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Would the anime be as successful today if they replaced Ash early on?

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I've been curious/pondering this for a while and I figured I'd decide to make a topic about it and get other people's opinions.

Now we know that Ash is meant to represent Red, the playable character in the Gen 1 games. Gold, the male protagonist in the Gen 2 games, ended up getting an anime counterpart, Jimmy, for The Legend of Thunder special. Now, what if the Johto series followed Jimmy's story instead of Ash's? Do you think the show would have been successful? And let's say for Hoenn, they introduced Brendan as a new trainer who wants to college gym badges to compete in the Hoenn League, and May would have her same role due to the introduction of Contests in Gen 3. Or, what if they reversed the roles and had May go for badges and Brendan compete in Contests like their manga counterparts?

You can probably see where I'm going with this. I know it's been brought up a bunch of times about whether or not Ash should be replaced, if he should age, etc. but this thread is about opinions on whether or not the anime would be more or less popular if Ash wasn't the main protagonist throughout the entire show's run, and instead each region would have its own set of main characters like the games.

Now at this point in time I honestly feel that Pokemon wouldn't be Pokemon without Ash. He's been there since day one and at this point he's too iconic of a character to be replaced. And of course you have Pikachu, the mascot of the entire franchise, so getting rid of him would be out of the question. But what if the anime decided to use the male protagonists in the games instead of Ash in each region? What direction do you think the anime would have gone in? Would it have made a difference whether or not Ash was there or not?

Me personally, I feel that it could have gone either way. When you look as shows like Yu-Gi-Oh, they replace the main protagonist with each new series, and depending on who you ask, this makes the series better or worse. The Pokemon anime is supposed to advertise the games, and we've gotten plenty of anime equivalents of game characters, except the male protagonists for the most part since it's always Ash in the anime, who was meant to represent Red. Not to mention that Ash 'resets' at the beginning of each generation anyway, so he's basically starting over each time he goes to a new region. He has to catch new pokemon and compete at new gyms, so to me I don't think it would make a difference.

I think I rambled enough ^^'
Do you think that the anime would be as successful as it is now if they replaced the male protagonists of each generation, or do you think that it was Ash that helped the anime gain its popularity?
 
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Depends on how the torch is passed on. Perhaps if Ash acts as the mentor new male protagonist and leaves once the new protagonist has gained enough character development and a sizable fanbase/audience to support the show himself, then transitioning from one protagonist to other could work. Or they could have a concurrent Pokémon show about Jimmy running at the same time as the anime, and his gradually becomes the new Pokémon show as the old one phase out (perhaps in a final crossover).
 
Prime Minister of Shoyo 昇陽国内閣総理大臣
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What they could also do is to have Ash win the league first, then for subsequent generations, separate the arc into at least two. For the first mini-arc, feature the league version with just the male and female PC for that particular game/generation. The introduce Ash in the second arc, and feature the three battling the regional Team Villain, and possibly have Ash challenge the champion/Elite Four/PWT/Battle Facility.
 
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The problem is that they established Satoshi + Pikachu (aka the mascot of the entire franchise) so early on that even by the time Jouto came around it was too late to give him the boot.
 
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I'd argue that shows like Yu-Gi-Oh! constantly rotating their casts has done more harm than good. It's worth noting that the recent TCG releases have been relying on the nostalgia of the Duel Monsters cast - fans are still attached to the likes of Yugi, Kaiba and Joey a lot more than they are to say, Jaden, Yusei and Yuma.

So even if Ash had been replaced, there would still be people today clinging onto him (see: fans of Misty/May/Dawn/Iris).
 
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Would the series have survived? Yes
Would it be doing as well? Not a chance.

Reminds me of X Factor UK, too many line up changes does not keep the show "fresh" it just makes people unable to form any connection with the characters.

Yugi will always be more popular than Jaden and whoever the dude on the motorbike is.

The trio of Ash Misty and Brock is engraved in peoples consciousness, and will always be the most famous, May, Dawn etc will never have the same appeal apart from those whos AG was their first series.
 
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I'd argue that shows like Yu-Gi-Oh! constantly rotating their casts has done more harm than good. It's worth noting that the recent TCG releases have been relying on the nostalgia of the Duel Monsters cast - fans are still attached to the likes of Yugi, Kaiba and Joey a lot more than they are to say, Jaden, Yusei and Yuma.

So even if Ash had been replaced, there would still be people today clinging onto him (see: fans of Misty/May/Dawn/Iris).
I disagree. While each Yu-Gi-Oh! series have their fair share of problems, some more than others, I don't think that constantly changing their casts with each series is one of them. It has allowed for them to tell more stories and try out different ideas than if they had made Yugi the star for every series. Not to mention I don't think that they could have kept him as the main character since he, like most of the DM cast, was done after the Ceremonial Duel. Maybe they could have done a movie or OVA with Yugi as the main star for something post-finale, but not another series in my opinion. Keeping Ash for the main character for over a decade works because Pokemon is more of an never ending journey, but with a Yu-Gi-Oh! series, there's more of an ending in mind for its characters and storyline than just Ash going to the League, so keeping Yugi around for much longer wouldn't have worked.

While it's true that recent TCG have been focused on cards used by the DM cast, I don't think that necessarily means anything bad. Of course more fans would be more attached to characters like Yugi, Jonouchi and Kaiba than any of the spin-off characters due to nostalgia. That's the same reason why the original traveling trio will always be more fondly remembered than any other cast. That doesn't mean that no one likes the spin-off characters or that it would have been better to somehow keep the DM cast for over ten years. It just means that Konami knows the pull and appeal of nostalgia and is using it to their advantage.

