In Black and White Versions, the main characters are older, and the plot, deeper. Black and White are meant to draw in new players to the franchise, like all games in the main series of Pokemon, while also adding elements that are more relatable to older fans of the franchise, who have been playing since its humble beginnings in 1996 (in Japan; 1998 in the United States).
The two rival characters of Pokemon Black and White, Cheren and Bianca (Bel in Japanese), have powerful subplots–already a major improvement from previous characters who would only have dialogue that gave them character but no real story–paralleling real-life Pokemon players; Bianca is the most obvious one to draw these parallels to, and as such will be the focus of this article.
Bianca begins as a ditzy, unknowledgeable character who is unsure of what she wants for her life. All she knows for certain is that she wants to go on a Pokemon journey. Here we can draw the first parallelism: outside the fictional realm, most people begin playing Pokemon to play an amazing game–arguably, and almost certainly for young children, close to none of the players of Pokemon pick up the game thinking that it will bring about a life-changing self-realization. Bianca is the exact same way, entering into the world of Pokemon not knowing of the changes it will bring to her life.
Professor Juniper later reveals that the mothers of the player, Cheren, and Bianca were the ones who suggested to her the idea of delivering them their starter Pokemon. These four women mirror the people who support the playing of Pokemon. Some people may suggest Pokemon to a younger child so that he or she may have more means of making friends, or to make use of the well-yet-subtly-implemented multiplication within the battle system to improve their math skills. An older player may be encouraged to play Pokemon from reviews online, or he or she may simply want to play the video game that revolutionized turn-based JRPG’s. Regardless of the reason, however, the fact still stands that there will always be someone, somewhere, who will recommend Pokemon to someone else.
However, not everyone will approve of Pokemon. Bianca’s father is an almost-typical parent, becoming outraged upon hearing his daughter’s decision to embark on a Pokemon journey. Many older Pokemon players know this feeling all too well. Mainly due to its marketing scheme, especially outside of Japan, the majority of adults with no personal connection to the Pokemon franchise believe it to be aimed solely at younger children, causing their disapproval when they see their older children interested in the meta-series. Bianca’s father takes this to the extreme and follows her to Nimbasa City to try and bring her home. Here, Elesa, another person–and in the game’s case, a Gym Leader–who accepts Pokemon as a game for people of all ages, appears to tell Bianca’s father that she is old enough to make her own decisions, and that Pokemon is not as bad as he thinks. This, luckily, changes his opinion on Pokemon and he happily allows his daughter to continue on her journey. Some parents, like Bianca’s, are eventually swayed to accept their child’s decision to play Pokemon. Not all are, but at the end of the day, when the child grows into an adult and leaves home, they can continue to play Pokemon as they wish, regardless of their parents’ opinions.
Bianca continues her journey after her confrontation with her father, still not discovering exactly what it is she wants to do with her life. She does discover, however, the joy it brings when she helps others, going so far as to notify all but the Striaton Gym Leaders near the end of the game when the player needs assistance. This final parallel is similar to real-life players who may not have had a dramatic self-realization due to Pokemon, but at least, by playing the games, or even collecting the merchandise or watching the shows and movies, learned a little something about themselves; they might not have changed their mind about pursuing a career in medicine, but they found out that they really enjoy friendly video game competition, for example.
Bianca truly represents a little bit of every player in Black and White, and this makes her an utterly lovable and unforgettable character when it comes to the Pokemon franchise.