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Shinji/Paul as a rival

QUEEN NICKI DOMINATE
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Shinji/Paul is often regarded as one of the best rivals in the entirety of the Pokemon anime saga for many reasons; from the way he interacted with Satoshi/Ash, to how he handled training his own Pokemon as a whole in only keeping and training the best ones, which showed to often pay off in his battles against Satoshi.

What are your thoughts on Shinji as a rival over the course of the DP series? Are there things you would have liked to have seen handled differently?
 
Formerly known as Tsu
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Much like most people, I too find Paul to be Ash's best rival yet.

The thing with Paul is, he was not just a character who was stronger than Ash. He treated his Pokémon with cruelty thus making him a complete opposite of Ash. I believe that that very thing is what drove their rivalry to such passion and conflict. Ash needed not only to defeat Paul, he needed to prove that his training style was wrong and he could only do that by defeating him. And Ash catching Paul's Chimchar was a great piece of writing, imo. Even though Infernape got to shine more than I liked (I'd have liked to see other of Ash's Pokémon get more chances to prove themselves, like Torterra), Ash getting a Pokémon that Paul abandoned, training that Pokémon in his own way and then eventually defeating Paul with that very Pokémon was just amazing writing and the best way for Ash to ultimately prove Paul wrong in his ways. Simply brilliant, I loved it.

As for things I would have liked to have seen differently, maybe more development for Paul's personality? I kinda wish Paul opened up a bit more to people, more to Ash, just to have his character development MORE obvious to people. He started changing, that much is certain, Ash earned his respect - I just wish Paul got to open himself up more to people. That's all.
 
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I think Paul was just what Ash needed as a character. He needed not just someone better than him or who taunts him, like Gary, but someone who actually opposes him and degrades him for how he trains; belittling him for how he treats his Pokemon. He is literally a foil to Ash. This is what really made Ash have a true desire to get stronger and beat Paul, which is just what a rival should do, in my opinion. He also consistently wins, which really gave Ash motivation to prove that Pokemon trained his way would become stronger; he almost forced Ash to improve. It also shows he's not just all talk. That's why I think Paul was a good rival.

He also doesn't suffer the fate that Trip after him had, in that his "gimmick" (let's just call it that) remained throughout his time on the show. That is, he was consistent: he caught Pokemon that were useful at the given time, but released them when they no longer served him purpose (also nice, as it shows him using many different Pokemon over the course of the series). He was always harsh in his training to all of his Pokemon. Nothing ever really happened to make him change his behavior.

As a character, I liked him because he was just so different than others. He was the first real condescending douchebag to Ash, a type of character we haven't really gotten a lot of in Pokemon, and I thought that made it seem a lot more real. We know there are people like this in the Pokemon world, so its nice to see a trainer around Ash's age like that and it strengthens the rivalry.

I can't really think of anything else I'd have liked to see handled differently.
 
It's hero time!
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He was cool one of my favorites. My only problem was the writer's blatant favoritsim towards him by making everyone look bad in comparison to him and their somewhat lacking reason behind his over the top dickery.
 
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Misty Calls Masquerain said:
Paul was a good obstacle for Ash, but kinda flat as a character.
This is how I felt about him as well. His spiteful and condescending nature was interesting to begin with, but over time it wore a bit thin. The only time he ever changed his behaviour was when he was dealing with people he respected like Cynthia, but other than the only emotion I can recall him expressing is anger. They missed a trick by not showing him having at least one moment where he's dragged completely out of his comfort zone, or have a situation that provoked a stronger emotional response from him. It was difficult to sympathise with him, otherwise.

Ultimately, I wasn't interested in how he'd turn out as a character at the end of the show, but rather how Ash would eventually overcome him. So as far as the rivalry goes, this was actually a good thing.

Ash and Paul's rivalry was great because it had so much depth. Paul challenged not just Ash's strength as a trainer, but also his methods. Both had absolute conviction that their way was right, and every battle where Ash lost felt like Paul was being proved right more and more. Then they introduced the whole Chimchar thing, and every triumph Chimchar had was like a moral victory for Ash.

What also really helped was that both trainers were legitimately strong and had accomplished things, because that added weight to their arguments. You had to take Paul seriously because his methods had been successful. Could imagine if he was just some newbie trainer who had just happened to do some studying before hand like Trip? It just wouldn't have had the same impact.
 

