Character Analysis: The Hatred Towards Ash from Pokemon and the Cause of His Poor Characterization

Hello Toptenners and visitors! Here's another character analysis I'm doing for my post series: Analysis of Various Aspects of Fictional Characters & Media! For this analysis, we will be talking about Ash Ketchum, or Satoshi if you prefer watching the Japanese version of the anime. (Which I don't blame you for doing). You were probably expecting Serena's character analysis first, but I'm afraid I have to put that one on hold, since there is a lot to talk about and that analysis with be a post where I don't bring my personal opinions and bias about her, which can be hard and I need to have the time to actually think that analysis out.

DISCLAIMER 1: This analysis is based on a perspective about how Ash is written and observations I had for a long time while talking about some aspects of the anime that can relate to him. This may also contain potential bias.

DISCLAIMER 2: I'm expecting getting hate and being attacked for this analysis. People feel strongly about hating Ash and are very quick to bash him. Since this list isn't going to bash Ash, that's where I see the hate coming from. I also want to mention that I'm not really fond of Ash, but I don't necessary despise him either. I always felt an indifference when it comes to Ash in general.

DISCLAIMER 3: This post is being posted on MARCH 14th, 2017. MARCH 14th, 2017. Keep that date in mind while reading this, because it's very important.

The purpose of this Analysis:

As I said before, people feel strongly about hating Ash and are quickly to bash him. From what I've seen, Ash is one of the most hated main characters that I ever came across in an anime. Ash can be bashed for literally everything, even stuff that is beyond his control. I feel there's an outside source that is responsible for the hatred he has received over the years that makes a lot of hatred sound a bit unwarranted. I'm going to try to explain as clearly as possible.

About Ash (I know this is kinda pointless, but since this is an analysis, I'm going to add it anyway)

As we already know, Ash is the main protagonist of the Pokemon anime and has been the main protagonist since the very first season. Since he never got removed/replaced by other protagonists, it's almost certain that Ash is only still here to fit the “Status Quo”. A status quo is something where a show/game/story/etc will repeat a certain aspect and won't remove it in order to change things. As much as people want Ash to be replaced, that will never happen. He's been in the anime way too long to be removed from the anime. Regardless of how much Ash is hated, he's an icon for the anime along with his Pikachu. The anime is mostly about him and his adventures when it comes to traveling various regions and meeting new Pokemon/friends along the way. Sometimes the anime will shift it's overall status with Ash as the main focus and give us character building and even a character that is co-starred with him. (Which the only co-starred companion we had so far is Dawn). Even though these types of shifts happen, Ash will always stay in the anime.

What's wrong with Ash's character? Why do people hate him? (This is all based on the comments I read on the Worst Pokemon Characters list)

For one, Ash's character has a tendency to lack consistency. Ash can either continue on with the growth he has in the previous season or have most of it thrown out the window in order to fit the new adventure. (Which is obvious with Best Wishes) Ash's motive is to become a “Pokemon Master”, something we don't really understand fully. What makes someone a Pokemon Master? I'm sure it's more than winning a league, but whatever. Unlike other main protagonists in anime, Ash is often not allowed to achieve his overall goal in the season. Ash is set to lose every league except for the Orange League. (Which many people don't count because it's just something the anime writers whipped up to keep us engaged in Pokemon before the release of Pokemon Gold and Silver). The Battle Frontier doesn't really count either. It's not a league and it's something you can try to defeat over and over again. (I give props for Ash actually succeeding because the Battle Frontier is HARD). With leagues in the Pokemon anime canon, you only have one chance to win. If you lose, you have to wait until the league happens again or just move onto something else, or what Ash does: Go back to a different region and try to beat that league instead. A lot of his wins are often bull crap (Especially in the first season why he technically only won 3 of his badges) as well as his losses. He doesn't all of his Pokemon usually, the only time this happened so was when he was Kalos. (Even though in the anime, they made it clear that any Pokemon can be very strong, regardless if it's fully evolved or not). Fans find Ash to be a “dull, boring, stereotypical Shonen protagonist”. Ash is seen as “incompetent” as he sometimes makes dumb decisions in fights and uses the typing that's weak against the opponents Pokemon. (Though often, HE LOSES WHEN HE DOES USE THE TYPE ADVANTAGE because the writers are weird like that).

There's probably more reasons why people hate Ash and I don't want to add them all because it would take too long. I'll just say one more thing he's hated for: Not leaving the anime and giving us a new main protagonist.

Finding the roots to the reasons why Ash is hated:

From what I listed, where do you feel the criticism should be directed to. Ash or the writers? It can be both, but in my opinion, it's the writers' fault that Ash is the way he is.

Why is it the writers and not just Ash himself?

