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Pokémon Go [one-shot]

Dragonfree

Moderator
Staff
Location
Iceland
Pronouns
she/her/hers
Partners
  1. butterfree
  2. mightyena
  3. charizard
  4. custom/scyther-mia
This is a one-shot I wrote in 2016, which won first place in the Worlds Collide contest on the Serebii.net forums. It was very much written simply to write something for the contest, I wasn't super-happy with it, and it's still a pretty ridiculous premise that's not being explored all that deeply and I'm not particularly interested in expanding it further - but given my edits to the more ambitious one-shot that I originally meant to be my first proper fic here are being more extensive than I expected, I figured I might as well go and first give this one just enough of a touch-up to actually post it somewhere for the first time (originally it was posted with the contest results but never anywhere else).

Today, this basically works as a nostalgia fic for that first Pokémon Go summer. I have no regrets. I hope you get something of a kick out of it, at least!



Go

I woke up to a strange squawking – not the usual kind of birdsong that I’d sometimes wake up to at six AM, but something entirely different.

That was it, at first; I lay in bed, pulling the comforter over my head, rubbing the crust out of my eyes, wondering groggily if some kind of unusual bird had taken up residence outside my window. But then I realized it was coming from inside the bedroom, and I bolted upright.

There was a Pidgey on my windowsill, cocking its head at its reflection in the window.

I blinked at it, hard, expecting it to be some kind of early-morning hallucination. Obviously. I mean, Pidgey weren’t real, right? It was a game, a stupid little mobile game that I’d installed when I was bored. Sure, I’d had Pidgey appear in my bedroom before – on the screen. But my phone was lying on the nightstand, the screen blank. The app wasn’t even open.

I made a dumb squeaky noise. The Pidgey turned towards me and chirped, looking kind of irritated as Pidgey always did. Probably wanted to get outside? (Was I really speculating on what the Pidgey in my bedroom was thinking? None of this made any sense.)

Wait, more to the point – how had it gotten inside? The window was open a little bit, sure, but no way in hell would that pudgy, ridiculous bird ever fit through there. The door was closed. My housemate was in France. Nobody could have let it in.

I refused to consider the completely nonsensical answer that came to mind first.

But when the Pidgey started to knock impatiently on the glass with its beak, I couldn’t help it. I carefully pushed myself back against the wall and reached for my phone. With a swipe, I unlocked it and started Pokémon Go. Everything seemed normal as it started up – the Niantic splash screen, the loading screen with the message about paying attention to your surroundings (oh yes, I was paying attention), the popup about not playing while driving.

Sure enough, there was a Pidgey right there. In the game, that is. In the game, and in real life.

Watching the real Pidgey carefully, I tapped the little Pidgey model on the screen, and the upbeat battle music started playing, just like every other time I tapped a Pidgey. This was absurd. The screen showed my actual bedroom as picked up by the phone camera, Pidgey included, but the usual 3D model didn’t appear. I turned the phone; the directional indicators pointed me back in the direction of the actual Pidgey.

What the fuck.

I tapped the AR switch; the screen transitioned to the foresty background with the regular Pidgey model as if nothing were more natural. I tapped it again, and I was back in my bedroom, staring at an actual anatomically impossible floofpigeon.

I couldn’t help it. I placed my finger on the Pokéball – the usual capture circles appeared – and flicked it, then recoiled as an actual Pokéball just popped into existence in mid-air in front of me and sailed towards the Pidgey. It hit it in the head and sucked it in, then dropped to the floor and wobbled a little before it went still. On the screen, a cheery shower of sparks, announcing I’d caught a Pidgey.

Holy. Shit.

The ball vanished into thin air, and I blinked. The Pidgey’s stat screen was up on my phone now; it looked normal. There was no sign anything unusual had happened anymore. Even though it’d only been seconds ago, I couldn’t help second-guessing myself, wondering if maybe I’d just dreamt the whole experience after falling asleep playing the game. What on Earth?

Even if it was some kind of early-morning hallucination, though, Shannon’d love it. She’d always teased me about this game, the sort of gentle friendly ribbing of someone you’ve known forever and have an implicit agreement with to give each other hell. I threw on some clothes and had just about convinced myself it really was just a dream by the time I got downstairs. I opened the front door, phone in hand, fully expecting to spend the walk to the coffeeshop telling her about how man, apparently the Pokémon game had really gotten into my head.

It was not just me, it turned out.

There were Pidgey, Weedle, Rattata, just hanging about outside. Dozens of people were wandering in the street, phones aloft – some frantically texting or flipping through news sites, others heading for the Pokémon with Go’s overworld map open. Something about it reminded me disconcertingly of an apocalypse scenario in a movie; I stood there frozen for a few seconds, half-expecting the wind to blow a timely newspaper in front of me with a convenient expository headline.

I stared at the people, the scurrying Rattata, the kids running after them, blinking, part of me wondering if I was still dreaming.

My phone rang in my hand, and I looked at the screen. It was Shannon.

“Oh my God, please tell me you’ve seen,” she said. “The Pokémon game’s real!”

“Yeah,” I said, deadpan. “I woke up to a Pidgey in my bedroom.”

“Are you watching the professor?”

Professor? My brain froze for a second. “What are you talking about? What professor?”

Professor Willow! The outdoorsy scientist stud! Turn on the news!”

Wait, what?

I raced back into the house and up the stairs to my apartment. When I turned the TV on, the news ribbon at the bottom said “BREAKING: POKÉMON GO’S PROFESSOR WILLOW ADDRESSES EARTH.”

The haggard face of a middle-aged, gray-haired man filled the screen. It was different to see him in real life, but I could still tell it was the professor from the game, the one who’d said a few words at the beginning and then left me to my own devices. I wouldn’t have even remembered what his name was, although come to think of it I did remember Shannon being bizarrely smitten with him when I’d started up the game. (I’d rather go for Candela, myself.)

“…so in other words, as I was saying, I’m afraid you’re stuck with them for perhaps a month or two, until we can get the machine back in order. We’re very sorry this experiment got out of hand and we apologize for any disruptions caused. Hopefully the game we devised will help you recapture these Pokémon and send them back here, although of course if you don’t mind some of them staying until we can mass-recall them and close the rift, that’s fine by us.” He looked like he’d been up all night, blinking blearily at the camera before his next words. “So, well, to the people of Earth, good luck ‘catching ‘em all’, as they say. We will keep you updated on our progress.”

“But Professor Willow –” came an off-screen voice, but the image vanished before the professor could answer. I stared at the screen. What? Seriously? This sounded like a particularly half-assed science fiction movie. There was no way this was for real. Right?

They cut back to the newscasters, who looked at each other in confusion. “Well, you heard him, folks,” one said after a few seconds’ pause. “It sounds like the monsters are here to stay for now. Please stay calm, keep a safe distance, and we will be back with more details as soon as we have them.”

