Archivi tag: empathy

Focus: Ash’s psychological profile

ita icon_satoshipediaIn the article “Ash’s sunny and positive personality” we talked in detail of what distinguishes Ash Ketchum: his gentle, emphatetic and positive character. However, his psychological profile needs to be illustrated in a more accurate way, by specifically talking of all the aspects that charaterize him. To do this, it is also useful to make use of the the japanese theme songs lyrics of the Pokémon anime.

The lyrics of the theme songs in Japan are structured in a different way than ours, and this is what makes them more appreciated: in fact, they focus on the emotions and  feelings of the protagonists.

Therefore, examining the lyrics of the pokémon anime theme songs, in particular those sang by Rica Matsumoto (Ash’s japanese voice, that performs the theme songs always by putting herself in Ash’s shoes), a quite interesting context about Ash’s psychology emerges, even if it was already deductible from the episodes. All the quotes you’ll read in this section are from the theme songs.

As we all know, Ash is presented as a very particukiuyhfgyylar guy: with a noble soul, kind, positive and sweet if needed. He demonstrates a remarkable wisdom on how to face life and it’s difficulties, in fact he is a reference point for all of his friends, that consider him a sort of psycologist of the group and use his teachings  to overcome their insecurities.

“Courage is the key that opens doors
We always had it on our hands”
(Challenger – Opening 7 )

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“Through tears and smiles, you’re not alone
I will always and forever cheer you up!”
(Spurt – Opening 10)
“I want to help, I want to protect you during painful times”
(Challenger – Opening 7)
“OK! Let’s swallow our fear!”
(Ok – Opening 3)

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“Pinches and chances are different sides of a coin”
(Challenger – Opening 7)
The bud that is our dreams
Hasn’t changed, but
Little by little it’ll bloom…
I can feel it
(The Rivals – Opening 2)

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Basically, Ash is sweet and kind, but at the same time he is bold and determined.

Another of Ash’s famous characteristic is his stamina. He often receives attacks from confused Pokémons or act as a shield to protect his friends and, if he gets injured, he never stops and continues undeterred to help, even at the cost of losing his life.vlcsnap-2015-11-12-00h33m02s414

Ash never complains too much for pain, if he does, it means he is feeling really bad, like in the episodes vlcsnap-2015-11-12-01h41m26s3478The Stun Spore Detour (Adventures in the Orange Islands series), A Better Pill to Swallow (Johto League Champions series) and “Battling at Full Volume!” (Series XYZ). Generally, if he is not feeling well, as  not worry those who are with him, he tends to downplay the problem, saying that everything is fine, even though in reality it isn’t.

“There are salty tears on my cheeks, but
Shedding them will make me strong
I’ll forget my pain and scratches
But not my important memories”
(Challenger – Opening 7)

However, since Ash’s personality is so good-natured and reassuring, no one would expect him to become hateful and surly, though there are some cases in which Ash reveales an unexpected side of his character, which may stun not only his travelling companions, but also the audience.

vlcsnap-2015-08-23-17h14m54s720Ash actually always keeps everything bottled up, he never wants to talk about his problems and if someone insists so as to persuade him to do that, he always ends up getting angry. When Ash is really sad, nervous or worried for something (especially for Pikachu, but also for all of his other Pokémons), he may become unrecognizably grumpy, sour and unpleasant (like Misty, May and Dawn defined him sometimes) to the point of becoming offensive or being quite rude. In these cases, even speaking to him could cause a bad reaction frovlcsnap-2015-08-23-17h12m35s948m him. For this reason Brock, knowing Ash very well, sometimes had to stop those who tried to speak to him, to calm him down or even worse, to scold him.
In such cases Ash needs to stay alone, the only ones who can approach him are his Pokémons.vlcsnap-2015-08-23-16h24m21s053

Generally, in this way he calms down and his friends can take over.
In some rare occasions Ash got to the points of talking back even to Brock, who he respects and thinks highly of. In the episode vlcsnap-2015-08-23-16h23m31s430On a Wingull and a Prayer! (Advanced series) Ash, nervous for having lost the ferry to Dewfor Town, addressed May in a very sour way. The girl didn’t expect such a reaction from Ash and took it badly.

In episodes “All Hail the Ice Battlefield! and “Seeing the Forest for the Trees!” of the XYZ series, Ash has once again had a moment of crisis, and as usual he asked to be left alone. But Serena, worried about him, is still gone to look for him and has considerately tried to cheer him up. However, as we all know, Ash in these moments is unapproachable and obviously he is  turned against Serena in a decidedly stern way. 

