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Media Essays: Lillie's Family vs. the Agreste Family

Updated: Feb 16


A title card for my vs. essay

I haven't done a Vs. essay in a while, have I?


Well, it's time for a new one I say and this is one I feel will be a VERY interesting subject to talk about. Upon reading the title, you might think this is a weird idea for a Vs. essay but hear me out, it'll make sense I promise you.


So Pokémon and Miraculous Ladybug both feature families that are strikingly similar to one another. You have Lillie's family from Pokémon Sun and Moon and the Agreste family from Miraculous Ladybug. Both families involve rich parents with green-eyed, blonde-haired children where one of the parents is absent (Emilie Agreste for Adrien, Mohn for Lillie), the other is the villain of the story (Gabriel Agreste for Mirauclous Ladybug, Lusamine for Pokémon Sun and Moon) and is abusive while believing they're doing what's best for their children, they have an obsessive goal (obtaining the Miraculous for Gabriel, finding out about Ultra Beasts for Lusmaine) that is also about getting their partners back, their children possess powerful abilities (Gladion and Lillie both have powerful Pokémon while Adrien has the Cat Miraculous), the children have been sheltered or neglected most of their lives and meeting other people gets them to come out of their shell some more. Yeah, who'd have thought these two families were so similar to one another? XD


And thus, here we are. The purpose of this Vs. essay is to determine which franchise handled their characters better. Which family had the stronger writing behind them? Which family has the better developed characters? Which franchise executed this family dynamic better?


Let the battle commence everybody!


(Quick note: For this comparison I am focusing SOLELY on the Pokémon Sun and Moon versions of Lillie's family, NOT the Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon versions. It'll make for a more comprehensive comparison that way)


Section 1: Lillie vs. Adrien: The Abused Children

You wouldn't have thought that these two characters were so similar and yet they are.


Lillie and Adrien are both kids who are the children of wealthy millionaires, have lived sheltered lives because of their parents, have definitely suffered abuse (not physical, but certainly mental abuse and neglectful abuse) at their hands and are in possession of something powerful. The fact they have blonde hair and green eyes would almost convince me they were related, like maybe Lillie is Adrien's sceret sister or something. XD


So with these characters being so similar, which one is the better character of the two? Let's go over them:


Lillie's story in Pokémon Sun and Moon begins with her taking a Cosmog that she nicknames "Nebby" from her mother's company and deciding to take care of it. And by take care of it I mean shove it into a bag and constantly tell it to get back in the bag when it tries to leave. XD On her travels, she meets the player character and over the course of her journey, she becomes a more confident and outgoing person to the point she makes an outfit change and does her hair differently, one final act of defiance against her mother's toxic perfectionist image that she's forced Lillie to adopt all her life.


Adrien Agreste's story in Miraculous Ladybug sees him as the superstar model son of a wealthy fashion designer who is grieving over his wife and Adrien is stuck under Gabriel's overprotective thumb as a result. But when he ends up getting the Cat Miraculous, his life changes forever and he becomes the feline fury himself, Chat Noir. He now gets to protect Paris from akuma threats and fights alongside his bugaboo Ladybug who is also one of Paris's heroes.


Out of the two stories, Lillie unquestionably has the better end of the deal here. Lillie's story ended up being the most compelling part of Pokémon Sun and Moon's plot for me. No joke, I was amazed how invested I actually got in this girl's story. When playing the game, I saw Lillie as just another NPC but as the story started to unfold and I learned more about her, I was like "Wow...and this is writing from a Pokémon game?!" Lillie is surprisingly complex by Pokémon standards and her story is also one that's insanely relatable for many players I'm sure. How many kids out there have had a mum like Lusamine? Or have a missing parent? Or are a victim of toxic perfectionism? It's all deep stuff and it only made Lillie more interesting and sympathetic as a result.


