Pokémon Journeys has been a divisive series thus far. At times, the current anime season is a breath of fresh air that promotes a unique experience. Other times, it feels like an unfocused mess with no direction in sight. However, after re-watching a ton of Pokémon anime lately, I think the series is setting up something more controversial than Goh catching Suicune. It’s very well possible that the latest Pokémon anime series could be Ash’s swan song. If this is the case, it’s long overdue for a franchise desperate for something new.
Ash has been the protagonist of every Pokémon anime since 1997. He has adventured into Kanto all the way to Galar and back. He became the Alola League Champion, caught a mythical, and could very well overthrow Leon if the writers do their job right. So why keep him as the main character after this current series? Yes, there are plenty of Ash fans who want him to remain the main character. But it’s way past time for something new. Pokémon needs to move forward as a franchise as they have been stagnant creatively for years. Retiring Ash is a way to say the company is ready to finally try something new.
So if Ash were to retire who would take his place? It’s already obvious if not a little cliché. I believe Goh is being set-up as the next main character for the Pokémon anime; he has the 3 main starters, dedicated episodes in which he’s positioned as the primary rival of Ash, and a story that could easily see him journey beyond one region. Yes, Goh has his detractors. However, with a little bit of better writing Goh could very well takeover the series naturally by forging his own path rather than stepping on Ash’s toes.
A lot of fans are upset with Goh for catching Suicune and Grookey. The former I can understand as that particular episode was lackluster at best. The latter on the other hand I am perplexed by. People really wanted Ash to have Grookey specifically so that Goh couldn’t. Personally I think it’s refreshing for Ash to not have a starter as it allows for his team to have more diversity for a change rather than focus on the regional starter over and over again. Goh having all 3 starters is great because it allows him to be recognized as a true protagonist rather than a side companion. If anything, Goh’s goal of capturing every Pokémon fits more in line with the theme of Pokémon Journeys. With Pokémon Go continuing to do well, it’s possible the Pokemon Company might want to shift gears to push the mobile game as strongly as the main series. Goh is that character, it’s literally in his name.
Ash retiring could lead to former companions getting the spotlight in a similar way to Pokémon Chronicles. The show that featured Ash’s past companions as well as the Johto Region protagonists. Though a spin-off series, it proved the Pokémon characters can be interesting even if they just stay in one region throughout their tenure. Maybe the anime could bring back May and focus on her contests again for an arc? Or how about using Chloe for a change? Sometimes a new coat of paint is all that is needed to freshen things up again.
Ash has left a legacy for anime that cannot be understated. Love him or hate him, the pride of Pallet Town has become a Pokémon Master for his long-running tenure as Pokémon’s resident protagonist. However, there’s so much the series can accomplish and take advantage of by letting him retire. Whether it’s replacing him with one main character, or two, or even three. It would make the Pokémon anime exciting again and would definitely garner huge social media attention. I’m beyond tired of seeing Pikachu every week. I have been done with Team Rocket for over a decade now. Let’s try something new already.
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