Pokémon Ultimate Journeys marks the end of Ash and Pikachu’s long journey running journey toward being a Pokemon Master. This ending has left me with an overwhelming mix of emotions. While I am happy with how the series ended, it is sad to say goodbye to a pair that has been in most of my life. I know it is silly to care this much about cartoon characters, but I’ve been there since the beginning. I remember rushing home from school every day to see Ash and Pikachu make their way through Kato. Over the years, I’ve consistently binged Pokemon as comforting background noise but have remained invested in their narrative.
The Pokémon anime has always been good enough. I’ve seen people dismiss the Pokemon anime because it is for kids, but it consistently provides comforting entertainment. While there is a bit of filler and general cheesiness carried throughout, the story isn’t bad. Pokemon usually has fun and memorable characters, solid clean humor, solid adventure, and some fun battles. At the very least, Pokemon makes for solid background noise.
I avoided watching Pokemon Journeys for as long as I could because I wasn’t ready for the journey to be over. I also didn’t want to risk a disappointing ending. Pokemon Journeys is the perfect conclusion to this long-running adventure, full of suspense, action, and closure. It does feel a bit rushed as it scrambles across the different regions revisiting old friends, but it takes its time when it counts.
What Journeys does well is showing how much Ash and Pikachu have grown over the years by shifting the focus to all the people they have inspired. It was nice to see characters from older shows return not only for nostalgia but to see how much they’ve grown since they parted with Ash. Seeing old characters still working hard towards their own goals and cheering on Ash was a touching way to conclude such a big adventure.
Journeys ends with the Master’s Eight Tournament where trainers from across the regions come together to prove themselves. It is a tournament full of fun and exciting battles that build up to one of the most epic battles in Pokemon. Even though I knew how the series would end, I still found myself at the edge of my seat as I waited for a winner. What this tournament does well is that it shifts between the contestants. The Master’s Eight Tournament isn’t something for Ash to win, it is something he has to earn because everyone in it wants to be the bests. Some general hijinks are always present in Pokemon battles, but they are a lot of fun to watch regardless.
If you don’t watch this series, at least watch the final battle. It is unmistakably one of the best battles in Pokemon. The art is unique, the music is epic, and it perfectly illustrates how much stronger Ash has become as a trainer. The stakes are high as two trainers who have mutual respect and admiration go all out against each other. You will need to watch it for yourself to appreciate its scale and what it means to the anime.
But beyond the battles, the final goodbye is what hit me the hardest. Ash’s traveling companion, Goh, decides he needs to set off on his own to reach his potential. Goh feels he relies too much on Ash but is afraid to leave on his own. He doesn’t know how to tell Ash, and it creates great turmoil for the character. Ash breaks the news first, leaving Goh heartbroken. Goh is anxious to be alone because he doesn’t know if he can make it on his own. In a very touching moment, Ash assures Goh that he is good enough, and always has been. The two split after a final goodbye, but Goh finds himself unable to move. He is saddened by the goodbye and anxious to go forward on his own. Ash shouts to him from across the way, encouraging go to achieve his goals and to keep in touch. It was a very touching end to the series as both characters set off and continue their adventures.
This was such a powerful moment in the series because it was also Ash’s goodbye to the audience. Goh is meant to echo the emotions of the audience as they say goodbye to a longtime friend, and Ash is there to reassure them the story isn’t over. Ash and Pikachu may not be the focus of the series, but the adventure hasn’t ended.
It’s sad to see something that has been around with me for so long end, but it was time, and it got a proper conclusion. If you haven’t seen it and have been a long time fine, it’s a fun series you can throw in the background. There are episodes you can probably gloss over unless you’ve been watching since the beginning, but it is a solid anime regardless. And with that, I give my teary-eyed goodbye to a long-time friend. Thank you for reading.