in Articles, Reviews by winstein

In terms of Poison-type celebrity trainers, we don’t have many of them. In fact, the only ones that are considered celebrities come from Kanto, the region where the most Poison-types were introduced, and they are from the same family! That is, until Unova gave us another new Gym Leader. Perhaps this is a sign that the developers are aware of the lack of Poison-type Gym Leaders. Alright, let’s get on with the reviews!
 
 
 

Koga
 
Koga

 
And so, we start things off with former Kanto Gym Leader and current Kanto Elite Four member. Gym Leaders in Kanto usually fall under some stereotype (like Sabrina the tamer (she looks like one, alright?) and Surge the soldier). In Koga’s case, he’s most definitely a ninja. While he’s not the kind of ninja that practice tricks we normally see on TV (like water-walking and speed running), he is still a ninja. Not only is he a ninja, he’s also a senior, which is bonus points for him because old people who are also capable of doing cool stuff are awesome in my book, no matter what others say.
 
Koga’s normally the fifth Gym Leader to face, but due to the non-linearity on Gym clearance there, this may not be true. In terms of Pokémon levels, it is very close to Sabrina (typically the sixth one to face). To drive the point home, in the anime, Koga is Ash’s sixth leader he challenged. His gym is basically riddled with an invisible maze, which you must navigate to reach to him. The anime’s obstacle course is an obstacle course where Ash and friends need to avoid traps on the way. Beat him at Fuchsia Gym to receive a Soul Badge from him, which looks like a heart, and while this is a suitable symbol, the heart emblem has some negative connotations with certain people (especially those who are familiar with Captain Planet).
 
Koga is a self-proclaimed Poisonous Ninja Master. The reason he likes Poison-types is that they are able to inflict the despair and horror on the opponents. This is quite true, because the Poison-type is indeed quite good with this specialty, as they are able to wear down the opponent by limiting their lifespan with the Poison status ailment, and many more. Thanks to his specialty, people went to Koga to learn the arts of ninjutsu and Pokémon (like jugglers and tamers). Koga is also somewhat of a medical expert, because he studies about medicine and antidotes, and heals his Pokémon accordingly.
 
Because of the (as of now) scarcity of Poison-type specialists, I am guessing that this is a reflection of real life where the modern generation doesn’t really care about traditional stuff, which leaves only a few who specialises in it. In this case, Poison-type specialism is (I am guessing) not very attractive, so Koga decided that instead of letting it die off, he wants to be able to preserve its existence (hence his role as a teacher). It should be a reasonable explanation on the rarity of Poison-type specialists, as Sinnoh doesn’t even have one, despite substantial population of the Poison-type there.
 
His anime appearance was brief, because he only appeared in one episode, and that’s the last we saw of him. In the episode “The Ninja Poké-Showdown”, we met him because Ash and friends were at the Fuchsia Gym. One of the highlights here is that Koga was impressed at Misty’s Psyduck (who otherwise isn’t an active Pokémon) that they wanted to trade with it, but Misty declined that offer. Another thing here is that we get to meet Koga’s other family member Aya who is his (younger) sister. Also, the Manga Electric Tale of Pikachu is more tied with the anime, so you can expect Koga to make an appearance here, although his appearance is only brief, like the anime.
 
However, in the Pokémon Adventures manga, Koga had a more significant role. He is one of the “evil” Gym Leaders, because he was affiliated with Team Rocket, working for. Red and Misty first met him in Mount Moon, where he injected some substance into Rhyhorn to make it evolve immediately, showing off his expertise in medicine (or drugs). He’s also done other nasty things, like attempting to bump Red off the Lavender Tower and attacking him with his Arbok. He’s also got an Articuno, just as his two other comrades Surge and Sabrina obtained the other legendary birds). In Team Rocket’s Headquarters in Saffron City, Blue confronted Koga, as Professor Oak was kidnapped. While it seemed like Koga got the upper hand, it turns out Blue was smart enough to fool Koga until Red showed up (after he defeated Lt. Surge). However, that Articuno was able to put the trainers in freeze mode, but luckily, Blue’s Charizard is able to defrost them, and Koga was finally defeated.
 
