Friday, December 16, 2022

Goodbye, Pokémon Master Ash

We never thought it would happen, but it did. As of the end of the Pokémon Season 25, Ash Ketchum realized his dream and became a Pokémon Master. Which is why, while there will be a 26th season, Ash will no longer be the main protagonist.

After more than two decades Ash's journey has reached it's final chapter... It is hard not to feel a little emotional as so many of us grew up with him - even as he remained forever 10. For myself, I remember being introduced to him and Pokémon in Kindergarten, watching the very first episodes with my friends even as we haggled over Pokémon cards. Pokémon was a cornerstone of my childhood, the first and only adventure series I either watched or read before I got into Fantasy literature. I followed Ash on his journey. 

I still remember, vividly, watching Pokémon the Movie: 2000 for the first time, namely the awe I felt at the climax with Lugia's song - the first time I ever recall feeling that emotion. I remember going to the theater to see Pokémon 3: the Movie, and literally shouting with excitement as Charizard battled Entei. I remember crying with my sister at the ending of Pokémon Heroes (the 5th movie). With my friends I memorized and sang the new theme songs as he ventured into Johto then Hoenn, borrowing their VHS tapes to watch at home. I collected Pokémon action-figures (which I still have), played and beat Crystal Version, kept collecting and trading cards. Then stopped for a while.

I had not lost interest, but life got busy and I was never enough of a TV person. I still watched the VHSs then DVDs, never finishing Heonn but seeing the first chunk of Sinnoh. Until, in my final years of High School, I saw that Sinnoh had ended and found a website where you could watch every episode from every season for free. So I watched. Every day when I got home from CRLS I sat at the computer and watched two episodes. I followed Ash on his journey, watched all the movies, until I was all caught up. Because, and I say this without shame but rather with intense pride, I LOVE Pokémon. For its eternal lessons of wholesome friendships and determination so powerful they can overcome impossible odds. Lessons I learned later in Fantasy, but Pokémon was my first teacher.

So I say now, feeling blessed to have been part of it and bittersweet that it is over, congratulations Ash. I will miss you, Pikachu, Brock, Misty, May, Max, Dawn, Iris, Cilan, and all the rest. It is the end of an era. Thank you Ash and Pikachu for being such a huge part of everyone’s childhood. (I still have some season catch-up to do actually, but knowing that the journey has a final ending changes things for me emotionally.)

(By the way, I still have all the songs memorized in addition to my cards, the latter of which I still look at from time to time, remembering the hours of trading and shrewd deals that earned me each and every one from so many dear friends.) 


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