Are Pokemon’s Ash Ketchum and Gary Oak really who fans knew them to be? Their Japanese names have significant meaning to Satoshi, creator of Pokemon.
Many audiences around the world grew up watching the English dub of Pokémon throughout their childhoods. The nostalgic adventures of Ash Ketchum, Pikachu, and his occasional encounters with his childhood rival Gary Oak.
What beloved fans may not know about the Pokémon series is that the names of Ash and Gary differ significantly in the original Japanese version of Pokémon. In the original Japanese version of Pokémon, Ash Ketchum goes by the name of Satoshi, and his rival, Gary Oak’s name is Shigeru. The original names carry a deep meaning to the creator of Pokémon, Satoshi Tajiri.
Satoshi Was Named After Pokémon’s Creator Satoshi Tajiri
Yes, fans may be surprised to know that the creator of Pokémon, Satoshi Tajiri, named the protagonist of his series after himself. In actuality, the inspiration for Pokémon was from his childhood love of capturing and collecting bugs and playing arcade video games. We see this in the Pokémon series of trainers capturing Pokémon in pokéballs, and adding their information to the Pokedex. He thought of different ways to capture different insects, we see this throughout Pokémon’s use of different pokéballs and abilities to use to weaken Pokémon in order to capture them.
After modern developments took over the lands and ponds that were flourishing with insect life, Satoshi’s hobby changed to video games. Satoshi Tajiri would spend a lot of his time in arcades, to the point that one arcade actually gifted him a full-sized Space Invaders machine to bring home. Together, these hobbies served as Satoshi’s inspiration for the Pokemon franchise, as he wanted to bring his hobbies of collecting insects and video games to the later generations of youth. Intriguingly, Satoshi Tajiri initially also wanted to become an entomologist, which is the profession of studying insects.
Shigeru Is a Tribute to Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto
The creation of Shigeru, Satoshi/Ash Ketchum’s rival, alternatively known as Gary Oak in English, was a tribute to his real-life mentor and the person he admired, Shigeru Miyamoto. The famous game designer and game producer of Nintendo. Shigeru Miyamoto created some of the most successful video game franchises of all time Mario, Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda, and Star Fox.
Shigeru was eventually assigned to help Satoshi through the creation process of developing the Pokémon franchise. Together they created the first Pokémon video games, Pokémon Red and Green which were released in 1996. Through this partnership, Satoshi Tajiri grew fond of and deeply respected Shigeru as a mentor and eventually named his rival in the Pokémon series after him.