After 25 years and over 1,000 episodes, Ash & Pikachu are leaving the Pokémon anime

Posted at: 11:08am on 16th December 2022(Updated at: 11:39 am 16/12/2022)

The two most identifiable faces in the Pokémon franchise, having fronted the near-permanently-weekly Pokémon anime series since 1997, Ash and Pikachu, will be leaving the series in a landmark change. A final 11-episode mini-series “Aim to be a Pokémon Master”, named after the show’s original Japanese theme song, will begin in the new year and tell Ash and Pikachu’s final stories ahead of a total reboot in April for a new series adapting Pokémon Scarlet & Violet.

Having recently defeated Leon to become Pokémon World Champion, Ash now seems closer than ever before to his long-held goal of becoming a Pokémon Master. His final 11 episodes next year will tell the story of how he’ll continue chasing that impossible dream while revisiting his previous Pokémon and travelling companions for one last time. So far Misty, Brock and Gary are all confirmed to appear.

A special episode celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Pokémon Anime will also air in Japan next week. ‘The Distant Blue Sky’ tells a ‘lost’ story of Ash and Pikachu from their days travelling the Kanto Region for the first time. The production team from the original 1997 series have returned to create this episode, which also seems to potentially feature the very first (but very vague) image of Ash’s father ever seen in the series.

In April, a brand new Pokémon Anime series will begin featuring two new protagonists, known as Riko and Roy in Japan. This series will feature Pokémon Scarlet & Violet’s new Pokémon and presumably will be set in the Paldea Region.

Details on this new series are light on the ground, though a shiny Rayquaza seems to be central to at least the first story. A brief glimpse of it within the 18-second teaser released for the new series would also seem to imply that it will Terastalize, debuting the feature in the anime.

While the Pokémon Anime will continue, Ash & Pikachu’s departure will be a dramatic closure to an era for the franchise that will be impossible to surpass. It’s possible we may yet see the two together again for future specials or even the return of the Pokémon movies, but for now, they’ll soon be taking a long-earned break.

The Pokémon Anime team also released this message in English to all fans worldwide following today’s final episode of Ash and Go’s adventures:

To all fans of the Pokémon TV animated series

In April 1997, Ash and his Pikachu jumped out of Pallet Town and embarked on their journey meeting many Pokémon, many people, made new friends and headed on to another town — they continued on.

Fortunately, we have been able to watch over the adventure and growth of Ash and his Pikachu until today, and this is all thanks to you all, the supporting fans. We would like to express our sincere gratitude.

Starting from January 2023, “Pokémon: Mezase Pokémon Master” will begin which will give one answer to the long-standing question of what exactly is the “Pokémon Master” that Ash has been striving to become.

And from April 2023, a new series of Pokémon TV animation featuring new protagonists, Liko and Roy, will start. In the new Pokémon TV animated series, the camera will follow the adventures of the duo.

It was not easy to determine how and when to share this news. We decided today is the day, when we brought to you the story of Ash and Goh coming to a conclusion.

Our entire staff will continue to work hard to bring you Pokémon animation filled with dreams and adventures. Please look forward to the future development of the “Pokémon” animated series.

December 16, 2022
Pokémon TV Animation Team

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