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X is for Xanthe
Who isn't a Sue
Like any good character
She's got flaws, too
Her hair isn't curly!
Her nails she bites!
She's scared of the dark
When she turns out the lights!
So many things
That could get in the way...
But they'll never stop Xanthe
From saving the day

"As you may or may not be aware, I write an ongoing parody of original trainer stories. I also read a lot of them, and the reviews of them. And between the trainers starting [with a] suicune and the ones that couldn't spell to save their lives, there are occasional popular OT stories, ones hailed as 'not a mary sue!', nicely written, many chapters long, pointed to as an example of how to write decent story...that make me cringe.

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"Because they're middling sues, characters that dodge litmus test questions but nothing more. Their names are odd but not quite at the level of Elahaxaria. Maybe they get a common ''pokemon that's shiny, or wind up trading for something rarer. And of course they'll see a legendary or dozen, but they won't catch it (or at least not at first). They lose occasionally, they praise other trainers as being 'good too' after winning, and they're just generally a toned-down version of a regular sue.

"The authors of these stories are generally decent in terms of writing – they have to be, to get away with this. A middling sue is basically a standard sue with more foresight. The world is created around the sue prior to the story being written, so at no point in the story does the sue directly warp things to get her way. It was a forgone conclusion from the start. The author is better at figuring out less dramatic alternatives to get to the same conclusion, so the sue doesn't save an abused eevee from Team Rocket, she gets one as present. And the writing is good enough overall to be readable and even somewhat intimidating. Even if reviewers notice something is off, they generally can't articulate it. And since god forbid any reviewer be negative without saying exactly what the problem is, all they can do is say it's good. This is even more pronounced on forums where an author can shout down any naysayer.

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"In most instances no one thing the middling sue does can be pointed out as being sueish or overpowered, and it's only as the sum of their parts that it becomes evident. In other words, reviewers can't just dredge up stock complaints and advice that someone else said first.

[...]

"Middling sues are not easily noticeable in their native habitat. They blend perfectly into their surroundings because their setting is as sueish as they are. Lucki has blue hair, but Violet has purple hair and eyes. Lucki has a shiny pokemon, but then, she could have picked an eevee rather than a regular starter. And oh, she gets money that's technically fifty times the amount you get in the games, but hey, who cares about little details like that? When Lucki does get an eeveelution, it's the least common one and he spends plenty of time losing. Meanwhile her more common pokemon crush opponents, but hey, they're common! That's something.

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"Mixed into this are more insidious parts, things standard throughout original trainer stories. Pokemon all want to battle. All the pokemon who happen to be caught are always completely suited for fights, unless they're weaklings who become physically impressive fighters after being fed and trained a bit. Pokemon who clearly state they don't want to be trained should be ignored, as they really do, they just don't know it. Any deviations from this are inconveniences for the poor trainer, who is the one who should have our sympathy. Pokemon readers are often [P]okemon players, and original trainer stories are half wish fulfillment from the start. Large parts of the world are simply expected to work out neatly. This is a problem with even good stories. If it's possible none of this ever comes up, then that's what happens, even if the odds against every pokemon ever encountered having the life's goal of being a trained pokemon battler is astronomical.

"This can't be parodied like simple sue bashing stories where the fanfic's world rebukes the sue, because the problem is as much the world as the character. Besides, a single chapter of the story is rarely sueish enough on its own to justify such. A true middling sue story is forever on the cusp of blatant sueishness with each chapter, but always with the apparent potential to turn around.

[...]

"And so, Lucki. Her defining characteristic is ultimately not the outward signs of sueishness, although there are many. It is that everything works out for her. She is Lucky.

"Lucki skates through the story without problem. She has a special appearance, special pokemon, and special gadgets. She wins more than she loses, always beats gym leaders and manages to travel around at breakneck speed (three consecutive chapters take place in a single day, and the entire story is thirteen days long). She faces challenges, yes, but challenges are not the same things [as] problems, especially when the main character views them as nothing more than annoying and temporary inconveniences. She has a starter described as young, timid and petite, but that doesn't cause her problems in battle and despite supposed timidity, that same squirtle ends up talking about how great Lucki [is] after a fight. The same goes for the rest of her team. They don't have goals separate from hers. Even pokemon that seem to have lives of their own, such as a tropius that just saved his family and friends, happily and inexplicably abandon all of it to join Lucki.

"Do people notice anything off? Yes and no. There's a somewhat ambivalent attitude in some of the replies here, but no one actually manages to work it out. You're capable of noticing that she gets a flareon and complaining about that, but are easily pacified with a loss against an eevee. A few people did manage to notice the translators are used inconsistently, but weren't able to really follow up on it. Most other things went entirely unmentioned. People could see a few of the surface issues, but not the underlying problems.

"In the post-thirteen chapters, I simply allowed the existing problems to appear. They weren't created by the absol. The absol acts to negate whatever is suppressing the problems, but understand, this was how things should have been from the start.

"Reread the story and it's all there. The girl back in Chapter Seven who said Silver wasn't a battler? You know, the one who Lucki called a jealous ***** for her comments, and you agreed? She was telling the truth. The story explicitly says in the first chapter that shiny pokemon are rarely as strong as their normal counterparts, and Silver is described, over and over again, as tiny, young, timid, and petite. She was not capable of being a good battler. Flare had abandonment issues anyone but Lucki could have seen from orbit, and his losses in battle are more from Lucki's utter lack of a strategy for him than any weakness on his part, not that it stops her from blaming him for it. Tryke? Was a little kid who'd gotten out of sight of his parents. Saurius leaves with Lucki right after his herd was shown to be at risk of poaching. It's inevitable that it would happen again, just as it's inevitable that Lucki, who only teamed up with Saurius because she wanted to get back at Magma for stealing her pokemon, wouldn't do anything when she heard the news.

"And the absol. The absol fought tooth and nail against capture, but Lucki caught her anyway.

"You thought Lucki was being kind and understanding when she refused to let Fara go, disparaged her reasons, and condescendingly decided the only real reason Fara could possibly not want to abandon her life in order to be beaten up for a stranger's glory was that Fara didn't know how nice and wonderful trainers are. You thought Lucki was being nice when she told Fara she knew more about absol than an absol and brushed off Fara's warning as she'd brushed off Fara's demand for release. Not because of kindness. Because Fara was rare and beautiful and strong and Lucki wanted her, nothing more.

"Fara told Lucki to release her three times. Lucki refused three times.

"Lucki is you.

"Because that's the other half, your reaction. You cheered her on. You assumed she was in the right. By the end, Lucki is outright abusive to Flare, and you don't notice. Raiden has a nightmare, and you brush it off as unrelated to actual events. Saurius' herd is recaptured, but you don't think anything of Lucki just continuing on her way. Silver has a breakdown, and you notice how inconvenient it is for Lucki. Keegan saves Lucki's life, but when Lucki finds out he's in Team Magma and declares him her enemy, you're rushing to the end right along with her. You agreed with what she did.

"So the good guys are whoever's helping her, and the bad guys are whoever isn't. Who needs to wonder at their reasons? She's always right and other people are always wrong. Anyone who criticizes her is doing it out of jealousy, because no one could be better or kinder or know more than her. She says she's friends with her pokemon but only notices them when they're inconvenient and doesn't have or want an equal relationship with any of them. She never has to sacrifice what she wants for what they want, and she never would. She doesn't think about anyone else but herself, because after all, she's the only one important.

"So she destroys the world to get back at a boy who saved her life and a pokemon who would have died for her.

"This is the story of a girl...who cried a river and drowned the whole world."
Farla, Lucki
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