-------

The next few days were chaos. Politicians and public service announcements urged caution and avoiding engagement, but it wasn’t like anyone listened – for many this was a childhood nostalgia dream come true. Pokémon popped into existence in random locations on a regular basis, and every time, people rushed to capture them with their phones. I don’t know how the professor’s people managed to make the game sync up with real life, or how it worked before they started appearing for real – I supposed their technology was a lot more advanced than ours, in some weird sci-fi way. The Pokémon weren’t hostile; they’d try to avoid capture – sort of, more like they were playing hard to get than like they really didn’t want it – but they never attacked people or anything. People would snatch them up and then transfer them back to their home dimension – or keep them around, fight real-life gym battles against one another in the street. It was nuts.

(PETA made their usual noises about animal cruelty, naturally, and nobody listened.)

I caught a few Pokémon too. It was weird, looking at a living creature and then pressing buttons on a screen to lock it in a ball; it just didn’t feel like it should work. At first I vaguely wanted to get into the gym circuit again – I’d battled a bit in the game, back when it was just a game, but found it a little monotonous, and I figured it’d probably be less so in real life. But that, too, felt weird when I tried it. Seeing my battling team materialize in real life was thrilling, however that worked, but watching actual 3D creatures beat on each other was a lot more visceral than doing it in a game, and something about it made me uncomfortable.

On an impulse, one night a few days into the madness, I sent Pidgey out in my room – the Pidgey that’d appeared the morning it all began. By all rights I should’ve transferred it to Professor Willow – it was just a Pidgey, and what else would I do with it? The Pokémon world was where it belonged. But I hadn’t, out of some weird sentimentality. It was my Pidgey. There was something special about the first Pokémon I’d captured in real life.

(The first time I was going to transfer after that day, I’d stared at the screen for a moment looking at the deluge of Pidgey in my storage, afraid I couldn’t tell which was which, but a memory bubbled up of seeing CP 306 above that more-realistic-than-usual Pidgey, and thankfully there was only one that fit the bill.)

The pudgy little bird chirped and looked around, head turning in quick jerks. For a few minutes I just watched it hop carefully around the room, until it eventually settled on the windowsill and stared outside.

“Do you want to go out?” I thought aloud, and the Pidgey actually looked at me and nodded, still with jerky bird motions. I blinked at it, startled. Pokémon actually understood English? In the game they’d just been… there. Attacking and evading balls. Blindly beating each other up. I’d imagined they might be a little smarter than normal animals, maybe, but this Pidgey had just answered a question.

Well, maybe. I couldn’t get ahead of myself. Maybe the nod I saw was just a coincidence, boosted by oversensitive pattern-matching. “Do you understand me?” I tried, and the Pidgey nodded again, with an affirmatory chirp. That’d be a hell of a coincidence.

“So do all… do all Pokémon understand us?”

Another yes. Holy shit. Suddenly I felt bad for all the Pokémon I’d captured, thrown into battles, left at gyms. The game just had them as a… a resource to be mined. Interchangeable blocks of zeroes and ones. It was different if they were alive – not just alive, but sapient.

“But what? Why don’t you… why do you just let people capture you in balls and then do their bidding?”

The Pidgey made a little jerky shrug with its wings. Oh my God. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

It tilted its head. It? “Hey, are you a guy or a girl? Or…”

Chirp. “Okay, one chirp for guy, two for girl, three for other?” Two chirps. Not what I expected, somehow, but okay.

“Okay, Pidgey. Hi. Do you want me to open that window? One for yes, two for no.”

One. I took a deep breath. Part of me protested; this was supposed to be my Pidgey, and now she just wanted to fly away? But knowing she wasn’t a weird mindless battle-robot made it impossible to do anything else.

I stood up slowly and opened the window all the way, and the Pidgey hopped onto the windowsill and nudged my hand. She… wanted me to pet her? I stroked her head feathers, confused. She chirped again and then took off, fluttering out across the city. I watched her disappear, then closed the window with a sigh.

I checked the app. She was still there. Guess they didn’t account for that. It wasn’t as if I needed the storage space anyway; I was done. I transferred the last few other Pokémon I had and put my phone away, wishing I’d never installed this stupid app.

-------

I woke up to a strange tapping the next morning. I opened my eyes, still sleepy, only to find a Pidgey standing on the outside windowsill, knocking on the glass – no, not a Pidgey, that Pidgey. I wasn’t sure how I recognized her, but there was something distinctive about her face and the way she moved. Startled, I leapt out of bed and opened the window. She hopped inside, chirping happily, bumping her head against my chest. Hesitant, I put a hand on her head again, petting her, and she cooed softly. What? She was back? Why would she want to be back? What had I ever done for her, other than finally setting her free?

“Look, Pidgey, you don’t have to…”

Chirp. She looked at me, tilting her head. “You don’t have to come back here. I mean, it’s your life. I’m not the boss of you, even if the stupid game says so.”

She shook her head and flared her wings. I didn’t know what that meant, but it seemed she wasn’t going anywhere. “I don’t know, do you want something to eat? What do you eat?”

I found some dried fruits and nuts in a cupboard for her (technically my housemate’s, but I could buy her a new bag), which Pidgey nibbled at while I watched from my usual place at the kitchen table, slumped on the chair, feeling drained and confused and having had far too little sleep. “Hey, Pidgey,” I muttered, and she looked up. “Are the PETA people right? They’re saying we should free all the Pokémon and refuse to give them up to a world that’ll make them fight bloodsports.”

Pidgey shook her head, something perplexed in her expression. Guess not. “But I mean… It can’t be fun being locked in balls and made to fight other Pokémon, right? Doesn’t that hurt? It sounds horrible.”

Two chirps. “No? I don’t know, I guess you guys think about it differently.”

She chirped happily before swallowing a raisin.

“So in your world, everyone knows you’re smart and can understand them, right? Because I never would’ve kept you locked up if I knew. The game just… I didn’t know. I never thought about it that way.”

Pidgey chirped and nudged my hand. I reached up to pet her again. “Yeah, I’m sorry. I know you don’t seem to mind, but still.”

She closed her eyes, cooing as I stroked her back and her wings. Her feathers were soft and light under my fingers. I’d never had a pet as a kid, but I’d wanted one, like every kid, I suppose. This wasn’t at all how I’d expected to get one, though. A Pidgey. A fat little brown fantasy pigeon that’d leapt fully formed out of a magic mobile game sent back through time by crazy scientists in another world to prepare us for the unexpected consequences of a botched experiment. If I’d tried to tell my kid self that, she would’ve pouted and accused me of lying to her.

“Is there anything you’d like me to do for you? I can keep the window open so you can get in and out.”

Pidgey let out a happy coo, unfolding her wings. It took me a moment, but she was asking me to scratch under her wings. I did, and she flopped onto her back making little chirpy noises while I continued.

Not how I’d expected to get a pet at all.