As for the question, I think that the series would still be successful if Ash had been replaced early on. If they had gone more like Pokemon Adventures with replacing the characters with every new generation and possibly having older characters appear every now and then, I think it could have worked and been well received. I'm not surprised that they didn't go that route due to how they had establish Ash and Pikachu as the main stars and how the Johto saga was part of the original series, but I think it could have worked if they had tried it out early enough.
 
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If Yu-Gi-Oh! didn't have changing casts I'd have probably stopped watching it a long time ago. I'd also prefer very rare updates to old archetypes so they'd have some new life to be used more than constant updates for the past 10 or so years. There's a new Elemental HERO card coming out soon so it's not just DM's characters that are getting new cards, and Konami is just updating old archtypes in general and focusing on other summoning methods more, so the point is really irrelevant.

Anyway, I agree with the OP that it could have really gone either way. We could have had somebody who'd be an Ash clone but still be different with different conflicts to face, the biggest downside personally would be not being able to see old main Pokemon any more, but with each saga focusing on newer kids more I don't think that would have really mattered.
 
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No. Ash and Pikachu are the anime.
 
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Before I even start my two cents, I would like to first discuss several other anime series that always change casts.


1.) Yu-Gi-Oh series:
People compares Pokemon first thing to Yu-Gi-Oh whenever such question of "If Pokemon changes its protagonist every season....." pops up. So my first discussion will start with Yu-Gi-Oh first.
The first ever Yu-Gi-Oh anime was actually first broadcast in 1998 for merely 27, with the protagonist of Yuugi. Then the second anime Duel Monster starting in 2000 was really long, for +200 episodes lasting for 4 years, also the same protagonist Yuugi. Because it was long, it was basically divided into 5 seasons.
Yuugi was in the Yu-Gi-Oh anime for more then 250 episodes, so audience had attached to him very deeply. Hence when going to Duel Monster GX, people doesn't like this new anime very much because the protagonist is a newcomer Judai, whereas the previous protagonist Yuugi which had been in the anime for nearly 5 years is downgraded to being a sub character. Well, the mediocore scriptwriting may also added a bit to the decrease in rating as well.
I humble personal guess is that the anime studio learn the mistake of GX, hence when going to 5D, a complete different background setting that has no direct relation with the two Duel Monster series is made. And the new protagonist Yuusei is now a lot more stronger. Rating does go up higher then Duel Monster GX, but unfortunately not as high as Duel Monster.
Then for Zexal in 2011, this is much shorter than the previous titles. Most people says the only improvement it had made compare to the previous ones are merely the animations and some of the monster designs. It has the lowest rating in Yu-Gi-Oh anime history.
A new Yu-Gi-Oh anime series Arc-V is starting since April of this year. I can't say much for now, because it just started. But for some reason, I don't guess it to be good. And I had stop caring about it.

Yu-Gi-Oh anime series structure is one title for every 4~3 years, where how long its last greatly depends on its popularity. The problem of the whole Yu-Gi-Oh anime series, is that the best series is the first Duel Monsters series (why I say Duel Monsters is the first because it seems not much people took notice of the real first original one), and hence it was the longest. So amongst all, Duel Monsters has the greatest percentage within the whole Yu-Gi-Oh anime, it will be natural that it became the "basis" of the whole series, audience had the greatest attachment towards this saga, and also towards the protagonist Yuugi and his friends. Audience will always compare the new Yu-Gi-Oh anime with this "basis".


2.) Digimon series:
Another anime title that people like to compare with Pokemon. But this one has completely different anime structure, not even comparable to Yu-Gi-Oh, as Digimon series is made to be a yearly anime of approximately 52 episodes starting from day one. (with Hunters that Leap Through Time being an exception)
The popularity of Digimon series, is really like a roller coaster, there is up and down. Digimon Adventure was actually not the one of highest rating, but Digimon Tamers. The 5th series Digimon Savers has rating par with the first series, in some of the anime forums even said it is better then the first.

For the Digimon anime series, scriptwriting is really the major factor that causes the fluctuation of the popularity and rating of the series. For the Digimon Adventure 02, rating dropped not because of cast had changed, but most reviewers said that because the plot was in fact not as memorable as the first series.
The Digimon Frontier is being neglected by most Digimon fans, because the idea of Hybrid Evolution, where protagonist "transformed" into Digimon is too innovating up to the level of being unacceptable, 99% of the Digimon fans claimed that Digimon Frontier is an "irregular". Well, mediocre scriptwriting is also one factor.
For Digimon Xros Wars, although Fusion of Digimon is also rather an innovative evolution method, but it seems many audience are fine with this series, because scriptwriting was fine. But I do have to say such novel evolution concept does have some effect on lowering the anime's average rating.
For Hunters that Leap Through Time, it is everything that causes its super-low rating. From plot, setting, character, using of previous casts, also the atmosphere and many other things that I can't even word it out. 99% of the reviewers (including me) said this season is devaluing disgracing the whole Digimon franchise.


3.) Beyblade series:
Another often mentioned anime series being compared to Pokemon. My discussion is based on the anime reviews from anime forums, I never ever watched a single episode of this anime series. So my opinion might not be correct.

Although it is also a yearly anime series of ~52 episodes for each season like Digimon, but it had the same protagonist lasts for 3 seasons. The same protagonist for Bakuten Shoot Beyblade + 2002 + G Revolution, and a different new protagonist for Metal Fight Beyblade + Baku + 4D. Zero G Being an exception.
Although Metal Fight Beyblade changed protagonist after Bakuten Shoot Beyblade 3 seasons, but actually the former has higher rating then the latter, if average out the ratings as two series of +150 episodes.
By the way, not yet to mentioned there was 7 years difference between the Bakuten Shoot series and Metal Fight series. So it will be rather irrelevant to use Bakuten Shoot series' protagonist also for Metal Fight series.


