A Japanese ad may have spoiled a major milestone for Pokemon anime protagonist Ash Ketchum.
Earlier this week, the toy manufacturer TOMY released a new ad promoting a new Z-Ring toy that ties into the upcoming Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon games. When fitted with a Z-Crystal, Pokemon trainers can use their Z-Ring to activate their Pokemon's Z-Move, a supercharged move that can only be used once per battle.
The ad showed several characters from Pokemon the Series: Sun and Moon, along with their partner Pokemon, to promote some of the new Z-Crystal toys coming out in November. The Water-type trainer Lana was shown with her Popplio, the Fire-type trainer Kiawe had his Turtonator, and Ash's new rival Gladion was shown with his Lycanroc.
But the shocking thing about the ad was that Ash's partner was Solgaleo instead of his usual partner Pikachu.
The obvious explanation for the ad is that it's simply pairing up the anime's most popular character (Ash) with one of the Pokemon that gets a Z-Crystal in Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon. However, Ash partnering with Solgaleo does seem to line up with recent events in the anime.
In last week's episode of Pokemon the Series: Sun and Moon, Ash found a Cosmog sleeping in the woods. While he didn't catch the strange Pokemon, he did befriend it and brought it home with him. The Cosmog (who was named Nebby by one of his classmates) took a liking to Ash and seems content with sleeping in Ash's bag and enjoying the company of Ash and his Pokemon.
In the most recent episode that aired yesterday, we even saw Nebby find his way back to Ash after the two got separated due to the bond the two seemed to share.
Of course, for those who are familiar with Pokemon Sun and Moon, Nebby eventually evolves into either Solgaleo or Lunala, one of the three major Legendary Pokemon of the Alola region. In the Pokemon games, Nebby bonds with a girl named Lillie, but eventually is caught by the player character when it evolves into its final form.
If the Pokemon anime is loosely following the games, Nebby will eventually evolve into either Solgaleo or Lunala, and it looks like Ash could actually befriend or even possibly catch a Legendary Pokemon for the very first time.
Thanks to the Pokemon movies, Ash has interacted with most of the world's Legendary Pokemon. However, while he's battled against (or occasionally alongside) different powerful Pokemon, the anime has largely shied away from actually giving Ash uber-powerful Pokemon.
However, recent seasons have loosened that rule a bit. In Pokemon the Series: Black and White, Ash and his friends befriended a Meloetta that traveled with them for several episodes. In Pokemon the Series: XY & Z, Ash's companion Bonnie befriended a Zygarde core that traveled with Ash for most of the season. While Zygarde largely used Ash and his friends to protect it from Team Flare, it eventually revealed its true form and fought alongside Ash to stop Team Flare from destroying Luminose City.
Ash also caught a Froakie in Pokemon the Series: XY that eventually evolved into a Greninja that could temporarily gain a Mega Evolution-esque form that put it on par with other Legendary Pokemon.
However, if Nebby does evolve into Solgaleo, this could be the first time that Ash actually battles with a Legendary Pokemon in the anime series. And teaming up with Solgaleo could explain why Ash's Pokemon team in Pokemon the Series: Sun and Moon only has five Pokemon, since the anime's showrunners want to hold a slot for Solgaleo's eventual appearance.
We'll have to see whether Ash finally achieves an important milestone in his Pokemon journey. Catching and using a Legendary Pokemon is considered a rare feat in the Pokemon anime and it would be a sure sign that Ash is well on his way to becoming a Pokemon master.