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Does Pokemon Journeys Have A Balance Issue?

A Wild Luxray

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Recently, a big discussion topic has been whether Pokemon Journeys has a big issue balancing its two protagonists. Like Diamond and Pearl, this series treats one of Ash's companions as a co-protagonist, or in this case, Ash's only companion. Recently, people have been questioning whether this series balances out Ash and Goh focused episodes enough. A recent example shows JN034 to JN039, where there is a 4 episode stretch of episodes primarily focused on Goh catching Pokemon, while doing little to focus on Ash after a losing streak and a drop back to normal class. These episodes preceed Ash's rematch with Bea, while giving us no time to focus on Ash, Riolu, and even G-Farfetch'd. It even seems that Ash has suddenly made his way back to the super class off screen. Does this series have an issue balacing focus between Ash and Goh?
 

Panky..

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For reference: Here's the statistics that I posted in another thread, updated to include JN038 (Goh focus with Ash and Koharu in the Shared category), JN039 (Ash focus) and JN040 (Shared).
  • Ash, 12 episodes.
  • Pikachu, 3 episodes.
  • Goh, 17 episodes.
  • Shared, 9 episodes.
  • Koharu, 3 episodes.
  • TRio, 2 episodes.
  • Leon, 3 episodes.
  • CotDs, 2 episodes.
  • Ash, 12 episodes.
  • Dawn, 10 episodes.
  • Brock, 3 episodes.
  • Shared, 12 episodes.
  • Paul, 4 episodes.
  • TRio, 4 episodes.
  • Hunter J, 1 episode.
  • Kenny, 2 episodes.
  • Cheryl, 3 episodes.
  • Gardenia, 2 episodes.
  • Team Galactic, 1 episode.
  • CotD, 2 episodes.
 
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Islander Princess

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Absolutely. It's one of my biggest criticisms of Journeys thus far.

I'm not someone who has a problem with Goh getting attention, and lately, his focus episodes have been pretty good. But it really bugs me that he and Ash have been repeatedly labeled as "co-protagonists" and the focus episode distribution has been way off. Even when Ash has a focus episode, I still feel like Goh takes up a lot of screen time in them, which Ash doesn't tend to do in Goh-focused episodes. I know Goh is the new character, but they've given Ash an interesting goal this series and I don't feel like it's gotten enough focus thus far.

As some of you have already said, DP did a much better job of spreading out focus, and Dawn was considered a "companion" not a "co-protagonist" so I don't know why it's so much more all over the place now.
 

KrspaceT

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Absolutely. It's one of my biggest criticisms of Journeys thus far.

I'm not someone who has a problem with Goh getting attention, and lately, his focus episodes have been pretty good. But it really bugs me that he and Ash have been repeatedly labeled as "co-protagonists" and the focus episode distribution has been way off. Even when Ash has a focus episode, I still feel like Goh takes up a lot of screen time in them, which Ash doesn't tend to do in Goh-focused episodes. I know Goh is the new character, but they've given Ash an interesting goal this series and I don't feel like it's gotten enough focus thus far.

As some of you have already said, DP did a much better job of spreading out focus, and Dawn was considered a "companion" not a "co-protagonist" so I don't know why it's so much more all over the place now.

They can do that (see say the Visquez fight) but others....I'm curious if there is an actual mandate about it. Like I've seen jokes that Goh 'is required to do catches and get focus in each new region episode', but could that actually be true?
 

Rocket Messiah

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Let's make it clear that the Team Rocket episodes were about the group. There have been no Jessie, no James, no Meowth, No Wobuffet episode.

But of course it's really hard to do that without freaking Pokémon on his team.
 

Greninjaman

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For reference: Here's the statistics that I posted in another thread, updated to include JN038 (Goh focus with Ash and Koharu in the Shared category), JN039 (Ash focus) and JN040 (Shared).
  • Ash, 12 episodes.
  • Pikachu, 3 episodes.
  • Goh, 17 episodes.
  • Shared, 9 episodes.
  • Koharu, 3 episodes.
  • TRio, 2 episodes.
  • CotDs, 2 episodes.
  • Ash, 12 episodes.
  • Dawn, 10 episodes.
  • Brock, 3 episodes.
  • Shared, 12 episodes.
  • Paul, 4 episodes.
  • TRio, 4 episodes.
  • Hunter J, 1 episode.
  • Kenny, 2 episodes.
  • Cheryl, 3 episodes.
  • Gardenia, 2 episodes.
  • Team Galactic, 1 episode.
  • CotD, 2 episodes.
what about the first 40 episodes of the other sagas? What about Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, Unova, Kalos, and Alola?
 

