Posted: Thursday, September 30, 2010 4:11:32 AM
My hero is Ash Ketchum.
Yes. The big-eyed hero from the Pokemon franchise.
I mean, look at the kid. He's ten years old, he's traveled through four (soon to be five) countries, he has ridden on the back of dragons (or should I say the legendary Lugia), he stood up for his beliefs against the most powerful Pokemon clone in the world (and was turned to stone in the process, a scene that made my ten-year old eyes flow with tears), and he has even TRAVELED THROUGH TIME.
When I was ten, I ran into a telephone pole during soccer practice and lit my sleeve on fire while trying to light a candle in church.
Needless to say, I am no Ash Ketchum.
I'll admit, the kid has some faults. He's only got like, 30 Pokemon out of 649. Not exactly stellar for a kid who constantly claims that he will one day be the greatest Pokemon trainer in the universe, and that he will also 'Catch them All.' He better pick up the pace...He's been ten for ten years, but he won't be ten forever. And his Pikachu still manages to lose every now and again, when, in reality, it should be at lvl. 100 by now.
But Ash is a true hero, and a wonderful role model.
Like many '90's children, my early video game experiences were defined by Pokemon. I recall the Christmas morning where I hastily unwrapped by brand new Pokemon-themed Gameboy color and Pokemon Yellow version, and proceeded to play for hours, my wide eyes glued to the screen. Yellow version stood out the most to me because the playable character was modeled after Ash, and his loyal Pikachu waddled along behind him as he traversed Cerulean City, Lavender Town, and Cinnibar Island. I could actually BE my hero.
Ash was the epitome of a hero during my childhood. Every Saturday morning, I could watch an ordinary ten-year old boy and his pack of loyal Poke-friends overcome incredible obstacles. It was amazing to me, how Ash could do such heroic things at the tender age of ten. He would always put his friends before himself, and even when things looked bleak, he could somehow whip both a Pokeball and a victory from his pocket. Yes, it's a show about adorable little creatures that kids battle with, but to a ten year old...it's a dream life. I can't begin to tell you how many shooting star wishes I wasted on wishing that Pokemon were real. Because I wanted to be just like Ash Ketchum.
I wanted to be able to go wherever I wanted, be able to defeat my enemies with the help of my friends, and you know...occasionally save the world. I wanted to be able to catch the elusive legendary Pokemon Mew, scour the Safari Zone in search of the HM Surf, and conquer all 8 gym leaders, as well as the 4 (or 5, if you count the champion) members of the dynamic Elite Four.
Ash has defeated the dastardly Team Rocket more times than I can count. He saved his Pikachu from a fleet of relentless Fearow. He escaped the Island of the Giant Pokemon. He has reamined on television for 14 seasons. And he does it all while remaining a friendly, dedicated, motivated kid - a role model for any kid who ever had dreams of being something great. Ash was a hero to millions of kids all across the world.
I wanted to be just like Ash growing up. But now I'm 18, and trying to forge a path in life....sadly, it is a path that does not include the Cycling Road, getting past a sleeping Snorlax, or the very confusing tunnels of Mount Moon. No....dreams of Pikachus are past me, now.
But the lessons that Ash taught me in my innocent youth have stayed with me, even after my beloved copy of Pokemon Yellow ceased to play on my ancient Gameboy.
Of course, becoming a Pokemon master is a lofty (and impossible) dream now. But my dreams of catching Mew, finding HM03, and beating every gym leader have turned instead to dreams of securing my ideal job as a comic book artist, finding a perfect place to live, and beating the trials and tribulations of college and beyond.
To beat Pokemon Yellow, I poured hours of work into training my trusty team and traveling all over the Kanto region. Now, I can apply that same mindset to my future endeavors - looking for a job, working on a potential comic book, and doing my homework.
Basically, Ash Ketchum laid the framework down for me - through his travels and his encounters with Charizards, Haunters, and Unown, he showed me that if a ten year old boy can accomplish such great feats, then so can I. My dreams may no longer be the same as they were when I was a Pokemon Trainer wannabe eight years ago, but it was through watching Ash claim his fame that I learned that with enough hard work and dedication, even lofty dreams may come true.
I can't catch all 649 Pokemon. Alas, it is an impossible dream. But Ash is still out there, scouring the world in search of glory, new friends, and greatness. And if Ash can go for his dreams, then I can go for mine without fear, and with the faith that I will accomplish them someday. And if I ever start to doubt myself, I know to think of Ash. The kid is ten, and he's accomplished more in his life than most people do in 80 years. If he can be that awesome, then what's stopping me? I may have outgrown the wonder of the Pokemon world (though I will admit, it is nice to reminisce sometimes) but I will never outgrow the lessons of one brave ten year old anime hero.
Just like Ash found his way through Diglett Cave and Team Rocket's hideout in the Celadon Dept. Store, I can find my way through the twists and challenges of life while going for my dreams.
Ash has taught me a lot of things.
Thanks to him, I know not to let anything get in the way of my dreams. Not even a giant sleeping Snorlax. I may never be a Pokemon Master, but when Ash finally catches them all, I will be able to say that I learned a lot of lessons from one.
And that's more experience than even a fight with Mewtwo brings.