G50

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As a rival, Paul was wicked but great for Ash. He pushed Ash to constantly do his best and get stronger to finally beat him with Paul's ex-Pokemon in the end. The best part about their rivalry was that their battles I felt were the best in the series, the way they were handled. The problem I had with Paul in this rivalry, was how terrible of a person he was portrayed almost the entire series, and used that hostile personality to get under Ash's skin which also enhanced their rivalry. I did like however, how they took him as a rival and slowly made him change his personality towards Infernape and Ash.

Eventually he respected Ash and Infernape at the very end, which really put a nice end to their rivalry. Because of how it ended, I was able to respect him finally as a rival, and feel overall he was the perfect rival for Ash.
 
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I thought Paul was the best rival Ash ever had. He had the greatest impact on him and story with Chimchar was great and added even more to the rivalry. I loved how his personality was so vastly different than other trainers we'd ever seen; being so harsh and cruel. Having someone that exact opposite of Ash was the perfect rival for him and really gave him the desire to beat him. Ash really put in a great amount of effort in order to train for his battles with Paul, coming up with amazing strategies and remembering his battle style. In fact, I believe he and Ash had undoubtedly what some of the greatest battles in the series, especially that final battle.

I liked Paul's personality from the start, since we rarely have characters that are outright cruel to their Pokémon that last over the span of a series. Not only was Paul careless towards his Pokémon's pain and feelings, but he actually went as far as to threaten his Pokémon if they didn't win battles. Now that was interesting and really interesting as a rival and character in general! Paul changing a bit in the end and becoming more respectful to his Pokemon was also great and showed how Ash left an impact on him as well.

Currently, I'd place Paul as Ash's greatest rival yet.
 
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For me, I liked him more as a character than I did as a rival, though I think he was super awesome as both.

I know that some people would have liked him to open up/ show more emotions but the truth is that things were shown subtly. Often there are things that can only really be seen through rewatching like the fact that he really did believe that he was doing the best for Hikozaru and not meaning to be abusive (not that that makes his behaviour any better of course.) His respect for his elders is something that in particular I've only really been fanning over of late. One thing that really makes me respect him is that it isn't a case of 'these people will be respected' and 'these people won't'. Satoshi gains his respect and others lose it. It's not yes manning and it's a genuine good trait of his. Shinji's love for his brother is shown and not said and I really really love that. I love these subtleties because it treats the viewers with intelligence and therefore helps build confidence. Plus I just really enjoy unraveling the character.

I also really enjoy the character on a more base level. I love what a huge contrast he is not only to other characters on the show but the children's tv characters in general. I like how his jerkiness is explored but never criticised: how friendship isn't said to be this amazing thing that makes pokemon more powerful through IDK magic.

This comes to another thing that I love about Shinji: he lets us look at Satoshi is a more critical light. He outright calls Satoshi on his hypocrisy twice. Both times, Satoshi is unable to answer. This lets the viewer cheer for Shinji if they so wish and if you do cheer for Shinji than the show is fine with that. If not the show is fine with that too, letting Satoshi have lots of moments to shine.

So, overall, I love Shinji, not only for challenging Satoshi's way of thinking but his whole character. Shinji is the best rival not only in terms of the show but in a meta sense too and that's just really cool.
 
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I honestly think that Paul was a great rival for Ash and a great character overall. He pushed Ash's character to really develop and their rivalry was done really well.
 
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After watching Ash go through four years of Advanced Generation without a major rival to overcome, something that made his story really hard to care about (especially when May got characters like Drew and Harley in her storyline), Paul reinvigorated his character to the point where Ash’s arc was the greatest thing about Diamond & Pearl. It was amazing to see Ash really get challenged, and some of the fundamental things he (and the viewers, by proxy) believed about Pokemon training - the idea that all Pokemon could become strong through their bond with their trainer - actively questioned. And the moment where Ash and Infernape triumph over Paul and Electivire in the Sinnoh League is one of the best moments on this show, ever. Paul was the greatest rival Pokemon ever had - not just for Ash, but for anyone. I don’t think there has ever been a major character that’s looked as strong as Ash did at the end of their rivalry.

That Paul through his methods, only capturing and working with Pokemon he deems strong (even releasing his Pokemon in the beginning), actively challenged Ash’s training philosophies made for a compelling rivalry all on its own. But then there are all the added layers that got added over DP - the fact that the both of them, to this point, had already traveled the Kanto, Johto, and Hoenn regions; that the reason Paul disliked Ash was because he’d drawn a parallel between Ash and Reggie; the events of DP128, where Paul discovered Ash had already defeated a guy that his older brother (and himself, in that same episode) failed miserably against; the events of DP131-DP132, where Ash is forced to learn the hard way that Paul did have qualities as a trainer that he didn’t, and that some of his methods do have merit.

