So, I mentioned a few weeks ago that I might start reviewing fanfiction, because I’ve been reading it more than published, printed books lately. Fanfiction is a weird subject. Some people love it, some people think it’s an affront to “actual” writers and others are indifferent. I am of the opinion that good fanfiction is like a good book, minus a few chapters at the beginning; the chapters that are usually used to introduce characters.
That is not to say that characters don’t need to be introduced properly in fanfiction. The mark of a good story is being able to make the characters come alive and as an author, it’s your job to do that, no matter if you’re writing fanfiction or original fiction. The difference with fanfiction is that the characters you’re using already have a set personality and you have to work within that personality to portray them properly. This is something that Lu does fantastically. Every character in the story is both in character and unique, and with the amount of characters in the story, this is a hard thing to do. To put it in to perspective, at the end of part 1 of TAC, “The Gathering”, there’s a total of 15 main characters, an eclectic mix of Ash, his friends, and rivals from all regions that had been introduced in the anime at that point (Unova).
During the story, Lu seamlessly blends character from the games, anime and movies into the narrative. There’s no real need for her to create original characters because the Pokemon Anime is full of people. Odds are if you can name a character from the anime they will probably turn up at some point.
The story itself is set over the course of about four months from mid-December 2001 until the beginning of March 2002, with an epilogue set in December 2002. Most of the dates in the story line up from roughly when the Pokemon anime started with around a year set in each region (at least that’s my take on it). Besides the main conflict of the story (Team Rocket wanting to take over the world), there are other, smaller things happening, as you would expect. After all, there’s always more than one thing happening in the world and if you gather together 15 teenagers and send them on an adventure, there’s going to be at least a little conflict.
There’s romance in the story, and while it’s definitely not the main problem, it does cause problems for the group in the story. What it doesn’t do, is take over the plot.
There are a few flashbacks within the story to give context for a few things but what this also does is highlight the issues that are in the pokemon world that we don’t get to see in games or anime or movies. These are things that show that just because this is a fictional world, that does not make it a perfect place. Things like alcoholism and abandonment are problems in this world, and they’re problems that the bad guys will take advantage of. In a world where parents send their kids out at aged ten into the world, to travel and compete in contests and leagues, there are going to be some kids who slip through the cracks. These are the kids people like Team Rocket will take advantage of and these are the kids that the Champions in the different regions need to protect. One of these kids is one of the main characters, originally a character from the games, Lu blends Leaf in with the rest of the anime characters well. As I mentioned before, it’s something she does seamlessly.
While it may seem so far that the story is dark and brooding, there are definitely light-hearted moments. The parts that are supposed to be funny, are actually really funny. One part that sticks in my mind is when Chili and Cress meet Meloetta. Cress tried to lure her to them with classical music but Chili wanted to use rock, he comments that Meloetta is “a Rockin’ Raikou kind of gal” and in the context it’s awesome.
If I were to take just one thing away from this story though, it would be that faith in those you love, and faith in yourself, is very powerful. It can help you do fantastic things even if you’re not the “Chosen One” and even if pokemon aren’t actually real. To have faith in your friends that they can do what they need to do can empower them and if they too have faith in you, then you can do anything you need to as well. Trust those you love to lift you up when you need it and help out those that need help, whether they’re the kids who’ve been abandoned by their parents, or friends, or relatives, or even co-workers that are being looked down on by those perceived to have more power than them. Support the people who need support and help out where you can.
This is probably one of the few fanfiction stories would recommend to anyone, regardless of how much or how well they know Pokemon. Lu takes real world problems and applies them in the story well. It’s something that could work just as well with original characters, but the familiarity of Ash and friends helps, even if they’re not exactly the same at the end of the story. I wouldn’t expect them to be though, they grow, just like real people and it happens naturally. Lu has an amazing talent and if you would like to check out her work you can do so here. You can find The Ash Connection here and Lu’s Tumblr page is here. If you do read the story, please leave Lu a review letting her know what you think.