I like to think everyone had at least one fictional crush when they were little. I, on the other hand, had many; Link, Kiyo Takamine, Soren, just to name a few, but my first and longest crush was on Ash Ketchum from Pokémon.
I was around eight or nine years old when I started getting into Pokémon. I was first introduced to the series through the anime, so Ash was one of the first characters to catch my eye. I don’t recall what it was about him that attracted me so much, all I knew was that he had to be mine. Maybe it was his hair, or the fact that he was (to me, the eight year old) an older man, or maybe just the fact that he was a Pokémon trainer. All I know is that soon enough I was head over heels for the Pokémon protagonist.
I’d make sure to watch all of his adventures every day, and I’d always imagine that I was a part of his group. It was (regrettably) my first self insert, if you will. If that doesn’t sound trashy enough, I would also imagine that I had the power to transform into any Pokémon I desired. Ugggggggghhhhhhhh. After a while it at least calmed down to just having the ability to talk with Pokémon, so it wasn’t as lame. It was still lame, don’t get me wrong, but at the time I thought it was pretty neat.
That being said, Ash was the only character I was really interested in the cast. I always got jealous of Misty. When someone on the Pokémon online chatrooms mentioned Pokéshipping, I would cringe. Sometimes I’d even be a little pain in the neck and expressed how much I hated her. I’d apologize in guilt afterwards, but I still didn’t like Misty. Ash was mine, and I just wanted her to go away. I mean, she eventually did leave, and I liked May a lot better, but that might have just been because I had just bought Pokémon Sapphire where she was the main character. There also wasn’t as much romantic interaction between the two, whereas the english dub just loved to cram as much Ash and Misty ship teasing as possible. Either way, it was a while before I warmed up to Misty. Honestly, she’s still not really my favorite character, but I’d be totally fine if she and Ash wound up together in the end. I don’t hold a grudge, we’re cool now. As for Brock and Pikachu, Brock was a pretty funny guy, but I honestly forgot about him most of the time. Pikachu just did not matter. All that mattered was Ash.
As great as things were with Ash, I had a tendency to write everything down. That being said, I had a diary. A good portion of the book was dedicated to Pokémon, as it was my first, and at the time, only fandom. I was constantly writing down new facts that I learned about Pokémon, trying to draw different ones, taping pictures of them that I cut out of the game manuals, and of course, writing about how much I loved Ash. My step-sisters would visit on the weekends, and little did I know that one of them would sneak a peak at my journal, finding out about my crush. I thought I did such a great job of hiding my secret, but I was wrong. She wrote about her crush on literally everything she owned, so of course I saw it, and like sisters do, I teased her about it. It, of course, came back around to bite me in the butt when she retaliated;
“Yeah, well you have a crush on Ash! At least the guy I like is real!”
That sure shut me up, and it well deserved too, but boy was I depressed after that. I didn’t want to see her, I just wanted to run away. I knew he wasn’t real, but my feelings were- well, you know, as far as one child can love a fictional character. It haunted me for days. I had to figure a way to cover up my tracks. I told her I was over him, and I stopped writing in my journal, but I was still a love-struck, confused kid.
I didn’t write in my journal anymore, but occasionally I still wrote down my feelings, though I hid them so well, that I forgot about them for years until found them hidden in my curtains while cleaning out my room. I almost made the same mistake by writing “I love Ash” in my school journal, but I stopped at “I love” when I realized that I could get found out again. One of my friends did find it though, and asked me who my secret crush was at recess. I turned pale thinking this couldn’t possibly be happening to me again!
“I love… ” I paused, “…Latios! Haha! Tricked you!”
I laughed, running towards the playgroud, escaping the interrogation. Nailed it.
After a while, I really did get over Ash. It just wouldn’t have worked out. I moved on to the more mature Kiyo Takamine from Zatch Bell. Although it’s been over 10 years since my silly little crush, these memories will always make me laugh.