POKEMON HORIZONS Creatives Weigh In On Ash Ketchum’s Future Following Introduction Of New Female Lead

Pokémon is aiming for a fresh start with the launch of Pokémon Horizons: The Series and the spotlight has subsequently shifted to Liko and Roy, the franchise’s new leads in place of Ash Ketchum and Pikachu.

Liko and Roy are two wannabe Pokémon trainers who will be paired with Sprigatito, a grass kitten, and Fuecoco, a fiery crocodile, as they travel across the Paldea region (which gamers first visited in 2022’s Pokémon Scarlet and Violet). 

The decision to focus on a female lead has been predictably divisive, but many fans are in equal parts intrigued and excited to see what happens when these two cross paths with the Rising Volt Tacklers, a group who solve mysteries while catching Pokémon…alongside “Captain Pikachu.”

Variety (via Toonado.com) recently spoke with The Pokémon Company International executives Andy Gose, senior director of media production, and Taito Okiura, vice president of marketing, and asked why now was the right time to move on from Ash.

“Ash and Pikachu have had such a fantastic run, they’re so iconic and they’ve been the entry point for so many folks into the brand over the years,” Gose explains. “We’ve gotten that multi-generational effect where folks have grown up with them, and they’re sharing it with their kids, nephews and nieces.”

“We’ve grown with them, and it feels like there’s more world and more characters to explore. So 28 years in, it feels like why not meet some new folks in the world and experience the adventure of the ‘Pokémon’ world through a different lens?”

Okiura adds, “‘Pokémon’ kind of has a mandate: We evolve. I’m personally passionate about Ash and Pikachu; but that being said, over 28 years Pokémon has been evolving in multiple forms, including in a video game, a trading card game and other exciting new games.”

“Now there will be a possible opportunity for the animation field to evolve. We’re very excited to have this introduction with new protagonists, especially the female protagonist.”

Asked if we’ve really seen the last of Ash and his Pikachu, Gose noted, “We’ve said farewell. Ash is still in the world. Anything is possible, I suppose. In the world of Pokémon, there’s so many possibilities.”

Okiura shared similar sentiments when he said, “We hope Ash and Pikachu continue in their journey. Their journey is ongoing somewhere in the Pokémon world. It’s totally up to our fans’ imagination. For the time being, we would love to focus on the new story of the Liko and Roy. ‘Horizons’ invites a new beginning.”

Something tells us Liko and Roy will eventually cross paths with Asha and Pikachu, but for now, we’d say focusing on Pokémon Horizons: The Series‘ new leads is a smart move.

Pokémon Horizons: The Series is now streaming on Netflix in the U.S.