Ash Ketchum from Pallet Town has finally done it! In the latest episode of the anime, Ash defeats Leon, the standing #1 trainer in all the world, in the World Coronation Master’s Eight tournament! In so doing, not only has Ash defeated the previously-undefeated Leon, the 10-year-old trainer has finally succeeded in becoming the world’s number one trainer!
It’s been a long, long journey. After all, the Pokémon anime has been running for 25 years, starting from it’s debut episode on April 1, 1997. In that time, Ash has gone from having little apparent talent or knowledge (but a whole lot of enthusiasm) to a skilled and competent trainer. You might remember if you were following along in the early episodes, but his first two gym badges were awarded to him outside of battle, and it wasn’t until his third gym challenge that he earned a badge. But since the Indigo League, Ash has developed a lot in competency. Even though it took a while.
Since starting out on his Pokémon journey, Ash has won some significant victories. Ash progressed high in the Indigo League, which was a feat, considering it was his first tournament. Ash also won against the Champion in the Orange League, and later obtained all the symbols in the Battle Frontier, a feat that impressed Scott so much that he extended Ash the offer of becoming one of the Frontier Brains (which Ash declined). It wasn’t until Ash became the Alola champion that he was ranked among the other champions.
As a champion, Ash got to battle in the World Coronation series, where he took on (and overcame) champions such as Diantha and Cynthia, the latter of which seemed nearly indestructible when Ash first witnessed her battle. All this culminated in Ash’s battle with the world’s number one trainer, the previously undefeated Leon.
In case you’re wondering about spoilers, public screenings of Ash’s victory were displayed in public in Tokyo:
And even though the episode has only aired in Japan so far, the English-language The Pokémon Company has announced Ash’s victory on Twitter within minutes of it happening:
So no, it wasn’t realistic for you to avoid knowing this before watching the anime for yourself, especially with fans all over the world discussing it.
One question that would understandably come up is where the Pokémon anime would go from here. We already know that the anime picks up with Ash’s friend Goh, who goes on an expedition to locate the mythical Pokémon, Mew. As of this posting, we are a week away from the release of new installments of the Pokémon video games, the Pokémon Scarlet and Violet versions for Nintendo Switch. The setting for the games will be the new region of Paldea, based on the real-world locations of Spain and Portugal. If Paldea is the setting for future episodes of the anime, Ash could continue as the main character there. But as for what his goal may be, we don’t yet know, as Ash is already the world’s number one trainer. But it’s possible that future episodes may focus on new characters, such as the new protagonists Florian and Juliana.
As things go for the Pokémon anime, it’s when one journey wraps up that another follows close behind, and this is usually timed to occur with the release of new installments of the Pokémon games. That Pokémon’s marketing machine is well-oiled may have a lot to do with why it’s the highest-grossing intellectual property in the world’s history.
This is undoubtedly a huge day in the anime world, as Pokémon has been one of the most popular and longest-running anime of all time (this is episode #1221). But if Ash can become a Pokémon Master, and Naruto can become Hokage, then perhaps we’ll see the day that Luffy finally finds the One Piece treasure. But I’m not counting on it happening anytime soon.
Congratulations, champ! Now, what are you gonna do next?