Truth and Ideals

Chronicle-King

Blue Jacket
There's nothing in the rules saying I can't simply post a link to an off-site post of the fanfic I'm working on as of late, so I'll give you guys the Fanfiction.net link to my ongoing Pokemon fanfic; Truth and Ideals:

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/10715952/1/Truth-and-Ideals

Truth and Ideals is basically what happens when I get really bored and want to do something to curb my frustrations over disappointments I've had in certain media. Basically, taking a plot very akin to Pokemon Black and White and incorporating anime elements to create the TAI AU Canon. The story stars a 16 year old Ash Ketchum and his two childhood friends Cheren and Bianca. Beginning their Pokemon journey across Unova, they are quick to learn that the three of them will soon become involved in a greater scheme revolving around a group called Team Plasma, a mysterious man named N, and a Lucario who seems to have some sort of history with Ash's family.
 

ShineCero

Administrator
Staff member
ShineCero said:
Do note that this review is just an opinion, not a factual statement. Regardless of whatever conclusion I may at the end of this review, my thoughts of how the fanfic is constructed should not persuade yours—if you want to see if the fanfic is worth it, I highly recommended reading yourself to make that judgement.

It is really the Truth, or it is simply an Ideal fantasy?

Pokémon is one of the most beloved and iconic franchises in the world. The simplistic gameplay makes it an attraction to players of all ages and a competitive side for players who wish himself to be the very best. Spanning from multiple media such as games (core and spin offs), trading card, music, animations, comics, etc., the franchise had spawn hundreds and hundreds of both lovable characters and Pokémon. It should come to no surprise that a gigantic juggernaut of a franchise would have a horde of fan fiction stories—majority of them are horrid (heavy emphasis on sexuality that is clearly rocking the boat) and/or wish fulfillment. 

Truth and Ideals is… a rather strange one in terms of how a Pokémon fanfic is constructed. Of course, this review focuses on the first twenty chapters to see if the story is simply worth reading any further.




The Premise Stage

Truth and Ideals is a Pokémon fanfic that incorporates elements from the anime using the story from the games Pokémon Black and Pokémon White as a base. Essentially, Ash Ketchum, a native of Unova region, dreams of becoming a Pokémon trainer and aims to become a Pokémon champion.

Straight out of the gate, it established that this is an alternate reality of the anime, whereas Ash Ketchum started on his Pokémon journey in Unova rather than Kanto. Furthermore, Cilan and Iris are no longer traveling companions; instead, Cheren and Bianca fill the role of such (reminiscing their roles as they did in the games). 

While the premise is interesting change up by replacing the traveling companions with Cheren and Bianca (in the anime, Bianca was an recurring character while Cheren was regulate as a Gym Leader during the second half of the Black and White animated series), changing the backstory of Ash Ketchum seems jarring at least upon my first reading of it. 

My first thoughts that came to mind: “If Ash Ketchum is such a huge departure from the animated one; the character might as well be an Original Character”. 

Of course, it would defeat the purpose of the fanfiction to draw in readers. Original characters are often deal breakers for lot of people since the main draw of reading fanfiction is the continuation of the story for canon characters. Yet if you are not going to have the character in question retain any of their personalities in canon, you might as well go all the way through and let it be an original character, since you are writing Ash/Satoshi as such. It fits the perfect definition as being “clickbait”; drawing in characters on a false pretense that the journey will center on Ash but it is not exactly the case. In any normal situation, I would have immediately exited out of any fanfic that use this tactic.

Overall, the premise itself is not breathtaking interesting. While the idea of a rebooted season of the animated Pokémon Black and White is curious, the premise seemingly suggests that it only to borrow heavily from the games themselves rather than the actual animated series.

Regardless of how presentable the premise, it is the story overall that determines whether it is worth reading any further. Once again, this review considers the first twenty chapters of the story.




The Writing Stage

The writing in the first twenty chapters of this fan-fiction has been jarring, abysmal, convoluted, over-stuff, includes too many unnecessary, and awkward, scenes. It drags down the story to such a slog that it’s hard to keep an interest up—especially when you’re including too many elements from other parts of the franchise with little regard of how they add value to the story overall and completely dismantle the purpose of the what the premise presented itself as such.

