When you think of the Fuchsia City Gym, your mind races to Koga, right? The Poison Pokémon expert and practitioner of ninjutsu, whose puzzle consisted of “invisible walls” totally decipherable on a Game Boy Colour screen. However, remakes aside, did you know Koga hasn’t actually been a Gym Leader in about 17 years? I won’t deduct points if you can’t remember his replacement – because sometimes, not even Nintendo can.
When you first challenged the Pokémon League, you may have noted that Koga is now amongst their ranks – and asked who was leading the Gym in his place. Once your adventure continues into Kanto, you’ll soon discover it to be the ninja’s daughter Janine. She is in fact, only one of two of the region’s Gym Leaders to attain the position following the first generation and the only wholly new character amongst their ranks. This special status however, has led to Janine being criminally ignored.
Janine is a bit of a daddy’s girl; always running lunches to her father and showing pride in his accomplishments to the point where in HeartGold/SoulSilver, she’ll outright call the player just to brag! This puts her at hilarious odds with Violet City’s Gym Leader Falkner – resulting in the two often squabbling over who has the better dad! (Which you can bet the shipping community has noticed):
“This is Janine. How are you doing? Falkner in Violet City… He’s talking about his dad all the time! Seriously, he’s such a daddy’s boy, he needs to become his own person sometime, you know? What do you mean, I should talk? Ha ha–mind your own business! ” – Janine, Pokémon HeartGold / SoulSilver
Janine isn’t just content basking in her father’s shadow however. She often talks about wanting to grow stronger, eventually surpassing Koga.
At time of writing, Janine holds the dubious honour of being the only Gym Leader to have never appeared in the anime. When Gold/Silver were first released, the series focused entirely on the Johto region and never retreaded Kanto like the games with, eliminating an opportunity for the spunky shinobi to make her debut.
The anime would later return to Kanto however, with the Battle Frontier season – promoting the FireRed/LeafGreen remakes and Emerald simultaneously. The series even had a ninja themed episode featuring a female teacher (From Cradle to Save!). For some reason however, the decision was made to use an anime original character (Angela), as opposed to finally giving Janine her due. The bloody cheek, am I right?
Another Poison-type Gym Leader was granted an appearance outside of chronological order, however. Roxie appeared as Ash’s final challenge in the Unova region, despite only being the second Gym Leader in Black Version 2/White Version 2.
That generation’s other late leader add-on, Marlon, also received an appearance as another character’s final challenge – sadly leaving Janine at this table all alone.
Speaking of FireRed/LeafGreen, poor Janine was once even forgotten by Nintendo! The remake pair added a small girl to Fuchsia City, who would add an entry for Koga in the Fame Checker key item. The original Japanese version correctly assigned her Janine’s Japanese name “Anzu”, but the English localisation accidentally called her Charine! Fortunately, this faux pas was not repeated in her only other non-remake appearance in Black Version 2/White Version 2.
Another name mishap did occur however, in a translation of the Pokémon Adventures. In her initial appearance, Singaporean publisher Chuang Yi accidentally retained the character’s original name “Anzu” in their English translation; although this was corrected in subsequent volumes.
Janine’s unfortunate forgettableness could perhaps be a side-effect of the post-game’s brevity. Due to its open borders, sweeping through Kanto in Gold/Silver is no challenge, which can leave trainers with no time to form a bond or connection with Janine as strong as those with her colleagues in earlier games or regions. This isn’t helped by her team being a lower level compared to other Kanto Gym Leaders – likely a reference to her inexperience. For example, we all remember Whitney because of her Miltank, don’t we?
So when you face Janine in your adventures, perhaps consider taking pity and going a little easy on her or at the very least, remembering her.
Originally released for the Nintendo Game Boy, Pokémon Gold Version and Pokémon Silver Version are available now as digital downloads on Nintendo 3DS.