Movies - TV
Why Pokemon Can Survive Without Ash Ketchum
After 25 years as the protagonist of the Pokémon series, Ash Ketchum’s story is coming to a close with a special mini-series starting in January 2023, but it’s unclear whether he will disappear altogether or become a side character. While it may be difficult for some to imagine the series without Ash, the “Pokémon” franchise has spent the past several years preparing for this moment.
Ash may seem similar to a protagonist from a Shonen Jump series, but unlike the heroes from “Naruto” or “One Piece,” the Pokémon trainer’s story has unique limitations. Ash has no defining tragedy that drives him forward and the “Pokémon” world isn’t allowed to change in response to Ash’s victories, leaving the character stuck in a static world devoid of any progress.
The original scriptwriter of the Pokémon anime, Takeshi Shudo, understood this problem and became frustrated with the character, stating, “I want Ash to show some development as a character. I want him to one day look back on those past’ days of Pokémon’ with nostalgia.” Over the years, Pokémon saw a revolving cast of new characters and stories, but Ash remained a central figure.
It wasn’t until 2018’s “Pokémon: The Power of Us” that Ash and Pikachu were relegated to side characters, which led to newer series exploring the Pokémon world without the long-time protagonist. Whether the Pokémon Company intended to retire Ash from the spotlight from the beginning, this development was necessary for the franchise to evolve and survive.