Is the Pokémon anime cultivating a loser’s mentality in its younger viewers?

Some hours ago, Ash lost his much-awaited top 2 battle in the Kalos League, which was a full-on Pokémon tournament. His opponent, Alain–a formidable Mega Charizard X trainer who is highly interested in the new phenomenon of mega evolution–has been a main rival of Ash’s in the Kalos region, since Episode 13 of the current Season 19. (Unbeknownst to Alain, he has also been a pawn in the evil Team Flare’s scheme to wreak supreme havoc upon the Kalos region.)

A few online writers have reported on the facts of today’s episode, and have expressed
their thoughts and feelings since Alain’s victory. A couple of examples:

  • Hoffer, C. (2016, August 18th). ‘Another Chapter in Ash Ketchum’s Pokemon Journey Is Over.
  • Ashcraft, B. (2016, August 18th). ‘Ash From Pokémon Just Had The Battle Of His Life’.

The question I want to raise somewhat seriously is whether the Pokémon anime is contributing to an unhealthy mentality of repeated losing and/or failure not only being okay, but something to be content and happy, overall with. This possibility is most significant when we consider some of the anime’s younger or more impressionable–which is to say, its relatively more vulnerable–viewers.

For context, here is Ash’s tournament League finishing record to date:

1. Indigo Plateau (Kanto) — top 16
2. Silver Conference (Johto) — top 8
3. Ever Grande Conference (Hoenn) — top 8
4. Lily of the Valley Conference (Sinnoh) — top 4
5. Vertress Conference (Unova) — top 8
6. Lumiose Conference (Kalos) — runner-up


Post-battle stills of Ash’s six main League outcomes

As can be seen, Ash has failed to win a tournament-format Pokémon League throughout all of his main adventures. This is a well-known, much-discussed–and, now more than ever, tired–fact within the anime’s viewing community.

Many agree that Ash’s never having won a tournament league sucks. Some valiant defenders retort that, well…at least he’s won at the Orange League and Sinnoh’s Battle Frontier, the latter of which he was even offered a position in as a “Frontier Brain”.

And, yet–while respectable in their own rights–neither of these feats are really what I’d wager most viewing fans want: a victory for Ash at a major, tournament-style League.

As many have pointed out, it’s been roughly two decades since Ash set out from Pallet Town. And, though top 2 is the highest Ash has ever reached during a tournament League, he still has yet to become “the very best”–as those of us who’ve grown up with him (and, perhaps even also those who have long since grown out of him) would hope for.

Ash may well wind up with a juicy redemption match with Alain, during the season’s coming Team Flare climax. And, who knows–Alain may even recognize Ash after such a point as being his better, at least in terms of character and values.

Hell…Alain might even offer Ash his League trophy. Maybe. But, none of these possibilities would change the fact that, during the League, Ash and his team were simply weaker and lost.

As they always have been. Except, this time, there seemed to be better reasons than ever before for Ash to finally make it to the top.


An artist’s (evidently, too epic) drawing of Ash and his Kalos team

Are the show’s writers simply being greedy and unloyal to their viewer base–hoping to continually string us along, getting our hopes up more and more with each of Ash’s new sagas?

Or: will they finally come to their moral senses (during Ash’s presumed next adventure in the upcoming Sun/Moon games’ Alola region), and give us what we so desperately have wanted? If this would imply a new series and protagonist, would we want either of them?

What are your thoughts or feelings regarding this latest development of the main anime series?

2 thoughts on “Is the Pokémon anime cultivating a loser’s mentality in its younger viewers?

    1. Suraj Sood Post author

      Thanks for the question, Anonymous.

      I was speaking hypothetically, that it might be the case that the Pokémon anime doesn’t emphasize victory as much as it perhaps should.

      On the other hand, in real-life terms–for example, in Olympic sports (or qualifying for Olympic events, in the first place!)–runner-up could still be a highly impressive feat on its own. With that in mind, perhaps fans (such as myself, as I wrote this article) have been too hard on Ash, expecting too much, too soon from our favorite protagonist.



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