-------

I caught and transferred some more Pokémon, Pidgey on my shoulder. I started to notice other people with Pokémon out by their sides, happily following them around; I supposed it was a similar story with them as with Pidgey and me. Pidgey didn’t stand a real chance against any of the local gyms, but we went and watched some battles at her urging. They were different; the battles I’d been in for the first few days had been chaotic all-out brawls between Pokémon while the people stood on the sidelines and watched, but now they’d gained order and structure, trainers and their Pokémon discussing strategies in whispered tones before fighting together, trainers shouting pointers and instructions as the Pokémon executed complex moves I’d never seen in the game. And now, when I looked at the Pokémon I could see the excitement in their eyes, the joy of the competition and the rush of adrenaline. I guess that’d always been there; I hadn’t been paying attention. But I suspected they were happier now, too – working more closely together with their trainers, being appreciated for who they were.

“You know, I had a battling team,” I told Pidgey one night, sitting on the living room couch and watching the end of the evening news. As an outro they were showing battles going on near a popular gym downtown, a trainer beaming as his Charizard flexed its tail, flame flaring in excitement, grin on its lips, while all three heads of the Exeggutor opposite smirked. The trainer patted its back, laughing, before ordering a move.

Pidgey gave a questioning chirp, turning her head back from where she sat on my knee.

“I transferred them all like an idiot,” I said. “That night I opened the window for you – I transferred all my other Pokémon. That was stupid, wasn’t it?”

Pidgey tilted her head. Yeah.

“I just… I thought none of you really wanted to be here, so I should do it before I thought too hard about it.”

She chirped again. It was the strangest thing – I was starting to feel like I knew what she was trying to say to me. “I mean, it seemed reasonable at the time,” I said. “I hadn’t talked to them or anything. I guess from their perspective I’d never acted like they were sentient even though I’d had them for months, so they didn’t bother trying to communicate when I sent them out. God, that’s creepy. How does that even work? I’m never going to understand this technology, am I?”

Pidgey gave me a reassuring chirp. “Thanks,” I said, scratching under her beak; she closed her eyes, cooing. “I guess they’re in the Pokémon world now, anyway. They’re bound to be happier there than with a trainer who thinks they’re just data, right?”

Pidgey shrugged. I sighed, stroking her wings. “I wish I could have gotten to know them. I didn’t do that much battling, but…” I paused. “I mean, they were the only Pokémon I kinda cared about, back then. It was fun winning a battle with a Parasect. Everything else was just…” I shook my head. It felt weird to think that I’d used to just evolve and transfer Pidgey for candy and experience. Hundreds upon hundreds of identical Pidgey, all ground through the metaphorical experience machine. I supposed now they were flying around the Pokémon world, a weird surplus of Pidgeotto, with hazy, jumbled memories of their five minutes on Earth.

(I’d asked Pidgey before if she wanted to evolve. Two chirps, but even if she’d been okay with it, I wasn’t sure I’d have wanted it. She was Pidgey; suddenly being a Pidgeotto would’ve been weird. I’d have let her if she’d wanted to, but I’d been kind of relieved she didn’t.)

“Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy with you,” I said and scratched the side of her head. “It always brightens my day to come home to you instead of an empty apartment. Thanks for sticking with me.”

Pidgey looked me in the eyes for a second before she rubbed her head against my hand.

-------

It was a strange, cold shock when, on the news one night, there was another broadcast from Professor Willow. I’d always known this was coming, intellectually, but I’d managed to make myself forget.

“…so we expect to be able to close the rift tomorrow. We’d like to extend our gratitude to the people of Earth for your patience and kindness for the past seven weeks. We gather many of you will be sad to see your Pokémon go, and trust us, all trainers know that feeling – but I’m afraid any Pokémon remaining on Earth would maintain the dimensional rift and potentially lead to world-destroying consequences down the line. As such, all Pokémon will be automatically transferred at midnight.

“It may be possible one day to open a safe and stable portal between our worlds, but I’m afraid that technology could be years away. We will do our best to reestablish that connection and allow you to reunite with your Pokémon. In the meantime, the game will of course continue to function in its mundane form, and if you haven’t already, we invite you to enjoy the various other Pokémon media that we inspired in your past twenty years to ensure the Pokémon Go’s success.

“People of Earth, it’s been a pleasure working with you for this short time. I hope we’ll meet again.”

The broadcast cut off. I turned the TV off before I could see the anchors’ inevitably awkward responses. It wasn’t fair. I didn’t want things to go back to normal. All that time getting to know Pidgey and now she was just going to be forcibly dragged back to her happy bizarro-dimension, in just a few hours’ time.

On the armrest beside me, Pidgey gave a concerned chirp. I blinked away tears. “I’m okay,” I said. “It’s your home. I bet you had a family there and everything, huh?”

Pidgey nodded. “Yeah, that’s what I thought. You probably always wanted to get back eventually. I get that. I mean, I moved away from my family, and it’s been great, but I still want to see them again when I’ve finished my degree.” I stared at the blank TV screen and Pidgey’s reflection in it. A week ago I’d gone to a pet store and almost considered buying a little perch for her to sit on instead of awkwardly making do with the furniture. I hadn’t, of course, because deep down I’d known it’d be a waste of money.

Pidgey’s reflection looked back at me for a moment; then she chirped and fluttered up on my shoulder. “What, you want to go out? Now?”

She chirped again and nibbled gently on my ear. I stood up, careful to keep my shoulder steady. “Well, I guess. Our last walk, huh?” I wanted to add, “Let’s make it a good one,” but my voice was gone.

We headed out, down into town, threading the long Pokéstop route I’d sometimes taken when the weather was nice before the rift opened. We didn’t catch any of the Pokémon we passed by; there was no point anymore. Pidgey had little chirped conversations with a couple of other Pidgey. Maybe she was telling them they’d all be home soon.

When I was about to head back, Pidgey instead nudged me and pointed up a street with her wing. I went where she pointed; might as well make this last. She guided me through a few more streets, then chirped, and I stopped.

We were in front of a video game store. A huge poster covering one of the windows showed two large logos, POKÉMON SUN and POKÉMON MOON.

She chirped again, nodding towards the poster. “You want me to… get one of these games?” I asked, hesitant. Pidgey nodded, bumping her head against mine.

“I mean, thanks, but…” I hesitated again. “I can’t just replace you with a video game. It’s not the same. It wasn’t the same. Remember how I didn’t even know you had feelings?”

Pidgey fluttered off my shoulder and knocked insistently on the poster with her beak. I sighed. “Okay, Pidgey. I’ll get the game.”

The store was closed by now, obviously, but I supposed I could stop by tomorrow. God, I’d probably have to buy some ridiculous video game console, too. Not that Pidgey would ever know if I really did it, but I couldn’t go back on my word to her. Maybe it’d be something to remember her by.

I looked at my watch and started when I saw it said 23:55. “Oh,” I said. “Pidgey, it’s… it’s almost time.”

She looked up with a sad chirp, then flew into my arms, almost knocking me over. I staggered back to regain my balance, holding her close. Her head snuggled against the underside of my chin as she cooed, warm and soft and comforting. Tears were forming in my eyes again, but I didn’t care. “I’ll never forget you.”

I felt her nod against my neck. She wouldn’t forget me either. I knew that.