And then there was Chimchar. Never before (and never since) had a single Pokemon gotten so much focus and development over the course of a storyline. Chimchar came to validate everything about Ash’s training methods. Though Paul initially captured it for its powerful ‘Blaze’ ability, he eventually released it for being weak. Ash captured Chimchar, and over the course of the series it grew stronger (evolving into Monferno and then Infernape), and with Ash’s support eventually learned to control Blaze. It was highly satisfying watching Infernape use that ability against Paul in the Sinnoh League to knock him out of it, and Paul having to admit in the end that it became strong. While the sheer amount of focus Chimchar/Infernape got kind of hurt the balance in Ash’s team (did it need to beat Paul’s Aggron in the League? They couldn’t have given the poorly-used Torterra that much? Paul eventually admitted later on that it was meant to be a fall guy, anyway, so what would it have mattered?), the novelty of having a Pokemon with character development better than that of many of the humans on the show more than made up for it.

As a character, Paul was an excellent change of pace to the kind of characters we usually get on this show. It’s not that we ever got characters who were total jerks to their Pokemon (ex. Charmander’s old trainer), but they were usually short-lived and only existed to be made an example out of. That we got someone like that, who was also shown to be smart and incredibly talented (again, to the point where Ash is forced to acknowledge it after losing so disastrously in their first full battle). I enjoyed Paul’s characterization and his development over the course of Diamond & Pearl. I loved that he actually took an interest in the rivalry (he was the one who challenged Ash first), his claims to the contrary.

For who was only a recurring character, Paul actually had several memorable Pokemon - and a couple, Electivire and Torterra, with actual personalities of their own. And even if they didn’t have a real personality, there was also Weavile, Honchcrow, and Ursaring who made frequent appearances on his roster. Electivire was Paul’s signature Pokemon and had a rivalry with Infernape and Pikachu. Torterra actually went out of its way to teach Ash’s Grotle how to battle in its new body. And that’s yet another thing I love about Paul as a rival. I mentioned in another thread how almost every one of Gary’s appearances in OS was the same, but the Ash and Paul rivalry took many different forms: they battled; they both watched each other’s first Gym battle; they competed in the Pokeringer; they acted as Tag Team parters for a three-episode arc; one of Paul’s Pokemon taught Ash how to use one of his Pokemon effectively; they discovered in DP040 that they each traveled the same regions.

For four years this rivalry was built up in so many different ways, with many different people (Reggie, Cynthia, Brandon) adding to it. And it all culminated in a three-episode battle that still holds the mantle of being this series’ absolute best effort. Almost every one of Ash’s Pokemon (save for Staraptor, who got its moment earlier in the Sinnoh League, and Torterra, who sadly never amounted to much) got at least one moment to shine: Infernape knocking out Aggron, ridding the field of Drapion’s Toxic Spikes and defeating Ninjask, and beating Electivire in a thrilling climax (especially with Type: Wild playing over the moment Blaze activates. The dub really doesn’t do this battle justice); Buizel gaining some form of redemption by taking out Gastrodon with the Ice Aqua Jet Dawn invented and the Ice Punch Ash worked so hard to perfect; Pikachu beating Froslass and giving Electivire an good fight (and that was a nice moment to see Ash try one of his usual off-the-wall tactics, only for it not to work); and Gliscor taking out the Drapion that swept half of Ash’s team in at a single time. Paul’s team was very nicely put together, even if it was kind of disappointing not to see him using any of the Pokemon DP had put so much effort into showcasing over the previous 180+ episodes (save for Electivire, obviously), and that handed Ash one of his worst defeats ever. Drapion was a monster and the Pikachu-Froslass, and Infernape-Ninjask- portions of the battle were excellently done. There were excellent strategies and tactics at play (including Paul stealing Ash’s Counter Shield technique). DP188 was an excellent sendoff for Paul, one that no other character has gotten.

Overall, Paul was an amazing rival and character. A book could be written on everything he brought to the show, and to Ash’s character in particular. Their climactic battle was so good that I wouldn’t have minded if that were the end of Ash’s tenure on the show (especially since Best Wishes pretty much showed that we’ll never get a rival, or an incarnation of Ash for that matter, anywhere near as good again). He forced Ash to constantly improve himself, and to become a stronger trainer. The Ash-Paul rivalry was one of the greatest things the Pokemon anime has ever accomplished.
 
