Welcome to Pokemon of the Week, the first installment in a recurring series that looks at the impact of some of ours favorite Pokemon on the anime, TCG and VGC. Taking a trip down memory lane to see the impact these Pokemon have had on the series and our lives is what makes Pokemon the magical thing it is. And what better place to start than with the Pokemon voted number one overall during the Pokemon of the Year event held by TPCi.
Greninja, the Ninja Pokemon, holds a special place in the series as one of Ash’s most powerful and loyal Pokemon. One of only six Pokemon to be the unique combination of Dark- and Water-Type, Greninja is the fastest of all the full evolved starter Pokemon. It’s Hidden Ability, Protean, feeds into the Ninja mystique, changing Greninja’s type to match the type of move it uses each round.
Greninja and Ash developed a special friendship based on trust and the desire to succeed. This led to Greninja’s other hidden ability, Battle Bond, allowing Greninja to transform into a special form that was equal in power to a mega, the aptly named Ash-Greninja. Goofy name aside, Ash-Greninja has all of its stats raised and its signature move, Water Shuriken, gets a power boost and always hits three times.
Greninja’s appearances go beyond the normal Pokemon world, appearing in Super Smash Bros. for the Nintendo 3DS/Wii U, before it even debuted in the traditional games. Greninja has been extremely popular since it was even revealed as a Pokemon. It
In the anime
Greninja made his debut by evolving in the Ninja Village to protect Pikachu from Heidayu and his Bisharp. It would also be a common thorn in Team Flare’s side, help Ash win his final Kalos Badge against Wulfic and his Mega-Abomasnow and help Ash grow as a trainer and a person.
Greninja developed two key rivalries alongside Ash. The first was against Sawyer and his Sceptile. After going back and forth the pairs met in the semifinals of the Lumiose Conference, the Kalos version of the Pokemon League. Mega-Sceptile proved to be quite the challenge but Ash and Greninja were able to overcome them and move on to the finals.
In the finals they faced off against their other rival, Alain and his Mega-Charizard. After a long, back and forth battle Alain came out on top and won the Lumiose Conference. While the loss is painful for Ash this is his first trip to the Finals in a major conference (I will never count the Orange Islands), showing just how powerful his bond with his Pokemon, and Greninja specifically, had grown.
Greninja and Charizard would band together to defeat Lysandre’s Mega-Gyarados and Pyroar and save the world. The Giant Rock, a product of Team Flare’s mad science, was the final obstacle in the team’s way. Greninja was able to detect the presence of the Giant Rock and was able to stop the catastrophe. When it was revealed there were still some roots out there that would need to be handled Ash and Greninja agreed to part ways so that the Ninja Pokemon could rid the world of this abomination with the help of Zygarde, formerly known as Squishy.
Greninja has been given 11 different cards in the TCG so far, and four of them have seen major championship level success. The most recent success came with the Greninja GX that was released as a promo alongside the Detective Pikachu expansion. Its attack, Mist Slash, was copied in the popular Ultimate Mewtwo Deck, piloted by reigning World Champion and Mewtwo & Mew GX expert Henry Brand to a Regional Championship Victory in Perth, Australia just prior to the cancellation of the season.
More known for its success in the Expanded format, Greninja & Zoroark GX has become the main attacker in the popular Turbo Dark archetype. Its attack, Dark Pulse, does 30 damage plus 30 more for each Darkness energy attached to all of your Pokemon. The format is rife with energy acceleration, making this stealthy duo one of the quickest and hardest hitting attackers in the format.
Finally, the pair of Greninja and Greninja BREAK released in BREAKpoint was a meta staple for years. Making its first appearance in 2016, the strategy would go on to win championships in October 2016, June 2017 and May 2018 and was still in contention for titles as recently as November 2019. Combining the Shadow Stitching attack on Greninja to turn off the opponent’s abilities and the BREAKs ability, Giant Water Shuriken, to sprinkle damage across the opponent’s board made for a potent control strategy that was tough to break out of once it was set up.
The least successful of all the appearances we will discuss, Greninja still was able to find some success. It’s most common partners included Landorus Therian, Incineroar, Mega-Kangaskhan, Mea-Gengar and Volcarona and saw most of its success outside of the United State.
The most successful U.S. finish came in 2018 where it made it all the way to sixth place, paired alongside Smeargle, Mega-Metagross, Eevee, Mega-Charizard Y and Tapu FIni. Used as more of a support Pokemon with moves like Mat Block and Taunt, Greninja took advantage of its Protean ability and varied move pool to pair with a multiple threats.
Greninja has yet to make an appearance in any way in the Sword and Shield era, leaving the possibilities open for future dominance. The abilities and the potential to Dynamax make for some creative options in a format devoid of any dominant Water-type attackers. Depending on what new moves may be added to the list it may be finally time for Greninja to take a trophy home in the video game.
That about wraps it up on Greninja. We will be back next week looking at a new Pokemon of the Week. Until then, remember that before heading to Alola this was Ash’s most successful Pokemon in terms of league success and this translated into success in the TCG. It will not be easy to find many Pokemon that won the hearts of our favorite cartoon trainers as well as card game and video game players as swiftly as Greninja.