It looks like all that time hitting the books has made the would-be Pokémon Master weak and flabby.

Pokémon fans around the world were startled last September when they got their very first look at the artwork for the newest installment of the anime series, Pokémon Sun and Moon. The reworked character design for protagonist Ash/Satoshi had him looking softer and rounder than his previous angular self.

Opinions were divided, but it is true that popular character artwork in anime has less of a “sharp” look to it now than it did during the late 1990s, when the Pokémon anime originally debuted. There’s also a greater need to visually establish that Ash is a kid in Sun and Moon, since in this arc of the series he’s not independently traveling the world, but attending school like an ordinary ten-year-old boy.

Or maybe the reason Ash looks flabbier now is simply because he’s gotten out of shape, as pointed out by Japanese Twitter user @moa151.

At the far left, we see Ash in a scene from Sun and Moon, in which he’s struggling to lift up a fallen tree trunk. That’s something most pre-teens, and adults too, really, would struggle with. Honestly, it’s kind of surprising that his teacher is just standing there showing off his tanned torso instead of helping the boy out.

But then again, maybe Professor Shirtless isn’t helping because he knows Ash could handle the job alone if he just applied himself. After all, as shown in the four images on the right half of the image tweeted by @moa151, 10 years ago, back when the Pokémon anime was still in its Advanced Generations arc, not only could Ash easily pick up a tree trunk, he could throw at great accuracy over long distances.

This isn’t the only prior example of Ash possessing extreme physical strength, as he’s been able to carry Pokémon specimens much heavier than the body weight of a child his age, and with such little strain that he can keep a smile on his face while doing it.

Now the most obvious explanation for all this is that the Pokémon anime has been airing for 20 years, meaning that enough animators, writers, and other staff members have had a hand in producing it that a few inconsistencies and continuity errors are bound to seep into the onscreen action. Still, we can’t entirely rule out the possibility that Ash maybe needs to stop looking for Pokémon Gyms and join a fitness one instead.

Source: Jin
Featured image: Twitter/@moa151

Follow Casey on Twitter, where he’s wondering if Pikachu would make a good bench press spotter.