Ash’s Long Losing Streak Broke All the Rules About Anime Heroes
I’m late because I was on vacation, but my third-favorite Pokémon trainer (Gary Oak and Misty are #1 & 2), Ash Ketchum (Satoshi) is a Pokémon master, in the Aloha League, finally accomplishing his goal of being a Pokémon champion in a non-filler league. Better late than never!
Best known for his hats and love of the electric mouse Pokémon Pikachu, Ash has been working for this goal of Pokémon Master since we were first introduced to him in the Indigo League in Kanto, over twenty years ago. It took Ash 22 seasons—of a show that he is the protagonist of—to finally win. Not your average shonen bae. In “The Rise of Alola’s Champion!” episode 1080 of the anime (using the Japanese count), Ash defeated Gladion, a rival trainer and previous champion in a Lycanroc vs. Lycanroc showdown.
— díєthєr 🌙 (@dietherdadiz) September 16, 2019
As this tweet by popular streamer/YouTuber Aero illustrates, Ash has fumbled, many, many times, gracefully taking each loss as an opportunity for growth.
Ash Ketchum has been a part of millions of lives & while many stop watching the Pokémon anime Ash continued to be a role model trainer for new generations. He’s lost every Pokémon League to teach children it’s ok to lose & today he finally won. What a day to be a Pokémon fan :) pic.twitter.com/Gzbf9j08N9
— Aero (@ActualAero) September 15, 2019
His repeated losses are so jarring simply because that’s not the usual formula we’re used to as viewers. Unless it’s a movie or a weird side-plot, the fate of the world isn’t dependent on Ash winning a Pokémon battle. It’s not like Yu-Gi-oh! where everything is riding on Yugi/Yami defeating some possessed, fabulously styled antagonist. Ash has had to fight against his own inexperience, ego, and sometimes just pure inability to make logical choices. (How don’t you know electric Pokémon are weak against rock? That’s, like, 101 Pokémon knowledge.) Still, there’s something about being a kid and watching a hero fail again and again that is comforting.
Failure is a part of life but something we hardly expect our heroes to do, and when they do, it matters. Now, did Ash fail too much? Well, it’s not as bad as we think. I mentioned a non-filler league, and that’s because between Kanto and Johto, many years ago, there was the Orange League filler, where he won the Orange League Cup. The league consists of four regular Gym Leaders and one Supreme Gym Leader.
Now, this storyline was also featured in the manga The Electric Tale of Pikachu, but its lack of popularity and real impact on the anime is probably why it’s being brushed aside. If they never turned it into a video game setting, how important could it be?
Either way, congratulations Ash/Satoshi. Pokémon Champion!
Congratulations to Pokémon League Champion Ash Ketchum!! It’s been a long journey to this day! And congratulations to @rica_matsumoto3! Your voice has inspired every Ash/Satoshi around the world. #pokemon #FollowYourDreams pic.twitter.com/EvY7rgP39c
— Veronica Taylor (@TheVeronicaT) September 15, 2019
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