Pokémon’s leading man has gone through plenty of changes in his two decades of screen time.
There aren’t a lot of constants in the Pokémon anime. Since the animated arm of the franchise needs to match step with its video game installments, whenever a new game comes out the anime also needs to introduce a new setting and its associated Pocket Monster species.
But one thing you can count on in the mainline Pokémon anime is the presence of Ash, or Satoshi as he’s called here in Japan. While the members of his group of travelling companions may come and go, Ash is always at the center of the action, with his determined eyes starting out at the ever-evolving world from beneath the brim of a sporty cap.
Still, Ash’s design isn’t completely static. It gets at least a subtle freshening up with each new arc, and with as many sagas as he’s seen after 20 years of anime adventures, there are now more than a half-dozen visual versions of the character. So to help everyone keep track of which Satoshi is which, Japanese Twitter user @maboroshi_mochi has put together this handy comparison chart.
▼ Top row (left to right): original Pokémon early episodes, original Pokémon late episodes, Advanced Generations, Diamond & Pearl
Bottom row: Best Wishes!, XY, Sun and Moon, I Choose You
まほろ (@maboroshi_mochi) July 11, 2017
Aside from amassing a large collection of hats, Ash’s eyes have generally become more expressive as the series has gone on. By XY, his irises are noticeably larger and more colorful than they were when he made his anime debut, and his cheekbones have also become taller, giving him a more mature experience.
The most dramatic shift comes with the currently airing Sun and Moon, which gives Ash much softer features and also uses flatter colors with less shading, perhaps as a visual metaphor for the bright sunshine of the arc’s tropical Alola region setting. The squiggles under his eyes also become much more pronounced, and since they now stretch much closer to the center of his face, more than a few online commenters seem to interpret them as an awkwardly high mustache, prompting comparisons to much-maligned anime mecha Turn A Gundam.
三遊亭 三笠 (@Goldhawk1215) July 11, 2017
But it looks like the handlers of the Pokémon anime aren’t ready to go entirely all-in on Satoshi’s Sun and Moon design. As shown in the last illustration on @maboroshi_mochi’s chart, for the upcoming I Choose You Pokémon theatrical feature, Ash is looking like his old, original self (though once again with a new hat). Of course, since I Choose You is a flashback to the very start of Ash’s adventures, this may or may not mean that his Sun and Moon redesign will be undone in whatever TV arc comes after Sun and Moon, but at least I Choose You audiences will have one familiar face waiting for them.
Source, featured image: Twitter/@maboroshi_mochi
Follow Casey on Twitter, where Shin Tenchi Muyo/Tenchi in Tokyo was the first time he got really upset about redone character designs.