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Pokémon fans say goodbye to show's Ash Ketchum


JASON PAIGE: (Singing) I want to be the very best...


For a generation of kids around the world, "Pokemon," the Japanese anime series about cute little pocket monsters, became more than just another cartoon. Kids grew up trading Pokemon cards at recess, playing it on Nintendo, munching on Pokemon cereal while cuddling a Pokemon plushie in their favorite Pokemon T-shirt - and, of course, all the while, watching the beloved anime TV series. And for millions of children, the star at the heart of the series was 10-year-old Ash Ketchum, along with, of course, his trusty sidekick, Pikachu.


IKUE OTANI: (As Pikachu) Pikachu.

STUART ZAGNIT: (As Professor Oak) Its name is Pikachu.

VERONICA TAYLOR: (As Ash Ketchum) Oh, it's so cute. It's the best of all.

DETROW: The show chronicled Ash's adventures as he acquires Pokemon creatures and trains them for battles on his quest to become a Pokemon master. That quest took a long time to complete - 25 years - but Ash never lost his optimism. And that's what many fans remember.

LUKAS EGGEN: Hi. My name is LuKas Eggen. I am from Las Vegas, Nev., and I watched right from Season 1. I was 8 or 9 at the time when it first started airing. Like, it hooked its claws in me.

ROCHELLE VOELKEL: My name is Rochelle Voelkel, and I am from Milwaukee, Wis. So I was super little. I remember the episode "Bye, Bye Butterfree," where, in the anime, Ash's Pokemon Butterfree finds a mate. It was adorable. Ash ends up letting Butterfree go to live his life with his mate, and that was the first time I ever cried to a TV show.

JAVIER DE LA VEGA: My name is Javier de la Vega. I live in Washington, D.C. So I began watching "Pokemon" when I was a kid. You know, within the first episode, you know, Pikachu gets hurt, and it was a very emotional first episode as, like, an 8 year old to be like, I'm about to go to school. And then you're hit with this emotional, like, start to the journey of, like - you see Ash, who's, like, this really kindhearted kid. And I remember being really influenced of, like, how important that was to sort of see that.

ABBEY RICHARDS: My name is Abbey Richards. I'm from Florida. And Ash was always inspirational. He didn't get his goal right away, or he saw somebody who trained in a different way. He was able to readjust his outlook and learn from that.

WILSON TRUONG: My name is Wilson Truong. I am from Saint Louis, Mo. And I think the biggest thing I've learned from watching Ash Ketchum all these years was just be good to people around you from not even friends, family, even your rivals, even the ones that you might not ever have a good relationship with.

EGGEN: Each defeat was such a crushing defeat in the moment, but that didn't stop him from trying. He still attacked it with the same enthusiasm. That's something that, as I've gotten older, I realized I always admired and respected about him and that I've tried to carry over that no matter what, if life kind of knocks you down, try and just get up, attack it with the same zeal, and one day it'll work out.

DE LA VEGA: I think it was cool to see that perseverance. It was important to learn that as a little kid.

VOELKEL: So at a young age, this basically taught me that even if you fail, you can always keep trying and you can always succeed, no matter how many times you fail.

TRUONG: Ash was pretty much the embodiment of what every kid in elementary school wanted to be. And it was something that every kid wanted was to travel and see the world.

EGGEN: It's a hard goodbye. It's kind of like saying goodbye to a friend. As painful as it is for me to see Ash go, it seems really amazing to me that a new generation of fans are going to get their own Ash, so to speak, and go on a journey, hopefully just as long for them as this one was.

DETROW: For the Pokemon fans out there and the new ones in the making. don't worry. There will be two new main characters to love and, of course, plenty more Pokemon creatures to catch.


PAIGE: (Singing) Pokemon. Got to catch them all. Oh, it's you and me. I know it's my destiny. Oh, you're my best friend in a world we must defend. Pokemon. Got to catch them all. A heart so true, our courage will pull us through. You teach me, and I'll teach you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Gurjit Kaur
Gurjit Kaur is a producer for NPR's All Things Considered. A pop culture nerd, her work primarily focuses on television, film and music.
Scott Detrow is a White House correspondent for NPR and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast.