After 25 years of adventures across the wonderful world of Pokémon, Ash Ketchum’s journey is over. Finally becoming a Pokémon master, the hyperactive anime protagonist will no longer lead the franchise with his adorable Pikachu.
Instead, the Pokémon anime will move to two new protagonists as they explore the region of Paldea. However, before that, Ketchum will have one last season — an 11-episode finale in Pokémon Journeys. After that, Ketchum will move on.
In response to the news, original Ash Ketchum voice actor Veronica Taylor spoke about the character’s retirement. After being distanced from the role for a number of years, Taylor’s iconic voice is the de-facto Ketchum for older fans, but the character is more iconic than even that.
On Twitter, Taylor revealed that she never imaged Ash Ketchum would not be the face of the Pokémon anime. After two-and-a-half decades, the character’s determination to be the very best has been the heart and soul of the anime series.
“An incredible 25 year journey like no other!” Taylor said on her Twitter. “This is truly the end of a very joyful era. Ash and Pikachu and are the heart of Pokémon. Ash may not age, but we have all grown up with their friendship and adventures.”
Taylor was not the only member of the Pokémon cast to speak out on Ketchum’s departure. Sarah Natochenny, the character’s voice actor since Season 9, released a video of her journey as the character. As the character’s voice actor for 17 years, Natochenny’s voice has undoubtedly reached more ears than Taylor’s Ash.
The Pokémon anime has been an essential part of millions, if not billions, of childhoods at this point. Ash Ketchum is an iconic character on the level of Goku, Naruto and more. In fact, he’s arguably even more iconic across the world, despite having far less merch.
It’ll be a hard change for fans of the anime to follow a story without Ketchum. However, successful spin-offs such as a Pokémon Chronicles and more prove that the character isn’t essential to creating a meaningful, fulfilling story in the Pokémon universe.