Why I Hate Paul
The Paul I am referring to is a character in the pokemon anime, who is currently Ash's primary rival while the group is in the Sinnoh region. Paul is really a varied character: on the Serebii.net forums, the Paul character discussion thread has, at the time of writing, nearly spans twenty pages, though most of it is saying how "awesome" he is. However, I do not think he is awesome. I hate him more than I hate Harley from the same show. I want to strangle Paul and break one of his limbs. Most probably won't know why I feel this way, so I will explain.
First, Pokemon are sentient beings in this setting. As Linkara pointed out in his review of "Captain Planet and the Planeteers #3," if animals were truly intelligent enough to make their own decisions and follow orders, animals would easily be given rights. Considering that many pokemon in this setting are shown to be smart enough to qualify, pokemon should have a bill of rights. In the real world, Paul's treatment of his pokemon would be classified as cruelty to animals and he would be arrested and sent to Juvenile court, regardless of whether or not his pokemon appreciated his method of training. Though seeing how the world lacks competent police officers and encourages ten year old children to wander around with no parental supervision with only tamed animals for protection, the government must be very inadequate.
While I'm on the subject, why haven't his pokemon objected to his training methods? Sure, they might want to get stronger, but considering that his training methods in the Tag Battle arc would've gotten Chimchar killed had it not been for Ash's intervention, wouldn't at least one or two of them start having second thoughts about their trainer? Heck, seeing how strong they are and how humans are pretty much powerless without technology, I'm surprised his pokemon haven't killed him by now. Pokeballs must have great taming powers to keep pokemon from generally rebelling against their trainers.
Second, why hasn't anyone reprimanded him? I know I'm stressing this, but why hasn't Paul been punished for his behaviour? He clearly abuses his own pokemon, physically as evident in the aforementioned Tag Battle arc and emotionally, as seen when blames his pokemon for defeats, even after he's stated that when a battle is lost, the trainer is at fault, which not only proves he's a hypocrite but also doesn't make much sense considering the pokemon have all the power in this setting. Shouldn't he have gotten some form of punishment by this point? Not even his older brother, Reggie (who I should note is more like Ash in personality and training methods), has done anything about this. Why in the name of Slaking's lazy ass hasn't Reggie done anything to discipline him? Is Reggie really hoping that Paul will eventually change his way, as unlikely as it is? If Paul crossed the line, outright killing pokemon and showing no remorse for this, would Reggie still be hoping for Paul to change? I highly doubt it.
Third, why would anyone want to be anywhere near him? Paul's character in the show is that of a condescending jackass who looks down on almost everyone, including those closest to him (when he admits that his brother was weak after failing to get the Brave Symbol and moving on with his life), and he's too arrogant to admit that he's flawed.
In real life, absolutely no one would want to be around him, let alone be associated with him. To be honest, I think the only reason Reggie even gives him a chance is because they're brothers. Also, consider the fact that Paul is supposed to be ten years old (and I say "supposed to" because given that he's said to be the same age as Ash, and how the creators have stated that Ash is still ten after more than five hundred episodes, I don't think many actually take that statement seriously). Most ten year olds are not like Paul at all, which would prompt most to wonder, "What is wrong with him?" It's likely that Reggie would've gotten many complaints about Paul's cold and heartless antics, and as patient as he might be, he will eventually run out of tolerance.
As for how he interacts with others, with Ash and friends in particular, he's the same as with anyone else: rude, arrogant, and generally unfriendly, despite that Ash and co have tried to be friendly every time they've crossed paths. I'm surprised that, seeing how unlikely Paul is to change his attitude, they still try to be friendly with him. If they were a normal group of teens, one of them (most likely Ash) would've given him a hard smack upside the head.
He's said to be respectful to superiors such as Nurse Joy, Professor Rowan, and Cynthia. However, seeing as how he ignored Nurse Joy's warning for Chimchar's safety in the Tag Battle arc (I'll detail this below), ignored Cynthia's encouragement to change into a more caring trainer, I get the feeling that it's mostly a façade. If he truly did respect them, he would've followed their advice.
With all of these in mind, why anyone interacts with him is a big question left in everyone's minds.
