Pokemon‘s Ash Ketchum is one of the few animated characters that have become a household name over the past few decades. With fans constantly talking about upcoming anime episodes or new Pokemon movies, it is not all too surprising for one particular aficionado to discover, and share, old Pokemon concept art that reveals what Ash Ketchum’s design would have looked like before he was first introduced to the public.
Ash made his first TV appearance in Japan in 1997, with the anime coming to Western shores in 1998. Fans will fondly recall meeting the newbie Pokemon trainer, and his infamous rival Gary Oak, as they are introduced to Pikachu and the concept of the Pokemon universe for the first time. Since then, the anime has aired over 1,100 episodes, and shown over 2o movies, with spin-off series released here and there. As such a prolific series with a huge global audience, Ash being central to the Pokemon anime has made his looks and character very well-known and loved across generations.
Just recently, a Pokemon fan named Neil (@Arkeus88) on Twitter shared a single page of old Pokemon concept art featuring Ash Ketchum and what seems to be a collection of hat designs for the character. In several sketches, Ash is seen wearing his most beloved treasure, the Pokemon League cap, but not with the iconic logo fans were first shown in the 1998 anime. There are a few images of him wearing the hat with different logos, in different shapes and positions. One concept sketch that showed a lighting logo on the hat will strike fans with familiarity, as this was probably designed in reference to his partner Pokemon, Pikachu.
In the Twitter thread, another fan provided some rough translations of the Japanese commentary on the concept art. According to Superqami (@Superqami), the team had gone through several discussions before deciding on what to use for Ash Ketchum’s final design in the Pokemon anime. Some of the options included using the lightning logo and moving it around, and using an upside-down triangle, which reminded the team of a computer button.
This is not the first time that the spotlight has been put on Ash Ketchum and his iconic hat. The hat has been seen making an appearance in the recent Pokemon Sword and Shield video game. And this is probably not the last time fans will obsess over Ash’s headgear. With the Pokemon hat’s design having changed throughout the anime series, fans may someday see some of the concept art designs live and actually being put to use in the future.