Jason Paige has gone silent, disbelief, joy and an occasional tear. It has been over twenty years but now it has finally happened….Ash Ketchum has won a Pokémon League. The never aging boy is the first champion of Alola. He is the very best.. like in Alola no one ever was.
The Big Trophy
Before episode 139 of Pokémon sun and Moon was aired we already saw images of Ash holding a trophy being leaked. People saw the colour and how it resembled a winners trophy of other leagues and began to speculate. Could they really spoil this, is this a hoax? Could Gladion be knocked down with Ash catching the trophy for him? We were prepared for all sorts of scenario after the famous episode title change back in 2016. However since the Pokémon Sword and Shield anime series would just be called Pokémon and the way the narrator thanked Ash in episode 138 like this would be his last Hurrah people began to suspect that this very well may be it. Ash might hold the trophy he actually earned.
Now for those with a good memory , this is not the actual first time Ash has won a Pokémon League persé. There are those who claim he has won the Orange conference and while this may be true, that league is not officially recognised in anything else than the anime. In anime terms the Orange Island Arc was by all intents and purposes filler. Throughout the series it’s barely referenced nor did it really impact Ash as a person. He never felt like the very best.. because he really wasn’t . While still an impressive feat I like to compare it to any other tournament form.. while the Pokémon League can be considered nationals.. or even the world championships of pokémon the Orange League never was much more than winning at regionals. The small trophy he got reflected this, it never gave him much fulfillment anyway. So yes ladies and gentlemen this is the first thing Ash has won a majorly important one. Finally.
A Journey completed
After the completely unjustifiable loss at the Kalos League my hope for the anime dwindled and rightfully so. Sun and Moon as an anime could not keep up with the amazingness of X&Y. While the artstyle is something you can grow into it did feel like the ultimate insult to see Ash be reduce from someone imposing to someone that looks like he’s animated on a tight time and money budget someone that is truly young. Ash returning to trainer school made me drop the anime for quite a while. When they reached the rename part .. and I found out they turned Lusamine in the good and loving mother she was depicted as in the show I cringed a bit more. The show had really lost it’s magic for me. Ash had journeyed for too long. Yet in retrospect we saw a lot of closure from classic storylines in this series, in retrospect giving it a final quality. We saw Brock finally get a girlfriend, we saw Misty grow into a much more potent young trainer and more recently we saw lilly conquer her fears and see Gladion use his father’s Pokémon. Even season one’s Jigglypuff returned.. it finally sang it’s song from start to finish with Komala staying ‘awake’ through it all in the end seeing jigglypuff being knocked out and it’s face doodled at.. with it’s own little journey completed.
Team Rocket getting the short and of the stick once more (for now). With Ash now finally winning a tournament one could wonder is this season where the narrator will finally say.. the end? My hope goes out to a positive answer to this question. Though Sun and Moon finally made me drop the series for most of its runtime , I on occasion still followed the adventures of my main man but it began to feel thin. Like Bilbo Baggins once described ‘Like butter that has been spread out over too much bread. We needed to see this yet at same time.. we are kinda done with Ash. One way or the other a journey has ended.
The Road ahead is empty
Now that we are getting close to seeing the Sword and Shield anime we can wonder what lies ahead. If they continue with current Ash not much. I wanted to see him become the champion and now that I did I can wholeheartedly say I am done with the character. Yet also for Ash himself there would not be that much more to achieve. One could make the argument that since the Alola league is the first of its kind it isn’t as official or prestigious as the indigo league or since Galar is a bit sports focussed that will be a more professional league so that there is still ways for Ash to grow. While I am willing to accept those ideas as somewhat valid it would remove any tension arc from the stories. For a new journey to be meaningful it would mean Ash HAS to win the more prestigious league as well or he will in fact move backwards. Which means that narratively speaking Ash is a dead end.
Letting him win in Galar is the only justified arc he could still go through but because it’s the only option it’s not really an aspect that needs to be explored. Ash as if might not have reached his zenith yet..which on it’s own is debatable but we now all know he will get there. THIS Ash is used up. There is no interesting story to tell with their side characters either, the only one who might have an arc still would be Serena and her arc really needs Ash to age to be completed. So it indeed would seem that the anime has nowhere to go. Like I said before though.. the new series will not carry a subtitle.. at least not in japan where it will just be called Pocket Monsters. In movie terms reusing the original titles usually means one thing and one thing alone. Reboot.
Who’s that Protagonist?
