The protagonist of the Pokémon anime series, Ash Ketchum, is certainly one of the most popular anime characters ever. During his journeys, he has caught a plethora of different Pokémon from all regions. Some of them he uses or used frequently, some rarely, while some he eventually released into the wild in scenes that would always leave the fans’ hearts broken. Although there have been several such scenes throughout the anime, today we are going to talk about Ash’s Greninja. So why did Ash leave Greninja?
Despite the two of them having an exceptionally strong friendship, Ash ultimately released Greninja because Greninja’s help was needed in destroying the roots of a remaining Giant Rock.
Now that we’ve given you a short introduction, let us discuss the topic in more detail. So, What is so special about Ash’s Greninja? And why did Ash leave him?
What kind of Pokemon is Greninja and what is so special about Ash’s Greninja?
Greninja is a dual Water/Dark-type Pokémon first introduced in Generation VI. It is the final evolution form of Froakie, one of the three Starter Pokémon of the Kalos region. It evolves from Frogadier starting at level 36.
Greninja is a very interesting combination of Types and is a very powerful Pokémon, not just in the anime (where some Pokémon are overpowered for narrative reasons), but also in the video games (where the strengths and weaknesses of Pokémon are more objectively shown). He is a large, bipedal frog that also resembles a ninja, which accounts for his English name. His original Japanese name is Gekkouga (Japanese: ゲッコウガ). Aside from the anime and the video games, Greninja has appeared in the movies and the manga. The most famous individual Greninja is, of course, Ash’s Greninja.
His evolution line looks like this: Froakie (level 16) –> Frogadier (level 36) –> Greninja
As for his powers, Greninja is as strong as they come, especially when considering the fact that he is not a member of any specific group of strong Pokémon, like Pseudo-legendary Pokémon. However, the Ash-Greninja form (see below) has such a base stat total that it is considered to be a Semi-pseudo legendary Pokémon, the only starter Pokémon evolution from any generation to fall under this category. Its base stat total is as follows:
Now that we’ve analyzed Greninja in general, let us talk about one specific representative of its species.
Why did Ash and Greninja form a bond?
Ash’s Greninja is considered to be one of Ash’s greatest and strongest Pokémon ever. It was his first Pokémon caught in the Kalos region and his 43rd overall when Ash caught it as a Froakie. Developing a strong bond with Ash, Greninja became extremely powerful, so much that it even developed a special form – Ash-Greninja – which was a stronger version of the basic Pokémon, something similar to a Mega Evolution. The two of them had many successful battles and adventures where Greninja repeatedly proved its strength, thereby earning the status of being Ash’s best Pokémon in the anime.
Ash’s Greninja was initially a very picky Froakie, that exchanged several trainers before finally accepting to become Ash’s partner in the episode “Luminose City Pursuit!”. After hatching, this Froakie was very shy and wasn’t playing around and dancing like his peers, which is why he was an outcast and was bullied by them until he was taken away to safety by Nurse Joy. He later ended up in Professor Sycamore’s lab, but he did not accept the trainers he was given to and had no partner until he finally met Ash.
The two of them had lots of adventures together before Froakie eventually evolved into Frogadier in the episode “A Stealthy Challenge!”. This happened during a battle with Saizo’s Barbaracle, who fought Froakie, Pikachu, and Sanpei’s Greninja; Froakie managed to break free from one of Barbaracle’s attacks and soon evolved into Frogadier.
The Pokémon finally evolved into Greninja in the episode “A Festival of Decisions!”, again during a fight, this time against Heidayu’s Bisharp. Pikachu, Frogadier, and Sanpei’s Greninja lost one battle against said Bisharp, before ultimately being almost defeated again in the rematch. Just as Bisharp was about to attack and finish Pikachu, Frogadier jumped in front of the attack, which caused him to further evolve.
Soon after this evolution, Ash’s Greninja used its Battle Bond ability to transform to Ash-Greninja, a transformation similar but not identical to a Mega Evolution. Ash-Greninja was much stronger than the regular Greninja and even resembled Ash in some way. Although both Ash and Greninja initially had problems controlling this form, they soon deepened their bond and were able to fully control it. The term Ash-Greninja (Japanese: サトシゲッコウガ, Satoshi-Gekkouga) was coined by Bonnie.
Why did Ash Ketchum release his best Pokemon – Greninja?
Ash’s bond with Greninja was enormously deep. Not as deep as with Pikachu, but also not very far from it. The two of them have been together ever since Greninja was a small Froakie, so it was rather shocking and unexpected when – in the episode “Facing the Needs of the Many!”
Ash decided to release his Greninja, one of his dearest and strongest Pokémon. This all happened during another quest for the remaining Giant Rock and its roots, during which Ash and Greninja had to fight Team Flare’s scientific Xerosic. They managed to defeat him, but Greninja was soon asked by a Z2 to stay and help them destroy the remaining roots of the Giant Rock.
After mulling it over while listening to Ash’s monologue, Greninja decided to stay with the Z2s and help them in their quest, which would’ve been otherwise handled by Ash and his gang. It was a shocking and heartbreaking moment, since both Ash and we, as the observer, bonded with Greninja during their journey since Greninja was a Froakie.
Greninja ultimately did the right thing and it was a noble and selfless gesture of which we are extremely proud. Greninja decided to stay and help the weaker ones, which is a great feat and a big achievement, but it broke our hearts to see two such good friends going their separate ways.
Here is the scene we were talking about:
So there you have it – Ash released his Greninja, one of his strongest Pokémon and one of his best friends because Greninja was needed elsewhere, to help destroy the Giant Rock. Although the scene was heartbreaking, it was a noble and just cause, so we can forgive Ash for breaking out hearts (again).