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Pokémon: The Reason Journeys Skipped a Rematch Between Ash and Alain

Many fans are disappointed that there won’t be a rematch between Ash and Alain during the Masters Eight, but Pokémon Journeys was wise to avoid it.

When Pokémon Journeys announced the lineup for the Masters Eight Tournament in the World Coronation Series, Alain’s return — as the sixth seed, no less — was easily the biggest surprise among the competitors. Alain is Ash’s only rival that he’s never defeated, so fans were understandably hyped by the idea of a rematch between the two — something that won’t be happening since Alain got paired up with Leon instead and had his head handed to him for a swift first-round exit. Disappointing, for sure, but Journeys’ decision to avoid a rematch between Ash and Alain was the right call in the long run.

Alain and his Mega Charizard X were the ones who bounced Ash from the Lumiose Conference Finals during the Kalos Saga. The first time Ash had ever made the Finals in a Pokémon League Conference, he and his “Ash-Greninja” fell short in the battle against Alain despite Greninja’s Type advantage over Charizard. This loss was so upsetting to fans that it may be directly responsible for Ash’s Championship victory in the anime’s follow-up Alola Saga. Alain hadn’t been seen since the end of the Kalos Saga, and his return for the Masters Eight felt like the perfect time for a rematch, but Journeys was wise to pass up this opportunity for a number of reasons.

RELATED: Pokémon Journeys: The Masters Eight’s First Round Matchups Are Set

Pokémon’s love-fest with Charizard is well documented, as the iconic Fire-Type appears in game after game with various new forms at the expense of any other Pokémon that deserve a chance to shine. Part of why Alain’s return was so surprising was because it meant there were two trainers in the Masters Eight whose signature Pokémon was a Charizard — the other being some obscure trainer named Leon, the Galar Champion and reigning Monarch of the WCS, whose potential battle against Ash is the whole point of the Journeys anime. The Masters Eight Tournament is three rounds, meaning that if Ash had battled Alain en route to a Finals matchup against Leon, he’d have faced two Charizard trainers in three battles — a level of repetition that the series was wise to sidestep. Better that Journeys used Charizard to eliminate Charizard to nip that redundancy in the bud.

Starting with the Hoenn Saga, Ash has made a frustrating habit of leaving his Pokémon behind and catching new ones for each adventure into a different region. Even though the Journeys anime doesn’t have Ash competing in a traditional Pokémon League, the 10-year-old from Pallet Town has still left his old Pokémon with various professors and caught new partners for the World Coronation Series. All this is to say that if a rematch between Ash and Alain had occurred, it would’ve been without Greninja, who Ash left in the Kalos Region. Greninja’s absence would take most of the significance out of a rematch against Alain, and the Masters Eight of the WCS is too important for Ash to have a battle that isn’t as impactful as possible.

RELATED: Pokémon: How the Journeys Anime Should End

The most exciting aspect of the Masters Eight is the return of every Regional Champion from Kanto to Galar, some of whom haven’t been in the spotlight for many years. Ash has already beaten Iris in the WCS, and though he’s met every other Champion at one point or another, he’s only had unofficial battles with Diantha and Leon. Ash also battled Alain several times during the Kalos Saga. What he’s never done is battle against Lance, Steven or Cynthia, making the Masters Eight Tournament too rich an opportunity for Ash to officially battle some Champions and instead have him face Alain, the only non-Champion and someone he’s battled many times already. Journeys had a choice between something new or something fans have seen before, and the series made the correct decision even at the expense of a fan service slam dunk.

If Ash is going to win the World Coronation Series, Journeys can’t afford to make it easy for him. He’s been paired up with Steven (third seed) in the first round, and if/when he wins, he’ll almost certainly be facing Cynthia (second seed) in the second round en route to a Finals match against Leon (first seed). Seeing Ash (eighth seed) defeat the top three competitors on his way to the title of Monarch would be much more satisfying than giving him a tough but objectively easier and fan-servicing battle against Alain. If Journeys had a more morbid sense of humor, it would’ve had Alain crush Ash’s dreams a second time by defeating Leon and preventing Ash from being able to battle him. Fortunately, the series is smarter than that too.

Ryan is an enthusiastic fan of the film and television industry, particularly interested in the creative process. Some people need a white noise machine to relax at night, but Ryan needs an audio commentary. Making a living by talking about the movies and shows he loves is his dream. You can find him complaining about Rise of Skywalker on Twitter as @RickeySpanish because even his Twitter handle is an American Dad reference.

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