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Serena, not expecting such a behavior by Ash, is burst into tears and began throwing snowballs on him, reproaching him to not recognize him anymore. This act has come to help Ash to find himself.

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Note that Ash’s character improved over the years.  In the first series he was often very arrogant, but as the years went by he matured and became generally kind and thoughtful, as we know him now. In fact, in the recent episodes it is quite rare to see him get nervous and talk back to his friends. Particularly in the XY series, Ash demonstrates to be more patient even with who is a first-time trainer and instead of getting angry (as he did with Dawn at the beginning of the Diamond&Pearl series) he prefers to make reproaches for greater good.

Here is a little fun fact: in the Japanese version of the first series, Ash was often very obnoxious towards Misty. Most of the time she rebuked him or just tried to give him some advice, Ash replied to her: “urusai na” (term used in Japan to silence someone), but in the Western version of the episodes, most of these dialogues have been totally changed or even removed.

vlcsnap-2015-11-11-23h26m32s963Ash is very impulsive. As a matter of fact, if he is nervous or in a bad mood he tends to lose his temper easily. However, at the same time, he can be very patient.
Let’s take Paul as an example, that is Ash’s rival in the Diamond&Pearl series.
Although Paul often insulted him, Ash has always been kind to him. Obviously, on those occasions, Ash firstly came up with a retort and knew how to be respected. However, shortly after he always tried to make some kind of friendship with him.
So many times Paul insulted him, as often as Ash tried to be kind to him. This is a fe213iopature of Ash that emphasizes his personality.

Ash also tends to be much more patient with those who are constantly kind to him, as if he perceives that in some cases his bad reaction might particularly offend the person next to him.

Talking about perception, Ash is particularly well known for his empathy. It is in fact possible to notice from the episodes that he has some sort of “sixth sense” thanks to which he is able to understand immediately if someone is sad or demoralized. For example, in the episode Team shocker! (DP Battle Dimension series) Dawn, deeply disappointed for her defeat at the Solaceon Town Pokémon Contest, nervously tightens her fists. Ash immediately notices  and realizes that in fact something is wrong, although the girl said she was fine. Ash_Dawn_angry

Even though Ash is totally naive about love matters, he understands when someone cares particularly for him.
To cite another example: in Serena’s case, Ash obviously hasn’t understood that she is in love with him; however he understands or realizes that their friendship really matters to her. This is why Ash adopts many caring attitudes towards her, like XY059_clip2paying compliments or giving her gifts, as seen in the episode “Under the Pledging Tree!” ( XY Kalos Quest series). Serena is obviously the most present among the girls who openly demonstrate their love for Ash, so it’s easier to to take her as an example, but Ash has shown similar attitudes with other girls in love with him (such as Miette, Melody, Lyra, Macy and so on).

Ash also revealed that he can understand the feelings of his Pokémons, as if he feels the same thing they do (to quote his exact words).

“Strength, kindness, dazzling smiles
With my heart’s map, I’ll look for them”
(Challenger – Opening  7)

Moving on, Ash is famous for being really stubborn and this is the main characteristic for which they all know him. Resolute and determined, his motto is “Saigo made Akirameru Na” (literally: “don’t give up until it’s over“), so overflowing with optimism that for him it comes quite natural to transmit it to others and encourage those in need.

I’m tightly grabbing your hand and taking you along
(Ready Go – Opening 5)
“I thirst, I’m hunger
Even so, my strenght is boiling up
My wounds throb, my sweat flies
But I can see clearly
[…]
The forest is dark, there are no roads
Even so, my courage is overflowing
The mountains are tall, the valleys are deep
But of course, I’m all fired up!
[..]
I’ll tightly tie my shoelaces
I’ll fulfill the promise to my future self!”
(Spurt – Opening 10)

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“If I keep walking on my tired feet
I’ll be a step closer to my dream”
(Challenger – Opening 7)

Does Ash ever have weak moments? The answer is yes.  Anybody could be demotivated after disappointments and  failures, Ash too.

“Do you remember who won?”
Now look!
I can laugh as I talk with you
“I forgot!” said while playing dumb
(The Rivals – Opening  2)

vlcsnap-2015-11-12-00h22m30s459As stated in the japanese theme songs,  Ash forces himself to always be positive and determined, because he actually hides some insecurities inside himself, as shown in some episodes when Ash loses his confidence apparently for no reason. An example can be found in the episode “A Dairy Tale Ending” (Johto League Champions series) where after being defeatet for the first time by Whitney, Ash thought of giving all up and going back home.

