Circles and Cycles: My Home Fandom

[Image source]

[Image description: An oval of varying shades of blue acts as the backdrop for text that reads “POKéMON RANGER.” The Pokémon is in the usual yellow text outlined with blue. RANGER is in stylized block letters that have sharp angles. A gradient of dark green fades to the lighter from top to bottom.]

Back in the mid to late 2000s, there were a lot of Pokémon spinoffs. From the weird crossover with Nobunaga’s Ambition that was Pokémon Conquest to the still-popular Mystery Dungeon series, it felt like there was at least one spinoff every Pokémon fan could appreciate.

One of those series that flew relatively under the radar was the Pokémon Ranger series. The basic principle of the games is that there are no trainers in the regions of Fiore, Almia, and Oblivia. Instead, there are police/park ranger hybrids called, well, Pokémon Rangers. They use little devices called Capture Stylers that eject top-like disks out and create lines. These lines then loop around the Pokémon and “capture” the Pokémon. Unlike with trainers, these captures are temporary and they’re used to either just calm down the Pokémon or get its help for a short task.

In less wordy terms, you literally materialize THE POWER OF FRIENDSHIP to get Pokémon to help you fight bad guys and save nature.

[Image source]

[Image description: A Capture Styler from the first Ranger game accompanied by a Capture Disk on the left. It’s a small device with a solid red top layer followed by a solid black one. There is a small yellow antenna on the right-hand side. On either end of the black is yellow, the one toward the antenna being rounded for the Capture Disk to come out of.

A Disk is a top-like object, mostly light blue. In the center of it is a dark blue dome. There are three small, pink arrows pointing toward it.]

[Image source]

[Image description: A Plusle with a look fo surprise is surrounded by two and a half rings spiraling upward. The Capture Disk sits toward the upper right-hand corner of the image.]

It’s a really silly concept, but I feel like the games pull it off pretty well. Granted, they’re still pretty lighthearted since they’re Pokémon games. Gotta keep that E for Everyone rating.

However, it was that base concept that drew me in in the first place.

Now I have a bit of an unusual history with the series. Most people I’ve interacted held the games near and dear to their hearts because they grew up with them. I personally didn’t discover the series until like 2012/2013, a few years after the third game, Guardian Signs, came out.

It’s kinda funny how it happened too. I was on Tumblr and had gotten into doing text-based roleplay on there. I bounced between blogs affiliated with groups and indie ones and came across some characters. The most common was Kellyn and I was just like “new character, who dis.” I learned Kellyn was one of the potential protagonists from the game Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia. 

I had never heard of this series and so I got the first game. It was kinda fun, so I also got the other two. 

I ended up binging all three pretty hard, though I had to take my time with the first one. (It’s just a lot tougher than the other two due to its rougher mechanics.) I actually finished the majority of Shadows of Almia in one single sitting because I was on the way to a convention in Chicago. (A 4-8 hour drive away from where I live.) We got there a day before it started, too, so I had all the time in the world to finish it. 

I never actually finished the first one, but I got pretty close to endgame.

And so I turned my attention to the Tumblr fandom and…it was not there. The Ranger tag was absolutely dead. Someone would post art once in a blue moon or something, but that was about it. 

I made a blog called The Ranger Union and just sat there. Whenever someone would make something, I’d reblog it. The activity was dead for a long time but my persistence paid off. Slowly but surely, the fandom started to come together and came crawling out of the woodworks. It was an amazing experience to be able to see a fandom that was dead for all intents and purposes become extremely active with multiple posts in the tag per day. Unfortunately, I don’t really know what state it’s in now. I left the site because it gave me way too much anxiety.

Despite leaving the Tumblr fandom, I’m still a part of a server dedicated to worldbuilding and headcanon for the series. It’s not the most active thing in the world, but it’s good fun. The headcanons vary so wildly from each other. It’s really fun to see how differently people interpret the same source material. 

Even if I’m not super active in the fandom anymore, it gave me something really special. I absolutely adored the last game, Guardian Signs, for trying to tell one of the most ambitious stories in the Pokémon series. As far as Pokémon goes, it has a fair few twists and turns that might keep you on your toes. Replaying it is actually rewarding because, once you have the most major plot twist, you can go back and see little moments in a completely different light. Now it’s not Shakespeare or anything; it’s Pokémon. But as far as Pokémon goes, I’d say the story is behind only Gens 5 and 7. There’s a lot of worldbuilding that really impacts the story and helps make the region feel like it has an actual history

This gave me. So. Much. Material to work with for fanfiction.

I started working on what was supposed to be a rewrite of Guardian Signs, but it quickly grew into an entire reimagining of the series. 

This became the biggest writing project I’ve worked on to date.

I’m still working on it seven years later.

