4 reasons why Wulfric is a better Pokemon Trainer than you
Welcome to the world of Pokémon, where fighting and friendship are pretty much the same thing. As you travel across the country, Trainers all over will preach about how much they love Pokémon right before they send their giant rodent to maul your frog until it loses consciousness.
While the Pokémon series is not the most nuanced of stories, once in a rare while a character like Wulfric comes along who doesn’t just pay lip service to friendship - he genuinely cares for the wellbeing of Pokémon.
1. He created a shelter for victims of overzealous and abusive Trainers
“It's a shame how many heartless Trainers who can't bother to care for their Pokémon are out there. Some of those Pokémon, though... Some of 'em are just too strong and found they didn't really have a place in the outside world."
When you first encounter Wulfric in Pokémon X and Y, it’s not in his gym. It’s in a sanctuary he has created for abandoned Pokémon called the Pokémon Village.
The strength of Pokémon is expedited by being placed into Pokémon battles. Trainers may think of Pokémon as adorable—and they often are at first—but they’ll evolve one day, and they may learn how to breathe fireballs, spit scalding water, or even cause seismic activity with a single punch. Without a truly competent Trainer, powerful Pokémon will become dangerous and disobedient.
Wulfric saw these abandoned and abused Pokémon and knew that something had to change. But he couldn’t train all these Pokémon by himself, nor could he change an entire global culture of Pokémon battling.
So, in addition to running his gym, he created the Pokémon Village. Then, he went on to teach his own students how to train their Pokémon and treat them well to prevent future tragedies.
2. He taught his Gym Trainers to think critically
“I hope you've learned a valuable lesson today. Being rigid can make you tough, but it will also render you fragile."
The Cyllage City Gym attracts rock climbers and rock-type Pokémon enthusiasts. In Shalour City, it’s skating and fighting-types. Just picture a real-life dojo where all the students are completely mental over a combination of Mantis Style Kung Fu and jelly beans, and you’ve got something akin to your standard Pokémon Gym.
But the Trainers at Wulfric’s gym don’t really share any one hobby in common except for a general ice theme. One girl likes ice skating; another, making frozen desserts; and one boy is focused on staying “cool” and collected because for him, that’s where true power lies.
But even though they don't have a hobby in common, they share a common philosophy through Wulfric's teachings.
“You think strength justifies all, do you?!” Viktor cries upon his defeat. Though he is the most belligerent of the Gym Trainers and jumps to conclusions, his outburst shows that he is thinking about the morality of battling culture.
Ace Trainer Shannon, though not as confrontational as Viktor, also questions your methods as a Trainer. After defeating her in battle, she kindly offers you a recipe in which she uses her Pokémon's Ice Beam attack not for battle but for making a delicious berry frappé.
“You gotta get to know your Pokémon and their moves outside of battles, right?”
This gym’s common philosophy is that strength isn’t everything. There is more to Pokémon and life than strength (and battling).
3. He put Snowbelle City on the map
“Some people are fluid like water and can adapt to their environment without changing what's important on the inside. Not me, though. I guess I'm too stubborn. Maybe that's why I love Ice types.”
Although the Pokémon Village is Wulfric’s pet project, his first love is to his ice Pokémon. Wulfric and his Trainers have such a large concentration of powerful ice Pokémon, they've changed the climate of Snowbelle City.
Snowbelle City is not covered in a natural formation of ice. It’s an almost-perfect square of snowfall, and at its epicenter is the Snowbelle Gym.
Having these powerful, climate-changing ice Pokémon casually wander around could be devastating for the ecosystem, especially if they happened to settle in the Winding Woods nearby. But having them comfortably training in one location instead makes Snowbelle a city of perpetual winter tourism as well as a safe haven for ice Pokémon. Wulfric’s influence and his ice Pokémon have made the city what it is today.
4. He works against a culture that abuses and devalues Pokémon
“You know what? We all talk big about what you learn from battling and bonds and all that, but really, I just do it 'cause it's fun. Who cares about the grandstanding?”
Wulfric loves to fight. He always has. But that doesn’t mean he has to enjoy a culture that leads unskilled and unkind Trainers to grind up their Pokémon and spit them out.
As a gym leader, it’s his job to train and battle Pokémon, and he does it better than any Trainer, short of the Elite Four. But he also uses his position to teach Trainers to be kind to their Pokémon, and that there’s more to life than battling.
In Pokémon, characters often preach about how Trainers bond with their Pokémon through battling. But the truth is, people bond with their Pokémon in an enormous number of nonviolent ways. Just because a Pokémon can evolve and get stronger, doesn’t mean that’s the reason they exist.
Feeling like a bad Trainer yet? It's okay...go hug your Pokemon.