Pokemon Anime Guide: History and Characters You Should Know Of

Latest posts by Miah Schmahl, Dedicated Pokémon Fan for Life (see all)

    Pokemon the Series originally entitled Pokemon which was abbreviated from the title Pocket Monsters is a long-running Japanese Anime that follows similar stories as the much loved Pokemon games. There are seven main installments of the anime, with each being based upon the corresponding video games. Between all seven installments, there are 24 total seasons.

    Pokemon Anime History

    The series premiered on April 1st, 1997 in Japan on Tokyo TV and in the US on September 8th, 1998. The English dubbed versions of the show have been produced in the US by 4kids Entertainment and Pokemon Company International. Releasing both games and the anime in the same year helped propel Pokemon into a national phenomenon that still exists to this day.

    The show has been aired on several different networks but got it starts on Kids’ WB, typically being shown before and after school and as part of the Saturday morning cartoon block. Kid’s WB continued to air not only the show but also a number of the Pokemon movies and specials until 2008 when the broadcasting block was retired by WB. The show then moved to Cartoon Network which met controversy for airing their own credits and promos at the end of the episodes.

    Doing so cut off characters ending episode monologues in the dubbed version. They also omitted several scenes from the thirteenth Pokemon movie. Despite the controversy, Cartoon Network continued to air Pokemon on several different broadcast channels. Eventually, the show made its way to Boomerang where the first 191 episodes are regularly aired.

    Disney XD bought the rights to the Pokemon anime in 2009, which forced Boomerang to stop airing the older episodes of the show. Currently, various installments of the show can be found on different streaming platforms including Hulu and Amazon Video. Netflix will be airing the 24th season of the show on its own platform later this year.

    The Beginning: Indigo League & Adventures in the Orange Island

    The Beginning is the first installment of the Pokemon Anime. The installment corresponds with Generation 1 or the Pokemon Red, Green, Blue, and the special Pikachu Edition of Yellow games. The series follows Ash Ketchum a rookie trainer from Pallet Town.

    He oversleeps on the day he is meant to choose his starter Pokemon and gets stuck with the adorably disobedient yellow Pikachu. Slowly Pikachu and Ash learn to trust each other and become close companions. Pikachu is often seen walking along with Ash due to his dislike of being in his ball.

    Ash is joined by two other companions on his journey, Misty a water-specialist from Cerulean City, and Brock the gym leader for Pewter City and an aspiring Pokemon breeder. Brock and Misty become Ash’s mentors as they travel through Kanto and Orange Islands.

    Their enemies are the villainous Team Rocket who are obsessed with Pikachu, potentially due to his adorableness or possibly the deadly electrical charge he’s capable of omitting. They follow Ash trying to stop his attempts at success and generally being a giant pain in the butt.

    Ash and his companions travel through Kanto collecting gym badges and eventually challenging the Indigo League. The first two seasons primarily focus on Ash trying to collect various gym badges while traveling. In season two Ash loses the Kato Pokemon League to a rival and is sent on a journey to retrieve the mysterious GS Pokeball by Professor Oak.

    Brock and Misty stay behind in Kanto while Ash travels Orange Islands with Tracey Sketchit a Pokemon Watcher. The second season ends with Ash winning the Orange League.

    Recommended read: Adventures in the Orange Islands Anime Guide

    Gold and Silver

    Pokemon Gold and Silver starts with the third season of the show and is broken up into three different seasons with the arc of the first season starting with the last eleven episodes of the previous installment and the arc of the last season spilling over into season six.

    The first season is the Johto Journeys which follows Ash, Brock, and Misty as they travel through Johto islands in a quest to bring the mysterious GS Ball to a man named Kurt. Kurt supposedly makes Pokeballs out of pinecones and Professor Oak is hoping to use his expertise to learn more about the GS Ball. Along the way, Ash meets new rivals and obtains new gym badges.

    The Johto League Champions is the next season in the Gold and Silver installments. This season focuses on the trio’s continued journey through the Johto region. Ash battles various rivals at different gyms. Ash can obtain his third Johto badge during a rematch. His next battle is then postponed as Olivine City faces a crisis when Amphy and Ampharos fall sick. Amphy supplies the light source for the local lighthouse. The trio takes a plane to purchase medicine for Amphy and in the process, Ash has a gym battle with the gym leader Chuck.

    Master quest is the third and final season in the Gold and Silver installment. The season follows Ash and his friends as they return to Olivine City and face Team Rocket and the legendary pokemon Lugia. Ash battles Jasmine before traveling through Ecruteak City to Mahogany Town. This season focuses heavily on Team Rocket and their attempts to create trouble within Johto by forcing Pokemon to evolve and attempting to steal valuable items. Ash and co can stop Team Rocket and Ash goes on to defeat the final gym leader. This enables him to enter the Johto League Championship tournament only to be defeated. At the end of the season, we see Ash say goodbye to Misty and Brock to travel to Hoenn. Unfortunately, Team Rocket is at it again and this time they are focused on Pikachu.

    Ruby and Sapphire

    The Ruby and Sapphire installment picks up where Gold and Silver left off. Ash and Pikachu are now traveling through the new Hoenn region. Ash chooses to leave all his Pokemon behind with Professor Oak except for Pikachu.

