Pokemon Conclave Retrospective: Part 1

Readers, I have to ask you a very personal question: Was there a time in your life when you liked reading fanfics? I’d like to think if you’ve ever been a fan of anything, than you had to read fanfics about something. Hell, maybe you still do. I used to read a lot of fanfics when I was a teenager… I even wrote my fair share of them, even though the majority of them were terrible Cardcaptor Sakura fics. I would read fanfics about Cardcaptor Sakura, Seventh Heaven, X-Men, Final Fantasy… But most of all, Pokemon. I went through a huge Pokemon phase when I was younger, and I read a lot of the stories people wrote about it. I shipped Ash and Misty, mainly because I had no imagination back then, and I loved how different people envisioned them getting together.

Strangely enough, though, the one that sticks with me to this day wasn’t about them. I mean they DID get together in it, but that’s prologue stuff. The fanfic that had the biggest impact on me was about their daughter and HER pokemon adventure through the Kanto region. It was called Pokemon conclave, and even after what has to have been almost fifteen years, there are still a lot of moments in it that I remember vividly… And no, it’s not just because I printed the entire series and still have it in a binder in my closet. But if that’s not the reason, then what is? What is it about this particular fanfic that stood out to me so far against all the rest of them? To answer this question, I’d like to invite you to a new feature on this blog: It’s the Pokemon Conclave retrospective, and for part one, we’ll be looking at the first three chapters!

Before we begin, some background information; Pokemon Conclave was written by Willow McCall, and it was originally called Pokemon Neo, because it came out a few years before the second generation did. It was changed to P{okemon Conclave soon after, which resulted in some strange inaccuracies. Also, I don’t believe this fic can be found on any popular fanfic hosting site, but it instead has it’s own site at Dratini.tripod.com/Neo, or just google the name Pokemon conclave. Either way, yeah, it’s pretty surprising that the site is still up after all these years since it was last active.

The story opens with a Pidgeotto alarm clock waking up a youing girl named Aoife… No, that’s not a typo, let me explain. This fanfic was written by an Irish woman, and as such, she used gaelic names for the majority of her new characters. Aoife is the most complicated name in the bunch, so just keep in mind that it’s pronounced like “EE-fa.” In any case, she seems to have a mostly normal family life, with pokemon memorabilia strewn about her two story house, a little brother who loves to throw things at her, and a couple of doting parents reading the paper and making her breakfast. Oh wait, did I say she was normal? Because her parents are freaking celebrities! Ash Ketchum and Misty… Ketchum, the people responsible for saving the planet on multiple occasions!

While her parents murmur about how surprised they are to see an active Team Rocket still being discussed in the newspaper, Aoife eats her cereal and toast, as even Pikachu gets to eat at the table. Yep, still a Pikachu, not a Raichu. Even with Ash’s ageless curse apparently broken, that’s one thing that never changes. But for some reason, Pikachu is late to come to the table! Aoife and her brother… Who confusingly had his name changed a few paragraphs in… Finally find Pikachu hiding under in the basement, where she’s just given birth to two more little Pikachu! Yeah, remember how I said this was started before Gen 2? Pichu didn’t exist yet. In other words, Super Smash Brothers was still good.

Ash allows each of his kids to have one of the baby Pikachu, and Aoife. decides to call hers Chu-Chu, because that’s the first thing it said. She runs out of the house to show off her newborn baby animal to her best frenemy, Gary Oak’s daughter Fawn. She bursts into the Oak house, and immediately brags to Fawn, without bothering to say Hi first, but Fawn seems bored by this revelation. You see, the Oaks have a long history of staying one step ahead of the Ketchums, and in keeping tradition, Fawn already has an Eevee that her great-grandfather Professor Oak gave her! Oh, and somehow, Aoife didn’t know the two were related. Somehow. Fawn criticizes Chu-Chu, claiming to already have a Raichu herself, a claim that’s never proven. She calls the little buzzer a runt, then says she’s leaving to get her first badge, and Aoife leaves without even wanting to meet Fawn’s Eevee. And then… Well, what’s the one thing all old Pokemon fanfics used to do? There’s actually a Who’s That Pokemon?” segment, but I won’t spoil who it is.

