Warning: Spoilers for Pokémon: Aim to Be a Master, episode 11The Pokémon anime starring Ash Ketchum has now officially come to an end after almost 25 years on the air, but just because the series has ended doesn’t mean that Ash’s adventures have to–even if some fans might have preferred that they did.

The final episode of the miniseries Pokémon: Aim to Be a Master certainly didn’t feel like a series finale while watching it. There were no long and sappy goodbyes with Misty and Brock; the two just split off from Ash to head to their own hometowns, because they know they’ll see him again before long. While Team Rocket reconciled with each other, they didn’t really get any kind of more personal connection with Ash. And ultimately, the final shots of the episode are very similar to those from the end of previous seasons: Ash setting off again on a new adventure, even ending with the words “Next Time: A New Beginning!” exactly like it always has when one era ends and another begins.


Pokémon Ends Ash’s Story With a New Adventure

Pokemon: Ash sees a rainbow, mirroring the first episode of the series.

The episode takes an approach that’s more in line with Ash’s perspective than the viewers. It’s not the end for him; it’s just another day in the Pokémon world. No flash-forwards, no montage of great moments. Ash has merely taken a pause to return home and rest before he sets out once again. Ash at one point sees Gary, who congratulates his former rival on Ash’s win in the Pokémon World Coronation Series and his new status as Champion, but asks him if achieving that has brought him any closer to becoming a “Pokémon Master.” Ash doesn’t really have an answer for that and spends much of the episode contemplating the idea. As he sits under a tree with Pikachu in a rainstorm, Ash decides that what it means to be a master is to be a friend to all the Pokémon of the world–a quest that can never really end. Contrary to the series’ image, it’s not about catching them; simply knowing them and appreciating them is enough.

It’s a surprisingly contemplative ending to the series, and it once again shows how much Ash has matured. The episode’s inclusion of Pidgeot helps to emphasize that contrast, as the Ash that Pidgeot knew was very different. This may not have been the ending that fans wanted, as much of the speculation focused on things like seeing Ash as an adult, perhaps with children of his own or a connection to the new series. By taking the usual approach to a season finale for the series finale, it emphasizes the fact that Ash’s adventures with Pikachu still continue, even if we’re not watching them anymore. Pokémon‘s producers have said that they see Ash as forever young, with no desire to age Ash up, and this ending is the ultimate example of that. It’s okay to disagree with their perspective, of course, but in terms of what they were aiming for, it seems like Aim to Be a Master‘s final episode is exactly what they intended.

Ash’s ending is the embodiment of what he has been all along: an unending adventure filtered through the wonder of a child. To try to change that now at the end would be to deny what Pokémon is and has always been. Whether fans see Ash again someday or not, he and Pikachu are still out there seeing new sights and learning new things, and that’s the idea that should live on in the minds of Pokémon fans everywhere.

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