ATB’s Top 25 Male Characters: (18) Red

pokemonred

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We’re now into the meat and potatoes as the top 25 continues. Tomorrow, our list continues the countdown to the #1 male video game character of all-time on Aug. 31.

18) Red (Pokemon) – 3 votes/114 points

Shaun: In respect to only the games, the first Pokemon games make a case for Red as a great character. As a new trainer, he manages to find an impressive bond with his Pokemon (which at the time was a more rare and unique thing), steamrolls through the gyms in Kanto, and then manages to thwart a dangerous criminal group of Pokemon wielding thugs, including dispatching their kingpin. In other words, that’s like the kid version of Joseph Gordon-Levitt  from Angels in the Outfield killing Michael Corleone in the Godfather. Impressive.

But it’s not until Gold/Silver that Red really cements his place as a “best of all time.” After rising to the top of the ranks himself in Johto, the protagonist (whatever his name is who cares) finds an extremely powerful Red training. By himself. In a cave. With nary a word, the two meet eyes and begin a battle for the ages between two of the world’s most powerful trainers. If that’s not epic, I don’t know what is.

Chris: Shaun touched on the moment I was going to mention as well — the ultimate battle atop Mount Silver, as a blizzard rages in the background. Everything we knew about Red up to that point proved to be irrelevant; instead, he’s the final test for your trainer in Gold/Silver after you traversed two regions and collected a whopping 16 badges.

It’s difficult to separate Red from Ash, but there are a few critical differences. For one, Red isn’t a complete and total loser like Ash. He evolves his team into badasses, he earns each and every one of his badges with hard work, and he shows off calculating precision in battle instead of maddening idiocy. All this from a 10-year-old kid who stumbled out of his house one morning and set off on a journey that will change the world.

Red may just be the avatar for our own ambitions to become a Pokemon master, but the nuances of his character stand out on their own. I wasn’t sure where to put him on my list for that very reason, but I think low teens is a good spot for him.

Joseph: You wake up one day and try to leave your small, meaningless town because, hey, why not? A little jog never hurt anyone. Unless, or course, you’re traversing the animal-infested wilds of Kanto. A wizened man stops you, presumably saving you from being torn to shreds by the vermin and avian terrors that plague the region. If you’re going to go anywhere, you need a protector, a constant companion, because knee-high grass conceals the greatest terrors known to man. Sure, you’re young, but even 10-year-old kids need to face reality. The old man, whose face looks vaguely like the one staring back at you in the mirror, lets you pick your slave of choice and kicks you into the horrifying world. Go. Capture and oppress more animals. Never eat. Never sleep. Never stop. Catch them all.

You may have a lot going against you, including incompetent authorities, negligent parents and hostile network of aggressive trainers, but you forge on and blast a path through town after town, gym after gym until they crumble to ruins. Free of responsibility, you climb to the top of a remote mountain to escape the quagmire that was your world. Until another equally jaded lost soul finds you and, lo and behold, challenges you to the one thing you hate most, the one trauma you thought was over. It takes a strong character to overcome these trials.

Jason: What isn’t there to like about an awesome and completely proficient version of Ash Ketchum? Nothing, that’s what. He’s the original Pokemon master, the first and best. Can’t go wrong with that!

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Honorable Mention

Introduction

3 thoughts on “ATB’s Top 25 Male Characters: (18) Red

  1. I don’t think Red belongs on this list. I don’t have a problem with a silent protagonist being considered a great video game character, but in the case of Red… from my perspective, there is so little of the game that I define as Red and so much more of the game I call myself. I don’t think I’m a video game character, so I don’t qualify to be on this list.

    1. And before someone comes in with, “But Red is so much more in the anime!” This list is about video game characters.

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