Adrien by contrast has potential to be interesting and sympathetic like Lillie is, but the writing of Miraculous Ladybug is so dirt poor that he chokes at the mike and can't deliver as a result. Adrien started out well enough in Season 1 and maybe Season 2 as well but from Season 3 onwards, his character has taken a gradual decline to the point he displays increasingly unsympathetic behaviour, acts incredibly entitled to Ladybug despite her not being into him, has been reckless with his powers from time-to-time such as when he destroyed a chimney out of anger or when he outright attempted to MURDER Alya because he thought she was a fake posing as Ladybug and at times comes off as a bit of a doormat let's be honest. He constantly makes excuses for his father's behaviour and if he ever calls him out on it, he either has to apologize for it or see that he's "wrong" somehow and thus nothing ever changes between him and Gabriel. Compare that to Lillie where she gets brave enough to stand up to Lusamine and calls her out on her behaviour and the game makes it clear that we're supposed to be on her side. Lusamine IS a bad parent and the game makes no excuses for her unlike Miraculous Ladybug where it will do so for Gabriel. Let's also not forget how Adrien is such a dumbass that he thinks Marinette not exposing Lila for being a liar is the right move to make. I know he's been sheltered for much of his life but so has Lillie and I guarantee she wouldn't have come to the same conclusion he did!


Also throughout Lillie's journey in Pokémon Sun and Moon, we see her interact with people like the player character, Hau, Team Skull and others and we see through the times she spends with the player and anyone close to the player character, these experiences have a positive effect on her and she changes for the better. She becomes braver, more confident and even happier too. You can get the feeling that her times with the player have made her the happiest she's been in YEARS and it's really sweet to see that us, the player, have had such a positive impact on her life. How wholesome is that? ^^ She even has a positive impact on those around her too as a lot of people who meet her want to help her and take care of her such as Professor Kukui, Professor Burnet and especially Hau. Her changes over the course of her journey even inspire Gladion to take a stand against his mother too. Both of them confront her for her actions and by the end of the story, Lusamine is a changed woman and Lillie goes with her to Kanto to help her heal with an optimistic ending that life will be better for this family going forwards.


Now compare that to Adrien where most of the time he's just there for Marinette to fawn over and we barely see what his relationship is like with the people around him. Yes we know he's friends with Nino but we don't see them interact together all that much, especially when it comes to the guys as we're more told they're friends than actually shown and it's not like the people of Marinette's class have impacted his life all that positively (especially Chloe). He's still a doormat for his father, his behaviour has only gotten worse as the show goes on so if anything they might be having a negative impact on him and he hasn't really gotten any stronger as a person or as a hero. He still can't really stand up to Gabriel and if he does, it never goes anywhere and is even rescinded at the end and he's constantly needing his ass saving by Ladybug over and over and over. Yes Lillie does need saving a lot but that's because she's been living a sheltered life courtesy of her mother and isn't a Pokémon trainer yet so she's in a situation that's a bit beyond her capabilities. Her pacifism also means she's not exactly up for battling either. Adrien is a superhero who has been active for five seasons straight. He has NO excuse at this point.


Comparing these two characters, it's amazing how similar they are and yet one is really well-written and better utilized in her story than the other is. Once again, it's all about execution when it comes to an idea and ultimately, Lillie comes out on top here. Her story is more engaging, more wholesome, is better written and her character development ultimately sticks. Adrien is less interesting, is let-down by lacklustre writing and he doesn't develop, he gets worse. That's actually true for most Ladybug characters when you think about it...


So the character with the superior story and execution is Lillie.


Lillie's Family: 1

Agreste Family: 0


Section 2: Lusamine vs. Gabriel Agreste: The Abusive Parent

We've gone through the children, now here are the parents.


