Pokemon Journeys is bringing back more long-lost characters from the past, including Ash's greatest rival. Pokemon Journeys aired its new opening sequence in Japan today, which showcased teases about some upcoming episodes. The biggest reveal was the appearance of Gary Oak at the end of a montage showing various supporting cast members and rivals. Gary is shown clutching a Poke Ball and sporting his familiar smirk, suggesting that he'll be returning to his role as Ash's rival. Also appearing in the sequence is Iris, one of Ash's companions during Pokemon the Series: Best Wishes (which explored the Unova region), as well as Korrina, Bea, and Wikistrom, a member of the Kalos Elite Four. You can check out Gary's new look for the series below:
ライバルとして再びサトシの前に立ちはだかる…❓ pic.twitter.com/BTvR4xvHf2— アニメ「ポケットモンスター」公式 (@anipoke_PR) January 8, 2021
Gary Oak appeared as Ash's main rival for years, antagonizing Ash during the early part of his Pokemon journey. While Gary typically looked down on Ash and always seemed to be one step ahead of his rival, Ash placed higher than him in the Indigo League. During the Silver Conference, Ash and Gary faced off in an intense Full Battle, which Ash emerged victorious from. Gary and Ash buried the hatchet after that battle, with Gary retiring from being a Pokemon trainer and opting to become a researcher like his grandfather Professor Oak. Gary hasn't appeared in a Pokemon episode since Pokemon the Series: Diamond and Pearl, in which he helped Ash and his friends defeat Team Galactic.
While not nearly as iconic as Gary, Iris is another significant character from Ash's past. Iris was a Dragon-type trainer who followed Ash throughout the Unova region, picking up Pokemon like Axew, Dragonite, and Gible during her journey. Iris left Ash to continue her quest to become an expert Dragon-type trainer, which foreshadowed her eventual role as the champion of Unova's Pokemon League. We'll see if Ash encounters Iris during his Coronation League battle, as Ash is battling trainers from around the world to reach the Coronation Series' Master League and earn a full match with Leon, the currently ranked #1 trainer in the world.
Iris marks the second "companion" from a past series to appear in Pokemon Journeys. Ash and Goh previously visited Ash's friends in Alola, which gave fans a chance to catch up with many of the characters from Pokemon the Series: Sun and Moon, along with the Pokemon that Ash left behind in the Alola region.
Are you excited to see Gary and Iris return? Let us know in the comments section! If you enjoy talking about Pokemon, be sure to check out A Wild Podcast Has Appeared, ComicBook.com's weekly Pokemon podcast.