4.) Gundam series:
Why no one in here ever mentioned this anime series when such question of "If changing protagonist every season......" pops up? This is the most successful and longest running yearly anime series in Japan anime history. Though, it is a mecha anime.

The rating and popularity of each season is also like a roller coaster, where there are ups and downs. Its first Gundam anime was back in 1979, and then the second title Z Gundam appears only 6 years after this first one. But despite it has completely different cast, and the characters from previous season downgraded to being supporting characters, but the overall rating of Z Gundam is higher than Gundam, most reviewers praise the high quality of the show rather then complaining why Amuro (protagonist of previous saga) is not in major position.
Though unfortunately, the next one ZZ Gundam of 1986 really had rating dropped heavily, because this one is quite light-hearted comparing to the previous two seasons, where it is not very much suited to war themes.

The 4th full year Gundam anime were broadcast at 1993, 7 years after the ZZ Gundam slump. But within that 7 years, many OVAs and short special were made, Gundam was always there in the TV.
After then, despite whatever the rating of the previous Gundam anime went out to be, is it hitting rock bottom or achieving a new peak, there will always be a new yearly Gundam anime for every 1~2 years. The continuation of the Gundam anime is not merely due to the support of the fans, but the toy companies as well, as they need a new Gundam anime to establish new mechas, such that the toy companies can make new toys.

================================================

Now, if I had to compare the changing protagonist Pokemon series to any of these anime series, it is actually incomparable to any of those.

Firstly, Pokemon anime is an adaption of the game, and that the game have a new generation every 3~4 years, it will mean there need to be one major season for every 3~4 years.
Ash's story for Kanto+OI together added up to 116 episodes, roughly little more than 2 years anime. This first saga is not as long as Yu-Gi-Oh Duel Monsters, and that IMO not really anything epic had happened (other than Ash winning an unofficial league......). So this first saga might not turn out to be the "best" of all, there are chances that latter sagas with different protagonist being better than Ash's story.

The result also depends on how much in-game story it adapt from the game. Digimon Adventure was actually started out as an loose adaption of the game Digimon World 1+2. It really didn't adapt a lot from the game. The latter Digimon anime that came after were not adapting any idea from any existing Digimon games, scriptwriting were started from absolute scratch.
That goes the same to Ash's story, where it didn't adapt a lot from RGB story. But in case of using Jimmy from Legend of Thunder as the new protagonist for Jotho story, I see that Pokemon anime is rather tending towards the trend of following the in-game story more faithfully. So there is a possibility that the latter Hoenn Sinnoh Unova Kalos saga will have better story, as the in-game villain story IMO is getting better for each successive generation.

Worth noting that other than amount of story adaption, scriptwriting quality plays a super high role in popularity and rating. Hence it will be a minus if extending each saga for more than 2 years = 104 episodes length. Not only that the longer the anime the more fillers and poorly written episodes there may be, but also the longer one anime saga tends to be, the more attachment the audience will have towards the character in that saga, making the future saga less acceptable in audience's eyes. So never made the anime too long, or else it will become beyond controllable.

But since a new gen is made only for 3~4 years, it will be unavoidable that there may exist a few blank year. But Pokemon doesn't always need to make yearly anime, short OVA and specials are possible choices as well. What I mean by specials is not the Chronicle type, but like the OVA animes of the Gundam series during its blank years. Pokemon the Origin is one such thing. How about some 12 episode short anime during the blank year? It is also possible.
Since other than the major titles, there are remake games. There just exist enough materials for the scriptwriter(s) to write short OVA.


Now when I look at it in more specific case study, if Pokemon anime did replacing Ash after Kanto + Orange Island with the intended new protagonist Jimmy from Legend of Thunder, well, I really will not say rating for Johto saga will go that well if compare to Kanto+OI with Ash being the protagonist. Sorry to say it, Jimmy of Legend of Thunder was rather a flat character, not that interesting when comparing to the OS Ash.
But, even with such expectation, it should not become the reason of not replacing protagonist. Also there may be a chance that it could become better by putting more effort in the scriptwriting.

Ash story in Kanto+OI didn't touch much upon Team Rocket as a threating mafia group. If Jimmy's Johto saga put more depth into the villain's confrontation, it might have a chance of higher rating than Kanto+OI Ash's story. But suddenly having a serious-tone Pokemon story will seems rather out of place, so Johto saga also need some laughable comedy. The previous protagonist Ash may also come out, but at most being the supporting role. Being a secondary character and part of the main group will just steal spotlight away from the current protagonist.
And in case that Jimmy's Johto story did turned out to have lower rating, such result will only last for this one single season. Scriptwriter(s) and anime studio can compensate this failure by writing a better story for the next Hoenn saga.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Tl;dr. In the most compact version of my post, I think Pokemon anime will rather be more successful than currently having Ash being reuse over and over. The view rate, popularity and rating of each season may fluctuate, but definitely will not tumble continuously such that every new season breaking new lowest record.

How the future new sagas will be will depend mainly on the scriptwriting quality. If it turns out that new sagas is better written than Kanto+OI Ash's story, why not support?

It will definitely not doing more harm than good.
 
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I would have said yes during Best Wishes, but seeing how they're doing wonderfully with Ash and his friends in XY, I'm pretty glad Ash stayed.
 
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It would have made dub-only fans more aware that AG/DP/XY etc are all different series' like they are with Yu-Gi-Oh. Whether or not that's "successful" is anyone's guess.

