Ash and Pikachu End Their Run as the Heroes of Pokémon
Twenty six years, 1,200 episodes, three generations worth of fans, and the start of dozens of films. That’s how long the world has known Ash Ketchum and Pikachu. They have been the face of Pokémon since almost the very beginning. Ask anyone about Pokémon, and their faces are likely the first things that come to mind. However, now the franchise is entering into a new era, and Ash and Pikachu won’t be part of it as the main characters. This past Friday, the final episode of Ash and Pikachu’s journey premiered, giving millions of fans the chance to say one final goodbye to the boy and mouse that inspired so many of them.
Truthfully, though, this farewell, for now, was in the works for months. Last year, fans of Pokémon got to see Ash do the impossible: he became the Pokémon World Champion! For the boy who seemed to lose in almost every League he fought in, this was a moment many feared would never come to pass. Nintendo wouldn’t let it so they could keep sending him on adventures to promote the franchise. Yet he did it, and the world cheered.
Ash Starts His Next Journey Without Us
The only question left is, what now? Do Ash and Pikachu continue their journey, or will they rest on their laurels? The answer turns out to be a bit of both. Beginning in January, the series aired what amounted to an epilogue series. Ash and Pikachu continued their journey, Team Rocket continued their antics (though they briefly split up), and Ash reunited with his OG companions, Brock and Misty. It was the perfect way to bookend our time with Ash by reuniting the original trio for one last journey. Still, the question remains: what will Ash do now?
When you’ve devoted so much of your life to a goal and finally see it through, a scary thing is trying to figure out where to go after you succeed. Ash has served as someone capable of teaching people the significance of never giving up on a goal despite hardship. That’s an important lesson not even some adults understand, and eventually, despite fans thinking he’d never do it, he finally does. Therefore, it’s only fitting his final episode as the MC has Ash teach us what to do after we fulfill our dreams: set ourselves a new goal in life and work at it. In his case, Ash wants to go out and befriend every Pokémon in the world.
I wasn’t overly interested in this epilogue series, but I still consider it a fitting send-off for Ash and Pikachu for the time being. The one gripe I have is at the end of the finale where Ash sees a rainbow. In the first episode, Ash earnestly began his Pokémon journey after seeing a rainbow and the Legendary Pokémon, Ho-Oh. I think it was a missed opportunity not to have our time with him bookended by Ho-Oh returning. Regardless, it’s still a nice callback as we say goodbye to Ash for now.
And I do mean for now.
I Think We’ll See Ash and Pikachu Again Someday
Even though our travels with Ash are over, I doubt that we’ve seen the last of him. Ash and Pikachu have been the face of the Pokémon for decades, and there’s no way The Pokémon Company, Nintendo, Game Freak, and Creatures will let that fall by the wayside now. They’ll likely continue to call upon Ash and his Pikachu to appear in future projects for recognition purposes. In addition, they might decide to come back to the OG duo at some point.
There’s a precedent for this in pop culture. Everyone thought the Dragon Ball franchise had retired by the mid-2000s, only for the franchise to enter a renaissance with the release of Battle of Gods. The Animaniacs came back twenty years after it ended. The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder brought the Disney show to a new generation. If there’s still a big enough audience and potential stories to tell, then a brand or franchise will only stay there for a while. It’s a blessing and curse, but it might be a blessing in this case.
Until the day we see him again, though, thank you, Ash Ketchum and Pikachu. You made the childhoods of millions of people worthwhile, and we will never forget you. Sayonara, Satoshi!