Why The Pokémon Anime And I Are STILL Divorced (WARNING – ANGRY RANT AND SPOILERS AHEAD WITH NO PROOFREADING)
So, I was gonna say something about a lot of what I’m going to talk about here a while ago. However, because my proofreader, N. Harmonik, doesn’t like spoilers and refuses to watch subtitled episodes of shows that have an official English dub, I opted not to. But now, because of something else that’s come up that’s related to it, which I will also address, I’ve decided to just go ahead and get my thoughts out for everyone to hear, and just not have it be proofread. I suppose I could’ve found someone else to tag in for this one article, but I opted not to on the grounds that it might be kinda funny to just let this go through as is. So, enjoy reading my rant without a grammar and spelling filter, and feel free to point out all the ways I messed up later. ^_^
Anyway, you’ll recall that three years ago, almost to the DAY, I announced that I came to the realization that I hated the Pokémon anime and I was officially divorcing it. Now, here’s the thing: While I don’t actively watch it anymore, I AM aware of some of the stuff that happens on the show, and I DID watch a few of the new episodes, particularly the Kalos League Conference. In fact, I will go so far as to admit that I decided, if Ash had beaten Alain and won the Kalos League, regardless of what happened afterward, I would go back and rewatch everything I missed from when I stopped watching the show. I was very entertained by the Kalos League. And, as an aside, I really like the Japanese theme, XY&Z. I thought it was great… … …and then they fucked up. Which, let’s be honest, isn’t that just the story of this show for the past several years?
So, obviously, the big way they fucked up was that Ash lost in the finals. Now, my thinking of why Ash should’ve won was because, as far as I can tell, there are no more Gyms in Sun & Moon, so this was pretty much his last chance to win a League Conference. Also, this would be a great year to do it. It’s the 20th Anniversary of the original games, and the 19th Anniversary of the anime, meaning we could see a big change going into the 20th Anniversary of the show to shake things up. In addition, looking at what happened in hindsight, from a narrative perspective, it would make far more sense for Ash to win and then find himself facing off against Team Flare. But, to be frank, that’s not the reason a lot of people wanted to see him win. They wanted to see him win because they were tired of 19 years of Ash LOSING. And what happened? He lost again.
Now, with all of that said, when everyone else was reacting in sheer rage and anger, I have to admit to feeling a degree of desire to troll these people. Why? Because they were saying stuff like “The anime is officially dead” and “Gary was right all along, Ash really IS a loser”, and so on. And I began to laugh my fat ass off, because these people are only JUST NOW reaching the same conclusions I did three years ago. The anime has been dead for a LONG time now, people. It only continues to exist as a means to advertise the games, and even then, it does a piss-poor job of it a lot of the time. And frankly, people are pissed about this loss, but I gotta level with you all: This is NOT the worst thing the anime has ever done. It FEELS like it because of the timing and just how long this has gone on, but it’s not. Alain beating Ash? I don’t agree with it, but they were close enough matched that I could see it happening, and I do actually care a smidgen about Alain as a character. Now, compare to Tobias, who had no real story or personality to speak of and existed specifically for the sole purpose of making sure Ash lost. In fact, not only did Tobias beat Ash, he then went on to defeat his last opponent in the finals with even less difficulty, meaning Ash surely would’ve won the Sinnoh League Conference had Tobias never shown up. So no, comparatively, Ash losing to Alain in a REALLY close, hard-fought match that pushed both to give their best is not even close to being as bad as what happened with Tobias. Also, as a side note, when it comes to the whole Gary thing, if Ash really IS a loser, Ash actually surpassed Gary YEARS ago, so what does that make him?
So, I guess what I’m saying is that the Kalos League Conference didn’t piss me off so much as it left me disappointed, because it was good and it could’ve been great. And I will admit that everything that happened with Team Flare afterward was pretty dire and gripping, even if you knew going in that Team Flare was going to lose. That said, it comes off as kind of dumb that Lysandre can take on both of the Kalos League finalists 2-on-1. It’s like, why didn’t HE enter the tournament in that case? But no, I wasn’t pissed off by that… … …No, I was pissed off by what happened today in the anime.
Before I get into that, though, I wanna explain my idea of what they could’ve done for Sun & Moon. My idea was, to shake up the status quo a bit, to have Pikachu get sick before Ash is about to go to Alola. It’s not life threatening or anything like that, and he will recover, but Ash will need to postpone his trip if he wants to stay with his buddy while he recovers. However, Pikachu insists that Ash go and that he’ll catch up to him as soon as he can, and until then, Greninja is volunteering to go with Ash to Alola. So Ash goes, and then, after a few Trials, he manages to obtain a Z-Ring with the Electrium Z inserted. Then Pikachu recovers, rejoins the team, and has his brand new Z-Move to boot.
Now, spoilers for anyone who hasn’t seen today’s episode, that is most definitely not going to happen. Why? Because Greninja, who I consider to be the best Water-type Pokémon that Ash has ever had on his team, who possesses one of the best win-loss records of any Pokémon Ash has ever had, who has a special transformation technique exclusive to itself that makes the bond between it and Ash into a whole new kind of power, and who will likely go down in history as one of the all-time best main character Pokémon of the entire anime, was RELEASED. And what’s astounding to me is that this is a move where the writers should’ve known going in that this was going to piss people off, because they’ve done it before and it’s almost ALWAYS resulted in a negative reaction from the fans, but they did it anyway because they’re FOOLS.
