Arguably one of the most plot-intensive entries in the Pokemon series, Pokemon Black and White introduced the most mysterious antagonist to date: N. This green-haired King of Team Plasma made it his everlasting goal to separate the worlds of people and Pokemon. This was very similar to Team Plasma‘s overall goal of liberating Pokemon from people. His background and the way his story is explained throughout Black and White and their sequels is truly powerful, making N one of the most memorable antagonists in the series to this point.
The story goes as follows: at a young age, N was abandoned by his parents and left in the woods, being raised by only Pokemon. Some of the creatures who cared for him along the way include Darmanitan, a Woobat, and his eventual befriending of a Zorua. One fateful day, a man named Ghetsis came, claiming to be his father, and raised him as his own. Throughout his childhood, N was raised together alongside Pokemon and had no opportunities to interact with other humans. Ghetsis only allowed N to interact with Pokemon who had been hurt by humans, ultimately skewing his viewpoint on trainers’ possession of the creatures.
Eventually, he would become King of the evil organization Team Plasma, despite adopted sister Concordia saying that his heart is “pure and innocent.” The introductory cutscene of Black and White took place in the throne room of N’s Castle, as Ghetsis crowned him in event-specific clothing. As the other Seven Sages watched, N thought back at all of the memories he had made alongside Pokemon, ready to fulfill his lifetime goal.
At the beginning of Pokemon Black and White, N is introduced as a mysterious yet good-intentioned individual, who believes Pokemon are his friend. He acts with courtesy towards the player, contrary to the actions of other Plasma members and Ghetsis. Your first encounter with him is in Accumula Town, after Team Plasma‘s rally and Ghetsis‘ speech, where the mysterious man challenges you to a a battle. He reappears for a battle outside of Nacrene City‘s Gym, and then he asks you to join him on the Rondez-View Ferris Wheel in Nimbasa City. This is where he reveals his position as King of Team Plasma, and his invitation by Ghetsis to assist his group in liberating Pokemon.
You engage in another battle with N in Chargestone Cave, and again in Dragonspiral Tower, where he stumbled upon Zekrom (Black) or Reshiram (White) to go through with his plans. After beating the Elite Four, the player finds N with Alder, who are in the middle of a heated argument over trainers and Pokemon possession. As the player makes his way inside, N summons his castle from the ground, having you fight through hostile Pokemon and some Plasma recruits before getting to him.
In his throne room, N explains that his goal is to create two different worlds for humans and Pokemon. In order to stop the player in his tracks, he summons Zekrom or Reshiram, which you, the player, end up catching. After defeating N, Ghetsis appears, revealing that he was the one who revived Zekrom or Reshiram for N to use. It comes to light that Team Plasma’s motive is a lie, and Ghetsis tricked N and Team Plasma to make sure he was the only person in Unova with Pokemon, so he could rule the region. A battle ensues before Alder and Cheren take the man away.
N apologizes shortly after, letting out his legendary and saying goodbye to the player. As he reconsiders his actions and ideals, N can be seen flying away on his respective dragon, as it soars Unova’s skies. The highly-memorable Farewell track plays during these moments, where you, as the player, consider the story’s past events through N‘s eyes. As a player, I went from believing he was the villain and the mastermind to the victim and the one who was manipulated, evoking a sense of empathy and humanity towards a ‘villain’ unmatched by any other title in the Pokemon series.
Based on the items found in N’s Castle, one can infer that he enjoys skateboarding, basketball, and darts, as well as toys that other Pokemon could play with. His full name, Natural Harmonia Gropius, still remains shrouded in mystery, though we know it carried over from Ghetsis’ real middle and last name.
As one can tell, there is a lot still unknown about N, from gaps in his life timeline, to the time gap between Pokemon Black and White and their sequels. In said sequels, N only returns to save Kyurem from Ghetsis, and after the latter succeeds in fusing Reshiram/Zekrom with Kyurem, N pleads for the player’s help. He flies off once more at the conclusion of the game, leaving much to be wondered.
While a rather shorter installment in the History of Pokemon series, it is a truly interesting story indeed. The story of a young boy, raised by Pokemon, who grew to be King… and lost everything in an instant. To connect with a villain is not a path that every video game title goes down, but it was executed flawlessly within the Generation V titles. Who knows how much more we will learn about N as time progresses. Has he given up his ideals for liberation and lives as one with Pokemon, or is he situated in a faraway region, brewing the next stage in a seemingly perfect plan? No one knows what the future of Pokemon holds, but the history remains set in stone.