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Broken Base / Pokémon: The Series

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Given that the anime has run for over 20 years and counting, there is bound to be some aspects of the show that people have different opinions about.

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  • The series itself is very divisive among older fans, more so than other Pokémon incarnations. It's either an awesome cartoon that you grew up with, a Guilty Pleasure that's had its ups and downs, or an embarrassing Franchise Zombie that needs to be kept as far away from the games as possible. In this respect, it's considered the '90s equivalent of The Transformers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987), both of which have similarly divisive "were they good or was it all just nostalgia" reputations.
  • A section of the fanbase is split on if the show's focus should be on highlighting and progressing Character Development with serious arcs and a strong narrative, or rather be on entertaining episodes with little regard for the larger picture. Fans of the former usually favor entries that highlight Ash's veteran Trainer status and face him and his companions with problems to overcome in terms of rivalry or internal struggles, and feel the show should focus on portraying him as a skilled Trainer and progress as a character, and tend to perceive entries where his skills and/or personality hit the Reset Button back to square one as going against what the show should be about; fans of the latter tend to favor episodic storytelling, a take on Ash that highlights his more amusing and/or Butt-Monkey sides, wacky plotlines and amusing interactions between the cast members over major plot beats, either being largely uninterested in development or finding the major plotlines of the show to be nothing remarkable on the whole or pointing out their futility if none of it is guaranteed to carry over to the next entry.
  • Which is the better English Dub, TPCi or 4Kids? Those in support of TPCi cite their more accurate translations, none of the Bowdlerization that 4Kids was known for, and far less of a gap between the Japanese airings and the dubs (Before TPCi picked up the dubbing, it was a near year-long gap. As of Sun and Moon the gap is just over 4 months). Those in favor of 4Kids feel that they had better dialogue and a wittier script especially with Team Rocket, and they had better voice acting with a cast of voice actors that fit the characters more. Said people in favor of 4Kids point out that despite 4Kids known reputation for replacing the score, it was nowhere near as bad as TPCi got post Best Wishes, and their music at least carried some charm that TCPi's dub OST lacks. Those in support of the 4Kids dub also believe that 4Kids simply put more effort and love into their dub, something that TPCi's dub has never been able to recapture, and even though they were prone to make more translation errors compared to TPCi, they fixed those errors in later episodes and were still mostly accurate with their translating. This was most noticeable with the dubbing of Pokémon: I Choose You!, which had some fans demanding that Veronica Taylor return to voice Ash, while others argued that Sarah Natochenny, having voiced the role for over 10 years by that point, was now the definitive Ash.
  • The depiction of certain Legendaries as "merely" very rare species and not lone individuals on par with gods. Either it makes complete sense as Legendaries are shown to breed in the anime, or it cheapens the awe of seeing them.
  • The league. For over twenty years, fans and detractors of the anime have argued back and forth over this part of Ash's journey. Supporters, while annoyed at Ash's constant losses, defend its presence in the show's Story Arc and believe it is a vital part of Ash's journey, alongside a framework through which his progress can be measured, his rivalries be developed and concluded, and provide each regional adventure with a climax related to Ash's skill as a Trainer. Detractors often point to how the anime's formula surrounds the league conference and thus causes the plot to feel formulaic and boring to them, alongside compounding the issues of Ash's continued role as the show's protagonist by making each new region's tournament a "Shaggy Dog" Story that he's fated not to win. Sun and Moon brought this to a head with it's handling of the Alola League.
  • Releasing Pokemon. Either it's a good way to keep the cast from having Pokemon who could become too overpowered to make anything interesting or it wastes a perfectly good member of the team for seemingly no reason.
  • The benching of all of Ash's Pokemon (except Pikachu) whenever he goes to a new region post-Johto. Those for it feel that it allows new Pokemon from other regions to get their chance to shine while also preventing Ash from becoming too strong with a team he's already built up. Those against it feel that benching them essentially writes them out of the show for good, especially post-Sinnoh, where Ash's older Pokemon are rarely seen apart from Charizard and Bulbasaur.
  • Which series is canon? Ever since BW, the fanbase has debated whether a series is canon or not with the only series universally agreed upon being OS to DP. Many fans who believe BW and SM are not canon point to how tonally different they are with the former series going so far as to remove some of Ash's knowledge as a Trainer to give a fresh feel to him. They also believe that XY was a return to the original universe and Ash's Unova journey was just an alternate universe. While SM had mistranslated tweets about the canonicity to serve as "evidence" for its status as an alternate universe. People who argue all series are canon point to the numerous references to past events and cameos by old characters, going so far as to say the people who deny events happen as not real fans of the show or telling them that they're trying to elevate their Fanon equal to canon. Those who argue that these series aren't canon say that similar events couldn't have happened in an alternate universe. Journeys established that all series are canon by displaying achievements from all series, rendering the argument moot, but the debate manages to rock the fandom.


