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Is Ash's Loss in Loss in Kalos League Justifiable?

Enzito

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It should come as no suprise that Ash's loss in the Kalos League is one of his most infamous loses by far. Fans were seathing with feral rage from it, claiming that he should've won and all that. But now 6 years late, rdo you really this supposed L is really as bad as it may seem or was it justified in hindsight?
 
I wouldn't call it justified exactly. There were signs that made fans believe that Ash would win. Ash already lost to Alain twice before Greninja's full power as Ash Greninja was fully formed by the time their match in the Kalos League began and arguably going so hard to hype up Alain as this uber powerful trainer could have been taken as a sign for Ash to defeat him. While Alain was established as a powerful trainer from the start, I think that they went overboard on it as the series progressed. Defeating an Elite 4 member, going head to head with Zygarde, getting eight badges ridiculously fast and only using two out of six Pokemon in the Kalos League until his match with Ash made Alain come off as really overpowered and broken.

The decision had less to due with Alain's strength and seemingly more to do with maintaining the status quo at the time. It wasn't like Alain's skills made all of the difference at the end or anything like that. A big part of the backlash was also due to how fans didn't know the outcome until the episode aired. With other Leagues, we knew when Ash would lose due to episode titles/summaries, but with the Kalos League finals, they didn't make the outcome clear and we jumped right into the Team Flare arc right afterwards. If the outcome had been clear before the episode ended, the backlash might have been reduced. Despite the backlash, I still think that the match was pretty good and honestly, the Kalos League was so rushed that I don't think Ash winning it would have greatly improved it for me anyway. It arguably would have been more fitting given how they were handling his rivalry with Alain and the storyline with Ash-Greninja, but I don't think it would have made the Kalos League the best league arc. The main saving grace of Ash's defeat for me is that it showed his improvement from his brief losing streak. He accepted his defeat, knew he gave it his all and was happy/calm about it, which always stood out to me since those episodes are some of my favorites in XY as a whole.
 
For the Team Flare plotline and all the characters involved in that, yes it is justified. With everything else it's much less but half of the rest involves the idea of the journey ending in XY.
 
It's because of the backlash over how the Kalos League ended that resulted in Ash's victories in the Alola League and the Masters Eight... and his impending (and I presume temporary) retirement as the series protagonist in tomorrow's episode. I heard that the writers wanted Ash to keep losing under the belief that winning one league ends his journey, and they're apparently enforcing this with a new set of protagonists in the SV series likely for a similar reason why Ash himself got a soft reset to rookie in Best Wishes: easy appeal to kids born after the release of Captain America: Civil War.

And that's b***s**t, as nothing could've stopped Ash from taking Alola's Island Challenge anyway had he won the Kalos League.
 
I've always believed it was justifiable. Alan received four special solo episodes chronicling his growth prior to the League and had his own dramatic plot threads that motivated us to root for him to keep fighting. That's more than enough for me. And it's easy for me to say this because here's my hot take: I'm happy Satoshi lost the Kalos League. Wasting his first League victory on a story as self-contained as XY would have felt shallow, trivial, and insignificant.

Every fan has their own fantasy of what a "perfect" League victory would look like for Satoshi. For me personally, my top-three criteria were...

1.) His friends and loved ones have to appear.
2.) He's gotta win using Pikachu, his very first partner.
3.) As silly as it sounds, his hat's gotta play a role.

The Kalos League finale has... none of this. Pikachu? Nope. The hat? Heck no. (Satoshi doesn't even flip it around!) Friends? Loved ones? Anything to represent how far he's come? Any sort of self-reflection on Satoshi's part about what this victory would mean to him? Nothing. Does his OWN MOTHER even know he's there? We have no idea! Flawed as they may be, I greatly prefer the Alola League and the World Championships because they approach the proceedings as a finale to their respective shows AND as a culmination of Satoshi's entire journey up to that point. Is the Kalos League an enjoyable, wonderfully-animated tournament arc? Absolutely. But it would not have been satisfying as Satoshi's very first League victory and I'm very grateful things didn't play out that way.
 
After seeing Alain get his butt kicked so easily by Leon, I have my doubts. Is Journeys Ash really that much stronger than his XY self?

XY would also have been the perfect ending to Ash's story. If he won the League, got the girl and beat Team Flare what more could he ask for?