“I don’t want you to go, but I know you have to. So go and find your family, and tell them about me, and maybe… maybe someday we’ll see each other again. Maybe you can introduce us.”

Pidgey gave a chuckling chirp. I held her like that for a while, in our best approximation of a hug.

I think we both simultaneously felt it coming. She pulled away, and I held her out in front of me where we could look in each other’s eyes. Her body began to glow with a strange, bluish light. “Go,” I said, my voice hoarse. “Go home and be free.”

She nodded and closed her eyes, and her body dissolved into tiny, sparkling particles of light that swirled into the air and vanished. I looked after her for a while; I could see other streams of particles rising through the air, more Pokémon leaving this world. Going home.

I wiped my face off and headed back to the apartment.

-------

I did have to buy a game console – a 3DS, it was called. It had a 3D gimmick to make things look more real, but I turned it off.

I expected the game to just be Go without the exercise, but by the time my in-game avatar had chosen and been chosen by a little kitten creature and held it for the first time, I was sniffling. Pidgey’d been right. It wasn’t the same, but it was something.

On an impulse, that evening, I opened Pokémon Go again. A 306 CP Pidgey was still sitting in my Pokémon list. I guess they’d disabled the game’s magic synchronization with reality before the automatic transfer, so people would still be able to play with the Pokémon they had. It was just data now, technically, just a bunch of zeroes and ones. But not really. It was my Pidgey, and I wouldn’t let her go again. I would never forget.

Maybe it’d take years, but one day I’d see her again. I’d find her, and she’d show me her home and her family. Maybe I could move to the Pokémon world. It sounded like a lovely place.

And in the meantime, I’d have Litten and Pikipek and all the other Pokémon I’d befriend in Alola.
 
Last edited:

Pen

the cat is mightier than the pen
Staff
Partners
  1. dratini
  2. custom/dratini-pen
  3. custom/dratini-pen2
This was a cute story! My favorite part was the breezy way you just hand-waved the mechanics of it all and leaned into the absurdity. The scene where the protagonist steps outside to see the whole neighborhood swarming with pokemon was quite the image! I also loved Prof Willow's very casual exposition-dump broadcast. The mundane details worked in made the whole thing feel plausible, like it was actually something this person was experiencing, and the choice to focus on a relationship with just one pokemon also helps focus the story. One of my favorite details was the line about the protagonist choosing not to buy the perch--really captured a sense of this moment as special but oh so ephemeral.

The part that didn't land as well for me was the whole discussion of 'do pokemon want to be captured/battling.' I initially thought it wasn't going to be a focus of the story when I read the parenthetical quip about PEETA. Which, sure. But then it feels like the major arc becomes 'does Pidgey want to be with me?' And the way it's portrayed kind of made it feel like the pidgey was the stand in for all our unanwered childhood doubts about the morality of animal fighting as a franchise. I didn't feel like the story really showed why the pidgey returns to the protagonist or wants to be with them, though. And having the protagonist ask all these questions to the pidgey and get no real answer beyond 'it's chill bc reasons' felt a little hollow to me. I would have liked to see more focus on bringing to life the relationship between the protagonist and the pidgey, in a way that showed their bond. The ending, where the pidgey somehow knows enough to direct the protagonist to buy the Alola games did make me feel like the pidgey was more a wish-fulfillment fairy with no real desires other than making the protagonist happy. The way the ending segment emphasizes buying the next game so much also struck me as weird--it felt almost like an ad to me, and also made me feel like, if befriending pixel copies is an acceptable substitute for hanging out with the real, sapient pokemon, that kind of contradicts the idea that the protagonist ever really bonded with the pidgey on a real level.

That said, it was a charming read. I missed the first wave of Pokemon Go because my phone couldn't run it, but you definitely evoked a sense of nostalgia for a transient time with this one.
 

Dragonfree

Moderator
Staff
Location
Iceland
Pronouns
she/her/hers
Partners
  1. butterfree
  2. mightyena
  3. charizard
  4. custom/scyther-mia
Thanks for an insightful review!

The part that didn't land as well for me was the whole discussion of 'do pokemon want to be captured/battling.' I initially thought it wasn't going to be a focus of the story when I read the parenthetical quip about PEETA. Which, sure. But then it feels like the major arc becomes 'does Pidgey want to be with me?' And the way it's portrayed kind of made it feel like the pidgey was the stand in for all our unanwered childhood doubts about the morality of animal fighting as a franchise. I didn't feel like the story really showed why the pidgey returns to the protagonist or wants to be with them, though. And having the protagonist ask all these questions to the pidgey and get no real answer beyond 'it's chill bc reasons' felt a little hollow to me. I would have liked to see more focus on bringing to life the relationship between the protagonist and the pidgey, in a way that showed their bond. The ending, where the pidgey somehow knows enough to direct the protagonist to buy the Alola games did make me feel like the pidgey was more a wish-fulfillment fairy with no real desires other than making the protagonist happy.
Mmm, yeah. I've never been entirely happy with the development of the narrator's relationship with Pidgey. I set about editing this basically deciding I wasn't going to add more scenes or majorly flesh it out, because I wanted to actually get a thing posted, this was a pretty silly story that I didn't feel a particular need to go full perfectionist on, and nobody else really seemed to take issue with it when I originally wrote it. So I'm glad you brought that up; it's probably the motivation I need to actually edit and try to fix that aspect. (That said, not sure why Pidgey knowing about the games and where to get them is a "somehow"; we see that Pidgey both flies around town on her own and talks to other Pokémon and also regularly accompanies the narrator on walks.)

This is not a story about the morality of Pokémon training, though - it simply takes as a given that Pokémon like and enjoy battling and are by default down with being captured by trainers because that's how the canon works, in the same way and for the same reasons that it takes everything else about the premise for granted and doesn't try to explain it (hence why Pidgey literally just shrugs when she asks why). It's weird for the narrator, in the way that everything else about this is weird, and these were questions I imagined a real person from our world with a functioning sense of morality would be asking under the circumstances, which is why it gets brought up the way it is - but obviously, the story isn't providing a satisfying explanation for anything. Ultimately I think that'd just be way out of the scope of what I was trying to do here, and would be kind of a bizarre tonal whiplash in a story where the entire rest of the premise of Pokémon becoming real is being gleefully handwaved.

The primary arc of the story is meant to be less about whether Pidgey wants to be with the narrator (she does, as established by the fact she comes back, and that's that) and more about the narrator's personal journey throughout all this, which involves a lot of shifting feelings about Pokémon, from "this is some stupid mobile game where I grind Pidgey through the experience machine" through "this is all just weird and fucked up" to bonding with an actual Pokémon and starting to appreciate and care about them and the whole partnership aspect of the franchise, so to speak. It may help illuminate my thought process there if I tell you that one of my main criticisms about Pokémon Go at the time (when it was released) was that the game's design systematically encouraged treating Pokémon as a disposable resource, rather than as partners that you bond with and grow to care about, as in the main series - that was kind of the inspiration behind the character arc here, hence the references to the narrator treating Pokémon as simply a resource to be mined in the game.