The show more or less would be the same as it is now because whatever new character they got to replace Ash would have almost the same personality (with maybe a few quirks here or there being changed for the sake of variety) and almost definitely a Pikachu (or they'd give one off to someone in the main cast and it would end up being a tradition in the fandom to guess who's going to get the Pikachu this time). The only real difference is there wouldn't be that many references to previous sagas (although they've been doing less of those since Best Wishes) and no need to level-down Pikachu at the start of every series.
 
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To be completely blunt, no i do not think pokemon series would be half as popular as they became if Ash was scrapped after Orange Islands.

Would it continue to air? Probably; but appeal, people interest and desire to follow anime would drastically drop.

We can notice with Misty departure how much people attachment to fictional character can reflect negatively on series populaerity,. Her leaving caused huge backlash with notable portion of fandom quitting anime never coming back.

Now i can only imagine how much negative repercussions , disappointment and frustration would Ash leaving at end of Orange Islands or Johto generate in case of being replaced by some completely different proptaghonist.

With who people wouldn't have any connection, care or interest . Lacking charisma, popularity and iconic, recognizable status imprinted in fan minds all around the world like Ash character has achieved being for people even back than main mascot of pokemon series, synonym which stands out for pokemon. Alongside Pikachu, Brock and Misty.


This can be best noticed with other shows like Digimon, Yugioh, Beyblade etc. After every few years they go through complete revampo, get rid of everthing and everyone, erase history and start from blank slare.

And as result of that their reputation, ratings and populareity drastically dropped with many people feeling how show lost identity. Stable hero with who they could connect and sympathize for his flaws, loses and achievements making them interested in seeing progression and journey , as well in their opinion such move destroying once positive image this shows had about themselves and values it promoted becoming to them progressively worse.

Coincidence or not but someone has to ask himself why just like pokemon, other shows which dont do reboots replacing main protagonist are much more famous and holded in high regard.

Like Evangelion, Naruto, One Piece, Sailor Moon, Dragon Ball etc.
In many of afore mentioned anime not only main hero but all of companions aren't replaced or are kept relevant in some form of recurring role. Sadly pokemon dont practice this doing it more harm than good for reputation and quality of story as far as contiunuity goes abandoning every main character beside Ash.
Making me think pokemon would be even more populare than its now if more attention was payed to replaced, unfinished companions being brought back.


Same applies to pokemon in sense of having one permanent main character. Stable protagonist in who people could invest into, form some sort of emotional connection. Feel sorry for his struggles, loses and bad experience, be happy when he grows forward, makes further steps in achieving his dreams and develop new type of relationship with various characters.

With viewers wanting to stick around even when they grow up. To follow characters they grew to like and care about advance forward, develop further ad see in what direction will destiny take him. To witness if all hard work, learning and experience will bring results on table.

Thst is one of main strengths continuous shows with on going story, following stable cast , their ambitions and journey set in same time line and universe have.

They create prerequisites for people to form emotional connection, attachment for main characters ensuring that they will remain loyal and continue follwing series.

Something you cannot achieve if you constantly change things which instead of attracting, turns people away. Not having stable cast, balanced story told over long period of time and identity. Something which would define anime, give people motivation to stick around and have characters which stand up for it promoting its value in global basis.

Hence why Ash was kept for so much long(producers recognize benefits behind stable hero).

Yugi will always be more popular than Jaden and whoever the dude on the motorbike is.

The trio of Ash Misty and Brock is engraved in peoples consciousness, and will always be the most famous, May, Dawn etc will never have the same appeal apart from those whos AG was their first series.
I can attest to that for both Pokemon and Yugioh.

Even today 12 years later i see people only wanting that first group gets reunited for one more time. Even today i see so many people wanting that Misty comes back(admittedly ill be interested in sequel to her story of becoming water master expanding on what Whirl cup started bringing new battles like underwater matches for example etc ). Recently Brock as well ever since he left at end of DP.

In Yugioh most attention still receive from fans likes of Yugi, Kaiba, Joey, Mai etc. Yuma, Jaden, Chazz, Yusei etc always fall in second plan being overshadowed by original cast.

I imagine reason is because first group of characters is in 90% of cases one which achieves iconic status, highest popularity and recognizability among people. Being viewed as main faces of spome anime released in production.

I disagree. While each Yu-Gi-Oh! series have their fair share of problems, some more than others, I don't think that constantly changing their casts with each series is one of them. It has allowed for them to tell more stories and try out different ideas than if they had made Yugi the star for every series. Not to mention I don't think that they could have kept him as the main character since he, like most of the DM cast, was done after the Ceremonial Duel. Maybe they could have done a movie or OVA with Yugi as the main star for something post-finale, but not another series in my opinion. Keeping Ash for the main character for over a decade works because Pokemon is more of an never ending journey, but with a Yu-Gi-Oh! series, there's more of an ending in mind for its characters and storyline than just Ash going to the League, so keeping Yugi around for much longer wouldn't have worked.
Im not sure if that was reason behind original DM series cast being replaced. Especially when Kazuki Takahashi in interview said how due to illness spending time in hospital he had ideas which due to struggling to meet deadlines he was unable to execute. Such as for ie. expansion on story between Kaiba, Kisara and his connection to Blue Eyes dragon in Pharapoh Memory arc regretting deeply for not having time for that.

I imagine if wanted he could have always done sequel to Yugi and original cast story contining on with adventure of small Yugi for example(i recall people wanting to see that).
But i think Takahashi in general wasn't eager to continue on with anime in any form. Bringing me to presumption how its possible that originally GX anime wasn't even intended to exist based on what its reliably known.

