What do you think of the comment going around the internet about James actually being the best Trainer in the anime, because he actually asks and/or invites his Pokémon to join him? What do you think that says about his character?
Well, I don’t know about best necessarily, but he definitely has a lot going for him! We don’t actually see how a lot of his Pokémon join him, but off the top of my head, Yamask, Mime Jr., Cacnea and Inkay all come along because he shows them kindness (and Yamask is particularly interesting because it shows that James retains this trait even during the Unova series, when he and Jessie are portrayed in a much more sinister manner than at other times). I probably see this somewhat differently to a lot of people because I think Pokémon usually choose their trainers, to an extent – the battle is a test, of sorts; ultimately Pokémon are captured when they feel they’ve found a trainer who will make them stronger. I think the fact that James doesn’t do things this way speaks to his very unassertive personality – next to the domineering Jessie and Meowth he sometimes seems outright wimpy, but he also ends up being the closest thing their group has to a voice of reason sometimes, because he’s not so concerned with imposing his will on others. Winning a Pokémon’s respect by defeating it in battle, as most trainers tend to do, probably seems needlessly confrontational to him. This kind of approach sets a different tone for how he interacts with his Pokémon, because they’re not necessarily joining him to grow stronger by fighting for him; they’re joining him for more of a mutual protection/benefit arrangement. The result is probably a degree of equality that we don’t normally see between trainers and Pokémon – though of course James is still nominally in charge.