We come back to the Ketchum house, where Aoife asks permission to go out on her pokemon journey. Her parents both agree, albeit with a word of caution to her, and no, it’s not about changing her underwear. Ash is proud of his daughter, who apparently takes after Misty in terms of looks. After lunch, she hurries over to what has to be the most elderly Professor Oak in fanfic history, and the narrator takes a quick moment to clarify the family line. She introduces Chu-Chu to Oak, who remarks that Pika classic is over twenty years old, and must be getting on in years. Hey Oak, you know what they say about glass houses, right? Honestly, I’m surprised that the elderly Oak doesn’t get taken advantage of here for an “Are you a boy or a girl?” joke.

The fact that this fic was written before Gen 2 can feel really weird sometimes. Pikachu’s baby wasn’t a Pichu, but Aoife still notices that the pokedex Oak gives her is smaller than Ash’s and probably contains more updated technology and information. Hell, if we looked at this in real time, she should be able to scan a Gothitelle with that thing. Anyway, she’s a bit overwhelmed to suddenly have one, but history would soon repeat itself as Chu-Chu refuses to go into one of her new pokeballs, Which, since it’s never been inside one before, would mean that it’s never been caught, and wouldn’t count as one of Aoife’s six, right? Nevermind, I’m over-thinking it.

Aoife asks Oak about her rival’s progress so far, but Oak quickly reassures her that it doesn’t matter… this is HER pokemon journey, which will go at HER pace, and worrying about how she compares to others will just make her jealous or vain. He apparently learned this from the longest fortune cookie message ever. Having received this piece of sage advice, she says goodbye to her family, and leaves Pallet town to embark on the first day of the rest of her life. Handily, the authors’ notes for this chapter… Well, episode, really… Offers a few pictures of what Aoife really looks like.

The second chapter opens up with Chu-Chu pointing out a nearby female Nidoran. Aoife doesn’t believe her at first, but when she finally notices, she identifies it with her Pokedex. She fails her first attempt to capture it… Because she’s her father’s daughter… And is confused about why, when an older man from the Hiker line approaches her from behind some bushes. He explains to her that she has to battle to weaken it first, demonstrating this with his Diglett. If these last few sentences have set off alarms n your head, it’s because there are two things Ash really should have taught his kids about… Catching pokemon, and stranger danger.

He incapacitates the pokemon for her, claiming he’s a breeder and doesn’t need another
Nidoran, which means Aoife has her first pokemon! The Hiker disappears before she can thank him, so she continues on her path, until she runs into fawn, who is… Get this… Riding a platform that three servant boys are carrying. This is her answer to Gary’s convertible. But that’s not the weirdest part of this arrangement… The boys are named Bert, Steve and Charlie, and they each have the starter pokemon that corresponds to the first letter of their respective names. And to top it off, they even have hair colors to match. The two bicker for a bit, Fawn acting condescending and Aoife acting a little bratty, and the first half of this episode ends with another Who’s That Pokemon!

It’s at this point in the story that we, of course, meet our antagonists… Bonnie and Clyde, the two newest bumblers of Team rocket! They’re healing their pokemon, including their Meowth analogue Vulpix. They leave the pokecenter, and get swindled by a man selling a Magikarp for 300 bucks. Bonnie attempts to haggle, but when it doesn’t work, she eagerly forks over the cash for it. Clyde explains afterwards why this was a bad idea, earning him an earful from her. They mention that they are the children of the former generation’s Rocket members, with one of them being the offspring of Jessie and James, and the other being the offspring of Butch and Cassidy. They decide to trade it away and rip off some hapless rookie trainer with it. They encounter Fawn’s entourage first, and are shot right down outright.

They then see Aoife, and for a refreshing change of pace, they DON’T want her Pikachu! But just in case she has something better, they still approach her for a trade. She almost goes through with it, offering up her Nidoran, when she’s saved by her Pokedex telling her just how useless the orange flopping fish is. Bonnie snaps at the “Stupid little machine,” and initiates Aoife’s first real pokemon battle by sending out her Growlithe. Growlithe quickly decimates Nidoran, so she sends in Chu-Chu, who… also doesn’t do too well. Aoife forfeits the match, and just as Bonnie’s about to take her pokemon by force, Aoife escapes and books it to the Pokemon center!