The biggest issue is the pacing: it is all over the place. Nearly every time a scene occurs, it quickly rushes through it like Speedy Gonzales into the next scene—without any realistic transition or hint that the scene changed. It became distracting when trying to follow one conversation and suddenly switch to another when the plot calls for it. There is practically no breathing room for each scenes to settle it and be resolved in a timely matter before jumping off to the next scene. 

Here an example of what I meant of over-stuffing and awkward pacing of this scene to the next:

The scene below follows the discussion Ash has with Cheren and Bianca regarding to Team Plasma’ presentation to the rest of the crowd earlier:

Truth and Ideals Passage said:
Yeah… oddly enough, though, he said we couldn't hear it, but in all honesty, I did actually hear someone or something say "fool" before he had walked up to us. Although, that was when Ghetsis was still speaking to a crowd of people when I had heard that." Ash admitted, as Cheren sighed.

"Don't tell me you're imagining things again…" Ash said, as Ash shook his head.

"That Pidove I saw earlier? Do you remember that?" Ash asked, as he called out Pidove from her Poké Ball to show to Cheren and Bianca, as Pidove had a bandaged left wing from earlier still. However, now that Cheren had a good look at Pidove, he noticed something… sparkling…

"Um… Ash… It's been a while since I've seen a Pidove up close, but I'm pretty sure that's not their normal coloration I'm seeing." Cheren said, as Ash had a look at Pidove with his Pokédex.

"Pidove, the Tiny Pigeon Pokémon. These Pokémon live in cities. They are accustomed to people. Flocks often gather in parks and plazas." Just as the Pokédex had finished speaking, a wild Pidove landed near Ash's Pidove, eyeing her curiously as the pink eyed, partially blue colored Pidove belonging to Ash was backing away a bit, as another wild Pidove soon landed beside her.

"Hmmm, the Pokédex says that the Pidove I have is… Shiny? What does that necessarily mean, aside from the color difference of course?" Ash asked.

"Exactly just that, Ash. Now then, back to what you were saying before; you also heard something say "fool", just like how N did, yes?" Cheren asked, as Ash nodded.

Literally, in this scene(s) alone, you have the characters discuss about the details of Team Plasma, suddenly stopped talking about it to point out that “HEY! By the way, Pidove is a Shiny! See! Another Pidove, out of nowhere, appears to display the differences! Now onto the plot….” then immediately switches back to the previous topic. 

That technical flaw breaks the flow of actual conversation. Shoving the shiny status of Pidove in there does not work. It becomes awkward, out of place and devalues the seriousness of what Ash had experienced. Furthermore, Cheren and Bianca's reactions to the case, seeing a shiny for the first time, came out as unrealistic and static, another significant weakness in this fan-fiction. An improvement for the scene is noting Shiny Pidove in the previous chapter upon arrival of the Pokémon center. 

"And yet you all haven't learned a thing about what Team Plasma has begun to have been telling us all, haven't you?" He spoke again, as this time Cheren's attention was caught this time.

"You're the one who abandoned them, aren't you?" Cheren asked in a rather cold tone, as the other "trainer" simply chuckled.

"You could say that… Or you could say that Team Plasma sort of forced me to get rid of the three Pokémon I had… Either way, I don't truly feel like myself anymore after I had tried to attack them at the Dreamyard…"

Walking through the Dreamyard with Pansear in tow, the male trainer was gritting his teeth when he heard the pained cries of a Munna in the nearby vicinity. Eventually finding who was responsible first hand, the trainer had his Pansear ready to attack.

Here, we have an exchange between a mysterious trainer who abandoned the monkeys prior of the story to explain his situation. Yet, the transition to the flashback is not noted. I instantly jump to the flashback without any form of transition, warning or hint (even an acknowledgement "The mysterious Kid thought to himself, explaining what had happened to him..." would be sufficient. That is a technical flaw when writing about flashback sequences (another flashback sequences would have an entire chapter dedicated to it… and it still suffers the same issues of nonexistent transitions). 

