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Pokémon Ultimate Journeys: The Series

Pokemon Ultimate Journeys season 1

Credits

Cast

Network

Reviewer

Kennedy Unthank

TV Series Review

Decades ago, Ash Ketchum set out into the world to become “the very best, like no one ever was.” He’s certainly done a lot—much of which just might merit such a title. But there’s nothing official in the books.

Yet.

The Masters Eight Tournament approaches—in which the top eight Pokémon trainers battle it out to be crowned the strongest Pokémon trainer in the world. But he faces a couple of issues: First, Ash needs to secure a spot in the top eight. Second, he needs to win it. That second point includes battling Leon, who just so happens to be the current top-ranked trainer.

In pursuit of accomplishing that goal (and fulfilling the first line of his catchy song), Ash must maximize the strength of his team. And that’ll be no small feat, indeed. But Ash knows the title is his destiny, and he will battle every day to claim his rightful place.

25 Years in the Making

Ash Ketchum has been on the road for 25 years and 25 seasons, and little has changed. He’s still 10 years old. Pikachu still hangs out, perched on his shoulder. And though friends have come and gone, Ash is always sure to have a new friend or two with which to bond.

Through the years, Ash and Pikachu have been the faces of the Pokémon franchise since their introduction in the first episode of the show, released back in 1997. That makes Ash Ketchum older than me.

Pokémon Ultimate Journeys stands as Ash’s final voyage with the franchise, which will continue on without him in later seasons. The series acts as a sort of victory lap for the boy, bringing back many of the familiar faces Ash has encountered (and typically, befriended) along the way. That means that with its final episodes, Ultimate Journeys will be the end of an iconic era, one that the Pokémon industrial complex hopes branches into an equally memorable new one.

Pokémon, for its part, has always been a tamer watch compared to other animated shows, and the same is true with this one, too. However, we need to offer a word of caution based on some Eastern spiritual messages in Ultimate Journeys. Specifically, we’ll hear some ideas of “becoming one with Pokémon” and how our “aura connects us to everything.” A few episodes, including the series’ premiere, deal with some ghost Pokémon who cause trouble, and one of whose trapped spirits even briefly take over Ash’s body. And while the Internet is rife with speculation that Ash’s male friend Goh is attracted to him, the show has done nothing to confirm it.

Generally though, Ultimate Journeys offers much of what a viewer might expect from a not-so-ultimate Pokémon journey. If you’ve watched previous entries, this one likely won’t introduce anything different than what you’ve seen before.

The biggest concern? Just make sure the kids don’t feel inspired to head outside and start trying to catch a squirrel or something. Some critters are best left uncaught.

Episode Reviews

Oct. 21, 2022 – S1, Ep1: “The Spectral Express!”

Ash bumps into a boy wearing a strange mask, and he rushes after him to return his dropped train ticket. But when Ash hops onto the boy’s passenger car, he soon finds himself aboard a strange, spooky Ghost Train.

Ash puts his hand on a statue, and a strange spectral light absorbs into him, causing his face to grow spooky. We find out that he’s possessed by an evil spirit, and the real Ash can only watch from his own subconscious. The spirit comes from one of the 108 said to make up Spiritomb, a ghost Pokémon. In order to excommunicate the spirit, the boy in the mask asks Pokémon Sinistea to pour its tea into Ash’s mouth. Sinistea is able to “drain one’s life force” by pouring its “terrible tea” into someone’s mouth, and they’re confident that such a procedure will only expel the spirit rather than Ash’s (and it does).

Another Pokémon is said to grab the hands of children to guide them to the ghost world (but because the Pokémon is so light, it usually gets dragged around instead). The episode ends on a spooky note: “Maybe even you, like Ash and Goh, might someday mistakenly climb aboard,” we’re told.

Ash pushes his friend Goh down. Pikachu zaps Ash and Goh. Ash is hit on the head by a falling branch.

Feb. 24, 2023 – S1, Ep27: “The Fiery Road to Mastership!”

Ash and friends cheer on a fellow competitor in the Masters Eight Tournament as Ash also prepares for his own battle.

Pokémon are hit with a variety of moves, some of which knock them out. One Pokémon is called the “spirit of water.” One of the contenders “becomes one” with Pokémon, speaking to the creature with her mind.

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kennedy-unthank
Kennedy Unthank

Kennedy Unthank studied journalism at the University of Missouri. He knew he wanted to write for a living when he won a contest for “best fantasy story” while in the 4th grade. What he didn’t know at the time, however, was that he was the only person to submit a story. Regardless, the seed was planted. Kennedy collects and plays board games in his free time, and he loves to talk about biblical apologetics. He doesn’t think the ending of Lost was “that bad.”

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