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Pokémon animated series saying goodbye to Ash Ketchum and Pikachu after 25 years

After 25 years of following Ash Ketchum and his electric pal Pikachu, Pokémon has announced their adventure will be coming to an end in 2023. Following an 11-episode story arc focused on the pair, the popular animated franchise will continue with a focus on new characters, according to a video announcement.

The first of the final 11 episodes of "Pokémon Ultimate Journeys: The Series" focusing on Ash and Pikachu's journey will air in Japan on January 13, 2023. While the iconic duo's journey is in its final chapter, fans will have new characters and Pokémon to follow. 

The show's Twitter account teased an "all-new" series and showed what appeared to be two new characters and three "starter Pokémon."

The announcement came as a surprise to fans worldwide.

Sarah Natochenny, who has been the English voice actor playing Ash for the last 17 years, wrote a farewell message that read in part: "No matter what lies beyond his final chapter, he'll live forever in the hearts of many generations to come. I'll keep him present for all of us in every way I can."

Veronica Taylor, who supplied the original English voices of Ash and several other characters until 2006, wrote that she was "surprised" by the announcement and that it marked an end to a "joyful era."

"An incredible 25 year journey like no other! This is truly the end of a very joyful era. Ash and Pikachu are the heart of Pokémon. Ash may not age, but we have all grown up with their friendship and adventures," she wrote.

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