Pikachu feels very pretty and demands you look at him. Mobile users should view this page on desktop mode so he won't get in the way.

Hot takes abound. Do not read if easily offended.

I had maybe a little too much fun with the last Pokemon page, and reading old fansites with all their shaky evidence for research purposes reminded me of the other frequently discussed character-dolls the kidults forced to kiss each other. History books say the violent war in 1998-early 2000s had other defectors like Gary and Misty or Misty and Brock. Jessie and James is also just as popular, possibly more than Ash and Misty.

Ash is a moron and the character equivalent of tofu, who the fuck cares about him when there's so many major and minor characters that are more interesting (for a kid's anime)? Let's talk about that, since I sure have some hot takes on quite a few 24 years later.

Rocketshipping (Jessie and James)

"I called your boyfriend gay and he hit me with his purse!"

This is a big one so I'm mentioning it first. Admittedly, when I was age 6-10 I was in this camp alongside Ash and Misty because I figured that's how it should be. It's. So. Obvious. Like, duh? He was a boy, she was a girl, can I get any more obvious? She was a punk, and he did ballet, what more can I say? (...Wait.)

Then I saw vocal defectors online claim that James is gay and this would never happen. How could they say something so untrue? Slanderous, even. Maybe if James sold his bottle cap collection he could afford a lawyer and sue these weirdos on the internet calling him gay. They're too close to be just friends! They, um... touch and hug and whatnot? What about this: They get married and Jessie is pregnant in The Electric Tale of Pikachu. ... What do you mean that's not anime canon? It was PUBLISHED! It has the Pokemon trademark so it's SOME kind of canon! JAMES ISN'T GAY!!!

Well, let's be logical now that we're (chronologically) adults. Is James gay? Probably. It was hard for my tween brain to accept the evidence is too solid. Uh, Flaming Moltres? Being a literal drag queen? That manga is basically a published doujinshi. What version of the show were the people who were writing weird fanfiction where James is a shredded romance novel love interest and Jessie is a weeping damsel even watching? Even if you wanted to appease both sides and claim that James is a Kinsey 4-5 bisexual, I doubt most women would be interesting or attractive to him. The "marriage and kids" lifestyle just isn't for James, and who could blame him when his uppercrust parents arranged him to marry the horrible Jessebelle? Who literally dragged him to her sex dungeon and other awful things?

Freak alert.

Side note, but at 17-18 I jumped onto the middle road that James is a Kinsey 4-5 bisexual and the only kind of woman he'd be comfortable with is a chick who wears the pants and respects his effeminacy. I don't think there's any inherent issue with this interpretation and enjoy it to a degree, since men like this do exist in real life. But...I also don't think most of the kidults in this playground have a good grasp on how sexuality and relationships work (see the rest of this page). Even though I'm open to this concept if it's handled thoughtfully, I also understand it can feel like a mild form of liberal homophobia to use the existence of bisexuals as a bargaining chip in regards to a character who is commonly percieved as queer coded and is canonically adverse to being in a heterosexual relationship. Conflicting interpretations will always exist and reasonings will vary by person-to-person, but there's a thin line to walk when it comes to pitting one minority sexuality against another.

Anyway, what about Jessie? She clearly likes men and has her own baggage over being such an unmarried old hag. (How old is Team Rocket anyway? Too old to be stalking a 10 year old for 25 years straight, either way...) But I couldn't deny how the defectors pointed out there was something going on with Cassidy in the few episodes she appeared. You could cut that tension with a knife. "She was jealous because I'm so beautiful"? Is that a cope, or? (In fact, I decided to sail this ship as an edgy teenager when I finally saw the light.) Same with there being a history with that biker chick with a Cloyster (!!!) in the first season. Hm...

Not be a diet Freud about the Cloyster, but...

