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Character Examination: Cilan

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(This article was written to come right after the Iris one. So if this was published before that one, it might seem weird in some aspects.)

Moving away from the girls (and Tracey), let's focus on someone who's just as fabulous as them. The first replacement for Brock since Tracey, this guy brings a distinct flavor to the show. But was he a fresh new ingredient, or did he leave a bad taste in my mouth?

It's Examination Time, Cilan!

Character Overview
People think Cilan was made to correct a few problems that faced his predecessor, Brock: he had more spotlight, he battled more, and he had many interests to keep him from being a one-note character. He displays an interest in a wide variety of fields, including Pokemon Connoisseur work, science, trains, detective work, and fishing.

Character Interaction
One thing I'd like to note is that most of Cilan's interactions with characters relate to people reacting to his flamboyancy, or because of contrast. Many characters have qualities that contrasts Cilan's, and their differences add a lot toward how they act around him.




Character Development

Cilan joined Ash because he wanted to learn more about Ash's unexplainable strategies. While a few episodes do show him learning a few things, Cilan is pretty much the same no matter the consequence. He's already an A-Class Connoisseur, one step below mastering S-Class. The problem is, he's probably too knowledgeable and developed in that regard, because he doesn't have much room to develop. If he reaches S-Class, he pretty much realized his goal and wouldn't really have a reason to stay with the group. (Aside from, you know, friendship.) But aside from his goal, he does have a few interesting quirks.

Cilan the Teacher With every one of his battles, he tries to educate his opponent in order for them to better themselves. This is most notable in his match with Luke: Cilan analyzes Luke's weak points in the match and tell him how they can be exploited. His advice gets Luke to use more creativity and strategy in his match to counter Cilan's Stunfisk's power.

A few of his other matches are also vehicles to teach others: his match against Chili was a way for Cilan to teach his brother about diverse movepools and type advantages; his match with Skyla was about trying to get her to see the joys of battling and taking her role as Gym Leader seriously. He battles Iris briefly to help Axew master Dragon Rage.

Pride His vanity and shit.

Cilan's darker side When we first meet Burgundy, we're supposed to believe that her view of Cilan is wrong. Her view, by the way, is of him being a creeper who laughs maniacally as he looms over his cowering prey. We soon see from their match that her view of him is not unfounded; he comes off as sadistic, cold and calculating, to say nothing of his evil expressions.

His darker side is a really great idea, since it shows that there's more to him than a bubbly personality and wackiness. Plus it allows for more Death Note jokes. Unfortunately, this aspect of his personality isn't really touched upon much after this. I'm not saying that they should whore this quirk out, but acknowledging it once in a while wouldn't hurt. And without this side being on display more often, Burgundy looks more petty and immature.

Detective Cilan One of Cilan's biggest interests, and probably the one that gets the most attention, outside of fishing. Honestly, it's a really nice idea, allowing Cilan to explore more of his interests so they feel less one-note. The problem is, the episodes that focus on his detective skills aren't anything special. Sure, there are some mysteries. But almost all the mysteries are the same simple things we've seen before. They're not any different from past series episodes, so Cilan's detective skills seem pointless. In fact, in one episode, he was pretty inconsequential to actually solving the mystery. But his detective skills were put to great use in two episodes. Even if the mysteries are weak, at least his detecitve skills can brighten up an otherwise dull episode.

Has Cilan's Character Changes Been Good?

This is sort of a difficult question, since Cilan really hasn't changed. He has traits added to him (his talents and interests, his fear of Purrloin and his darker side.) Many episodes develop his interests and his personality, but not very many episodes develop him as a character. A better way to explain it is to picture a one-story house, a bungalow. The bungalow is being renovated. Instead of having another floor built on top of it, Cilan's bungalow is getting extensions from the sides - new wings to his house. Maybe even a pool. Cilan isn't building up, but growing out.

Now, I've heard people say that, because Cilan's a sidekick, character development shouldn't be an issue with him. But I disagree. I think his lack of development is what makes him start to feel one-note and stale. Throwing in a bunch of interests and talents do add spice, but only for a short time. In the end, Cilan doesn't seem to have grown, and that hurts his believability as a character.

Cilan is an otherwise good character on his own, but development would make him great. Aside from giving him a lot more focus than Brock, there's rarely any risks taken with this character. He's just there.


Have you seen this Pokemon before? Well, you'll be seeing a lot of it soon

Honestly, there's nothing to say about Pansage, other than it being a watered-down clone of Cilan. Stunfisk is a jerk, but we can tell he's softening up to the group, because he's less antagonistic lately and doesn't seem to mind being around them. Other than that, there's not much to say about these two.

Now Crustle, there's the moneymaker. Originally a shy, and insecure Pokemon with a caring side, it grew under Cilan's care. It's gimmick as a Dwebble was that it seemed meek and gentle, but it would show its deadly skills in the heat of battle, usually after getting an offensive power-up from using Shell Smash. But now that it's Crustle, it's gimmick is just steamrolling over everything.

Unlike Ash and Iris, who have a few Pokemon that steal the spotlight (Ash's starters and Iris's Excadrill and Dragonite), Cilan sole screen-stealer is Crustle, with two losses under its belt and 8 or 9 some-odd wins (not to mention the little scenes outside matches.) It's not that Crustle is a bad Pokemon, not by any means It's really enjoyable, cute, and a good addition to Cilan's team. It's just an overused Pokemon, one that might have too many wins to its name, one that might be hogging the show while Pansage and Stunfisk slowly rot.

