go there. And considering her team has been stagnant for the better part of a year and with no Axew evolution in sight, she needed a new addition. Preferably a Dragon, since it was high time she actually got another one.

But wait! You have to be careful with what you choose. She already has a base form Dragon, which aren't exactly powerhouses. A first-stager would just require a lot of training and patience, which would take too much time away from Axew's lack of training. And with the Junior Cup coming up, there wouldn't be much time to get any training done. Imagine: Iris uses her Dratini in the first round. It loses to Georgia's Beartic, and Iris spends the next three episodes on the sidelines, not doing any bonding or training with her new Pokemon at all.

So, what kind of story could this Pokemon have? You can't just give Iris a strong Pokemon without any drawbacks. But it chose to be with her, so having it simply not listen to her wouldn't make sense. Thus, Dragonite's wild nature and independent nature seemed like a pretty good option. It also might explain why was fighting with that Hydreigon, and why it lashed out at others. Even though it liked Iris, it didn't necessarily trust her. Now Iris has a Pokemon she doesn't have to Train, but now she has a newer, more unique way of honing her Dragon Master abilities.

3. But why a Dragonite?

As I said earlier, a first-stage Pokemon would be a bad idea. But what about a second-stage Dragon? Or a different fully-evolved Dragon?

Why not Dragonair? Probably because it lacks limbs and a mouth. Look at the picture above. Dragonite's appeal comes from its intimidating and badass aura. It relies heavily on facial expressions and hand movements to show how it feels, and how badass it is. You can't even tell if Dragonair has a mouth, and it lacks any sort of limbs aside from those pretty wings. It'd be pretty, I guess. But it wouldn't work with the debut episode, which relied on a badass and scary Pokemon.

Why not Kingdra? Because it probably wouldn't be able to battle on land very well.

Why not Vibrava? Imagine a Vibrava making the same facial expressions and body movements as Dragonite. Now, can you imagine that being anything but adorable? Vibrava aren't intimidating, they're cute.

Why not Flygon? No, really, a Flygon might have been better. It's actually in the BW2 Pokedex, it's not a pseudo-legendary, and its Ground/Dragon typing reflects upon Cynthia's Garchomp. It would be a great way to connect the two Trainers. The only downsides I see is that Flygon has twiggy arms, which aren't as muscular as Dragonite's, and Dragonite's a Gen 1 Pokemon, the most popular and recognized generation of Pokemon. But I think Flygon would have been a great, or even better choice than Dragonite. And if there were RSEmakes coming out, a Flygon would be spectacular advertisement.

Why not Altaria? It's a freaking bird.

Why not Shelgon or Salamence? Shelgon lacks a detailed face and can't pull off the body language, not to mention it's probably the derpiest-looking Dragon. Salamence wouldn't be a bad option. But would it be any different from a Dragonite? It'd be the same issue, only Iris would have a much faster Pokemon at her disposal. It's a pseudo-legendary Pokemon with the same typing as Dragonite, and can still pull off the scary attitude. And as I said with Flygon, Dragonite is more recognized and popular.

Why not Gabite or Garchomp? They would be redundant. Cynthia uses a Garchomp, and she appeared quite often throughout the first twenty or so episodes of Season 2. Having two Garchomp would be overkill and lack diversity. A Gabite would have been a nice mirror between Iris and Cynthia, and Iris could tease Ash over him only having a Gible. But again, it's uncomfortably close to Garchomp, and it would be way too much exposure for the whole line. Plus it can't fly, and flight would be a great asset on the team.

Why not Druddigon? Drayden uses a Druddigon, and a mirror match would be boring. Not to mention that its lack of flight would have made it harder for it to help out during the height of Operation Tempest/Operation Crucify Meloetta and Play with a Mirror. Plus, we've seen them quite a few times so far this saga; a Pokemon from an earlier generation would be a better way to promote the new games.

Why not Zweilous or Hydreigon? Both needed to debut. But as I said with Druddigon, Gen V Dragons wouldn't be the best advertisements for BW2. Plus, Iris's friend Shobu was raising a couple at the time. A Hydreigon would pull off the disobedience rather well, considering their nature. But its viciousness would be covered in BW100. Plus, with Kotetsu packing a Hydreigon of his own (We really don't know the story about this Pokemon, so I'm a little hesitant to say how easily it could be substitutes for another Dragon), we've already seen a bit of Hydreigon.

