Ash Ketchum and Pikachu,
First appearance Waffle, Gordon and Mr Blik's adventures of Charlie and the Chocolate factory
First game Trouble In Cyberspace (2016)
Created by Satoshi Tajiri
Designed by Ken Sugimori and Atsuko Nishida (video games), Sayuri Ichishi (anime season 1–8), Toshiya Yamada (anime, season 10-present)
Voiced by (English)
Sarah Natochenny (anime, season 9, 2006–present)
Voiced by (Japanese) Rica Matsumoto

Ash Ketchum, known as Satoshi (サトシ?) in Japan, is a fictional character in the Pokémon franchise owned by Nintendo. He is the main protagonist of the Pokémon anime and manga series, as well as on various merchandise related to the franchise. In Japanese, the character is voiced by Rica Matsumoto; in the English dub, he was voiced by Veronica Taylor from 1998 until 2006 and the eighth season of the anime series, replaced by Sarah Natochenny for the remainder of the anime and Kayzie Rogers in The Mastermind of Mirage Pokémon television special. His name is derived from the Japanese name (as the letters 'ash' are included in 'Satoshi') and his English motto, "Gotta Catch 'Em All". Ash's dream is to become a Pokémon Master. He is loosely based on Red, the player character from the Generation I games Pokémon Red, Green, Blue and Yellow, as well as the Generation III games Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen versions. The character's first official appearance in a game was in Pokémon Puzzle League.

The series starts with Ash's tenth birthday, by which according to Pokémon trainer registration bylaws allows him the privilege to become a full-fledged Pokémon trainer and obtain a starter Pokémon. As a ten-year-old hailing from Pallet Town, a town located in the Kanto region, Ash was offered a choice of choosing between three Pokémon as his starter: Bulbasaur, Squirtle and Charmander. However, he receives the electric type Pokémon, Pikachu as his starter Pokémon instead fromProfessor Oak because he woke up late, and all the other starter Pokémon were taken by other trainers. After receiving Pikachu—his first Pokémon—and a Pokédex, Ash left Pallet Town to start his journey. Since his departure, Ash has traveled the World of Pokémon, competed in many challenges, and caught newer Pokémon. He has met many companions, including Misty and Brock. During his travels with Misty and Brock, Ash still had a lot to learn as a trainer. He caught his Pokémon by merely befriending them, knew absolutely nothing about battling, and many of his gym badges were given to him out of gratitude (of the first five gym badges, the only actual victory was over Lt. Surge). Yet, Ash honed his skill as a Pokémon trainer and was able to get all 8 badges, making him capable to compete in the Indigo League. Ash was able to go to the 5th round, and achieve the Top 16 — one round further than his competitive rival Gary, who finished in Top 32. After his defeat, Ash traveled to the Orange Islands with Misty and Tracey Sketchit, a Pokémon watcher, obtained all 4 badges, and competed in the Orange League to battle Drake, the Orange League Champion. Ash was able to win his battle against Drake, giving him his first League Championship as a Pokémon trainer.

He then traveled on to the Johto region, with Brock and Misty. He won 8 badges and competed in the Johto Conference. Ash beat Gary again, in the 1st round of the conference, and was able to make it to the quarter-finals, and achieve Top 8. However he lost against his new rival Harrison, in the 2nd round. Ash then moved on and traveled through the Hoenn region, along with Brock and two new characters, May, an aspiring Pokémon coordinator, and her younger brother Max. He was able to get all 8 badges, and then competed in the Hoenn Conference. Ash was able to defeat his 1st new rival Morrison, in the 2nd round, also entering in the quarter-finals, and achieving Top 8 again. However he lost in the 3rd round against his 2nd new rival Tyson.

Having gone through several leagues and gotten a lot stronger, Ash decides to challenge the Kanto "Battle Frontier" and its 7 Brains (leaders). Ash defeats all of the Brains and acquires all the 7 Battle Frontier symbols, becoming a "Strong Battle Frontier champion" and qualifies for becoming a Frontier Brain himself. However Ash wanting to learn more about Pokémon and get even stronger, decides to continue his journey, not as a Frontier Brain, but as a trainer. However, having acquired all 7 symbols, he leaves with the privilege of becoming a Frontier Brain if and when he wants in the future.