Now a reboot could be done in many ways. We could see Ash age to a grown up competing in the more professional Galar league after a few years of rest. Being mature now Ash could be involved in some themes he did not really have to deal with before. Romance could become a real thing of his journey but also his battle style would have to change to a more serious more clear cut and direct battler.While not the most compelling narrative option , i’d say this is their only option to keep current Ash and give him some room to develop. His championship could become secondary to his coming to age story. Yet going this route will be one of many pitfalls that would mean excluding some game features or even characters he can encounter. The game would have to be represented significantly less. With the job system though it could still work to some extent.
The most popular protagonist theory however is an Ash Reset. we simply get a new Ash Ketchum, mostly likely one living in Galar starting his journey with a Pikachu much like old Ash did. Other reboot theories consist using the Ash from the “I choose you Pikachu movie” timeline. In this timeline he never traveled with Brock and Misty and Kanto already knew the Legendary Dogs and even Alolan Pokemon, so it’s almost like.. what if Ash was born 20 years later. While this could work I think it would result in a lot of people resisting, with all the hate Pokémon is getting for Sword and Shield already it seems like a very dumb choice to make. Though one that is quite marketable if they manage to pull it off. The anime has always been about Ash and Pikachu and if Detective Conan can stay fresh for decenia Ash should be able to do so too. The community needs to keep an open mind for that though and I am not sure if this is the proper day and age for that. It’s so easy to hate.
So the best option would be to have a new protagonist. While rude mouth brittish avatar girl seems like a good pick I personally would really like if the story is focussed about on Marnie. Marnie is one of the rivals in the game and the one who is idolised by the evil team Yell. It could be very interesting to tell a narrative from a more edgy main character who combats her inner darkness and her desire to win rather than ignorance. The way she would deal with her fans trying to give her unfair advantages would also be a very fresh narrative. Marnie could deal with the pressure of being seen as the best opposed to being a nobody everyone suddenly starts looking up too. Marnie has a less linear narrative, where Ash journey is just to overcome an obstacle Marnie’s journey would be one of black or white choices. Her fans count on her so will she push her Morpeko to claim victory despite the cost to her pokémon or will she spare her pokémon but anger her fans and team Yell? It could push Pokémon as a series more into animé territory and less into serial cartoons. I would not mind potty mouth british avatar meme girl as a protagonist either if they make her a bit smarter than Ash.
Now what do I really hope we won’t see? Two things.. a continuation of Ash as is will make me not even pick up the series at all his journey is complete, I am so done with him. The second one is a bit more sensitive. The second character I would not like to see as a main character is Hop. Hop is the little brother of the pokémon league champion and your only rival of a different skin colour. Now I have no problem in creating more diversity in ethnicity in main characters , I love Miles Morales and the new Miss Marvel. Hop however would be to much like Ash. Their personalities would not differ enough. Had Hau been the protagonist of Sun and Moon after Ash won Kalos, i’d be be perfectly fine with it.. because Hau is more carefree than Ash he is extreme, his carefree nature could be something he needs to work on in order to become a great. Hop however seems to have the Ash mentality.. he likes to win but he also seems a bit of an airhead with a good heart.
Miles Morales is very different from Peter Parker so regardless of heritage he adds something new. While I respect that for some people it is important to find more representation I am simply judging this from a narrative standpoint. Hop is an Ash Clone.. just like Trace from let’s go Eevee kinda is. Pokémon needs something new.. something fresh from a narrative stance. Hop would not offer that. I also would not want Serena to become the main character, her goals would have to be changed to much. Even though she is a fan favorite with a story still to complete they would need a very strange narrative to shoehorn her in. Letting her compete to grow seems like something she would not do. The only fitting narrative I could find fitting if Ash goes missing and rumors say he went to Galar .. and she starts to compete to face him at the pokéleague.. but this would weigh the story down a lot.
With the Alola trophy in Ash hands the future of the pokémon anime is insecure. This can be the fresh breath of air the series so desperately needs or the nail to the coffin for many viewers. Unlike Ash I still have some hopes and dreams and my biggest right now is a female protagonist.. or at least no Ash or Ash clone.
Question to my readers:
What would you like to see in the future of the Pokémon Anime?
So that concludes my feelings about Ash winning a pokémon league.. I am so happy it is finally over , but it can get worse for here as well. Once again in my choices I do not mean to upset anyone these are simply my views based on available assets and looking to what I find lacking in the series and what would make it thrive and what would stagnate it.
Ash has died 9 times before becoming the pokémon league champion, I just hope that when he dies next time it’s not because using him again killed the franchise.
The Pinkest Poké Blogger is Blasting off again