Later on, which I presume means he’s on the good side, Koga and the Pallet Town trainers fought against the Elite Four in Cerise Island, and he paired with Blue to battle Agatha. The battle was intense, what with Blue being injured and Agatha’s Arbok being a beast, but in the end they won, or do they? Actually, Agatha wasn’t defeated easily, as her Gengar attempted to drain their energy. When they figured out the plan, Gengar was defeated. In addition to this, Koga was actually going to be smashed by the collapse, but he escaped the debacle thanks to his Muk’s help.
 
In the aftermath, Koga was out of contact, which leaves his daughter to be in charge of the Fuchsia Gym. At the end of the Johto Adventures, Koga was shown to have allied with three others who have been abandoned by evil organisations, them being Bruno (saved him at Cerise Island), Will and Karen. Sounds familiar? They are the new Elite Four. They reappeared in a HeartGold and SoulSilver chapter.
 
His Pokémon selection is rather interesting, to say the least (impressive is “the most”). In Red, Blue and Green, Koga’s team consists of Weezing and Muk (and two Koffings). In Pokémon Yellow, Koga’s team is updated to make it in line with the anime’s continuity. This meant that Koga had to include Venomoth in addition to three Venonats. In the manga, two of his Pokémon has special abilities: Arbok has the ability to regenerate from being sliced as long as its head is intact (like worms) and his Golbat seems to have some magic mirror ability in its mouth, able to show things happening on Koga’s tiny mirror. Oh, and he has an armour made out of Grimer (makes sense, considering Grimer’s Acid Armour move).
 
Now, his Elite Four team is more interesting. From his old days, he kept both Muk and Venomoth with him. He included two of the Poison-types that were introduced in that Generation, which are Ariados the ninja spider and Crobat the really speedy bat. One odd inclusion he had is Forretress. Forretress is included probably because the Pokémon has some utility, like being a bomb and a hazard dispenser, which fit’s Koga’s theme of being a disrupter. As for his updated team (for rematch), he decided to include three new Pokémon, which are Swalot, Skuntank and Toxicroak. These new additions are quite handy to have (for him), because Skuntank is immune to Psychic attacks that Poison-types hate, while Toxicroak is basically another Pokémon who dissuades Steel-types because he has a super effective attack on most of them. Swalot is more of a staller, what with Amnesia to boost Special Defence and Pain Split to wear down the opponent’s HP at low health, and the fact that it has Leftovers.
 
As for Koga’s strategies, they are varied, but most of them that are worth noting, as all of his Pokémon packs at least one status move, which means that when battling him, you need to watch out for them.

* Some of them are just Poison-inflictors, who resort in poisoning the target. However, some of them are able to stall you as well! Crobat and Skuntank have two turn moves that completely avoid the player’s attacks for a turn. This makes Steel-types and other Poison-types handy for the purpose of completely avoiding the status.
* Some of them like to raise Evasion; of note here is Ariados, who can pass Evasion boosts, so it’s important to take that one out first in Koga’s first Elite Four match. Crobat’s another culprit, because that Pokémon’s a very fast one. It’s a good thing Minimise wasn’t buffed like it is now, otherwise Muk will be much harder to handle! (Some variations carry Acid Armour too)
* Some of them like confusing the player’s Pokémon. It can be from Supersonic, but Swagger’s also one move you have to look out for.
* There are those that resort in reducing the player’s Pokémon’s stats. Of note are Koffing and Weezing, who all have Accuracy-reducing moves. Makes Keen Eye useful once in a while, though.
* This is a Forretress-only strategy, but like in competitive battling, Forretress’ role is to place entry hazards on the player’s side of the field. Spikes was used in Generation 2, but Toxic Spikes was used in Generation 4 (so don’t switch to the vulnerable ones!).

 
Alright, now there is one thing that I normally want to avoid talking about, and that is shipping, because I don’t really like the hostility that results from it, although the concept of make-believe unintended pairings is intriguing. One of these pairings that caught my attention is “Toxicboltshipping”, which is a pairing consisting of Koga and Lt. Surge, because I found it very funny. It seems that of all the Gym Leaders in Kanto, Koga is the most commonly used in pairings of the Kanto Gym Leaders. I think I agree that he’s a popular fandom bicycle.
 
All in all, Koga is a very good Poison-type specialist, because he is a lot of things, and ninja and medical expert are some of them. However, one thing I noticed is that Koga doesn’t really have a main Pokémon, because he doesn’t have a consistent main Pokémon across all the media. Before ending, in FireRed and LeafGreen, he mentioned about having to train his daughter. The character that he is referring to will be reviewed later on in this article. By the way, did anybody notice that all of Koga’s official artwork all shows him holding his index and middle finger together?
 