These scenes above are just one of the notorious examples of where the technical aspects of writing is severely weak; where you’re shoving your reader a mouthful of information, exposition and “moments” down to their throats without giving them a chance to swallow or even take a quick moment of fresh air. Here's are some snippets of where you went out of limps with overstuffed dialogue, dragged out scenes and utterly pointless moments such as these:

Truth and Ideals said:
"Relax. Besides, we're not here to take anything from them, nor are we here for the Striaton Brothers. We're just scouting these trainers because N asked us to. That and we're making sure the grunts don't screw up with the Dream Mist." The third spoke up, as the other two glanced at him.

"Besides, the grunts keep getting this idiotic idea that we and the Striaton Trio are one in the same. I mean, seriously." One of them spoke up, as he removed his mask and bandana, revealing a rather aged face underneath in addition to pure white, very lengthy hair. "We don't even look remotely that young underneath this cover. That and the fact we're... What's the word I'm looking for?"

There is absolutely no reason for why this bit should be included. It offers nothing to the story other than your own disdain of a minority of fans adheres too. Going out of your way to disprove some speculation is amateurish as a writer. In fact, the entire section can easily be concise as “an band of three individuals eyes on the group, before disappearing in tin air” and your message will come across as the same (or in this scene, less insulting your audience of your certain distaste of some head-canon idea.).

In the first chapter, you have Ash and Delia having an argument about not allowing the former to be a trainer, and as an result, his friends held back on becoming one as well.

Truth and Ideals said:
Ash's words hit Delia a bit harder than he intended to, as this was the first time in nearly six years of asking has Ash brought up Cheren and Bianca into the argument. I know the three of them are close… but I never realized that was why those two never left yet, thought Delia, as she didn't have an urge to fight back against Ash's argument.

Yet immediately into the next chapter, we find out that Bianca's father will not allow her to go. Therefore, even if Delia, based on this context, let Ash gone, Bianca would have still stay behind. How is Delia view in a negative light as the sole reason why the others did not become trainers yet?

Accompany on the horrid pacing, there is a issue with timing as well, timing that offers NO purpose whatsoever. There always, always seemingly to be a perfect time to discuss about Bianca's assets, pointless romance that are poorly developed right from the get-go (Cheren and Bianca; the practically unnecessary scene between Ash and Giselle), but when it comes to more important stuff, you either sidestep it with more pointless fluff or rushes through it faster than the Road Runner. 

For example, there was an intended "impact scene" between Ash and Regulus (Lucario). Regulus reveals that he has information about Ash's father, then proceeds to beat the shit out of him. After it seemingly shows that Ash doesn't show the resolve Lucario was searching for, he tells him that he's not ready. What's the point of Lucario running away if he's going to appear by his side anyways? What was the intensity of the scene if Lucario is going to end up telling him anyways now that Ash is in a better position? How come Cheren and Bianca aren't instantly running back the moment they heard (assuming this aura powers somehow blocks out the real world... it's never roughly explained yet) the battle going on? 

Truth and Ideals said:
((You're not even remotely ready for what's truly in store for you…))

Not even two chapters has passed, Regulus instantly accepts Ash's request to join his side (after battling and getting... Mega Evolution?) and acclaims he's ready and spill the beans: note, Lucario ran away after their initial encounter, but for some reason came back, along with N, to see how he was doing; which defeats the purpose of "not being ready."

The worst chapters was Chapter 8 and 9 on the inclusion of an unborn baby having nightmares, the nonsensical scenario where Ash is displaying aura powers, and everyone around him flat out not having any realistic emotions. I's impossible to get invested if the characters themselves aren't expressive towards "chaotic" scenes and scenarios. If there was any form of deconstruction, this isn't one of them. 




The Characters Stage

For starters, it is no secret that the characters, such as Cheren, Bianca, N and any characters outside of Regulus and Ash are similar, if not the same, to the characters of Pokémon Black and Pokémon White. Some of the dialogue they say is practically word-for-word from the game. Despite this, they lack the necessary components to be actual characters.

Cheren and Bianca have little-to-no personality outside of what their tropes are essentially based off of, because of the majority of the time, they act as either exposition bots (where the entire story stops for when Cheren explain something, such as the Shiny Pidove) or forced together for romance purposes.