The way the ending segment emphasizes buying the next game so much also struck me as weird--it felt almost like an ad to me, and also made me feel like, if befriending pixel copies is an acceptable substitute for hanging out with the real, sapient pokemon, that kind of contradicts the idea that the protagonist ever really bonded with the pidgey on a real level.
Okay, I'm super curious about the ad thing, because I think at least one if not two of the judges in the contest this was written for also said that and I honestly had no idea what they meant. Did I do something in particular here that I'm oblivious to that makes it feel like an ad, or is it just the concept of the character getting a main series game to tide her over that inherently has that vibe for some reason? I tried to make it pretty clear that it's not an "acceptable substitute" (the narrator explicitly says twice that of course it's not the same), but I could try to emphasize it more? Seeing as there literally is no way for her to keep hanging out with the real, sapient Pokémon, I don't think I understand the issue with being able to find some measure of comfort in a work of fiction about Pokémon (in particular one that does have more opportunities to bond with your team than Go).

What I was actually going for with this was just stronger emotional closure, because just ending on Pidgey disappearing and that's it felt very unsatisfying to me, the narrator playing Sun and Moon in the interim was a way to bring full circle the whole arc of her-feelings-on-Pokémon that I mentioned before, and I felt Pidgey having an actual moment of consciously doing something to help the narrator deal with their separation strengthened their bond and her sense of character. Which is why it also confuses me a little that you apparently felt it did the exact opposite - as it is, Pidgey spends the rest of the story not really doing much of anything, just kind of being there, getting pets and answering/not answering the narrator's questions, which is one of the things that always bugged me about it, but I thought this was the one part where she does seem to be an actual character who actually legitimately cares about the narrator! Do you think this bit might have worked better for you if Pidgey were just better characterized in the rest of the story, or does it strike you as in itself a negative?
 
  • Quag
Reactions: Pen

Pen

the cat is mightier than the pen
Staff
Partners
  1. dratini
  2. custom/dratini-pen
  3. custom/dratini-pen2
Ooh meaty review reply! I'll try to elaborate as best I can.

(That said, not sure why Pidgey knowing about the games and where to get them is a "somehow"; we see that Pidgey both flies around town on her own and talks to other Pokémon and also regularly accompanies the narrator on walks.)
It struck me as odd because, though we're told the pidgey is intelligent, there's really no sense to me before the 'buy the games' scene that the pidgey's sapience extends to comprehending issues as abstract and complicated as 'human plays video-games that contain pixel recreations of creatures like me and maybe playing such a game will cheer human buddy up.' It seems weird to me that a creature who can form a thought like that would spend the whole story just chirping and shrugging.

This is not a story about the morality of Pokémon training, though - it simply takes as a given that Pokémon like and enjoy battling and are by default down with being captured by trainers because that's how the canon works, in the same way and for the same reasons that it takes everything else about the premise for granted and doesn't try to explain it (hence why Pidgey literally just shrugs when she asks why).
but obviously, the story isn't providing a satisfying explanation for anything. Ultimately I think that'd just be way out of the scope of what I was trying to do here, and would be kind of a bizarre tonal whiplash in a story where the entire rest of the premise of Pokémon becoming real is being gleefully handwaved.
Right . . . I think the handwavy-ness of the science works for me in a way the handwavy-ness of the morality doesn't precisely because one is a moral issue and the other isn't. Sci-fi babble is a genre thing. It's fun. There's really nothing at stake with the explanation. A moral issue, on the other hand, is a moral issue in whatever genre. I would have been happy to accept the generic video game understanding that pokemon love to battle, duh, if the fic didn't lampshade it as an issue and make a big deal of it without presenting any compelling answer. That kind of thing is fun for absurdist sci-fi scenarios, but not so fun for moral issues, at least for me.

from "this is some stupid mobile game where I grind Pidgey through the experience machine" through "this is all just weird and fucked up" to bonding with an actual Pokémon and starting to appreciate and care about them and the whole partnership aspect of the franchise, so to speak. It may help illuminate my thought process there if I tell you that one of my main criticisms about Pokémon Go at the time (when it was released) was that the game's design systematically encouraged treating Pokémon as a disposable resource, rather than as partners that you bond with and grow to care about, as in the main series - that was kind of the inspiration behind the character arc here, hence the references to the narrator treating Pokémon as simply a resource to be mined in the game.
Hm, I see! I guess I find a character arc that really revolves around how the protagonist relates to video games a little strange in a fic that gives the protagonist an opportunity to interact with a real version of the pixel creature. I definitely agree that Pokemon Go does not align with the idea of pokemon training presented in the main franchise; it hardly feels like pokemon to me for that reason. So that aspect of inter-fandom dialogue went right over my head.

Did I do something in particular here that I'm oblivious to that makes it feel like an ad, or is it just the concept of the character getting a main series game to tide her over that inherently has that vibe for some reason? I tried to make it pretty clear that it's not an "acceptable substitute" (the narrator explicitly says twice that of course it's not the same), but I could try to emphasize it more? Seeing as there literally is no way for her to keep hanging out with the real, sapient Pokémon, I don't think I understand the issue with being able to find some measure of comfort in a work of fiction about Pokémon (in particular one that does have more opportunities to bond with your team than Go).
For me it was the line about buying a game console that really made me feel like I'd strayed from a pokemon fanfic into weird Nintendo propaganda. The way Nintendo makes us buy new consoles to play new games is so money-grabbing and frustrating (I haven't played Sword/Shield yet because I am not going to dump hundreds of dollars to buy a switch just to play a single game) but the way it's presented here made it seem like the fic was saying "yes reader, go out and buy this fancy game console, it will make you happy."

Even if the narrator calls it not an acceptable substitute, the way the narrative ends on that note of ribbon-wrapping closure makes it hard to not feel like that's the implication.

What I was actually going for with this was just stronger emotional closure, because just ending on Pidgey disappearing and that's it felt very unsatisfying to me, the narrator playing Sun and Moon in the interim was a way to bring full circle the whole arc of her-feelings-on-Pokémon that I mentioned before, and I felt Pidgey having an actual moment of consciously doing something to help the narrator deal with their separation strengthened their bond and her sense of character.
I definitely get the need to have emotional closure and not end on a downer note. I think I would find it more satisfying if instead of seeking solace in pixel-copies, they maybe got themselves an actual animal bird in our world? If they're really hoping to reunite with the pidgey again and be a trainer, wouldn't it make sense for the narrator to learn about birds and bird-care, and all that? Or really anything that makes it feel like the encounter left some impact more than becoming a slightly more avid pokefan.

I would have liked to see some moments of character from the pidgey that didn't revolve around the protagonist's feelings. The pidgey goes off by herself for a bit, but since we don't really see what she does when she's on her own, it's hard to get a sense of character from that.

Do you think this bit might have worked better for you if Pidgey were just better characterized in the rest of the story, or does it strike you as in itself a negative?
If the pidgey was more actively characterized in the rest of the story, I think the moment wouldn't have stood out to me as much for sure!
 

