Ash's Pikachu may evolve into Raichu in the latest season of Pokémon Journey

Ash's beloved Pikachu could be set to evolve into a Raichu in an upcoming episode of the Pokémon anime, according to a leaked summary of Pokémon Journey's Episode 35.

This comes 23 years after the anime first premiered, in which Pikachu has remained a staple of Ash's team, having previously rejected evolution in the first season when preparing to fight Lt. Surge.

However, by spoiling what could be the biggest moment in the anime's history in the episode's summary, it's more than likely the writer's are teasing a huge twist that will see Pikachu remain a Pikachu.

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Will Pikachu evolve into a Raichu?

According to a leaked summary of Episode 35, published here by Anipoke Fandom, "A lot of Pikachu have been digging 'Thunderstones' out of the rockface and using them to evolve into Raichu. Satoshi's [Ash] Pikachu finally evolves into a Raichu as well, using a "Thunderstone" discovered by a very obliging female Pikachu?!"

If we are to take the summary as it is, then Ash's Pikachu will finally evolve into its final form.

However, while this shake up would be in line with some changes introduced in the latest iteration of the Pokémon anime, its unlikely Ash's Pikachu will permanently change into a Raichu.

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Ash's Pikachu has remained a staple of the series for 23 years. (Image: TPCi)

Fans have pointed out the quotation marks around the item "Thunderstone" as a hint from the writers that these Pikachu are not actually evolving into Raichu, with one Reddit user suggesting this is likely "some Team Rocket scam."

"PM summaries loves to be misleading. I find it funny they don’t mention Raichu’s VA...." writes @Nani4587 in reply to the Twitter leak. Indeed, both references to Pikachu evolving are ended with "?!", strongly hinting all is not as it seems.

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Ash's Pikachu's resistance to evolution

This isn't the first time Ash's Pikachu has been close to evolving in the anime. In episode 14 of the first season, entitled, Electric Shock Showdown, Pikachu is given the chance to evolve into a Raichu after failing to beat Lt. Surge's Raichu in a gym battle. Pikachu eventually decided not to evolve, beating Raichu on its own terms using its speed with moves like Quick Attack and Agility to earn Ash the Thunder Badge.

The anime also hinted at Pikachu evolving during the Diamond and Pearl season of the show, after Ash's Pikachu once again suffered defeat at the hands of a Raichu, and ran off with a Thunder Stone. While Pikachu rejected evolution, Team Rocket promptly stole the Thunder Stone, wanting Pikachu to remain in its current form.

Fans also point out that Ash's Pikachu has a Gigantamax form, allowing it to turn into a huge, more powerful Pikachu, making use of the mechanic introduced in Pokémon Sword and Shield. The Gigantamax Pikachu, only available in Sword and Shield if you have Pokémon Let's Go Pikachu save data on your Switch, cannot evolve into a Raichu, suggesting Ash's Pikachu can no longer evolve.

The episode will air in Japan on August 30, meaning concerned fans don't have long to wait, although we'd be very surprised if Ash's Pikachu does evolve permanently.

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