During GX era when series got released in production he promised to himself how this will be last Yugioh anime not making any more after that. But due to continuous persuasion of his friends and production team 5D series were made with Takahashi yet again saying how this will be last series. Just to see two more after that being created constantly changing his mind about it constantly.
 
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There exist prerequisite for shows with stable hero to become more famous and popular, which is continuity.

@pokemon fan 132. Whatever anime that you had just mentioned now (Evangelion is quite irrelevant, as it only has one single TV series broadcast, everything came after is merely movies and OVA based on that single series), as you had said it yourself, they never replace any of the existing casts. Even the villains, sometimes they are mentioned in the future, and/or referred in the new story plot. Characters are growing, they never "reset" nor experience off-screen amnesia that suddenly every knowledge and skills are forget.

Even the slice-of-life animes like Doraemon, or super-long running Detective Conan of merely investigations, although the characters don't ages and past events are seldom or even never mentioned, but still there is continuity. Already established characters will not gone like it was never there before. Skills, knowledge, emotional effects and other subtle mental growth are carried onto the future episodes.

Now when you say animes that replace main cast will has its popularity dropped, but I do find many anime series, or rather say the entire franchise that centered around that series, has popularity grows along time with changing casts. Gundam series, Precure series are two I can immediately pop up in my mind. They have new animes with new characters of new background, new world and new universe, new story plot and new objectives, etc. But despite that, their franchise becoming more and more well-known, merchandise related to the anime series are sold better every year.

And for the emotional concern of stable hero will make audience invest more of their attachment into him/her, hence being more sympathetic and emotionally connected to him/her. That is not necessary the case, at least currently, not for Ash Ketchum.
Sometimes I browse the Japanese chat board and BBS for public opinions. It also seems that a large proportion of audience are unable to understand Ash's logic of action, also claimed his mental growth seems rather unrealistic, especially after Shudo Takeshi left. Hence unable to insert their emotions into the boy, and hence unable to grow attachment to him.
One should see, there is also a prerequisite for audience growing emotional attachment towards a character, which is the character need to have a sound mind that normal civilians are able to understand. Ash's characteristic change rather drastically during each season, making majority of the audience unable to attached to him.


Now, for the Pokemon anime, if it does carry on the continuity, where not only that Ash grows (if not aging, then at least not acting like newbie), but also keeping the main group, or may be at least finish off the characters' story in better ways, where they are not leaving on a sour note, then I doubt Pokemon anime will still have so low view rate right now.
But because it doesn't implement continuity, then it is really better to have different protagonist for each season. Keeping the same protagonist but ignoring continuity makes the show super awkward.

In terms of anime, the view rate is the best guideline for the popularity of the show. If you do go search for official published view rate of Pokemon anime from their broadcast TV station, one can see clearly every single season there is a decline, less and less people, even for the native Japanese, tune into the TV to watch Pokemon.

And now when one still says anime is the commercial of Pokemon, it need an anime to promote its toys and franchise. Too bad to say it, the anime does not have direct influence towards the sales and popularity of the entire Pokemon franchise. Because Pokemon started out as an game, where anime only came at second.
Take a look at other Nintendo games of Mario, Kirby, Legend of Zelda, Metroid, or whatsoever one may thought of. They don't have an anime (Lies. Mario and Kirby did had one before, but only one), but they are always on the top 10 best sales list of Nintendo games.
Now look at Hello Kitty of Sanrio. It does have OVA anime like every 1~2 years, but not even the native Japanese will care to watch it. But despite that, its character is world famous.
And moreover, when I go to the Pokemon Center in Japan, or if not, at least to the local toy stores, the Pokemon character toys are seldom or never related themselves to the TV series, unless it is paired with the human characters from the TV series.
So as one can see, Pokemon actually doesn't need an anime in order for it to become worldwide popular.

If one still insist that Pokemon topped with an anime is better than without an anime, OK fine, because it does have certain indirect influence to the whole Pokemon franchise. But, that should had nothing to do with elongating the show indefinitely with the same protagonist, disregarding continuity and having illogical unemotional below-average scriptwritings.

In any case, since in the current moment, the average view rate of XY is not even half of average of OS. Sorry to tell the truth, but that is based on the official statistic from TV Tokyo. So if exchange Ash and his friend at the very early moment of after Orange Island, let the audience get used to the anime formula of having different characters and story with every season, I doubt the current XY season with a complete different protagonist and story will still have view rate hitting rock bottom.
 
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While it is true that many of us have moved on from the anime, which admittedly isn't very written at times (or at least at the times where said writing would be crucial) - and responsible for the ratings drop in TV Tokyo - let's also keep in mind that Japan's population is also aging at the moment. According to Reuters, Japan's underage population has been dropping for 33 years straight - 27.6 million kids in 1981 vs 16.3 million this year. Assuming that TV Tokyo only has ratings for domestic audiences, and I think we can safely assume that the audience majority would be underage, it would mean that part of the ratings drop could actually be due to the aging society. Of course, if the episodes were better written, then the drop would have been much less than it is as is today.

Japan child population hits record low — RT News

I'll have a look at the Japanese Government's website this week and see the changes of number of kids.

Onto the main topic: I'm going to throw another idea - can't say it is a good one though. Would it work if there are simultaneously two sets of protagonists on their own adventures? First one would be the regions PCs for their Pokémon League, and the second set would be Ash and Co - which Ash takes part in battling the villain and/or partaking in whatever post-game stuff there is equivalent to the games. The stories alternate between each other every week (thus Week 1/3/5... would be the locals and Week 2/4/6 would be Ash and Co), and at some point the two groups joins together for a royal ass-kicking against the regional villain.
 
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It's difficult to say. Similar to Kristal, I often think of the Yu-Gi-Oh, Digimon, and Beyblade series, which change characters frequently for new series, for comparison.

