Early this morning, we learned that Ash Ketchum, the greatest Pokémon trainer in the world and perpetual 10-year-old, is at last hanging up his hat (so to speak) and will no longer be the star of the 25-year-ongoing anime series.
Of course, no farewell is complete without a farewell tour, and Ash’s goodbyes are already getting emotional.
Warning: Spoilers for the most recent episode of the Pokémon anime in Japan are below. Scroll down at your own risk, especially if you’re watching along in the US.
The final episode of Pokémon Ultimate Journeys: The Series aired in Japan last night, and the emotional farewell of Ash and Goh culminated in two pretty incredible throwback encounters. In one moment, Ash and Goh are flying on Lugia’s back and encounter Ho-Oh – a legendary Pokémon Ash saw in the first episode at the start of his journey.
The two see it flying across the sky, leaving a rainbow in its wake, just like Ash did when he and Pikachu first bonded at the beginning. It’s an already-emotional moment for those who have stuck with Ash since the beginning, but then things get even more teary-eyed.
During a credits sequence, we see an image of Ash encountering 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 remembered his Butterfree fondly on multiple 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.
HOLY CRAP pic.twitter.com/SY7rW3ExEo
— Joe Merrick (@JoeMerrick) December 16, 2022
If you’re tearing up a little reading this, there’s certainly more to come. Ash is getting one last hurrah with the anime series Aim to Be a Pokémon Master, beginning January 13 in Japan. The mini-series will have Ash visiting his old friends and Pokémon as he tries to sort out what his goals are now that he’s the world’s greatest Pokémon trainer, and what it means to be a Pokémon master. The trailer for this series has already shown Misty and Brock making a return appearance, and we’re sure to see even more old friends as it plays out.
If you’re watching in the US, you’ll have to wait a bit longer for all this – we’re still smack in the middle of Pokémon Ultimate Journeys: The Series over here, but given the current cadence we’ll certainly be seeing all this emotion play out sometime next year, followed by the brand new Pokémon anime series featuring two new protagonists and their Paldean Pokémon friends.
Rebekah Valentine is a news reporter for . You can find her on Twitter @duckvalentine.