So what does that make this particular shipping? Is this just a childhood whimsy society brainwashed us to believe, or is it real and we just need to wait another hundred episodes for James to wipe off his makeup, man up, and propose? Neither. I don't believe anything will be endgame in Pokemon anymore, and I'm not invested in if Jessie and James are "truly" compatible sexuality-wise either, even if a part of me is also charmed by the interpretation where they both embrace eachother being equally non-conforming. Purely platonic or not, they still have something special and both have lived hard lives only each other will understand. Awww!

Eldershipping (Oak and Delia)

Truth of Ash's father REVEALED? (NOT CLICKBAIT)

I mentioned this on the Ash page, but this was a recurring joke among adult humor fansites/forums, so I might as well touch on it deeper.

Apparently what 4Kids and TPCI didn't want you to know, is that Delia Ketchum has been slutting it up all over Palette Town, while her dumbass 10 year old son who can't change his own underwear or talk to a girl without destroying her property is traveling the world chasing wild animals. Or should we say... Delia Oak? GASP! Maybe she sent him away intentionally for some private time.

Well, let's look at the facts here. I was shocked, but also not remotely surprised to find that Delia is 29, according to a light novel written by Takeshi Shudo, the director of the original series. That's as good as canon to me, compared to that glorified doujinshi mentioned earlier. Meaning Delia was a teen mom. So who is the father? It's said that Ash's father was a trainer that didn't stick around around long because of his journey (and was a teenager too, I guess). But let's be real, parents lie to their children all the time. It's their nature.

What we also know is that Oak and Delia are very close and are seen together often, even going on vacation together...alone. Oak and Ash have a (coincidental?) strong resemblance, and Oak pays more attention to Ash than his own grandson, Gary. Oak and Delia also have a history together. According to the third movie (did anyone even like that one? I didn't), Delia was Oak's...student...when she was visibly a lot younger.

OAK!!! You dirty old goat.

You know what they say about kids with older fathers, right?

...I can't deny it, but I really don't want to think about it. It would explain a lot, though. There is a second camp that believes that Delia and Oak became a thing after Mr. Ketchum walked out. Not nearly as awful, but still not very upstanding behavior from the Pokemon Professor. The pickings must be slim in a small town like Palette, I guess...

Diamondshipping (Giovanni and Delia)

"If only you knew of the power of Team Rocket. Oak never told you what happened to your father."

Sorry, but this section is mainly to talk about why this isn't logical. I hate to say it. It'd be a making of an amazing story, a plot twist, even if it was clearly lifted from Star Wars and Team Rocket stopped being a serious threat over a decade ago. I think the 13 year old who considered this was ahead of the game, but let's get to the facts:

This was "canon" in Pokemon Live, the stage musical. Emphasis on quotations. I doubt anyone unironically thinks this is hard canon or would cite a Western musical for why it is, but Pokemon Live is not canon. It was the product of 4Kids (like Misty's Song), and the shocking origin story has several holes in it.

First, it doesn't say anything about Giovanni being Ash's biological father, it "confirms" its the mysterious Mr. Ketchum, and isn't Oak either since this is news to him. (Unless the old motherfucker has Alzheimers now.) Giovanni was just a gangster ex-boyfriend Delia had when she was sneaking cigarettes behind the school building after class (hopefully not while teen pregnant with Ash). BORING! Second, Giovanni didn't start Team Rocket, his mother did.

That said, Pokemon Live isn't too bad. I've never seen it live (obviously) or bothered to look if a watchable camrip is online, but the script and soundtrack are, and it's dorky 4Kids fun. The script got some cheap laughs out of me, and some of the songs are a guilty pleasure. Still a fanfic with a high budget. I want to believe Giovanni is Ash's father. But the case on that is closed for now.

Krazyshipping (Pikachu and Meowth)

We love a good enemies-to-lovers.

We all know that Team Rocket aren't actually bad people. Maybe if they met any of the twerps in a different context, they would be friends. But they didn't, so they're stuck in a never ending timeloop of playing cat and mouse with each other. What if something happened that would make them bridge this gap?

Meowth and Pikachu actually have gotten along when no one was looking in several episodes across the seasons. They even dance together in the ending theme Polka O Dolka, and get this: Pikachu and Meowth (as species) are in the same egg group in the games, meaning they can breed. (But "the" Pikachu and Meowth here are both male.) What if after awhile, Meowth wanted to steal Pikachu...for himself?