From what I understand, Yugi and the original series has always been the most successful, with the following GX, 5Ds, and Zexal, not having the same level of popularity. I'd thought that at least Jaden was a liked character, but I didn't think the same was the case for Yusei or Yuma. Even then, none of them had the same popularity as Yugi, meaning the character change did not really work out in that case in terms of popularity.

As for Beyblade, from what I've seen in the English media, most people don't like the Metal Saga and prefer the original with Tyson. Meaning the switching characters wasn't taken very well. Though, this may be due to the huge gap in time that this occurred. Perhaps if the Metal Saga was introduced much closer to the time the original ended, people wouldn't have held on to the original characters for so long and would have accepted Gingka, and maybe Zyro. Though, I really don't know~

Finally, Digimon. Well, I only just recently got into it with Digimon Fusion, so I can't really know for sure, but is seems, with how often Digimon changes characters, most people are fine with it and it's still pretty successful.

So would Pokemon have been better if they had done the same with Ash? Again, it's hard to tell. Part of me thinks it would have been. Ash has been around for such a long amount of time, that it seems almost everyone wants him replaced at this point. Of course, with how long he's been around, it's probably impossible to try to do so now, which would not have been the case if they had used the male players from the games when Johto started and kept going until the present. I'd like to think that if they had replaced Ash early, the series would have been successful. Instead of being in a never ending journey of minimal progress, we could have had several story lines in which multiple main characters grew as trainers and had interesting adventures, akin to the Pokemon Adventures manga, which is very popular and successful. In fact, I've seen many people say they would have loved if Pokemon's Anime was more like Adventures. But then you look at Yu-Gi-Oh and Beyblade, and people are more upset about the change, leading me to believe replacing Ash might not have worked out.

Perhaps if Ash was not made to be the face of the Pokemon anime, they could have replaced him with no problems. After all, the main point of the show as to advertise the games, so it would have been best to replace Ash when he was no longer the character based on the current player. Many people claim to have left the Anime when they changed favorite characters (Misty and Brock), but others left when they did not (Ash) and say they would return if Ash was replaced. So...I really don't have a concrete idea of whether or not the anime would be more successful now if we were all watching Calem in Ash's shoes right now since it seems to be a matter of personal issues whether one would continue to watch a series after the main character was replaced, in addition to how well the character themself(?) is playing out in the show as it goes on and if people want to see them replaced or not.
 
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Im not sure if that was reason behind original DM series cast being replaced. Especially when Kazuki Takahashi in interview said how due to illness spending time in hospital he had ideas which due to struggling to meet deadlines he was unable to execute. Such as for ie. expansion on story between Kaiba, Kisara and his connection to Blue Eyes dragon in Pharapoh Memory arc regretting deeply for not having time for that.

I imagine if wanted he could have always done sequel to Yugi and original cast story contining on with adventure of small Yugi for example(i recall people wanting to see that).
But i think Takahashi in general wasn't eager to continue on with anime in any form. Bringing me to presumption how its possible that originally GX anime wasn't even intended to exist based on what its reliably known.

During GX era when series got released in production he promised to himself how this will be last Yugioh anime not making any more after that. But due to continuous persuasion of his friends and production team 5D series were made with Takahashi yet again saying how this will be last series. Just to see two more after that being created constantly changing his mind about it constantly.
It's true that there were ideas that Takahashi wanted to expand during the Memory arc, but couldn't due to his illness and he was quite sick during that time, but I don't think that would have meant that Yugi and the other original characters could have been given another series. It would have meant that the Memory Arc would have been longer and thus so would have DM as a result. I remember that he originally announced GX via an interview in one of the manga volumes and I remember that he said that both GX and 5D's were suppose to be the last series, but I also remember that he said that this was just the beginning for Yu-Gi-Oh! either before or after the anniversary movie was released. The main reason why they keep making new series is because the cards sell well enough for them to keep making them. That's the primary reason why the spin-off series have been made.

Honestly, I haven't really heard of too many people complaining about Yu-Gi-Oh! replacing the characters. The only time that seems to come up is when people are discussing Ash being replaced. There are some cases where people wanted a series to last longer, such as with GX due to having a shorter ending arc, but changing the cast every few years hasn't been much of a problem. I think that the reason the following Yu-Gi-Oh! series aren't as popular as DM has more to do with just the fade cooling down than just replacing the characters. In the U.S., DM started to lose its popularity after around season three or four, and I don't think that keeping Yugi and the others for another series would have changed anything. Ash and Pikachu have been around since day one and the other series haven't been as popular as the original series. Granted, they did replace other characters, but Pokemon's popularity, in the U.S. at least, started to cool down after its high popularity around Johto. I don't think things would have been different if every series had included the original trio.

Being popular and being successful aren't necessarily the same thing. If they had replaced Ash early on, I think that the series could have been successful enough, but it probably wouldn't have drastically increased Pokemon's popularity to be like its original fade craze when it was first introduced.
 
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To answer this question one has to look at both sides of the fandom.

On one hand, had Ash been replaced earlier like Brock and Misty, it's possible that no one would be open to the changes and the show would have received severe backlash, losing all of its fans and the show never would have been as successful as it was back then or is now. Younger kids who were just getting into the show at the time may have accepted it and maybe even some old fans. However, it would have been a pretty big risk to take in choosing the plentiful older fans over a possible smaller new fan base.

