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370Luvdisc.png This article is about shipping.
As hints and evidence for ships are mostly speculation, this page may contain personal points of view.

Ash reassures May
AdvanceShipping (Japanese: サトハル, SatoHaru) is the belief that Ash Ketchum and May are a couple in the anime. This Ship is among the most popular of those based in the anime, along with PokéShipping, ContestShipping, and PearlShipping.

This Ship is considered by some to be similar to ApprenticeShipping, with Ash in the role of the tutor and May as the student.


There are many points in the anime that seem to support AdvanceShipping. Below is a list of some of the more argued examples from both Ash and May during the multiple sagas Ash and May appear.

Hoenn League saga

After Ash destroys May's bicycle accidentally, she angrily goes to tell him off while he is resting in the Pokémon Center. As she quietly opens the door, she watches Ash and Pikachu resting contently together, and she forgives him without telling him. Later on, May guilts Ash into letting her travel with him. Once he says she could come along, May strikes a triumphant pose by the camera and yells, "YES!" to show her enthusiasm to the audience. This coupled with the previous scene where she secretly spies on him and forgives him for his kindness with Pikachu, shows that May might be taking a liking toward him.
Ash decides to become May's mentor for the very first time, teaching her how to capture and battle with Pokémon.
When Team Rocket steals May's Torchic, she falls to her knees in despair. Seeing this, Ash, crouches down next to her, telling her not to worry and promising that he will get her Torchic back for her.
When Ash and May discover that a Team Aqua intruder is in the building and Max could be in potential danger, she clasps her hands and asks Ash for reassurance and support. Once Ash comforts her, she is relieved. This is the first of many scenes where May continually looks toward Ash for support and reassurance, further expanding on the mentor/student dynamic.
On Dewford Island, May decides to strip into a bikini right on the beach. However, instead of just running down to the shore to take a swim, she purposely poses in her bikini in front of Ash and her brother and asks what they think. Ash appears to be embarrassed by the situation.
After witnessing May lose her first Pokémon Contest, Ash takes the blame for her loss. He says, "It’s my fault. I wish I’d spent more time with May, teaching her." Later, May is crying backstage as Ash tries unsuccessfully to cheer her up.
When May wants to stay and help Swablu's injuries get better, Ash generously tells her, "You're going to take any time you need to help your buddy out," even though he really wanted to get going to the Fortree Gym.
When confronted by Max whether she wants Ash to win over her Dad, Norman of the Petalburg Gym, May gives flustered responses. While Max is quick to make up his mind and cheer for his father, May on the other hand sides with Ash. Max yells, "What, how can you want Ash to win over our Dad?" to which May blushes nervously and says, "Well I want Dad to win... but I don't want Ash to lose!"
May's choice was made up from the beginning to cheer for Ash over her father, and each time Max confronts her about it, she blushes nervously and doesn't want to give him a clear answer.
Considered to be the first episode where AdvanceShipping was made completely blatant to the audience, Ash and May are confronted by Oscar and Andi, a young couple who are obsessed with the idea of love and romance.
When Oscar and Andi call Ash and May a "happy couple," the two of them quickly deny it and turn their backs to one another, crossing their arms. Ash says sarcastically, "That's a laugh!" and May adds, "Hardy har har!" Oscar and Andi do not stop there, and continue to call them a couple. Ash and May scream, "We're not a couple!" in unison, with the same body language, followed by, "And we're not happy either!" in the same tone in which Oscar and Andi state that they 'both answered together' further causing tensions between the two.
As the episode pours on, Ash and May continue to argue and bicker back and forth, presumably to get their minds off the idea of being called a couple by Oscar and Andi. After a tag battle against Jessie and James at the end, Ash and May sincerely forgive each other for their argument, and deeply apologize as they stare at each other while the sunset closes behind them.
When May is lost in the forbidden land of the Grass Pokémon, Ash once again steps in to save her. After his Tarzan-esque entrance to save May from the fierce and threatening Grass Pokémon that were about to attack her, he grabs her by the hand and runs with her to clear a path to safety. Ash and May continue to hold hands as they are running away from the menacing Pokémon, a rare sight between them.
This episode further brings up the parallelism between Ash and May, by having their two Bulbasaur meet each other. However, the two Bulbasaur show signs of liking one another, a ship that is called VineShipping. Throughout the episode, May makes several comments about how their Bulbasaur are such a great team, and how they are, "Two peas in a Poképod." Before Ash sends Bulbasaur back to Professor Oak, it pats May's Bulbasaur on the head sweetly with its vine, saying goodbye. May's Bulbasaur is impressed as Ash's Bulbasaur is sent back. Vineshipping is one of the parallels that is used to push Advanceshipping, as canon characters such as Professor Oak and Brock have said in the past that Pokémon represent the feelings of their trainers, and when two Pokémon fall in love, there is a good chance the trainers will too. While the Bulbasaur haven't fallen in love with each other yet, it is the first step in their parallel romance. However, the claim has also been refuted at various points during the series, so the feelings of the Pokémon are not always definitive to the feelings of the Trainers.
When Ash is about to hop on top of Dragonite and go with Lance to save Pikachu from its bonding with the Blue Orb and Groudon, May approaches Ash and says, "Don't do anything crazy Ash," in a sweet and very concerned tone.
In another love-themed episode, Ash is confused about the concept of love. May teases him and says, "Spoken like a maaaaaan," in the dub while she says, "And he doesn't get it," in the original Japanese. As the episode continues, Ash says, "No sense in going out of your way just to make somebody like you," in which May responds, "And he still acts like a man," in the dub while in the raw, "And he reeeaaaally doesn't get it." This is the second episode where May teases Ash about love.
May holds onto Ash's hat while he is lost with Snorunt in a blizzard, and continues to during the entire search, frantically hoping to find him again. Once they meet up again, she says, "I believe this is yours!" and kindly hands Ash back his hat.
In the middle of the episode, Ash and May are separated from the group. May does her expedition routine and thinks about the concept of being lost with Ash in the woods forever. This idea causes her to have little red blushes on her cheeks. During the last act of the episode, May misses her chance to catch the ferry to her final Contest. In despair, she starts to cry. Sensing her pain, Ash puts his hands on her shoulders and stares at her deeply in the eyes, giving her the courage to go on while he takes care of her little brother. This is the first time in the series that Ash had ever put his hands on a girl in a serious and compassionate manner.

