For this article and the next, we’ll be taking a look at all the Normal-type specialists. Although they are all Gym Leaders and none are in the Elite Four, I’ll still be referring to them as Specialists since they still specialise in that type.
If you are interested to find out more about the current Normal-type specialists, feel free to proceed.
“And we see that in our battle against her in Gold and Silver and their remakes, HeartGold and SoulSilver. Whitney is infamous for her Miltank’s ability to charm our Pokemon into love with Attract and then going for Rollout as our Pokemon are just too much in love to do anything about it. Whitney’s team has been so thought out that it can handle Ghost types easily thanks to her Miltank’s Scrappy ability which allows it to hit the undead. So Whitney is more then some normal person who got into Pokemon at just the right moment. This girl is a secret battle master who knows at thing or two about training Pokemon and loves cute Pokemon!” ~ MC Elesa
As Johto is an extension to Kanto’s Gyms, any type that didn’t have a Gym exists in Johto. As it so happens, Normal is one of the types that haven’t been done, so we have Whitney to represent that. She is also the type of person who got into Pokémon because it was a popular thing, so much so that she is
In the games, Whitney is known as “the Incredibly Pretty Girl”, which is why she is themed after cuteness. This explains why she has a Clefairy, which is considered a cute Pokémon. Moreover, her Gym has lasses and beauties in the gym. Perhaps she is the type of trainer who is not exactly in the Gym Leader business for the skill, but because of the popularity of Pokémon. This might be why she doesn’t look like a trainer, but as it turns out, she seems to be skilled enough to be a Gym Leader, so she indeed must have some hidden talent to qualify for that position.
Whitney’s Gym is shaped in a way that makes it look like a Clefairy, right down to the pink floor, which is befitting for her since one of her Pokémon is a Clefairy. Although Whitney is supposed to be cute, I thought she looked rather generic. Not as generic as ordinary trainers, but she has a rather plain female design. I guess this is what the designers are going for. The Gym is shaped in such a way that you will battle at least three trainers before facing her, so while the layout is straightforward, it’s not smooth-sailing.
The choice to use Clefairy is quite interesting in retrospect, mostly because Clefairy lost its Normal-type and is now a pure Fairy-type. If you’ve been reading the series so far, you will notice that Clefairy isn’t covered. It would be interesting to see what happens to the Gym if Gold and Silver were remade again, if that happens. It is likely that Whitney might retain use of Clefairy, similar to how some Sinnoh Gym Leaders use Pokémon of other types.
One of the most memorable aspects of Whitney is the challenge in which you battle her. When you notice that she has two Pokémon only, you might wonder about the challenge. But don’t let the weaker Clefairy fool you, because her Miltank is where the challenge is. Its stats are quite high at this point of the game, and its Defence is quite good. Moreover, it has recovery in the form of Milk Drink, so it’s not dependent on Potions to keep it in shape. The real danger is Rollout, which deals lots of damage if it didn’t miss. Both of Whitney’s Pokémon also has Attract, which is a powerful effect that will prevent a move half the time. This is the reason female Pokémon is useful: to discourage Attract from working. The combination of Miltank’s great stats, powerful Rollout, Attract and in the remakes, Scrappy makes it a tough foe to face.
If you do beat Whitney in a match, she won’t be so quick to reward you. Instead, she seems to be quite sore about losing, and would only provide the Plain Badge once calmed down. This is interesting because she seems to be the only Gym Leader to not give the badge immediately, as if she is entitled to be victorious due to the cuteness of her Pokémon. If this is a habit, then other trainers must deal with it before she accepts it, with the exception of probably ladies who are around her age. In addition to the badge, Whitney also rewards the player with Attract, which could be taught to almost every gendered Pokémon. This move is quite good in-game because the trainer’s gendered Pokémon is essentially the same as that trainer, unless it’s not possible for that Pokémon. This makes Attract a decent tactic in-game, unlike Player-VS-Player battles where your opponent’s Pokémon aren’t definite.
