I was delighted, and pleasantly surprised, by the announcement of the Pokemon Sun and Moon demo. There was never much question for me if I’d get it- I am, in my own way, a pretty demented Pokemon superfan. Still, a chance to get an early look at the game, first-hand, was appreciated. The fact that Nintendo is fond of creating unique content not otherwise in the game for their demo was just a bonus. Then I found out that you would get a special Greninja in the demo that you could then transfer to the main game- one capable of transforming into Ash-Greninja.
Unbidden, the background of Ash-Greninja sprung into my mind. The “Ash” in question is of course Ash Ketchum, the main character of the Pokemon anime for… gosh, almost twenty years now. In more recent seasons, he has a Greninja- a water-type frog Pokemon that is also a ninja. This Greninja is special- when he and Ash are in-synch, it can perform a special, temporary evolution into Ash Greninja, which looks like this:
Now, I want you to understand me when I say I don’t know why I know this. I am not saying “I don’t know why I watched a bunch of the Pokemon anime.” I didn’t. I literally, honestly do not know how this information got into my head. Its presence in my data stores is fact, however. Ash-Greninja is a specific evolution of Ash Ketchum’s Greninja, even using parts of Ash’s color scheme. It is, as far as we know, unique in the world of Pokemon. So how are players getting their hands on it, I wondered?
This may seem a strange nit to pick. After all, there’s only one Mewtwo, in the lore. How does the player get the only Mewtwo? Or the only Arceus? Thing is, that’s not impossible- the odds are quite long of one trainer capturing one of these one-of-a-kind pokemon, let alone several, but it is technically possible. But Ash-Greninja is named for the trainer who has him. How could anyone else have it? Then it wouldn’t be Ash-Greninja anymore. It would be… I dunno, Ashley-Greninja.
As I argued this over Steam chat with another Pokemon-loving friend of mine (the life I lead, ladies and gentlemen), my mind raced to another possibility. What if this was actually more like naming something after its discoverer? It’s not Ash-Greninja because it belongs to Ash, it’s Ash-Greninja because it was discovered by Ash. Maybe any Greninja that evolves in this way is an Ash-Greninja, just like any counting machine that uses memory tape to do calculations is a Turing machine, as it’s built on the discoveries and inventions of Alan Turing. Maybe a bad example to compare the infinite sage wisdom a sage ninja to the world’s first, dumbest computer, but I am conveying my point, right? So all that remained was to see how it was conveyed in the demo.
All the demo had to do was not comment on the matter, and I could be comfortable in my theory. But alas- it couldn’t leave well enough alone. The demo opens with you receiving a letter wishing you the best in your new home, Alola, and expressing certainty that the sender’s Greninja will serve you well. The letter has no name, or sender address. But when you open up the Greninja’s stats, under “Original Trainer,” it says “Ash.”
Listen. At this point Nintendo is just fuckin’ with me.
This is some Hero Defeated Timeline bullshit right now. Is Ash going to give away his Greninja in an upcoming episode? Shit, I don’t watch the show- maybe he already did. (Just checked a wiki- nope.) Or is this an alternate timeline? Or maybe, just maybe, is this my just desserts for trying to take Pokemon lore too seriously?
Whatever. I don’t care anymore. You win, Nintendo. Looking forward to picking up another Pokedex that somehow is blank despite the last twenty years of games, and filling it out. Maybe none of this makes sense, and that’s okay.