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Ash Ketchum and Pikachu will no longer be Pokemon’s stars

Ash Ketchum and Pikachu will no longer be Pokemon’s stars

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The Pokémon Company announced Friday that the Pokémon anime, a beloved 25-season show that began in 1997, is moving on from its iconic protagonist duo Ash Ketchum and Pikachu. The series going forward will feature two new protagonists, whose Japanese names (which can be changed in the English versions) are Liko and Roy, and who will play the Paldea region’s starters from “Pokémon Scarlet” and “Pokémon Violet” – Sprigatito, Fuecoco and Quaxly.

The change is set to happen for Japanese viewers in 2023 after an 11-episode arc that chronicles the final chapter of Ash and Pikachu’s story, according to the trailer. These episodes will feature the return of fan-favorite characters from across the series, including Gary Oak, Misty and Brock.

This passing of the torch comes after Ash, confusingly still a 10-year-old in the show despite its 25-year run, finally wins his first Pokémon Championship, becoming the Pokémon World Champion after defeating Galar Region Champion Leon from “Pokémon Sword”. ” and “Pokémon Shield.”

Ash’s journey throughout the anime has been to try to become a world champion – to be the best that no one ever was, if you will – and now that he’s finally achieved that, it makes sense for the series to try to move on to other characters and other stories… or does it? Below are our burning questions for the new season, and the Pokémon IP as a whole, following this groundbreaking announcement.

Is this an attempt to get more viewers, 25 seasons later?

There’s no obvious answer to this question, especially since the show’s decades-long run across both cable and a plethora of streaming services makes it difficult to accurately measure ratings on a season-by-season basis. People simply consumed TV content differently in the 90s than they do today. But we can look at fan ratings to determine overall enjoyment of the series, and draw some simple conclusions from there.

Ratingraph is a site where fans rate their favorite movies and TV episodes on a scale of one to 10. Using this, we can determine which seasons resonated the most with fans of the show.

Two things immediately jump out when looking at these results. One: The first few seasons of the show were easily the most critically acclaimed. Two: Fans enjoyed Season 18-20, where there was a noticeable increase in ratings.

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Why is it like that? Well, during those seasons, which took place in the “Pokémon X” and “Pokémon Ys” Kalos region, Ash won. ONE a lot. In fact, Ash came the closest he’d ever come to winning a Pokémon Championship to that point, coming in second to Alain despite having his BAMF team that included two fully evolved Dragon types and a Greninja with an Ash -specific mega-evolution.

It’s safe to say that fans like to see the little underdog win. However, it’s important to note that the final season, Season 25, has some of the lowest-rated episodes of the entire series, according to Ratingraph. So while a shake-up to the formula could conceivably be in response to these low ratings, the fact is that fans resonate most with seeing Ash win, meaning there’s no way to tell if that was truly the cause of the protagonist’s shake -up.

Moving away from any IP’s main character, much less that of a comic book, is bold, but is it wise?

During the Dragonball franchise’s incredible run, the show has often toyed with the idea of ​​moving on from main character Goku. Since 1993, when Gohan, Goku’s son, achieved Super Saiyan 2 form for Goku to defeat Cell during the Cell Games saga, Toei Animation tried to set up a moment of passing, even killing Goku and presenting a scene that seemed to indicate that Gohan was Earth’s new main protector.

However, Toei Animation realized how popular Goku was with the fans, so they used the old series trick of reviving dead characters on Goku to make him play the main role again for the series going forward. Fans’ wants and expectations, especially for shows aimed at younger audiences, are extremely important to a company’s bottom line. Look at the incredible spread of “SpongeBob SquarePants”, which, by the way, is still making episodes for Nickelodeon, two decades later. While a Patrick Star spinoff is being made at the same time, nothing seems to be slowing down the titular sponge.

For the Pokémon Company to consider moving on from Ash, it would have to be big. Is it simply because his story is complete? Will they go back the same way Toei Animation did? Only time will tell.

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Is Team Rocket blowing up for good?

Jesse, James and Meowth are as iconic characters as Ash and Pikachu. The chatty trio of villains and their schemes never succeeded in capturing Pikachu, and sometimes even helped the main characters and had fully realized character arcs. More importantly, they are the only characters besides Ash and Pikachu who return season after season, and they are constantly driving the action of several episodes.

The Pokémon Company’s announcement doesn’t mention the trio and their fates going forward, but their motivation is entirely tied to trying to catch Ash’s Pikachu after seeing its raw power in the very first episode of the series. Without that motivation, is there any reason for them to come back other than how incredibly iconic and fun they are to watch?

Does The Pokemon Company Feel They Don’t Need A ‘Mascot Pokemon’ Anymore?

While several fans may feel slighted by Ash’s exclusion in the series going forward, the far more telling exclusion lies in Pikachu. Pikachu is easily the most iconic Pokémon of all time, and Nintendo and the Pokémon Company have leaned heavily on it as their mascot through several avenues. In fact, at one point the Pokémon Company felt that having a dedicated mascot for the franchise was so important that they needed it to become a duopoly. This is most evident from their efforts to make Eevee a co-mascot via the “Let’s Go Pikachu” and “Let’s Go Eevee” games. Some fans believe the thought process was that Eevee could be a counterpart that young girls could relate to more, as Pikachu represented more qualities that young boys would relate to.

But the decision to exclude Pikachu in the next season of Pokémon seems like a backpedal on this philosophy. If Pikachu isn’t there, who’s going to take up the mantle that the recognizable Pokemon fans will connect with? The designs of the first three Pokemon in the Paldea region are among the better features of “Scarlet” and “Violet,” but are they really good enough to fill the Pikachu-sized mantle?

Will Pokemon Trainer Designs Continue?

One trend I absolutely despise with the Pokemon series is how lazy it has become with the trainer designs. This is a trend that started since “Sun” and “Moon” introduced Ultra Beasts that look eerily similar to their trainer counterparts.

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“Scarlet” and “Violet” continue this trend. One of the main characters, Arven, has a Mabosstiff who plays a central role in his missions. He also shares a color scheme, clothing, and physical characteristics that make him look like the human equivalent of Pokémon.

Now, with the release of the promo image of the Ash-and-Pikachu-less season, it looks like this trend will continue. The female trainer retains the color scheme and appearance of Quaxly, right down to the hair flip on the left side of both their heads matching. The male trainer is obviously the Fuecoco equivalent, with Fuecoco’s color scheme and mimicked tuft of hair.

Pokemon trainers are most interesting when their designs aren’t one-to-one clones of the Pokemon they use. The more nuances a character can show in their designs, the better. Look no further than Ash and Pikachu for inspiration. Is Ash the human equivalent of Pikachu? Absolutely not. And that’s a key factor in what makes their relationship so dynamic.

Should we have seen this coming?

Pokémon has never been shy about saying goodbye to beloved characters, even as far back as Season 1’s “Bye Bye Butterfree,” where Ash released the first Pokémon he ever caught. The episode ranks as one of the series’ most beloved, and is a frequent contender for best episode of all time due to the emotionally resonant story found in an anime primarily aimed at children.

Additionally, season by season, the show cycles Ash’s traveling companion for new ones. The last episodes of the seasons are usually tearful goodbyes as Ash moves on from the people who made his journey in the region special to find new experiences in the next region. If the Pokémon Company has been comfortable letting all of these characters go over the years, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that it’s time to let Ash and Pikachu go as well.

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