01/06/2019: Commentary: chapter 32Chapter 32: The Birthday Party (commentary)
This week, in the fic's longest chapter yet, I go off on an irrelevant tangent about exactly when I made which crucial ending discoveries, Sparky is Sparky, Mark battles some pointless junior trainers for the very last time in the fic (thank God), I tragically bungle the chapter's most important moment, we see the triumphant return of drunk Scyther, and my sixteen-year-old self realizes why gym leaders kept giving Ash badges without him actually beating them in a gym battle. Is this where the fic starts to get better? …not quite, but we're getting there!
Commenting on: chapter 52
Altissimo (01/06/2019 21:20:58)
After reading about Letal and Lapras and Scyther in this chapter, I'm kind of curious - I know this probably isn't something you've really thought of, but - do there exist resources for psychological help for Pokemon in this universe? With all the characters that treat them like friends and equals, with Fury's push to expand Pokemon rights, with Scyther getting drunk and things like that, with there being an actual subject in school dedicated to how to communicate with Pokemon - it then seems a little… idk, out of place for the trainers of some of these Pokemon to just kind of wave off or ignore their issues without really trying to get them proper help or anything like that. I kind of alluded to this in my previous comment where I said it was totally acceptable for these twelve-year-old kids to not know how to handle the issues of adults in their care that are clearly more severe than the kids know, but surely this can't be an uncommon problem that most trainers would have to deal with? So it seems like there should almost be as big an emphasis on Pokemon psychology as there is Pokemon communication in this world. Or, at the very least, Gym leaders should probably have more of a responsibility as mandated actors, much as how teachers and those who care for children in America are required by law to report what they suspect or know is child abuse. Or is there just still enough of a gap between humans and Pokemon to where they're still not *really* treated as beings with independent agency and the ability to be psychologically affected by things? I mean obviously this is a big part of May's characterization but that kind of makes it all the more painful when Mark has a suicidal Scyther and a revenge-thirsty Leta and Gyarados and just kind of… lets them exist. That's something I'd love to see addressed in a future revision, if it would work out .
Altissimo (01/06/2019 21:23:40)
All that said I'm not really trying to criticize so much as point out things I'm noticing in this reread that you might not have referred to in the commentary. But having suffered from depression and far-fetched revenge fantasies at times it then just strikes me as a little… off kilter how it's treated by the characters. In all I always loved how this fic tackled Pokemon as people (I loved that Scyther got drunk!) and I think that's a huge selling point of it - it's just that it feels like it maybe should have gone a little further sometimes.
Butterfree (01/06/2019 23:08:39)
That's absolutely a subject worth thinking about. In the world of the fic, while Pokémon are generally to be treated as people with rights and agency, there is a pretty strong separation between the worlds of humans and Pokémon, established by the Agreement. This includes the thing about how wild Pokémon don't get prosecuted in the human legal system, and I'm inclined to think for the most part it's not expected that human systems for mental health, etc. treat Pokémon - I'm sure it happens, when particular Pokémon want to and particular therapists are willing to take them on, but in general Pokémon want to handle their own affairs. There are fanfics where Pokémon are fully integrated members of human society, but this one does not function that way; Pokémon have rights, and they're people, but humans have limited jurisdiction when it comes to Pokémon (and vice versa), and human society isn't expected to provide for them in the same way it's expected to provide for its own people. And humans are not allowed to interfere with Pokémon societies's rights to set and enforce their own laws and standards and worldviews for their own members. In the Scyther's view, being suicidal when you've broken the Code is right and appropriate; if humans systematically funneled suicidal Scyther into a human mental health system where they're taught to reject the Code and keep living, they'd be breaking the Agreement. (However, there's no provision that an individual Scyther can't seek out help from a human mental health system, or an individual human can't decide to try to help their Scyther with their depression.)
So there probably wouldn't be official mental health resources for Pokémon exactly. Trainers are probably cautioned to watch out for any signs that their Pokémon aren't quite stable and release them if they're not confident they can function and behave appropriately within human society. I don't expect most trainers would ever quite have to deal with this sort of thing, though; Mark, as the main character of a story, happens to end up with multiple Pokémon with major issues that come out in dramatic ways over the course of the story, but most Pokémon probably don't suffer from mental illness to a point that'd come up seriously with their trainer.
It would absolutely make sense for more characters, like gym leaders (as I brought up with Marge and how Scyther and Charmeleon have this fight in Mark's battle with her), to be watching out for this sort of thing and ready to help trainers dealing with Pokémon that have problems bigger than they could be expected to deal with. It'd be neat to talk more about this worldbuilding, too! Like, have Mark think about exactly what they do teach trainers about dealing with this sort of thing, discussion of the Agreement and its implications in general, etc.
Altissimo (01/07/2019 05:40:47)
That all makes sense. Good to know!