Hm... Something to think about.

Contestshipping: May and Drew

"And there he goes, so perfectly, the kind of flawless I wish I could be."

Drew says he's so in love, he's finally got it right. I wonder if he knows that he's all May thinks about at night? He's the reason for the teardrops on May's guitar, the only thing that keeps her from wishing on a wishing star.

Did you like my fanfic? Just kidding, that's literally just the go-to Taylor Swift song everyone used for AMVs. Jokes aside, this one was pretty solid logic-wise. If you were dead set on claiming any pair of the forever tweens would end up together once the spell of eternal youth was broken, it would likely be them, among some others. Who was Drew kidding when he claimed he was giving roses to May's Pokemon and not her? Norman and Caroline were so eager to kick May and Max out the house (probably to get some alone time together... *turns to the camera and winks*), I bet they didn't expect May to get a boyfriend on the way out!

I haven't watched the main story arc in Advanced Generation with the contests since high school (and even then I was there for our problematic fav Harley), so I have no personal sentimental feelings towards this. But I did try to watch some Taylor Swift AMVs to get inside of the head of a truther. I...was too much of an outcast in middle/high school to really understand this budding tweenage romance. Here's some AMVs by kidults that I think are pretty good for their age. Check them out, maybe this will bring back high school weeaboo memories for you.

Appealshipping (Dawn and Zoey)

"You're probably on your flight back to your hometown, I need some shelter of my own protection, baby."

Full disclosure: I was a huge truther for this in high school. VERY huge. Dawn is my favorite traveling companion, and Diamond & Pearl was the last season I actively tried to follow besides watching some Best Wishes episodes subtitled. If you suggested shipping Dawn with Paul (WHY?!) or a loser like Kenny, or even Cynthia (Excuse me? I'm calling anime Chris Hansen!), I would spit in your face. Because I was a stupid 15 year old with stupid hills to die on. Even as a crotchety old hag I have a major soft spot for this.

Move over, dorks who think breaking someone's bike or being close friends that hug each other a lot is the ultimate love story in the making: Dawn and Zoey started out on good terms from the beginning. Dawn blushing at a minor compliment from her cool new coordinator friend and rushing to help her early on in the season? Psh...who are we kidding? I would say this parallels May and Drew when it comes to logic based on their in-canon relationship, although Zoey has been more of a rival-mentor from day one instead of one who starts out antagonistic (Gary, Drew, Paul, etc.) or like I said, a loser like Kenny. We do not like Kenny on this webzone!

However, a few years later, I did some catching up on episodes and noticed a challenger approaches: Zoey's hometown is in Snowpoint, and is close childhood friends with Candice. They went to the same trainer's school together and even raised Zoey's signature Glameow as kids! Awww! So...pretending I'm still a teenager with my yuri goggles tightly glued on my face (to the point said goggles obscure the fact that they're literally 10-13 years old...), what does this mean? Was Zoey just a really good friend looking out for a rookie coordinator and already has a girlfriend? Friendly exes? Or is this normal tween/teenage friendships that might develop into something more complex as they grow up? I sure did go wild with the possibilities then.

They probably played house as kids with Glameow as the baby, let's be real.

Honestly? Not to break my 15 year old self's heart, but after rewatching the relevant episodes, if any of the wild fanfiction shipping scenarios involving these characters had to be true, a combination of the third and first situation is the most plausible. Stop me if you've heard this before: All the good girls are taken. Sorry Dawn! No need to worry though, I'm sure when Zoey and Candice have their dramatic teenage break up, Dawn will go in for the kill and blow up Zoey's Poke-smartphone to comfort her. (Sorry...just doing a little headcanon.)

