Congratulations! Ash Ketchum Has Finally Become The World's Greatest Pokémon Trainer

He's been 10 years old for 25 years, but Ash Ketchum is finally the very best, like no one ever was. After 25 years of heartbreak after heartbreak, the latest episode of "Pokémon Ultimate Journeys: The Series" that aired in Japan today, titled "The Finals IV: Partner," finally showed Ash emerge victorious in the Masters Eight Tournament of the Pokémon World Coronation Series. 

Anime is full of underdog stories, whether in sports shows like "Hajime no Ippo" where the thrill is watching a newcomer rise to the top, or in action shows where we follow a young boy hone his skills, gain huge power, and take on the world despite insurmountable odds. When it comes to "Pokémon," however, the 25-year-old franchise has not followed traditional underdog tropes. Instead, the anime has properly prepared kids for the disappointments of the real world. The show teaches that no matter how much you train or how much you want to succeed, you may not win the first time, or the second, or the third, or even the fifth, but if you persevere you may eventually accomplish your goals — even if it takes decades. This is the anime phenomenon that dared show its protagonist lose the big Kanto League tournament in the first season, only to subvert the "Rocky II" expectation of a comeback victory by only having Ash advance one more elimination round in the season 2 Johto League tournament before losing again.

Granted, Ash had already seen a victory. After two decades, the young trainer finally won the Pokémon League in the Alola region, his first such victory in the history of the show, during 2019's "Pokémon the Series: Sun & Moon." But now, after defeating Leon in the World Coronation Series, Ash has finally become a true Pokémon Master.

Gotta catch 'em all!

It was a battle for the ages, one that showcases how much the "Pokémon" anime has evolved in the past 25 years. Not just a commercial for the games and the toys, "Pokémon Journeys" now has legitimately good animation, and battle scenes that are as thrilling as those in other anime shows like "One Piece." The fateful battle between the pre-pubescent boy from Pallet Town and Leon (from "Pokémon Sword and Shield") was one for the ages, with Ash being left only with (you guessed it) Pikachu, fighting against Leon's Charizard. 

In a moving, touching, tear-jerking moment, Pikachu gains the strength to beat Charizard with the spiritual help of all of Ash's Pokémon, as we see the return of every single Pokémon the young boy has ever trained, including Butterfree, Pidgeot, and even Primape. That gives Pikachu the strength necessary to launch one final attack, all while the original Japanese theme song played, to beat Charizard and take the win.

And with that, Ash is finally a Pokémon Master, the best trainer there is — but now what? The final episode of this current series, set to air in Japan in a couple of weeks, is titled "Pokémon! I'm Glad I Got to Meet You!" a clear play on the title of the very first episode of the anime, 1997's "Pokémon – I Choose You!" This has led fans to speculate if that episode will mark the end of Ash (or Satoshi, in Japanese) as the anime's protagonist, the end of his partnership with the iconic Pikachu, or even the end of the long-running "Pokémon" anime. Either option is completely heartbreaking, but at least Ash is going out on a tremendous high.