Pokemon anime exec confirms Ash Ketchum will return
It's hard to believe it's been 25 years since Ash Ketchum first stepped out on his quest to be a Pokemon Master and got a nasty jolt from the wrong end of a Pikachu in the Pokemon anime.
Up there with Attack on Titan's Eren, One Piece's Luffy, and Dragon Ball's Goku, Ash is one of the most iconic anime characters ever. So, when he and Pikachu bow out at the end of Pokemon Ultimate Journeys: The Series, it'll be a sad day.
Is Ash leaving Pokemon anime forever?
Fear not, our backpack-wearing and cap-turning hero will be gone... but not for long. Although we know Ash will soon be replaced by Liko and Roy, it won't be forever. Yes, Ash Ketchum is coming back.
According to anime director Kunihiko Yuyama, Ash's departure from Pokemon will only be temporary. Speaking to Spring 2023 issue of Otomedia magazine (via Dogasu), Yuyama said that Ash will return in the future.
Although he stopped short of confirming how and when Ash will be back, it makes sense that the character who carried the series for 26 years will be back someday. It's a bit like Meredith Grey leaving Grey's Anatomy- no one is buying that it's forever.
For the time being, Yuyama is keen to divert attention to Liko and Roy instead of hyping Ash's return before he's even left. Ash might've finally achieved his goal of being a Pokemon Master, but that doesn't mean his story is over just yet.
The Pokemon anime debunks popular Pokemon theory
Interestingly, Yuyama promised Ash will be "forever ten years old," meaning we won't see some aged Ash training a legion of young trainers in some far-flung future. This seemingly debunks the idea that the next series will jump forward with Liko being Ash's daughter.
It would've been a nice idea to bridge the gap between series by having Liko follow in her father's footsteps, but it isn't to be. Then again, with Ash's father being the show's biggest mystery, what if Liko is his long-lost sister instead? Also unlikely, but you never know.
For now, we're enjoying Ash's trip down memory lane. We've already seen him reunite with Brock and Misty to bring back the original trilogy, while he's also caught up with Butterfree and his fan-favourite Squirtle.
As we head into the final furlong, those in the USA and UK can catch up with Ash's final series from February 24 - when the second part of Pokemon Ultimate Journeys: The Series hits the streaming service.
There's no word on when Ash's final episode will air in Japan, but by the looks of it, March 24 could be the big one. Fans are hoping we'll at least get a mini-movie to round off his arc, and if it's anything like Pokemon: The First Movie, there are sure to be tears.