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As Pokémon champ Ash faces his 'final chapter,' is it goodbye for him and Pikachu?

Pikachu and Ash Ketchum, pictured in <em>Pokémon: The First Movie</em>, have been traveling the world as part of Ash's journey to be the top Pokémon master.
Pikachu and Ash Ketchum, pictured in Pokémon: The First Movie, have been traveling the world as part of Ash's journey to be the top Pokémon master.

Ash Ketchum set off on a journey from his humble beginnings in Pallet Town to become the very best like no one ever was. Over two decades later, he's now a Pokémon world champion.

Ash emerged victorious in the Pokémon World Coronation Series in the latest episode of Pokémon Ultimate Journeys: The Series that was released in Japan. The first 12 episodes of the season premiered Oct. 21 in the U.S. on Netflix, but the release date of the episode showing Ash's ultimate win has not yet been announced.

"Ash Ketchum's determination and perseverance to achieve his goal of becoming the world's top Pokémon Trainer over the course of 25 seasons represents the very best of what it means to be a Trainer," Taito Okiura, vice president of marketing for The Pokémon Company International, said in a statement.

In the very first scene of the series, Ash had just turned 10 years old and was eligible for a Pokémon trainer's license.

"I will journey to gain the wisdom of Pokémon training, and I hereby declare to the Pokémon of the world, I will be a Pokémon master!" he declared.

Twenty-five years later, he did.

The series follows Ash and his Pikachu across numerous regions as they make friends, meet new Pokémon and battle other trainers. Ash frequently came shy of tournament victories until the recently established Manalo Conference, where he became the first Pokémon league champion in the Alola region.

But to be a Pokémon world champion, the trainer must be the strongest in the world — not just in a league.

It is unclear where the series will go from here now that Ash is the world champion. The Pokémon Company has not announced its plans beyond this season and is keeping the focus on this moment.

The final episode of the season is titled, "Pokémon! I'm Glad I got to Meet You!" The premiere — and the start of Ash's journey — is called, "Pokémon - I Choose You!"

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Ashley Ahn
Ashley Ahn is an intern for the Digital News and Graphics desks. She previously covered the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines for CNN's health and medical unit and the trial of Ahmaud Arbery's killers for CNN's Atlanta News Bureau. She also wrote pieces for USA TODAY and served as the Executive Editor of her college's student newspaper, The Daily Pennsylvanian. Recently graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Ahn is pursuing a master's degree in computer science at Columbia University.