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Controversial opinions

If they wanted to keep Ash so badly, they should've made him choose to focus on contests for at least one region and make his female companion on said region take on the gym challenge instead.

A risky decision for sure, but I think it would've made things more dynamic without having to "reset" Ash, and it would've been a great opportunity to put other characters (especially the girls) a bit more on the spotlight. They could've done this for the Unova series, after Ash lost the Sinnoh league maybe?
 
If they wanted to keep Ash so badly, they should've made him choose to focus on contests for at least one region and make his female companion on said region take on the gym challenge instead.

A risky decision for sure, but I think it would've made things more dynamic without having to "reset" Ash, and it would've been a great opportunity to put other characters (especially the girls) a bit more on the spotlight. They could've done this for the Unova series, after Ash lost the Sinnoh league maybe?
It's an interesting idea, but I don't think that would have really worked, or at least made sense with Ash's character. He loves to battle and while he did do well in the Contests he took part in, he often forgot to focus on making his combos to appeal to the judges and went into his usual battle mode, especially in the battle rounds. Ash knew that Contests weren't really for him, so turning that around and making him a coordinator for a full series instead of into Gyms would have felt pretty off in my opinion. As much as I miss Contests even to this day, I don't think that they would have kept them around once they weren't in the main series games anymore.
 
And if I sound pessimistic about the prospect of Liko battling, it’s because the writers basically drilled in over the span of 4 episodes that Liko isn’t a battler because that’s not her path as a trainer, solving things pacifistically is. So I really don’t have much hope.
Since Liko sometimes fights (she even proposed some battles herself), she is a battler.
The development path does not matter here.
 
Since Liko sometimes fights (she even proposed some battles herself), she is a battler.
The development path does not matter here.
I'm still not sure about that. Every trainer in the cast battles since that's a major aspect of the franchise and a typical way to resolve conflict, but that doesn't necessarily means that they'd be considered a battler. Lillie battled with Snowy for example, but I don't think she'd be considered a battler exactly either. When I think about characters who are battlers, I'm thinking more about characters who actively enjoy battling and/or battling is a key part of their goal that they actively take part in. If Liko only sometimes battles and it isn't really a part of her goal to battle, then I don't think she really comes off as a battler. At the very least, I wouldn't consider her a battle active female lead.
 
Here's a hot take.

I'm not the biggest fan of Paul's character, but I don't think he was wrong to release the Pokemon that didn't actually try to bond with him (the Starly and Azumarill). I actually don't even fault him for releasing the Azumarill because it lost to a Pokemon that it had the type advantage over (not to mention that Roark was the first gym leader in that region). It's not like he lied, and at least Paul gave it to another trainer instead.
 
Truthfully, I think the way the show went actually leans towards the writers (probably accidentally) agreeing with Paul about using strong Pokémon instead of ones you bond with and help get strong later; since Ash stopped using reserves for anything important after DP and his major victories after that thus all come with teams of inexperiencd but talented newbies+Pikachu (who was said very early on to be unusually strong).

I chalk it up to what I'd call a general lack of sincerity in the franchise that's become more obvious to me over time.
 
Truthfully, I think the way the show went actually leans towards the writers (probably accidentally) agreeing with Paul about using strong Pokémon instead of ones you bond with and help get strong later; since Ash stopped using reserves for anything important after DP and his major victories after that thus all come with teams of inexperiencd but talented newbies+Pikachu (who was said very early on to be unusually strong).

I chalk it up to what I'd call a general lack of sincerity in the franchise that's become more obvious to me over time.
I mean to me, it made the writing look bad when Ash lambasted Paul for releasing the Starly and Azumarill. I mean I agree with the narrative about Paul releasing Chimchar, though (then again it was better off with Ash anyway since Ash's style of training was beneficial for Chimchar's growth).
 
Here's a hot take.

I'm not the biggest fan of Paul's character, but I don't think he was wrong to release the Pokemon that didn't actually try to bond with him (the Starly and Azumarill). I actually don't even fault him for releasing the Azumarill because it lost to a Pokemon that it had the type advantage over (not to mention that Roark was the first gym leader in that region). It's not like he lied, and at least Paul gave it to another trainer instead.
Giving Azumarill to another trainer was a pretty noteworthy improvement over just releasing it. I'm not sure why they didn't have Paul doing something like that again, aside from probably still figuring out his character and making his methods more distinct from Ash's. It was still pretty harsh to just give up on it. Roark was the first Gym Leader in Sinnoh, but clearly not a pushover either. But compared to what Paul would do later with Chimchar, giving his Pokemon away wouldn't have been as bad as releasing them.
 