On the other hand, had Ash been replaced earlier, I think a lot of people could be more accepting and the anime could still be as successful as it is now. Maybe even more successful. After all, a lot of the original Pokémon fans who grew up with Misty and Brock are adults and have already moved on. In fact, most children nowadays probably don't even know Brock, Misty, May, or Max outside of flashbacks or viewing episodes online. With that said, if Ash had been replaced say, in Johto with Jimmy and they continued to do so up until now, then most kids today, and even adults, would be used to character switches by now and would be open to the newer characters and it would be a basic part of the show. Now Ash is pretty much the face of the show and it's almost impossible that he'll be replaced and while there are a lot of people who love Ash and like that he's still around, there are others who aren't.

A lot of people are now bored with Ash's never ending journey and just want him gone. Some people claim that they only watch the show now for the new companions since Ash is never gonna change anyway. Just like a lot of people left when Misty and Brock left, a lot of people are now leaving because Ash is still around and they don't want to see him do the same things over and over.

So as for my answer, I don't really know if the show would still be as successful if Ash had been replaced in Johto, but things like this
Ash.jpg
lead me to believe that its possible that the show could have been just as accepted and successful had they done so.
 
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@クリスタル : Its true that pokemon series have terrible continuity. We are constantly witnessing stagnation with main hero regressing in experiences and knowledged attained before. Anime is suffering from rehashed and overused plots repeated add nauseum over and over again.

Abandoning important companions, pokemon and plots from past like they never meant anything,like there is no sense of following or close friendship between protagonists this anime hypocritically promotes with each of them being left unfinished.
(May, Dawn never becoming top coordinators , Misty never becoming water master sent back to gym helping lazy sisters out leaving her plots hanging in air, Cilan conoisseur career and rivalry with Burgundy going nowhere)etc.

Im not denying that, because this show is poorly written masking its deep flaws with new faces which in end become pointless and forgotten too.


However, by replacing Ash with current writers and their policy you would have only delivered cosmetic change in form of new face and in essence same story. Following some other male in his place collecting badges, trying to participate in league and having more or less similar characterization, Because naive, absent minded, hotheaded and stubborn protagonists are ones which sell the best in having small kids anticipate it as hero. Who always "does right thing" while having comic side to himself teaching them moral values.

Essentially by doing this you wouldn't have made pokemon series more succesful and popular, you are only risking that people following drops even further resulting in pokemon anime ending cancelled. Due to incredibly low interest.

Problem was never in having same character. Issue derives from completely wrong strategy, lack of motivation , care and vision in putting more effort, work and originality than needed to keep show going.

Key in quality of pokemon series improving wouldn't lie in replacing Ash character, erasing history and everything this anime stood for. Setting new story in different time line and universe.

Replacing isn't best answer and should be considered as last alternative when everything else fails.

By demanding character replacement when character itself still has many unexplored things about his past, dreams and story as whole like Ash your i view act as disrespect and inconsiderattion toward that potential, value and positive impact his/her existence brought to some show. Giving up on him and chance to be explored to full potential and depriving people which may actually enjoy in character froim opportunity to see where will started work, effort and his interest drive him in the end. Becauise of final destination, way to get there and progression never being revealed.

Many people who even still watch pokemon series do so because of Ash being last remnant left from older days, last bridge which connects new generations with previous ones in those light moments when writers are "generous enough" to acknowledge, past, previous "fallen companions"(pun intended, since they are good as dead like they never existed anyway)and previous impacts which left inflience on Ash mental or adaptability in first place.

Good amount of people which still even follow pokemon, who contributed in pokemon being succesful enough to even last for 17 years are those attached to Ash character wanting to see in what way his journeys, story and all those struggles, hard work and somewhat character development he went through will unfold out. And where will story lead him hoping to live up to day in seeing conclusion to his and everyone else story.

Because of those people who cannot let go Ash being heavily affilliated with his character and past companions is reason why ratings while on life support. Are still keeping this ship above water.

Because new kids(target audience) obviously aren't reliable and interested enough to keep this show running on their own. Without us, older fans(not just from OS but AG or DP too from those who grew up with those sagas developing care and liking toiward his character)..

It should never be underestimated how much people can grow attached to long lasting protagonists, care for them and start identifying within show and franchise in general. Or how much Ash is viewed as hero, idol to who young kids can look up to loving his character.
Ash and Pikachu are synonym for pokemon with people viewing him as anime driving force. Just like Luffy is to One Piece, Usagi to Sailor Moon, Dan Kuso for Bakugan, Goku for Dragon ball etc.

Yes there exist anime which survive reboots time after time having loyal following and respectable ratings(Gundam Wing and Pretty cure are among more succesful ones). But there are also shows which flop out. We saw how much ratings sink when Yugi was replaced by Jaden, when Tyson was replaced or Tai with Davis from Digimon. They constantly do reboots with new protagonist and as result of that they lost identity, huge number of watchers losing respect and loyalty for what once shows they adored has turned into.

Another difference is that for this anime; protagonist usually last for 2 to 5 years being replaced afterward. Not staying for that long to generate so much emotional investment from people in their characters, with that number and clinging on characters people like only increasing as new generations come in. I met myself many fans which would hated to see Ash leave being to them "soul and heart" of pokemon series.

Sometime even one season is enough for viewer to develop such strong emotional bond, attachment and care for their favorite characters that they couldn't watch series without him. In pokemon situation it was enough 5 years that Misty becomes so loved and popular that many people couldnt accept her departure , especially when character they enjoyed in so much wasnt fleshed out enough having lot more left to be desired.

Im bringing her up because i cant recall any other companion after leaving lifting up so much dust, campaigns, petitions and what not still clinging on her.

In Dragon Ball Akira Toriyama intended to replace Goku after Freeza saga with his son Gohan becoming main character. But by that point audience grew to love Goku characfer so much that even such attempt resulted in massive complaints, criticism and demand that Goku remains main star. With producers eventually giving up from this idea with Goku stay keeping popularity of Dragon ball to maintain its steam.


