If you were somehow living under a rock or been on a social media sabbatical, you would have heard of the news that Ash of Pallet Town had finally...FINALLY won a Pokemon League. It was a massive moment for the Pokemon diehards, but this victory also made waves beyond the Pokemon bubble where the majority of the world stood up and took notice. Heck, even freaking CNN saw it as breaking news, a true testament to the insane popularity of the Pokemon Brand. But, why are we so gaga over this fictional 22-year-old man trapped in 10-year-old body finally copping one of the biggest prizes in Pokemon? In my opinion, there are 2 reasons why:
the specialist in failure finally come good
While the Pokemon Red/Blue video games predated the anime, it was Ash's journey throughout the Kanto region in living colour that many of us identified as the start of their love affair with Pokemon. The games and the anime worked hand in hand brilliantly to rocket Pokemon to the status of world Phenomenon. Ash was the animated embodiment of all us little boys and girls' dream of escaping from your parents' home and pesky rules, hitting the road with your best friends, and ultimately becoming a Pokemon Master. It was the perfect story to teach us kids, that if you always do the right thing and work/train hard, anything is possible. Sigh-yeah right...as this is where the writers twisted games with us began to bear fruit! For 22 years the writers made sure that Ash was the ultimate specialist in failure in pop culture history; giving the Road Runner, Plankton, ironically Team Rocket and Arsene Wenger a run for their money.
Team Rocket are now the sole ownership of the record for continuous failures in the series
Time after time, defeat after defeat, piece after piece of our hopes for Ash finally becoming a Pokemon Master fell to the wayside. And while many of the Pokemon diehards would point to his defeat in Kalos Final against a team of legendaries as the most difficult to stomach, I would cite his lacklustre round of 16 exit in the Indigo league way back season 1 as the most bitter. Losing to a team of legendaries at the last hurdle is one thing, but losing to a kid that was a $50 knockoff in the way he acts, dress and even using a Pikachu(that also went on to lose in the next round) was the writers at their trolling best. I mean by this point, Ash had yet to become a lovable loser and somehow got pass a Bruce Lee Bellsprout.
All of Ash's defeats were made even more painful due to the simple fact that many of them were down to his inability to learned from his mistakes. Due to his kind heart nature, he as repeatedly set free some of his more powerfully Pokemons (Laprass, Charizard, Greninja) a stark contrast to the show's theme of 'Catch them all'. So to see him finally winning a major tournament (after him finally attending school as well) left us all stunned that this specialist in failure finally came good.
it brings closure and a fresh start
Ash's Aloha league victory is also significant for the pure fact that it closes a chapter and springs hope anew for another. The anime series is now 22 years old and like it's video game counter-part it has arguably long surpassed its expiration date. Yes, we got new trainers, new battles and of course, new Pokemon but, the stench of familiarity never dispersed from the show. Each season would appear the same, Ash sets out to a new region in hopes of capturing that elusive first Pokemon league with his trusty Pikachu as the lone Pokemon by his side. From there the usual template would be enabled which sees Ash meet new friends and enemies, win and lose some battles (despite Pikachu should honestly be at level 200 by the Aloha region), with Team Rocket being their usual nuisance. Ash himself remains a 10-year-old for 22 years which best signifies his lack of growth as a character.
Admittedly, this last season tried its best to mix things but, by the time of the final battles all of the familiar trappings came out to play. It was painfully obvious that Ash's story was now holding the series back with the Pokemon Company recent released of other stand alone stories such as Pokemon Origins being perfect examples of their desire to spread their legs out a bit.
Pokemon Origins was released in 2013 and stared Red instead of usual anime protagonist Ash
This alleged fatigued combined with the recent Pokemon Sword & Shield Anime trailer fueled the rumour mill about Ash no longer being the star of the series. Now with this Aloha league victory, the rumour mill has been set ablaze thanks to the belief that Ash has nothing more to achieve. It's been a long journey for Ash and the fans but, all good things must come to an end, and for the first time since perhaps end of season 1, we go into a new season without a clue of exactly what to expect.
And even if Ash does return as the protagonist, the writers finally have a chance to show us some growth, and maybe then, he will make it to 11. In the meanwhile, we will pop the champagne and give Ash Ketchum his due...CONGRATULATIONS!
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Hey I am Marlon Mcfarlane the writer here at Blue Crescent Studio & a longtime lover of all things Animation & Gaming.