Pokémon 101: The Evolution of the Avatar

When I’m writing this it’s still 2 weeks from the release of Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire (let’s call them ORAS from now on), but when this little article is published, I’m probably a long way into the game. Time to celebrate the newest installments of the Pokémon games with a new Pokémon 101! Note that this blog is about the main characters from the games, who cannot be confused with their counterparts from the manga and the anime.

Generation I

Red (Pokémon Red/Blue/Yellow, 1998 or Pokémon Red/Green/Blue, 1996 if you’re hardcore or Japanese):


  • Home town: Pallet Town, Kanto
  • Age: 11 (R/B/Y), 14 (G/S/C/HG/SS), 17 (B2/W2)
  • Professor: Professor Oak
  • Starters: Bulbasaur, Squirtle, Charmander (R/B) or Pikachu (Y)
  • Rival: Blue
  • Evil organization: Team Rocket
  • Name origin: Obviously, Red’s name is derived from the name of the game. 

Among fans, Red is considered the most bad-ass trainer of all. He started his adventure at the age of 11. We meet him again when he’s 14 in Pokémon Gold/Silver/Crystal/Heart Gold/Soul Silver. Here we learn that, after the Pokémon League, he travelled to Mt. Silver to train in solitude. When he’s 17, he enters the Champions Tournament in Unova (Pokémon Black 2/White 2). This is the boy who became a legend.

Generation II

Ethan (Pokémon Gold/Silver, 1999, Pokémon Crystal, 2000) and Kris (Pokémon Crystal, 2000):











  • Home town: New Bark Town, Johto
  • Age: Unknown (probably 11 or 12)
  • Professor: Professor Elm
  • Starters: Chikorita, Totodile, or Cyndaquil
  • Rival: Silver
  • Evil organization: Team Rocket
  • Name origin: Ethan’s name origin is somewhat far-fetched. His Japanese name is ‘Hibiki’, which means ‘sound’ or ‘echo’. Biblically, Ehtan is believed to be a harp or cymbal player on King David’s court. Kris’ name is derived from ‘Crystal’, the name of the game.

Ethan was the only playable character in the Gold and Silver games. In Crystal, you had the option to choose for a girl for the first time. Of all playable characters, Ethan/Kris collect the most badges: After they collect the 8 badges of the Johto region and defeat the Elite Four at the Indigo Plateau, they travel to Kanto to defeat the 8 local gym leaders as well. After Ethan/Kris collect the 8 badges from the Kanto region, they are faced against Red in Mt. Silver. If you think about it, with 16 badges, they’re much stronger than Red. They even defeated Red!

Generation III

Brendan and May (Pokémon Ruby/Sapphire, 2002):











  • Home town: Little Root Town, Hoenn
  • Age: 12
  • Professor: Professor Birch
  • Starters: Treecko, Mudkip, or Torchick
  • Friend/Rival: May/Brendan
  • Other allies: Wally
  • Evil organization: Team Aqua and Team Magma
  • Name origin: Brendan’s name comes from the word ‘brave’. May’s name in Japan is ‘Haruka’, meaning ‘spring flower’. May is a month in spring (duh).

In the Ruby and Sapphire games, if the player chooses the male option, Brendan becomes the playable character and May your friend/rival and vice versa. This is the first game where you have a friendly relationship with your rival, and where you have a second rival/ally (Wally). It’s also the first time you have a father, in this case the Petalburg City gym leader Norman.  Brendan/May do no defeat one, but two evil organizations. Their story ends with their participation to the Battle Frontier.

Brendan seems more concerned with his wardrobe than the previous two male characters. Also, is that a hat or his hair? Keep reading to find out the answer!

Red and Leaf (Pokémon Fire Red/Leaf Green, 2004):

1996 Red

2004 Red


Remake time! Eight years after the original release, the first Pokémon games got a remake. That meant a drastic make-over for Red and the addition of a female character! Because the story is almost exactly the same, Red is still 11 years old in this game. But this version of Red looks a bit older than the original (left Red for comparison). He also looks a bit more approachable, although he keeps his bad-assery. Their clothes are practically the same, but totally different at the same time.

Leaf’s name obviously comes from the name of the game. Leaf looks like a female version of Red, but she looks more feminine than her predecessors. I really like her design, it’s practical and simple.

Brendan and May (Pokémon Emerald, 2004)

2002 Brendan

2004 Brendan








Pokémon Emerald is the third installment of the Hoenn region series. But Brendan, what did you do!? Did you fall into your closet and came out this way? SHORTS OVER YOUR NORMAL PANTS!? Are you trying to set a new trend? Because it’s not going to happen. But, we have some clarification about your hair. It was dark all along (for proof, see left ear).

2002 May

2004 May









Ah May, I’m glad too see that you can keep your head clear. You did a color swap and changed your shirt, but you still look as cool as you did before!

Generation IV

Lucas and Dawn (Pokémon Diamon/Pearl, 2008)











  • Home town: Twinleaf Town, Sinnoh
  • Age: Unknown (probably 11 or 12)
  • Professor: Professor Rowan
  • Starters: Turtwig, Piplup, or Chimchar
  • Friend/Rival: Barry
  • Other allies: Lucas/Dawn
  • Evil organization: Team Galactic
  • Name origin: Lucas’ name comes from ‘lux-lucis’, the Latin word for ‘light’. Dawn’s name is probably derived from her Japanese name ‘Hikari’, also meaning ‘light’.

If you choose Lucas or Dawn as you playable character, the other becomes the assistant of professor Rowan. Their adventure ends with taking on the Battle Tower.

