“Pokémon Journeys” review: Goodbye, Ash and Pikachu


Courtesy of The Pokémon Company

Ash and his adorable team celebrating their win.

Everyone has heard of the iconic duo Ash Ketchum from Pallet Town and Pikachu from Professor Oak’s laboratory. Together, the ultimate dream they shared was for Ash to become a Pokémon master. It seemed like a naïve dream when Ash began his journey and lost innumerable amounts of battles, but he ultimately proved many wrong, including me. They finally achieved their dreams after nearly two decades, following the conclusion of “Pokémon Journeys.” The producers were sure to make their last moments in the final episodes extremely emotional for those that have grown up with Ash.

Ash first meets Pikachu in the episode “Pokémon – I Choose You!”. (The Pokémon Company)

 Every journey inevitably comes to an end, and “Pokémon Journeys” ended in the best way possible. The finale of the season was both heart-wrenching and heart-warming. With many allusions to past seasons, it is composed of important lessons that we learned alongside Ash and Pikachu.  

Ash worked his way up in the World Coronation Series rankings leading up to the final tournament that would ultimately decide the champion of the competition/the Pokémon Monarch. He began in the lowest ranking, and won against a surprising number of competitors to eventually battle the level with the toughest opponents. This feat made me incredibly proud of him, especially because he’s always had plot armor to prevent him from winning battles that he should’ve won in past seasons. Training for the battles with his team was an arduous process, but his stubbornness made him determined to achieve his dreams. 

From the bottom to the top right, Dragonite, Lucario, Gengar, Sirfetch’d, Dracovish and Pikachu. (Picsart/The Pokémon Company)

With his team consisting of Gengar, Sirfetch’d, Dracovish, Lucario, Dragonite and of course, his best friend Pikachu, Ash competed against terrifying regional Pokémon Champions in the Master Class and eventually battling Leon, the Galar League Champion and the past Monarch. As much as I loved his team, I wished that he used his starter team in “Indigo League” in the tournament for that extra touch of nostalgia. Regardless, I have always been team Ash until the very end and knew that the fruits of his labor will ultimately pay off—even if I was on the edge of my seat for the final episodes. 

“Pokémon Journeys” knows how to keep you on the edge of your seat, especially when it comes to the final battles against the three regional Champions. After putting up a good fight, most of Ash’s Pokémon would always be wiped out at the beginning of the battles, leaving him with one Pokémon left. The tides always seemed to be in favor of the opponent, however, he persevered until he unleashes one of the three techniques unique to “Pokémon Journeys”: Z-Move, Mega Evolution and Dynamax. 

In one match against Steven, the Champion of the Hoenn region, Steven quickly narrowed down Ash’s selection of Pokémon until they were outnumbered. Even when they were outnumbered, they both persevered and executed the Z-Move. Not only does the Z-Move make Pikachu look adorable wearing Ash’s hat, but the technique is the result of Ash and Pikachu’s precious relationship. With the deadly combination of friendship and tenacity, the two emerged victorious. Ash’s win against Steven was close but predictable, but I was nervous for the next opponent: Cynthia, the legendary Sinnoh champion. Despite her intimidating atmosphere and frightening Pokémon, Ash’s Pokémon are as headstrong as he is, and his Lucario emerged as the victor after Mega Evolving, another technique as a result of a friendship with a Pokémon. Unlike previous Pokémon seasons, I loved how “Pokémon Journeys” emphasizes Ash’s wholesome relationship with his Pokémon, especially because his relationships with them are a crucial reason for his victories. 

Anime updates/The Pokémon Company

Friendships are an overlying theme of the show, which added an extra layer of sentiment, nostalgia, and tears to the finale. Before the final battle against Leon, all of Ash’s old companions from past regions/seasons gathered together to watch his final battles. When Misty and Brock (the original companions) showed up on the screen, I felt my tears trying to escape. To top off the nostalgia, Team Rocket was even there to show their support after 25 endless years of chasing after Pikachu. 

Pokémon Legends/The Pokémon Company

The floodgates threatened to open as the battle between Leon and Ash began. By then, the general trend of Ash’s team always being destroyed for the first half of the battle got old and eventually, only Ash’s Pikachu and Leon’s Charizard remained. Unlike the previous battles, Pikachu fell unconscious after suffering damage, and the screen turned black. Is it over? Did Ash lose? OH NO! So many anxious thoughts rushed to my head, but then, the scene switched to all of Ash’s original starter Pokémon rooting for Pikachu and Ash, and my eyes began to sweat. A lot

Ash and Pikachu celebrate their well-deserved victory against Leon in the episode “Pokémon! I’m Glad I Got to Meet You!,” a reference to the title of the first ever episode. (The Pokémon Company)

With the support from all of Pikachu’s Pokémon friends, it emerged victorious after unleashing its final flashy move against Charizard. Pikachu won the final battle, however, it was not just Pikachu and Ash that won. The support from Ash’s friends and Pokémon directly led to their well-deserved victory. The producers managed to make the last battle full of nostalgia, a bittersweet, yet appropriate way to end the series. 

Wearing my Ash Ketchum shirt, my prized possession. (Bao Nguyen)

Ash did it. He achieved his dreams, and we were there to witness the beginning and the end of his journey. However, “Pokémon Journeys” stresses the importance of the middle of a journey. Along his journey, witnessing his undying perseverance, the genuine friendships he formed, and the growth of his character truly defined the series and my childhood. 

The most rewarding part of Pokémon was not witnessing Ash being crowned the champion, but rather, the lessons we learned alongside him. The lessons in Pokémon apply to everyone; As I reflect on the near-end of my high school experience, I wish I cherished the journey more than narrowly focusing on the future. Time flies, and before you know it, you’re about to graduate…or witness the Ash Ketchum finally achieve his dreams.