Instead we got weird power scaling in M8 which made no sense, Journeys and MPM tease the possibility for either an Amourshipping or Pokeshipping ending but leaves us hanging, Ash never takes down Team Rocket...
 
After seeing Alain get his butt kicked so easily by Leon, I have my doubts. Is Journeys Ash really that much stronger than his XY self?

XY would also have been the perfect ending to Ash's story. If he won the League, got the girl and beat Team Flare what more could he ask for?
Bringing Alain back seemingly just for Leon to curbstomp him was pretty questionable at best. Leon didn't really need the extra hype, especially when they could have brought back Alder for the same purpose, and it kind of made fans expect an Ash vs. Alain rematch. I can see why that didn't happen when they wanted Ash to battle against Champions, but knowing how infamous Alain's Kalos League victory was, bringing him back without a rematch or barely any interactions with Ash was a weird decision to say the least. As for Ash himself, despite becoming a World Champion, it's hard for me to say that he was noticeably stronger in this series. His battles aren't bad by any means, but because of the lack of on-screen training for his team and the format of the WPC, I think that makes his victories a bit less noticeable to me. It felt less like Ash was at his peak of strength and more like they wanted to make him look good by defeating powerful trainers if that makes any sense. It also felt like they were relying on both Ash's experience and his team being mostly fully evolved to justify defeating more powerful trainers too.

I've never understood the notion that XY Ash's ideal ending would be to ride off into the sunset with Serena. Even if you do take his reaction to Serena's kiss to imply that he does have feelings for her, it would still make no sense for him to be in a relationship when he's largely clueless about romantic love. It probably also just bothers me when it continues to play into the notion of Serena being a prize for Ash, an extra trophy for him on top of winning the Kalos League, instead of her own character.

Personally, I think DP would have been a more fitting end for Ash's story than XY. I can understand why to a point since he got to the finals for the first time, but I think DP was Ash at his peak, his DP team was more solid, if not more consistent, by comparison and I think they would have been more willing to use his reserves in a Champion League than they were in the Master Class. Granted, I think it would have been too late to replace Ash in DP too, but I think that it would have been a more fitting place to end his story than a lot of other places fans have argued about for years.

Instead we got weird power scaling in M8 which made no sense, Journeys and MPM tease the possibility for either an Amourshipping or Pokeshipping ending but leaves us hanging, Ash never takes down Team Rocket...
I'm not really sure how either Journeys or MPM teases the possibility of either ship. It makes much more sense for them to not make any pairing canon. I can understand wanting a sense of closure or to see your favorite pairing become canon, but at the same time, the chaos that would come from one pairing being end game would not be worth it. It would be a sight to see all of the reactions, but it would not be worthwhile. They also never really seemed interested in Ash taking down Team Rocket to begin with. I think that they'd want to keep the organization around. Not just for the trio, but they're the most iconic/recognizable evil team and can be used for potential future conflicts even in the next series.
 
Bringing Alain back seemingly just for Leon to curbstomp him was pretty questionable at best. Leon didn't really need the extra hype, especially when they could have brought back Alder for the same purpose, and it kind of made fans expect an Ash vs. Alain rematch. I can see why that didn't happen when they wanted Ash to battle against Champions, but knowing how infamous Alain's Kalos League victory was, bringing him back without a rematch or barely any interactions with Ash was a weird decision to say the least.
I have many guesses about what was going on but it would be nice if someone explains the thought process in an interview (although there are questions things I'd prioritize over that if I got three wishes from a magic lamp).

Personally, I think DP would have been a more fitting end for Ash's story than XY. I can understand why to a point since he got to the finals for the first time, but I think DP was Ash at his peak, his DP team was more solid, if not more consistent, by comparison and I think they would have been more willing to use his reserves in a Champion League than they were in the Master Class. Granted, I think it would have been too late to replace Ash in DP too, but I think that it would have been a more fitting place to end his story than a lot of other places fans have argued about for years.
I personally think Johto was the single best place to end it (since gen 2 to 3 had no transferring in the games+Gary being Ash's rival since episode 1), but DP would be a decent second place. Unfortunately, after the huge shift that came with BW it was almost inevitable the ending would leave a good portion of the fanbase unsatisfied. A satisfying ending after so long would, frankly, require top quality writing and a lot more artistic freedom than I suspect the show has.
 