Fourth, he's become the creator's pet. In the many times I keep my eye on the show, I find myself desperately hoping the writers would give him some form of karma. Much to my annoyance, they do not. Even if they do give him some karma, it never lasts: I can think of at least three cases where he could've used a good smacking: the first is a particularly frustrating case when Paul's victory against Ash after having a humiliating loss against Brandon's regi trio. After all, what better way to break him and get him to start rethinking his priorities by beating him after a particularly horrible loss? Instead, they have Paul win against Ash in a very one-sided battle, with Paul pretty much learning that no matter who he loses to, Ash will be his punching bag.
Another case I hoped for a good smacking was for a gym leader to confiscate and refuse to hand Paul a gym badge due to his rude and condescending gloating after getting the Veilstone Gym badge from Maylene. Maylene was pretty much a new gym leader at this point, and gym leaders command respect, no matter how new they are. By all means, Maylene should've forbid him the badge because he didn't treat her with the respect that gym leaders deserve.
The aforementioned tag battle arc is another point that could've given him the chance to be taught the error of his ways. After Chimchar was rescued by Ash and put into recovery, Nurse Joy warned him not to put the injured pokemon into battle because the injuries are numerous; naturally, being the insensitive jerk he is, he ignores the warning, knowing that a rival pokemon that Chimchar feared would be there, stupidly thinking that Chimchar would fight with more fury: as expected, Chimchar froze in fear, which is what happens most of the time in real life. Again, why in the name of Slaking's lazy ass didn't Nurse Joy report this? In the real world, people such as her are required to report such abuses to authorities, though considering Japan is drastically behind on the whole reporting abuse issue, it just leaves negative implications. Had I been in her position, I would've reported him to the authorities, complete with the threat of removing him from the tournament if he ignored the warning, as well as following on that threat.
Seriously, the lack of punishment and defeats lead me to believe that Paul is like a cheating spoiled brat who has to win, and the writers are following his demands. I swear the only reason he isn't on the TvTropes Wesley page is because of his Draco in Leather Pants status, which is described below.
Fifth, the fanbase adores him for all the wrong reasons. I have to admit, this is one of my biggest gripes with the character. It wouldn't be so bad if the audience treated him appropriately, but they don't. Instead, he's glorified and held in a positive light in spite of his generally repulsive attitude, which gets downplayed. While the entire fanbase doesn't adore him and shares some of my sentiments, those who don't raise him to god status are the vast minority.
Many say they like Paul because how he's isn't a "goody two shoes" rival like many rivals in the show. In real life, a rival like Paul is the last kind of rival you'd want; since he's an arrogant bully who'd more likely drain the fun out of everything (it wouldn't surprise me if a lot of trainers who lost to Paul gave up training all together). A good rival is someone who provides a challenge, but is a good sport and gives friendly encouragement.
Another point that drives me crazy with the fanbase is that they do romance stories with him and Dawn. Forgetting the fact that they barely have any interaction in canon, their personalities are the exact opposite: Dawn is a cheerful girl (when she isn't faking smiles through all of the defeats she's gone through) who is supportive of her friends and participates in contests; in contrast, Paul only goes into battling and is, as I've said before, a cold, condescending jackass who'd more likely make you want to slit your wrists when you're in a depressed mood. And then there are the people who pair him up with Ash, of all people; first, this is a kids' show, so romance is likely light at best, if close to nonexistent. Second, knowing how dull Ash is with romance and how Paul only thinks about battling, a romance with the two characters is near impossible. Third, it's very unlikely that they'd strike in a homosexual relationship, even if Japan is more lenient on the whole subject.
No matter what Paul does, the fans who worship the ground he walks on will downplay the horrific stuff, such as Chimchar's abuse in the Tag Battle arc. Even if he destroys a clutch of pokemon eggs after beating up the guarding parents, even if he murders people, or even if he nearly destroyed a town, they'd still fawn over him, where normally most people would consider him a monster after any of those actions (and if the writers had their heads on right, the characters would start treating him appropriately).
Granted, Paul battles more like someone who plays the games, using type advantages and switching pokemon as needed, in contrast to our protagonists who seem to be contractually obligated to be stupid. But that does not give him the right to be an absolute asshole to everyone.
And that is why I hate Paul so much. Every time he shows up, the audience is bound to ignore all of the harsh and heartless training he puts his pokemon through and defend him when those who don't share their opinion try to tell them his flaws. It's enough to make me want to take that black pokedex of his and shove it up his ass, or punch the writers for not giving him any karma for his actions. It frustrates me to no end.