Once again, there's some stark parallels between these two. Lusamine and Gabriel are both wealthy millionaires who run their own companies, have children and have lost their partners in some circumstance. Lusamine's husband disappeared one day and she's obsessed with learning about Ultra Beasts to get him back while Gabriel's wife is in a coma and he wants to bring her back out of it by using the wish of the Ladybug and Cat Miraculous's combined powers to make that happen. Both are also in possession of great powers themselves with Lusamine being a strong Pokémon trainer and Gabriel being the owner of the Moth Miraculous. But like with Lillie and Adrien, the execution will determine the winner in this battle. So who's the superior villain of these two? Let's go over them:


Lusamine made a memorable impression for many Pokémon players due to being the first female main villain of any Pokémon game and for also being a surprisingly chilling and even scary villain at times. Her psychotic obsession with the Ultra Beasts, cold-hearted behaviour towards even her own children and even the fact her room contains several Pokémon that are frozen alive(!!!!) makes her a pretty dark character by the standards of this franchise and also stands as a scarily relevant villain for many since people like Lusamine do exist in our world. There are plenty of abusive parents who are neglectful of their children, have a toxic idea of perfectionism and beauty, have impossibly high standards for their children to reach and can be obsessive to the point of insanity. Lusamine's poor parenting skills have only driven Lillie and Gladion away from her, further fuelling her insanity and in the end, she serves as a dark reminder on what happens with obsession: those who dwell on it only end up losing everything in the end.


Lusamine ends up being a pretty tragic villain overall when you factor all this in. She deeply misses her husband and wants to know more about the Ultra Beasts to try and get him back. This obsession drives her mad and only ostracizes her relationship with her children. And in the end, this goal only ended up causing more harm to her to the point she went straight up evil thanks to the negative influence of a Nihilego and the player has to help Lillie stop her so we can save Lusamine from herself. What's even more tragic is that in the end, she never gets her husband back (in Sun and Moon, she never learns he's in PokéPelago and in Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, she sees he's lost his memory and decides to let him go since he's happy where he is) so her goal was for nothing. She went through all this and in the end, all it did was bring her more pain and ruin the good thing she had with her children, though the game does at least end on an optimistic note with the family heading off to Kanto to allow Lusamine to heal so chances are she may have a chance to repair her relationship with her children.


Gabriel/Hawk Moth by comparison falters whilst Lusamine succeeds. Gabriel has the potential to be tragically sympathetic given his backstory and all but while Lusamine is a pretty scary and threatening villain when she's onscreen, Gabriel's not sympathetic in the slightest and he comes off more as a joke than a credible threat. Not only is he incapable of doing the one task he's been trying to do throughout all five seasons of Miraculous Ladybug, but he constantly makes dumb decisions that only end up undermining him as a villain. I mean what was stopping him from having Lady WiFi simply take off Ladybug's earrings when she had her trapped against the wall in Lady WiFi? Or why did he think akumatizing a baby, as accidental as it was, was a good idea? Or why didn't he just use the Rabbit Miraculous to go back in time and prevent his wife's condition from ever happening once he had it? He's so inept that he's impossible to take seriously and he ends up making Team Rocket look more successful by comparison. Hey, at least those guys DID succeed at capturing Pikachu on occasion! This guy has not once come close to succeeding in his goals and come Season 4, he needed Felix to do the dirty work for him when he got the Miraculous Box with all the other Miraculous! How this guy is still the villain at this point is a mystery to me.


As for why he's not sympathetic, that's very simple. While Lusamine is messed up beyond sympathy, the game makes it very clear we're not meant to feel sorry for her. Her sympathetic backstory explains why she's gone down this path and we can understand her as a result. Gabriel on the other hand constantly makes people's lives miserable with his akumas, is pretty much a domestic terrorist with how much he keeps causing all sorts of trouble and strife in Paris and in the New York special he let Technolyizer SEND A MISSILE TOWARDS PARIS THAT COULD'VE KILLED SEVERAL PEOPLE AND SET UP A WORLD WAR BETWEEN FRANCE AND AMERICA...and the show somehow thinks we're supposed to feel sorry for him! I remind you, this show is also the same show that thinks two teenage girls are pure evil yet Gabriel, this adult who has done far worse than what these two teenagers have done is worthy of our sympathy? Shove off guys, that's terrible writing. X( It didn't work for Injustice Superman so why do you think this asshole deserves our sympathy? I don't care if his wife's in a coma and he misses her, nor do I care if he was poor once, I'm not going to feel sorry for a guy who nearly blew up Paris just to get what he wants! And what he wants isn't exactly clear because unlike Lusamine, Gabriel is VERY inconsistent. When we first saw him, he wanted to simply take over the world with the Miraculous but then later on, it turns out that he wants to save his wife. None of that matches up with how he's portrayed in Season 1 and it feels like the only reason he's so inconsistent is because Season 1 made the confusing choice to try and make Hawk Moth's identity a secret...which they failed at because everybody called it the moment they saw the first episode. Why did they try to make his identity a twist when nobody bought it and all it did was sabotage the story they were trying to tell? At least Lusamine was clearly the villain from the start and they didn't try to make it a twist. They did so with Gabriel and it only hurt the character in the long run.


