The Pokémon anime series has been around for 23 years, and it has become a part of our geeky lives since time immemorial. We have seen Ash venture through various regions, befriend multitudes of Pokémon, and battle against stronger opponents. The show, and its colorful cast of characters, have taught us to become the very best in everything we do, even if all odds are stacked against us.
In commemoration of the series’ anniversary, let us jump through a time portal and revisit the best moments in the Pokémon anime during the last decade.
Pokémon’s 20th-anniversary film I Choose You became monumental for a myriad of reasons: The film retold Ash’s journey from scratch, combined elements from the Sun & Moon games, and created a new movie timeline altogether. But the surprises didn’t stop there. Viewers were taken aback when Pikachu, Ash’s main Pokémon partner, spoke for the first time. While it is strange that Pikachu had a female voice despite its gender, that emotional scene definitely cemented the bond it has with the gutsy trainer from Pallet Town.
The latest Pokémon season sees Ash and his new buddy, Gou as they take on new adventures across all the regions in the series, including Galar. Apart from Pikachu entering Gigantamax mode for the first time, the season featured one interesting moment: a fight between a human trainer and a Pokémon.
Bea, the headstrong gym leader of Stow-on-side Stadium, fought in a short, but intense hand-to-hand bout against her main Pokémon, Machamp. While the battle didn’t end quite well to her favor, it was nice to actually see a human testing her fighting creds against a Pokémon.
Pokémon XY and XY&Z have been hailed by fans as the franchise’s best seasons in line with its share of frenetic fights and great moments. It also featured the debut of the iconic Mega Evolution mechanic, an ability that allows a Pokémon to temporarily transcend to a more powerful form. Ash didn’t have the opportunity to Mega Evolve any of his Pokémon, but he unlocked an even greater power.
In episode 7 of XY&Z, Ash managed to unify with his Greninja mentally to help the latter tap a new battle form. Unlike regular Greninjas, Ash-Greninja can throw a giant shuriken and create multiple clones with ease. However, Ash gets to receive the same physical damage his Greninja does in battle. It was saddening, though, that Ash had to let go of his water-type buddy at the end of the season.
Fans have long since argued about the full strength of Ash’s Pikachu since the 90s. True enough, the iconic mouse-like creature has toppled bigger opponents and performed various feats during its journey with Ash. The debate became fiercer as Pikachu mounted its strongest attack in the series: a giant Electro-Ball.
In episode 47 of Pokémon Best Wishes, Ash and his friends had to survive their way from Giovanni and his minions. This forced Ash to command Pikachu to throw an Electro-Ball for diversion. Out of pressure, Pikachu siphons every energy it has to augment the Electro-Ball, causing massive destruction to the area. Goku will surely be excited.
For as long as the Pokémon series has been around, the aspect of dying has only been implied. Within its canon, cemeteries and ghost Pokémon have been sprinkled throughout, leaving more than a hint at them dying on a regular basis, but it’s never been directly addressed.
That is, until Sun & Moon came. In the 21st episode of the season, we see Ash and Litten as they care for a sickly Stoutland through its final hours. It was discovered that the old Stoutland had an irreversible disease, and death is inevitable. What’s interesting about Stoutland’s death is that there was a lot of heavy emotional weight in the scene. Between the grieving process and all the symbolism of passing on, it was a lot to expose fans to.
The Pokémon anime series wouldn’t be the same, if not for its bumbling trio of villains who kept the show entertaining at most. Team Rocket has tried every attempt there was in the book to defeat or steal Ash’s Pikachu, believing it has some kind of great potential, only to end up bursting to the skies in disastrous failure.
However, things changed when a Mimikyu joined their ranks. In Sun & Moon, Team Rocket challenged Ash’s party to a straight-up Pokémon battle and fielded Pikachu’s mysterious doppelganger right away. Interestingly, it easily brushed any attacks and dealt Pikachu’s first-ever loss from Team Rocket. Hurray, I guess?
Ash’s Pokémon league losses have been the subject of ridicule in the fandom for decades. The gutsy trainer’s previous Pokémon league attempts didn’t end up well and has come quite close to earning his first championship trophy during the Kalos Cup. It took 22 years, 1073 episodes and 22 seasons for Ash to finally claim the victory he truly deserved.
After a heated battle against Gladion, Ash triumphs and gets crowned as the first league champion of the Alola region. It was not an easy journey, but Ash proved that with resilience and hard work, everything could be possible.
What is your favorite Pokémon anime moment? Share it with us in the comments!
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