In the rematch in the remakes, Whitney will use other cute Pokémon, some clearly cuter than others. It’s clear that Lickilicky and Delcatty are on the cute side, but Bibarel is debatable. In the Pokémon World Tournament, Whitney goes out of her comfort zone and uses some other Normal-types, such as Tauros and Ursaring, with a few decent tactics, such as Ursaring’s status Orb to gain an advantage and Ambipom’s Flying Gem + Acrobatics strategy against Fighting-types.
When Whitney’s got a redesign from the original Gold and Silver to the remakes, one might not easily see much of a change. There are minor changes here and there as added details, such as Whitney’s shorts changing from white to blue, receiving a wristband and generally more detail attire. Due to the nature of the Normal-type, major changes are not necessary to capture the essence of plainness that is elicited in the original.
In the anime, Whitney’s Miltank was similarly a tough foe for Ash, mainly because of Rollout’s power. In a rematch, it took a strategy that Ash learned while dealing with Team Rocket in a farm to be able to defeat Miltank with three of his Pokémon. It should be noted that Ash defeated two other Pokémon before Miltank in a previous match (the other is Nidorina) instead, and moreover, the match was unofficial, but Whitney accepted defeat and rewarded Ash with the badge anyway. This is a far cry from the scenario presented in the games. The manga doesn’t present Whitney as an opponent for any of the main characters, but instead, one of the main characters raced her. The battle she did was instead against the Kanto Gym Leaders, where she faced Misty and lost that one.
Overall, Whitney gets the job done as a Normal-type specialist. She doesn’t have many things that stand out, being normal after all, yet has a few things that stood out, namely not being able to stand losing.
+ Could be a surprisingly tough opponent
+ Has a few personality quirks that stand out
± Might be a bit too normal
– Bland cuteness
“Norman got one of the simplest redesigns, but being a Normal gym leader he doesn’t need to be flashy. The rolled up sleeves and determined expression makes him look like he means more serious business than his old design. Even though you are playing as his son or daughter, he’s really trying to push you to do your absolute best.” ~ Enzap
In terms of Gym Leaders, there are a couple of things that are unique with Norman that few Gym Leaders could brag about. For one, Norman is a Gym Leader you will encounter early, yet can’t be battled until you have acquired enough badges. The second and most significant trait is his relationship with the player. This is because he is the player’s son or daughter, depending on your character’s gender, and also the player characters in Pokémon games rarely have a known father. As a result of such a relationship, his role is significant in other interpretations of Hoenn’s adventure, particularly the manga.
Hoenn starts a bit differently from other games in the series. Unlike other games, the player didn’t originate from Hoenn. Instead, they shifted from Olivine City in Johto to Littleroot Town in Hoenn, because of the opportunity afforded for Norman to become a Gym Leader in a nearby area (Petalburg City), or it could be that there is no place for Normal-type Gyms there (Whitney took that position). In a sense, this is realistic because if a working parent has an opportunity to make a living somewhere further from home, they will move there so that they could travel to work more conveniently while not abandoning their family.
Normally, this would mean that anybody that were friends back in Johto will be missed, not that it matters in the games since travelling to Johto is not possible, nor is there any hints in communication between both regions. This is one case where travelling between different regions is an advantage: it will establish the Pokémon World as a more complete universe. Imagine how the folks at Johto would react when the player travels there, and perhaps there might even be some friendly battles between the player and Johto’s Gym Leaders since it’s possible that they are acquainted with Norman before the family left, being that he’s a Gym Leader.
Even though Hoenn, at least in its original adventure, could allow the player to skip certain gyms, Norman cannot be battled until you have battled the first four gyms. This means that you cannot backtrack to battle him until you beaten them all, nor can you beat Flannery (the fourth gym) and then battle him (Dewford Gym can be skipped in the original since Flash is inessential to progress). After all, Norman clearly implied that his child must prove their worth before they could battle him, which they do by beating the first four gyms. One good reason to beat his challenge is so that you can use Surf outside, which is required to progress through your adventure.
At first, when I looked at Norman’s sprite, I thought he has a beard, so it surprised me to see that Norman lacks one (his “beard” is actually his collar). It would have been appropriate that he has a beard, since he is a father, so he should be older than the average young persons. At the current state, he looks really young enough to be your older brother, though I suppose some people can still manage to look young even at their middle age. Come to think of it, maybe he would look good with a beard after all.
