Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Ash Ketchum Rant: Is he the worst trainer ever?

With Gen 6 launching soon, I've been reflecting on the franchise and the anime. Let me just start by saying I've grown up with the anime and it along with digimon, power rangers, and other stuff are some of the reasons I'm the nerdy person I am today. Reflecting on the anime has reinforced what I've learned over the years: Ash Ketchum is the worst trainer I've ever seen! I had no problem with Ash during the Kanto and Johto seasons and after that he just got really stupid. Anyways, lets get started!

Ash over the years.
My main gripe is about Ash is that in anything past Johto, pretty much none of his knowledge sticks or gets used again so he has to relearn it during each region. This is most evident in his gym battles. He constantly makes stupid rookie mistakes that he should already know with how much experience he has. For example, in each region he somehow forgets that he can use a gym's terrain to his advantage or use it to nullify a gym leader's advantage until he is already about to lose. Not to mention he has been seeing the gym leader using the terrain the entire match. Why does he not think of the obvious? He has known how to use a gym's terrain since Kanto! Its ridiculous! Experience does not just disappear like that! With all the experience he has, he should not be having anywhere near as much trouble as he has been having against these gym leaders. I'm not asking him to be super broken, I just want him to be competent again! Not mention the creativity that Hoenn and Sinnoh brought to the table in terms of move combinations and the counter-shield maneuver he even invented during Sinnoh. Does Ash remember those tactics either? Nope! Everything gets wiped as soon as he sets foot in a new region!

This next problem is what I like to call Ash's crowning moment of stupidity. In his first battle in Unova, Pikachu is unable to use its electric moves due to being hit by Zekrom's lightning and it somehow shorting Pikachu out. Ash continues to try and use electric moves despite seeing that they wouldn't work the first time. He completely forgets that Pikachu knows Quick Attack and Iron Tail. He lost to a trainer who got his Snivy barely five minutes ago because he refused to think! What I find even dumber is that Pikachu has to be at least level 100 during this fight. Seriously WTH?!
He lost to this guy! WTF!
He could've wiped that Snivy out just by ramming it. Even if Ash's tactics are somewhat lacking, he shouldn't have lost that fight so easily. The writers forced that loss on him just for some small amount of character development that won't carry over into Gen 6's anime. They'll probably press the reset button on him as soon as he sets foot in the new region...again.

The knowledge reset unfortunately has the same effect on the gym leaders as it does on Ash. They just don't look as strong as they should be because Ash barely has above beginner knowledge in each new region. It looks like they're just beating up on a new trainer until he decides to use his brain. By having Ash fighting at full strength the entire battle, you can get more out of the gym leaders and that will result in a more exciting gym battle with more creative fighting.

I don't mind him starting each region with just Pikachu. I get the concept of wanting Ash to start fresh in each region, hence why he leaves his current team with Oak except for Pikachu. I also understand that the show is also a way to sort of promote the new games to some extent, but making Ash an idiot at the beginning of each region is just stupid. There is no excuse for it! Knowledge and experience don't disappear just because you've changed regions. I stopped counting the fact that its a new region and he has never been there before as a valid reason for his mistakes a long time ago. That kind of logic may have worked in Johto or Hoenn but now its become nothing more than an excuse for the writers to pull this stuff during each new journey. His experience as a trainer should more than out-weigh the shock of going to a new region.

While a case could be made that he is a good trainer simply because he cares about his pokemon and can take care of them to some degree (though he usually needs help from Brock or Cilan), its kind of a moot point given how much danger he puts them in a lot of his battles. There have been way too many times that I've seen him put his pokemon up against pokemon that they're obviously weak against. Pokemon are mortal beings in his world and he knows that. If they take too much damage they can die! He shouldn't be stupid enough to put them in a fight with a pokemon they have a clear disadvantage against. When he does that he is essentially saying "Hey buddy, I care about you, so I'm gonna throw you into the ring against something you're weak against. You might die but just remember, I believe in you". That is the most idiotic thing you can do in a situation like that. Everytime he has done that I've shouted at my tv "You idiot! Why are using that pokemon when you already have the gym leader's weakness with you!". I can't bring myself to root for a character who has that much experience yet still does something so stupid. That plays back into how much he actually cares about his pokemon. If he cared about them as much as the writers want us to think he does, they wouldn't have him do something so stupid. The reset concept becomes even more stupid when you consider something else: His chosen way for becoming a pokemon master is through battling. Its gonna be pretty hard for him to become one if he can't remember a single tactic he learned in the last region.
Ash's collection before Gen 5
In short: Is Ash a good trainer in terms of caring for his pokemon? Debatable. Is he a good trainer in terms of battling? Not even close! To be honest, he shouldn't even be a trainer if he has so many issues with his battling abilities and his ability to retain any tactics he learns in each region. I will never understand why the writers try so hard to make him an idiot again in each region. I think its about time they retire Ash and move on to a new protagonist, one whose new trainer status will at least qualify him to make these kinds of mistakes, though thats not likely to happen given that Ash is pretty much the face of Pokemon at this point.

1 comment:

  1. Taylor, these are all good points as to why he is not that great a trainer. this turns me off the anime the whole "make him an idiot again at the beginning of each region" thing the writers are doing.

    i don't know what the writers are smoking, but we have to believe this trainer can turn into a pokemon master. ok, let's go with the writers idea.

    We need to make him smarter, hopefully his kalos friends are significantly smarter in that they can give him his knowledge back.

    you want him competent again, so do i, so do i.....


    I think the show needs to be in control of the Japanese Artists who originally wrote it, the English Dub artists are basically hitting reset on him and are spamming the button so to speak.

    Do we want him achieving the goal of being a pokemon master? yes i do, you clearly do, the old time fans who have grown up with this show since the first time it aired back in 1998 (myself included) want him to achieve this goal. The english dub artists, no they don't, the writers, nope.

    I think the Japanese team behind the production needs to really work with the english production not just simply retranslate the original footage into english for our audiences.

    Knowledge resetting does affect him in every region and the gym leaders, which creates a lessened story which has been significantly dumbed down for the children to understand.

    he needs his old tactics back, he doesn't need this reset of knowledge tactic. he needs to be competent again for a new generation of watchers and viewers and fans. I agree with all the points illustrated in this rant.

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