It’s amazing what can happen in the course of a couple of months. Almost a month to the day after I made my ‘Pokemon Ultimate Journeys Part 1′ Review, the team behind the anime revealed that Ash Ketchum would be moving on. Given what we now know will happen in this show, and the true “final episodes” that are airing right now in Japan, it makes sense.
Ash has done a lot in these 25 years of episodes, and it’s time for him to move on. But, that also puts a LOT of pressure on the final episodes of the main show to make his final accomplishment mean something. Thankfully, unlike the last batch, the show’s latest episodes shined more than they faded, as my ‘Pokemon Ultimate Journeys Part 2’ Review will reveal.
Let’s start with the elephant in the room. In my last review, I noted that almost every episode was filler, which I hated. Thankfully, only two episodes in this latest set were filler, and only one of them was cringe. I’m looking at you, Team Rocket Podcast episode! Seriously, there was so much wrong there. But I digress.
Easily the best overall arc of this set was Ash finally getting into the Masters 8 of the World Coronation Series. They ensured that it was Ash’s focus in meaningful ways while also making the final battles to get into the group, meaningful. The battles with Drasna and Raihan were fun, and Ash had to earn his victories both times, which I enjoyed. Furthermore, multiple episodes showed Ash and his Pokemon getting stronger in meaningful ways, while not feeling repetitive. That included a long-awaited reunion with Greninja so that Lucario could get stronger. It was pretty cool and had a big payoff in the Raihan fight.
I’ll get to the actual Masters 8 fights later, and not for the reason you think. But I have to admit, seeing all the main champions we (and Ash) have met over the past eight generations, along with the OC character Alain all being in one tournament is a cool feeling, and they did get to show off their personalities in meaningful ways with the time we had them in this batch.
Another highlight was the various reunions we had. Clemont, Bonnie, Greninja, Serena, Paul, and the Alola crew (whom I’ll talk about in a sec) all shined here. Granted, many, MANY fans aren’t going to be happy that Serena and Ash only had a very light reunion, given the canon kiss they had at the end of XYZ (still a highlight of the franchise for many fans, including me), but maybe they’re setting something up in Ash’s final episodes. We’ll find out soon enough. But it was great seeing Serena inspiring Chloe, much like Ash inspired Serena once upon a time. Plus, her showing the “Path of Eevee” to Chloe was a nice touch.
I was even surprised by how they handled Paul. He’s still a jerk, but he’s mellowed out a little since we saw him in Sinnoh, and it was good to see him want to repay Ash by helping him get ready for the Masters 8.
Without a doubt, the highlight of the set was the two-part Alola arc that featured, by and large, some of the best storytelling the franchise has ever done. I talked about it on the Nintendo Entertainment Podcast recently, but I must discuss it again here.
First, there was “The Homecoming Crown,” which pulled off an epic fakeout by sending Ash and crew to the Crown Tundra…only to swerve and reveal that Lillie, Gladeon, and Lusamine were also heading there to find their missing family member! What unfolds is a heartwrenching story that takes multiple twists involving an Ultra Beast and how it saved Mohn from the Ultra Wormhole he fell through. There’s a moment when Mohn finally remembers who he is and says his wife’s name for the first time, and Lusamine breaks down into tears…and I was right there with her! THIS is the kind of storytelling that shows such as this should do more often. They didn’t patronize the fans. Instead, they told a deep and meaningful story about a broken family and how they were finally made whole again. It was beautiful and easily one of the best episodes the franchise has EVER done. Period.
Then, they followed it up with everyone welcoming Mohn back to Alola and then focusing on Ash by having his Alola family build him up for the Masters 8. While the Alola days weren’t flawless, giving Ash a new “family” was welcome and deserved, and unlike the original Alola reunion, this one hit all the right notes and beats to make it meaningful. That included Ash being with the family he adored and the region that is a second home to him. I wouldn’t be mad if the final episode was him living in Alola with Professor Kukui, Burnet, and his “little brother” because of how much they mean to him. It would be a fun ending…just saying.
And now, it’s time in my Pokemon Ultimate Journeys Part 2 Review to get to the negative stuff…but it is much less than last time. So that’s a positive!
Not surprisingly, much of it has to do with Goh. We’re finally reaching the end of the “Project Mew” arc, and it still isn’t as fulfilling as it should be. There were two episodes of that in this batch, and both of them were odd in various forms, such as in the first one, where Goh loses a challenge even though he was handed a victory. Long story short, he demanded things continue, and it backfired on him…and then he seemed to regret his decision instead of “learning the lesson” from it. Then, when Gary returned, and he was forced to team with him, it had a predictable ending and even more predictable backtracking to try and make Goh and Gary seem like the same person. Even though they’re not. It also didn’t help that we knew Goh would make it into the Chasers (even without spoilers), so it removed much of the drama.
Oh, and I’m officially numb to Goh’s battling and catching “ability.” It’s annoying, so I’ll move on.
Ironically, another down point was the first three matches in the Masters 8. I remember being on Twitter when they aired in Japan and people talking about the quality of the matches. But I felt they were exaggerating their displeasure. Sadly, they were right. Remember, these are the best Pokemon trainers in the WORLD, which means their Pokemon are the best of the best…and yet many of them performed moves that one-shot others despite their high levels, or their trainers didn’t even tell them to dodge in key situations. To be fair, Lance/Diantha and Iris/Cynthia did have great moments and beats, but some of the oddities countered it throughout the fights. And Alain vs. Leon was very frustrating, given how quickly Leon defeated Alain. He didn’t even need his third Pokemon. Yes, Leon is “the best,” but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t show him having good battles as he wins.
And the ending of the batch right before Ash’s first battle? Yeah, that was mean.
Still, even with that, I hope this Pokemon Ultimate Journeys Part 2 Review shows that this was the right mix of episodes to send the series into its final beat. With Project Mew and the Masters 8 now the focus, I’m eagerly awaiting the next batch so I can see Ash off in style.
Pokemon Ultimate Journeys Part 2 Review
Pokemon Ultimate Journeys Part 2 made up for what the first part did and showcased Ash and many of his allies in a positive light. With less filler and more focus, plus some beautiful stories, this is a set of episodes you can’t miss!