There is not anything wrong with romance—even in Pokémon, romance can be fine as long it done in a respectable manner and treated as an ongoing, natural development. The relationship between Cheren and Bianca is practically nonexistence here: nearly everything scene these two are together, it screams to the audience that they two like each other so very, very much: That is the extent of their dynamic. Thus, I cannot respect the notation of “shipping these two together” when there is too much telling going on here. Most of the scenes between the two always, always involved in some way that they’re romantically interested in one another—making Ash nonexistence during these scenes. For example, the scene where Cheren and Bianca slept together—no hens with ties here folks!—ignoring Ash in the process. When Ash finally enters the scene…he rarely comments on it and shrugged it off.

Moments as pointless fan-service serves nothing to move forward the plot—it drastically places it under a halt to acknowledge something that ultimately and utterly serves nothing in the end and makes me wish that same amount of time going to that actually goes to broaden their characters more.

As far as I know, this is practically the extent of their characters. They explain certain things, ask questions and forced into romance in situation that not needed—an example when Ash awoken from the coma, Bianca dreams about Cheren removing his clothes (the scene itself is not exactly clear there: transition was an error during that sequence).  One jarring example is the decision to shorten their battles—practically pushing them to the sidelines. This tells me that their character arcs is not as important as Ash.

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N and Regulus fall under exposition bots—they have no character other than explaining the plot to the audience of what’s going on—and damn, I wouldn’t lie that I’m still somewhat confused about the ordeal regarding these two characters.

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Delia’s character arc poses some problems. It reveals that her husband disappear, hence her hesitation of allowing Ash to become a trainer. Yet, it reveals in Chapter 15 that she was one of the flute guardians that dealt with the Orre Crisis (Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness for those who are not aware). She calls upon Lugia to find her husband, which begs the question. Why did she not do this beforehand? Why waited until the exact moment where Ash and the static group become trainers that the time was the time?

The Gale of Darkness Special Chapter felt like an unnecessary flashback. Similar to “The Kid’s flashback”, this was a perfect time to use summary rather than scene. In the end, all it tells us is that Ash’s father is somewhat alive and well—that’s all the audience needed to know. This is an example of what I meant about unnecessary fluff. 

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As I stated earlier in my review piece, Ash Ketchum is practically an original character—the moment you alter something about a character by not sticking to the source material, they become such case.  

In terms of characterization, if I were to make an accurate comparison to another character that displays the same traits, I have to say Nowe from Drakengard. An inept main character that seemingly questions everything around him with no regard to safety, the dangers that surrounds him and the inappropriate of doing things when the moment doesn’t exactly calls for it (regardless of technical errors in the writing).  
The scene were Ash was literally kicked away—instead of screaming for help (or calling out his Pokémon to defend himself), he tried to get his Pokédex in order to scan Regulus, the Lucario. No realistic person would do this.
 
When Ash awakens from the Pokémon Center and discovers that N and Regulus are around—he accepts it at face value as it was natural. This is not only a big problem for Ash but for all characters. They do not act like actual human beings—they are static and response to situation when the plots demands them and yet, unless it something revolving around pointless romance, they never display any reasonable emotions to events. They see it, acknowledge it at the basic level and move onto the next scene.

They essentially become mouthpieces of the author—where they are aware of stuff they should not have (Ash instantly suspecting Team Plasma faster than anyone else, instantly want to help a person he just met, suddenly aware of anything that is going on). It is impossible to connect with the characters if they lack the personality to invoke any form of care.  





The Final Stage

Overall, Truth and Ideals, for the first twenty pages, has horrid pacing issues, lack of any formal notification of transitions from one scene to the other, certain decisions of originality is either way out of place for something like Pokémon (and it’s not even in a deconstruction scene, it just play out of place and jarring, if not outright ridiculous). It is over-reliance on telling, rather than showing the progression of characters is another thing that strikes out the oddest. When the scenes cannot breathe in order to settle, it rushes through plot points (such as evolutions happening at a much quicker rate, most of them seemingly out of nowhere—aside from maybe one or two mentions of training) in details, yet an important scenes actually requires a bit more moment, it stuff with pointless junk.

It is not bad—far from it. It an imperfect product—no fanfiction is a perfect story—and these flaws can easily be improve upon in further chapters. However, it is up to reader to take the chance on whether or not these flaws are addressed in a reasonable manner in other chapters or maintain the same inconsistent, flaw writing in terms of execution and pacing. 