  • Kanto is considered good by some due to feeling fresh (before becoming a Franchise Zombie), with some good humor and an enjoyable cast chemistry, while to others it's seen as reeking of Early Installment Weirdness that's subject to Nostalgia Filter and riddled with inconsistencies (both in itself and to the games) that later series avoided.
  • In addition, were the earlier episodes more 'nuanced' than later seasons? A lot of people find a surprising number of the older episodes having a lot of soul/heart in them compared to later episodes. ("Charmander - The Stray Pokemon", "Bye Bye Butterfree", "Bulbasaur's Mysterious Garden" and "Go West Young Meowth" being some noteworthy examples.) Others claim that it's mostly Nostalgia Filter and the few soulful episodes it did have don't really make up for the number of gag based filler that plagues a lot of the early anime writing and that the series never lost having soulful episodes, just that people won't give them a chance compared to the older stuff. (In particular, Sun and Moon is seen as having some of the best soulful episodes in the franchise, with episodes like "One Journey Ends, Another Begins" and "Memories In the Mist!" being top contenders for some of the anime's best episodes.)

  • Misty's departure and May's introduction served as this as to some, Misty being replaced removed a vibrant cast member who was part of Ash's early core development, while others enjoyed having a new character with a more concrete goal, making her a Deuteragonist alongside Ash, who helped turn him into a mentor.
  • Ash's lack of a rival is seen as either a positive, as it allowed him to grow solely on his own and embrace a mentor role, or it detracted from the series by giving him no challenge outside of the Gyms and Battle Frontier.

  • The finale of the region either suffered from Arc Fatigue (with a 52 episode gap between the seventh and eighth badges) or was well-paced with enough interesting things that made up for the gap (6v6 between Ash and Paul, Team Galactic finale, Grand Festival).
  • Dawn's Contest career was either a step up from May's, with more complex strategies and rules, or just a rehash of May's own arc that made Dawn live in her shadow. Furthered by the fact that they are the only two main characters to have the same goal in the series.
  • The Grand Festival semi-final battle (Zoey vs. Nando) was considered spectacular on both sides and agreed to be one of the best moments of Diamond & Pearl, but a bit of contention exists regarding who should have won it. Some fans concur that, yes, Zoey deserved to win considering her Character Development throughout the series and buildup of her rivalry with Dawn. Others believe that Nando should have won considering his skill at both Contests and Gym Battles, and that him facing Dawn in the finals would have been a good way to make up for his lack of screentime in the series.
  • While most agree that Chimchar had a strong plot and Character Development that tied into the rivalry between Ash and Paul, some feel this didn't justify him becoming a Spotlight-Stealing Squadnote , while others believe that Chimchar's story justifies this status.

  • The series can be seen as starting off strong with Team Rocket gaining newfound competence and importance along with a brisker pacing compared to the previous series or the same with Ash gaining newfound incompetence, replacing previous, well-liked companions with a new cast entirely, and moving so fast that it resorted to an entire Filler Arc at the end.
  • Team Rocket's portrayal is another big subject of debate in itself. Either it was a breath of fresh air after the trio's Flanderization into Harmless Villains, or it ruined their characters by completely removing their depth and personalities. There's also those that argue their more serious role didn't actually make them more credible villains to begin with, seeing as how their more serious role never stops Ash and co. from ultimately beating them every time anyway.
  • Team Plasma's arc was seen as either a passable villain arc that made up for the Unova League or a shadow of its game plot that had plenty of misfires and wasted arcs when it came to Charizard, N, and Team Plasma's motivations.

