Musings on Gyms/Ash's progression in future anime regions
by, 18th June 2012 at 09:37 AM (327 Views)
I originally started this entry as making a new thread, but soon found myself going in so many different directions I thought I'd flee back to the safety of this blog, and go further down the path of irrelevance. Enjoy...
Based on the fact that BW will spend either as much or more of the series on post-Gym events, I think it's reasonable to suggest that the writers are trying to look at new ways of structuring the Gym badge collecting part of the anime, BW rushed through it to seemingly spend a good amount of time on other things, while DP seemed to push it to the side at times to focus on contests and what could arguably be called filler.
Is there a way for Ash to travel through a region without a repetitive badge quest? Or a way to make that badge collecting task seem more varied.
There's a few factors that play into this - that every Gym badge is done through invariably an x on x battle, where Ash turns up and 90% of the time wins without too much trouble; and secondly that since Johto, Ash has started from scratch each region; and thirdly that the combination of the two requires Ash to go through a slow progression in strength over a region, as his newer Pokemon get trained up to match his previous gen ones, just in time to be subbed out at the league.
The recent Gym battle with Homika at the very least shows that Gyms can be done differently, and while I certainly don't like the level of advantage Ash had, I do like Gym leaders being depicted with that level of strength. I think it is a decent solution to the Charizard problem.
While it was fairly contrived, Johto's transition rather than fresh start allowed for Ash to try new things while having a fallback. I think it'd be reasonable if Ash caught 4 or 5 new Pokemon in a region and trained them along side the more neglected of his reserves through a region.
My view of Generation 6 will be as a region, probably somewhere that's not too far from Unova but is more influenced by the other regions - a desert far north west of Kanto would be a nice place, on the same continent but closer to Unova. But more specifcally, I think it will only add 50-75 Pokemon, as the focus will be the shift to a semi-3D environment on the 3DS, and therefore less time will be spent on adding new Pokemon when the time needs to be spent on improving things for the existing ones.
As such, I think it would be easier for the anime to shift some focus back to older generation Pokemon that Ash already owns, with the overarching idea that Ash wants to get all of his Pokemon up to the same level of strength (perhaps skimp a bit on training 30 Tauros - I still don't get why he didn't trade one in the Wobbuffet episode), after seeing how some of his didn't perform that well when he caught so many in Unova, and pondering the situation of falling back to Charizard when things get tough for him.
So relating that back to the Gyms, if they took the format of Pokemon characteristics rather than Pokemon types, you could relate that back to Ash's existing Pokemon. For example, if Ash got a 'Heavy Badge' (probably already exists knowing my luck) from a Gym with a weight limit, so he would bring Snorlax, Grotle and a heavy Gen 6 capture in, do some training and then have either a battle or a mixture of different challenges similar to how the Orange League worked before getting a badge out of it. By being forced to spend some time overcoming the specific issues that different Pokemon face it would allow Ash to lose while not looking like a total idiot or be made too weak, use varied Pokemon without leaving some behind too easily, and let Ash train new Pokemon without needing to start from scratch overall.
Gym leaders in the Anime are pretty much confirmed to basically hold back in some situations, with the idea being a test of strength and skill rather than an all out battle - but Ash's strength has been proven by 5 regions of Gym conquests, something that would be tiring to repeat a 6th time, and especially if there isn't the return of Contests or some other way of filling in time other than back to back Gyms.
I suppose what I'm suggesting is that because Unova was such a change for Ash, he's learnt all he can out of the idea of challenging a new region with new Pokemon exclusively. Sure it's a good plot device for promoting the new region's Pokemon, but after 3 regions of starting from scratch, isn't it about time that he tried some consolidation of his gains.
Gyms desperately need something to keep them relevant - struggling through a new region with new Pokemon against weak opponents is nowhere near as satisfying as the battles against the best. The pace of BW's badge quest seems to show that the writers are struggling to figure out how to make it interesting, so have just tried to get past it as fast as possible. I don't think this is a good solution either - because what BW2 does to fill in the time until 6th gen will likely be strained, and at best be difficult to replicate in other regions.
By having Ash spend a region focusing on looking at the flaws and challenges specific to each different type and style of Pokemon he has, it would place him in a far better position for league success. There's obviously the argument that Ash will never win the league, but I think he can, and then lose to the elite four, and then lose to the Champion the next region after that. But for it to ever seem justified, Ash has to start taking all of his Pokemon along for the journey and stop restarting from scratch.
He's learnt everything he can from what starting from nothing can do, how about putting all of that into training for success, and adjusting the Gym process to make it a test of skill rather than of strength and give opportunities for it to be about more than whatever 6 Pokemon he has on hand are.
Ash travels with at least two other people, let them make the captures to show off the new Pokemon, let Ash for once consolidate on the strength he's gained. Unova seems to be all about doing Kanto again - how about making the next region about doing Johto right, and have the second region be about making gains off what he's done in the past region rather than just starting again, again.
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