The guys in Pokémon become more and more stylish. Lucas even looks… metrosexual? I never got why someone would wear short sleeves and a scarf. But I guess fashion beats functionality in Pokémon nowadays. And Dawn… I just don’t like you. I don’t know if it’s because of the dumb look on your face, the fact that you’re not suited for travel at all, the fact that you’re wearing a super-short skirt, the fact that you’re wearing a massive bag around your arm, or the fact that you’re wearing a warm hat and a scarf with a cold dress. It just… doesn’t make sense.

Lucas and Dawn (Pokémon Platimum, 2008)

D/P Lucas

Platinum Lucas









D/P Dawn

Platinum Dawn









Lucas and Dawn are obviously clad for colder weather, that is, they wear a more functional scarf and a jacket. Dawn still doesn’t seem to have learned that you need something on your legs too to keep warm though.

Ethan and Lyra (Pokémon Heart Gold/Soul Silver, 2009):

1999 Ethan

2009 Ethan



Ten years after the release of the original Gold and Silver games, they got a remake. Like Red in Fire Red and Leaf Green, Ethan got a make-over. Like with Red’s make-over, the new Ethan looks older and more approachable. His clothes and bag got an upgrade, but his cap still seems the same. Fashionable but practical!

Kris, not being a part of Gold and Silver, did not make a return in Heart Gold and Soul Silver. She got replaced  by the new character Lyra. In every country, the versions of Lyra’s name are derived from a musical instrument. Lyra is derived from ‘Lyre’. When you choose to be a gender, the character of the other gender becomes your friendly rival (no worries, Silver is still there too!).

Generation V

Hilbert and Hilda (Pokémon Black/White, 2010)











  • Home town: Nuvema Town,  Unova
  • Age: 14-16 (B/W), 16-18 (B2/W2)
  • Professor: Professor Juniper
  • Starters: Snivey, Tepig, or Oshawott
  • Friends/Rivals: Bianca and Cheren
  • Evil organization: Team Plasma
  • Name origin: Hilda’s and Hilbert’s names contain the Germanic element ‘hild’, which means ‘battle’.

It seems like the creativeness when it comes to names has dried out a bit. Unlike in the previous games, the gender you do not choose doesn’t become your friendly rival. In stead, he/she becomes your partner in the Battle Subway. You do have two friendly rivals though: Cheren and Bianca.

Unlike all previous playable characters, who are all 11 or 12 when their adventure begins, Hilbert and Hilda are older. Their precise age is unknown however, different sources place their age between 14 and 16.

Nate and Rosa (Pokémon Black 2/White 2, 2012):











  • Home town: Apertia City,  Unova
  • Age: Unknown (probably between 11 and 16)
  • Professor: Professor Juniper (the player receives their starter from Bianca, your rival from Black and White, who is now professor Junipers assistant)
  • Starters: Snivey, Tepig, or Oshawott
  • Friend/Rival: Hugh
  • Evil organization: Team Plasma
  • Name origin: Nate’s and Rosa’s names come from the word ‘resonate’.

The events of Black 2 and White 2 take place two years after Black and White. If the player chooses one of the two, the other one will become an NPC who fulfills a minor role in the story.

Nate looks like a male version of Hilda in the previous games. He looks pretty cool, but apparently the pants-over-pants thing is still a thing in the Pokémon world. Or is he wearing a wet-suit underneath? Rosa looks like… you know those dress-up flash games? She looks like the result of a 10-year old designing her own original character with it. Her clothes are random and bland at the same time. Big step back from Hilda. Both their bags seem kinda unpractical for traveling too…

Generation VI

Calem and Serena (Pokémon X/Y, 2013):











  • Home town: Vaniville Town, Kalos
  • Age: Unknown (probably between 11 and 16)
  • Professor: Professor Sycamore
  • Starters: Chespin, Fennekin, or Froaky (the player later can also receive Squirtle, Bulbasaur, or Charmander)
  • Friend/Rival: Calem/Serena
  • Other allies: Shauna, Tierno, and Trevor
  • Evil organization: Team Flare
  • Name origin: Calem’s and Serena’s names come from the words ‘calme’ and ‘serene’.

Calem/Serena get their first pokémon from a friend, not from a professor (in name of the professor, that is). Later in the game, they can choose one of the Kanto starters from professor Lysandre.  This character does not have 1 or 2 friendly rivals, but 4! The playable character of the opposite gender will take the role of your main rival.

Calem and Serena are the first characters where the player has the option to alter their skin tone, hair color, haircut, and clothes. The pictures here are the default appearances, but they do not say anything on how your character will look like in the game: that’s entirely up to you! I was really happy with this option and I used it a lot. I don’t think I ever spent as much pokédollars as I did in this game, just because I wanted to buy clothes. The options they give you are really cool. If you want to check out which outfits and haircuts are available, visit http://www.serebii.net/xy/customisation.shtml .

Brendan and May (Pokémon Alpha Sapphire/Omega Ruby, 2014)

Brendan and May got their 3th make-over since their conception. This remake of Ruby and Sapphire was released 12 years after the original and Sapphire and 10 years after Emerald.

2002 Brendan

2004 Brendan

2014 Brendan







2014 Brendan’s clothes look like 2004 Brendan’s clothes, but his hat seems more like 2002 Brendan’s. He finally got over the pants-over-pants thingy. He also looks more… tanned?

2002 May

2004 May

2014 May

May got quite the make-over. Her color-scheme comes from 2002 may, and apparently the pants-over-pants thing moved from Brendan to her. I liked the bike shorts! She looks a lot more childish now. I’m a bit disappointed, since I liked her original design a lot!

That was it! All playable characters in the main Pokémon games until now! What is your favorite character?



About Tekira

26 year old psychologist, on the quest of finding a job, loves anime and games.

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