Umbramatic

The Ghost Lord
Location
The Yangverse
Pronouns
Any
Partners
  1. reshiram
Here for catnip!

Well THIS is a blast from the past! I remember this well from the contest we both entered, and it was nice to revisit it.

One thing that stands out to me now is how FUNNY the first bits of the fic are. You've got a good sense of humor going here you could probably emphasize more in the first half if you wanted to try.

I say "first half" because the fic quickly devolves into fluff and feels with the "floofbird" and that's great too, that's your specialty. I was hoping she'd somehow acquire a Pidgey in SuMo too lol.

(some good queer moments too - including a non-binary option for the Pidgey and i dunno the gender of the protag but they like girls)

this definitely works well as an Early Go nostalgia fic because like, that's how it felt, that's what everyone was doing, then in a mirror of the main series the initial magic wore off and it was left to a smaller but still large group of dedicated players and this fic reflect6s that nicely.

Good to see this again, and properly published this time! Looking forward to Butterfree.
 

Starlight Aurate

Ad Jesum per Mariam
Location
Route 123
Partners
  1. mightyena
Hey hey! Here for Catnip Circle. I remember you entering and winning this contest on Serebii, so I guess now's a good chance for me to check it out!

To be honest, I never played Pokemon Go. I know I get addicted to this stuff easily so I avoided downloading it. But I remember when I worked as a lifeguard going to work and literally EVERYONE would be playing it (not while guarding the pool, of course). Our supervisors were playing it too, and got it on it. The guards split between who was on Red Team and who was on Blue Team (there were only, like, 2 people in total on Yellow Team so nobody paid attention to them).

Everything seemed normal as it started up – the Niantic splash screen, the loading screen with the message about paying attention to your surroundings (oh yes, I was paying attention),
Heh, I like the little bits of thought you put in there in the parentheses. I love it when characters sort of duck out of the narration to comment on how they're feeling/what they're thinking, and I think you did a really good job with that in this one-shot.

Something about it reminded me disconcertingly of an apocalypse scenario in a movie;
Hah, interesting. Idk if you've ever seen the Yugioh Duel Monsters anime, but in one season all the monsters come to life and start rampaging around the city and this scene (especially the narration) reminded me of that.

I wouldn’t have even remembered what his name was, although come to think of it I did remember Shannon being bizarrely smitten with him when I’d started up the game. (I’d rather go for Candela, myself.)
After this description, I went to look him up and hah, I see where Shannon is coming from.

Also, the idea that a professor from the game also became real and was instructing everyone on what to do and how to react to the situation is mildly scary for me. Maybe because it implies that people could also be transported out of (and into?) the game. Or maybe because that piece of programming is sentient and has its own thoughts and feelings. I'm thinkin the latter part is what's creepy to me.

(PETA made their usual noises about animal cruelty, naturally, and nobody listened.)
Woohoo! The people in this universe are awesome!

I like the two paragraphs surrounding the quoted sentence above; I think they give a good insight to the narrator's feelings and it makes the narrator feel like a real person. Being obsessed with Pokemon when I was a kid, I can imagine everyone going crazy at their childhood dreams coming to life. But the part about watching Pokemon battles we uncomfortable also comes across as very natural and genuine.

I like that the Pokemon here aren't attacking anyone are just trying to avoid capture; it gives this one-shot a more low-key feel, which I think works well (and I feel like the Pokemon attacking would create conflict and make it more difficult for it to just be a one-shot, imo).

Another yes. Holy shit. Suddenly I felt bad for all the Pokémon I’d captured, thrown into battles, left at gyms. The game just had them as a… a resource to be mined. Interchangeable blocks of zeroes and ones. It was different if they were alive – not just alive, but sapient.
Awwww! That's so sad and so sweet at the same time! It also reaffirms my previous thoughts and feelings about Professor Willow being sentient.

The whole segment where the narrator's talking to Pidgey is so cute. It makes Pidgey feel so real; it also reflects how human-Pokemon interactions are typically displayed, I feel. I thought it was cute how the narrator came to understand Pidgey and was able to hold a conversation with her--it really gave her character, along with her general interactions. I was also amused by Pidgey rejecting PETAs actions, haha).

We’d like to extend our gratitude to the people of Earth for your patience and kindness for the past seven weeks.
7 weeks! For some reason, I didn't expect it to take that long. Maybe because it's a one-shot, I felt like the time frame would have been shorter.

“Go,” I said, my voice hoarse. “Go home and be free.”
Oof. Did not expect the title drop to be such a heart-wrenching gut punch.

And I didn't expect this to be such a heartfelt one-shot! I got the message that this was about the narrator's emotional journey, so I think you did a good job of setting that. It didn't feel like it was necessarily supposed to be a story about what the people of earth wanted, what Pidgey wanted, or if they'd find a way to keep Pidgey and the narrator together; the style and scope really made it feel like it was just a character's emotional journey finding out that bits of programming had feelings, befriending one of them, and missing them when they're gone. And I think you did a great job of setting that; I'm more into low-key stuff focusing on someone's emotions rather than out-and-out conflict, so I quite enjoyed this.

I wasn't bothered by the mention of getting a new console and Pokemon game at the end (I'm mentioning this and the aforementioned because you said that's an issue people had with this one-shot). Tbh, I thought it was going to be that somehow Pidgey was in the new game the narrator bought and that was how they'd be reunited (I realize that makes no sense, I just thought that's the happy ending this was going for [clearly I am not familiar with your stuff lol {does Alola even have Pidgeys?}]). I don't know if it felt much like closure, since the narrator is left dissatisfied, but there's at least a hopeful feeling that the fic ends on, which I find a lovely touch. I do think you could've done without the last line about being in Alola and just ended it with the wishful thinking of the narrator's reunion with Pidgey, especially since the video game feels cheaper in comparison to the organic moments that were had with Pidgey.

I thought this was wonderful overall! It was a nice slice-of-life (well, out-of-the-ordinary-life) that focused on a person's feelings and thoughts as they explore a new friendship. And I think that's great. I didn't see the mention of PETA as bringing up moral dilemmas, but just reaffirming what Pokemon is meant to be. Sorry this review turned out to be longer and more rambling than I intended.

tl;dr: This was cute! I loved it.
 

Flaze

Don't stop, keep walking
Location
Chile
Pronouns
he/him
Partners
  1. infernape
Well this certainly was a short, sweet and yet also very heart breaking one shot. Regardless of whether it was from 2016 (boy that feels like it was ages ago) or not, I can't deny that its general conceit is effective. I really like the way you explore the concept behind Pokemon GO's original intent of trying to make it seem like pokemon were actually in our world and in doing so it allows you to do a pretty interesting thematic story.

I think what sold the oneshot for me the most were the interactions between the protagonist and her Pidgey and how we gradually see her opening up to her new pet as the story goes on. What did jump out at me was the little ways in which you explored how pokemon would adapt to living with humans, I'm not quite sure people battling with charizards would flow quite as smoothly in real life but I appreciate the intent nonetheless.