 

10 scarves out of 10!

 

+ Active senior
+ Have great strategies with his Pokémon
+ A ninja with an awesome ninja outfit
+ Large role in the manga
+ Had a promotion
- One appearance in the anime

 
 
 
 

Aya
 
Aya

 
Hmm…I would say that Aya is the odd one out of the people, because of them all, she isn’t featured in the games. However, the fact that she is related to Koga and trains a Poison-type made her on the list, because well, she is one of Koga’s students. Besides, the more the merrier. Anyway, she is Koga’s sister, and I bet she is younger, because Koga looks like a middle-aged person, while Aya is more youthful, not to mention she’s shorter (lame reason, I know, but it’s fun to make primitive guesses). Well, I do admit she looks really hot, though.
 
Let’s get my little factoid out of the way first: as soon as I saw Koga in the Elite Four in Gold, I was eager to see who will take the throne in the Poison-type Gym. I thought I was going to see the “girl that was with Koga in the anime” (referring to Aya, of course), but honestly, I wasn’t aware that the new owner was someone far different at that time. It’s too bad, because this would have expanded her character, because as we all know, if you star as someone important in the games, you get a free ticket in the Pokémon Adventures manga with a kickass role.
 
She only had two appearances in the anime, in addition to a single (panel) appearance in the manga. This meant that she wasn’t that popular in any of them, but at least she’s better because she had more appearances in the anime than the others. Her first appearance is in the episode “The Ninja Poké-Showdown”, which is also the episode Ash and friend met Koga. In that episode, she is shown to be a student of the Gym, and Koga battled Ash when she lost. From what I understand, she is supposed to be the heir of the title of Gym Leader, as she’s younger and will be the next one in line. Her next appearance is in the episode “Ariados, Amigos”. In that episode, Aya wanted to master the arts of Pokémon Jujitsu, but didn’t manage to do so, and in the end of the episode, she went back to the dojo to master that Jujitsu (and presumably take the position of Gym Leader I think). I made it sound uneventful because I didn’t watch that episode, so I apologise beforehand.
 
In terms of Pokémon, she only has a Venonat, which is hardly a selection, but anime trainers usually have few Pokémon unless they are a main character or are important trainers. Sadly, Aya is neither, so she is doomed to have only a Venonat. Venonat’s nice, but well, you know, a character’s return should at least have some development after a long absence? At least Venonat is able to secure a victory in the second appearance, in which the first just wasn’t his/her day.
 
One thing I have trouble with is finding fan art of her. I do apologise for this, but my hunch is that she’s so unpopular that good artists forgot about her (or worse: ignored). All in all, there’s not much I can say about her, compared to the only provider of the quote, thank goodness, because I would probably have trouble finding someone to ask for if I didn’t know (s)he’s up for the task. Before I am done, I read that she is interested in poetry. Cute.
 
 

5 hair bands out of 10!

 

+ Awesome looks!
+ Decent character
- Lack of Pokémon (Venonat only!)
- Lack of appearances; makes her look more like an extra
than an actual character

 
 
 
 

Janine
 
Janine

 
And now the second member related to Koga, who is the daughter of the Poisonous Ninja Master. In Gold and Silver (and Crystal), you meet her in Fuchsia Gym, where she took over Koga’s position when he was promoted to the ranks of the Elite Four. Like Koga’s gym puzzle, her gym is riddled with an invisible maze, with the extra challenge of locating the real Janine, out of the fakes you see. As before, defeat the Leader and win a Soul Badge. Janine’s name is also the odd one out because her name doesn’t sound remotely Japanese, but instead, goes for the name puns that Gym Leaders usually have. In her case, her name is a reverse pronunciation of the word “ninja”.
 
Technically, while you first saw her in the Generation 2 games, she also appeared in FireRed and LeafGreen, but you probably will not be aware of this, unless you are sharp enough to catch it. There’s one NPC (non-player character) outside Fuchsia Zoo who said that she wanted to be as good as her father, but the name of this NPC is Charine. The translators probably mistranslated her name (or overlooked the continuity), but it’s not like it will matter, because it’s the past, and it’s not worth arguing about past mistakes when you got the correct spelling in the recent remakes.
 
