Welcome to Supervillain Month! May is a time for evilness, for the individuals who give our heroes a reason to leave their normal lives and fight for something greater. But who cares about heroes? They’re boring, pure, yadda, yadda. It’s the villains who catch our interest, the figures who make us question whether it wouldn’t be more fun to shack up with wickedness and turn our back on society. And with anime, there’s really only one supervillain who is so despicable, so astonishingly evil, that he obliterates all competition. Who is this mysterious figure? Why, it’s none other than Gary Oak.
Gary Oak needs no introduction, but I’ll give him one anyone. Gary Oak (it is impossible to refer to him by just his given or family name) is Ash Ketchum’s rival in Pokémon. He shows up at all the wrong times for Ash, says the meanest things, and is clearly a far better trainer than Ash could ever hope to be. But what is it that makes Gary Oak the perfect villain? What is it that elevates him amongst the rest? Well…
Every villain worth his salt has an evil plan, but a supervillain goes a step beyond that to confuse his enemies. Now, we all know that Ash Ketchum wants to be the greatest Pokémon trainer to ever walk the alternate universe where Pokémon exist. He shouts that goal to the trees, and thus it is easy for his foes to throw obstacles at him. But Gary Oak? He does not shout his goals to the trees. In fact, some might even say he has no goal other than to antagonize Ash by becoming the legitimate best Pokémon trainer ever. His true agenda may never be revealed. Why does he want to antagonize Ash? What does he gain out of it? The world may never know just what goes through Gary Oak’s mind, and that is frightening. It is impossible to guess Gary Oak’s next move, and Gary Oak likely intended things to be this way. He’s a mastermind of evil at the tender age of nine, and lord Mewtwo knows what kind of shenanigans he will get up to when he’s older (unless, of course, Gary Oak is responsible for the characters’ lack of aging in the series, which opens up nightmarish doors).
A good villain employs subordinates to do his bidding because he is often too weak to fight himself, but a supervillain can both control his underlings AND take a sword into battle if the whim crosses his mind. Gary Oak collected 10 gym badges during the Kanto arc; do you know how many Gym Leaders there are in Kanto? Eight. That means one of two things: that Gary Oak is so powerful that he acquired two mysterious badges, two badges mere mortals such as Ash could never even hope to conceive of, or that Gary Oak traveled to other regions such as Johto before Ash even knew they existed. Either way, Gary Oak is clearly the Pokémon trainer equivalent of Thor. And think of how long it took Ash to beat the traditional eight Gym Leaders (answer: years). But Gary Oak? Been there, done that, like it ain’t no thang. The lad is always several steps ahead of Ash and basically the entire Pokémon world. And if he is indeed somehow responsible for stopping time in the Pokémon world, then that means he will always come out on top and gloat before his rivals.
Likewise, Gary Oak must be an incredibly skilled trainer, unless all of these Gym Leaders were bribed by him. Gary Oak commands an impressive array of Pokémon, including Squirtle (who evolves into the mighty Blastoise), Pinsir, Arcanine, Magmar…the list goes on. But perhaps the most powerful Pokémon at Gary Oak’s disposal is Eevee. Yes, Eevee, that adorable little fox-like creature that can turn into at least five other Pokémon. Gary Oak and Eevee are closer than Ash and Pikachu; Gary Oak’s Eevee defeats Ash’s Pikachu out of sheer love for her master. If Gary Oak is indeed a child of darkness, then surely Pokémon would flee him, correct? And yet a peek into his Pokédex reveals that he has caught over 100 Pokémon by the time Ash has maybe 20, and all of these creatures seem thrilled when reunited with their master. The only possible explanation for this is that Gary Oak is so powerful that Pokémon flock to him and wish to aid him in his evil plans. After all, if Gary Oak aims to undermine Ash’s goals, then it’s in the Pokémons’ best interest to align themselves with the new world leader.
In one of Gary Oak’s final appearances on the show, he says that he wants to become a researcher in his grandfather’s lab. I hope this rings some alarm bells for you, dear readers, because this certainly concerns me. Remember that Gary Oak’s agenda is a mystery and that his tiny body contains oodles of power. By claiming that he wants to become a “researcher,” Gary Oak is now able to take his evil plans in a new direction. First of all, this supervillain will have unparalleled access to all sorts of things; I mean, who knows what really goes on in Professor Oak’s lab (hint: illegal things)? Team that grandpa criminal up with his supervillain grandson, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. We know that Professor Oak “experiments” on Pokémon, and it is likely that Gary Oak will create a hybrid army to assist him in his evil plans. Second, “research” is clearly just a cover story; Gary Oak is most definitely engaging in shady things. Do I have proof? Of course not; Gary Oak is far too clever an individual to leave silly things like proof behind. But mark my words: Gary Oak, “researcher extraordinaire,” is up to no good.
Gary Oak is basically the Samuel L. Jackson of the Pokémon universe: a badass, suave male who does not have time for your whining. Unlike Ash, who could barely dress himself, Gary Oak knows he is the best and is not afraid to flaunt it. Look at this picture: that is the face of evil arrogance. Gary Oak is so confident that he finds it unproblematic to insult Ash on the face of a sign, where Ash’s incompetence will be known throughout the ages. What astonishing cruelty for a nine-year-old! That is definitely the hallmark of a supervillain. And yet! And yet consider how other people treat Gary Oak; he is always surrounded by cheerleaders who love him, his criminal grandpa seems to dote on him, and he is generally acknowledged to be a damn good trainer. What an incredible feat to pull off; he embraces this façade so well that it’s impossible to tell what he’s really thinking. Behind that cool, arrogant demeanor beats the heart of a supervillain intent on something incredibly evil.
Gary Oak is a difficult individual to figure out, but I hope I have offered a smidgen of light on this man’s evil nature. I actually must bid you all a hasty goodbye, for I am sure that Gary Oak has eyes everywhere and is plotting my doom as I type this. So farewell, dear readers! Remember that Gary Oak is the greatest anime supervillain ever put to screen, and if Gary Oak ever offers you a place at his side, be sure to run the other way!