This series has influenced my writing so much and effected change in my life in a few ways I couldn’t have originally predicted.

The main thing that this series gave me was the gift of organization. I’m someone that has always been generally pretty relaxed and completely disorganized. Papers everywhere, clothes were strewn about, messy floors, the works. However, I had to learn to be organized due to the sheer volume of information I had here. I have 30,000 words of worldbuilding for ancient Oblivian culture. I’m working on an entire constructed language for it. I’ve redone the Browsers (Ranger equivalent of Pokedexes). I have extensive age charts. I have like 20 pages that convert over 6000 years year by year. I have a 10-page timeline that keeps track of events related to 60+ characters. 

And that’s literally not even the half of it.

I have a 1.5 inch (3.8 cm) binder packed to capacity with all of the information. It weighs over 2 pounds (about 1 kilo) with all the paper I have crammed into it. 

If I hadn’t gotten organized, I’d be dying under the weight of this project.

[Image description: two images.

First: A photo of a binder from the of it. Almost the entire binder is filled up.

Second: A picture of an open binder on a document of many, many boxes. There are four columns with 12 rows representing one character. Below that is a row of dashes to mark a new row starts. There are three sets visible on this particular page, marking a total of twelve characters. Many tabs also run along the right side of the image, mostly orange, but also some pink. There is a noticeable gap with one tab missing in the bottom third of the binder.]

That’s a quick picture of my Ranger binder and she is thicc. All of those tabs are a section of information. Some can be as small as one sheet, others can be dozens long. You can see the sheer volume of information in it. Heck, you can even see how much information I have in the second picture.

That page is what I call my “minifiles.” Basically, they are everything I need to know about a character’s psychology, crammed into twelve rows. It covers the name, age, height, weight, family, MBTI and accompanying number preferences, Multiple Intelligences (how people learn best), Empathy Quotient (how well they relate to others), and a bunch of other stuff. When I lay out all of the information in full, it can be upwards of nine pages

These sections are not even in this binder either. This is literally my worldbuilding binder, not character analysis.

So you can see how this let me get organized initially and it’s just continued. I have a very effective time management system with skills I learned from my dojo

The other thing this fandom gave me was my major. 

Ever since I learned about the idea of constructed language or ‘conlang’ in high school, I’ve wanted to do it. I had Holly Lisle’s Create a Language Clinic, which is honestly not the best thing ever. It doesn’t explain what things like ‘case’ are while mentioning them. I just couldn’t get a handle on it because her philosophy is ‘just toss stuff at the wall and see what sticks.’ That works fine and well for her but it just didn’t jive with my detail-obsessed brain.

So I picked up some other books on conlang such as Mark Rosenfelder’s The Language Construction Kit and David Peterson’s The Art of Constructed Language. I first looked at The Language Construction Kit and my brain utterly exploded

This was my first exposure to linguistics, the science of how language works

It was excessively hard material for me to understand at the time, but honestly? I had so much fun with it. I was learning and being challenged in a way I hadn’t even known existed. I’d get a legitimate headache from how hard I was concentrating, but it was so much fun.

So when I transferred from community college to an actual university, I took my first linguistics class and fell in love

My major is now linguistics and I do not regret it. It’s just so utterly fascinating to see the deep structure of languages, how they express the same ideas in vastly different ways, and just oh it’s so much fun to learn.

Although if you want something funny, I actually did just end up following Holly Lisle’s method for conlang with ancient Oblivian. I took some concepts from my linguistics classes went ‘oh okay I’ll use that’ then just kinda slapped it down. I’m not following linguistic properties really. But it’s my first conlang so I figured it only being ‘semi-functional’ works. Especially since it’s just for fanfiction. It doesn’t need to be what’s called a “natlang” or “natural language” which means a fully functioning language that works so well it feels like it could actually exist. 

So what are the “cycles” in the title? 

As I said, Ranger is my home fandom. You’ll see I write a lot of RWBY stuff on this site and that’s been my fandom for the past two-ish years. It’s a series I currently love and will always hold a special place in my heart.

But I return to Ranger time and time and time again. 

I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve completed Shadows of Almia and Guardian Signs. I know I’ve put over a hundred cumulative hours into my various replays of them. 

I took a break for about a year and a half from my Ranger stuff because of a depressive episode I entered in 2018. I also stopped because I’m at the point of just needing to finish the conlang and do all my character development—tedious things that are repetitive and boring. 

But I’m back now and I have even more organizational tools at my disposal. I can manage my time more effectively which means I can work on huge projects without feeling lost and like I’m drowning. So now I’m working on the prewriting for a massive RWBY rewrite and working on my Ranger stuff again

I just love this series so much and it’s changed my life in tangible ways. 

It really is amazing how just one little incident can spark the fire of passion that guides your life.

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