How Is 'Pokemon's Ash Ketchum Still 10 Years Old?
The greatest inconsistency plaguing the Pokemon franchise isn't that monsters are somehow captured in tiny balls or that those monsters are wild creatures that are also somehow fully sentient. Those are things we can sort of set aside in our minds as functions within a world full of animal rights violations, but at least a world that sort of adheres to laws of physics. The one thing that has never made any sense, however, is that Ash, our protagonist, is still somehow 10 years old despite appearing in over 1,117 episodes, 23 movies, and various side stories in a serialized narrative.
This isn't like The Simpsons or other cases of episodic television where the narrative resets itself after every episode. It's a continuous story, and even if you were to count each episode as its own day (generous, considering some episodes clearly take place over several days), that would still make Ash at least 13-14 years old. It could even be argued that Ash should be at least 17 by now.
The latest continuation of the anime named Pokemon Journeys: The Series (because why limit redundancy to only just the plot when you can include it in the title) had the potential to address Ash's age dilemma. Instead, they only managed to make the problem worse. The series introduces Goh, a 10-year-old boy, as a joint protagonist to Ash, and, in the first episode, we're shown three things which damn the timeline straight to continuity hell.
The first is that we see Ash's trophies from past seasons alongside his bed. There is no soft reboot happening here. Everything that has happened in the previous seasons is still canon in this one. The second time-annihilating sin we see is a flashback in which a six-year-old Goh and Ash are to attend the same Pokemon summer camp.
The final straw is that when we flash forward in the second episode, Goh is offered the option to receive his starter Pokemon, which is an option you are only given when you reach the age of 10. So basically, not only is Ash still 10 years old in this series, but we're supposed to believe that while Ash was collecting badges and breaking hearts for 1,000 plus episodes, Goh was just at home grabbing his own ass.
There are plenty of ways that Pokemon Journeys could have easily addressed all of this. Maybe we could learn that in this universe "10" is just a moniker for when you've reached Pokemon adopting age. It would explain why Goh only now gets a Pokemon and why May got a starter Pokemon when we first met her in Diamond and Pearl despite us also being told she was the exact same age as Ash. But this explanation is once again hyper-beamed into dust by telling us that Goh and Ash were the same age at that summer camp. And, yeah, maybe "six" is just this world's arbitrary age for "goes to summer camp without supervision," but it doesn't do enough to explain what should be a four year age gap between Ash and Goh.
We could have also made Ash two years older and hedged our bets or just never have addressed age within the series at all. Or you could just cut the Peter Pan shit and give us the 17-year-old Ash we're all looking for. That way, we wouldn't have an existential crisis any time the sun went down during an episode. But maybe that is what I get for hyper analyzing a TV show meant to sell video games and plush toys.
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Top Image: The Pokemon Company/ Netflix