Pokemon has spent years following Ash Ketchum as he's worked to become the very best like no one ever was. The anime got its start decades ago in Japan, but its U.S. run is responsible for turning the franchise into an unstoppable phenomenon in the West. Now, fans of the anime are gathering to celebrate the show's most recent anniversary, and it is a big milestone for U.S. viewers.
After all, Pokemon is old enough to drink legally now, but there's no way Ash is getting into a bar without being carded. The kid's cursed looks have made him into an eternal pre-teen.
For those who don't know, the Pokemon anime made its stateside debut just over 21 years ago now. The show went live on September 7, 1998, and fans were eager to see what "Pokemon - I Choose You" had in store.
The first episode kicked off the story Pokemon fans know and love. Ash Ketchum greets fans on the day he sets out to begin his Pokemon journey, but his late arrival to Professor Oak's home leaves him unsure with a Pikachu at this side. Way back when, the pair did not get along too well, but Pokemon made sure the pair were friendly before too long. But for those unaware, this first episode was not the first Pokemon episode screened in the United States.
It turns out that honor went to "Battle Aboard the St. Anne". As Kotaku explains, the 15th episode of Pokemon season one was the first aired in the U.S. with "Pokemon - I Choose You" following after on September 8. The anime continued with its dubbed domination from there on out, and the show has yet to quit. Even today, fans can catch English episodes of Pokemon: Sun and Moon on delay from Japan, so it has never been easier to keep up with Ash.
After 21 years, Pokemon has become a true franchise staple not only in the U.S. but around the world. The Pokemon Company ranks as one of the highest-grossing global franchises given its successful ventures and loyal fandom. In 2019 alone, Pokemon put out its first live-action film and an all-new anime movie; It still has plans to release its next video games this fall, so the franchise is thriving nowdays. And if Pokemon has anything to say, it is that Ash is going to hit some more birthday milestones before long.
Did you realize Pokemon was this old? Let me know in the comments or hit me up on Twitter @MeganPetersCB to talk all things comics and anime!