When I revisited this abandoned playground, I always thought the interpretation that Zoey was the one who liked and pined over Dawn to be fascinating. Even when I was 15 I saw it as the other way around. (Remember: Interpretations vary, especially when there's no canon truth on this topic.) Doing a favor for a stranger (Zoey returning Dawn's lost choker and helping with her hair) is basic politeness, not proof of love-at-first-sight, and it was funny to see some of the straight shippers not consider the fact that some girls are interested in tomboys. It comes back to how many (but not all) kidult's views on relationships and attraction comes from fictional stories and not the lives of real people (especially in the case of slash/femslash versus actual gay/lesbian/bisexual people).

If the spell of eternal youth is ever broken, I'd really like to know where any of these three would be now.

Sourgrapesshipping (Georgia and Burgundy)

I'm too old for this shit.

Here's another full disclosure: I know next to nothing about the anime after Diamond & Pearl. My interest in the anime almost entirely shriveled up (and I was an unironic fan of it from age 12-20) after playing Black and White and Black and White 2. The anime (if you skipped the Johto seasons - FUCK that!) was mostly a dorky guilty pleasure with some good character interactions and depth (yes, really) if you had time to sit and marathon a bunch of story arcs, and I just didn't have time for that anymore. Especially when Unova's games had the best story and post-game I could ask for.

Not to mention at the haggard age of 20 I just felt like I was too old to keep caring (can you sense my dripping sarcasm?), I could only pretend or "headcanon" that these characters were my age for so long. But around then I was also using Tumblr and catching up on what my Pokemon forum friends were posting on their blogs, and I found a Texts From Last Night-themed blog (remember those? Back when Tumblr was for fandom fun and not the source of some of the most cancerous politics leaking into mainstream?) with these characters, and I was curious enough to dig up some subtitled episodes of Best Wishes and watch some stuff. (Also, I tried looking for the blog. It's not up anymore. Probably for the best since most of the captions weren't appropriate for a cast of mostly tweens/teens...)

This was one of the few archived posts I could find with a SFW caption.

So who are these brats and what's their deal? Georgia is a self-proclaimed Dragon Buster and therefore the rival of Iris (who is pretty cool, don't get me wrong. Best Wishes was just past my time). She really fucking hates dragon-types for some petty grudge reason. Burgundy is Cilan's rival and a...Pokemon connoisseur? Apparently this is a new season thing where unlike coordinators, they identify the compatibility between a trainer and Pokemon. Anyway, she also has a petty grudge too against Cilan for some childhood shit. She's a bit aggro and grumpy, not to mention immature like Georgia. (Great things to bond over, clearly.)

Together, they're basically vitrolic best buds. The best kind. Maybe if this season was out 5 years earlier I would be a super fan. But instead this is more like a dish that has all the ingredients of something I'd love, but I let it sit out too long so I didn't eat it. (Weird analogy. You get it.)

Staffshipping (Sir Aaron and Lucario)

"Love is love. I see no difference." - Edward Elric

This page was sorely lacking in slash ships that don't involve Ash or will have anime Chris Hansen knocking on my door (Oak and Delia was pushing it), and despite seeing many on old fansites, very few were interesting enough for me to comment more than a sentence on. James and Butch? Only if Butch quit smoking. James and Brock? I'm sorry, what? (Slash involving Brock just doesn't make sense to me now. Some people are straight, get over it!) James and Harley - now we're onto something, in theory. In practice their interactions weren't as interesting as they could've been.

But then in the depths of my teenage memory, I remembered this one.

Uh oh.

Should I go there? Is this ok? How many normies are reading this?

Oh, who fucking cares.

As I've said on the other page, humans and Pokemon marrying is canon, albeit a thing of the past before Pokeballs were invented and humans developed a power trip over their former equals. I'm sure if the perspective of the series didn't take place in the point-of-view of a tween, we'd find out it's the subject of a huge civil rights movement and culture war. Some can talk, and even individual species have an equal or greater intelligence to humans. In fact, the Lucario in this movie can talk via telepathy! ...Why are you looking at me like that? I do not have any weird merchandise in my room, thank you very much.