  • While some see the series as strong thanks to Ash's newfound maturity, a Love Interest for him in the form of Serena, and a strong villain climax rife with Character Development, others believe that it came at the expense of making Ash into a Flat Character, had too much Ash Character Shilling, and that Showcases were a poor substitution for Contests that made Serena seem like a Satellite Love Interest.
  • The Mega Evolution Specials were either a great side series that developed Alain and Mairin into characters in their own rights, irrespective of Ash, or were the reason that Team Flare didn't enter the series for the first 2/3 of it, thus weakening the villain arc.
  • The scene where Serena throws snowballs at Ash. It's either an amazing dramatic scene with genuine character conflict, or one that exacerbates the aforementioned Character Shilling and Satellite Love Interest criticisms of the series. Detractors argue that it makes Serena seem like she only likes Ash for the idealized positive image he represents, getting upset because the Ash "she knows" easily bounces back from everything. They also criticize the fact that the conflict is resolved simply because Ash returns back to his old self, arguing that because of this, she never actually learns to stop idolizing him.
  • Alain beating Ash during the Kalos League. Those against it felt that after the far from insignificant amounts of buildup and the heavy hints toward Ash's possible victory that Alain should've lost to Ash. Those for it point out that Alain was a pretty strong Trainer and that his Charizard, the one to beat Ash-Greninja, had already proven himself more than justified in his win, having gone toe to toe with many other strong opponents prior to the League (the fights with the Legendaries and the ten consecutive Mega Evolution battles come to mind). The debate gets harsher when taking into account exactly how Alain's victory affects the events of the Team Flare arc and its aftermath, with those in favor feeling it makes the arcs ring stronger by hammering home even further how Alain's hollow pursuit of strength led to nothing positive, and detractors claiming that such an arc was not what Ash's journey in Kalos should've led towards when winning the League was his major focus throughout every other series.
  • Similarly, does Ash losing to Alain in the League taint the entire series up until then? On one hand, detractors state that it makes everything built up completely pointless and absolutely wastes what was otherwise considered the best series of the anime in almost a decade. Those who don't see it as much of a big deal point out how the series still has some of the best battles in the entire franchise, a surprising amount of character development for Ash, shaking up the formula by introducing a (one-sided) Love Interest that gives Ash his first kiss on the lips in the entirety of the anime in Serena, and the Team Flare climax being the true build-up of the series. It really depends on how you feel about the series-wide Myth Arc or not.
  • XY as a whole is the most self-contained series since the Original, with more complete narrative and character resolutions, fewer Call-Backs, and none of Ash’s old companions or Pokémon making guest reappearances. Naturally, some fans liked this approach, others didn't and wanted more consistent continuity like in AG and DP. Likely in response, both Sun & Moon and especially Journeys upped the Continuity Nods and guest spots for old characters.

  • The radical art style change, shift to a stationary, school-based Slice of Life story, and Ash's more expressive personality are seen as a breath of fresh air to the series to some, while to others it changes the series too much and removes what made Pokémon enjoyable in the first place due to no traveling and a lack of battles that had become the norm and also has an art style that is at direct odds with all of the previous series.
  • The stationary setting is seen as either a positive, giving Ash the ability to return to a fixed location after his adventures while allowing more recurring characters rather than just characters of the day, or it's a negative since it strips Ash of his wanderlust and removes one of the core components of the games and anime from the series while giving a Compressed Adaptation of all other islands except Melemele.
  • The upgraded animation is a major point of contention. It's either good because it makes every movement smooth or it's wasted potential by being used for expressions and funny faces instead of the battles where it's arguably most needed.
  • The idea that Ash can transform his Electrium-Z into a Pikashunium-Z. It's either an Author's Saving Throw for those who wanted Ash's Pikachu to have his own Bond Phenomenon with Ash or a complete Ass Pull.
  • Finally having several mythical Pokémon officially caught by (or at least allocated to) main characters. Some enjoy the taboo finally being broken and rare Pokémon being allowed in as main characters utilized by the protagonists. Others complain it takes away their elusiveness and makes them more generic. Then there are others who are merely split over the execution, particularly with so many given to Trainers all at once, along with some of them barely doing anything afterwards in spite of their status before being unceremoniously released.
  • The lack of entry qualifications for the Alola League, leading to just about every recurring character in the series taking part. Some enjoyed this premise as a formula breaker from the usual arc, with both the league and its build-up development allowing for a proper final hurrah for the Alola cast. Others complained that it diminished the prestige of the tournament, with half of the protagonists feeling shoehorned in due to lacking battle experience or motives (indeed, Mallow and Lillie were eliminated early on), not to mention the lack of as many accomplished battlers diminishing Ash's long awaited victory.
  • Ash winning the Alola League. On one hand, people were just glad that after twenty years of failures, Ash finally got a game-based league win under his belt and that Gladion was a well enough established rival to make the victory meaningful. Others, however, felt that Ash's victory was too lackluster after twenty years of buildup, that he was far more deserving of it in other leagues (Sinnoh and Kalos being the top choices), and that the questionable writing choices leading up to the victory largely dampened the feeling of accomplishment from it. A large factor of the split is how the victory feels in the vacuum of the Sun and Moon series alone compared to it being the culmination of Ash trying to win a League for twenty years.
    • As an addendum to this, whether Ash VS Kukui makes up for the lackluster victory or not. While people tend to agree on the battle being at the very least decent, fans are split on it due to its nature as an exhibition match with mostly symbolic value: supporters say that it helps finish the Alola series on a strong note that fits the series' themes of family and fun alongside allowing Ash and Pikachu to prove themselves against Tapu Koko one last time in a suitably climatic fashion, while detractors tend to point out how being an exhibition match meant that Ash's victory in the League was never at stake even if he lost (making its four-episode-long duration feel way too long relative to its importance) and claim that stuff like Tapu Koko forcing itself in the supposed battle of family between Ash and Kukui muddles the aforementioned themes for the sake of closing everything the series had left quickly.

