For years we have followed Ash Ketchum on his extraordinary Pokémon adventures and have witnessed his enormous growth as a character and a Pokémon trainer. However, this growth has only been internal and skill related, as Ash has never actually aged in the show’s 9 year Television run. His Peter Pan like ability is somewhat fascinating for fans who question his ever-constant, youth-like state. Many generations of fans have long since out grown Ash, but remain true to their Pokémon roots. Those familiar with the anime have raised a popular question, which has caught steam throughout the interwebs: ”Why doesn’t Ash ever grow older?”
The conspiracy behind Ash’s age has inspired many fans to come up with their own solidified reasons as to why the destined Pokémon Master never matures.
One popular theory is the ‘Ash Coma Theory,’ which considers the fact that Ash never actually made it out of the first episode unharmed. The assumption refers to when he blacked out after being shocked by Pikachu during the Sparrow chase.
It is said that this event placed him in a comatose-like state and his entire adventures after that day have all been in his imagination. Even though this sounds probable, it is a bit too dark for the Pokémon universe to have a story of this magnitude be apart of their franchise.
My personal favorite theory also occurs in episode one when Ash and Pikachu are just waking up after the Sparrow encounter. Ash happens to peer into the sky and sees the Legendary Pokémon of the Johto region – Ho-Ho (who wasn’t yet mentioned in the poke’ verse at the time) flying above him. When he asks who the Pokémon was his pokedex replies with: “There is no data, there are still Pokémon yet to be identified.”
Ho-Ho is a legendary bird with awesome powers and magical abilities. So powerful, that it’s said he gave life to Johtos Legendary Beasts by empowering a Jolteon, Flareon, and a Vaporeon with mystic energies. His pokedex entry varies from game to game but in the Diamond and Pearl games his entry states: “It possesses seven-colored wings. It is said that those who see Ho-Oh are promised an eternal happiness.” The theory goes to explain that when Ash saw Ho-Ho at the end of episode one he was granted eternal life because Ash’s idea of “eternal happiness” is being on a Pokémon journey, thus never aging. This theory is more likely to be true as it connects directly to the Pokémon mythos the creators have built.
So now let’s get down to a few facts on why Ash should be older.
When the anime launched Ash was 10 years old, which is the mandatory age required for anyone who wants to obtain a license to own or train Pokémon. Throughout the course of his adventures there are some discrepancies scattered about a few episodes, movies, and OVA’s, which don’t really add up to why Ash is still 10.
Here’s a list:
- In the episode “The battle of the badge”, Ash mentions that it took him a full year of traveling through Kanto to get back to Vermiton city. After this reveal he should be 11.
- In the Pikachu short before the Enti movie, Ash tells Pikachu that they are throwing a party for the anniversary of the first time they met, so now that’s technically two years. So he should be 12 which matches his travels in Johto and the timing of third movie.
- Before the Battle Frontier Ash tells May that their travels took several of months, combined with his journey in Johto that would mean that Ash could be around 13 before reaching the Hoenn region arc.
- The Battle Frontier took him about the same time as the Orange Islands, which was about 6 months each, so this is 1 year since the third movie making him about 14.
- With the amount of episodes in-between, Ash should be about 15 by the Sinoh region.
- Finally in the Kalos region Ash should be about 16 give or take a few months.
Realistically speaking it is impossible for Ash to have run through all of the regions in the span of one year, even if each episode is considered to be one full day. So with that said here’s a timeline I created detailing how old I feel he should be throughout the series.
(Art credit – Luis Hernandez)
So with 800 episodes, 18 movies, and 16 years being on air, why haven’t the creators aged him? One word encompasses these inquires, Marketing.
It’s simply because the Pokémon Company needs their show/brand to remain relevant to the main demographic of fans, which in many cases are kids from the ages of 8 – 13. This cycle has been going on for as far as I can remember and it’s one of the main reasons Pokémon has been able to stay alive and active for as long as it has.
To keep the older fans hooked (who have since forgotten about the show) they release Pokémon videogames/card games and introduce a whole new set of species never before seen. They also promote this with their tagline “Gotta Catch Em’ All,” forcing fans into a never ending journey to catch every Pokémon in all game installments so they get the sense they’ve become true masters.
I for one love the Pokémon franchise; its a billion dollar industry and the people at headquarters know exactly what they’re doing. Although I would very much like a spin-off show where Ash has matured and is a Pokémon master or very close to it.
(Fan made – Possible future series)
His level of adaptability in battles would be immensely improved and I’m sure he would have an incredible arsenal of Pokémon (maybe even some legendry’s) at his disposal.