Janine is basically what you might call a dedicated traditionalist, because she really looks up to follow in her dad’s footsteps, where she wants to master the way of the Poison-types. She also believes in continuous improvement like a true Japanese, because of her desire to be better than her father and the protagonist. One thing to note is that due to her status as the youngest Gym Leader, her Pokémon have the appropriately lowest level among the Gym Leaders in Kanto’s revisit. Her ninja getup is also not bad, like as if it’s modelled after Koga’s with the black colour and the scarf. By the way, what’s with the need of a scarf anyway? Sure it makes them look cool, but is it practical? Also, there is an occasion (Mondays, to be exact) where you see her and Falkner in the Celadon Department Store arguing whose fathers are superior in strength as a Trainer, which is a shipping hint as its finest.
 
In the Pokémon Adventures manga, she was sort of like a mercenary, because she left town to run errands for people who are able to afford her services. However, after her success in bypassing Goldenrod’s security system (because they needed someone to test it), she contemplated on what she was doing with her life. Her father was working with Team Rocket and wishes her to join the organisation as well, but as he was gone, she felt lost because she was unguided, so she wanted to find a master. She met Suicune, who had a similar dilemma, as it wished to search for a trainer to battle. That Suicune eventually beat her Crobat, though. Also, she battled Falkner at the Gym Leaders Challenge, but because she found the person who was thought to be her father, she forfeited the match, but she never caught up with him. It would be interesting to revisit and resolve this little scenario, though.
 
As for the anime, she didn’t make an appearance, so she never met Ash. If she did appear there, I think she will make a good travelling companion with Ash, because her goal of striving to be as good as her father (maybe even better) will surely encourage some good team dynamics in Johto, and oh…imagine the possibilities! Some possibilities I can think of is that Koga’s family will be able to make more appearances in the anime like Brock’s family, because they only appeared in one or two episodes, like maybe Koga sneaking up on Ash as an occasional running gag, and the fact that Team Rocket faces ninja attacks in their antics, or maybe Janine wants to find her father and decided to tag along with Ash. Ah well, the opportunity’s gone, but does anybody here agrees with me that Janine will make a great travelling companion with Ash?
 
In the games, while her team is not as disruptive as Koga’s teams, they still have some disruptive quality nonetheless. In the originals, Crobat uses confusion (she has two of these moves) and Screech, while whittling the player’s Pokémon with an attack, two Weezings are the Poison or Explode variety, Ariados reduces the player’s Speed and dish out attacks, and Venomoth is in charge of confusing and poisoning. In the remake, her team is notably more offensive, especially Venomoth who now has Tinted Lens and more attacks. Oh, and she traded a second Weezing for another Ariados as well.
 
In the rematch, she lost the extra Ariados, but has two new Poison-types in exchange. There’s Toxicroak who relies on Attraction to keep its Substitute up, and Drapion, who is quite offensive (as Swords Dance implies) in addition to having a Psychic immunity. Even her Pokémon have updated movesets. Crobat now carries Heat Wave to hit through the Special side as well as U-turn to get to another Pokémon. Weezing has Thunderbolt, while Ariados has the odd inclusion of Bounce, which I suppose is for comboing with the ability to poison (Toxic) and confuse (Swagger). Venomoth now carries a Sleep move, which is annoying, I am sure, so get rid of it as soon as you can! In the Pokémon World Tournament in Black 2 and White 2, her team is the same with two changes: Toxicroak and Drapion are absent, and are replaced by Arbok and Tentacruel. Her other team, used in the Type Experts bracket, still retains Venomoth, Weezing and Crobat, but the other three members are Roserade, Nidoqueen and Tentacruel.
 
From her personality, it is clear that she just wants to be part of the family, and that’s where her motivation comes from. Being a young trainer that wishes to take the position as the Gym Leader, you really can’t help but throw your support for her, as she seemed ignored (remember she had no anime appearance). I admit that I never really pay attention to her, but come to think of it, she is a pretty cool character.
 
 

8 scarves out of 10!

 

+ A girl ninja!
+ A character you can sympathise with
+ Looks pretty good as a ninja
- No anime appearance (Could be a good travelling companion,
though!)