Norman’s Pokémon choices made it imperative that the player should have some battle experience before he could be battled. This is because he has a Slaking or two (depending on the game), and its sheer power might be too much for any Pokémon to handle it, but it has a drawback that players could take advantage of: Truant. Normally, Protect is the best move to use in the situation, but since the TM isn’t available at the time you battle Norman, only a few Pokémon could use it, such as Torkoal and Pelipper. The next best thing is recovery between turns. He also has a Vigoroth. It would be odd that he has two members of the same evolutionary line, but remember that both Vigoroth and Slaking behave differently, so it’s not redundant to have both in the team.
In Emerald, Norman employs a neat trick to bypass Slaking’s drawback: Skill Swap. In case you might be wondering why he could do this, his rematch is a Double battle, and his starting Pokémon could execute it (it’s either Chansey or Blissey). Besides those two Pokémon, his Emerald team consists of Linoone and Spinda to give his team some variety, but he soon removed Linoone in his rematch, have another Slaking (how he got it is unknown), and eventually added Kangaskhan and Tauros. In the Pokémon World Tournament, Slaking is the only Pokémon that are in all of his teams. For the rest, he employs several other Normal-types, including a team of Hoenn-native Pokémon, and a couple of teams with those that are introduced in later Generations, in addition to Slaking (though one such team has Exploud).
The Petalburg Gym is shaped like a dojo, so there is a traditional feel to it. It is shaped in such a way that the player needs to get past at least three rooms to reach Norman. Each room will have the opponent (Ace Trainers) use a battle item to increase their Pokémon’s stats. For example, the trainer in the Speed Room will use an X-Speed to make their Pokémon faster. It’s possible to face all seven if you’re willing to do a bit of backtracking, and since you don’t need to re-battle, it provides some good experience. Because the opponent will use an item on their first turn, the player essentially has a free turn to get an attack in.
When the player defeated Norman, he will reward the player with Façade in the originals and Retaliate in the remakes. What they have in common is that they have a power of 70, but the power can be doubled if a certain condition is achieved. The former is particularly useful because its activation is reliable, but only in later games where a Flame Orb or Toxic Orb ensures that it reaches its potential. Moreover, it can only be obtained once since TMs from Gym Leader cannot be restocked at that time. The latter is not useful as a regular attack due to its low PP and requiring a Pokémon to faint, though at least it’s not a one-time use item.
In the remakes of Ruby and Sapphire, Norman is given a fashion change, much like most significant characters. Between his old design and the new design, Norman seems to embrace the tropical climate of Hoenn with his folded-sleeved jacket and wooden sandals compared to the original’s more covered attire. It’s entirely possible that his choice of clothes is due to coming from Johto, a cooler area. Personally, I am neutral to Norman’s design because he looks good in both, but I do like his newer one mainly because he looks more casual, which fits the theme of Normal-types better, while still maintaining his seriousness.
Norman’s status as the player character’s father makes it easy to adapt to other stories. In the anime, May is one of the main characters in Advanced Generation, as with her younger brother Max, so naturally Norman is their father. Because of this, Norman is featured in more episodes compared to many Gym Leaders. In the Pokémon Special/Adventures manga, he takes on a more significant role in his conflict with Ruby (Brendan’s counterpart) due to his preference to Contests compared to battling (though he’s an excellent battler), and has his reasons to move to Hoenn besides taking the job of a Gym Leader. Sapphire (May’s counterpart) is the one to acquire Gym Badges to compete with Ruby’s gathering of Contest achievements, but unlike the games, Norman is the last to be battled after all the intense climatic events staged by Team Magma and Team Aqua are over.
Overall, Norman being the player’s father allowed him to stand out from a lot of Gym Leaders despite having a comparatively ordinary design. It goes to show that certain people may look normal, but they are important people to some others.
+ Has some realistic elements
+ Design that exudes neutrality
+ Strong Pokémon with a drawback (good as 5th Gym)
– Could do with a beard
That’s all for this batch of Normal-type specialists. The next article will be dealing with the other two Normal-type specialists, so please stay tuned for it! I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I have writing it.
Next Article: Specialists 2