OK, Real Talk. What's Going On With Ash Ketchum's Age?

Now that we've seen what Ash will look like in the newest season of the Pokemon anime, once again discussion of one of the show's greatest mystery flares up: just how old is Ash Ketchum supposed to be, and why does he almost never seem to age?

"Almost" is important there, since the newest version of Ash does seem slightly older -- mostly, it's the teeth, as TheJWittz notes here. But otherwise, the show seems to perpetually keep him in the 10-11 range, even though it's been airing for over a decade. It's kind of absurd! At the very least, you'd think the show would keep it consistent, but nope. They don't.

TheJWittz explores a few theories as to why Ash never seems to age here. My favourite is the Ho-Oh one, since it's kind of idyllic -- Ash never ages because that's his eternal happiness! Just, you know, forever battling (and losing/sucking at being a Pokemon trainer, apparently...so maybe that doesn't hold too much water). Still, it's a way better theory than the silly "Ash is in a coma" idea, if you ask me.

What do you think? Should Ash age? I'm mostly interested in the idea because that might mean a slightly more mature show, but hey, it's not a show that's aimed at me. Either way, feel free to put forth your own theories as to why he seems to never age, too. I think maybe he just drinks Rapidash blood.

Ash Ketchum's Age - Pokemon fact of the day [TheJWittz]


    Ash doesn't age because it's marketed towards small kids and they need to keep the main character the same age as the target audience. That's the reason. Whatever story reason there is, who knows, but that's why the people making it are doing it.

    Last edited 14/09/13 1:52 pm

      That's likely true.

      It would be funny to see a grizzled, veteran Ash though, jaded and devoid of enthusiasm, destroying the dreams of children to pay the rent.

        So, Red from Pokemon Gold/Silver?

      Joystiq very recently had an article about this exact same phenomenon, but they also included information and an interview from Satoshi Tajiri (the creator), which was a huge eye opener. Such as he wanted Ash to turn into Red at the end of the 1st season (thus become pro and win the pokemon league) but everyone else wanted him to still be noob and keep journeying, and that factors into the age as well.

      but then it's patricia hernandez.

        Ah yeah, I remember that. Looking forward to the Red/Green anime thing because of it

        I still want Ash to be Red's little brother. Not going to happen though; I think there is something already canon that destroys that fantasy.

          The fact that he's an only child probably factors into that somewhat.

            four words: long lost illegitimate sibling

            I don't know man. The Pokemon anime already gets away with ridiculous shit.

      If you watched adventure time, Finn ages, and its a kids show too.

    I think they mentioned that he was one year older in the third Pokemon movie (or the Pikachu short before it).
    But that was over a decade ago.

    In terms of a more mature show, wasn't there a trailer for a new Pokemon spin-off TV series that would feature older characters?

    and why does he almost never seem to age?

    The same reason most other cartoon characters don't age, maybe? Why is Bart Simpson still 10?

      I suppose the difference is that Ash is on a journey/adventure, and Bart is in a sitcom with very little continuity from one episode to the next.
      Most cartoons I know of with the characters on a journey either don't last long enough for the characters to need to age, or they do age because the journey has lasted that long.

        You also have to consider that anime is a lot different to western cartoons. Anime really doesn't tend to do this, so it is a little jarring.

        Last edited 15/09/13 1:33 pm

          Anime runs the gamut of styles in this regard too. There are adventures where they age (Dragon Ball, Naruto), adventures where they don't age because the adventure doesn't last that long (Digimon, excluding the transition from season one to two), adventures where they arbitrarily don't age (obviously Pokemon), sitcoms where they don't age and sitcoms where they do age.

            I can't think of any other anime examples where they arbitrarily don't age. I'm sure there are others, but the fact that I can't think of anything other than Pokemon that does it, gives me the impression that there aren't many.

              From the tvtropes.org link just below, we can see a few others that fit. That just aren't as popular outside Japan.

              actually there are plenty. Doraemon for one. Most of the manga/anime that you see become famous in the west are Shonen. Shonen characters often age as part of their strength development. But in Asia, all sorts of different manga/anime have widespread popularity and many of them have characters that don't age.


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    I can live with the whole...Pokemon Episodes occur at the rate of 1 per day (unless they progress otherwise). The fact is that 800 episodes moves Ash from ten years old to almost thirteen. Then there is the whole Misty years with 'Her' interest in Ash Ketchum.

    likewise I could accept the idea that Ash has been in a Coma since Episode 1.
    I could also accept the Idea that Ash was randomly granted a wish to be Young Pokemon Adventurer for life...
    And I could believe that Ash is a yet to evolve - Pokemon created in some screwed up lab experiment involving his 'mother' and Professor Oak.

    Pointless question. It's a floating timeline. Why is Principal Skinner still ostensibly a 40 year old despite being a Vietnam veteran? Unless he was a drummer boy, he should be approaching 70.

    No-one should spare a single thought on this. It's a non-issue. Adults with half a brain understand why a cartoon character remains ageless to appeal to newer generations of children. But of course, this being Kotaku, and Patricia Hernandez being Patricia Hernandez, we get this.

      It's a shame she's the only one that writes about Pokemon as I hate reading her posts. Agreed with everything said above about how it's a cartoon and Ash is the age of the target audience so they can relate to him.

      That is a little unfair. Anime very rarely does this so it is a little weird.

      Also, I think you're the one who is reading into this too much. Sure, it is a pretty non-issue, but it's not like this is a 2000 word article.

      Hernandez has written some pretty questionable articles, but I don't think this is one of them. I barely even think this is an article.

    As some people already seem to have pointed out, Ash never ageing is like The Simpsons never ageing. If Bart, the little hellraiser everyone knows and loves, suddenly found himself in his thirties, living in some shack and sporting a goatee or summink, for example, it just wouldn't be The Simpsons anymore.

    The same thing applies with Ash - at least, I think so. It just wouldn't make sense.
    Perhaps Ash would age over time, and the show would receive a new protagonist. An episode would eventually be made where they meet Ash in all his old man glory, mourning the death of his partner Pikachu, or something. Personally, I wouldn't watch that myself.

    The theories about his age are fine, even believable, but they way I see it, if Ash ages, the show loses its charm.

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