He traveled with Dawn and Brock in Sinnoh, before parting ways with them in Twinleaf Town. Ash gets all 8 badges, and competes in the Sinnoh conference at the Lily of the Valley Island. He eventually faced his Sinnoh rival Paul in the quarter-finals of the Sinnoh League Festival and finally defeated him, also achieving Top 4, which is currently the farthest that Ash ever gotten in the Pokémon League. But he lost in the semi-finals to Tobias, a trainer with the legendary Pokémon Darkraiand Latios. Despite Ash losing to Tobias in the semi-finals, he was the only trainer to defeat Tobias' Darkrai, and he also became the only trainer to battle his second Pokémon, Latios, and beat it too, but at the "Point of Defeat" —as Tobias obtained all 8 gym badges and swept all of his opponents' Pokémon using just his Darkrai and in the end, he won the tournament by defeating his final opponent.

Ash continues his journeys in the Unova region. Here, he travels with two new companions: a female trainer named Iris who replaces Dawn, and a new male trainer named Cilan, a gym leader who replaces Brock. Ash won all eight gym badges in Unova and then entered the Unova League. Ash was beaten by Cameron in the quarter-finals, and Virgil went on to win the Unova League as he beat Cameron in the semi-finals and Dino in the finals with team Eevee.

Ash then ventured to the Kalos region to challenge the Kalos League. While there he began traveling with the siblings Clemont and Bonnie along with Serena—whom he had met during a summer camp in Pallet Town when he was much younger.

Ash has considerably improved his abilities as a trainer over the course of the series. However, his earnestness and determination remain the same. During the first season of the series, Ash trained to catch more Pokémon than his childhood rival, Gary Oak, although Gary was always shown to be the stronger trainer. He soon began to focus more on each of his Pokémon's abilities. Ash's primary nemesis is a group of antagonists named Team Rocket. Ever since the second episode, "Pokémon Emergency!", two Team Rocket operatives named Jessie and James, along with a talking Meowth, have tried to steal his first Pokémon, Pikachu as well as many others, but have always failed. Despite their constant antagonism, they occasionally put their differences aside and work together against a common adversary, such as in Pokémon: The Movie 2000, where they aid Ash in retrieving the three treasures in order to save the world.

In the video games[edit]

The only video game Ash has truly appeared in to date is Pokémon Puzzle League, where he tries to become a Pokémon Master. This game was never produced in Japan.

In Pokémon RedBlueYellow, and the remakes of Red and Blue, a character very similar to Ash (named Red) appears as a playable character as well as in cameos in Pokémon Black 2White 2GoldSilver, and their remakes. The anime re-imagined Red as Ash Ketchum, the same way it re-imagined Red's rival Blue as Gary Oak and Ethan (the protagonist of the second generation Pokémon games as well as their remakes) as Jimmy. Although they are counterparts, they are not the same characters because they originate from different canons and thus developed from different experiences. Though Pokémon Yellow has certain plot aspects that were inspired by the anime series, the player character is still named Red rather than Ash.[citation needed]

Printed adaptations[edit]

The portrayals of Ash in the manga The Electric Tale of Pikachu, and Ash & Pikachu, are very similar to the one in the anime. There are key differences in the manga, though. The Electric Tale of Pikachu is based on Ash's journey up until the end of the Orange Islands travel. Ash is usually seen traveling by himself during the course of this manga although he is joined by Misty and Brock in Indigo sometimes. Misty is the only one to join Ash in the Orange Islands. The Ash & Pikachumanga is similar, although it has the episodes from the anime like "The Fortune Hunters" and "A Goldenrod Opportunity" combined, but with a couple of changes. Manga author Toshihiro Ono cited Ash as one of his favorite characters to draw for the series, stating, "I want to go on a trip with Misty just like him! (And forget about job, rent, etc.)".[6] In Pokémon Adventures, Red depicts his appearance from what he wore in the games.

Critical reception[edit]

The book The Japanification of Children's Popular Culture cited Ash as an example of cultural identification, with the character going through similar motions players of the games had to in order to progress through them.[7] It additionally emphasized the character's growth and development as the anime series progressed.[8] listed Ash fifteenth on their list of "The Coolest Helmets and Headgear in Video Games", stating "Love him or hate him, y’all know Ash Ketchum for his red and white cap".[9] The Guinness Book of World Records 2011 Game Edition lists Ash as coming 37th out of 50 in a readers' poll of their favorite video game characters.[10] Jian DeLeon of Complex magazine named him seventeenth on a list of "The 25 Most Stylish Anime Characters," and stated, "The first Ash outfit was hands down the best-and most memorable."[11] However, he has been criticized by IGN for not growing up, never succeeding, and for the ambiguity about his father, noting that the consistency could be seen having nothing as frustrating or comforting for fans.[12]