After 22 years, one of the greatest underdogs in history has managed to win their first official league title. The team struggled in the final round of the intense competition, but their determination finally managed to carry them to victory. It was an emotional victory made more touching amidst rumors that the coach would be retiring after the end of the season. This sounds like a perfect story to print in the sports section, right? The editor in chief didn’t feel the same way, so instead it is appearing in arts and culture.
Okay okay, so Pokémon battles aren’t a traditional ‘sport’ and Ash Ketchum isn’t a real ‘athlete’, but that doesn’t make this victory any less exciting. If you are a fan of the series who is reading this article, Ash has probably been trying to win a title for as long as you have been alive. Before the start of this year, despite wanting to be the very best for 21 years and competing in six Pokémon league championships, Ash had not won a Pokémon league title. (Except for the orange Island league that he won, but the internet has informed me that like an A in CSM 101 has no meaning. Oh, and the battle frontier, but apparently that is like an A in PAGNI guess?) However, the 7th time was apparently the charm, as when Ash and his opponent were both down to their last Pokémon for once Ash came out on top.
Almost immediately all across the internet posts and articles popped up full of surprise and congratulations for their favorite perpetual underdog. It seemed everyone was happy to see a character that they grew up with finally accomplish his goal of winning a championship. After reading several of these articles, I was left wondering if this victory was truly as impactful as all the losses that preceded it. Having not watched the series seriously since 2007 there was no way that I could catch up on it before the next issue of the Oredigger went to print to form my own opinion. This led me to seek out the opinions of other students who had been following the series more recently. My own quest to collect more opinions eventually led me to the anime club on campus. They were all really nice and didn’t even call me a casual once for referring to the Pokémon series as an anime.
When I asked everyone there for their thoughts on Ash’s victory most people responded initially with the same excitement that I had seen online. However, as we continued to talk about the victory it became clear that this wasn’t the perfect triumph everyone had wanted. As Cyrus Perry, one member of the club put it “Ash winning was good but it should have happened in Sinnoh or Kalos, it’s better late than never.” I remember feeling like Ash’s defeat in the quarter-finals of the Sinnoh League was unfair at the time. In the Kalos League, Ash even made it to the final round only to suffer defeat. This wasn’t the only complaint with this victory. Other members of the club felt that the opponents that ash faced in this league were lowered in their strength so that ash would win, not that Ash had finally become strong enough to surpass the same quality of trainers he lost to in previous leagues. Most people there who had been watching the series for as long as they could remember had mixed feelings about this victory.
Personally, I have fond memories of the series as a whole. As a result, I also have mixed feelings about Ash finally winning a league championship. With this victory and the inclusion of a second main character in the next season, it appears that the series is working towards retiring Ash as the main character. Even having grown up with the series off and on it has a place in my childhood and these changes may bring about the end of one of my favorite T.V. series as I know it. Until it becomes clear what is going to happen, maybe we should all just take a page from Ash’s book and continue to work towards our own goals. Even if it takes much longer than expected, we shouldn’t give up on what is really important to us.