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Crossroads Comics #181 – Flake-n-Rudy

It’s Tuesday which means it’s time for Crossroads Comics!

This week we’re taking a look at the ask blog, Flake-n-Rudy by Mod Jazzy (she/they). Yeah yeah, I know, “Jan haven’t you already reviewed two of Jazzy’s blogs already?” Yes, I reviewed Ask Wasteland Labs and Ask Eden, but A) Jazzy’s blogs are all phenomenal so you can’t stop me from reviewing more of them and B) it’s been six months I think that’s enough time to justify reviewing another Jazzy blog.

So what is Flake-n-Rudy? This is a Pokémon Mystery Dungeon inspired ask blog that takes place in the Galar region. It follows a white spiky eared Pichu and a Scarggy, named Flake (any pronouns) and Rudy (he/him) respectively, who aspire to join The Great Galar Race in order to join one of the top guilds in the world. Unfortunately this guild doesn’t allow in first stage Pokémon, but that won’t stop these two from trying anyway. Along the way they’ll meet all sorts of other characters such as Nymph the Glameow (they/xe) and Zack the Dewott (he/they), who will not only add to the depth of these characters, but the story overall.

While this blog might sound like a happy-go-lucky adventure, it is far from it. Beneath the surface of the cute exterior is a plot centering on toxic relationships, lack of communication, and revenge. There is something sinister going on here and the blog has only just scratched the surface of it so far. So buckle up, because we’re about to dive head first into the story so far in the spoilers section!

Warning for the discussion up ahead. It will contain mentions of suicide, manipulation, abuse, self-harm, blood, as well as other potentially triggering topics. If you believe any of these may be unsettling or upsetting to you, I recommend skipping this section and potentially passing on the blog at large. If you are contemplating suicide, please contact the National Suicide Hotline to seek professional help: 800-273-8255.

Spoilers Ahead

As previously mentioned, Flake-n-Rudy follows the misadventures of a White Pichu and Scraggy trying to participate in The Great Galar Race. This race is a huge event of which only the top twenty participants are permitted to join the most prestigious guild in the region, run by Guildmaster Aelienor, a permanently mega-evolved Ampharos. However, the race doesn’t allow first stage participants, meaning despite their ages, Flake and Rudy cannot participate. This is a problem because Flake seems to be unable to evolve, meaning until they figure out the cause of this evolutionary block, they won’t be able to participate and gain entrance to the guild.

Flake’s inability to evolve, while a major plot point, is also a fairly neat reference to a distribution that took place during the Heartgold Soulsilver era. To celebrate the release of the movie “Arceus and the Jewel of Life”, in a which Pichu with a spiky ear appears, the same Pichu was distributed to people with copies of Heartgold and Soulsilver. This Pichu, much like Flake, was unable to evolve. It was also intended to be a white Pichu originally, but was changed to have a spiky ear instead. Flake combines the attributes of both these Pichus, being both white and having a spiky ear, as well as being from Johto, where the distribution originally took place and where the spiky eared Pichu is currently locked to, as it cannot be moved from the HGSS games.

However, the plot goes much deeper than the surface level desire from Flake and Rudy to join the guild. It becomes clear pretty quickly that Flake and Rudy’s relationship isn’t exactly the healthiest. While the two have been friends since childhood, Rudy admits that the two seem to have grown apart over time, with fights happening between the two more often that he’d “care to admit to a stranger”. Rudy blames this on Flake’s desire to join the guild, stating that she gets “intense” and “angry” about it sometimes.

This comes to a head in the café scene, where Zack, Nymph, and Nathan (he/him) have a rather rough interaction with Rudy and Flake. Nymph, who has only just met Flake and Rudy at this point, calls out the others for their poor treatment of Flake, including but not limited to: mocking Flake for talking to themself, being aware Flake is hurting themself and not saying anything, and Rudy’s unwillingness to speak with Flake about how he truly feels. This lack of communication is a very abundant and prevalent problem that we see throughout the story. In this scene in particular, Zack refuses to let Rudy speak, constantly interrupting when Nymph tried to speak with Rudy, and blowing Nymph’s assertions off by saying the fact that xe only knew Flake for a matter of hours meant that xe had no way of knowing how manipulative and dramatic Flake was.

Meanwhile, during all of this, Flake is undergoing a trauma episode, reliving the moment when he discovered the aftermath of his mother’s suicide. While he is able to collect himself using a breathing exercise his mother taught him, upon leaving the bathroom Flake is immediately assaulted by a barrage of insults and unkind language from Zack alleging that Flake is manipulative, unkind, and has anger issues, amongst other things. Rudy fails to chime in to Flake’s defense, even confirming for Zack that he indeed did confide all those things to the Dewott. Now, we as the readers are able to see Rudy’s thoughts, and quickly learn that this is a misunderstanding, with these allegations being the result of some exaggeration and Zack misconstruing what Rudy said. However, Rudy’s desire to make Zack not look like an asshole ends up outweighing his desire to defend Flake, ultimately causing some hardcore emotional heartbreak for Flake. It’s also important to note that part of this motivation likely stems from Rudy’s hardcore crush on Zack, meaning that Rudy really did just pull the ultimate hoes before bros in his unwillingness to communicate with Flake on this misunderstanding.