I have many guesses about what was going on but it would be nice if someone explains the thought process in an interview (although there are questions things I'd prioritize over that if I got three wishes from a magic lamp).
There are a lot of questions I'd love for them to answer about their decisions with Journeys, as well as the anime as a whole. I'd be shocked if we ever got those answers, but it would be pretty interesting if we even got the opportunity.

I personally think Johto was the single best place to end it (since gen 2 to 3 had no transferring in the games+Gary being Ash's rival since episode 1), but DP would be a decent second place. Unfortunately, after the huge shift that came with BW it was almost inevitable the ending would leave a good portion of the fanbase unsatisfied. A satisfying ending after so long would, frankly, require top quality writing and a lot more artistic freedom than I suspect the show has.
Johto probably would have felt like a natural stopping point given that it was the end of the first series, Ash defeating Gary felt like a pretty big deal at the time in spite of his minimal appearances during the arc itself and replacing Ash five years after the anime began instead of twenty five years would have been considerably less of a risk. That is a huge reason why I still think this decision came twenty years too late. I'm not sure if I could have seen Ash winning the Johto League though. A big reason why Ash winning the Sinnoh League felt plausible at the time was because of how huge his rivalry with Paul was. Ash vs. Paul in the Sinnoh League finals wasn't a guarantee, but it felt like a good possibility after they had spent years hyping up their rivalry. It wouldn't have been a stretch for Ash to win the Johto League, but it didn't feel like it had the same kind of potential buildup compared to something like the Sinnoh League.

Given how long Ash has been around, to the point where I honestly felt he wouldn't be replaced barring any health issues with Rica, I think it would be difficult to make his ending feel satisfying for a lot of fans. The mixed at best reception for Journeys certainly doesn't help either. I do wonder how much of a conclusion they were interested in or willing to give him though. I still haven't seen the mini series and I haven't checked out any leaked information about tomorrow's episode either, but based on what I've seen and heard, it sounds less like the final chapter for Ash and more like just extra adventures with Ash, Misty and Brock for nostalgia and give him more fun adventures before his sendoff. I don't think that the latter is necessarily a bad thing. I think that fits more with the tone of the anime, how characters are setup to have more off-screen adventures instead of any definitive ending and with Ash's personality, but labeling the mini series as the final chapter for Ash and Pikachu did give off a different impression for a lot of fans.
 
Yes, it is justifiable. Alain was consistently characterized as a strong, competent and strategic battler, enough so that I was okay with him defeating Ash.
What I was not okay with was Ash just... accepting his loss without any complaint. I mean, would it have been so bad for him to sulk a little over it?
 
Yes, it is justifiable. Alain was consistently characterized as a strong, competent and strategic battler, enough so that I was okay with him defeating Ash.
What I was not okay with was Ash just... accepting his loss without any complaint. I mean, would it have been so bad for him to sulk a little over it?
I never really had a problem with that because Ash accepting his defeat after dealing with his brief losing streak before the Kalos League arc started made sense to me. He got so caught up with strength and catching up to Sawyer that he kind of missed the point of battling or why he wanted to become a Pokemon trainer in the first place. Being upset to a point wouldn't have necessarily contradicted that lesson, but I thought that accepting a defeat after going through that made it feel like the lesson had stuck. Besides that, Ash generally handled his League defeats better by the time he lost the Hoenn League, if not the Johto League.
 
I don't think it was as justifiable as people make it out to be. The loss never made any sense to me. The problem with the loss was the fact that the anime gave people false hope that we'd see him win his first major league here, rather than in Alola. Things such as Ash's skill as a trainer in Kalos, the previous losses to Alain, the whole Ash-Greninja arc, and just the way Alain was built up gave fans false hope that Ash could win. Arguably, there's also the fact that they went out of their way to make Alain to seem so unstoppable and it made him come across as broken and overpowered, which only attributed to the fan backlash. It made me want to see him lose because he came off as so broken. They built him up as this unstoppable opponent and it gave people the hope that we'd see Ash finally prevail against him after everything he's been through, but it never happened. No wonder fans were so mad.

