Pokémon voice actor Sarah Natochenny has voiced iconic anime character Ash Ketchum for 17 years. As the character’s journey comes to an end, the voice actor released a heartfelt tribute to the character to thank her fans.
Released on TikTok, Natochenny’s video shows her almost two-decade journey as the character. Taking over from Veronica Taylor in 2006, the voice actor has been Ketchum for most of the character’s life.
The voice actor’s video takes us through 17 years of her Pokémon journey. From starting in 2006 for Battle Frontier as a teenager to the latest Pokémon Journeys series, the VA shows fan meet-ups, recording sessions and more.
Natochenny’s journey explores a number of key milestones in the franchise’s history. For example, the explosion of mobile game Pokémon Go in 2016 which thrust the franchise back into the mainstream. The video also shows Natochenny coming out of her skin, performing interviews, meeting fans and platforming herself as the voice of Ash Ketchum.
“I started going to conventions. I met fans for the first time, and realised what an impact our work had on their lives,” the voice actor said. “That’s the best part.”
Natochenny’s video even touches on the reveal that Ash Ketchum won the Pokémon championship. As the series wasn’t in the dubbing stages yet, the voice actor found out at the same time as English fans of the series did.
“I learned, along with the rest of the world, that our favourite Pokémon trainer, after 25 years of love and tenacity, won the world championship title,” she said. “As a lifelong fan, and his English voice actor, I am so proud of him.”
Saying goodbye to fans, the voice actor said: “I am so honoured to carry this legacy, and inspire people to be the very best like no one ever was. And to do it with love. Thank you all for being on this incredible journey.”
Natochenny will end her role as Ash Ketchum with the final short series of the original anime. Afterwards, the series will move to a new set of characters, kicking off a whole new era of the anime.
Maybe, one day, Ash Ketchum will return to the anime. However, it seems that the character is being retired for good after almost three decades of inspiring fans everywhere.