With that said, Zack does bring up a very valid point during this altercation. Despite this whole scene being on display before the entire café, no one in the surrounding area except the askers jumps to Flake’s defense. With Flake and Rudy being regulars to the café since they were children, one would think there would be someone in the nearby area willing to defend Flake, but no one comes forward. This is something we’ll discuss more later, but this is the first of a couple examples of the blog’s emphasis on alternate perspectives and use of the unreliable narrator trope. While we the askers were quick to defend Flake to Zack, the fact that no one else seemed willing to defend them speaks volumes and hints at the fact that Zack’s allegations may not be entirely incorrect, even if they are supposedly blown out of proportion.

The scene then transitions to Flake on a park bench in the rain, where we get more insight into Flake’s desire to join the guild as well as her relationship with her mother. It’s also here that we learn Aelienor is not all she seems. Flake recounts the events that led to their mother’s suicide, stating that their mother was the guild’s best cartographer and also someone with a very kind heart. As a result, when Aelienor was a teenager, she used Flake’s mother to obtain a map of a dangerous cave and took many children with her to explore the cave. The children’s excited squeals caused a landslide, resulting in nineteen deaths, with only a few survivors, including Aelienor herself. The event was largely swept under the rug, the parents paid off, and Aelienor seemingly only receiving a slap on the wrist. Flake’s mom received no punishment for her involvement either, but the guilt of assisting in the death of nineteen children ate away at her, resulting in her eventual suicide. This reveals to the audience that Flake’s motivations to join the guild are less due to their admiration of the guild and moreso due to spite, or possibly revenge.

Because of this scene, we are able to meet Hyphen (she/her), a Yungoos with a desire to heal people and wants to participate in the guild’s adventure healing program, but who also cannot join the guild because she is not fully evolved. Nymph also reveals xe too were trying to join the guild but were not let in, implying that the fact they are blind may have prevented them from joining moreso than the fact that xe are a first stage Pokémon as well. While initially, the preventative measure of blocking out first-stage Pokémon might have seemed unusual, with the added backstory of the Aelienor cave incident, it starts to make a lot of sense why they wouldn’t allow them in. Even with Flake’s age and experience, he is still just a Pichu, and unfortunately is limited in terms of his own strength because of that. Similarly, as much as Nymph might desire to join the guild, xe are blind, and this could prove very dangerous when facing off against enemies or trying to navigate dungeons. As much as I like these characters, I have to admit, I can see the reasoning behind such a rule now, and I’m not entirely sure I want them to be able to join despite it, especially considering Nymph is canonically level 4.

From here we see some communication starting to occur, with Flake being more open towards Hyphen and Nymph and Rudy clearing things up with Zack. After some discussion, both parties reveal that Flake hasn’t been open with her motivations or past towards Rudy, causing increasing friction between them in recent years. They both resolve to talk the following day, which seems promising, until you realize they have vastly different hopes with this conversation. Flake intends to patch things up and be open with Rudy, while Rudy intends to end things, believing his relationship with Flake to be toxic. It’s a resolution that is rather sad, especially as they approach the big stadium where it’s all to take place. Of course, because nothing can ever go simply, a shadow-y figure starts to appear in Flake’s vision, implying something much more sinister is at hand in the coming future surrounding Flake and Rudy.

The stadium scene is also very interesting because it’s the first time we see things from Aelienor’s perspective, and we are able to learn a few key details as a result. As mentioned previously, this blog makes heavy use of the unreliable narrator trope. We saw it first with Zack’s explosion in the café, wherein he makes a valid point that perhaps Flake’s actions aren’t as non-toxic as we readers would like to believe. Now we see it once again, where Flake’s perspective on the events that lead to their mother’s death ultimately painted a very different picture than what actually happened. We learn that the origin of The Great Galar Race is rather sinister, as it was meant to be a coverup for the landslide accident that Aelienor caused, a coverup that her parents orchestrated. Aelienor admits to her friend, Uriel, another survivor of the accident, that she feels immense guilt over the whole thing. Even now that her parents are dead, continuing The Great Galar Race in their stead is something she’s conflicted over due to its origins. She feels guilt over how the families were paid off, over how guild members were fired because they disagreed with Aelienor receiving a slap on the wrist, and over Flake’s mom’s death. Aelienor explains that she was forced into silence and by the time she was an adult she felt conflicted, as it seemed the world had just moved on and forgotten everything.

