Pokémon: Ash’s Japanese Actor’s Emotions Almost Derailed Her Final Recording Session

   Rika Matsumoto, who has spent more than 25 years voicing Satoshi in Pokémon, revealed how emotional she was during the final episode’s recording.

pokemon ultimate journeys ash and pikachu final episode rainbow

   It was an emotional last episode for Pokémon’s Japanese voice actor Rika Matsumoto, the iconic voice of Satoshi, otherwise known as Ash Ketchum.

   After 26 years, Satoshi’s final episode of Pokémon aired on March 24 in Japan. Two days later, Matsumoto wrote a message on her Instagram account where she revealed she almost couldn’t get through her final recording when she stepped into the studio for the last time as Satoshi on Jan. 27. According to Sora News 24’s translation, near the end of her recording, the moment Matsumoto realized it would be the last time she would ever play Satoshi, her “chest tightened, and I couldn’t speak.” The voice actor had to ask the staff for a few minutes to collect herself before she “put everything I had into Satoshi’s voice.”

   Since the announcement of Satoshi’s departure from the series, Matsumoto has received numerous messages from fans who expressed gratitude for the voice actor’s two-decades-long work, making Matsumoto cry. “I’ll be happy if Satoshi can live on in everyone’s hearts,” Matsumoto wrote. “As a performer, I will put my heart and soul into continuing to do my best as a way of thanking you for the love you have shown me.”

   Sarah Natochenny, the English dub voice actor, similarly expressed the same sentiments as Matsumoto. Natochenny has voiced Ash Ketchum for 17 years. She wrote, “It’s been an extraordinary privilege to have been the English voice of Ash Ketchum for what will be 17 years. No matter what lies beyond his final chapter, he’ll live forever in the hearts of many generations to come.” In an interview with IGN, Natochenny left fans with a message, quoting Jason Page’s song: “‘Be the best like no one ever was.’ And do it with love. Don’t be cutthroat. Don’t step on people to get what you want, but know what your goals are and do them to the best of your ability. Do them with passion and do them while also loving the people around you and being kind.”

   Satoshi’s, or Ash, journey has been a long one — 26 years and 1,234 episodes in the making. Introduced as a boy from Pallet Town who dreams of becoming a Pokémon Master, Satoshi has met hundreds of Pokémon, battled a variety of strong competitors and finally became the World Champion in November 2022. Shortly after his victory, Pokémon confirmed Satoshi and his best friend and partner, Pikachu would leave. In the lead-up to their last episode, Satoshi has reunited with several of his old Pokémon like Butterfree and Lapras, and his human friends like Kasumi and Takeshi, Misty and Brock in the English dub, respectively. The preview of the final episode showed Ash making a promise to Pikachu, saying, “Pikachu, let’s stay together forever.” The two’s final episode is “The Rainbow and the Pokémon Master!”

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