Now, on a metatextual level I enjoy what this story tries to go for. Much has been said about how pokemon caters and in some ways relies on our nostalgia on the franchise to really keep itself going, and hell that was a big part of GO's sales pitch. But the way in which you do it here, giving people a chance to have their dream of real pokemon come through, is a good way of showing how for as good as nostalgia is, we eventually have to let it go, we can still remember it fondly of course, but much like how the pokemon have to go back to their own world we also have to learn to not let our nostalgia rule us.

I kind of wanted this review to be a little longer because I really did enjoy the fic. Nevertheless, I loved it and I'll be looking forward to more of your stories.
 

kintsugi

golden scars | pfp by sun
Location
the warmth of summer in the songs you write
Pronouns
she/her
Partners
  1. silvally-grass
  2. lapras
  3. golurk
  4. custom/booper-kintsugi
  5. custom/meloetta-kint-muse
  6. custom/meloetta-kint-dancer
hi free, here for catnip!

I liked the premise a lot here--it's so goofy and nonsensical, but it does a good job of coaxing out some interesting emotions about nostalgia, why we like old things, and growing up. Really fun, and I think this kinda nailed the experience of being an adult who still likes the Pokemon franchise. It's a really fun and casual "what if" that has some good commentary beneath it--reminds me of this Sun/Moon ad in how it really hits all of those reasons for why we still love these weird floofbirds even though boring adult things should keep getting in the way.

On the screen, a cheery shower of sparks, announcing I’d caught a Pidgey.
I thought the fragment here was kind of odd? There's good times for fragments but I wasn't sure if you were intentionally trying to go for the abrupt/truncated thought here.

Even if it was some kind of early-morning hallucination, though, Shannon’d love it.
I think Shannon's supposed to be the housemate in France, but it'd be helpful if she'd been namedropped a bit earlier.

Even if it was some kind of early-morning hallucination, though, Shannon’d love it. She’d always teased me about this game, the sort of gentle friendly ribbing of someone you’ve known forever and have an implicit agreement with to give each other hell. I threw on some clothes and had just about convinced myself it really was just a dream by the time I got downstairs. I opened the front door, phone in hand, fully expecting to spend the walk to the coffeeshop telling her about how man, apparently the Pokémon game had really gotten into my head.
This one too--partially because I was still guessing who Shannon was and partially because "phone in hand" conveyed more Pokemon Go stuff to me instead of "about to call Shannon", so I thought Shannon was going to be there in person or something, and therefore wasn't the housemate in France? Small potatoes tbh.

Hopefully the game we devised will help you recapture these Pokémon and send them back here, although of course if you don’t mind some of them staying until we can mass-recall them and close the rift, that’s fine by us.” He looked like he’d been up all night, blinking blearily at the camera before his next words. “So, well, to the people of Earth, good luck ‘catching ‘em all’, as they say. We will keep you updated on our progress.”
In general I think your characterizations for the random side characters are really effective--and the bleary, Done With This Shit, Fuck, scientist is one that you get across really well, haha. The casual bits about how Shannon liked Willow and narrator liked Candela were good characterization in quick strokes here!

I found some dried fruits and nuts in a cupboard for her (technically my housemate’s, but I could buy her a new bag), which Pidgey nibbled at while I watched from my usual place at the kitchen table, slumped on the chair, feeling drained and confused and having had far too little sleep.
I liked the physicality of Pidgey eating nuts and how it gave them cute things to do, but this sort of opened up a lot of questions. Do they need to eat? Would this ruin ecosystems?

Pidgey let out a happy coo, unfolding her wings.
Pidgey shrugged. I sighed, stroking her wings.
I liked the Pidgey body language in general, but towards the end it mostly just becomes a lot of "coo/chirp, x'ing her wings" or something. Which is hard, especially since the narrator hasn't had a pet before so they'd probably be drawn to the most obvious things (wings/sounds)--but I thought maybe by the end they could pick up on the more subtle nuances of Pidgey's communication if you wanted to show that they'd gotten closer as friends?

In the meantime, the game will of course continue to function in its mundane form, and if you haven’t already, we invite you to enjoy the various other Pokémon media that we inspired in your past twenty years to ensure the Pokémon Go’s success.
"your past twenty years" was kind of weird. I wasn't sure if this was supposed to imply that they were operating on two different timelines here, if Willow gave enough fucks to translate the years that passed for his timeline into the years that passed on this Earth's timeline, and then stopped giving fucks to just say "the past twenty years". Also I think maybe an extra "the" slipped in before "Pokemon Go", but also Facebook used to be called the Facebook so, I mean, fuck it.

and, haha, rip, I super empathize with you about the "I wrote this for a contest and probably wouldn't have written it if there was no contest" + understand the struggle of like, knowing it's got some issues but wanting to focus on other stuff instead. super in that boat with you right now, but I wasn't sure if you wanted in-depth feedback (especially since I think a lot of it is stuff you're already aware of? unsure). I went ahead and just tossed the rest of my thoughts in a spoiler so you can take as much as you want; feel free to throw out whatever you don't want.
“Do you want to go out?” I thought aloud, and the Pidgey actually looked at me and nodded, still with jerky bird motions. I blinked at it, startled. Pokémon actually understood English? In the game they’d just been… there. Attacking and evading balls. Blindly beating each other up. I’d imagined they might be a little smarter than normal animals, maybe, but this Pidgey had just answered a question.
I really liked this moment on the first readthrough but on second pass I wasn't sure if it was parsing the way you'd wanted it to--for me this seemed like a setup for the narrator to realize that they'd never had a pet before, and like, had wildly low expectations for the kinds of companionship pets can bring. "Smarter than normal animals" was interesting to me since dogs definitely understand the concept of "do you want to go out" (and I'm convinced that cats do as well, but refuse to answer honestly), so I really thought that this was going to go the route of "narrator was going to be proven wrong about sentient creatures"--which is kind of the route that this story ends up taking, but not really in a way that changes them significantly, since they end up replacing their (questionably and then proven) sentient creature friend with an objectively non-sentient creature friend.

(I’d asked Pidgey before if she wanted to evolve. Two chirps, but even if she’d been okay with it, I wasn’t sure I’d have wanted it. She was Pidgey; suddenly being a Pidgeotto would’ve been weird. I’d have let her if she’d wanted to, but I’d been kind of relieved she didn’t.)
I dunno if this one landed for me the way it was supposed to either--to me this sent kind of creepy messages about consent and control, about what Pidgey's allowed to be in the narrator's eyes. I read this like, if I thought about dyeing my hair and my significant other was like "well, even if you were okay with this, I'm not sure if I want you to do this"--I'd really struggle to see why their opinion is being considered in the same plane of importance as my own, since this primarily affects me? That's not really a healthy partnership/friendship dynamic; that's someone who wants to control me, especially with the other lines about "it was *my* Pidgey", and how the narrator picks this one to favor above all else because she's the first one, not because the narrator likes something particular about Pidgey.

