When it comes to covering Pokémon, I have always felt unsure of how to address the series, since it’s not a subject I’ve tackled before. The beloved series which is, unsurprisingly, one of the best-selling video game franchises ever — and one of the most successful media franchises ever — has given us many notable elements worth raving about across well over two decades, such as its many Pokémon, protagonists, elite teams, villains, regions… the list goes on.
So I thought this Hump Day Husbandos post was as good a place as any to jump in, with a discussion of one of my favourite characters ever from the franchise — one who has enough substance to reinforce his significance and everlasting relevance (sorry, Raihan), no matter how old the franchise gets.
Who is N?
N first appeared in the fifth generation of the series, Black and White, as a somewhat grey/neutral character. He was immediately intriguing, as he failed to neatly align himself to any previously established type of character in the series, such as being a clear villain, or playing as the game’s rival to our Pokémon trainer character.
While identified as the “King” of Team Plasma, his motivations and goals are seemingly to benefit Pokémon rather than using them for criminal or ill intentions, further highlighting N as an uncommon and new take on the “villains” of the broader series.
Why we love N
N as a standalone character poses an interesting question considering the background of the series and how we had, until this point, accepted it mostly unquestioningly: how can we deem the actions of capturing and using Pokémon as morally correct? Is the act of obtaining a Pokémon and using it in battle actually wrong despite what the games have instructed and encouraged us to do all along after all this time?
Has he now got you thinking about all the Pokémon you captured to merely be used for HM moves and form no other connection with — or how about every single Pokémon that you have placed and left in the PC ever since you first captured them?
The concept of N alone challenges the very notion and way of existing the series has already established, and only reinforces why Black and White had the very best storyline within the mainline games.
And as an obvious animal lover, the touching care and consideration on N’s part to rise up against the normalcy and acceptance of such a system in its world quickly made younger me a fan of his from the very beginning. But there’s even more to enjoy about him once we get to the more spoiler-y section in his backstory. The choice is yours to read on if you have not already played the game already!
Why you’ll love N
N is a smart individual, but his sheltered lifestyle has made him increasingly more antisocial. The well-conceptualised design work relating to his character has amazing details to take notice of and appreciate to reinforce his unique traits, such as the complex cube puzzle that hangs from his attire, his real name of Natural Harmonia Gropius relating to mathematical numbers — and even the game’s text speed indicating his distaste and resentment to others by the sheer quickness it appears on the screen; it tells players he wants the vocal exchange to end sooner rather than later.
His personality is described as pure and innocent, with the true antagonist of the game, Ghetsis — his foster father and founding member of Team Plasma — managing to completely isolate and manipulate his understanding of the world. He wrongly teaches N that Pokémon are always mistreated and suffering at the hands of humans, all for his own gain; he has plans for world domination, and intends to later use and betray N by the time he comes of age.
Ghetsis’ scheming was set in motion as soon as he stumbled upon N in the forest, being cared for by Pokémon; his birth parents had abandoned him, supposedly due to his ability to communicate with and understand Pokémon.
From this brief backstory of his character, it should paint a quick picture of how tragic N’s life has always been. But luckily, we see a positive shift once he manages to see the world in all its good and bad as he learns to understand and appreciate the reality he was always shielded from after the protagonist opens his eyes to the truth.
And in Black 2 and White 2, N ultimately redeems himself, showing remorse for his past actions and going up against Team Plasma and Ghetsis. What an interesting and fleshed-out character he ended up being!
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