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
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.)