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Pokémon fans are bawling - rather than balling – over the news that the animated series’ protagonists Ash Ketchum and Pikachu are set to leave the show after 25 years.
The popular Japanese franchise announced “the final chapter” for the budding Pokémon master and his electric mythical creature on Friday, saying the pair will bow out in a collection of special episodes to conclude the current season of Pokémon Ultimate Journeys: The Series.
It comes after Ash finally became “the very best, like no one ever was” and was crowned the world champion in an episode which aired last month.
“The forthcoming special episodes not only celebrate our hero’s monumental achievement, but they also serve as an expression of gratitude from Pokémon to all the fans who have joined Ash and Pikachu along the way,” Pokémon said in a news release.
Information on what’s coming next has also been teased by the company, which has told fans to “get ready for the premiere of a brand-new animated series featuring an original story and characters, including a girl and a boy, as they set off on action-packed adventures across the Pokémon world.”
According to several websites, including the BBC, the two new faces will be called Liko and Roy, and will be joined by three Paldea starter Pokémon.
That series will come in “2023 and beyond”, with the Beeb saying it will start from April 2023.
\u201cAn all-new Pok\u00e9mon series has been announced!\n\nJoin 2 new characters and 3 Paldea starter Pok\u00e9mon as they adventure through the Pok\u00e9mon world! Plus, commemorate Ash\u2019s journey with special episodes concluding Pok\u00e9mon Ultimate Journeys: The Series.\n\nComing soon in 2023 and beyond!\u201d
However, people aren’t quite ready to say goodbye to the beloved Ash Ketchum and Pikachu just yet, and are already sharing tributes.
Sarah Natochenny, who been the English voice actor for Ash since 2006, said in a post on social media: “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.”
Her predecessor, Veronica Taylor, tweeted: “An incredible 25-year journey like no other! This is truly the end of a very joyful era. Ash and Pikachu are the heart of Pokémon. Ash may not age, but we have all grown up with their friendship and adventures.”
One Twitter user wrote: “Not me crying at my desk over Ash and Pikachu’s journey coming to an end. It just hit me like a ton of BRICKS.”
“With Ash/Pikachu journey finally coming towards an end that means my childhood is official [sic] over,” cried another.
And just like that, many people’s childhood memories turned to Ash…
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