Why The First 5 Seasons Are The Very Best, Like No One Ever Was! - Tentative Title
by, 3rd March 2013 at 08:55 PM (6845 Views)
Welcome to ★stickerstaryoshi's☆ first ever blog entry! I've decided to do this after being inspired by certain blogs, but I digress. (Huh, this seemed so much easier before I actually started writing.)
Why The First Five Seasons of Pokemon Are The Very Best, Like No One Ever Was! (Part 1?) - Tentative Title
Inspired by: pokemon fan 132
We all know how the anime has changed since 2002, and not necessarily for the better, either. I'll explain as I go along. I didn't have much time to finish, so I just settled for splitting this into at least 2 parts, hope no one minds.
Ash started off as a naive, optimistic kid. It was quite funny to watch him make a fool of himself. Then throughout OI, and Johto, he matured, while still keeping traces of his old personality. Many people admire Hoenn for having a "mature" Ash, but not only did Johto do it first, but it did it better. He wasn't learning lessons that he had already learned back in Kanto, unlike in Season 6+. To add to that, Johto still had him as a real character, instead of the "OMGILOVEPOKEMONLETSBATTLE" stereotyped shonen cliche he would later become.
Misty. Like I said above:
But there was more to her than that. For starters, she had to deal with living in the shadows of her sisters, making her more sympathetic than the average "tsundere". Like Ash, she developed throughout the course of OI and Johto, becoming more mature and less impatient, though still keeping traces of her personality. She kinda had to be patient, considering she was dealing with two babies (Ash and Togepi) :P . I don't think Togepi destroyed her character at all, in fact, Togepi was one of the best things to happen to her. Togepi forced the writers to explore other traces of her personality instead of always using her angry side. In addition, she was more motherly, and didn't conform to stereotypical gender standards. Yes, she was feminine, but not too girly. Now for (nearly) everyone's favorite black gym leader...no, not Lenora...Misty was a temperamental girl who had a nice side
Brock! He is perhaps my favorite of the three, despite what would happen to him later on. It was funny and ironic to see a caretaker like Brock being completely serious, only to do a complete 180 when he saw a girl, usually resulting in him either getting dragged away by Misty, or REJECTED. Many will also say that Brock didn't change, but I disagree. Like Brock, the changes are just subtle. At first, he was completely serious (though compassionate), but by GCYL, he had learned to let himself feel sad in front of his friends (usually his crying was played for laughs), and he got a little less serious. Minor changes, but still development regardless.
With this kind of group dynamic, you'd think they'd stick around for quite a while, right? They really seemed inseparable and irreplaceable, but sadly, it didn't last. Misty leaving was perhaps the biggest mistake the anime has made, and probably always will be. Yes, even more than the voice change (at least that only affected the English dub). Since Misty left, character interactions have went downhill, and so have the characters themselves. None of the people who came in afterwards have been nearly as good as her (although I'm fine with Iris). And now, in BW, Brock is gone, this time for good. Without Misty to turn to, Brock got more and more flanderized, same with Ash, who got more and more boring.
~~~Plot Details, and how Pokemon Compares to Other Media~~~
Everyone who's kept up with the anime for at least a while knows what happens at the start of each generation, and what will happen in the next: Ash leaves his friends behind and replaces them with other people, he leaves all of his Pokemon behind except for Pikachu. This might have been okay had it only happened ONCE, but sadly, that's not the case. It just makes it that much harder to invest in the characters, knowing they're soon going to have to leave. Instead of just relying on the reset button as a cop out, they should work with what they have and make their characters better. Making a "fresh start" isn't ADDRESSING the problem, it's just covering it up (very thinly, I might add), and adding new problems, too. What good is character investment when they'll fall victim to the endless cycle? This is an indirect example of Misty leaving affecting the anime negatively.
I will never get why they had to replace Misty and Brock to begin with, it just doesn't work. By now, we're all so used to it that it hardly affects us anymore, but for me, it's still not right. To give you an idea of what I mean, imagine a Mickey Mouse series without Pluto, or even Goofy. It MIGHT work, but it just feels off. Even if they did get stale, why not redeem them? After all, they managed to make Dawn more entertaining (despite her unsatisfying cameo), why couldn't they do the same with Misty or Brock? Other shows keep the same characters and do just fine. Granted, they sometimes get derailed, but is the alternative (character replacement) really much better?
Another thing people like to point out is that we are not the target audience, and that they are only writing for kids. If that's the case, why are they bringing back old characters in BW? Why have cameos at all? Why did they show the Misty lure back in DP? Did they just choose randomly? (Personally, I think it was a desperate ratings trap, and it worked too :P ). Other kids shows have something for everyone, and so did Pokemon - for a time. My Little Pony (which I don't watch) is for little girls, but the creators are apparently actively working to please the adult male demographic (bronies). Heck, grown men are buying the toys, which people say they won't do for Pokemon. If you can get grown men to buy MLP toys, why not Pokemon, right?
For a more gender-neutral example, Animaniacs, Tiny Toons, Looney Tunes, Rocko's Modern Life, etc. were for kids, but still had adult references so that EVERYONE can enjoy. Even today, people still love these shows, because they just hold up. I don't think I've seen a single person complain about any of those shows. In the long run, aiming for as wide of an audience as possible is beneficial to ratings, reputation, and the like. If Pokemon didn't limit itself to a kid audience and actually address their problems, it could have the same critical reception as the ones mentioned above.