Greninjaman

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Would be a bit too much work for me but if people here really want a comparison then I'll get it done sometime. I only did DP due to the dual protagonist set up that it shares with JN to showcase the poor balance between the characters and bad episode placement.
Oh. I guess that would be a bit much...
sorry.
 

marshiyanmisuta

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Only if we're talking about Koharu. By my estimate they're about equal.
JN001 Pikachu/Gou
JN002 Satoshi/Gou
JN003 Satoshi/Gou
JN004 Gou/Rabbifoot
JN005 Gou/Rabbifoot
JN006 Gou
JN007 Satoshi
JN008 CotDs
JN009 Satoshi/CotDs
JN010 Satoshi/Kairyu
JN011 Koharu
JN012 Satoshi/Dande
JN013 Satoshi/Dande
JN014 Satoshi/Gou/CotDs
JN015 Gou
JN016 Satoshi/Gengar
JN017 Gou/Rabbifoot
JN018 Satoshi
JN019 Team Rocket
JN020 Satoshi/Gou
JN021 Satoshi/Riolu
JN022 Gou/Rabbifoot
JN023 Gou/His pokémon
JN024 Team Rocket
JN025 Satoshi
JN026 Satoshi/Gou
JN027 Satoshi/Dande
JN028 Gou/Messon
JN029 Koharu/Wanpachi
JN030 Pikachu
JN031 Koharu/CotD
JN032 Gou
JN033 Satoshi/Gou/CotD
JN034 Satoshi
JN035 Satishi/Gou
JN036 Satoshi/Gou
JN037 Gou
JN038 Satoshi/Gou/Koharu
JN039 Satoshi
JN040 ???
 

Silktree

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Last I checked Ash has been around for 23+ years, so I am not particularly bothered by Go getting 5 more focus episodes at this point (is that really your idea of a balance issue?). It's Chloe that I want to see become more active, but the opening doesn't fill me with hope (it will have to be updated for Eevee, though). Maybe when New Snap is released she'll have a goal.
 

Rocket Messiah

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Would be a bit too much work for me but if people here really want a comparison then I'll get it done sometime. I only did DP due to the dual protagonist set up that it shares with JN to showcase the poor balance between the characters and bad episode placement.

That list is really hard to make.

Good job.

Last I checked Ash has been around for 23+ years

And? He is still suposed to be the protagonist isn't it. The other guy managed to have an episode about himself. Not even Team Rocket managed to do that.
 

Islander Princess

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They can do that (see say the Visquez fight) but others....I'm curious if there is an actual mandate about it. Like I've seen jokes that Goh 'is required to do catches and get focus in each new region episode', but could that actually be true?

It's an interesting question. I do feel like that has the tendency to hurt an episode's plot, especially when the capture itself doesn't feel connected to the rest of the episode, but I wouldn't be surprised if that's something the writers have to do solely to fit in all of the captures Goh needs to make to reach his goal, and that's why a lot of them end up feeling like an afterthought.
 

PkmnTrainerV

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I still feel like Goh takes up a lot of screen time in them, which Ash doesn't tend to do in Goh-focused episodes. I know Goh is the new character, but they've given Ash an interesting goal this series and I don't feel like it's gotten enough focus thus far.
@Islander Princess really hits the nail on the head of the issue. Whenever we get an Ash focus episode, Go has to have a side plot, even if it’s to the detriment of Ash focus. This results in Ash's focused being rushed. While we get more episodes where Go gets sole focus, and Ash stands around like a passive character in those. Even Ash focused episodes end up not being fully focused on him while Go gets undivided attention at his own focus.

The Bea "focus" Ash gets is also spoiled by the fact that it’s highly convoluted... and they had to stuff Go episodes into it making Ash's arc a humour jab.
 

