It's taken more than two decades, but Pokémon trainer Ash Ketchum has finally won a Pokémon league.
As of the latest episode to air in Japan, Ash is the first place winner of the Alola league and at last is a Pokémon champion.
Even Ash is stunned at his win:
Ash coming close but ultimately failing to beat each region's league has become a recurring theme throughout the anime, which has now aired nearly 1100 episodes.
It's been part of Ash's relatable nature - this saga's hero finishing close to the top but not becoming best of the best. But, after 22 years, and unlike Ash himself, it's grown old.
Over the course of his journey Ash has formed a unique bond with his partner Pokémon, travelled the world, fought in seven regional leagues, met pretty much every legendary and mythical creature in the Pokédex and beaten Team Rocket hundreds of times.
So there has been frustration among fans when Ash, despite his legendary deeds, was still unable to win.
And now he has! Fans are very happy:
Ash Ketchum has been a part of millions of lives & while many stop watching the Pokémon anime Ash continued to be a role model trainer for new generations. He's lost every Pokémon League to teach children it's ok to lose & today he finally won. What a day to be a Pokémon fan :) pic.twitter.com/Gzbf9j08N9— Aero (@ActualAero) September 15, 2019
As is Pokémon game head honcho Junichi Masuda:
??????— ????@GAME FREAK inc. (@Junichi_Masuda) September 15, 2019
Ash's original voice actress also offered congratulations:
Congratulations to Ash Ketchum on winning the Pokémon League from Ash?s ?younger? self, circa 1998...yup, hard work, determination, good friends, and a bit of luck pay off! #pokemon #ashketchum #winning pic.twitter.com/JhgRcGJBEy— Veronica Taylor (@TheVeronicaT) September 15, 2019
Ash's win comes ahead of a big shift for the series - to the region of Galar, the setting of upcoming Nintendo Switch games Pokémon Sword and Shield. Full details on the first Galar anime season will come later this month, but The Pokémon Company has already suggested the show will be making some changes.
All regions will be featured in the series, not just Galar, the company has said - leading to speculation among fans that Ash may take more of a background role. With his journey to become a Pokémon master now complete, is this the end of Ash as the anime's hero? To be continued...