I know a lot will disagree with me but there IS character development in Pokemon Special. While their core personalities are often the same (old habits are hard to break) with exceptions, they actually do learn many things on their journeys as Trainers and therefore grow and mature. They don’t just learn something in one story and forget about it in the next story like in many cartoons or even the Pokemon Anime. Plus, Red isn’t the protagonist for every arc and doesn’t fall into the same pit traps and resets as Ash’s character has. Same with everyone else.
Don’t believe me? Here are a few examples:
Red and Green (Viz: Blue) ran into each other many times during the RGB arc and were pretty rude to each other. In their battle at the Indigo Plateau, each rival shown that they learned something from the other and learned to respect each other. From there, we can plainly see that all this helped them form more respect from then on. We don’t see it but we can definitely figure it out. Individually, Red learns not to get overconfident like when his Poliwhirl lost to Mew, thinking he could take him on, as well as to know his limits. Green learned that fighting a handicapped opponent isn't fair and that it's important to always consider that.
Blue (Viz: Green) was a thief at first who’d often laugh in the face of danger when things are going well. After getting a Pokedex from Oak and receiving his forgiveness, she stops her thieving ways (unless it’s for a good reason) and becomes a more mature young lady.
Yellow at first didn’t like Pokemon Battles since (s)he hates causing harm or Evolution since I guess (s)he never saw it before. However, she gradually learns that it’s okay to fight if it’s for a good cause and becomes a better Trainer.
Dia was sick of being Pearl's sidekick and decided to speak up to say that he can make his own decisions and not always follow Pearl. Pearl realized his errors and decided to respect Dia more.
And that’s just to name a few. And I know that Yami’s going to say that they’re “generic” as usual but while that’s a tad true, I’m just stating how they did change from what they started out as and did sorta drive the plot with their own character arcs.
Okay, granted we could’ve seen some of the development but it’s like with the Dragon Ball (Z) Manga where you don’t really see the characters develop outright but you can feel that they're growing up all the same. It's also like in real life when you outgrow certain habits you had when you were young. You look back and sometimes ask yourself, "What was I thinking?" in embarrassment. Kuririn changed from a cocky coward to a braver but not so tough fighter with a good sense of humor (if you watch Kai). Goku matured from a wild jungle boy to a grown adult. Piccolo changed from an evil demon to a gruff but friendly ally thanks to Gohan and the bond they formed when training for the Saiyan. Speaking of which, Vegeta had a very gradual change from a villain to an anti-hero to a good guy (as signified by Porunga reviving him when everyone good is wish back to life before Buu’s defeated). His rivalry with Goku even becomes less hostile and he become a family man with Bulma. The development is made clear until the characters themselves or someone else realizes it and points it out. That’s when the reader gets thinking and sees how the characters changed in ways they hadn’t taken much note of. At least for me.
On another note, I know that Pokemon Special relies mostly on the games but that’s Kusaka’s intentions. He uses source material from the games to write his stories while throwing in his own ideas. He does embellish enough to make sure we’re not actually reading the games down to the last detail. Plus, believe it or not, people actually like that it sticks to the games faithfully (while embellishing, of course) as adaptations are expected to be relatively accurate to the source material. The reason why Dragon Ball Evolution failed as an adaptation was because it was extremely unfaithful to the original Manga in a horrible way. Which begs the question why they’d “based” it on Dragon Ball if they were going to pretty much change everything. This is also why the Pokemon Anime is disliked since many points in the games are left out such as the evil teams (it's pretty much just Jessie, James and Meowth) in a way that leaves a bad taste in one's mouth. And the episodic plot creates many inconsistencies and many things that end up going no where. Ash still hasn't won a league, May and Dawn haven't become Top Coordinators, Brock abandoned his goal of being a Breeder to become a doctor and left the show due to the writers realizing he hasn't done jacks**t, Misty left because she also hadn't done a thing which Takeshi Shudo regretted and I could go on.
Actually, I think I know a reason why Special is now accumulating some naysayers. I heard from some who aren’t fond of the badge quest plot for the main games nowadays and like the sidegames (Ranger and Mystery Dungeon) that have a different take on Pokemon more. As such, the fact that Special are fairly faithful to the main games with a few things that have no basis in said games whatsoever is a bit of a turn off. They crave something different and PokeSpe isn’t very satisfying. I can’t kinda understand.
However, one must understand that Kusaka started writing Special after Pokemon Red and Green came out and made it big in Japan. Not to mention his intentions were to be true to the games and what was established at the time of each arc and game’s release. As such, he didn’t really have much too add that wasn’t based on in the games. And the reason he’s being true to the games is because he’s a fan of the games and a regular player. For that, I can say that he does put in a good amount of effort in that sense.
Whew! Would you believe I worked hard on all that today? Hope you heard me out.