A half-paragraph later, they’re healed, and Aoife leaves to head to the first gym, but finds Fawn’s harem having trouble getting in. The door is locked, barring any challengers from entering. One of her lackeys tells her about Pewter City, To end the episode, Bonnie and Clyde finally find someone to trade their magikarp with… A girl named Rose, who’s just passing through, trades them her Oddish, saying she trains primarily water types anyway. I don’t know about you, but I think we’ll be seeing these three again in the future. The Authors’ note contains pictures of Bonnie, Clyde, Fawn, and a mysterious girl we’ll apparently meet later.

For the third episode, we’ve entered the Viridian forest! Aoife and Chu-Chu have been traveling for hours with no end in sight, when they take a break and encounter a Rattatta. She attacks it, first with Chu-Chu and then with Nidoran, eventually beating it enough to successfully capture it! Aoife is proud of her monumental accomplishment, but her parade is soon rained on by a blonde girl named Lucy, who complains about being outdoors and quickly establishes herself as a parody of OCD by cleaning herself more than a wet caat

This new trainer hates all dirty activity, but she eventually relents to a battle, where even the rookie Aoife has no trouble mowing down the first two members of her weak collection of early fairy types. Jigglypuff does manage to put Aoife’s Rattatta to sleep, but it’s otherwise a shut-out. But last up in her roster is Clefairy, who’s metronome attack starts a brushfire! The match ends without a winner, and the two of them argue until Fawn shows up and has Steve’s Squirtle put out the fire. Lucy hits on Steve, who refuses her and instead offers his number to Aoife. I’m not saying this girl was based on a real person, but if she was, it must have been off of someone the author was bitter towards.

Fawn uses one of Misty’s mallets to get Steve back under control, they leave, and the battle resumes, with Chu-Chu picking up the win. No sooner does the Lass-based pansy run away in tears than Aoife notices a Spearow, who’s quickly downed by a thundershock and captured. And if you can believe it, she then turns around and encounters a Tauros! Hyped up on the excitement of the roll she’s on, Aoife orders Chu-Chu to attack, but the little mouse is too exhausted.. She tries to force her to fight, but when it becomes clear that she’s been drained, a boy in a bullfighting costume calls the Tauros off. Aoife gets back up on her soap box for the new trainer dressing like a matador, and calling him out on his animal cruelty, when he introduces himself as Juan and explains that it’s just a costume.

Just as they’re making friends, Bonnie and Clyde assault them, delivering a rewritten Team Rocket chant. They’re there for the Tauros, knowing he breeds them. now, personally, I’d want to establish a good relationship with a criminal organization that only wants one of a pokemon that I have a ton of, but that’s just me… And the three Tauros that he summons are quickly beaten by Bonny’s Growlithe. Aoife’s Spearow uses Mirror move to run the attack back on Team Rocket, Who blast off, with some dispute over whether they can truly blast off again if it’s the first time. She offers a few burn heals to Juan, who in exchange helps her find her way out of the forest, and hopefully, to Pewter City!

Well, that’s the first three chapters, so let’s revisit that old question… Why did I like this fanfic so much? When you look at it critically, it’s very simple in terms of writing, and there’s almost no attempt at atmosphere or mood. The battles themselves are way too quick, a problem that I remember from the fic’s future as well. What if anything, does it have going for it?

Well, the characters are interesting, even if they’re not all that complex. Aoife’s weak, just like she should be at this point in the story, but aside from her win over Team Rocket, she’s having trouble claiming victory. The episodes are paced and structured almost like they were in the series, full of small but unique events that introduce the characters and drive their interactions with each other. That’s pretty cool, right? To be reading a fanfic, and feel like it’s staying true to the source material.

As for more notes, you’ll have to wait until I eventually do this again. Stay tuned for part 2!

  1. In answer to your opening question, no I have never read fanfics. I can understand their appeal, but I struggle keeping up with official stories let alone fan produced stuff.

  2. Which is understandable. to be honest, my days of reading fanfics ended long ago, but some of them obviously still stick with me.

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