  • Good for continuing to try new things, fixing many problems people had with Sun and Moon, allowing Ash to catch several highly requested fan favorites (especially a Riolu), having interesting character development (particularly with Goh), and the region-hopping premise opening up several possibilities previous regional series couldn't take advantage of, or bad for pulling elements from the divisive Pokémon GO (Goh as a character and the egg redesigns being the most controversial), breaking several staples of the series, Goh's perceived status as a Spotlight-Stealing Squad, several pacing problems including a Prolonged Prologue (with Ash only getting his own goal for the season in "The Climb to Be the Very Best," the thirteenth episode), and the consequent lower attention given to Galar due to having to share screentime with the previous seven mainline regions.
  • Similar to Alola's situation, whether Goh should be allowed to catch Legendaries and Mythicals became debated the moment his goal was established. Some believed it was only natural that his goal would lead him to start targeting Legendaries sooner or later and feel it would show how he grew as a Trainer. Those against it believed that, similar to Alola, Goh having Legendaries and Mythicals would diminish their value and that they wouldn't be used often. Detractors of Goh in particular also felt it would only add to Goh's overexposure in the series. This debate flared up considerably on multiple occasions; when Goh caught Eternatus (but didn't keep it), when he narrowly failed to capture Zapdos, and when he succeeded in catching Suicune.
  • JN030 or as it's called in the dub "Betrayed, Bothered, and Beleaguered!". Fans either consider it one of best or worst episode of of the franchise. The main point of division is Pikachu's attempt to run away. Was it justified given Ash was starting to spoil Riolu, or was Ash simply giving a baby Pokemon the attention it required and Pikachu was being a spoiled brat? Furthermore, fans are divided on whether Pikachu even running away is in character. Supporters feel it's realistic for Pikachu's loyalty to have limits, while detractors point out that Ash has raised FOUR baby Pokemon previously (Phanpy, Larvitar, Scraggy, and Noibat) and Pikachu had no issues there nor did he ever exhibit jealousy towards spotlight stealers like Infernape or Greninja.
  • Does Goh count as a Spotlight-Stealing Squad or not? Defenders of Goh will point out that his goal (to capture all the Pokémon) requires more time to develop than Ash's rank increase, and that Goh's captures do not eat up a ton of screentime. Detractors point out how Goh's goal tends to drive the plots of more episodes than the other characters, and that there are never Ash (or Chloe) moments in episodes that are dedicated to him the same way that he always gets capture scenes in their episodes.
  • Goh's capture of specific Pokémon species. Either fans consider it a chance to give a wider variety of Pokémon focus, or they consider it a waste because Goh doesn't battle or consistently use them while with Ash they'd at least be guaranteed battles at some point. Some particular flare-up choices include Aerodactyl, Absol, and Flygon, all popular mons from their respective debut generations that many consider as potential Ash mons Goh ends up catching instead. Most heated of all are the Galar starters: while Scorbunny was of no controversy, Sobble and especially Grookey going to Goh instead of Ash fueled many calls of them being wasted and of Goh stealing more attention from Ash. This complaint is known to be found on both sides of the Pacific, with Japanese fans also being upset about Grookey in particular (to the point calling Goh a thief was known). However, others think that the mons' personalities work better with Goh than Ash and generally think the series in general is bad with character focus and thus they'd have spotlight issues regardless of who captures them.
  • Among fans the argument if Ash should capture more than six Pokémon like in the Unova season. Detractors hold that this would only exasperate the feeling that Ash's team in general doesn't get enough focus as it is and adding more Pokémon will only worsen the problem. Proponents of this cite how Ash is already rotating his team on research trips as is and the problem of lack of focus wouldn't get any worse, as well as how Ash catching other Pokémon would alleviate concerns about Goh's captures of specific Pokémon (see above).

Alternative Title(s): Pokemon Anime


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