Why not Reshiram? Reshiram hasn't debuted in the anime yet, and Iris IS a Gym Leader in white. (Reshiram is white/yin.) Plus, Reshiram is pretty feminine, so it would fit better than Zekrom. And White Kyurem is the mascot of White 2! Reshiram would have been a great choice for Iris.

4. The Junior Cup

Iris is already entering the Junior Cup. What better way to bond with her new, battle-eager Pokemon? Now, this is where a lot of the Dragonite controversy comes from.

1. Dragonite vs Beartic

Excadrill and Axew could have gotten revenge against Beartic for their previous matches, they had history with this Pokemon. Emolga is just no. But look at it from Iris's perspective: she has a new Pokemon. Even if she loses with it, she would have bonded with it a bit. If she used her other Pokemon and lost, then she would have lost her only opportunity to work with Dragonite in a tight, contained and professional tournament. The fact that Dragonite had a Fire-type move and a versatile moveset was actually pretty useful.

2. Dragonite vs Mamoswine
Now, I honestly think Excadrill would have been a better choice here. Steel would be great against Mamoswine's Ice, and Mamoswine's Ground typing wouldn't match up too well against another Ground type. Excadrill had a great moveset to use against it, while Dragonite only had Flamethrower. (And to a lesser extent, Ice Beam. Which would do neutral damage, right?) Excadrill also had way more experience than Mamoswine, and it knew its trainer for years.

Excadrill would have been a great choice to use against other match-ups. We can assume it can handle Water types, since it defeated Burgundy's Dewott; Pachrisu wouldn't be much help; Quilava probably wouldn't be able to hit Excadrill before the mole hit it with Drill Run; Buneary is weh. The only problem Excadrill would face would be Togekiss, who can fly and hit hard with Aura Sphere.

But again, using Dragonite would also work. It does have Flamethrower, and another battle would allow for more bonding between them. This match also helped to give more exposure to Dragonite's nature in battle. And maybe, just maybe, lightning would strike twice and Iris could steamroll through the tournament with just one Pokemon?

5. Deus ex Machina?
Now, people are calling the whole fiasco a DEM. But it's really not. You can say it's crappy writing, that's an opinion. But at the time, Deus ex Machina was just anothe buzz word going around used to disparage things. Remember when the term "Mary Sue" was rampant during the first Club Battle, and practically every character was called one?

Time to go on Wikipedia and pull out the definition of a Deus ex Machina.

...a plot device whereby a seemingly unsolvable problem is suddenly and abruptly solved with the contrived and unexpected intervention of some new event, character, ability, or object. It can be roughly translated as "God made it happen," with no further explanation
The fact that Dragonite was caught just before the tournament was a little sketchy. But it had a whole episode exploring its origins, personality, and how it started to develop a relationship with its Trainer.

A deus ex machina is generally undesirable in writing and often implies a lack of creativity on the part of the author.
A lack of creativity. Honestly, giving Iris a new Pokemon so she won't rely on the same Pokemon she's used for over 60 episodes was a good idea. Sure, she didn't need to use it in every match, but Dragonite had a versatile moveset and a lot of story to work with.

Not to mention, Iris really didn't need Dragonite to get that far. As I said earlier, Excadrill could have taken both Beartic and Mamoswine on. Maybe it could have beaten Krookodile. (It was resistant to Dragon Claw, and Focus Blast would work against Krookodile's Dark typing.) Would you rather Iris rely on the same old Pokemon and strategies, or would you rather see a new Pokemon with new material to work with? And I think we can all admit, Dragonite has a really fun personality, and it's very different from the average Dragonite.

And those are my thoughts on these issues. I'm turning off comments because the past Iris debates on the blogs have worn me out, and I don't feel like arguing. Feel free to make a response blog, but whatever. It's not perfect, it's just what I have to say.

Edit: And please, no praise either. (Not that this deserves praise.) It wouldn't be fair for one side to voice their comments while the other has to sit quietly.

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Updated 21st November 2012 at 06:26 PM by Karamazov

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