Battle Frontier saga

May decides that she wants to continue traveling with Ash after Hoenn ends, which compels her to travel from the Hoenn region on her own to meet up with Ash in Pallet Town. This was before she found out there were Contests in Kanto, so she decided that she wanted to be by Ash's side even if it meant not continuing her Coordinator dream for the time being.
During the battled with Team Rocket, May can be seen glancing towards Ash's direction after her Bulbasaur used Petal Dance. Soon after, Ash used his Bulbasaur, to use SolarBeam, and blast away Jessie and James's Pokemon. It can suggest that May wanted Ash to battle with her.
When May steps on the Contest Stage, Ash is the only one (of the three) that cheers, saying, "Let's go May! All right!"
This is also reflected in all of May's other Contests, where Ash always seems to be emotionally involved and always helping May when she is in a dilemma by shouting helpful advice to her.
When May hears sounds of scary Ghost Pokémon, she frantically goes to Ash and tries to wake him up in his sleeping bag. She presses her hands desperately against his chest to wake him up, yet she didn't do the same for Brock, who could have come to her aid just as easily. A further example of May choosing Ash over anyone else when she is in fear or doubt.
May trying to wake up Ash
James says to Ash that they were helping his girl (May) in the Contest.
At the beginning, when there is only one ribbon, and they can't decide who to give the ribbon to, May looks at Ash, and Ash looks at May, and they nod at each other, and then Ash tells Sceptile to Leaf Blade the ribbon in half. This proves that sometimes Ash and May do not need to speak to each other to know what the other is thinking because they share such a close bond. Also, in Mean With Envy!, Erica and Joshua were seen in a fantasy holding a split ribbon while Vivian was referring to a couple winning a Contest. Ash and May repeated their actions when they won.
In the Japanese version, when Haruka announces that she wants to go to Johto, Masato runs off. When Satoshi goes to comfort him, Masato asks, "Why is Onee-chan so happy? It's really fun when Satoshi and Onee-chan are together..." This could suggest that Masato wants Haruka and Satoshi to be together.