This is a very VERY interesting reveal for a lot of reasons. For one, it shows that Flake’s perspective of the events, while justified due to her lack of knowledge surrounding everything, is not correct. Aelienor isn’t some ignorant and narcissistic fool that refuses to acknowledge the horrendous amount of pain her actions caused, quite the contrary actually! Aelienor was forced into silence by her parents and now has begun to drown in the guilt of being unable to speak out. There’s actually quite a few parallels between Aelienor and Flake. Both believe that the entire world has moved on and forgotten what Aelienor did some thirty years prior. Both wished to speak with the families but refuse to because they believe their presence will cause undue grief for the families, as they each represent a cause of that family’s loss. Both want some form of justice or resolution, whether that be the end of The Great Galar Race, acknowledgement of the incident at large, or something else. It’s really quite fascinating to see just how similar their perspectives of everything are despite how one vilifies the other. I’m very interested to see how the two will interact if/when they ever meet. I think it could mean some sort of resolution for both characters, with Flake finally getting to say her mind and Aelienor finally seeing that someone does remember the events that took place.

However, Flake and Rudy’s tendencies towards miscommunication will undoubtedly lead to future problems in the blog. While I would like to see them make up, part of me wonders if Rudy is correct and the two need to go their separate paths. Flake seems to vibe a lot better with Nymph and Hyphen, both of who understand Flake’s evolutionary struggles, and Rudy already has shown that he somewhat prefers the company of Zack and Nathan to Flake. I think the two might need to spend some more time apart to grow as people before coming back together. Regardless, the two definitely need to work on their communication skills, both with each other and with their friends. The fact that Rudy doesn’t know about Flake’s past, true motivations, or the fact that Flake is homeless is extremely concerning.

I am curious to learn more about the other characters in the blog, such as the mysterious Darkrai who keeps showing up, as well as the archangels and the other guild employees. What they know and their roles in the story are very up in the air, and it makes me curious to see how they’ll interact with various characters throughout the blog. I’m also more than a bit worried about Nathan and Zack. While I can’t say I particularly like Zack, he has shown some growth in the past few pages, meaning he could potentially work things out with Flake. However, since he and Nathan are set to participate in The Great Galar Race, which Aelienor herself has stated has an extremely high mortality rate, I have to wonder if this character development is actually a subtle death flag. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Spoilers End

There’s definitely more I could talk about in regards to this blog, but all in all, just like all of Jazzy’s works, it’s a really interesting story. This story is very character-centric and I’m curious to see more about the characters and world as a whole. There’s a lot of ways the story could go, and with the plot seeming to be on the cusp of something major, we’ll just have to wait and see exactly what is in store for Flake, Rudy, and the rest of the gang. If you’re interested in reading Flake-n-Rudy for yourself, you can find it on Tumblr along with the rest of Mod Jazzy‘s amazing works.

We’d also like to welcome a new member to our Crossroads Comics lineup! Ascension Nuzlocke, a Pokémon Legends Arceus Nuzlocke, authored by Daybreak is now officially a member of Crossroads Comics, alongside all their other works. Alongside Ask a Staravia, which we reviewed a couple weeks back, this is the second Pokémon Legends Arceus nuzlocke in our lineup and we hope you’ll support them both!

And without further ado, let’s check out the rest of this week’s lineup!

Crossroads Comics
Ascension Nuzlocke Great question!
PMD: Explorers of Life That Raboot seems rather excited.
PMD: Wildfire It’s nice to know that’s a possibility.
Pokémon Rising Shadows Wonder what all the fuss is about.
Rejuvenation: The Interceptor Journey What a cute little team!
Shinka: The Last Eevee No doubt the isolation is driving Nick mad.

ComicFury Comics
Devil Waltz Oh look who’s back.
Golden Shrike OOF so that’s how his sire gave him those nasty scars!
Nemini Crede Responsibility finally kicked in.
PKMN OvercastBlue Looks like they finally got rid of that darn Pidgey.
Pokémon? How Original… Rival battle time!
PMD: Gleaming Hearts There’s the castle! Not too far away now!
Pokémon: Runaway A Xerneas??
Team Pokekipe Time to run away!
The Caretaker Who knew Lucifer could be the voice of reason for once?

Deviantart Comics
Broken Sword Uh… oh…
Cain and Mabel Fight fight fight!
Deadly Syns Arlo, buddy, hey, let’s talk about this.
Jet’s Black Nuzlocke While Cheren’s Samurott does have a point that seems… excessive…
Milos from Home Well this dream has taken a dark turn.
Old Gods How polite!
PMD: On Borrowed Time It’s a water slide adventure!
PMD: Team Rowanberry I can’t say I was expecting that!
Soul Brothers I don’t like all these death flags.

Off-Site Comics
Ask a Time God Poor guy misses his old friend.
Ask Capital Mysterious teddy bear is mysterious!
Ask the Pokémutants Well… that’s not good.
Ask Willow the Leafeon That makes sense!
Dawdling Dewgong Now this is a mood.
Ex-Criminal Garchomp Oho, now who might this be?
Flake-n-Rudy Now that’s some interesting worldbuilding!!
House of Hemingway Uh-oh!! Now what could have caused that sort of reaction?
Peachy Gulpin Birthday birthday birthday!!

Ongoing Conversation