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Cynthia=Mary Sue?

The Prince is Back!
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Cynthia is a fan favorite Champion. But is she too flawless of a character in the games? What's your opinion?
 
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Only by the very loosest definitions of the phrase.
She's not exceptionally perfect or unrealistically skilled (she's a champion, after all) and the story doesn't bend around her (she doesn't help a ton with Team Galactic after all), she's ultimately just a champion with some mentor traits.
 
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But is she too flawless of a character in the games? What's your opinion?
Do any of the champions outside of Blue really have any flaws (outside of generally silly ones like being poor at directions)? I don’t really recall Steven or Lance, for example, having any sort of major flaw.

I think we just haven’t seen enough of Cynthia to know enough about her and her flaws.
 
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Do any of the champions outside of Blue really have any flaws (outside of generally silly ones like being poor at directions)? I don’t really recall Steven or Lance, for example, having any sort of major flaw.
Alder is the only one I'd put forward. It's not a heavily stressed part of the storyline, because his "journey" has already happened by the time of the main games. But he says this if you meet him at Celestial Tower in the post-game of BW:

> "My old partner is resting here in the Celestial Tower. It was the first Pokémon I received when I became a Trainer. I come here to ring the bell and comfort its spirit. It was a strong Pokémon. It was courageous, noble, and kind... Together, we madly pursued strength... Without even knowing the meaning of strength. But, in the same way that all stories have a beginning and an end, all lives have an end, as well... It was then that I understood that strength isn't something that remains unchanged forever. However, the joy one feels in being with Pokémon--that is the real thing. In order to spread the word, I left the Pokémon League and kept traveling... That's right! Traveling is wonderful. I've met many different Pokémon, many different Trainers, and now I've met all of you. There are many more Trainers and Pokémon to encounter in the world! <player>! Go out and meet as many of them as you can!"

Plus, there's the idea implied by Ghetsis that he loses to N (and thereby causes the Unova region to come closer to the precipice of subjugation) because after his partner died, he stopped taking his training seriously in favor of wandering around to enjoy life. So when he returns to the League, he's rusty and his convictions aren't as strong as N's, and he doesn't shape up until you battle him properly in the post-game. After losing to N, he says this, which highlights his failure/inadequacy:

> "I... I lost. I should have been able to demonstrate the bond between me and my Pokémon. That would have shown that brat the worthlessness of his outrageous dreams. So, his convictions were the real thing... Be careful. The ones who change the world are always the ones who pursued their dreams."
 
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She stepped back to leave the player to fight Cyrus and Giratina. I do not see her other flaws.

Steven called himself powerless in ORAS. Leon has his bad sense of direction and is unused to losing. He did not focus on Galar's energy problems at first. But he helped with it in the post game.
 
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I know this isn’t exactly a flaw, but doesn’t the anime characterize her with a large affinity for sweets or something?
 
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I know this isn’t exactly a flaw, but doesn’t the anime characterize her with a large affinity for sweets or something?
True. I specifically referred to her game self, but you are not wrong that her anime self has this funny quirk of taking ages which flavor of ice cream she wants to eat, and overall having an affinity for sweets.
 
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The term "Mary Sue" only applies to characters we expect some kind of development but end up having none, ruining their own story. I don't think any player plays a Pokémon game expecting the champion to change during the story.

She is badass and put in a pedestal by many, but the world doesn't revolve around her and she's not portrayed as someone who can solve anything. The real Mary Sue is the player character, specially in the last 3 generations.
 
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hot take: i'd kind of prefer if champions were depicted as more powerful than they are.

that's not to say in the sense that they're boring and should never lose, of course not. but i feel the title of champion should have this gravitas towards it, so to speak, and cynthia is one of those characters that demonstrates this intimidating, champion-esque feel right down to a tee. i suppose in my ideal pokemon-gaming world, i would love if whoever the champion character is actually scaled to the player's level for more of a challenge. imagine if you tried to game the system by candying your pokemon up to lv 100 during swsh's main story, only to find out that leon's pokemon scaled with yours and as such you're about to have a rude awakening. things like that would really demonstrate the power of a champion in comparison to the trainers before.

maybe this would be an awful idea, but i think it'd be fun, at least.
 
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She's a more of Mary Sue in Diamond and Pearl, where she isn't really involved with the plot after Celestic Town. She then appears to be the Champion. Once again, Platinum fixed DP by giving her an additional role in aiding the player through out the Distortion World, as well as providing lore on Legendary Pokemon of Sinnoh.

Regardless, I'm surprised people consider Cynthia a Mary Sue. Lillie is the real candidate for a Mary Sue. She's very timid, and the player has to confront Lusamine for her- even after she gives Lusamine a piece of her mind, the player has to fight her. That being said, I do think its cool that Lillie goes on her own journey out of inspiration from the player.

Now thinking about it, I'm disappointed that USM were not sequels. This would have been perfect opportunity to show off Lillie's growth, maybe making her a boss or the champion. Sadly, if anything, USM ruined everything about Lillie, Gladion, and Lusamine.
 
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Lillie is the real candidate for a Mary Sue. She's very timid, and the player has to confront Lusamine for her- even after she gives Lusamine a piece of her mind, the player has to fight her.
I wouldn’t say Lillie’s the closest candidate for a Mary Sue, and I think that her timidness and inability to confront her mother proves just that. Mary Sue’s are flawless while Lillie clearly has flaws in her inability to stand up for herself and reliance on others.
 
