Monday, July 18, 2016

Why Pokemon XY is Better Than Indigo League

What? How can XY be better than Indigo League, the show that started all?!


My four year-old is currently obsessed with Pokemon. My husband and I are old-school Pokemon fans, me from watching the original series and him from playing the first gameboy games.

The next generation fandom started with my husband and I impulse-buying coordinating Pokemon keychains (Squirtle and Bulbasaur). My daughter became obsessed with Squirtle, playing with the keychain whenever she could. We started with showing her some clips of Squirtle on YouTube, but eventually we just dove in with Indigo League, because naturally, you should start at the beginning, right?

We finished Indigo League on Netflix, but not having free access to Johto Journeys, we started Pokemon XY.

At first, I was against XY. Different voice actors! Different Ash outfit! Different Pokemon! Different companions!! What happened to Brock and Misty?! Who are these Clement and Bonnie people!?


For Pokemon purists, I say start from the beginning, but for young kids, XY is superior to Indigo League for these reasons: 

1. Ash (Main Character)

Indigo League

In Indigo League Ash is a whiney, arrogant, selfish boy. It is comical in the series that he thinks he's so great and keeps getting put in his place, but for a main character, his personality is kind of annoying and not what I'd hope for my kids. 


Ash is older, more experienced, and more mature. He is kind and considerate to his friends. He still wants to become a better Pokemon trainer, but he's not obsessed with personal greatness and has a much more humble attitude toward the process. In one episode he is rejected from a gym because he doesn't have four badges yet. He accepts the rule and maturely says that he will return when he has four badges. He is a much better role model for little ones. 

2. Companions

Indigo League 

As much as I love Misty (I dressed like her last month), she is very rude. She verbally abuses Ash in every episode. Ash treats her pretty poorly in the beginning too. In the episode where they visit her home town, her three sisters call her ugly. Lots of negativity with her.

Similarly, I loved Brock when I first saw the series in high school. He was hilariously falling in love with every girl they met in each episode. When Brock (and sometimes 10 year-old Ash) drools over a girl, I wonder at his intentions (hooking up?) and am offended at the blatant objectification of women.

Not behaviors or philosophies I want my 4 year-old picking up. 


Clement and Bonnie are a brother and sister duo. They are kind and take care of each other. Bonnie fills the Brock role of pointing out beautiful women to her brother, but her motive is to find her brother a good wife. Instead of targeting physically attractive women, she says "you seem like a keeper" about nice, smart, and pretty women. It fulfills the comedic part of the show with Clement getting thoroughly embarrassed, but doesn't diminish a woman's worth to looks alone. 

Sarina is the other female companion of Ash (yay for equal numbers of boys and girls in the main group!) and fills the role of beginning trainer. She is like Ash in Indigo league, except sweet naive instead of bloated with amateur arrogance. For people new to Pokemon, you can learn through her eyes. 

They are always encouraging and helpful toward each other. I don't think I've seen an episode with name-calling or arguing yet. 

3. More Pokemon

This actually bothered me at first. I thought, "Come on! I just learned the first 150, now I have to learn more?!" 

[To people who have no clue what Pokemon is, I describe them as animals that people catch and battle with. It's not like dog fighting, because that's what Pokemon exist for and what they like to do. There are plenty of episodes about the evils of mistreating Pokemon. The show promotes environmental awareness and positive care of animals.]

Though it's fictional, if it were a real world, there would be more than 150 types of animals. It makes sense that there are regional types. Once I got over missing Charmander and Bulbasaur, I actually started to like Froakie and Fenneken. 

Now that Pokemon Go is so popular, the Geek in me is actually glad to know some more obscure ones, so I can out-geek the mainstreamers. That sounds extra geeky, but some of you can relate.

4. Hidden Lessons

Indigo League definitely had some hidden lessons, mostly about animal rights and taking care of the environment. XY has up-ed the ante. I recently watched on with a hidden lesson about eating well! That's a win in my household. 

One lesson both series often teach is don't trust strangers to take care of your Pokemon, because they'll probably turn out to be Team Rocket.

5. Fewer Weird Characters

There were a couple Indigo League episodes where I might have laughed as a high schooler, but as a parent, I cringed. The episode where a maniac woman tries to kill all the jelly fish, and her entourage are young guys in speedos? Or the one where a bunch of boy bullies are controlled by one beautiful girl bully? 

So far with XY, the day players are less PG-13 or even PG. It's been a very G-rated show. 

6. Better Battles

XY just has better battles. The trainers call out more attacks. The animation is better.  

I recently watched a battle where Pikachu was blinded by something, and Ash called out detailed moves for Pikachu. I'm 30 years old and was entertained by it, so that's saying something, right? (about the show, not me!) 

Drawbacks of XY

1. The opening song isn't the full Indigo League version (there's no "You teach me and I teach you. Pokemon!!"), which wasn't the full-full version anyways.

2. Different voices. Ash's new voice makes sense, because he's supposed to be older. But Team Rocket's voices are strange to me, especially Meowth. I LOVED James' voice in Indigo League. The new voice is okay, but I keep picturing a voice actor in a studio, whereas the old James was just James. 

I LOVE Indigo League, so don't get me wrong. These opinions are all in the light of my four year-old watching the show and me as a parent watching for subtle (or not-so-subtle) negative influences on her character and the way she views herself. 

Charmander, return!
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