Friday, August 19, 2016

Ash Ketchum Has Become The Worst RoleModel Ever

(Honestly, the title could've read "Ash Ketchum Has Become The Worst Metaphor Ever" and it would've made the same amount of sense).

To be frank, I haven't watched the Pokemon tv show since it went into the 4th Gen, save for a few movies set in Unova, so the show has been something of a far off memory of mine, but what I do remember of it was mostly good. So when I heard of the outcry of fans during this week's recent episode, many of which came back after a hiatus just to watch this episode, I was curious enough to reopen pandora's box to see what the deal is. I now completely understand why the fans are upset, and that reason alone is pointing directly at the show's miserable screw-up, Ash Ketchum.

The episode in question was the last in a series of Ash fighting against the Kalos league. The show had massive buildup: the possibility of Ash winning was teased with a new Shuriken move from Greninja, who I may add is basically synchronized with Ash to the point that it looks like this:



Which basically means the bond between Ash and Greninja was so strong that their friendship combined to create a synchronized hairstyle monstrosity: or in anime terms, blah, blah, stronger form that kicks major ass (think synchro monsters from Yugioh, also forget I ever said synchro cards). And Ash clearly had a type advantage against his final opponent: a Charizard, which is probably damn well going to get cowabunga'd by that massive fricking water shuriken the writers have been teasing. The title of the episode was "Kalos League Vicotry", so everything seemed to be hinting at Ash winning his first Pokemon League.

So why the ever loving frick did he lose? After OVER 900 fricking episodes of the tv show you'd think it would mean he got some experience out of his battles, but no: he lost every single Pokemon League from Kanto to Unova- that's 5 times he screwed up in a row, and now it's made 6. Granted, I get it that it makes sense to have a protagonist lose because it's good to tell your intended audience, mainly kids, that it's okay to fail, because you will fail sometimes. But this is an example of where the writers' intentions become convoluted after repetition: Ash losing after this many attempts despite having the best chance of of winning is literally saying "You will fail again and again and no matter how hard you try you will never succeed".

And the worst salt on the wound is after Ash failed the Kalos league and he just stands there smiling. I mean, I'm not condoning being a good sport, but he should've had at least a negative emotion. Wouldn't you at least show some level of dissatisfaction after losing when you've come that far and it was possibly the last chance you were ever given to win at something? There's no relating to a character who's emotions are as dynamic as a plank of wood, I'm sorry, Game Freak.


Suddenly, that "L" on his cap explains a whole lot. 

Which is probably why so many people tuned in for this episode just to see him win. Rewatching the older episodes of Pokemon made me realize how originally beloved this character was for failing, because he got back up and took another go at it. This episode was to make up for all of his failures, but to our further dismay and dwindling faith in this character to do anything right he failed again just to reiterate a tired old message of "try your best" when his best is being the worst. Ash's Pokemon evolve but his character never does with them.

It could be said that the reason Ash never grows up and succeeds is because this show is meant for a new generation of kids, but do they even watch it for Ash Ketchum? Fans watch the show because they want to be the best, and if the main protagonist can't provide it, the fans got bored and look elsewhere. It's no wonder that the stuff from XYZ that got fans talking about the show again was the episode in which Serena takes Ash's place for a day.


This got less screen time than Porygon's seizure-inducing flashing lights. 

The prospect of a new trainer sounds refreshing, and if Ash won the Kalos League it would've been a perfect sound off as he would hand the cap over to someone new. But now he's just an (ageless, mind you) kid who loses at every opportunity. That may be just a refurbished opinion, but I just wish the show had a tangible protagonist who grew up with the viewers who first knew him, finally succeeded at pursuing his dream, and then passed the torch to a new trainer who would try to do even better. How awesome would it be to have a canon Pokemon series with the visual appeal and heart of shows like The Legend of Korra? Right now, passing on his legacy could be interesting, since Ash could realize he's not the best at fighting BUT he could instead pursue to continue cataloguing every Pokemon in existence a la' Red and be good at doing that. He could be a mentor from the shadows; giving advice to the "new Ash" on how to care for his/her Pokemon and creating new bonds, or some friendship thing the show likes to emphasis so much. The least they can do is extend the spin-off anime including Mega Evolutions Special and the stellar (and crinimally short) Pokemon Origins anime, which could carry on into the Silver and Gold games and already have original protagonists.

But right now, the defeat is still salty in everyone's mouths, and I wouldn't doubt many people will stop watching the show entirely. While Ash Ketchum wishes he's the very best- we have still yet to believe he'll even get there.

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