And like! There are some compelling logistical arguments that could be made here--narrator's house isn't big enough for a Pidgeotto, maybe they're afraid that Pidgeotto temperament might be too hard to handle as they've seen other Pokemon become more aggressive with evolution--and these would be very reasonable barriers to their continuing friendship, but the only argument the narrator considers is purely aesthetic, which I thought was a shallow one.

The Pokémon weren’t hostile; they’d try to avoid capture – sort of, more like they were playing hard to get than like they really didn’t want it – but they never attacked people or anything
This one, too, I thought was setting up for something. I think it was the specific phrasing: "them avoiding me just means they're playing hard to get" is a thought process I can't really extract from classic incel dialogue, which made the "but they didn't fight back or anything" read to me like you were setting up for the narrator to have some weird understandings of consent that would need to be looked at, rather than regular narration.

But I don't think these questions of consent/control are really what you wanted from the tone/content of this fic. For me I think this plays into a more interesting branch of canon--what do we do if a creature's body language isn't something that we're normally used to parsing? Like, earth!humans and earth!animals interpret conflict as an objectively bad/costly thing, and our evolution has slanted us towards most things on the planet either avoiding fights or trying to win them as quickly as possible--and even species that mock fight for fun have very different body languages with playfighting and realfighting. I genuinely think there could be a case presented that pokemon could develop a different culture where casual fighting isn't seen as a bad thing and the fighting is actually ingrained in the body language, in which case this misunderstanding of "they initially look like they're avoiding capture but it turns out they really do enjoy it" would be an interesting way to look at two completely different cultures/worlds looking in on one another--but if that's the route we want to go, I wanted more of an exploration on that culture mix. Pidgey behaves pretty much like a regular bird (and sometimes just like a regular human; I think she shrugs at some point?), which was cute to read, but for me the jarring thing was that she behaves like a regular bird in pretty much every way *except* for this one really big thing re: fighting. Which struck me as strange in a story about two worlds colliding and two unlikely people forming a friendship.

And all of this sort of cruxes for me around one passage:
She chirped again. It was the strangest thing – I was starting to feel like I knew what she was trying to say to me. “I mean, it seemed reasonable at the time,” I said. “I hadn’t talked to them or anything. I guess from their perspective I’d never acted like they were sentient even though I’d had them for months, so they didn’t bother trying to communicate when I sent them out. God, that’s creepy. How does that even work? I’m never going to understand this technology, am I?”
I'm with narrator here! It seemed very reasonable at the time to believe that the 1's and 0's of Pokemon Go/Pokemon games don't result in sentient creatures, and there's some genuine fridge horror in the idea that our programs could be real (mine would be screaming, #kint, fuck, #why is your comment structure such GARBAGE #please fix us), but I don't really blame them for not thinking that computer pixels have feelings given what they know. I dunno if I needed the focus to be on the past--yes, they made a decision with incomplete information, but there was no way they could get complete information with what they had available. And it's hard to work through their guilt in this moment since it's just them hitting their head against a brick wall while Pidgey chirps back--pretty much one step up from literal rubber ducking.

But what I really wanted was some sort of forward impetus now--they've made a mistake, these kinds of Pokemon don't listen and react in the same way that the narrator thought they would; now what? For me Pidgey never really feels like a character because so much of her is just wrapped up in "I was starting to feel like I knew what she was trying to say"--but what she's trying to say doesn't really have any impact on the narrator; their only meaningful character interactions are when the narrator asks her questions and she answers, usually in soft ways that don't make the narrator have to question any sort of deeper issues. They don't really exchange thoughts; it's more that the narrator is projecting their thoughts onto Pidgey (which is the best they can do given how they don't learn any of Pidgey's other communication methods). The two don't really conflict and Pidgey doesn't offer any sort of opinion to contradict the narrator's thoughts in a meaningful way (the discussion of "why don't you guys hate fighting" gets close I think, but ultimately that discussion leads to the narrator continuing to do what they were doing before, with less guilt)--so as a character duo it really doesn't feel like these are two communicating parties so much as one person.

So as a result everything feels so lopsided towards the narrator in this friendship--they don't even think to ask about Pidgey's family until the very last day, for example! But despite this one-sided dynamic, Pidgey is so earnest, so invested in caring for this person, so careful to make sure that she's replaced as soon as possible (by something that's definitely not sentient, so to me when those were presented as equivalents I really struggled to pin down where Pidgey's value as a real friend is supposed to be) so that the narrator doesn't have to feel even the slightest loss--to me everything Pidgey is, is just defined in what she means to the narrator. Which is absolutely a real life relationship style, but not a particularly healthy one and not the one I think you wanted here? There's not much of a character dynamic there to form a relationship, which I think ultimately undercut your intended arc of reliving this Pokemon + friendship theme.

but those are like! some overly-analytical thoughts that didn't significantly detract from the enjoyment of the story--it's a fun, heartfelt read; I just think it tried to pick some arguments that it didn't necessarily need to pick and/or didn't really have the focus to pick fully, but the central arc/writing was enjoyable nonetheless. I'm glad that you shared it over here!
 
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Just a Torchic

~ Utterly glorious ~
Location
Sootopolis City
Pronouns
she/they/he?
Partners
  1. torchic
  2. custom/torchic-blue
Here for a short and quick and cute look at this short and quick and cute fic about the gem of 2016. Not going to do line by line stuff because it's and this fic is old; just my more general thoughts.

First I must say: When I tell you I almost cried during the Sun and Moon scene—

Okay but in all seriousness, wow. What a good story. I feel embarrassed to admit this, but Pokémon GO is what got me into the Pokémon world. I can still remember the joys of walking around, catching Pidgeys, making every single Gym Badge at the time out of clay, watching the trailers for GO and Sun and Moon for the first time...

In case it wasn't obvious by... well, everything about me, I love bird Pokémon, but Pidgey holds an especially dear place in my heart, so very good choice for having the featured Pokémon be Pidgey. It also makes sense given the themes: in Pokémon GO, Pidgeys are fairly common, easily evolvable Pokémon that most people don't care for. Having the main character bond with one was so nice to see. This Pidgey was especially good.

This is also a very wholesome interpretation of "what if Pokémon but real": the confusion at first, doing things like in the game, planning strategies and bonding and becoming friends... it also reflects the main character's progression and development as they slowly bong with their new friend. Good stuff, I must say. Good stuff.

Also Pidgey communicating was very cute. Not only was it cute to imagine the little fella nodding her head and chirping responses, but it also confirms that yes, PETA is wrong, and no, this isn't a cynical fic. (Also can I say that jabs at PETA are just..... ooh, good stuff).

Another thing that made me smile: Professor Willow's appearance. Don't know why, but as soon as his name was mentioned, a smile spread wide across my face. Though that makes me wonder... what Pokémon world region is he in? What about other human characters? What chaos is going on in the Pokémon world besides the Pidgey line boom?

But yeah, good stuff! Would love to read more of this concept, especially the idea of a safe portal between worlds being made. Thank you for the good feels and nostalgia.
 
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