~~~Rivalries (aka Gary was here, Paul and Trip are LOSERS!!!)~~~
We all know Gary Oak, right? Yes? Then I'll just get into the rivalry. His rivalry with Ash was GREAT. Every single time he appeared, he taunted Ash and got an angered reaction out of him, and it was always funny. Then we have Paul, who is loved by most of the fandom. In my honest opinion? He's boring, and so is the rivalry. He's powerful, yes, but he really has no personality. His backstory was sad, but it was pretty hard to feel sorry for him. Perhaps if he wasn't a douche to everyone he met, and wasn't a cardboard cutout, this wouldn't be the case. It does seem original on the surface, but when you actually witness it, it's just an overglorified "COTD is being mean to his Pokemon" subplot drawn out for almost 200 episodes! The actual rivalry was nothing more than "Ash and Paul meet up, Ash tries to be nice to him, Paul acts like a douche, Ash gets all whiny", each and every time. At that point, Ash was also boring, so it made the rivalry even more unengaging. Now Trip...he's at least little more interesting than Paul. So what's my problem with his rivalry? Ash. He really doesn't react to what Trip says or does, just shrugs it off. The rivalry might be somewhat more engaging if Ash played his role in it correctly, but he pretty much just goes through the motions here. Also, the writers have yet again attempted to "freshen" things up by making him a rookie trainer, resulting in, you guessed it, a ton of complaints (this, coupled with Ash's regression, did not help matters at all).
So, yeah, Gary >>>>>> Trip >>>>>> Paul.
The winner is Gary Oak!!!
I'm sure this is no contest, OS has much more genuine emotion than the rest. For example, Pikachu's Goodbye had Ash thinking of leaving Pikachu, thinking that it would be better for him to stay in the forest with all the other Pikachu than continue on with him. Now, we all knew that Pikachu wouldn't actually leave, but seeing Ash get all choked up when about to abandon his first Pokemon, and Pikachu wanting to stay with him - it's enough to make anyone feel for him. In Snow Way Out, we had Ash about to freeze to death, and trying to get Pikachu into his ball so he wouldn't share the same fate, but he refuses to stay in, despite the weather condition. Then, soon enough, his Pokemon all come out to warm him up. That alone showed how strong his bond with Pikachu - and his other Pokemon - is. This hasn't really been explored in newer series (the Ash + Pikachu bond in particular is now nothing more than "just take out word for it okay?").
Ash and co. were not the only one who could provide emotion - Team Rocket could, too! In Go West Young Meowth, we saw how Meowth learned to talk in order to impress Meowsie, a female Meowth, but it only led to her looking down on him as a Persian swept him off his feet, leading him to hate the Persian species. Who wouldn't feel sorry for him after that? Jessie and James have pretty sad backstories, too. Later on in Chronicles/AG/DP, the new backstory additions caused timeline errors/plotholes, but back then, there was no problem.
You know something else that was better back then? The leagues. The Indigo League was a tournament (I like the anime's approach on the "after-badge quest"), but there was more to it than just the battles. This league was more of a culmination of Ash's journey, featuring his friends, as well as league-only rivals. Many didn't like how he lost, and while it was frustrating, it made sense from an in-universe perspective. It wasn't as bad as a lot of what would come after...
Next, the Orange League. Instead of just a battle tournament, the viewers found Ash doing various sports (racing, mountain climbing, etc.), with some battles inbetween. After he got the 4 OI badges, he then fought Drake (and won!). THIS was not only a nice change of pace, but he actually won a league! Not a main region league, but still.
The Silver Conference was great as well, it finally gave the Ash vs Gary rivalry sone closure, and it showed how far Ash had come. I considered this a return to form after the OI format (not that I had anything against it). He lost to Harrison's Blaziken with Charizard (who listened, at least), but at least it was a fair fight.
Hoenn League: It wasn't that bad, but not that good either. All of the other competitiors were just random people (I even count Morrison and Tyson because they appeared too late), didn't help that Ash had no rival. It got boring seeing just the Hoenn Pokemon, and the way Ash lost was pretty unsatisfying. Nothing really stood out to me besides the Meowth in boots.
Sinnoh League: Weak. It started off pretty lame, with Ash's battle with Nando (I honestly forgot about this guy) being skimmed through by Team Rocket (did they REALLY need to be in this episode?). It got better later on, although I thought the AvP 3-parter was too drawn out. Then all of a sudden, Tobias randomly appeared. No background, no personality, nothing, he was just a guy with 2 (not one, but TWO!!) legendaries, created only to beat Ash. As bad as that sounds, it's still better than...
Unova League: We've all seen it, we all hated it. This does not need explaining.
So that's it for now.
Oh, and before ANYONE pulls out the nostalgia card, note that I still like Super Mario Bros, Legend of Zelda, etc. - things from my CHILDHOOD. In fact, Super Mario Galaxy is among my favorite games. If I was really "nostalgic", wouldn't I hate this game?
Withdraw all nostalgia cards please.