“Though I had begun to give up
There was no reason for me to
The morning sun burning brightly on my journey
Asks me, “That much is fine, right?”

(Ok – Opening 3)
I’ll pack up my eagerness and energy
Today, too, I swear!
[…]
I can’t turn around it, I can’t lie down
I can’t get depressed, I can’t give up, I believe
I won’t rush, I won’t get confused, I’ll always
Aim for that distant dream…
(Challenger – Opening 7)

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As already stated in the article “Ash’s sunny and positive personality“, in the DP there’s a character who really mines Ash’s positivity: Paul.

Paul is a trainer with very cold methods, severe and intransigent. vlcsnap-2015-11-12-01h04m02s062He treated his pokémon with extreme strictness. Ash oblivously was completely against these methods, because he knows well that Pokémons must be treated with kindness. Therefore he firstly faced Paul with a confident attitude, to make him understand that… but Ash continued to lose against him. After the hard defeat at the Lake Acuity, Ash literally had a breakdown  and starteddp 59 to ask himself if perhaps he was doing it all wrong. The shots that do not show Ash’s face for the rest of the episode “Evolving Strategies!” (DP Galactic Battles series) emphasize his mood in that moment.   Luckily, as we all know, Ash never decided to give up, eventually managing to make Paul more gentle towards his Pokémons.

“It’s so disappointing to lose
I’m trembling, but,
My clenched fist loosens
I wipe the sweat on my jeans, let’s shake hands!”
(The Rivals – Opening 2)

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“I’m so happy to win
I want to cry, but
Both winning and losing are important
There must be something to it!”
(The Rivals – Opening 2)

Ash tends to lose his confidence when he feels lonely.2yufz2g.jpg
Although he spent his childhood playing on his own, he lets slip that he hates solitude. He defines it”Very hard” and “the cause of suffering”, describing  it like he experienced that on his own skin. That makes us understand that he felt really lonely even if, as always, he never made it obvious.

“When i look back on yesterday, stopped and retreated;
there were tears, but i don’t care
I’ll take a step towards the future
[..]
There will be no time for gloom, as that would repeat the past
(Ready Go – Opening 5)

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“Even though I have memories
Of a few painful things
I don’t even notice as they fall out
from a hole in my backpack”
(Type:Wild – Ending 5)

 

The lyrics that you have just read may also refer to the moment when Ash saw his mother crying because of their family situation.

At the end of the Johto saga (after the first separation from Misty and Brock) Ash was really sad, so Pikachu made him understand that he’ll never be alone again, and that he had it, his best friend, by his side.skuql5.jpg

Loneliness is a recurrent theme in the japanese lyrics. It is from those, and also from some episodes, that it becomes particularly clear that Ash is scared and hurt by it.

“I’m not alone, I’m not lonely, still a way to go”
(Challenger – Opening 7)

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“The words of my friends, look,
They’re more reassuring than I thought!
They’re extremely warm, so much it makes me cry
(Spurt – Opening 10)

Let’s end the section with some things that anger Ash.

He is unlikely to lose his temper; it only happened  a few times (actually scaring his friends) but never became hysteric.vlcsnap-2015-11-12-01h09m50s993 The only case could be in the episode “Ignorance is Blissey” (Always Pokémon series), in which the Team Rocket stole some food from the Pokémon Center when Ash was fasting since the day before (Misty made the comment: “he never gets this mad“). With the exception of these gags, his biggest rage fit was with Lucario in the movie “Lucario and the Mistery of Mew“, or when he punched a window in the episode “A Frenzied Factory Fiasco!” (XY Kalos Quest series). Ash explained several times what are the things that make him angry or, as he says, “enrage him”. Some examples are the ones mentioned down here:

– Finding out about people who steal or exploit their Pokémon for money or shady dealings.
– Being too far off Pikachu, especially if he’s worried about it.
– Know-it-alls
– Stealing his food

LD3005

About LD3005

LD3005 is an italian boy, born in 2000, with a strong passion for the Pokéworld and music. He has a radiant and cheerful personality. Main composer and arranger of the Hoseki Team, he's leader of its own RPG project, Pokémon Legends Arise, set in Sinnoh. He made a big effort to translate the Satoshipedia.