When it was first released, the mobile game Pokémon Go made huge waves and broke records. Now after celebrating its fifth anniversary, some of the hype has died down but it remains quite popular. And, as they usually do with their games, there's a lot of evidence that they've even tied the mobile game to their latest Pokémon anime.
Pokémon Journeys is the current Pokémon anime, starting in Japan in late 2019. This series follows a slightly different approach to other series, in that the main character Ash isn't completely the main character. He has a partner, which is normal to the anime, but this partner is different in the way that he is in a lot of ways the main character. This is a common criticism of the series, as Pokémon fans do love Ash, but it does make sense. It may seem abstract at first but there's so much evidence to prove it: Goh is a personified representation of the Pokémon Go mobile game.
Goh meets Ash at the beginning of the series and is very clear of his intentions from the start. Goh wants to catch every single Pokémon that exists, with the elusive Mew as his number one goal. He's loud and is extremely knowledgeable about Pokémon, different species, and their abilities, and he has a lot of the main storylines in the series. His name being Goh of course makes viewers instantly think about the mobile game, but there are a lot of other subtle (and not so subtle) references to Pokémon Go within his character.
Before getting into anything about his goals or character, his look is interesting to note. While he does fit in with the Pokémon universe as a whole, he does look unique. The series is known for having characters with very unique and sometimes strange design choices, but Goh remains distinct. Players of Pokémon Go will recognize that his general style is extremely reminiscent of what the players can choose to wear in the mobile game. After the Pokémon Journeys series came out, they even added his signature hoodie to Pokémon Go.
Goh's goal as a Pokémon trainer is also very reminiscent of the Pokémon Go game. The appeal of the game was that it brought Pokémon to the real world, allowing players to encounter them on their walks and at landmarks. Battles and training are an element of the game, but not necessarily the goal or main storyline. Instead, most players just want to register as many species as they can to their Pokédex. This is exactly what Goh wants to do. Instead of wishing to be the best at Pokémon battles or have all the strongest species, he instead just wants to catch and get to know as many as he can. His main end goal of catching Mew is even a storyline in Pokémon Go.
A more subtle aspect that not everyone will pick up on but that definitely is part of his Pokémon Go characterization is his childlike nature. Pokémon Go is of course a Pokémon game, but it's completely different from any other Pokémon game on the market. As a free mobile game, it's more accessible because the majority of people already own a smartphone and won't need to get a console and an expensive game to play it. The nature of its design will also appeal more to children because it's relatively easy and can be very addictive with its gacha-like elements. Though a lot of longstanding Pokémon fans aren't too into this element of the game and criticize it for this, Pokémon Go can easily be a game for casual Pokémon fans and children who are just starting to take an interest in it. Goh is extremely loud and boisterous; his emotions are intense and he really does act like a child. This new kind of characterization could very much be an attempt to reach out to the children who are fans of Pokémon Go but aren't as familiar with the anime.
Goh subtly turning into the main character over Ash can also be a bit representative of Pokémon Go. The game catapulted Pokémon as a franchise back into the mainstream. People who used to be fans but had fallen off were back into it, and new people were learning about all of the Pokémon lore and joining the fandom. It was a real turning point for the franchise and bringing Goh in as a character is also a turning point for the series.
While turning a singular character into the personification as a game seems a little strange, it does make sense upon reflection. Because Pokémon Go changed how people play Pokémon games, they had to bring that into their anime. It's not uncommon for Pokémon to tie the other games into the anime, but it hasn't really been done in this way. As Goh is becoming more and more like the face of human characters in Pokémon, it's entirely possible that they're making these changes to the franchise a permanent event moving forward.