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Yeah, I think equate is a better word. Ash/Gary get compared to Red/Blue since the former are based on the latter to some degree. They are not the same people though. The anger that fans have come from when people say they are the same.
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They are the same people though. They exist in different canon so they act different and whatnot, but Ash, game Red, the upcoming anime Red and all the manga Reds are the same protagonist from Pallet Town that's set on winning the Pokémon League and beating Team Rocket.