Iris is Great.
Man, Iris is so amazing.
I will never understand the haters who say Iris hasn’t developed when these pictures clearly prove otherwise.
She has grown so much since episode 2 of Best Wishes, not only as a trainer but as a person as well. I mean, Iris has learned to realize when she’s wrong. These last three pictures you added all depict Iris saying she did something wrong: Iris admitting her mistake in not even trying to understand Excadrill’s emotions, Iris openly expressing regret at not being able to protect Dragonite like she wanted to and Iris apologizing to Emonga because she misunderstood her - that’s all Iris recognizing her mistakes.
What I love the most about Iris is that writers kept throwing obstacles at her to overcome (Axew’s Dragon Rage, Dragonite’s lack of trust, Excadrill’s disobedience) and she overcame every single one, developing in process. Even her relationship with Ash, which started off with Iris calling Ash out for silly things and being hypocritical turned into gentle teasing by the end of Best Wishes. How much Iris cared for Ash became most evident during his battle with Roxie where she showed her true friendship even encouraging Cilan to support Ash with her.
And then we had their fighting episode, where they broke off their friendship, which I gotta say was one of the best ‘Ash Fights the Girl Companion’ episodes since the series began.
All in all, Iris was one of the best characters in Best Wishes, if not THE best character and IS one of the better characters in the series overall. I can’t say her development was handled with perfection, because it wasn’t, but damn, compared to Serena, Iris is perfection.
(I know it’s still too early to say Serena won’t get development, but by episode 33 of BW, Iris had already developed and resolved an established Excadrill issue from episode 9, an Axew Dragon Rage problem, revealed that she wants to become Dragon Master, demonstrated her knowledge about Dragon Types, caught an Emonga, developed a powerful rivalry with Georgia, etc.)
Yes - and it was especially tough with Emonga given how, in the same episode, Emonga had indeed reacted badly twice (immediately attacking when she was hurt first from collateral damage in an accident, then from a baby Pokémon (Zuruggu) reacting out of fighting instinct) and it was only in the third case that she was completely innocent. It was nice to see Emonga so actively protective of someone from the gang, being all sister-like to Kibago! And Iris misunderstood, but Tsutarja did the same thing and they were both the ones who knew better what tricks Emonga was usually prone to pull at them. Their defiance of Emonga wasn’t coming out of the blue, it was coming out of habits – the part they missed was how Emonga now genuinely cared about Kibago and wouldn’t have hurt him on purpose.
Honestly, I am not disappointed at all with Iris’s development. She began as a powerful trainer (having lived with wild Pokémon her whole life, having beaten 99 opponents seemingly before reaching ten years of age – she sure sounds like Corni~?) and it took a while for us to learn to what extent. She had flaws since she was a kid; she was cocky, a little arrogant, she tended to be wary of people doing things differently from herself, she lacked social skills and had trouble putting things into perspective and seeing them following a logic that wasn’t her own. And indeed, Iris’s development had to do the whole time with accepting to see what she did wrong, acknowledging it, apologizing for it; her evolution didn’t pretend that learning the theory once would change someone in an instant, but presented it quite believably (it takes effort to change internalized habits and to replace them by new ones). When we met Iris, she had spent years not understanding Doryuzu’s feelings; at the end, with Emonga, it was resolved in only a few hours (Iris needed Dent and Satoshi’s hypothesis but she just went with the flow and quickly accepted that, maybe, things were not what they seemed; her “power” activated when she tried to reach for Kibago but, before that, she had already remembered that Kibago had been trying to tell her something about Emonga: that’s where the fact that she had grown was apparent). And it was especially nice that Iris’s last episode in the main series had once again to do with communication issues and misunderstandings, and at the same time involving Iris’s weakness regarding her Pokémon team - she tends to trust and care about Kibago the most… which makes sense: he is the only one of her Pokémon who didn’t initially come with her out of his own volition. At the end, she herself pointed out how she still had progress to do on that point:
And twice, as Iris was pointing out her flaws, it was Dent who explained to her the good sides of it. Compared to kid!Iris challenging Shaga without doubting she could win, Iris had learned humility.
Her special once again had Iris actively trying to think the world through Fukamaru’s eyes, to understand what s/he was going through and what s/he was seeking - she didn’t need anyone, and she did it because she felt involved (it was a Dragon-type) and wanted to help.
She was destined for greatness from the start (Shaga got interested in her and kept her in mind even when Iris failed and suffered in Souryuu City) and she received other people’s approval in that regard (with the Old matriarch, Shaga, Ibuki). She made mistakes, and she didn’t have it easy either: Doryuzu shut down as a result, she was isolated in a school and social environment due to her way of living (while she was having fun with Pokémon!), she was unable to link her heart with other Pokémon; the Kibago she was given was a baby needing time, care, and a lot of training; Emonga went with her for her own interests and caused a lot of mischief, Kairyu was strong and touched by her but fought his own battles (and Langley insisted pretty harshly that they were Kairyu’s victories, not hers) for a long while before Iris managed to gain his respect. She was a little too condescending towards others’ mistakes (but given how hers were never forgiven in her past…), prideful and at the same time wasn’t taking things for granted, she communicated mostly through teasing, it took her a while to open up to others, she had troubles managing crisis, but she learnt teamwork and to value the good side in others, to rely on them. She was able to make friends. She was able to have a better understanding of the Pokémon she fought alongside with.
It felt really good to have a main girl who was already accomplished as a Pokémon trainer from the start, who had her own field of knowledge (she uses it with Emy’s Crimgan, with the Monozu from the Daycare, with Shôbu’s Sazandora), who learnt from her childhood environment (dragons and nature – her knowledge of medicinal herbs just felt believable), who actively got interested in and asked for challenges with people related to Dragon types (Shaga as a Dragon Master, Shirona because of her Gaburias, Ibuki as a specialist), and who still had flaws and shortcomings that she needed to work on. Dragon types were a rarity in Isshu (we know that Generation 5 doesn’t have many Dragon-types, that they’re few in Isshu, and Iris herself pointed it out) and she still managed to make every encounter with a Dragon valuable and meaningful. It wasn’t Satoshi who “structured” and gave meaning to Best Wishes! - it was mostly Iris and her relationship to Pokémon (and, to some extent, Shooti and N). She made big steps: she became better to the point of resolving the issues she had suffered from with the Shaga events (she reached Doryuzu; she went back to Souryuu City with true friends). In both sides, Pokémon and humans, Iris’s growth in the series was so touching…!