Though Pokémon may be well-known for its long-line of video games and its addictive card game, the franchise has also become a staple within the anime industry. Whether fans first saw it on television or had to get a bunch of VHS tapes, the Pokémon anime has been a bright spot on many anime fans’ lives, with Ask Ketchum being the face of the franchise.
Ash Ketchum is the seemingly immortal and ever-adventurous 10-year-old who’s been crossing the world and catching Pokémon since day one. He’s had a lot of friends, fought a lot of rivals, and can always be trusted to blast away Team Rocket. However, with a career spanning more than 20 years, there are a few gaps that even long-time fans may have missed.
10 He’s Based On Red From The Original Games
For people who have never played the original games, Ash Ketchum is modeled after the protagonist of Pokémon Red and Blue. While players are able to choose the name of their character, the series’ original player character has widely been accepted as “Red.”
Everything between Ash’s clothes to his posture is modeled after the protagonist of old, though he does come with plenty of stylistic changes of his own and has certainly solidified a legacy that is wholeheartedly Ash Ketchum.
9 He Originally Wanted A Squirtle
While most fans today may know Pikachu as Ash’s main companion, the electric mouse wasn’t Ash’s original pick. Going back to the first episode, Ash was pondering what Pokémon he would get for his journey, running down the starter list that fans know so well. He’d eventually settle on Squirtle before realizing that he got to the Professor Oak much too later.
With few options, Oak gave Ash a little creature that he’d been taking care of for a while, and the rest is history. Fortunately enough, it wouldn’t take too long for Ash to get the Squirtle that he always wanted.
8 He Has Actually Won A Tournament
While many may lament the fact that, despite the series having been running for more than 20 years, Ash is still, canonically 10-years-old, it has infamously been more annoying for long-time fans that he has yet to win a tournament. That is, until recently. Ash has lost several tournaments of old.
In some cases, he’d be a finalist. In others, he’d at least defeat his series rival. However, it wouldn’t be until his entry into the Alola League that he’d finally make his way through a full tournament and finally become a Pokémon Champion.
7 He Changes English Voice Actresses In Season 9
While Pokémon has plenty of older, lapsed fans, many still identify Veronica Taylor as the iconic voice behind the would-be Pokémon Champion. For Seasons 1-8, Veronica gave the character a certain energy and flavor that fans will never forget.
Unfortunately, every role runs its course, and Pokémon called for a new generation in Season 9 (in more ways than one). Since 2006, Sarah Natochenny has taken over the role of Ash Ketchum, officially handling the role longer than even Veronica Taylor.
6 He’s Originally Named After Pokémon’s Creator, Satoshi Tajiri
Many English speaking fans may know the anime’s main character as “Ash Ketchum”; but in the original Japanese translation, he goes by a different name.
While “Red” may be the obvious choice, the anime team decided to go with a tasteful homage and named their main character Satoshi, after the creator of the games himself, Satoshi Tajiri. Alongside Ash, Satoshi is also one of the default names for the player character in the original game.
5 He Has 30 Tauros
Every now and then within the Western release of the anime, some fans may get confused when they see Ash not only use a Tauros but reference the fact that he actually has 30 of them. This is because localization issues would censor Episode 35 of the anime, “The Legend of Dratini.”
In it, Ash and his friends help the warden of the Safari Zone, Kaiser, reunited with a Dratini but find themselves in a competition with Team Rocket to catch the most Pokémon. This episode would sadly get banned within the West because of its short depiction of Ash being held at gunpoint, meaning that most Western fans won’t ever get the hilarious realization that Ash caught 30 Tauros under one day.
4 He Once Defeated A Darkrai And Latios Back To Back
There are a variety of reasons why it took Ash so long to become a Pokémon Champion. Sometimes, it’s because of his own arrogance and inexperience. Other times, he comes across as a genuinely tough opponent. And, during that one time, it’s because one trainer was hoarding a couple of Legendary Pokémon.
In the Lily of the Valley Conference, Ash nearly reached the finals but came face to face with Tobias, a trainer rarely mentioned across the series but apparently had both a Darkrai and a Latios. No one else in this tournament was able to defeat Tobias’ Darkrai but Ash was barely able to beat it and his Latios, an achievement befitting of a Pokémon Champion. While Ash didn’t win the tournament, it kind of seems like he really should have.
3 He Was Supposed To Be Partnered With Clefairy
Ash may be synonymous with his faithful Pikachu, but Pikachu wasn’t always the first pick. This isn’t just referring to the fact that Ash originally wanted a Squirtle. The creators originally intended for Ash to be paired with a different Pokémon entirely, a Clefairy.
However, after some focus grouping, they realized that Clefairy just didn’t have the impact that the series was looking for, and thus they went with Pikachu. However, there will always be an alternate reality where Ash Ketchum calls a Clefairy his best friend.
2 He Has Only Caught Around 50 Pokémon
The original intention for the Pokémon Trainer is to help the Pokémon scientists research and document as many Pokémon as people. In accordance with the series’ tagline, they “Gotta Catch ‘Em All” for science. However, as the series nears having literally 1000 Pokémon, Ash Ketchum himself has only caught around 50 (not counting every single one of his Tauros).
That barely touches on the available species around his home region; and at this point in the series, he’s kind of abandoned the goal of catching every Pokémon. There could be a Poke Rap for Ash’ roster, but it wouldn’t be a very exciting one.
1 National Ash Ketchum Day Is A Thing
Ash Ketchum finally winning a Pokémon Tournament was a cathartic event in more ways than one. Not only have fans been waiting literal decades to see him win a tournament, but Ash has far surpassed the experience threshold at this point to just be a rookie trainer. The kid has literally beaten a few Legendary Pokémon.
In celebration of Ash officially becoming a champion, a slow Twitter trend began to arise proclaiming September 15th (the airdate for the episode) to be National Ash Ketchum Day. More and more people would catch on, eventually leading to The Pokémon Company catching word of how important this day was to fans. Being the entertainers (and marketers) that they are, even they accepted September 15th as National Ash Ketchum Day. Mark your calendars.
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