Jokes aside, when rereading forum threads from over a decade ago, this side of the shipping corner is fucking batshit in hindsight. I don't consider Pokemon to be literal animals but seeing the tweens that refuse to age get roped into this made my skin crawl, even if most fans asserted it's solely romantic or platonic (let's not talk about the ones who don't). This was like returning to my home country after a decade and realizing how off-the-wall our customs were. But I guess that's because this view on relationships is from the point of view of the very socially awkard kidults - if you can meet your spouse at 10 or hugging your friend often is proof of repressed carnal desire, then by that logic, your non-sexual romantic soulmate can very well be a fat yellow rat. I can't bring myself to care about the fictional ethics of this or Alice and Darkrai in the 10th movie, though, it comes off as closer to something like Beauty and the Beast (minus the ending) or Shape of the Water, or whatever spicy-normie humanoid-interspecies pairing.

I made this in less than 5 minutes.

Back in the utopian pre-Pokeball days when marrying Gardevoir or Lopunny was a loving union of equals and not something incel NEET Unovans did, Sir Aaron was a knight and Aura Guardian who taught Lucario how to use this energy. In history, Sir Aaron was known as a hero who ended a war, but what Lucario remembers was Aaron telling him he was never coming back to the castle, and sealing him away. After being reawakened by the idiot savant Ash who won a tournament and donned Sir Aaron's Aura Guardian outfit, Lucario feels betrayed that such a coward is celebrated today. But it turns out that Sir Aaron sealed Lucario away as a way to protect him and end the war peacefully. He really was a hero after all! ...Then after finding out the truth from Sir Aaron's mouth, Lucario dies at the end to meet him on the other side.

If this makes you uncomfortable, you can always pretend that Lucario is just a 4-foot tall autistic man stuck inside a suit.

...Yeah, uh, the lack of communication makes this more of an incredibly awkward hour-and-40-minute long misunderstanding than a tragic love story. I was really hoping I would become a truther again after rewatching this movie and declare that the realest love in Pokemon was something most people aren't open-minded enough to accept, but the sub and dub bored me. Side note, but despite my research being exclusively English-related fandom, this was significantly popular fanart-wise in the Japanese fandom. Yes, SFW fanart, not weird doujinshis from the sick depths of someone's mind (looking at you, Electric Tale of Pikachu). Something about the mentorship and "best friends until the end" dynamic really appeals to artists on the other side of the pond.

Coldcoffeeshipping (Paul and Barry)

Barry probably has an overly-long custom Poke-Starbucks drink he likes to order on their dates.

Ok, now here's a more appropriate slash ship. Hot take: I like Paul! PaulApologist92 has logged on! (Apaulogist? *BRICKED*) Paul had great character development akin to Silver from the games and a lot of funny moments even in his complete asshole era. I was a fan of shipping Paul and Ash back in the day, despite the haters not being able to handle a rival that started out *gasp* meaner than the others. But honestly, Ash isn't cool enough for Paul. He's just an anchor for his character development. Paul needs someone just as cool as him! And as we know, there is nothing worse than being un-shipped (if the Shipping Masterlist page tells us anything...).

So who is cool enough for Paul? Or rather, who does he have meaningful interactions with besides Ash? Most definately not Dawn, I never understood why that was so popular when fans admit the evidence is extremely weak and there's more suitable alternatives for a "good girl, bad boy" ship. So I guess the answer is... Barry! Is Barry cool? Frankly, no, he's like a more one-note version of his game counterpart. Very hyperactive and talks about fining people over every little inconvenience. But I still think this iteration of him has merit.

Barry also uh, orbits Paul a lot to an obsessive degree. Before they even meet. Paul and Barry are both Ash's rivals, but half of Barry's banter revolves around Paul. "It gets lonely at the top, but Paul's there to keep me company." Wow, okay then! Even Dawn teases him on this. In the eyes of the romance guru kidults (who should totally write a relationship advice column), this is basically canon. In my eyes, this is just funny to watch.

Stalking his social media, huh?

