Editorial: Pokemon Anime vs Games

Should have gone with my character, I named him dickbutt!
Pokemon Red is made canon for the anime.

In the lead up to the remakes of Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire later this year, I decided to watch the entirety of the anime over the next six months. I only planned to watch the first season, but as Netflix only has two thirds of the season, I had to locate the rest and decided to continue on. Over eighty episodes later, I though I would write about some of the conclusions I have come to from watching the series so far.

The beginning of the first episode mirrors the intro to Pokemon Red. This may seem obvious to some people, but Ash was one of three naming choices for the main character (The others being Red or Jack). In Blue, these were the choices for the rival. Imagine if Nintendo had chosen the Blue version to be cannon instead, we could have been following the adventures of Gary Ketchum for the last fifteen years!

The first episode also shows a variety of Pokémon not found indigenous to the area around Pallet town, such as Spearow, Manky, and Sandshrew. The Pidgeotto that Ash catches in Viridian Forest should also not be there, but when Yellow was released later, Pidgeotto was added in to the area to reflect Ash’s journey through the series. Strangely, this allowed the player to catch a Pidgeotto at a lower level than the Pidgey it evolves from!

I could get wrapped up in inconsistencies all day, but let us have a look at something interesting the anime does; creating new moves not seen in the games. Pikachu has a couple here, using a weak static attack against a Paras instead of a full Electric Shock. He also improvises a new move by using Thunder to propel a boxing glove, which given how strong Pikachu’s attacks usually are, is not very effective at all. At times the anime follows the Yu-Gi-Oh style by creating new cards (or in this case, moves) to obtain a victory when the story calls for it, such as when Charizard uses Arial Submission by spinning around in the air to damage the Magmar clinging on to him.

The anime has brought us glimpses of future Pokémon. In the very first episode, Ash spots an Ho-Oh flying high above. Anyone might have thought that art from the anime was used in creating new Pokémon for generation II, but the reverse is true. Gold and Silver were actually due out in late 97′, but were pushed back to take advantage of the upcoming Game Boy Color. This means that the first episode of the anime was released within half a year of the expected release date of the sequels, well within the time necessary to have the designs finished for the hundred new Pokémon that eventually shipped with the game.

Filler episodes are teh suk!
Ash takes forever to walk a short distance.

In the Anime, Ash does take rather long routes to traverse what are rather simple paths. He has to cross a river to get to Viridian City from Pallet Town, despite the fact that the maps show nothing of the sort on the road between the cities. Perhaps this is why Gary always seems to be one step ahead of him. In fact, Gary is so far ahead of Ash, he has managed to acquire ten badges when only eight are available to collect in the game. The anime does mention there are other gyms that Ash does not visit. Perhaps Gary visited the Johto region to collect more badges before heading back Kanto. This is supported by the fact that the player can travel to Kanto in generation II to earn extra badges. Also, the League does not seem to mind what badges a trainer collects, as long as they have eight.

Finally, the league is very different than the games. There are no elite four and champion awaiting Ash, instead a tournament is arranged where the winner can go forward to challenge the elite four. Or they could just challenge the champion directly as many people seem to do in the games and anime.

So, that is my experience of the Anime after playing all the games. I never watched past season three, and even then I only saw an episode here and there. I look forward to hitting generation three, especially with the Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby remakes coming up.

What is your experience of the Pokémon anime? Have you seen any of the banned episodes? Is it still necessary after almost sixteen years? Should I do another editorial when I have watched a few more seasons? Let me know in the comments!


  1. I’d like to read more of this.
    I have sporadically watched Pokemon–I know there are torrents of it out there. I should probably watch the entire series sometime, as I enjoyed what I saw.

  2. The Pokémon anime is strange in that it’s really not very good TV, but at the same time, the funny moments are worth the price of admission. Just when you’re getting too sick of the show to watch any more, there comes a moment that makes you want to watch the show forever because you’re laughing so hard.

  3. I watched season 1 and some of season 2. I gave it up when my young mind realized these characters were never going to grow and Ash will never achieve anything. It did get me to play Pokemon Yellow which would make me a fans of the games later on.

  4. I believe that there is a hack available for Fire Red called Ash Gray that follows the events of the anime and some of the movies.

  5. Matt Dance reffered me to this page. Interesting article. Ive always loved the pokemon shows and games, from n64 to gameboy. I still have all my cards in plastic from when I was little :)

  6. Welcome! Always good to hear a new voice in the comments.

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