 
 
 
 

Roxie
 
Roxie

 
In the beginning of every Generation, there is a pair of games to start it off. Later on, usually a couple of years, there will be another game related to the first pair of games to extend the Generation, like what Platinum and Emerald did. Except, this time, it’s a pair of games instead, because unlike previously, those games are sequels. As a sequel, the developers didn’t hesitate to make new Gym Leaders, and we are introduced to a new Poison-type Gym Leader, along with another Water-type Gym Leader (in my opinion, we don’t need another Water-type Gym Leader). Here, we have Roxie!
 
Because Roxie was the first Gym Leader shown, some thought that she is the first one you meet in the journey, but that was before we know Cheren’s position. Her Gym is located at an inaccessible part of Unova in the first games, at Virbank City, which is placed at a different location in the anime. True to the theme of Unova’s Gyms, her Gym’s theme matches her profession as a rock musician. In her case, it’s a concert hall. Maybe she could have a Poison/Rock-type if such a Pokémon exists. Virbank City also has the PokéStar Studios, where you get to see her father playing the rule of hero against Brycenman, who seems to be getting back to his acting career (he’s not a Gym Leader this time).
 
Her style of clothes is akin to how certain teenage girls into rock wear, like those black boots (with blue platforms) and the loose shirt. In terms of colours, it denotes her preference quite well. There’s a mix of purple (the default colour for Poison) and blue blended together to make a bright warning colour like those found on certain frogs and mushrooms. The added white, the colour of her hair, creates a form of unnatural, venomous flavour to her looks. Speaking of her white hair, it’s not every day you see a young person with white hair (unless you are one). If you ask me, young people white hair makes someone look pure, although I guess that’s not the case with Roxie. Her guitar is styled after Scolipede, thanks to the design of its antenna and stripe style. Obviously, it is designed with Scolipede in mind.
 
Her Pokémon team isn’t big, being an early-game Gym Leader and all. Her first Pokémon is Koffing, which also appears in the anime. It would also seem that Koffing is her main Pokémon because there is chanting of “Dogars” in the Gym music (a new feature in these games), which is Koffing’s Japanese name. Even in the anime, Koffing is a surprising tough Pokémon for Ash to face. Her second Pokémon is Whirlipede, which is underleveled (it evolves at Level 22, but it’s Level 18 or 19 in the games). In the anime, it is her Scolipede that is used. It’s not surprising that she used them, actually, because her guitar is a hint to its usage. Her third Pokémon in the games, actually her second in the list, is Grimer. This Pokémon is only available in Challenge mode (only available in Black 2, oddly). The Pokémon World Tournament, which contains every Gym Leader up to date (except Koga, oddly), is also participated by Roxie. Her Pokémon choices are interesting. She has all the Unova Poison-types, which are Amoonguss, Scolipede and Garbodor (the latter two used in the anime). As for the other three, there is Drapion for Psychic immunity, Crobat for Ground immunity, and either Seviper or Toxicroak, depending on the Tournament.
 
Her placement is out-of-place in the anime. Usually, the anime follows the Gym pattern in the games, but due to the different order of Gyms in both pair of Generation 5 games, one change is made. The first seven Gyms are in accordance to the first pair of Black and White games, but the last Gym is Roxie’s Gym, which is indeed an oddity. That meant that her team is stronger. Surprisingly, the Gym is a 3 vs 6 match, where Ash got to use 6 of his Pokémon, usually consisting of his reserves. Some laud this because it showcases Ash’s other underused Pokémon, but others didn’t like the decision because it portrayed Ash as a weakling that he needed that handicap. Indeed, Ash had to use all of his six Pokémon to beat Roxie. I think it’s OK because I like how the underused Pokémon is used more, like Boldore. Also, another titbit is that she would occasionally riff her bass and the crowd would chant her name.
 
I have to admit that Roxie is not really my style, but the fact that we have an actual Poison-type Gym Leader is enough appreciation for me.
 
 

10 basses out of 10!

 

+ Fresh face in the Poison-type specialists group
+ Creative Poison-type theme (Rock-themed)
+ Wild appearance looks suitable
+ Used Koffing, a widely appreciated Pokémon
+ Used all the Poison-types of Generation 5
- Not quite compatible as the final Gym (anime)

 
 
 
 
And so we are done with the people that specialises in the Poison-type. Alright, for my next entry, there will be a pick of the best of the Grass-types in certain categories, like looks and usefulness, which will be the last of the series. I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I have writing them.
 

Thanks for reading.


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