It felt like even more of a slap in the face when they brought him back for the Masters 8, only to get utterly curb stomped by Leon. It was completely reasonable for fans to think Ash would finally get to defeat Alain. The fact that Ash never faced him and hardly interacted with him made this decision very questionable. I mean what was the point? Honestly they should have just thrown someone along the likes of Alder in to be curb stomped by Leon or just had him curb stomp Steven Stone and kept Raihan in to face Ash. Their clear intent was wanting Ash to defeat Champion level trainers, but you arguably still get the same effect with Raihan because he is stated in game to be on par with Champions.
 
Looking back now, Alain was basically Tobias, a league rival created to stop him from becoming the champion, and the end of the show. What ultimately makes him different from his predecessors is that he's actually given a backstory and screentime, something we always criticized about Tobias. So, I think it was totally justified. Just because it wasn't predictable as we used to doesn't make it not justified, if anything it makes it a better story. It also makes a logical step point in his development:

Kanto: Top 16
Johto: Top 8
Hoenn: Top 8 (lost against the champion)
Sinnoh: Top 4
Kalos: Runner Up
Alola: Region's Champion
Journeys: World Champion

What wasn't justified is Hikari's lost against Nozomi.
 
Alain was literally fighting with the power of love, while Ash was fighting for himself

He never stood a chance
It's hard to see Ash fighting for himself when that implies he was much more selfish or self-centered than Alain. Alain entered the Kalos League simply because he wanted another battle against Ash.

Looking back now, Alain was basically Tobias, a league rival created to stop him from becoming the champion, and the end of the show. What ultimately makes him different from his predecessors is that he's actually given a backstory and screentime, something we always criticized about Tobias. So, I think it was totally justified. Just because it wasn't predictable as we used to doesn't make it not justified, if anything it makes it a better story. It also makes a logical step point in his development:

Kanto: Top 16
Johto: Top 8
Hoenn: Top 8 (lost against the champion)
Sinnoh: Top 4
Kalos: Runner Up
Alola: Region's Champion
Journeys: World Champion
I've always thought that Alain was basically Tobias if he was a more established character who we were supposed to care about. I'm not sure if that really makes him significantly better than Tobias, if only because of how I felt about Alain becoming more overpowered over time. It also feels less like a logical step in Ash's progression when it still mainly felt like wanting to maintain the status quo instead, especially when Alain winning didn't really lead to anything for him character wise.

What wasn't justified is Hikari's lost against Nozomi.
Interestingly enough, I just finished the Sinnoh Grand Festival in my DP rewatch and I still have no problem with Dawn losing to Zoey. It felt perfectly justified to me. Dawn had the skills worthy to get to the final round, but Zoey was always one or two steps ahead of her. She deserved to become Top Coordinator. Not being able to defeat her main rival never really bothered me when Dawn and Zoey didn't have a typcial kind of rivalry to begin with. Granted, it's can feel more retroactively disappointing in the sense that Dawn seemingly wasn't able to make more progress in her goal afterwards, but that has more to do with the writing decisions in Journeys more so than not making her a Top Coordinator in DP.
 
You know I'm amused by the idea that Ash had to lose in Kalos since he hadn't gotten runner-up yet since that means people could ultimately blame the defeat on Black/White not letting him progress a step.
Not only that, BW is actually a downgrade: He only managed to enter the top 8 and didn't even beaten by the champion.
 
I've been so focused on Alain being so overpowered that I forgot how much I hated his reason for entering the Kalos League in the first place. Wanting another chance to battle against Ash after their first two matches was understandable, but it felt unnecessary for him to enter the Kalos League primarily for that reason. He could have easily battled against Ash after the Kalos League. It wouldn't have been a grand stage for their next match, but it just didn't seem necessary. This could have easily been avoided if Alain had already been battling against Gym Leaders prior to meeting Ash. At least two Gym Leaders had Mega Pokemon and there were other trainers with Mega Pokemon in the Kalos League itself as well, so it still would have fit with Alain's goal during the Mega Evolution specials.

It always just rubbed me the wrong way that Alain just easily got eight badges and won the Kalos League so fast when it took other trainers more time and effort to reach that point. It just kept making him look way too overpowered and made him feel like a last minute addition. To be fair, the latter does kind of fit with how they didn't really give Ash any rivals until the tail end of XY.
 
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