Pokémon: Why Goh Is Ash’s Most Controversial Companion

The Pokémon anime has been airing for decades now, and dozens of Ash's companions have come and gone during his journey to become a Pokémon Master. While many of them are beloved by fans -- like Brock, May and Dawn -- others have had a more frosty reception. For many years, Iris was easily Ash's most unpopular friend, but now Goh from Pokémon Journeys has surpassed even her in that department.

Goh has been the source of much controversy across the internet. As his name suggests, his character is based on the Pokémon Go mobile game, which is a sharp contrast to the rest of the anime that takes its inspiration from the main title games. This has led to Goh defying the long-established rules of the anime's world on multiple occasions, instead, following his own special set of rules. He also has a tendency to steal Ash's spotlight despite having done little to earn it, which does not go over well with older fans.

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One of the most common criticisms of Goh is how he catches Pokémon. Up until Pokémon Journeys, every series of the anime has hammered home the point that a Pokémon must be weakened in battle before you can catch it. This is why Ash faced trouble on his first day as a trainer when Pikachu wouldn't listen to him -- without Pikachu's cooperation, he was unable to capture any other Pokémon that would listen. It's also a lesson Ash has taught to several of his more rookie traveling companions, like May, and one that he infamously somehow forgot during the Black & White series. The need to battle Pokémon before catching them is trainer 101 across the franchise, yet somehow Goh is exempt from this.

Goh has caught 80 Pokémon in the anime so far, and he's done so without battling them first. Unlike every other character who is subject to the established rules around catching Pokémon, Goh is able to throw a Poké Ball at any Pokémon he sees and successfully captures it. Nothing is ever explained about why Goh can do this, either, which gives him shades of the Chosen One to some fans. There's also controversy around the sheer volume of Pokémon that Goh has been catching. One of the major themes of the anime is how Pokémon are valued companions, not tools, but Goh has stored all but three of his captures in a lab without ever getting to know them. They're not his friends; they're just part of his collection.

Catching Legendary Pokémon is another feat Goh has managed that has previously been impossible for every other main character. Despite May having a deep, motherly bond with Manaphy, Max earning Jirachi's trust and Ash saving the lives of countless Legends, none of them were able to catch these Pokémon. The closest Ash has ever gotten is his Melmetal, which is a Mythical Pokémon rather than a legendary. Yet Goh, inexplicably, was able to capture Suicune as a rookie trainer without any real issues and will likely capture Mew as well before Journeys concludes.

The final source of controversy around Goh is how he undercuts Ash's role as the protagonist. Typically, an anime's protagonist will receive the most attention and impressive feats throughout its run -- something that Pokémon has stuck to up until Journeys. Now, however, Ash gets passed over in favor of a rookie when it comes to capturing Legendaries and all three of the Galar starter Pokémon. The latter was a major shock to many fans when it was revealed since Ash has caught at least one starter from each region since the anime began.

The special attention Goh has been getting is generating speculation that he'll take over for Ash as the protagonist in the next anime series. However, this seems unlikely because, once Goh owns hundreds of Pokémon and multiple Legendaries at the end of Journeys, there won't be much more for him to accomplish. Fans who dislike Goh's current inclusion in the anime can rest easy knowing that like all the companions before him, he probably won't last.

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