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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 and May belong in a romantic relationship. 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 tutor and May in the role of student.


There are many points in the anime that seem to support AdvanceShipping. Below is a list of such points from the multiple sagas in which 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 sees 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 that 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 toward Pikachu, shows that May might be taking a liking toward him.
During the middle of the episode, Ash is eager to ask a few other Trainers about the Petalburg Gym Leader. Hearing this, May desperately grabs Ash's hand and asks him if they could go eat instead, and if he could show her around the Pokémon Center; however, many argue that the reason she pulled him away was so Ash wouldn't find out her dad is the gym leader. Despite his earlier enthusiasm, Ash agrees and they eat. During their meal, Ash and May talk, and Ash becomes 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 and tells her not to worry, promising that he will get her Torchic back for her. Additionally, at the end of the episode, when Max voices his desire to travel with Ash and May, they both show a shocked expression on their faces, possibly implying that they wanted to travel together, alone.
While Ash, May, and Max are walking through the forest, May and Max begin to argue about what they should do (stop for lunch or keep looking for Pokémon). May grabs on to Ash's arm, telling him that she wants to eat lunch. Max pulls on his other arm, debating his own point. Ash, who has had enough of it, goes with May's idea of getting lunch first. This could possibly show that he cares about what May has to say, but he could have simply picked her idea first because it was more practical.
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, but so is Max, for understandable reasons.
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 cries backstage as everyone 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 his first priority is making it to the Fortree Gym; however, some argue that Ash also cared about the Swablu.
When confronted by Max about whether she wants Ash to win over her Dad—Norman of the Petalburg Gym—or not, May claims that she obviously wants her dad to win, but then says that she doesn't want Ash to lose. Max is outraged that May doesn't immediately choose to support their father.
During the ending of the episode, May once again seems torn about whom should she cheer for in the upcoming gym battle.
Expanding on the previous hints, When Pikachu is hit by a Flamethrower from Norman's Vigoroth, May tries to help Ash by telling him to switch. Brock then says that it's not a good idea, causing May to hastily shut her mouth with her hands in terror. Moreover, at multiple points during the battle, May seems worried and terrified when Ash is losing and happy when Ash is winning. This behavior highly implies that May chose Ash over her own father, at least subconsciously.
Considered to be the first episode where someone believed in AdvanceShipping, 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 bashfully forgive each other for their argument, and apologize a.
When May is lost in the forbidden land of the Grass Pokémon, Ash once again steps in to save her despite the warnings. 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, despite being for safety reasons.
This episode further brings up the parallelism between Ash and May, by having their two Bulbasaur meet each other. Moreover, 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 that when two Pokémon fall in love, there is a good chance that their Trainers will as well. 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.
May is sulking on a bench outside the Contest Hall because she lost her match. Ash comes alone to comfort her, cheering her up while patting her Bulbasaur on the head and sitting next to her on the bench. This is followed by a sheepish smile and a "Thank you Ash," from May.
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 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," to 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 in which May teases Ash about love.
May holds onto Ash's hat while he is lost with Snorunt in a blizzard, and continues to do so during the entire search, frantically hoping to find him. Once they meet up again, she says, "I believe this is yours!" and 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. 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 firmly on her shoulders and and stares intensely into her eyes. Moved, May rejects Ash's offer of moving on without them, and tells him about the promise she made with her mother. As she talks, she gradually perks up and suggests that they go to look for Max and Brock. Touched, Ash agrees.

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 battle 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 could 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, in which Ash always seems to be emotionally involved and always helping May when she is in a dilemma by shouting helpful advice to her, though being enthusiastic and supportive seems to be part of Ash's personality.
When May hears sounds made by 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 to Brock, who could have come to her aid just as easily. This is another 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.
Ash and May end the Terracotta Contest in a tie; there is only one ribbon, and they can't decide whom to give the ribbon to. May looks at Ash, Ash looks at May, and they nod at each other, and then Ash tells Sceptile to Leaf Blade the ribbon in half. This demonstrates that, occasionally, neither Ash nor May need to speak to know what the other is thinking because they share such a close bond.
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's victory and split ribbon parallel this.
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.


On one of the nights when May folds a tab on the wishing star, she afterward looks toward Ash who is skipping rocks across a river. The camera then goes back to May, showing the very anxious look on her face. Because of this scene, many AdvanceShippers believe that May's wish involves Ash, although the nature of the wish is never confirmed. In this example, however, one must account for the fact that Max and Jirachi are skipping rocks with Ash, as well as the fact that nothing else is going on at the time. When she looks "anxious" after viewing the scene, it could be partially due to sadness, since she knows that her little brother and Jirachi have very few days left together and will never see each other again afterward. As she looks away from the scene, she glances back at her wishing star and views the final two leaflets, which remind her that the week is 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 by 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, a school of Luvdisc, the Pokémon thought to symbolize love, follows and swims with them. This is accompanied by shots of Ash and May looking at each other and smiling, while still surrounded by the Luvdisc.
When Manaphy goes missing, May begins sobbing, heartbroken. Ash gazes at her with a pained expression and glistening eyes.
While Samiya is being flooded with water, Ash puts May, Pikachu, and Manaphy in a capsule left behind by The Phantom, allowing them to survive in the event that his plan to replace the crystal fails. Distressed, May calls out to Ash with tearful eyes, but Ash only asks her to remain safe in there, and leaves with the brown in his eyes seen; this usually happens only when Ash is very upset or very emotional. May continues to pray for Ash's safety and is nearly driven to tears by the thought that he may not return. Manaphy sends May's prayers to Ash, and with these thoughts spurring him on, Ash recoveres from his near-drowned state and replaces the crystal, saving Samiya.
After Samiya is raised, May leaves the capsule, initially thrilled that the temple has been 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 and the fear that Ash will not return. "It can't be..." she says. "No way..." Her joy returns as soon as Ash flies up out of the water, 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..."
Additionally, at multiple points during the movie, Manaphy seems very happy around Ash, best exemplified by the fact that it seemed content and happy in Ash's arms, when it's seen to only to accept May's company, even using Heart Swap to switch between Ash and Jack Walker when the latter held it, immediately regaining its happiness after doing so. Many AdvanceShippers suggest that Manaphy has chosen Ash to be his 'father'.
It can also be noted that Jackie Walker recognized that Ash, not Max, was the closest to May and specifically asked him to separate May and Manaphy.


  • 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)


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

Alternate names

AdvancedShipping - the original name that became 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".
ADV - another in-context abbreviation; comes from for "ADVance".

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.