Paul had a pretty significant change from being a tough (to the point of abusive - poor Chimchar!) trainer to someone with a more balanced view. I was very happy to find out from reading wikis that he was offered a gym leader position in Journeys! Maybe down the line, Paul will appreciate his weird fanboy's company...


Closing thoughts... (contains TL;DR)

Yes, there are more that I'm missing, either things I forgot about or just don't find interesting enough to poke (ha!) fun at length. There are zero Misty pairings because I stopped seeing her as a cool role model destined to marry Ash when I hit puberty and watched her character get ruined by Togepi for hundreds of episodes. Brock, Gary, Tracey, the other friends or rivals, are also not of interest to me, and the characters I do find interesting like Harley, Solidad, Ursula, etc., don't have any interactions with others significant to me. This is skipping most gym leaders or elites because I see them as game characters foremost.

Pokemon is mostly a thing of the past for me. As of writing this (2022), I officially stopped following the anime a decade ago and Sword and Shield was the first main series game I didn't buy on release. The last games I fully enjoyed besides Black and White and its direct sequel was Sun and Moon, and the story changes in Ultra was a HUGE spit in the face. I also literally fell asleep while playing Let's Go, Pikachu!, despite replaying Red and Blue countless times and found its first remake enjoyable. I have no plans to buy any recent or future release (if I play a newer game, it'll be second-hand), unless a capybara Pokemon is made and the game on launch isn't a potato that needs paid DLC to be interesting.

What happened? Many critics and long-time fans have pointed out a change in quality of the games. I'm a big believer in "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" but comparing the learning curve to the older games versus newer is borderline hand-holding, and I don't mean that like that incredibly romantic picture above. I love the EXP Share and chances to get shiny Pokemon easier, but X and Y was like being babied, even with self-imposed challenges. Meanwhile, at 12 I temporarily taught myself to read braille to catch the Regis and discussed strategy with classmates at school. It's not fair to write this off as "you just aren't a kid anymore" when I played the best main series games as an adult. Something has changed, intentionally or not, and I don't like it.

But on a personal level, a lot of it made me uncomfortable and felt borderline inappropriate to engage with as a grown adult. I drafted the idea of a personality alignment based on what kind of person would pair Ash with in my head at work (like an OLD person!) and wrote it as soon as I came home, expecting it to be a one-off joke. But doing research of rereading fansites and forums reminded me of how much a Donphan in the room the topic of "shipping" is and how it's become a source of annoyance and bitterness for me most of the time. I think the concept of shipping is arguably mainstream; Enough people saw a potential spark in Mulder and Scully or even Kirk and Spock or Xena and Gabrielle to want to talk about and make content of it. Pre-internet, even.

But something about Pokemon shipping tends to be a joke even among enthusiasts of other fictional character-dolls being strangled by the fan-imposed red string. Notably the involvement of 10 year olds with each other, older characters, creatures of varying sentience that loosely resemble animals, one-off characters, characters that have never met... with all of these scenarios having a separate name for and at least one person squeeing on fan spaces about it. Even Heracross and the Bulbasaur it sexually harasses has its own name. I don't even consider it anime puritanism or "political correctness gone mad" to find this weird and wonder about the kind of person invested in this - it honestly is odd and even funny to see, as someone who was neck-deep into this! And sadly, not everyone I knew or encountered in this neck of the woods was an innocent kidult otherwise clueless about relationships either. (*cough*) Rereading archived pages made me envy the wistful kidults who saw love in everything as a transitory growing up period instead of something shameful and scary. Writing this page unintentionally became a lesson in learning to laugh at and not berate my past self.

I found out from social media and general pop culture osmosis that Ash has finally become the Pokemon World Champion and the next season airing in April 2023 will have new protagonists, 26 years after the first debuted episode. This was a constant in my life I didn't expect to end. Is spell of eternal youth finally broken? No, I doubt TPCI has much interest in the audience who wants to see the life of a 36 year old Ash Ketchum. Will I watch this? Yes, I will likely watch the finale and at least the first few episodes with the new characters, but I also have bills to pay. It's not a promise but it feels wrong to not see the end.