Although Ash Ketchum and Team Rocket are mainstays of the Pokemon anime franchise, apparently they were almost completely scrapped from the second film, Pokemon The Movie 2000: The Power of One. It might seem likely a completely outlandish idea to imagine the anime franchise without Ash Ketchum at this point, head writer for the first three movies (and five years of the original series) Takeshi Shudo once wanted the franchise to move on from the fan favorite master to be. Before his passing in 2010, Shudo wrote a series of eye opening blog posts that revealed his thought process for these films.
First spotted and turned around into English by Dr. Lava, Shudo reveals many of the ideas he had for ending Ash Ketchum's story. When detailing the work going into the Lugia focused film, Shudo revealed the process was "physically exhausting" as he attempted to balance the heavier themes he wanted to incorporate with delivering a "children's movie."
Surprisingly, he purposefully wrote the first draft for The Power of One without Ash and Team Rocket, "I let the staff read the first quarter of the script — I wanted them to get a rough idea of the general outline. In the initial script, there was no Ash and no Team Rocket." But after taking some studio notes, Shudo rewrote the script to show that he was willing to work with the team.
As he stated, "...I obviously wrote it that way on purpose — but I ended up revising the script to include all the regular characters from the very first scene. Basically, I let them know that even though I’m the one writing the script, I’m always willing to listen to everybody’s opinions and suggestions....after that, I was able to finish writing the last three-quarters of the script without anybody asking to see what I was writing."
Shudo even admits that he eventually included too many characters, "I used too wide a range of characters — I included too many personality-types that I wasn’t familiar with. A collector, a female ship captain, a former shrine maiden, a modern girl who just became a shrine maiden, an elderly guy passionate about tourism, and many more…"
So while Shudo didn't initially plan for Ash and the other familiar faces to be a part of the second film, it appears that this idea didn't make it too far in the development process. It would have been a much different world had Ash's story ended here! But what do you think? Would you have wanted to see a Pokemon movie without Ash? Let us know your thoughts in the comments or talk to me directly about all things anime and other cool things @Valdezology on Twitter!