And do I need to mention those two times in Chat Blanc and Ephemeral where in two alternate timelines, Gabriel discovers Adrien is Chat Noir and exploits the crap out of that and pretty much causes his own son to doom the world or become a minion for him to use for his own benefit? Even Lusamine at her worst NEVER crossed that line with her children. She never went as far as to enslave them or make them weapons of mass destruction so even at her worst, she clearly loves her children more than Gabriel loves Adrien. Once again, how is this guy meant to be sympathetic and Chloe and Lila are supposed to be the irredeemable ones?


Lusamine is a more effective, competent, threatening and chilling villain while also being more consistent in her story while Gabriel is ineffective, incompetent, has to have other people achieve things for him and is inconsistent in what his motives are. The game also makes it clear Lusamine is tragic but we're not supposed to feel sorry for her with how far gone she is and how Lillie's arc is about learning to grow and being able to stand up to her while Gabriel is too evil to be sympathetic yet the show thinks we're meant to feel sorry for him and anytime Adrien stands up to him, it's used as a way to try and make us feel more for Gabriel than showing that Adrien's learning to grow.


So the far superior villain out of these two families is Lusamine.


Lillie's Family: 2

Agreste Family: 0


Section 3: The Friends Made Along The Way

To finish off this battle of the families, let's look at the people they meet and how they impact their stories. Both Lillie and Adrien come to meet more people as they start to see the larger world outside of what they know and those people come to change their lives. But who got it better?


Let's see how Lillie is impacted by the people around her. She steals Nebby from the Aether Foundation, is teleported away by Nebby, winds up on a beach and is taken in by Professor Burnet and her husband, whom offer to help her learn more about Nebby. Later on, Nebby gets attacked by some wild Spearow on a rope bridge. The player character comes into save Nebby, only for the rope bridge to give way and the two are saved by Tapu Koko before they can plummet to their deaths. Lillie becomes a travelling companion for the player and over the course of the story, she opens up more about her life, her estranged relationship with her mother, her brother's abandonment and her lack of confidence. Upon meeting so many other people outside of her bubble, Lillie begins to become a much happier character and grows more confident and sure of herself which she demonstrates with her outfit and wardrobe change. The two professors likely have acted more like parents than Lusamine has since her father's disappearance so she naturally has a good relationship with them, spending time with the player character only causes her to become braver and stronger over time to the point she's even able to stand up to her abusive mother, Hau becomes such a nice friend to her that he's willing to do whatever it takes to protect her and even Nebby itself has such a positive experience with Lillie that it's able to reach its final form once she and the player are given the flute that's needed to unlock it. Lillie seems to have a positive impact on most people she meets and even by the end, her and the player's efforts cause Lusamine's heart to soften and she outright asks her "When did you become so beautiful...?" before passing out. She impacts people's lives in a good way and people in turn impact her life positively with the player character especially changing her for the best.


