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It has been long established that Ash Ketchum in the Pokémon anime is and always will be a 10-year-old child. For the last 24 years, he has inexplicably stayed the exact same age in the anime and we've all just kind of accepted it. It isn't just Ash who appears immortal either, as almost every other character in the series has stayed the same age. When Misty and Brock returned during the Sun & Moon series, they were portrayed the same age as their first-ever appearances. Not only that, but Professor Oak, Ash's Mum, Tracy, Max and May are all eternal, too.
By my deductions, every Pokémon anime character is a constant... except one.
Todd motherflippin' Snap.
When we first met Todd in the 1998 episode 'Pokémon Paparazzi', we could never have known the canonical clusterfudge he would cause over two decades later. He may have only appeared in six episodes of the show, but those short appearances earned him the right of main character status in 1999's Nintendo 64 game, Pokémon Snap.
Now, it's a well known fact that Pokémon Snap wasn't originally envisioned as a Pokémon game. At first it was titled Jack and the Beanstalk, and its gameplay was based on taking photos; but after some concerns in development that the game didn't really have a hook, and that there was no 'motivation' for the player to want to take pictures, the game was shifted to Pokémon. And after his introduction in the anime, avid photographer Todd became the ideal lead.
While we're chatting all things Pokémon, why not check out this phenomenal fan concept trailer for what future games in the franchise could look like...
By having both Todd and Professor Oak appear in the game, taking on their anime appearances and placing Oak in his recognisable anime lab, the developers intrinsically tied Pokémon Snap to the anime universe.
Here's where the issue comes in, and spoiler warning for New Pokémon Snap, but Todd Snap actually returns. As a grown-ass man. An adult. An adult Todd Snap.
This goes against everything we know about the anime timeline. How could Todd, who was last seen at 10 years old in the first game, suddenly appear in this new game and very clearly be in his mid-20s? What are the repercussions of this in the wider Pokémon anime lore? Is New Pokémon Snap set 10, maybe 15 years after the current anime timeline? Is Ash in his 20s now? Can he grow stubble? Has Pikachu evolved? How old can Pikachu get? Do they have similar lifespans to mice? Pikachu is a mouse, after all. Is Ash's Pikachu dead in New Pokémon Snap? Oh my god, Pikachu is dead in New Pokémon Snap and Ash won't be able to handle it.
I don't know what to do with this information.
This ruins everything, and I'm scared.
Did Ash ever see Butterfree again?
Wait... Professor Oak doesn't appear in New Pokémon Snap, so, has he retired? Died of old age?
I hate this.
For my own wellbeing I'm going to say that no, New Pokémon Snap is not set in the future. Instead, I've come up with a much more sane solution to this issue. The entire Pokémon anime universe is locked in stasis.
I'm going to assume the stasis began during the conclusion of the first movie, when Mewtwo either wiped the gang's memory or rewound time entirely. Somehow, in doing this, Mewtwo locked the universe in the same rotation of those 24 hours. Day will come and so will the night in this frozen universe, and the world's population continues on in a constant with no issue. Buildings can be built, people will grow within themselves but on a molecular level everything stays the same. Or maybe time is still moving, but ever so very slowly. This would explain how certain Pokémon can still die of old age. Either way, everyone is mostly frozen at their current age, and you're just going to have to go with that.
Now it's time to tighten up our tinfoil hats a bit more. What if Mew didn't realise Mewtwo's mistake at the time, and when Todd interacted with Mew at Rainbow Cloud in the first Pokémon Snap, the mythical Pokémon re-granted Todd the ability to age at a normal rate. Thus making Todd Snap the only person in the whole Pokémon anime world who ages normally.
Look, I'm very aware that none of this adds up, I'm honestly very confused, a little bit sleep deprived from playing too much New Pokémon Snap and I might have had too many coffees. But what if I'm right? What if Todd is the only Pokémon character who can visibly age?
Honestly, it's the preferable alternative to a world where an alcoholic and self-destructive Ash mourns the death of Pikachu, all while we galavant on the beach taking pictures of a Squirtle riding on a Lapras' back.
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