I know there’s a lot of instances in Best Wishes (same in XY too) where Ash is portrayed to be weaker than he is “supposed to be”, but most certainly, the Elesa Battle isn’t one of them. The battle was a tactical mistake on Ash’s part as he tried to be out of character and over think the matter. If you notice how Pikachu one-shotted Emolga and Tynamo, you’ll see that this is in fact perfectly in accordance with the power it displayed when it defeated Latios. The only reason why Tynamo troubled Pikachu at first was it’s unique battle style. Ash was caught offguard by Tynamo’s superfast movements. But he eventually came up with the counter plan (thunderbolt on the field). Using the field to his advantage has been established as Ash’s speciality and was shown well in the full battle between Ash and Paul. So, IMO, the Elesa battle did a good job portraying Ash’s character, his battlestyle and his bond with Pikachu. Unfortunately the battle is considered as one of the “bad” battles in Best Wishes. If you ask me, there are much worse battles, but certainly Ash vs Elesa isn’t one of them. If anything it was a perfect continuation to the “Developing your battlestyle” discussion the characters had in DP (DP100 and the episode before battling Candice etc.), where Ash tries to experiment something out of his domain and fails.
You know, the first time I watched this battle, I was facepalming through the whole thing. Granted that was a good while ago, before I took a closer look at Ash’s character and his development (i.e. before I started writing fics and posting regularly here on Tumblr).
After reading this post I went and re-watched the episode with this battle and I realized a few things:
This post is almost entirely correct. It’s certainly a portrayal of Ash attempting to stray from his battle style to improve his chances of winning. That, in itself, is an interesting way of showing Ash in his attempts to grow as a character and battler, which falls in line with his established patterns from DP.
While this is certainly far from the worst battle Ash had in BW, it still has moments made me kind of annoyed at some of Ash’s airheadedness.
His ‘strategy’ entailed relying on a SINGLE pokemon for the entirety of the battle. This is something I know Ash wouldn’t do in DP. In fact, it screams of the naivety and arrogance he used to possess in OS. And even if it were an experiment of sorts, I don’t think Ash would bring just one pokemon to a battle he knows will be a 3-on-3 battle. It was just plain embarrassing that he brought a single pokemon.
Which brings me to the type-advantage portion of this battle. Ash concluded that because Palpitoad was a ground type, that he could sail through the battle just because of its immunity to electric type moves. While Ash has relied on type-advantage in the past, he has shown himself to be a believer that type-advantage does not determine a fight 100% of the time. If he were to retain that knowledge and philosophy from his prior journeys, he would not have made such a callous error in judgement.
Then of course, after his embarrassing stint in leaving the battlefield to retrieve a second pokemon, he unleashed Snivy against Emolga. Once again, we are treated to Ash’s logic gap that seems to have grown since entering Unova. He remembered that grass types were resistant to electric moves. Again, though he fails to take into account that pokemon often use moves of different types (as he saw not only in several battles prior to that episode and saga, BUT WITHIN THAT VERY BATTLE). What’s more, he failed to recognize (or remember) that Emolga was a flying-type, and thus had an advantage over Snivy. It seems incredibly counter-intuitive that Ash would rely so heavily on type advantage at the start of the fight, only to forget (or fail to apply) the same logic in the next step of the fight.
One could argue that Ash grew flustered after his initial plan was so easily swept aside by Elesa, but I still feel like type-knowledge would be base-line knowledge for him at this point. DP Ash would not make these mistakes. If he were to deploy Snivy on purpose, regardless of typing because he had another plan in mind (something he’s done before) it would make sense. But this was done in sheer ignorance.
At the very least, Pikachu was able to bring Ash back to his senses, and we got to see the spontaneous and unpredictable Ash that we all know and love in the final round of the gym battle. I agree, it was good for Ash to try something new in a situation such as that. But I don’t think Ash shedding away his complete preparedness and recognition of pokemon typing was necessary to showcase that for him.
I now look at this battle in a better light than I once did, but still regard it with some annoyance. The logical fallacies both on a large scale (i.e. his development in the series) and on a small scale (the inconsistencies within the battle itself) leave me wishing for a bit more from the writers.
*clears throat* Excuse me, this has been one of my late night rants. I hope no one has been offended. I want to make clear that I love Ash Ketchum as a character, and I don’t intend any hate in any regard. My only qualms with this subject are with the writers.
The bolded parts, I have to agree with you. This seem like another attempts to bring more comedy by making him look more like a goof. Sure these scenes were adorable and fun to watch, but it comes at the cost of ignoring his skill development from OS to DP. This is essentially the biggest problem we face in Best Wishes. Ash has gotten somewhat stale by the end of DP as in that he’s mostly serious, he’s smart. It’s amazing how the same kid from OS grew up to such a smart trainer in DP, in a believable way. But it does come at the cost of him being boring. I believe the ‘Best Wishes’ storyboard attempted to focus less on the battle side of his and more on the side characters, their personalities, the side villain plots etc. It proves one important thing: Ash’s journey needs to end or at least be given secondary focus (challenging the higher opponents like the Elite Four etc.). But instead we see an attempt to revive the goofy moments from OS and that got us facepalming things like this.
But his dilemma in scene 2 where he sends Snivy against Emolga is slightly understandable. You see he is solely thinking in the angle that he needs a Pokemon that can resist electric type moves, and frankly, Snivy was the only one in his team who could do that. That’s why I don’t think Ash sending out Snivy was really that bad…….it was a bit comical, but you know, it wasn’t entirely out of character. Ash’s plans (even in DP) tend to be short-sighted. Remember how Pikachu used Volt Tackle against Electivire? He thought he could beat Electivire if he could speed them up and use a Iron Tail to finish Electivire off in a close range. But he made the same mistake he did in the first battle against Paul, he forgot that Electivire had a free arm that could let it beat Pikachu.
His inability to think things through is a flaw of his. Some people just can’t think things through.I know a friend of mine who gets restless when we play Chess and moves without thinking properly when I pressure him. He does try to think two steps in advance, but he isn’t the type to think deeply. He eventually misses a bishop I have hiding behind a good number of pawns and falls under my trap. These people just can’t sit and think calmly. They want to move, jump into action. Ash can never think beyond two steps and all of his special strategies are usually obvious ones. It’s a part of his personality.
But sometimes he does surprise us. The Sleep Talk in Sinnoh League and Aerial Ace in Unova League are good examples of some preplanning on his part. But his planning can never be compared to someone like Paul or Conway.
That’s my view on this anyway. It isn’t entirely black and white.