Pokémon Anime Series Celebrates Massive Anniversary Milestone

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There truly is no other anomalous phenomenon quite like Pokémon. Since its humble beginnings with Pokémon Red and Blue released for Nintendo’s Game Boy all the way back in 1996, developer Game Freak has remained behind the franchise wheel, releasing critical and commercial hit one after the other. But the mainline games, despite being an integral component of Pokémon‘s fame, are but part of a whole that contributes to its global appeal. Another core pillar that continues to attract audiences in their millions two decades on is the ongoing anime series.

Starring Ash Ketchum (and his best friend Pikachu) and charting his quest to become a Pokémon Master, the series, today, celebrates its 22nd anniversary in Japan, having aired its first episode all the way back on April 1st, 1997. To put that long-running success into a greater sense of perspective, more than 1,000 individual episodes and 20 theatrical films have aired on various networks and in movie theatres since its debut, making Ash and his exhaustive list of companions some of the longest-lasting stars ever.

The mastermind behind encyclopedic Pokémon website Serebii.net, Joe Merrick took to Twitter in order to make note of the big day and the series’ subsequent achievements.

Will the anime series still be documenting Ash’s journey another two decades from now? Who knows, but given Game Freak’s continued success with the mainline titles, it’s tough to imagine either one existing without the other. Off the back of 2016’s hugely successful Pokémon Sun and Moon (and their subsequent sequels), Game Freak confirmed that any future games in the series would leave Nintendo’s handheld 3DS behind and instead make the ambitious jump to the Big N’s hybrid Switch console.

Since then, fans have been left to speculate what shape such titles would take on a more powerful console, though, in light of Pokémon Sword and Shield‘s announcement earlier this year, we know exactly what’s in-store. Scheduled to launch in Late 2019, the eighth generation of Pokémon games will whisk Trainers off to the UK-inspired Galar Region, where never before seen critters such as these will be doing their best to avoid being nabbed by a Poké Ball.

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