Diamond and Pearl saga

Ash and May with the ribbon halves
May joins up with Ash, Brock, and Dawn in Sinnoh. Later that day, in the evening, Ash and May both pull out their halves of the ribbon that they tied for, and hold the pieces together. May also says how the ribbon reminds her of Ash's encouragement, and how it has saved her numerous times in Johto.
Before May leaves to return to Johto, she and the rest of the group share goodbyes. She and Ash speak last, each telling the other to do their best in their respective paths. It is only when May is speaking with Ash (despite the fact she was exchanging farewells with everyone) that she holds her heart. Further indication is that when both May and Ash say their goodbyes, each of their eyes glimmer. In the anime, when a character's eyes glimmer it represents a type of passion.


One of the nights when May folded a tab on the wishing star, she afterward looked down to Ash who was at that time skipping rocks across a river. The camera then goes back to May, which she has a very anxious look on her face. Because of this scene, many AdvanceShippers believe that May's wish had something to do with Ash (the nature of the wish is never confirmed).
In this example, however, one must account for the fact that Max and Jirachi were skipping rocks with Ash, as well as nothing else was going on in the scene for her to look at. When she looks "anxious" after viewing the scene, this could just as well be sorrow, knowing her little brother and Jirachi have very few days left together and then they'll never see each other again. As she looked away from the scene, she looked back at her wishing star and viewed the final too leaflets, reminding her the week was coming to an end.
Ash tries to pick a fight with Tory Lund. In order to stop him, May throws her body on top of Ash and tells him to please stop. She places her hands on his shoulders and desperately tries to convince him to calm down. Ash is surprised with her action, and quickly says, "Oh-kay."
Ash once again loses his cool and is mad at Lucario. May quickly rushes down into the lake where Ash is standing and clutches his arm, trying to prevent him from getting himself in trouble. May holds onto him frantically until the situation is resolved. Afterward, May follows Ash around "mothering" him, telling him to get himself dry before he catches a cold.
As Ash and May go swimming with Manaphy, they continuously shoot glances at each other and smile. This is accompanied by a school of Luvdisc, Pokémon thought to symbolize love.
When Samiya was being flooded with water, Ash put May, Pikachu, and Manaphy in a capsule left behind by The Phantom, allowing them to survive should his plan to replace the crystal fail. May continued to pray for Ash's safety and was nearly driven to tears when she thought he wouldn't make it back. Manaphy sent May's prayers to Ash, and with these thoughts spurring him on, Ash recovered from his near-drown state and replaced the crystal, saving the Samiya.
After the Samiya is raised, May leaves the capsule, at the beginning thrilled that the temple is saved. (In the Japanese language version of the movie, she acknowledges that Satoshi is the one who saved the Temple by saying "This is Satoshi's doing, isn't it?") Her happiness, however, is quickly replaced by sadness with the fear that Ash hasn't returned. "It can't be..." she says. "No way..." Her joy returns as soon as Ash flies up out of the water and chases down Captain Phantom and saves the abducted Manaphy.
In the manga adaption of the movie, when May and Pikachu are unsure of whether or not Ash survived trying to save the Sea Temple, she clutches Pikachu and is tearing up, but still retains hope in Ash by saying, "Ash wouldn't leave us like this..." It is also noted that when Ash saved Manaphy, it seemed content and happy in Ash's arms, when it's seen to only to accept May's company. Many Shippers suggest that Manaphy has chosen Ash to be his 'father'.


  • They have both seen the same legendary Pokémon at different times:
Ho-Oh (Ash in EP001 and May in AG178)
Celebi (Ash in Celebi: Voice of the Forest and May in AG155)
  • They both have a particular fondness for food.


Ash and May have caught several of the same evolutionary lines:

Alternate names

AdvancedShipping - the first name, that because the parent to the variant Advance.
AaMayL - stands for "Ash and May Love".
MaSh - an uncommon, if not defunct term; stands for "May and Ash".
AS - an in-context abbreviation; stands for "AdvanceShipping".

Notable AdvanceShippers

On Bulbagarden forums

External links

Project Shipping logo.png This article is part of Project Shipping, a Bulbapedia project that aims to write comprehensive articles on each couple in Pokémon.