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Is the New Pokemon Anime Worth Watching Without Ash?

Is the New Pokemon Anime Worth Watching Without Ash?

In 2023, we all saw the end of Ash’s Pokemon journey. After 27 years, we saw him grow (character-wise, since he’s perpetually 10 years old), finally win a tournament, and be the very best he could be.

But that’s not where the journey of the Pokemon animated series ends. It now continues with a new story with new protagonists!

Titled Pokemon Horizons: The Series, it first aired in Japan last April 14, 2023, with its English dub set to air in the United States in February 2024.

But for those nostalgic about Ash, Pikachu, and Team Rocket, you might wonder if this new show is worth it. Here’s our breakdown of whether the new Pokemon anime is worth watching!

It Has a Male and Female Duo As Protagonists

Roy and Liko, the Protagonists of Pokemon Horizons
Source: The Pokemon Company / Bulbapedia

In this new Pokemon anime, you don’t just get one protagonist to replace Ash—you get two!

Liko and Roy are the two new main protagonists of the show.

However, they’re not childhood friends, classmates, or rivals. And unlike Ash, they didn’t immediately set out on a journey the moment they turned 10 years old.

These two prioritized their education. Liko transfers to her new school, while Roy remotely does online school.

Their fates only crossed paths because of a mysterious pendant, an ancient Poke Ball, and a legendary trainer.

So if you’re tired of Ash or want a new story from the perspectives of two new main characters, this show is worth a try!

But if you’re a fan of Ash and Team Rocket, better not hold your breath for a surprise appearance from them. Right now, the team behind Horizons has made no indications that past main characters will show up.

It Features Charizard and Pikachu Again

Pikachu on Charizard's head
Source: The Pokemon Company / Bulbapedia

The show might have a new cast of human characters, but two of its main Pokemon cast are Pikachu and Charizard…again!

As Pokemon’s main mascot, it was already expected that they’d try to insert Pikachu one way or another.

But unlike Ash’s Pikachu, this Pikachu isn’t partnered with the two new protagonists. Nope, this Pikachu is a ship captain!

Charizard, together with Captain Pikachu, is partnered with the professor of the series, Friede. Charizard flies the professor around and acts as a leader to the rest of the ship’s Pokemon.

This is a win for Pikachu and Charizard fans. We can’t deny that Pikachu is cute and Charizard is cool. And in this new Pokemon series, it seems like we’ll see a different side of them.

It’s understandable Pokemon fans are tired of seeing these two front and center all the time, though.

We don’t hate Charizard or Pikachu, but it would be nice to see other Pokemon get the spotlight too.

It Gets Both a Creative Director and an Action Director

Pikachu attacking Ceruledge
Source: The Pokemon Company / Bulbapedia

A first for a Pokemon animated series, Pokemon Horizons gets a Creative Director and a separate Action Director.

This means the show now has someone focused on making battles and fights look even cooler!

With an Action Director, Pokemon battles can be better choreographed with action-packed animated sequences.

The Action Director for Pokemon Horizons is Tetsuo Yajima.

Some of his previous works include being a Storyboarder and Director for the Pokemon X, Y, and Z series, doing major work for the 23rd Pokemon movie: Secrets of the Jungle, and being a Storyboarder and Director for a few episodes in Hunter x Hunter.

Meanwhile, the Creative Director is Daiki Tomiyasu.

He was the Chief Director for Pokemon Journeys, the Director for Sun and Moon series, and worked on the Inazuma Eleven anime, among other things.

It’s Focused on a Lore-Heavy Story Than Pokemon Battles and Tournaments

Loki with a massive Arboliva
Source: The Pokemon Company / Bulbapedia

The previous Pokemon anime with Ash had a simple premise: boy wants to be a Pokemon Master and heads out on a journey with his friends. He battles other trainers to earn experience and badges and catches Pokemon along the way.

That simplicity has earned its place in the hearts of many fans. It’s nostalgic and something we relate to after playing the Pokemon games. However, Horizons seems to be changing the anime’s formula this time.

Our protagonists are immediately plunged into a lore-heavy story where they have to figure out the mystery of their items and their connection to them. Their travels mostly consist of finding the truth about these artifacts.

They also have a huge supporting cast—from a whole airship crew to a new antagonistic organization. But unlike Team Rocket, this new organization has more members shown in the spotlight.

So no more traveling from one city to another for gym battles, no more traveling with only a couple of friends, and no more comic relief trio villains. Pokemon tournaments also have taken a backseat.

If you like the mystery side of things, you might enjoy this direction. But if you’re a purist when it comes to Pokemon anime, you’ll miss the Gym Leaders and Ash’s fight for the championship.

It Looks Good and Has an Action-Packed Animation

Black Rayquaza from Pokemon Horizons
Source: The Pokemon Company / Bulbapedia

Despite the new anime focusing more on its story rather than tournaments, you’ll still get action-packed scenes in the battles it has.

Pokemon Horizons also gets an advantage in art style and animation for being the newest Pokemon anime on the block. It has a modern look but is not as jarring and different as Sun and Moon’s sudden shift in style.

Its character design seems a bit different too, but without distancing itself too much from the usual Pokemon anime look. It has noticeably more details and pops of color for their hair.

And because the show now has an Action Director, we can expect more action-y goodness!

It Does Another World Tour and Won’t Just Focus on One Region

Loki and Roy with Sprigatito, Terapagos and Fuecoco
Source: The Pokemon Company / Bulbapedia

Similar to Pokemon Journeys, Horizons won’t just stay in one region.

So far, the characters have been to Kanto, Galar, and Paldea, and will probably do more stops in other Pokemon regions.

Seeing other regions, especially in this modern anime style, is always a treat. It gives a cohesive feel to its world and makes it seem like it’s one big Poke-universe.

However, some fans have expressed that they miss how Ash’s journey focused on one region at a time. It gave enough time for the region to showcase all of its iconic cities, towns, and culture.

The quick trips in Horizons might not feel like it’s enough. But since the anime is new and is still trying to find its footing, we’ll see where this direction leads.


Tuesday 16th of January 2024

I'll miss Jessie, James and Meowth for sure. Can't wait to see clips of this show creep into my social media :D Great breakdown!

Dawn Lim

Thursday 18th of January 2024

Thank you, Aj! And make that double! We'll also miss the iconic Team Rocket trio too. T_T