Giving Azumarill to another trainer was a pretty noteworthy improvement over just releasing it. I'm not sure why they didn't have Paul doing something like that again, aside from probably still figuring out his character and making his methods more distinct from Ash's. It was still pretty harsh to just give up on it. Roark was the first Gym Leader in Sinnoh, but clearly not a pushover either. But compared to what Paul would do later with Chimchar, giving his Pokemon away wouldn't have been as bad as releasing them.
While we don't know how long he had that Azumarill, it is possible that he had it for a while prior to getting rid. It might have been in the same boat as Chimchar was. Of course, this is purely hypothetical.
 
While we don't know how long he had that Azumarill, it is possible that he had it for a while prior to getting rid. It might have been in the same boat as Chimchar was. Of course, this is purely hypothetical.
While that is possible, I kind of doubt it. I don't think that Paul would be interested in raising an Azuril or Maril into a Azumarill. If he had been raising it for awhile, I think it probably would have done better against Roark than it did.
 
While that is possible, I kind of doubt it. I don't think that Paul would be interested in raising an Azuril or Maril into a Azumarill. If he had been raising it for awhile, I think it probably would have done better against Roark than it did.
I honestly agree and don't think that Paul raised from one of those early stages. I was just thinking that he might have caught as an Azumarill, had it for a while, and decided to get rid of it after it lost of Geodude.
 
I honestly agree and don't think that Paul raised from one of those early stages. I was just thinking that he might have caught as an Azumarill, had it for a while, and decided to get rid of it after it lost of Geodude.
Bruh, Geodude is one of the weakest rock type Pokemon (before it evolves at least). While you may disagree with the fact that Paul gave away his Azumarill, I don't even fault Paul for being offended at the fact that his Azumarill lost to a freaking Geodude.
 
Giving Azumarill to another trainer was a pretty noteworthy improvement over just releasing it. I'm not sure why they didn't have Paul doing something like that again, aside from probably still figuring out his character and making his methods more distinct from Ash's. It was still pretty harsh to just give up on it. Roark was the first Gym Leader in Sinnoh, but clearly not a pushover either. But compared to what Paul would do later with Chimchar, giving his Pokemon away wouldn't have been as bad as releasing them.
I guess it's because it would have made Paul look like less of a jerk (and that's not what the writers may have wanted for his character). It's painfully obvious that the writers wanted Paul to be an expy of Silver from the games (who was just a complete apathetic jerk).
 
Bruh, Geodude is one of the weakest rock type Pokemon (before it evolves at least). While you may disagree with the fact that Paul gave away his Azumarill, I don't even fault Paul for being offended at the fact that his Azumarill lost to a freaking Geodude.
Oh no, I don't really disagree with him giving it away to someone else, especially after it's poor performance against Geodude. I just thought that maybe he had the Azumarill for some time prior to battling Roark.
 
If there's one thing i'm glad the writers didn't do with Paul it's that they didn't go over the top with his character. Constantly calling his Pokemon pathetic is clearly some verbal abuse and at least people tended to call him out on it, but there was never a scene where Ash stumbled upon Paul threatening and ruthlessly chewing out one of his Pokemon so that Ash could rush over to be a hero. And he certainly never got any enjoyment from treating his Pokemon like that, its not like they cut to him just smirking cruelly when he eventually released Chimchar. No they kept him relatively grounded and didn't try to hammer it into the audience's head that 'Ash would never abuse his Pokemon and Paul is a monster that must be stopped!'.
 
Oh no, I don't really disagree with him giving it away to someone else, especially after it's poor performance against Geodude. I just thought that maybe he had the Azumarill for some time prior to battling Roark.
Even when I was kid watching that episode, I always got the impression he had just caught it to help with the Gym given its typing. Given the focus they gave Elekid & Chimchar even by that point, I felt it was clear which of Paul's Pokémon he had invested more time in.

That all aside, looking back I would say it worked out for Azumarill. It seemed to be given to a Trainer that would appreciate it for who it is and be spared Paul's grueling training regimen.
 
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