While Pokémon‘s Misty and Brock are probably the most popular companions after spending so much time in the anime with Ash, unfortunately, they didn’t get too much of a chance to grow as characters. . However, that is a fate some of Ash’s later companions have avoided thanks to the addition of Pokémon Contests to the franchise.
The Pokémon Contest first debuted in Ruby and Sapphire, as something of an alternative to the main gameplay of fighting for badges. Contests provide a non-combat means to test a Pokémon’s skills, something that has attracted a lot of potential players. Of course, players in the games still need to fight for badges to continue the story, but the mechanics have surprising depth to it and the collection of ribbons from the Battles. Competition has become an important thing for some fans. And, as a new mechanic, it was immediately decided that it would focus heavily on anime.
May and dawn shine as Pokémon coordinator
In the anime, May (and later Dawn) becomes the vehicle for exploring the world of the Pokémon Contest. That makes sense since she’s a new character and needs to have her own goals. Misty’s goal is to become a “Water Master”, while Brock’s dream is to become a Pokémon Breeder, but both of these goals are vague. It’s hard to see which of them are making meaningful progress toward their individual goals, while Ash is consistently earning badges that serve as a symbol of his progress. On the other hand, Pokémon Contests and their ribbon rewards are a great counterpoint to Ash’s badges and battles, and since trainers (or Coordinators, like contest participants are called in the anime) will dress up with their Pokémon, so that’s also a great thing. excuses for these new characters to try on special outfits.
It can be seen that the progress they are making is huge for May and Dawn’s character development, and each also ends up with their own opponents and partners, just like Ash did. Suddenly, these characters could easily make not just one episode but entire mini-arcs dedicated to their goals in a way that Misty and Brock could never really do. Competitions also have features that encourage training, such as practicing ostentatious moves or coordinating routines, giving them something to do even when the competition isn’t actually happening. Also, it’s not mutually exclusive with badge collection.
End of the Pokémon Contest
Unfortunately, Contests were removed from the game in Black and White, replaced with a “music” mechanic that many fans felt was inadequate. As a result, Ash’s next female companion, Future Pokémon Champion Iris, is tasked with becoming a Dragon-type master, which doesn’t really suit her and her character arc. Competitions only recently returned to the game, albeit in a much modified form, in the Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl remakes, but they were never significantly included in the anime again.
Regardless of how fans may feel about the in-game Contest, Pokémon anime greatly benefited from their presence, and they made MAy and Dawn the most enjoyable companions Ash has ever had.