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Only if we're talking about Koharu. By my estimate they're about equal.
JN001 Pikachu/Gou
JN002 Satoshi/Gou
JN003 Satoshi/Gou
JN004 Gou/Rabbifoot
JN005 Gou/Rabbifoot
JN006 Gou
JN007 Satoshi
JN008 CotDs
JN009 Satoshi/CotDs
JN010 Satoshi/Kairyu
JN011 Koharu
JN012 Satoshi/Dande
JN013 Satoshi/Dande
JN014 Satoshi/Gou/CotDs
JN015 Gou
JN016 Satoshi/Gengar
JN017 Gou/Rabbifoot
JN018 Satoshi
JN019 Team Rocket
JN020 Satoshi/Gou
JN021 Satoshi/Riolu
JN022 Gou/Rabbifoot
JN023 Gou/His pokémon
JN024 Team Rocket
JN025 Satoshi
JN026 Satoshi/Gou
JN027 Satoshi/Dande
JN028 Gou/Messon
JN029 Koharu/Wanpachi
JN030 Pikachu
JN031 Koharu/CotD
JN032 Gou
JN033 Satoshi/Gou/CotD
JN034 Satoshi
JN035 Satishi/Gou
JN036 Satoshi/Gou
JN037 Gou
JN038 Satoshi/Gou/Koharu
JN039 Satoshi
JN040 ???
Nice attempt, but you compiled a list of appearances rather than key focus where the characters do something relevant. And in some cases, you missed out (Ex: JN025, since it had a separate Goh portion and not one shared as a duo) or wrongly listed it (Ex: JN009 didn't have anything to do with Ash outside him mentioning the Ho-oh encounter).
Last I checked Ash has been around for 23+ years, so I am not particularly bothered by Go getting 5 more focus episodes at this point (is that really your idea of a balance issue?). It's Chloe that I want to see become more active, but the opening doesn't fill me with hope (it will have to be updated for Eevee, though). Maybe when New Snap is released she'll have a goal.
I was just waiting for someone to bring up the strawman that Ash doesn't need focus episodes "because he's been protagonist for 23 years". Last I recall, the set up for the series is "dual protagonist" and not "Goh the protagonist and Ash as a sidekick". And no, we're nearly 40 episodes in so it's been more than enough time for him to be established as a character. Even the SM cast was established in half that time and that one was 3 times larger. "Five more episodes" is an issue if you choose to portray something relatively mundane or boring in them over development to a far more interesting plotline/character. I'd rather see the active and interesting goal of the PWC get more focus instead of a walking Pokemon GO advertisement that goes nowhere. Even Koharu's blank slate potential and possible future paths seem more interesting than the latter.

And the issue isn't just the bad balance but also bad episode placement and the episodic format, just take the example Wild Luxray brought about with the string of unrelated Goh episodes (unrelated to each other too) in between Ash's episodes with barely any time for him training/preparing for his rematch leading to rushed conclusions and disconnected plotlines. It's definitely a problem regardless of whether you choose to ignore it or not consider it one. Since you decided to bring up Koharu, she's affected negatively as well. We had a decent streak of a few episodes where she was prominent, then she's suddenly forgotten for the next half a dozen episodes. If the previews for the next few are any indication, then she'll be forgotten for the next half a dozen as well.

Neither the bad focus balance or the bad placements is excusable in any way though, since DP already did far better with relatively the same setup. On top of that, it even built up other recurring characters and set up future arcs quite well. If it was done better back then, surely they could have emulated it now as well?
 
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PkmnTrainerV

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Last I checked Ash has been around for 23+ years, so I am not particularly bothered by Go getting 5 more focus episodes at this point (is that really your idea of a balance issue?). It's Chloe that I want to see become more active, but the opening doesn't fill me with hope (it will have to be updated for Eevee, though). Maybe when New Snap is released she'll have a goal.
Why does it become "Ash has been the protagonist for 23 years" when it comes to actual Ash focus and then changes to "The target audience don’t know Ash, it makes no sense to cater to nostalgia/do so and so which is in line with Ash's character/ give us another repetitive episode."

It’s turning into some kind of paradox. If Ash as been our protagonist for 23 years, the series should act like it. And if he’s supposed to be new to the audience, give us decent Ash focus and don’t turn him into a background character. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.

I've run into both of these arguments and have tried to be understanding, but I've realised how counterintuitive it sounds when put together.
 
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a230

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I think that Journeys is the last series with Ash as the protagonist. He won a league, compete against the best in the world, don't have a lot more to do to become a pokemon master. The fact that Go has more focus than Ash is part of a transition. Now Ash is still a protagonist, but the tables are changing and soon he will maybe be a support character or a cameo in the next series. I've grown with Ash, now it's time to let him go. Time change, thing changes, pokemon is also changing. Same thing for team rocket, we don't see them a lot in this series and it's sad. I love them so much in Advance Generation and in Diamond and pearl, they had so much development. Now they are useless. They don't even have their own pokemon anymore, the peliper thing was funny at the beggining, but now it's redundent. We need an other Victreebel,Carnivine type of relationship. An other goal for them, like Jessie and the Contest. We need a Meowth focus episode. Team Rocket are for me a waste since Sun and moon and it's sad.
 

