Early this morning we learned that Ash Ketchum, the best Pokemon trainer in the world and perpetual 10-year-old, is finally hanging up his hat (so to speak) and will no longer be the star of the 25-year-old. ongoing anime series.
Of course, no farewell is complete without a goodbye tourand Ash’s goodbye is already getting emotional.
Warning: Spoilers for the latest episode of the Pokémon anime in Japan are below. Scroll down at your own risk, especially if you’re following along in the US.
The final episode of Pokémon Ultimate Journeys: The Series aired in Japan last night, and Ash and Goh’s emotional farewell culminated in two pretty incredible throwback encounters. In one moment, Ash and Goh fly on Lugia’s back and meet Ho-Oh – a legendary Pokemon Ash saw in the first episode at the start of their journey.
The two watch it fly across the sky, leaving a rainbow in its wake, just like Ash did when he and Pikachu first bonded in the beginning. It’s an already emotional moment for those who have stuck with Ash since the beginning, but then things get even more tearful.
During a credit sequence, we see a shot of Ash meeting his old friend Butterfree – the first Pokémon he caught (as a Caterpie) and the first Pokémon he ever released. Ash parted ways with Butterfree in the early episode Bye Bye Butterfree when his Butterfree fell in love with a pink counterpart and chose to stay with her.
Ash has since fondly remembered his Butterfree on several occasions, and in a still posted by Serebii.net’s Joe Merrick on Twitter, we can see the happy Butterfree couple seeing their friend Ash again after many, many years.
— Joe Merrick (@JoeMerrick) 16 December 2022
If you’re struggling to read this, there’s sure to be more to come. Ash gets one last hurray with the anime series Aim to Be a Pokémon Master, which begins on January 13 in Japan. In the miniseries, Ash will visit his old friends and Pokémon as he tries to figure out what his goals are now that he is the world’s greatest Pokémon trainer, and what it means to be a Pokémon Master. The trailer for this series has already shown the return of Misty and Brock, and we’re sure to see even more old friends as it unfolds.
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If you’re watching in the US, you’ll have to wait a bit longer for all of this – we’re still in the middle of Pokémon Ultimate Journeys: The Series over here, but given the current cadence, we’ll certainly be seeing all of these emotions play out sometime next year , followed by the brand new Pokémon anime series featuring two new main characters and their Paldean Pokémon friends.
Rebekah Valentine is a news reporter for IGN. You can find her on Twitter @duckvalentine.