My advice is to let characters be characters. Let them develop and react of what is happening to them, instead of being the third-person omniscient figure—in reality, Bianca and Cheren’s romance would be shelf aside upon finding their best friend, for years, suddenly went into a 2-day coma. Ash would be utterly terrified if something changes in his own body. Let characters be human beings not mouth pieces for you to explain something for the audience. Avoid hamfisting so many things in a chapter; make sure each chapter serves an importance to the general plot and make sure that, instead of using flashback, it can be summarized instead. And don't rush into making shippings; romance should not be the driving force of this story.

Furthermore, despite the premise being a re-imagination of the Black and White season, it corporate tons of stuff from newer generations, which ultimately defeats the purpose of this story (and ironically, it makes me want to replay the games, a much more consistent story, rather than reading the story any further in my opinion; that's a bad sign as a writer). Retreading grounds is fine, but it gotta have some originality, and such originality have to work without being such a mess for the story overall.




The Verdict Stage

If I were to slap this baby into the moist meter, it would be a 50% (actually 47% but I rounded it off), an average score (kudos to those who know what I am referencing here). Remember folks, only first twenty chapters are in this discussion.

The generation of the score depends on several important components:
  • The technical aspect of writing: does the author understands the fundamentals of writing (pacing, execution, transition of scenes, etc.)?
  • The character’s utilization in the story and their motivations are understandable in light of the premise. 
  • Regardless of whether or not the story is good or not, is the story at any way, shape, or form, understandable at the basic level?
Truthfully, if I was not obligated to read the first 20 chapters in order to form a consensus of what I am looking at, there were certain points during the story I would have instantly gave a 20% or gave out not given out a grade at all. For example, as I explained prior of the click baiting, the premise is not consistent with the story—that is a deal breaker for any story. You can introduce elements from other things, but those needs to be in the premise rather than sprinkle in the story. I expected a re-imagination of the Pokémon Black and White season, but I got something else entirely.

Another point of the story was, once again, Chapter 8 and 9. Those were the worst chapters among the twenty due to how fundamentally strange (and not in a good way) it was, how unrealistic the characters were and the suspension of belief cannot overlook of how utterly ridiculous the scene was. These two chapters represent, I think, the worst aspects of the story in general: when not ripping out of the games, the complete lack of understanding in writing, character interactions was bland, not realistic, the overtop dream sequence severely lowers the impact of the scene and believability falls into looney tunes levels. Had I stopped at chapter ten, it would instantly be a 20%: no doubt about it.

However, upon reading the next ten chapters—while the issues with pacing, execution, transition, awkward scenes and bad timing continues to exist—it was a little bit better in comparison to chapter 8 and 9. 

It becomes easier to swallow since, ironically, each upcoming chapters was rushed, it took my attention away from the ridiculous of chapter eight and nine and these ones became a more primal focus. Hence, the score shot up a bit after each chapter where you drifted away from it to making it an average fanfiction. It is not amazing or outstanding; it is not even great nor good. It definitely not the worst piece of fanfiction out there nor among the worst—hell, it’s not even bad (fanfics will have chapters that are really, really bad, while the rest of the story maintain the average level); it just average, hence the score. It COULD change if I read any further, but based on these first twenty chapters, I think I have enough content to see where this is going to be like. 

It is not a horrid read; plenty of fanfiction that are much worse in comparison. It has potential to be moist, but it needs to address many issues before it even starts to drip.
 

Chronicle-King

Blue Jacket
I'm honestly very glad someone has finally given me the closest I've had so far to an honest negative review for one of my fics thus far. I'll say right now, the biggest issue I have with Truth and Ideals when compared to my later works is that it suffers big time from early installment weirdness, as in, the many aspects that you say I could've done better are actually somewhat fixed in my later stories when compared to Truth and Ideals. While by no means perfect still nevertheless, the fact you've more or less decided to be completely honest with your thoughts on Truth and Ideals has finally given me confidence that there are indeed people out there who will not just shower my fics with praise and offer next to no actual criticism like I've been wanting to see for the latter.

Good job on the review after all of the wait I had to go through to finally see it, it's definitely worth the time and patience to be actually criticized for my writing rather than being flat out praised like what happens a majority of the time for my works.
 
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