Despite never having actually appeared in any of the games (outside of Pokémon Puzzle League), it seems almost impossible to imagine the Pokémon franchise without Ash Ketchum, the protagonist of the Pokémon anime series for over twenty-five years, not to mention his trusty Pikachu, the series’ mascot. But with the latest iteration of the anime, Pokémon Journeys, finally having wrapped up today, it was finally made official via a sneak peek that the anime would have new protagonists for its next incarnation, based on the most recent Scarlet and Violet games, and that Ash and Pikachu would finally be stepping down (this is the point where we should mention that will be Pokémon Journeys spoilers here, so you’ve been warned).
Heading into the end of Pokémon Journeys, fans were indeed wondering if there would be a changing of the guard, given that it seemed like the series would be the grand finale for Ash. He had already become the Alola league champion in the iteration before, and with his defeat of Leon, he officially became the World Champion. So what would come after this? Scarlet and Violet center around a Pokémon school, something Ash has already graduated from, and it’s not like he would have reason to tackle its Pokémon League now (plus, let’s face it, Ash could easy beet Geeta with his weakest Pokémon anyway).
So it while it comes as no surprise that that series finally shifting towards new protagonists, it still feels like a bit of a shock, especially since both of them are brand new to the anime, not even based on Scarlet and Violet’s default characters. Our new protagonists are named Liko and Roy, and as seen in the clip above, will apparently be joined by all three Paldean starters. Aside from this, though, no other details were revealed, just a mention that the anime will be debuting sometime next year. Notably, it didn’t say that Ash and Pikachu wouldn’t make something like a cameo appearance, though, and fans seem to already be floating theories (for one thing, note that Liko’s hair clip has the same design as Ash’s original hat…).
Of course, as the new video also reveals, the true grand finale to Ash and Pikachu’s journey will begin on January 13 in Japan, with an eleven-episode mini-series called Aim To Be A Pokémon Master. The series will focus on what Ash’s dreams to be a Pokémon Master mean, will see him visiting old friends, and apparently provide glimpses of the future, suggesting that we may gets some hints towards the new series as well. So while Ash and Pikachu’s journey is finally coming to a close, it looks like 2023 will see some bold new beginnings for the Pokémon anime, and we can’t wait to see what happens.