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IMHO, Professor Kukui & Leon are the two characters that I would say are true Mary Sues by my definition, even though they're male characters. Kukui is a Pokemon Professor, a pro wrestler who all the ladies swoon over, and the only reason he's not also Champion is because 1) Elio/Selene moved to Alola and, 2) he built the Alola League himself, so he feels like that wouldn't be fair. Leon is established as the strongest Trainer in the Galar region from the get-go, Victor/Gloria is heavily implied to also be a fan of his, and we NEVER stop hearing about how awesome he is, to the point that it honestly felt to me like the main reason he exists is because somebody at GameFreak is a die-hard Charizard fan who wanted to shove the orange lizard down our throats as much as possible.
 
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IMHO, Professor Kukui & Leon are the two characters that I would say are true Mary Sues by my definition, even though they're male characters. Kukui is a Pokemon Professor, a pro wrestler who all the ladies swoon over, and the only reason he's not also Champion is because 1) Elio/Selene moved to Alola and, 2) he built the Alola League himself, so he feels like that wouldn't be fair. Leon is established as the strongest Trainer in the Galar region from the get-go, Victor/Gloria is heavily implied to also be a fan of his, and we NEVER stop hearing about how awesome he is, to the point that it honestly felt to me like the main reason he exists is because somebody at GameFreak is a die-hard Charizard fan who wanted to shove the orange lizard down our throats as much as possible.
I was just coming on to say the exact same thing, albeit you summed it up better and shorter than I would've. Leon in particular feels the most like a Gary Stu (the Mary Sue male counterpart), due to the overabundance of character shilling throughout the game. EVERYONE calls him the "unbeatable Champion" and worships him and his Charizard almost like a god. Plus, he's ALWAYS won in the past ever since first becoming a trainer, so he basically has never experienced loss until Victor/Gloria dethrone him, which pretty much makes him seem like an invincible hero. His only "flaws" are his terrible lack of direction and failing to catch Eternatus, other than that he's pretty much flawless to everyone. To be honest, he's almost a take that to the PC, as pretty much every PC since Red steamrolls the competition like it's nobody's business (and, for that matter, Red tends to be quite the Gary Stu, too), so Leon is possibly a jab at the player. Still, regardless, he's pretty much the epitome of "perfect" in Galar, lack of direction be damned, so I would most definitely call Leon a Gary Stu over Cynthia being a Mary Sue. At least Cynthia didn't get the same in-game character shilling, being portrayed as invincible by every NPC in DPPt, as Leon gets virtually every 10 minutes of the game. So, yeah, I agree with you that Leon and Kukui would be better examples of Gary Stus over Cynthia being a Mary Sue.
 
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I agree with colours! if anything, Cynthia was the closest we got to a proper champion (imo) - she had a strong presence right off the bat, and seemed like someone you could depend on. it's part of why I like her as much as I do, since she gave off the champion vibe more than most champions in other games. still wish she had more involvement in the story of DPPt since she was clearly very strong, but I'm used to Pokémon throwing all the adult responsibilities onto a young child haha.

although not many direct personality flaws, there were flaws to how her character was written (like her lack of involvement in the story to the extent I was hoping for, given her strength, and being okay with a young child handling dangerous things on their own), so I still consider her imperfect and not a mary sue in my personal view.
 
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She isn’t a sue at all. She is powerful, she’s charming, and that’s it. She barely acts in the plot, let alone hog screentime or make herself look greater.

Lillie is the real candidate for a Mary Sue. She's very timid, and the player has to confront Lusamine for her- even after she gives Lusamine a piece of her mind, the player has to fight her. That being said, I do think its cool that Lillie goes on her own journey out of inspiration from the player
... How is that sue-ish at all? If anything, the protagonist is the mary sue here: even during the big character moments, they still butt in to steal the glory.
 
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How is the man a Stu? He does not know the right way to go. He does get things wrong sometimes.
 
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Leon isn't a stu.
He fails to capture Eternatus and his narrative role is to lose to the player.
People hype him up like crazy because he's the country's top battler in a place where that's taken much more seriously than every other region.
 
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I'm not really convinced that any Champion in the entire series has a sufficiently dimensional character to even be qualified by these (frankly very abused and overused) terms. That's not necessarily a problem, however, since the Pokémon games consciously set their bar for storytelling on the lower end. It is okay within that context to have a character who simply serves their specific narrative function without presenting a deep-dive into their interiority, personal struggles, and shortcomings.

Like, it is absurd to treat Leon's lack of directional sense as anything resembling a meaningful flaw, but at the same time, the story that they want to tell kind of requires that there be a very hyped-up and beloved champion with an undefeated streak, because it illustrates a lot about the culture of Pokémon battling in the Galar region. The character arcs that we're actually meant to track within that story are those of Hop, Sonia, Bede, and Marnie, so those are the ones that deserve heavier scrutiny. Leon exists on the periphery, like Rose, and so the story only really needs to highlight the aspects of their characters that help color in the setting and give structure to the narrative.

(Diantha sucks because she fails to even do that much.)
 
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