After 25 years of inspiring children and adults alike to never give up on becoming the very best, Ash Ketchum and Pikachu are finally saying goodbye as the Pokémon anime is set to introduce new characters to replace them in the next series.
The company announced this game-changing move on their official Twitter account as they shared a teaser about "the final chapter in Ash and Pikachu's story" in the form of 11 special episodes that will start airing on Jan. 13 next year.
The English voice actress of Ash, Sarah Natochenny, tweeted her farewells to lending her vocal talents to the character.
"It’s been an extraordinary privilege to have been the English voice of Ash Ketchum for what will be 17 years. No matter what lies beyond his final chapter, he’ll live forever in the hearts of many generations to come. I'll keep him present for all of us in every way I can," Natochenny wrote.
It’s been an extraordinary privilege to have been the English voice of Ash Ketchum for what will be 17 years. No matter what lies beyond his final chapter, he’ll live forever in the hearts of many generations to come. I'll keep him present for all of us in every way I can. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/UZxPO4xD6E— Sarah Natochenny (@sarahnatochenny) December 16, 2022
Meanwhile, Veronica Taylor, the original voice actress for Ash since the first episode before she stopped in 2006, revealed that the news "really surprised" her.
"I am filled with so much emotion… I guess I’d never considered Ash’s journey ending. I need a minute to process… (This new beginning looks lovely)," she wrote.
Many fans took to social media to express their bittersweet farewell to Ash and Pikachu, understandably shocked at the news.
"Thank you for everything, Pokémon Journeys. I will miss this series and most of all, I will miss Ash Ketchum and Pikachu, forever," one user wrote.
Another one tweeted, "For personal reasons, my brain shall not be processing the information that Ash and Pikachu are leaving Pokémon. I do not wish to experience the emotions that will come with processing this information."
Despite the end of an era for two of the Pokémon franchise's most recognizable characters in pop culture and anime history, the anime still continues as the teaser announced that a "brand-new dream and adventure is about to begin."
It then introduces a young girl named Liko and a boy named Roy who will serve as the series' new heroes from here on out. As for their Pokémon partners, they will be accompanied by the three starters of the new generation: Sprigatito, Fuecoco, and Quaxly.
An all-new Pokémon series has been announced!— Pokémon (@Pokemon) December 16, 2022
Join 2 new characters and 3 Paldea starter Pokémon as they adventure through the Pokémon world! Plus, commemorate Ash’s journey with special episodes concluding Pokémon Ultimate Journeys: The Series.
Coming soon in 2023 and beyond! pic.twitter.com/2lrM6W1dgW
The series' 23rd season, titled Pokemon Journeys: The Series, is a fitting conclusion to Ash and Pikachu's two-decade journey in the Pokémon world. It follows them and their new companion Goh as they travel around the world and revisit all of the past regions featured in the anime, from Kanto to Galar.
Not only did the season bring back some of Ash's most prominent companions, rivals, and Pokémon, but it also had him fulfill his lifelong dream of becoming the greatest Pokémon trainer in the world after emerging victorious in the show's Pokémon World Championship.
While plot details of the new series is still under wraps, it is expected to take place in the Paldea region—the setting of the franchise's recently released games, Pokémon Scarlet and Violet.