5 Of The Best Battles Of The Pokemon Anime (& 5 Of The Worst)

As iconic as the Pokemon anime is, its quality is kind of a mixed bag. It’s had its high points and low points, and many of them came in the forms of Pokemon battles.

The anime’s battles don’t strictly follow the turn-based mechanics of the games, so there is a lot of creative room to make the battles as interesting as possible. Some of those battles were epic, providing incredible action and solving important underlying conflicts. Others made absolutely no sense and were difficult to watch, whether it was because of a completely outlandish outcome or use of moves that utterly defied logic.

10 Best: Ash Vs. Maylene (Third Match)

Fans like to look at this battle as the first one that truly had high-quality action animation, and rightfully so. Momentum never swung too far in one direction, as both Ash and Maylene did everything they could to stay on their feet. Ash in particular showed good patience to switch out Pokemon when necessary.

In the end, it came down to Lucario (a Pokemon we saw in action in the anime before it appeared in the games) versus Ash’s speedy, confident Buizel, and the action was non-stop from that point. The two kept canceling each other’s power out, even as the roof literally blew off and Buizel’s Speed increased in the rain, down to the final Force Palm and Aqua Jet collision. The fight may have ended in a draw, but Ash certainly earned his Gym Badge.

9 Worst: Ash Vs. Cameron

One would expect this battle to have been a silly one start to finish, but it actually started out decently enough, as Cameron’s Hydreigon wiped out three of Ash’s Pokemon. Ash would fight back and make it a match, until it came down to Cameron’s last two Pokemon: Lucario and…oh.

As it turned out, in his most important match to that point, Cameron forgot to bring a sixth Pokemon. What’s even worse is that he still won. Even though the battle itself didn’t look terrible, the very idea of Ash losing to a Trainer that forgot to bring a full team of six was head-scratching.

8 Best: Ash Vs. Clemont

This was easily the best battle Ash had against one of his traveling companions. Despite the friendship Ash and Clemont had, neither of them held back as Ash fought for the Lumiose City Gym Badge. Both showed their battling styles very well; Clemont was a smart strategist, but not even a bulletproof strategy could break Ash.

Goodra would be the battle’s MVP for Ash, as it managed to withstand a flurry of hits from Clemont’s Luxray before using Bide to blow double the damage back, knocking the latter out to win the match.

7 Worst: Ash Vs. Brock (First and Second Match)

This accounts for both of Ash’s attempts against Brock’s Gym, as both battles were equally hard to watch. The first in particular was barely a battle, as Brock’s Onix kept Binding Pikachu until its eyes popped out and Ash quit just a minute into it. The rematch wasn’t much better, as Ash won through sheer luck as the sprinklers turned on by accident, leaving Onix prone to a free Thundershock.

Ash definitely didn’t earn his first ever Gym Badge, and it doesn’t help that he basically won half of his Kanto Gym Badges this way. To think that fan-favorite Brock would travel with him after such a fluke.

6 Best: Ash Vs. Gary

Of course, Ash’s first rival is still one of his most iconic, and their battle in the Silver Conference is, too. This was a high-octane battle as Pokemon on both sides went down left and right. Gary’s strategies were overwhelming at first, but Ash showed just enough mental toughness to scrap out an even fight. The Pokemon continued to drop until only two were left: Ash’s Charizard and Gary’s Blastoise.

Ash managed to win that iconic face-off despite the type disadvantage, overcoming his biggest hurdle up to that point. Meanwhile, Gary humbled himself after the loss as he gained newfound respect for his rival.

5 Worst: Ash Vs. Tate And Liza

This entire battle made no sense. For a double battle against two Rock-types, Ash made the rash choice of bringing out Pikachu and Swellow (one of many errors he’s made in his career as a Trainer). Then, the twins began to argue. Sure, it happens. A brief interruption from Team Rocket got them back in sync and Ash found himself in a bind. He responded by having Swellow absorb a Thunder…from Pikachu.

Somehow, Swellow survived and combined with Pikachu to make Thunder Armor. Just like that, they were unbeatable. Ash was unpredictable, but this battle was simply beyond logic. Pikachu and especially Swellow could’ve been seriously hurt.

4 Best: Ash Vs. Kukui

While it wasn’t an official match, the four-episode, six-on-six exhibition match between Ash, Champion of Alola, and Professor Kukui, the ever-popular man behind the Masked Royal, was an instant classic, as both sides showed off their teams’ abilities with aplomb.

Just when fans thought the battle had reached its apex after an amazing Torracat vs. Incineroar matchup, Tapu Koko came down to the stadium and asked to join Kukui’s side. It would later call the other Guardians to recharge both sides’ Z-Rings, culminating in a Z-Move showdown like no other: Tapu Koko’s Guardian of Alola vs. Pikachu’s 10,000,000 Volt Thunderbolt. Ultimately, one of the coolest Pokemon battles ever ended with Ash as the victor.

3 Worst: Ash Vs. Ritchie

Blame this one on Team Rocket. After a long and tiring scuffle with them leaves him far away from the stadium, Ash had to hurry back to make it in time for his match against Ritchie. By the time he got back, his Pokemon were too tired to put up a good fight against Ritchie’s.

As a last ditch effort, Ash sent out his Charizard, but that proved to be a mistake. Charizard would fall asleep in the middle of the match, clearly having no respect for Ash yet. Ash would end up losing, and though no-one really expected him to go very far into the tournament, it hurt to see him go out that way.

2 Best: Ash Vs. Paul

Not only was Ash’s League standing on the line in this battle, but so was his philosophy as a Trainer, which his rival Paul challenged so firmly. While Ash was warm and nurturing, Paul demanded the best out of his Pokemon, to a fault. That style wasn’t for everybody, and it certainly wasn’t for the Chimchar he released.

That Chimchar would join Ash’s team and evolve into an Infernape, and it would be the connecting string in the three-episode chess match between Ash and Paul. The battle was neck and neck the whole way, and Infernape and Paul’s Electivire were the last two standing. Infernape showed Paul what he missed out on as it utilized its formidable Blaze ability and scored the win. In the end, Ash earned Paul’s respect, which was hard to do when they first met.

1 Worst: Ash Vs. Elesa

This Gym Battle wasn’t Ash’s finest hour. He strategized for it the entire night before, but it turned out his strategy was just to wipe the floor with his underused Palpitoad. Suffice it to say, that didn’t work. This resulted in him leaving the battlefield just to get more Pokemon, bringing out the Grass-type Snivy against the Flying-type Emolga, and forgetting Snivy’s gender when it used Attract

Even Pikachu couldn’t contain its anger as it forced itself onto the battlefield to finish off the match. Ash would end up winning this battle, but all things considered, he did not leave the Nimbasa Gym a winner.

NEXT: Pokémon: 10 Pokémon Who Were Super Impressive In The Anime (But Pathetic In The Games)

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Kyle Laurel is a college student from the Philippines. He spent around three years as a freelance writer before becoming a list writer for The Gamer. He grew up around Pokémon and writes about that the most. He is also a fan of the NBA and hip-hop, and he writes poetry from time to time.

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