Is Cilan Memorable/Is Cilan a Good Character?

Of course he is! Cilan can get dull at times. People may find his exuberance a little insufferable. But to his fans, he's also very fun. He's zany, he's bizarre, and kooky, but he's also mature, respectable and powerful. He was given more focus and battles than the other male sidekicks, and it's very easy to ship him. The fact that he is fabulous is gonna draw in fangirls, and we all know it. He isn't a depressing character, and he does try to entertain the audience. He may not be the most deep or well-written character, but he really does brighten up the show.

How They Rank

He's great comic relief and he's a good battler, so he's much better than Tracey. He's more entertaining and original than Dawn, though she had more development and change. But I'm going to have to say that May beat him here; the idea of a Pokemon Connoiseur is more original than a Coordinator, but May went through more changes and development, her character grew more, and I find her generally more tolerable.

(Look at me, going on about character development as if I know what I'm talking about.)

1. May
2. Cilan
3. Dawn
3. Misty (ties with Dawn)
4. Tracey

If I had to sum up Cilan in one word: Ephemeral.
Cilan is great while he's here and he will be missed when he leaves. He's here now but will leave soon. This also related to his gags: At first, everyone adored Cilan and his gags. But over time, as we got used to them, the glamour faded.

Next time: hell if I know.

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  1. pokemon fan 132's Avatar
    I pretty much agree with most things you said. Cilan as character is very captivating and refreshing with several quirks keeping him interesting. He provides solid humor, his different sides of personality ad interests like fishing, detective, lover of trains etc add extra flavor to character and i can say he feels like happy medium in Bw cast.

    However i feel his main problem is lack of any real growth which might end up as his fall down eventually. Interesting personality and hobbies can help keep you engaging for short period, but that can only last for so long.From characters it is expected that they grow, change, go somewhere with their story(if not so much in personality, than at least goal sense) instead of staying completely same since their introduction. There is no point to such character being prone to end up at some point incredibly boring and stagnating, with people growing tired of same old gags and quirks repeated all over again.

    I say if writers expanded at least a bit more on his connoisseur dream experiencing some difficulties that could help him feel more memorable by end of his run.

    Overall pretty solid examination. In fact i enjoyed more or less in all of them, although Misty one was kinda let down because i think some important things were left out from it feeling incomplete imo.

    Im also not sure how come Cilan is put higher on list when talking about character growth and progression of story because Misty and Dawn developed more.
    Unless that list refers to personal preference, than i can understand order.

    But overall so far your doing great job.
  2. Mijzelffan's Avatar
    1. May
    2. Cilan
    3. Dawn
    3. Misty (ties with Dawn)
    4. Tracey
    Shared third place would make Tracey 5th.
  3. Garren's Avatar
    I have to say you're wrong...Cilan DID change, and it's quite noticeable.

    In the first couple episodes, he was actually the level-headed one whereas Iris was usually the wilder one but, about 15 or so episodes in, they basically switched. If you go back and watch the initial couple of episodes, the change is pretty noticeable. The writers pretty much went overboard with Cilan, likely because of fan approval, and for awhile it seemed like he went completely nuts...and never recovered, imo. Basically what happened with Brock, but far faster.
  4. pokemon fan 132's Avatar
    @Quattro~Bajeena: i don't know, that seems to me more like expansion on already previously established personality traits around Cilan character than actual development. All this hobbies, flamboyant and quirky characteristics were introduced from more or less start with increase of focus over time emphasizing on them more. But i didn't really noticed big change in character not going through any real struggles, not dealing with any problems learning how to overcome them along with his connoisseur dream and rivalry with Burgundy being basically at standstill.

    Even if there was some change i have to say it was relatively small compared to some other characters.
  5. Zeb's Avatar
    Cilan is so much better than Brock. Right @Croag;?
  6. Kyriaki's Avatar
    I totally loved this epic long description of Cilan - he is, without a doubt, one of the best sidekicks ever in the show.
  7. JennaJayfeather's Avatar
    You shoulda went into his Fishing Sommelierness. ;-; I love that side....xDDDDDDDDD They totally gave him a bait casting reel in there. xD

    But great review! I was waiting for Dento. X3333

    And actually I was sort of overanalyzing the anime and realized he doesn't really so much learn like Ash and Iris do, he's more of a teacher, which is something he wasn't setting out to do. I find that interesting he could become a teacher in the future

    And I do think Dento will get some stuff filled for his development in the future. I just don't think he's in the writer's priorities unfortunately.
    Updated 20th November 2012 at 08:39 PM by JennaJayfeather
  8. The Fighting Misty's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Quattro ~ Bajeena
    I have to say you're wrong...Cilan DID change, and it's quite noticeable.

    In the first couple episodes, he was actually the level-headed one whereas Iris was usually the wilder one but, about 15 or so episodes in, they basically switched. If you go back and watch the initial couple of episodes, the change is pretty noticeable. The writers pretty much went overboard with Cilan, likely because of fan approval, and for awhile it seemed like he went completely nuts...and never recovered, imo. Basically what happened with Brock, but far faster.
    Brock was also relatively "normal" in the first 20 or so Kanto episodes. Even his hitting on girls was more subtle back then.

    If anything the writers exaggerated both their traits very quickly.


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