So you wanna be the very best, like no one ever was? Well, to catch them is your real test; to train them is your cause.
This week in Character RETROspect, we’re going to reflect upon the cross-country travels of a young boy named Red, and ponder why in the world his mother is okay with him leaving home at his age to attempt to become the Indigo League Champion.
Chapter Three: The Name’s Red, and You Can Suck It, Blue
To avoid some confusion that might arise from this article, allow me to clarify: RED is the consensus name of the main character in Pokémon Red and Blue, and although Pokémon Yellow had a larger connection with Ash from the anime because of Pikachu following you around outside of his ball, it was still Red. Red is the eventual Pokémon League Champion of the Kanto region, and has a rival named Blue, who is the grandson of Professor Oak.
ASH is based off of Red from the first generation of games. Both live in Pallet town, have a rival that is the grandson of Professor Oak, and besides the similar styles in clothing, this is where the similarities between Red and Ash end.
Unlike the slightly incapable trainer that is Ash Ketchum, Red is a cool and collected individual. He actually achieves the goal that he set out to accomplish from the start, which is to become the Indigo League Champion.
The Beginning of a Multi-Billion Dollar Phenomenon
In 1998, when the Pokémon hysteria started gaining traction here in North America, I was intrigued by the overall concept of an RPG where you capture and train creatures to battle. I was in 6th grade, and this seemed like an awesome idea to an 11-year old version of myself. When I started playing it though, I have to admit the fact that Red’s mom is willing to let her son leave home at the manly age of 11 to start his wondrous adventure always baffled me. Where is the logic in this? How could a single mother be willing to let her son just leave home like that? But, these games are set in a world where a pre-teen can travel alone with some pretty intimidating creatures and go about his business of crushing his competition across the region, and it’s a perfectly normal situation.
The Adventure of a Lifetime Begins
In the start of Pokémon Red and Blue, Red is called to Professor Oak’s lab to choose a starter Pokémon to help him in his journey, but it’s the arrival of Oak’s grandson, Blue, that presents the first of many obstacles on Red’s path to greatness. As soon as Red picks his starter Pokémon, Blue challenges him to a battle with his selected starter. It’s in this instance that we realize that Blue is impatient and annoying — popping up randomly and blocking your path just to battle you.
After Blue’s defeat, Red begins his journey by running an errand for Professor Oak who, upon his return to the laboratory, rewards Red with the Pokédex, a device that records data of all the Pokémon that are encountered, battled, and captured. After acquiring this item, Red heads off to challenge the first Gym Leader in Pewter City, Brock. After winning the Boulder Badge from Brock, Red travels to Mt. Moon and encounters Team Rocket, a gang of Pokémon thieves, and uncovers their scheme of stealing rare Pokémon.
Team Rocket’s story arc in the first generation of games is what drives a large portion of the plot. They are led by Giovanni, a man obsessed with collecting all of the rare Pokémon in the world. Upon entering Saffron City, Red finds that Team Rocket is attempting to steal the recently invented “Master Ball” from the Silph Co. President. After defeating Team Rocket and Giovanni once again in Saffron City, Red continues on his path of dominance across Kanto.
Once Red arrives again in Viridian City, he finds out that Giovanni is actually the leader of the gym, and the final obstacle before he can head off to Indigo Plateau to battle the Elite Four. Red defeats Giovanni once more in battle, and Giovanni comes to the realization that if he cannot defeat the boy from Pallet Town, then he cannot realistically keep Team Rocket going . Giovanni disbands the organization and vows to dedicate his life to studying Pokémon.
With the defeat of Giovanni in the Viridian City Gym, Red obtains the Earth Badge and can now travel to Indigo Plateau to challenge the Elite Four in hopes of becoming the Champion. Once Red defeats the Elite Four, he realizes that Blue has already defeated them and has laid claim to the title of League Champion. Red defeats Blue in a final battle to finally become the Indigo League Champion.
Red, now Champion, decides to leave Indigo Plateau to continue his training. He is seen again three years later in Gold/Silver/Crystal at Mt. Silver, and he is the final trainer battle in those games.
Now It’s Conspiracy Theory Time!
While writing this week’s article, I stumbled upon quite a few interesting conspiracy theories pertaining to the events of Pokémon Red and Blue. The most notable theory I came across was the “Red killed Blue’s Raticate” theory. Whoever first thought of, and wrote this, please, get in contact with me because it is absolutely brilliant!
The theory states that Red had killed Blue’s Raticate in their battle aboard the S.S. Anne, and the real reason Blue is in Lavender Town is to lay his deceased Pokémon to rest. He swears upon the grave of his fallen Raticate that he will not fail in his mission, and trains even harder to make it to the Pokémon League. Blue never came out and said that Red was the cause of Raticate’s death, but this was the motivation for Blue to become Champion. Then… mere moments after his victory, Red defeats him to become the Indigo League Champion.
Blue had fulfilled his promise to his beloved Raticate, but it was only for a fleeting moment. Red had come to shatter Blue’s existence; taking away Blue’s childish innocence, his title, and ultimately the love of his own grandfather, Professor Oak. Oh, and Blue is an orphan.
Congratulations, Red, you’re the crusher of dreams!