Ash Ketchum is the Ultimate Failure Hero!
Pokémon XYZ has finally come to an end. Once again Ash has failed to win, yet another Pokémon League tournament. Fans everywhere were disappointed to know that in-spite of all the character development Ash still can’t win an official tournament. But, while Ash catches a lot of flak from the fans due to his status as a loser, is it truly his fault? His character after all is just a victim of the flawed logic coming from the anime director.
It is commonly said among the fan base that if Ash were to win a tournament his journey would end. Ash would have no reason to continue his journey if he became champion. After all, he would be too busy trying to defend his title in whatever region he wins. There is even a rumor which claims the writers have stated they would have to switch protagonist if he won. However, I couldn’t find any sources to cite this rumor. Yet, even if this were true it doesn’t make sense for Ash as a seasoned battler to continuously lose.
Ash has been through every single region in the Pokémon world thus far. He has fought alongside some of the most influential trainers of all time. Has saved the world several times. Encountered and fought with legendary Pokémon. He even became a part of history by immortalizing himself in the Orange League by actually winning. While it took him quite some time to learn that strategy and training were more important that instinct and luck. He still has years of experience within his immortal/ageless body.
In the eyes of a regular person it doesn’t make any sense for Ash to continue losing. But, there is one explanation. Ash can’t win simply because in the lore of the anime there can literally only be one. In the Bulbapedia entry for Pokémon Champion it states there can only be one regional champion at a time. The only way to earn the title is by winning the League Conference of each region and beating the elite 4 plus the champion. This would support the fact that Ash would have to remain in that region to defend his title if he did win. But, that’s not even a good excuse because what is stopping him from returning to the region when the tournament begins? Nothing, really and as such we’re only left with a handful of theories which leave the fan base displeased.
But, my favorite theory is that Ash is simply destined for failure. This is a way for the developers to show off the very Japanese concept of Yamato-Damashii. This concepts states that via hard work and dedication you can continue to improve, which Ash technically has shown. Ash’s tale is one of continuous struggle with human weakness enduring defeat after defeat with much grace and honor. He promises to continue improving in whatever region his life takes him to next. He is a great example for Japanese children and even kids all over the world for this very reason. After all, the biggest fan base of the Pokémon anime are smaller children and they are the ones who benefit the most from this lesson. Thus by him being the ultimate failure hero, he becomes a great example for the next generation of Pokémon trainers.
While it might not provide closure to those who have grown up while Ash remains a kid. We have long since passed the targeted group for this series. It might be time to simply say good-bye to Ash. Just remember that saying good-bye doesn’t mean we’ll forget the good times we shared. Pokémon has been a large part of our lives, and will continue to do so via games. But, the anime might just need to remain in the hands of the younger generations. Through his failures we gain a new generation trainers that will continue to surpass the previous ones. His mark has been left in our hearts and will be left in the hearts of those who will become fans in the latest generation. Who knows what Alola holds for Ash, but one thing is certain, he’s not going to win it either.