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Fanfic / Essence

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They say a trainer's first day sets the tone for the rest of their journey. If that was the case, they had signed up for a thriller.

Essence is a Pokémon fanfic where Ash has a Growlithe starter.

Ash arrives at Professor Oak's lab half a hour earlier than the other to-be trainers. Professor Oak is unable to give out the starters so early, but that's fine to Ash because he didn't want one of the traditional three starters. Ash had wanted an unusual Pokémon to make his journey exciting. After given a few choices, he decides on one of the Growlithe pups that Professor Oak's Arcanine recently had.

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Essence changes quite a bit from the anime. It also adds in more elements from later games and has some worldbuilding that canon doesn't.


Essence provides examples of:

  • Adapted Out:
    • Ash's Pikachu is nowhere to be seen. Instead Ash has a Growlithe and a Clefairy.
    • The Terrible Trio are absent. In their place is the game version of Team Rocket, including the Executives.
  • Adaptational Badass: Misty never went on her journey to become a water-type expert. Instead, she's the fourth Cerulean City gym leader. Misty's the one that does most of the actual battling, while her three older sisters prefer theatrics.
  • Adaptational Intelligence: Ash is less stubborn and reckless than in canon. He's also decently well-versed in Kanto Pokémon so he isn't a complete rookie.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy:
    • Misty and her three sisters are nicer both to Ash and to each other.
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    • Lt. Surge is in his anime design but his personality is more similar to his game version.
    • Sabrina is introduced in her more open HeartGold and SoulSilver incarnation, not her more aloof original incarnation. She's also made more in-line with her game counterpart overall. Sabrina's just a quiet Creepy Good, with none of the Creepy Child Split Personality of her anime counterpart.
    • Ash lacks much of his season 1 brattiness and stubbornness.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Erika is given her game design, with black hair and a yellow kimono, instead of her blue-haired anime design.
  • Adaptation Personality Change: Much of the cast has changed personalities. The writer views Ash's Pokémon as separate characters from their original versions, though Bulbasaur, Charmander, and Squirtle have the same backstories.
  • Age Lift: Erika is described as being in her early teens, not her late teens or early twenties.
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  • Alternate Universe Fic: Ash goes on his journey early and gets a Growlithe starter, not a Pikachu one.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • Bill is not a one-shot character. He becomes a friend of Ash's.
    • Sabrina tags along with Ash for several chapters. She becomes one of his friends.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Team Rocket is more violent and doesn't mind getting their hands dirty by hurting, or killing, people and Pokémon.
  • Composite Character:
    • Ash is closer to Red than his anime counterpart. He's less of a Stock Shōnen Hero and also goes on his journey alone.
    • Bill keeps the British accent and overall character of his anime counterpart, but his hair is brown with a green tint (which combines the brown hair of his game version with the green hair of his anime version).
    • Several characters are made more similar to their game incarnations.
  • Cuteness Overload: Misty and her three sisters have a fangirlish reaction to seeing Ash's Clefairy. It's both a very rare Pokémon and a very cute one, so they overreact because they don't see Clefairy's much.
  • Dark Fic: The story has a more grounded approach to the Pokémon world that doesn't shy away from violence and dark topics.
  • Dead Fic: The story hasn't updated since chapter 12, which involved Ash defeating Erika.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Ten is considered old enough to see the world on your own.
  • Demoted to Extra: Brock and Misty are just gym leaders. They're not Ash's travelling partners.
  • Disabled in the Adaptation:
    • The Nurse Joy and Officer Jenny families have a genetic disorder which makes individuals look identical.
    • Due to the traumatic murder of his parents when he was still in the egg, Bulbasaur was born suffering embryonic trauma. It's a condition that causes intense Repressed Memories and leaves a newly hatched Pokémon born "stateless". He couldn't even eat on his own before being taught by Melanie.
  • Disappeared Dad: Ash never knew his father.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • Squirtle's original trainer was badly injured by Spearow. This left him with a hatred of all Pokémon.
    • Squirtle hates humans because his trainer abandoned him.
    • Ash teaches Charmander not to become a Fantastic Racist after he notices Charmander glaring at some Machamp. Charmander was nearly killed by a Machamp. Ash tells him not to take out of his grudge on one individual Machamp by hating the entire species.
  • Intellectual Animal: Pokémon are born understanding human speech.
  • Interspecies Adoption:
    • Pidgeotto sees the rest of his team as his surrogate siblings.
    • Bulbasaur was raised by a human, Melanie, because his parents died prior to his hatching.
  • Messy Hair: Ash's spiky Shonen Hair is mentioned as being because he doesn't comb his hair.
  • No Infantile Amnesia: Pokémon are born instinctually knowing certain things. They're also born with memories from when they're inside their egg.
  • Oh My Gods!: This is used rarely. Most of the time, people just use "god". For example, Sabrina has the line "I swear to Mew...".
  • Parental Favoritism: Pidgeotto's parents put him on a pedestal because he was born twice as large as a normal Pidgey. This led to Pidgeotto becoming greedy and power-hungry. He felt constrained by his parent's expectations and his sibling's jealousy, so he became rebellious after leaving the nest.
  • Parental Abandonment: Bulbasaur's parents, two Ivysaur, were murdered by poachers who wanted their flower bulbs for themselves.
  • Patchwork Fic: It mixes in game elements into anime canon.
  • Setting Update: The fanfic takes place circa 2015, while the original anime arc came out in the 1990s.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Erika and her younger sister Millie look a lot alike, except that Millie is younger and has longer hair.
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