Over 20 years ago, Ash Ketchum left his home of Pallet Town and set off into the world to chase his dream. With his loyal sidekick, Pikachu, at his side, he wanted to become a Pokémon Master. Little did he know how long his journey would take or how much it would impact our world.
As an adult looking back, it seems naïve think a 10-year-old boy could beat the best Pokémon trainers in the world – some of them had years more experience than him, and much more powerful Pokémon. But as hopeful viewers, we believed along with Ash that he would achieve his dream.
Determination and optimism are a powerful combination, something we forget as we get older. We don’t want to be naïve or foolish. So, we tend to be more realistic in our pursuits – also known as “putting away childish dreams”. But despite losing out in six Pokémon League tournaments, Ash persevered. On his seventh attempt, battling against the toughest Pokémon trainers in the Alola region, Ash finally beat a rival trainer named Gladion to become a Pokémon Master. And that, as it turns out, is the ultimate lesson in the Pokémon story – never give up.
There’s another lesson that Pokémon has being drilling into its viewers over the years: You don’t, and often can’t, do everything alone. Partnership and teamwork are key to success. This isn’t just a story about Ash Ketchum after all, it’s also about Pikachu and all his other Pokémon. Often in his battles, even Ash seems to lose heart, but his Pokémon rise to the occasion, pick themselves back up and keep on going.
To win the final battle against Gladion, Ash didn’t use Pikachu (as many fans would have expected), but rather he used Lycanroc, a wolf Pokémon. Gladion was also using a Lycanroc and the battle came down to the wire. The episode has only aired in Japan, but you can watch the final moments of the battle in this wonderful edit by YouTuber Kuma to get a sense of the excitement. (And also, so you can tell your friends you’ve seen it.)
After the initial shock wore off, Ash celebrated his new trophy and title – and fans from all around the world (even though the episode has only been released in Japanese) celebrated along with him. Among them, the original English voice of Ash, Veronica Taylor, who posted a wonderful congratulatory message and video on Twitter.