Now compare that to Adrien where there's not a lot of good things you can say about him. His schoolfriends seemed to be good people at first but as the series goes on, they've gotten less friendly and as mentioned before, they more seem to negatively effect Adrien than positively. At least FOUR girls act completely gaga over him and see him as nothing more than someone to fawn over, Marinette displays her worst traits around him by acting like a creepy obsessed stalker more often than not, Ladybug in turn brings out the worst in Adrien with him acting like an entitled brat around her and getting overly upset or emotional if she rejects him for not respecting her personal space, he makes too many excuses for Chloe (until Season 4 that is), he thinks letting Lila get away with her lies is a good idea, Plagg at times encourages his less than ideal behaviours, he never inspires any positive change in his father and like with Chloe he'll often make excuses for him when really there's no defending him at this point. Now I'm not saying Adrien hasn't done anything good for anyone because that'd be ignorant of me. He HAS done nice things for people but whereas Lillie's nice personality positively impacts people, Adrien's...hasn't. Need I remind you it's pretty much him sharing that umbrella with Marinette as to why she's an obsessive stalker? I'm sure she's been getting better at it over time but still, his kindness didn't change Marinette for the better and most of Marinette's worst behaviour is in regards to Adrien. And as mentioned before, his worst traits are brought out whenever he's around Ladybug so it's like they both negatively impact each other in this case. And while Lillie eventually earned her mother's approval in the end, Gabriel's still the same asshole and nothing Adrien does ever seems to positively effect him or change him for the better. That's more on Gabriel than Adrien of course but you get what I mean.


The relationships between Lillie and her friends are also more clearly defined. She becomes very close friends with the player and might even envy them because they have a loving mother and she doesn't, Hau takes such a liking to her that it's easy to interpret it as a crush, Nebby sees Lillie as one of the few nice humans it's ever met and Kukui and Burnet act more like her parents than her actual parents do. Even Gladion, as edgy as he is, still loves his little sister despite abandoning the family and leaving her at Lusamine's wrath but that's more him getting away from Lusamine rather than him being cruel to his sister. The fact he wants to help her after Team Skull kidnap her shows that Lillie's such a positive influence to people that even people as emo as him can find room in their hearts for her. We can see very clearly in the game she's close to these people and what they think to her in return.


With Adrien...what's his relationship with everybody else? Aside from Nino being his best friend, we don't really know how he is with everybody else. He can't seem to make up his mind if Marinette's "just a friend" or not and in earlier seasons never seemed to think of her all that much, he barely interacts with any of the other classmates so we can only guess how close he is to any of them, Chloe is a whole can of worms in and of herself and Lila clearly seems him as just a prize to be won. Even Kagami, the one who briefly dated him before that subplot was dropped as quickly as it was introduced, only seems to have a very idealized view of Adrien and doesn't seem to love the real Adrien so that's not exactly a positive relationship. So with Adrien it's either he barely has any relationship with anybody else or any relationship he DOES have is problematic for a myriad of reasons.


So overall, Lillie has had a positive impact on her supporting cast and in turn is positively impacted by the people she meets and her relationships are clearly defined while Adrien has a more negative impact on his supporting cast, is negatively impacted by some of the people he meets and his relationships with people are either vague or just poor in general. So the family that has the stronger and more defined relationships with the cast is Lillie's Family.


Lillie's Family: 3

Agreste Family: 0


Overall


Given how poor Miraculous Ladybug's writing is, is it really ANY surprise that Lillie's Family won this battle in the end? Lillie's character development, her story that sees her step out of her mother's shadow, her bond with the people she meets and Lusamine's complex and scary personality were just handled way better with these characters than it was with the Agreste Family. And I remind you, Pokémon is NOT a franchise that is often revered for its strong story-telling so it must say A LOT when everything surrounding Lillie's family is written better and has a stronger execution than everything involving the Agreste family. Goes to show that with an idea, execution is what makes or breaks it in the end and Pokémon Sun and Moon made it here while Miraculous Ladybug made the break in this case. It's a shame too because the Agreste Family had potential to be on par with Lillie's Family in terms of story and character, but the subpar writing is what held them back in the end. So overall, with three points to their names, Lillie's Family stand triumphant in this Vs. battle, and they sure didn't need an Ultra Beast to do it for them! XD


And that's all I have for this essay. I hope you found it an interesting read and I would love to hear what you have to say down below. Do you think Lillie's family is the better written family or do you side with the Agreste family? Do comment. ^^ Next week I'll be celebrating Jurassic Park's 30th anniversary by reviewing the movie where it all began. See you then everyone!

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