The Pokémon Company has announced that Ash and Pikachu, the longtime protagonists of the Pokémon anime, are officially getting their walk into the sunset moment at the end of the current season. Liko and Roy, two new characters accompanied by Sprigatito, Fuecoco, and Quaxly, will take their place later this year. As such, some longtime fans naturally may want to relive treasured memories or catch up on seasons they’ve missed before we bid Ash farewell. The trouble is, the Pokémon anime isn’t well aggregated, and finding the episode or season you want can be a challenge. Let us help you out.
Which seasons are which?
The Pokémon anime is 25 seasons long, which may sound like a lot, but when you divide them up with their corresponding games and regions, it becomes much more simple to keep track of.
- Seasons 1-2, Pokémon Red and Blue/Kanto
- Seasons 3-5, Pokémon Gold and Silver/Johto
- Seasons 6-9, Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire/Hoenn
- Seasons 10-13, Pokémon Diamond and Pearl/Sinnoh
- Seasons 14-16, Pokémon Black and White/Unova
- Seasons 17-19, Pokémon X and Y/Kalos
- Seasons 20-22, Pokémon Sun and Moon/Alola
- Seasons 23-25 Pokémon Sword and Shield/Galar (this season is set in a lot of different places, but Galar is central to overarching stories)
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The free option for frugal fans
At the moment, the Pokémon anime is most readily available in three places: Netflix, Prime Video, and the Pokémon TV app. However, none of these has all 1000+ episodes of the long-running show. The Pokémon TV app is the best place to start, and that’s because, unlike Netflix and Prime Video, it’s a free service. You can download the app on your phone or tablet through both the iOS and Android app stores, but if you want to watch the show on a TV there are options there, too. Pokémon TV is available on set-top boxes like Roku, Apple TV, Fire TV, and Android TV devices. But if you want to keep Nintendo shows in the Nintendo family, it’s also available on the Switch eShop, which is another perk Pokémon TV has over Netflix.
Where things get complicated is starting with the third season, as Pokémon TV doesn’t have every episode of Pokémon as part of its service. It has the first two seasons, which will take you all the way through Ash and Pikachu’s journeys through Kanto and the Orange Islands. However, Pokémon TV is missing a whopping seven seasons between season two and season 10, which takes place in the Sinnoh region and focuses on Pokémon from Diamond and Pearl. This means it skips over the entirety of the show’s Hoenn and Sinnoh arcs, and there’s more skips to come as we keep going. And those aren’t the only missing seasons there are to contend with. In total, Pokémon TV app has 10 out of the show’s 25 seasons broken up into three distinct blocks: 1-2, 10-12, 20-24.
Pokémon TV still has the first 112 episodes, so there’s a lot to watch for free before you start dealing with any missing seasons or need to consider paying for a subscription. Because it offers a fair bit of the show for free, it’s the best option for the seasons it has, as you’ll have enough episodes to watch that you should be safe canceling a subscription for a different service while you catch up to the next missing season. So while you can’t see everything, it’s still a good, officially supported alternative to other services for the seasons it has.
The one-stop shop
In terms of episode selection, Prime Video has the biggest catalog of Pokémon episodes, but is also the most costly. The first 22 seasons are all available on Amazon, and most of them come as part of a Prime Video subscription. There are a few exceptions, with seasons 6-13 needing to be bought outright rather than coming as part of the service. Notably, half of those are available for free on Pokémon TV, as of this writing.
Seasons 16 through 19, which cover Ash and Pikachu’s journey through the Kalos region, have an extra wrinkle to this. They can be bought outright, or you can add $2.99 USD a month to your Prime subscription to gain access to them through paying for Prime’s Pokémon channel, which gives you access to these seasons. It’s a weird detour, but if you marathon these seasons within a month you should be able to cancel that additional subscription quickly.
Prime Video has seasons 20, 21, and 22 as well, but those are also freely available on Pokémon TV, so you don’t need to maintain a subscription to watch those.
Netflix’s exclusivity rights
When it comes to the most recent episodes of Pokémon, Netflix has some exclusive streaming rights that put it ahead of the Pokémon TV app. Seasons 23-25 first aired in English through Netflix, and that’s still the arrangement The Pokémon Company has today. That being said, some of these episodes are available on Pokémon TV, which means if you’re without a Netflix subscription, you won’t need one until the most recent episodes. As of this writing, Pokémon TV has up to the first six episodes of season 24, with Netflix having exclusive streaming rights of the remainder of the season and the first 12 episodes of season 25. The service rolls out new episodes quarterly, with Pokémon TV getting these episodes sometime later. So, Netflix is always slightly ahead of its free alternative.
Bringing the big screen to the small screen
While much of Ash and Pikachu’s adventures aired on television, the duo has also starred in over 20 movies over the years. Almost all of these are available through Amazon Prime. Some are available as part of a Prime subscription, while others require a rental or purchase. Notable omissions include Pokémon Heroes and Pokémon: Jirachi—Wish Maker, but the rest of them are all available through the service. Jirachi—Wish Maker can be purchased on Vudu, for some reason. Heroes is almost nowhere to be found through official means, except on Manga TV, according to Roku’s site. As a Latias fan, this feels like violence toward me, specifically.
One thing to keep in mind, however, is that Netflix has the Secrets of the Jungle movie and the 3D animated remake of The First Movie available to stream right now. So don’t rent or buy them if you’ve got a membership over there.
But what about these Ash and Pikachu special farewell episodes?
If you’re not looking to catch up on everything or go watch old episodes, you’re probably here to find out where you can watch the 11 episodes that will show Ash and Pikachu running into old friends as the show gives them a proper goodbye. The first of these episodes will air next week in Japan on January 13. I imagine a lot of people who bounced off the show over the years are going to want to watch these episodes, but do keep in mind that it will be some time before they’re available in English.
Unfortunately, Pokémon doesn’t have any official simulcast, so there’s no legal option at the moment. The Netflix rollout is over 30 episodes behind the Japanese weekly episodes right now, with each quarterly Netflix release consisting of around 12 episodes each, so these specials will likely not be made available in English until later this year. On the plus side, this means that if you wanted to take on the gigantamax task of rewatching all of Ash and Pikachu’s adventures before these episodes are made available, you’ve probably got time.