If you haven't already noticed, the Pokemon anime follows specific status quo. I'll list some of these status quo to give you an idea:

-Ash remains as the main protagonist for each season.
-There are always characters that accompany Ash on his journey.
-Those characters that apart of Ash's journey will leave by the next season.
-Ash and Pikachu need to struggle to develop in each season. (Which may cause him to lose a lot of his character development).
-Ash will lose the league and be forced to try again in a different region.
-Ash will has at least one starter Pokemon of each region.
-Ash never ages

Looking at these status quo, do they apply to why people Ash so much? It does. This is all set by the writers. The writers are the main reason to blame when it comes to Ash's character. Why? Because Ash has a lot of potential to be something different and not have to be altered to fit the newer settings of the show that repeats the same story and motives that Ash has. The writers can make him more likable and more like other long running Shonen protagonists. However, they REFUSE to do this. I personally don't see the point of them following all of the status quo. There are some things they can alter while keeping him as the main protagonist. Ash can win a league and still travel around the region. Ash is more of the type of character that will keep traveling to different region regardless if he wins or loses. He did it with the Orange League, so I don't get why they can't allow him to win other leagues. Ash can keep all of his development like older seasons and be more of a mentor than someone who is constantly starting over. (While having new Pokemon each season of course). Ash can discover new things while learning from others while keeping his experience.

Of course, this doesn't apply to all of the newer seasons. (Not including Best Wishes) He still has his competence. And yes, even in Pokemon Sun and Moon. Just because they gave him his personality back, doesn't mean he's incompetent people. It may seem like that since Pikachu keeps getting his ass handed to him by Jessie's Mimikyu.. but you need to take into consideration that Pikachu never had to deal with another Pokemon THAT SHEER HATRED TOWARDS HIM AND LITERALLY WANTS HIM DEAD. Also, even if Ash struggled quite a lot and his Pokemon are under trained by the time I'm writing this, Ash's Pokemon have not actually fainted in battle. They got their ass handed to them, yes, but they technically never lost. Ash also had good battles. He defeated Hala on his first try without losing any Pokemon. Hala is technically the “first gym leader” of region with no gyms. The first gym is where Ash almost always loses and has to re battle. Considering Ash beat Hala on his first try means Pikachu is still very strong and didn't fully reset when it comes to dealing with other Pokemon at the beginning of the season.

The overall status quo have not completely returned in Pokemon Sun and Moon. Pokemon Sun and Moon is very different from the past seasons. Ash is not necessarily going to battle the league for certain. He's in a laid back setting where it's mostly focused on character/world building instead of constant battling. This most likely change because I have a speculation of why he's in school: His journey would be too short.

Alola seems smaller than other regions and it took Ash to complete the first trial and battle the first kahuna in a very short time. If he traveled the region and fought the league immediately, the series would be too short. The anime season needs to keep running until Generation 8 exists. Which each series that represents a specific region lasts at least 3-4 years. This probably explains the school/character building setting instead of the adventure setting during the first part of the series. By a certain point of the anime, we are most likely going to see Ash travel with some of his classmates if not all. My speculation is that it will be Lillie, Mallow, and Kiawe. Lana is also a possibility, but for some reason, I can't see Sophocles traveling with Ash. I guess it's because he would be too similar to Clemont? That might just be me. When Ash starts to travel again, that's most likely when the nearly all of the status quo will return.

So should the criticism be entirely direct towards Ash's character or should be start focusing more on how the writers keep screwing him over? Either one depending on your personal opinion. My opinion is that the writers are to blame for his characterization as they are fully capable to make him a better character. They just don't want him to be for some unknown reason. I don't understand why the writers mistreat him so much. He's the main character, the icon of the show. You should be focused on making sure that the said character has a good reputation, not constantly soiling it. I suppose they wanted to make Ash different from other long running Shonen protagonists. But from what we can tell, it's not working in Ash's favor. It's hurting his character more than benefiting him.

Ash has been the main character for too long and the writers have screwed him over for too long as well. I don't feel like they can fully redeem what they have done to him. I can see some improvements later down the road, but only if the writers actually care enough about Ash to do it. They want him to remain the main protagonist, yet he's one of the characters who have the most mistreatment when it comes to writing. I really wish that Ash didn't get so screwed over by the writers, but the damage is already done.

Anyways, that is all I can say on this subject. Please let me know what your thoughts are and thank you for reading. I know was a lot of stuff to read, this is an analysis after all. Most of them will be very long.


Nicely put. - ModernSpongeBobSucks

Thank you! - Rue

I hate Ash because he never seems to learn from his mistakes and has an annoying level of immaturity - TwilightKitsune

Fair enough. - Rue