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No. The direction that SM has taken for the anime is the antithesis of my preferred direction for the series. @Epicocity bascially nailed it with respect to what the root of this saga’s problems are.
I’m honestly not sure where this essay/rant is going to go and it probably won’t be all that structured unlike many of my other essays on this forum. For some background I’m someone who fairly recently quit having an active investment in SM and only intend to watch the episodes involving battle/power scaling feats for Ash’s Pokémon out of a sense of obligation since I have an obsession with giving all of Ash’s Pokémon battle viability ratings.
To start off with I can’t stand to look at Ash though surprisingly most of his “softer” features aren’t the problem; it’s those oversized deformed Z marks. I’m not quite sure whether it’s because they’re oversized or asymmetric, but I feel very unpleasant (like my brain is malfunctioning) every time I’m forced to look at those atrocities plastered to Ash’s face. More generally speaking the character and Pokémon designs are simpler in SM to allow for more fluid animation though frankly I find the increase in fluidity granted by this simplification to not be worth the loss of the more detailed artstyle in the slightlest.
More importantly it seems that the focus of animation has shifted from battles to slice of life making it more apparent that this isn’t my kind of series. It’s not that I inherently dislike series that don’t put focus on battles. Battles in OS Kanto would be an utter joke by modern standards though I still enjoyed that series due to its great sense of humor and character/Pokémon chemistry. On the other hand the sort of “comedy” SM offers made me groan and cringe instead of smile and laugh.
As for our major characters overall I feel quite apathetic towards them. Kiawe’s focus episodes were easily the most engaging (comparatively) though sadly he’s criminally underused. I’ll admit that I’ve grown to like Lana more than my initial impression of her where I thought she was Misty but without the tsundere and actually wouldn’t mind seeing her dream he fulfilled which seems very possible given how tied it is to Primarina’s Z-move it seems to be though sadly she’s also underused. Lillie on the other hand is someone whom I had high expectations for. I really enjoyed her character arc in the games, but this was completely butchered in the anime yet it’s clear that she’s still being pushed as the most important companion. I also had hopes that she could be the first female lead to do a gym/trial quest though it’s clear that with the time remaining coupled with the lack of focus on battles that this is never happening. Overall anime Lillie has been extremely disappointing. Mallow and Sophocles evoke so much apathy in me that I can’t even be bothered to write about my problems with them.
Now as many of you know I’m someone that is heavily invested in Ash’s progression as both a trainer and person. I’m not saying that everyone needs to still be invested in this aspect of the series or even whether they should be, but know that this is and always will be the most important aspect of the Pokémon anime for me and with the premise that Ash is supposed to be gradually progressing (both trainer and character wise) throughout the show in mind, SM just like BW is objective trash. Now to be clear the problems that both these variants of Ash had are far from identical. In certain aspects SM Ash isn’t as horrendous as BW Ash (such as battle competency though he’s still pretty bad compared to DP and XY Ash) though in others (character consistency with respect to his past selves) he’s far worse than BW Ash. SM Ash even more so than BW Ash feels like a husk of flesh that the writers inject character traits into in order to fit whatever narrative they’re telling at the time.
I’m not sure which show I dislike more between SM and BW, but I will say this; while BW’s betrayal of Ash’s progression stings a lot more than SM, I could at least sense that “the spirit of Pokémon” was alive and well in BW; however, I sense nothing of the sort from SM.
If XY was the series that restored my hope in the anime, then SM is the series that fizzled most of it out again and has left me on the edge with the gen 8 series being the decisive factor with regards to what side I land on (renewed hope for the show or complete loss of hope and investment in it). Who knew that a show as light hearted as SM could induce such utter despair within me (with regards to the anime’s future) :-(.