Kurolegacy

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I think that Journeys is the last series with Ash as the protagonist. He won a league, compete against the best in the world, don't have a lot more to do to become a pokemon master. The fact that Go has more focus than Ash is part of a transition. Now Ash is still a protagonist, but the tables are changing and soon he will maybe be a support character or a cameo in the next series. I've grown with Ash, now it's time to let him go. Time change, thing changes, pokemon is also changing. Same thing for team rocket, we don't see them a lot in this series and it's sad. I love them so much in Advance Generation and in Diamond and pearl, they had so much development. Now they are useless. They don't even have their own pokemon anymore, the peliper thing was funny at the beggining, but now it's redundent. We need an other Victreebel,Carnivine type of relationship. An other goal for them, like Jessie and the Contest. We need a Meowth focus episode. Team Rocket are for me a waste since Sun and moon and it's sad.
The day that they make Go the main protagonist is the day that I drop the anime. No offense to those who are fans but almost 40 episodes in and, while the humanizing aspect of him is well written, the Pokémon side of him is among the most boring that I’ve seen as far as main characters go. Between the fact that he’s the personification of a mobile game that’s mainly about the collecting aspect of Pokémon, his repetitive style of capturing Pokémon with barely a challenge and the fact that they still haven’t given him anything interesting to do with his Pokémon causing most of them to simply exist as background extras, him being the main character would be exceptionally boring. On top of that, it would be giving some seriously bad implications that you choose to replace the character that represents the core games aspect of the series with a character that represents a mobile game that basically reduces the series down to bare bones elements. If their idea is for this to be Ash’s final journey, at that point, they’re better off just rebooting the series to follow a new character than handing the reigns to Go.
 

Hidden Mew

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I think that Journeys is the last series with Ash as the protagonist. He won a league, compete against the best in the world, don't have a lot more to do to become a pokemon master. The fact that Go has more focus than Ash is part of a transition. Now Ash is still a protagonist, but the tables are changing and soon he will maybe be a support character or a cameo in the next series. I've grown with Ash, now it's time to let him go. Time change, thing changes, pokemon is also changing. Same thing for team rocket, we don't see them a lot in this series and it's sad. I love them so much in Advance Generation and in Diamond and pearl, they had so much development. Now they are useless. They don't even have their own pokemon anymore, the peliper thing was funny at the beggining, but now it's redundent. We need an other Victreebel,Carnivine type of relationship. An other goal for them, like Jessie and the Contest. We need a Meowth focus episode. Team Rocket are for me a waste since Sun and moon and it's sad.

I honestly can't see Ash being replaced. I think fans make a bigger deal about Ash winning the Alola League than the anime generally does. I don't think it was brought up when he returned to Alola, or at least I don't think that was the case given that I didn't hear about it through the grapevines. Winning one Pokemon League doesn't mean he shouldn't or can't compete in another one, especially when the Alola League was not particularly challenging. Ash is in the World Championship now, but it's a tournament that anyone can enter. His previous achievements weren't a factor and defeating Leon won't make him a Pokemon Master, which is also assuming that he'll defeat Leon. That's still up in the air.

Ash has been the main character for over twenty years. We're way past the point where he could be replaced by another character. Even though he is battling in a bigger tournament this time around, I don't think that they'll have a problem with keeping Ash doing something else in the next series. It isn't like they've had to regress Ash or give him a fresh start after arguably being at his peak before. The anime always changes with each series, but I can't see them removing Ash or Team Rocket at this point. Team Rocket has been getting less screentime for awhile, so I don't think that they're interested in removing them completely. Even with their minimal screentime, the Team Rocket trio are still popular and are often used for marketing for the newest movies.

I can't comment too much on the balance issue since I haven't even finished watching the new episodes on Netflix yet. However, I do think that the complaints about Ash not getting enough attention at the start of Journeys were exaggerations. Goh was getting attention from the start, but the notion that Ash was doing nothing or being a background character prior to entering the World Championship seems pretty ridiculous to me. Maybe it would be hard for me to judge that portion of the series since I wasn't watching the series weekly and I already knew about Ash's goal well before the dub landed on Netflix, but I don't think Ash's screentime was so noticeably different/smaller during those first few episodes despite how often that complaint came up here.
 
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