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Majestic
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The rivalry between Ash and Paul was great, but as a character, he currently lists as one of my least favourite this show has ever had, due to his over-the-top douchebag personality which has never been properly explained as to why he was like that.
 
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While there’s no question that Paul’s not a nice person, I think some fans overemphasize that aspect of his character to the point where some get the idea that he’s all mean, all the time, and that’s all there is to him up until his final scenes. That’s not really true. Paul has proven many times over the course of DP that he’s capable of being respectful to people he thinks deserves respect (Prof. Rowan, Cynthia, Brandon, and eventually, Ash), he’s been able to have civil conversations with Brock, and as shown in DP188 the Pokemon that he works with do care about him, enough to be sad to hear that he lost. We also see him allowing his Pokemon to rest in DP100 (to the point where he hires a disguised Team Rocket to groom Torterra), indicating that he's respectful to the Pokemon he chooses to work with. There are many elements to his personality that are clearly in the wrong, and he develops out of them (compare his response to Maylene after sweeping her team in her introduction episode, to his response to sweeping Barry's team in DP184). He acknowledges Infernape's strength after it knocks him out of the League, paying him back for everything he's said about it's supposed weakness. He spends most of DP's first couple years belittling Ash, only to be forced to reconsider in DP128 when he's destroyed by Brandon, a guy Paul learns in that same episode that Ash has already defeated. After which, he never underestimates him again. The image of Paul as a one-note character who was only capable of expressing negativity and nothing but that doesn’t really hold up to scrutiny, IMHO.

In fact, the only two characters I remember Paul really going out of his way to be mean to were Ash and Chimchar - and there were clearly-stated reasons for both.

As far as his general characterization goes, it's true that we never get a real reason as to why he is the way he is. While I would have liked to see the show shed some more light on how he came to be the kind of trainer he is (particularly the whole "releasing Pokemon" thing), I do like the idea that someone can be a jerk without some specific reason as to why. I think it was a fresh concept in a universe like the Pokemon anime, where most people who aren’t nice guys are outright villains, or get quickly made an example out of, or end up changing to the point where they become one. Paul is the way he is because that’s just who he is. That’s the way it works for many of the other characters on this show as well, including Ash himself.
 
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That's not a reason at all to behave like that. Like this, anyone could go around being a douchebag and saying: "This is just the way I am.". TBH, I can't think of a reason why Paul acted like he did, mainly because other than his personality he seemed like a normal character, no emotionally scarred individual, but they really should've shed some light as to why he did what he did. Simply watching his brother lose to Brandon doesn't cut it all IMHO.

I'm okay with a character being cold and mean-spirited, but at least give it some background explaining the behaviour. The show shouldn't be full of happy people being nice to each other, but personally, I can't begin to like a character who did nothing but make hateful remarks to an enthousiastic friendly individual who he hasn't known for a very long time, this being without any solid/good reason. Not to mention he was cold to almost everyone else as well, only showing respect, but on a very formal level, to those of higher authority or age than him (this being very logical behaviour, just like IRL you are respectful to elderly people, in fact, it is quite logical to behave at least a little bit nice to anyone who hasn't done anything wrong)
 
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I wasn’t trying to justify his attitude, I was saying why it doesn’t bother me so much that we never find a specific reason as to why he’s so standoffish in general. I also think it’s inaccurate to say that he did nothing but make hateful remarks, because as far as other characters go, even those who aren’t respected figures like Cynthia, Paul doesn’t go out of his way to be mean to them. He’s certainly not friendly, but he never insulted Dawn or Barry, and he was capable of holding a civilized conversation with Brock. It’s pretty clear that Ash is the one he had a problem with.

And as far as Ash goes, that did have a reasoning behind it, as was stated in DP186. Those reasons were wrong, Dawn says as much (I’m paraphrasing Hikari’s line from the English subs I have: “Satoshi isn’t Reiji-san. Satoshi is Satoshi”), and Paul acknowledges that she’s right. It was wrong for Paul to antagonize Ash the way he did (and, just to be fair, it would have been nice on some occasions for Ash to have just taken the hint that Paul didn’t like him and quit bothering him), and it’s a part of his character development that he quits doing it and even comes to respect Ash in the end.

But again, I think the show could have given more insight into his dealings with his Pokemon, particularly the way he would release them if he found them disappointing in the beginning. There are things we can infer - I always saw it as Paul not wanting to be like Reggie, who often preached about the same things Ash did (this was said in DP186), and who Paul still hadn't forgiven for his actions after the Brandon battle - but it still would have been nice to see an episode dealing with it.
 
