“POKEMON” Anime Hero ASH FINALLY Becomes a MASTER in Japan

Ash-Ketchum-Pokemon-Champion-Alola

For a generation or two of fans who grew up on Nintendo’s runaway hit game franchise “Pokémon,” and who have also followed the similarly long-running anime adaptation, they might still recall the opening lines of the first theme song, about being the very best like no one ever was. That was the goal of the “Pokémon” anime protagonist Ash Ketchum (Satoshi in the original Japanese). But while he is a formidable trainer with a strong roster of “pocket monsters” led by his partner Pikachu, throughout the anime’s seasons (each adapting a specific “Pokémon” game title series) he has always found himself being eliminated in the league tournament finales; until now.

“Pokémon” anime fans who have become disillusioned with the increasingly hollow pledge of its hero Ash to become a Pokémon Master (specifically becoming champion of a main regional Pokémon League) might finally have their faith restored as of Sunday, September 15. That day, as CNet tells us, the plucky (and eternally) 10-year-old trainer emerged triumphant in the Kalos Pokémon League, the regional tournament of the Hawaii/Polynesian inspired by the 2016 Nintendo 3DS games “Pokémon Sun” and “Pokémon Moon,” particularly the “Ultra” enhanced versions released 2017.

Said momentous occasion took place in “The Rise of Alola’s Champion,” 45th episode of the current “Pokémon” anime season “Sun and Moon Ultra Legends,” and the 1,080th episode of the overall series run since 1997 in Japan. Here, Ash makes it to the finals of the League for Kalos region, facing off against his seasonal rival Gladion. Against all odds he and his Pokémon prevail, earning Ash his first ever league trophy (not counting his championships in the non-regional Battle Frontier and the Orange Islands League, which is not based on any existing “Pokémon” game).

This is a singularly important moment for fans of the 23-year and 22-season long “Pokémon” anime series, which originally airs in Japan on TV Tokyo before being localized overseas. Social media has erupted in congratulations both earnest and tongue-in-cheek. Even Game Freak’s Junichi Masuda, director-composer for many “Pokémon” games for Nintendo, went on Twitter to cheer for Ash. Finally, original Ash Ketchum voice actress Veronica Taylor (common practice for animated young boys to be voiced by female VAs) spoke her own piece on this triumph by her old character, using the familiar Ash voice too.

“Pokémon Sun and Moon Ultra Legends” episode 45, which aired in Japan September 15, will air its English version for Western audiences next year on January 18 for Disney XD in the US, and probably earlier for Teletoon in Canada.

Image courtesy of The Wrap

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