Spoiler & rumor alert: The contents of this article are speculative in nature (based on evidence from demo contents & official documents) and may also spoil surprises in the game. You have been warned.
Dots are being connected in what could be the biggest Pokémon crossover between the anime and games that the franchise has ever seen. Pokémon Sun & Moon could be the first titles in which Ash, the star of the Pokémon anime, makes an appearance.
Although his in-game counterpart, Red, has a storied history since debuting as the protagonist of the first Pokémon games, Ash has never actually appeared in any games of the main series. Ash-Greninja being available hinted at his existence in the game canon and the demo also made passing reference to him, but it was not widely speculated that he would actually be an opponent in the games, until now.
Recently a trademark filing by Nintendo & Game Freak for ‘Satoshi’ (Ash’s Japanese name) was discovered. This is interesting because it is obviously game-related, not simply a filing for the anime. Although Ash-Greninja will be available to players in Pokémon Sun & Moon after transferring it from the demo, there wouldn’t be much more reason that they’d need to trademark Ash’s name: after all, the anime season featuring his Greninja just wrapped up. The filing also makes no mention of a Pokémon in correlation to him either.
In addition, his Pikachu has already been confirmed by game data mined in the demo! Whether this is an event for players (probably) in addition to a Pokémon he may use on his team is still unclear. It does however point to one thing: Ash is definitely tied into Sun & Moon heavily.
This all comes together with the recent unveiling of the Battle Tree, a location in Alola that allows players to battle with and against some of the most famous trainers in Pokémon history! Sounds like a great place for Ash to make his game debut…
I’ll finish up by reminding everyone with exactly the same warning I gave going in: this is not confirmed. It is, however, definitely something that is being strongly hinted at!