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Pokemon Scarlet & Violet’s Larry Is My Spirit Animal

Being a Gym Leader must be great. It was always my dream as a kid, and to some extent still is now. Electric, if you’re interested. Jolteon my ace. Eelektross to stop challengers running through me with a Ground-type, or Zapdos if they’ll let me. Rotom-Wash for similar versatility, and – providing I’m a regular Gym Leader with no Legendaries allowed – Vikavolt and Electivire earn a place. My biggest surprise is Pincurchin setting up that terrain as my lead. Yes, that’s a team of six, as all Gym Leaders should have, and yes this is very much still my dream.

I think I’d be a great Gym Leader, putting my whole electrussy into every battle and ensuring that no challenger has an easy ride. Scaling my party to the opponent will ensure that they’re appropriately challenged – Pokemon, take notes – and I’d probably have a cool electrified battlefield or something. I’d also never get bored.

Enter Larry. Larry is the Gym Leader in Medali, and uses Normal-type Pokemon. He hates his job. And he’s a whole ass mood. Larry first poses as a regular diner, chowing down on some rice balls and offering you a hint to complete your Gym Challenge. When you’ve beaten a few trainers and ordered the special meal, Larry reveals himself as the Leader you’ve been working to battle. Only, he doesn’t put on a show, or particularly relish your challenge. He makes it clear that this is his job, and he hates it.

“I’m assigned to work as the Gym Leader of the Medali Gym,” he tells you as he picks up his briefcase and heads to the battle arena in his restaurant. Some Leaders will have a good old natter with you before you fight, some will try to intimidate you, and others will flatter you. Larry is ever the realist: “My boss will dock my pay if I spend too much time chitchatting.” He’s here to get paid and go home. “I just ate,” he continues, “so… let’s not go too hard.”

Larry embodies the Japanese salaryman, people committed to their work, but often exasperated by it. He’s highly relatable in an era of hustle culture where we’re encouraged by social media influencers who’ve inherited daddy’s fortune to monetise our passions and work second jobs in our evenings so we can be the very best like no one ever was. It seems the same is true in Paldea, where Nemona is pushing us to become a better trainer while Arven wants our help defeating Titans and whoever the other dude is telling us to do something about Team Star, I guess. Hustle culture is a plague, and Larry is the cure.

Larry’s Normal-type team is perfect for him, but when he reappears as a member of the Elite Four (that’s his second job), he uses Flying-types, because his boss told him to. He still sneaks a Normal-type in there (Staraptor), but he’s not happy about his role. “I serve as a member of the Elite Four too, yes… Unfortunately for me.”

He never mentions getting paid for this role – something he’s keen to point out as a Gym Leader – so I imagine it’s one of those things where your boss offers you a promotion in all but name. More responsibilities, more work, but crucially no pay rise. Geeta is weaponising the passion of the other Elite Four members to get them to work harder, for free. It’s one of those prestigious roles that bosses can get away with underpaying you for, because they know there are thousands of trainers who would happily work that job for nothing. It’s kind of like the games industry, really.

As much as I hate to admit it, we all have bad days. I’m a professional writer, doing the job I dreamed of as a kid, and some days I still wake up and sigh. I get the Sunday night scaries. At the end of the day, a job, no matter how cool or aspirational, is a job. I know that, and Larry knows that. It seems he might be the only one who does.

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