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Ash’s Long Losing Streak Broke All the Rules About Anime Heroes

Ash is a Pokémon master, in the Aloha League
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.

As this tweet by popular streamer/YouTuber Aero illustrates, Ash has fumbled, many, many times, gracefully taking each loss as an opportunity for growth.

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!

(image: Screengrab)

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Princess (she/her-bisexual) is a Brooklyn born Megan Fox truther, who loves Sailor Moon, mythology, and diversity within sci-fi/fantasy. Still lives in Brooklyn with her over 500 Pokémon that she has Eevee trained into a mighty army. Team Zutara forever.