So, let’s get some arguments for this decision out of the way, because I know some people are gonna debate this. First off, Ash is not getting Greninja back, and if he is, it’ll only be a short-term thing. Name a single time he’s ever released (not put in training, not sent to Professor Oak’s, but RELEASED) a Pokémon that he then got back full-time. The answer is ZERO. Speaking of, I probably SHOULD be pissed that Goodra went back to the wetlands, but I knew going into the Kalos League Conference that Goodra was only back short-term, so it doesn’t really bother me as much. It’s still dumb, but whatever. Secondly, I know the reason he left was to protect Kalos. It’s still stupid. How come? Because its best technique in combat was its ability to become Ash-Greninja, and it CANNOT DO THAT ALONE. And third, with Ash going to Alola with just Pikachu, simply leaving Greninja at Professor Oak’s would make zero sense, so they had to come up with a reason why Greninja physically could not come. I reply to such argument as follows: Not only is it still a stupid reason because of stuff I just said, but it’s also inserted for the SPECIFIC INTENTION OF MAKING ASH WEAKER, when all we’ve wanted for 19 years was for Ash to finally WIN!
And now I gotta address where we’re going with the anime: Sun & Moon. A DRASTIC change to the anime style. Not a BAD one, I wanna make that clear, but a pretty drastic one. No more Gyms as far as I can tell, meaning no League to challenge, meaning this will make for a very different season. Ash going to SCHOOL, of all things. And, one positive I can give, Ash getting a Z-Ring. Honestly, I like that, since it was odd to me that Ash missed out on gaining a Mega Ring, especially he had a few different Pokémon who could Mega Evolve, one of which had JUST RETURNED TO HIS TEAM PREVIOUSLY.
Now, there are people bashing on the premise and the art style and just how different the Sun & Moon arc looks. I wanna make something clear: None of those things bothers me all that much. A new art style? Hey, it helps give this season its own identity and furthers to distinguish it from the past few seasons. Same thing with the new premise. Hell, I don’t even mind the school setting all that much. Sure, it seems like an odd thing to go with for the long-term when we’ve already seen the main characters going to schools as part of short-term story arcs, but it could world. Think of the potential world-building this could do by focusing on that. None of that bothers me. What bothers me, and what ultimately breaks this deal with me, is that the main protagonist is STILL ASH FUCKING KETCHUM! And what’s worse, not only is he now going back to school after 19 years of losing, but now, with the new art style, he actually looks YOUNGER. So now, all these factors I just praised as being a help to this series now instead hinder it, all because of Ash’s presence as the main character. For fuck’s sake, writers, you didn’t even have to outright get rid of him, either! You could’ve instead have him brought on as a teacher (or teacher’s aide), and have him bestow some wisdom on young Trainers getting started with their new lives. You could’ve had him reflect on his life and his decisions throughout the anime while teaching these kids. You could’ve even justified his continued losses by having him explain that, even after losing the League Conferences over and over, it still helped to hone him as a person and a Trainer, and have him even realize that he’s now exactly the type of person these kids can relate to. Give us some Goddamn character development! You realize that Ash is still basically the exact same little twit he’s been for YEARS now?!
It’s at this point I have to address the simple truth of the matter: This show only exists because it has the Pokémon name attached to it. If this was any other property, I guarantee this show would not last 19 years. It’s just not possible. And to everyone just now getting pissed off, I say this to you all: You are several years late to the party, but you are welcome nonetheless, because something has got to be done about this show. At this point, there is only one way to salvage Ash as a character, and that is to reboot him back to square one. Everything we’ve seen of him up until this point? Never happened. He’s a brand new character and doesn’t have any of the baggage of his previous journeys. This way, you can build him back up to where he can eventually achieve what he originally set out to do: To be the best like no one ever was. But unless enough people actually start voicing this opinions and explaining how and why the show needs to improve, nothing is ever going to change. Ash will continue to be the main protagonist, and will continue to be a Goddamn loser.
And you wanna know what the saddest part of all of this is? When Ash lost the Kalos League, I asked myself “Why do I still care? Why am I STILL ranting about this fucking show? Why am I not just 100% apathetic towards it?” Well, the answer is simple: Because I want to watch a GOOD Pokémon show. I see what this show has done in the past, is doing in the present, and could do in the future, and I see how much potential it has. This show could be so much better and still work as an ad for the games with even the SLIGHTEST bit of effort. But that’s not what we get. For years, it is consistently not what we get. When this show started, it had something the games at the time were lacking: Real story. Characters we care a lot about. Back then, the games didn’t really have the best stories. Now, however, we’ve clearly hit the switch. The games now have better story and writing, whereas the anime, for all intents and purposes, is still in the same position it’s been in for years. And no matter what you have to say about that position, my opinion remains that it could be better, and it honestly feels somedays like the writers of this show have gone out of their way to ensure it doesn’t.
Anyway, that’s my thoughts on the product as of now. What do you all think of this, though? Lemme know in the comments below, and hey, remember that the main anime is not the only Pokémon related story out there. You don’t HAVE to watch it. In fact, I think if everyone stopped watching it, watched the specials like Origins and Generations, played the games more, read the manga more, etc., it might even help move things along. Ja né!