We have to remember that its in human nature to be irrational. Emotional part of our brain tend to often ignore reality,be in denial not being wiling to look past the flaws. Despite being consciousness of everything and how at end of the day we are talking just about fiction, something which is unreal and nonexistant.

Pokemon franchise can survive without anime. Games sell like hot cakes and dont really need anime to excel. But anime cannot live on without Ash and Pikachu, not after 17 years passing point of no return.

I also feel pokemon anime shouldn't last forever . Why not just have it wrapped up with Ash journey, last region dedicate to each of Ash replaced companions getting mini arcs of 15 to 25 episodes focusing on coming closer toward their dreams, explore on new personality traits and new sides to them as result of growth coming closer toward their destination.

Afterwards finishing things of with one huge party to which Ash, every of his companions, even rivals get reunited for. There is no point in dragging of with pokemon anime for another 20 to 30 years hoping ill live to day when it will receive conclusion.

Honestly, I haven't really heard of too many people complaining about Yu-Gi-Oh! replacing the characters. The only time that seems to come up is when people are discussing Ash being replaced. There are some cases where people wanted a series to last longer, such as with GX due to having a shorter ending arc, but changing the cast every few years hasn't been much of a problem. I think that the reason the following Yu-Gi-Oh! series aren't as popular as DM has more to do with just the fade cooling down than just replacing the characters. In the U.S., DM started to lose its popularity after around season three or four, and I don't think that keeping Yugi and the others for another series would have changed anything. Ash and Pikachu have been around since day one and the other series haven't been as popular as the original series. Granted, they did replace other characters, but Pokemon's popularity, in the U.S. at least, started to cool down after its high popularity around Johto. I don't think things would have been different if every series had included the original trio.

Being popular and being successful aren't necessarily the same thing. If they had replaced Ash early on, I think that the series could have been successful enough, but it probably wouldn't have drastically increased Pokemon's popularity to be like its original fade craze when it was first introduced.
Personally i noticed lot of complaining about new Yugioh series and how they only good ones were Duel Monsters with Yugi. Stating how everything after that took nosedive changing for worse. Many of them i saw on various sites like youtube, pojo, TCG forum, card maker forum etc used to say how they stopped watching anime after Yugi, Kaiba, Joey etc were replaced. Claiming how show lost its recognizable image, stable hero with who they could associaste and care about following him on new adventires. Having no attachment or liking toward completely new cast.

As for pokemon i don't know what would anime look like if original trio was kept after Johto, but based on huge number of fans i saw on varous sites, my neighbourhood etc. stating how they stopped watching after Misty left or how they would start watching anime again in case first group was ever reunited again. I imagine pokemon series would have had more viewers.
Accordingly to that while i have no doubts that pokemon series could continue on without Ash, i maintain belief how popularity of new sagas with completely new set up and cast executing reboot would be less succesful than it was with Ash around.

Because Ash was established and imprinted in many preople mind as mascot, embodiment to pokemon series alongside Pikachu creating very strong brand about themselves.
 
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Personally i noticed lot of complaining about new Yugioh series and how they only good ones were Duel Monsters with Yugi. Stating how everything after that took nosedive changing for worse. Many of them i saw on various sites like youtube, pojo, TCG forum, card maker forum etc used to say how they stopped watching anime after Yugi, Kaiba, Joey etc were replaced. Claiming how show lost its recognizable image, stable hero with who they could associaste and care about following him on new adventires. Having no attachment or liking toward completely new cast.
Sites like Youtube and forums aren't really the best or accurate way to gauge information like that. I've heard of people who don't like the spin-off series and only like DM. In some cases, it sounds like they've never watched them or are just basing them off of jokes the abridged series makes about them, but in other cases, they don't like the characters, the storyline and/or duels, which are better and more valid reasons to dislike them in my opinion. I've honestly haven't heard of people who made those kinds of complains about the decision to replace the DM cast. They may not have liked any of the other casts as much as the DM cast, but I really haven't heard people in the fanbase say that they should have kept them for another series, or for every series after DM instead of replacing them. In my experience, people have said that changing the cast was for the best and it really does work in the franchise's favor in terms of providing new and different storylines. They certainly have been able to do more with a new cast every few years than they could have if they kept the DM cast around for over ten years.

pokemon fan 132 said:
As for pokemon i don't know what would anime look like if original trio was kept after Johto, but based on huge number of fans i saw on varous sites, my neighbourhood etc. stating how they stopped watching after Misty left or how they would start watching anime again in case first group was ever reunited again. I imagine pokemon series would have had more viewers.
Accordingly to that while i have no doubts that pokemon series could continue on without Ash, i maintain belief how popularity of new sagas with completely new set up and cast executing reboot would be less succesful than it was with Ash around.

Because Ash was established and imprinted in many preople mind as mascot, embodiment to pokemon series alongside Pikachu creating very strong brand about themselves.
Again, going primarily based on what people say online isn't the best way to determine this kind of information. Misty has nothing to do with this topic either, so please don't talk about her here either. Besides that, this topic is about if the anime would have been successful if Ash was replaced early on, not whether or not the anime would still be popular. Like I said before, being popular and being successful aren't necessarily the same thing. Both the Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh! anime series are successful, but neither would be considered popular, at least not to the point they were back in their prime. While Ash and Pikachu were established as the main mascots of the anime series, I don't think it would have been too difficult for the series to still remain successful with a new main character every new generation. Honestly, I'm not surprised that they didn't do it and I'm fine that they didn't, but I think that there's at least a good chance that it could have worked out if they had done that early enough.
 
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