Concept art from the 90s posted online shows that Pokemon protagonist Ash Ketchum could have had a different design. Early drawings show the character with a completely different hat.
While Ash Ketchum was not technically a part of the original RPG series by Game Freak, the determined protagonist quickly became the face of Pokemon after the anime launched in 1997.
Early concept art posted online reveals that the iconic hero had a different look. The character’s signature League hat could have been Pikachu-themed instead to match the loveable yellow mascot.
Ash Ketchum’s original Pokemon designs
Designed by Ken Sugimori and Atsuko Nishida, Ash Ketchum’s look has undergone several changes each generation. However, one thing that has remained fairly consistent is his iconic League cap.
Early concept art posted by Twitter user ‘Arkeus88’ showed the character with a different hat design. “I love looking at concept art to see what could’ve been. Imagine an alternate universe where Ash had a lightning symbol hat,” they wrote, alongside the concepts.
The protagonist’s attires appears to have different versions in his early design. Interestingly, his cap also had various symbols. Fans reacting to the concept speculated as to whether the lightning bolt was a nod to his Electric-type starter Pokemon, Pikachu.
I love looking at concept art to see what could've been. Imagine an alternate universe where Ash had a lightning symbol hat pic.twitter.com/41XzTEkyrE
— Neil (@Arkeus88) January 11, 2021
While Ash’s hat has changed colors and symbols over the years, it always remained as the Pokemon League cap. So it’s neat to see how in early drawings the head attire could have been tied to monster types – or something else all together.
This isn’t the only interesting fact to surface in recent years about the protagonist. In December 2020, Pokemon Historian Dr. Lava posted an interesting tidbit about how Ketchum was originally supposed to grow old with the audience, instead of remaining the same age throughout the years.
Ash Never Grows Up:
Instead of perpetually catering to new generations of kids, the anime's original head writer wanted Pokemon to grow up with its audience. Character development, heavy themes… But he wasn't allowed to, so he quit in 2002.
— Dr. Lava's Lost Pokemon (@DrLavaYT) December 21, 2020
With over 23 seasons under its belt, the Pokemon anime has spanned across multiple decades after originally airing in 1997. Its current arc, Journeys, still features iconic protagonist Ash Ketchum after all these years.
In 2020, reports revealed the Game Freak series is the highest-grossing media franchise of all time. Proof that the beloved Nintendo property is as popular as it’s ever been.