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To be honest, when he abused and abandoned Chimchar, I have decided that I hate Paul and I will hate him forever for what he did.
So no, I won't hear any excuses. I still consider him the worst Pokemon character ever along with Cameron.
 
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I thought he was a terrible rival.

Ash and Paul's interactions were really just this: "They see each other, Ash greets him happily, Paul acts like a douche to no one's surprise (except Ash's), he suddenly remembers that Paul is a jerk, they argue over training methods (yawn), rinse, repeat."
Paul was too much better than him until the league, where Infernape took out half his team, and they suddenly got on more friendly terms.
He got no punishment for his abuse other than what I mentioned above, which was shrugged off.

(More later.)
 
Majestic
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So Paul decided to treat Ash like trash and unworthy of Trainership because he reminded him of his Trainership-quitting brother Reggie and for treating Pokémon with respect?
(despite being respectful to people like Professor Rowan, Gym Leaders and Cynthia, who obviously also treat Pokémon with respect, unlike Paul)

Wow, such reason.
 
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speedingbulletbill said:
Paul was too much better than him until the league, where Infernape took out half his team, and they suddenly got on more friendly terms.
If you don’t like Paul or his rivalry with Ash, that’s perfectly fine, and I don’t want to argue that. But that said, I don’t think this part of your post is accurate. Paul and Ash were never quite on “friendly terms”, and judging by DP163 (when Paul intervened to help Ash rescue the Pokemon Team Rocket captured) and the Sinnoh League dialog between the two, Paul had come to respect Ash, at least somewhat, before their battle started.

Shiny Blaze said:
So Paul decided to treat Ash like trash and unworthy of Trainership because he reminded him of his Trainership-quitting brother Reggie and for treating Pokémon with respect?
(despite being respectful to people like Professor Rowan, Gym Leaders and Cynthia, who obviously also treat Pokémon with respect, unlike Paul)

Wow, such reason.
Based on the way Paul’s Pokemon have been shown to care about him, and the way he treats Electivire, Torterra, Ursaring, etc., I think it’s safe to say that Paul does respect the Pokemon he deems strong enough to keep. He has high standards and trains harshly, but - as suggested in DP100 (when he not only allowed his team a rest, but paid to have Torterra groomed) - those that meet those standards earn his respect, and he raises them well (Brandon himself acknowledges this). To my recollection, Chimchar was the only exception to this (and this was explicitly brought up by Ash in DP051... at least, I think it was that episode), and Paul ended up releasing it anyway. I don’t believe that was really the issue, so I don’t find it inconsistent that Paul could respect people like Cynthia.

If I remember correctly, what prompted Paul to challenge Ash in the first place in DP003 was Ash’s suggestion that any Pokemon can be strong provided the bond between it and its trainer is strong enough (this is validated through Infernape in the Sinnoh League). Ash will work with any Pokemon he befriends, Paul will only work with Pokemon he thinks are strong. It’s something that runs counter to the usual philosophy we usually see on the show, but I don’t remember anyone besides Ash - who, after the events of DP131-DP132, is forced to realize Paul’s methods have merit - ever saying this was wrong.

I’ve never seen a subbed version of Cynthia’s episode, so I don’t know what she really had to say on the issue, but by the end of DP I would argue that the emphasis in their rivalry was on respect for each other and the way they did things (Paul capturing the strongest and working with them, Ash focusing on the bond between himself and his Pokemon). And once it was time for that battle, both had come to realize that the way the other did things wasn’t necessarily wrong.

Paul didn’t believe the way Reggie did things was right (again, paraphrasing, this time from the subbed version of DP100: “the way my brother did things was wrong!”), and the issue was clearly one that was personal to him. And since Paul drew a connection between Reggie and Ash, the very way Ash did things (which was what Reggie believed, if we go by Paul’s line in DP186) was going to put him off. Obviously if you don’t think the reasoning provided by the show is good enough to make Paul's position understandable (I don't want to say justified, because it wasn't), then that’s your opinion - and the last thing I really want to do on this board is to get into the habit of trying to get people to change their opinions. And if you hate Paul for his actions in the show, I’m certainly not going to argue that, either (I enjoy Paul as a character, and for what he brought to the show, but I was easily rooting for Ash in that rivalry - that Paul was an asshole can’t really be denied, I just don’t believe that was all there was to him). But the fact of the matter is that the reasoning is there, and it’s something specific to Ash that makes Paul not like him.
 
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