    Ash is joined by new characters including May a trainer for Petalburg City who is on a quest to become a top Pokemon Coordinator. May is the replacement for Misty who has left the series. Max, May’s younger brother who has an impressive knowledge of Pokemon also joins them and Brock returns to the group. The installment is broken up into four different seasons.

    Pokemon: Advanced is the first season of this installment and the sixth overall season. The season follows Ash and his friends through the Hoenn region starting in Littleroot Town and ending in Mauville City. In this season the team learns about the new villains’ Team Magma and Team Aqua.

    Pokemon: Advanced Challenge follows Ash and his team as they travel from Mauville City to Lilycove City in Hoenn. The team is often forced to stop evil plans thanks to the two new villains. In between saving the world, they try to focus on their own goals. Ash wants to win three more badges while May is focusing on winning contest ribbons to become a Pokemon Coordinator.

    Pokemon: Advanced Battle follows Ash and his team as they finish their adventures in the Hoenn religion and make their way back to Kanto. Ash competes in the Ever Grande Conference and May competes in the Hoenn Grand Festival, both lose but end up in the top eight. The team then makes their way back to Kanto so Ash can challenge the Battle Frontier.

    Pokemon: Battle Frontier is the final season in the Ruby and Sapphire installment. This season follows Ash as he battles with the Frontier Brains who are the toughest opponents he’s ever had. In addition to battling the Frontier Brains, he must also find the hidden facilities of the Battle Frontier. May focuses on obtaining contest ribbons on the way to competing in the Kanto Grand Festival.

    Diamond and Pearl

    pokemon diamond and pearl

    Diamond and Pearl is the next installment in the Pokemon series and starts with the tenth overall season in the show. The installment is broken up into four overall seasons. The installment focuses on Ash in a new religion called Sinnoh. His team is once again transformed with only Brock remaining. This time they are joined by Dawn a native from Sinnoh. They battle against Team Rocket’s villainy and encounter a new team of villains called Team Galactic.

    The tenth season follows Ash as he competes in various gym battles across the region of Sinnoh. Dawn similar to May competes in various Pokemon Contests across the region. This season focuses primarily on Ash and Dawns’ struggles to reach their goals as a Pokemon Trainer and Pokemon Coordinator.

    The eleventh season of the show follows Ash as he works towards his next three Gym Badges. He feels hopeful about his future but emerging threats from Pokemon Hunter J and Team Galatic sour his outlook. Dawn is struggling with her path and has been dealing with more defeats than wins lately. Together they attend Professor Rowans Pokemon Summer Academy hoping to pick up new tactics to defeat their opponents.

    The twelfth season follows the group as they continue to travel through Sinnoh and work towards their respective goals. Team Galatic causes them to struggle as they constantly get caught in the evil schemes and must find a way out. Dawn struggles with her many Pokemon and Ash rivalry with Paul comes to head as they compete in a 6-on-6 battle, which tests his training style greatly.

    The thirteenth and final season of Pokemon Diamon and Pearl follows the conclusion of Ash and Dawn’s travels through the Sinnoh region. With Team Galatic out of the way, Team Rocket makes a full force pain the butt appearance in this season. Ash’s focus is on qualifying for the Sinnoh League while Dawn focuses on obtaining her final contest ribbon which will allow her to compete in the upcoming Grand Sinnoh Festival.

    Black & White

    Pokemon Black and White is the next installment in the Pokemon Series. The first season is also the last season of the Pearl and Diamond Installment officially but has been placed with the rest of the Black and White seasons. This installment focuses on Ash as he travels through the Unova. His team is again changed with Iris another Pokemon Trainer joining and a Gym Leader named Cilan. Brock does not make a return in this series.

    In the fourteenth season of the show Ash and his mom accompany Professor Oak to a new land called Unova. Here Ash will discover new Pokemon and compete in gym battles against the region’s toughest. Ash manages to win four of the six gym battles he competes in, as well as, obtaining several new Pokemon for his collection.

    In the fifteenth season of the Pokemon anime Ash and his team continue to explore Unova and obtain new and interesting Pokemon. The season focuses on three powerful and mysterious Legendary Pokemon that the team must battle to save an Island. They also face personal trials with Ash battling the Champion Master of Unova Alder, Iris fighting for her right to continue traveling, and Cilan confronting a past challenge that he must beat.

    In the sixteenth season of the show, Ash and his team finish their journey in Unova and make their way to Decolore Islands. Ash can enter the Unova League Challenge thanks to the eight badges he’s earned on his journey through Unova. Iris is struggling with her Dragonite Pokemon and ventures to the Village of Dragons for help.

    After visiting the Delcore Islands the team makes their way back to Kanto, where they meet a reporter named Alex who is from the Kalos region. The team then splits up with Iris and Cilan heading to Johto and Ash and Alexa heading for the Kalos region.

    XY and XYZ

    Pokemon XY and XYZ is the next installment in the anime and follows Ash and Pikachu as they venture into the Kalos region. The first season of this installment or seventeenth season overall follows the duo as they quickly meet two new friends Clemont a gym leader and his little sister Bonnie.

    Ash also reunites with his childhood friend Serena who is a trainer on her first journey. Ash struggles at first to win gym battles but overcomes and wins the last three battles he tries for. He also meets new Pokemon that he must try and catch.

    The eighteenth season continues to follow Ash as he travels through the Kalos region. Ash’s quest is to obtain eight new gym badges to enter the Kalos League. Serena her partner Fennekin and her friend Pancham focus on Pokemon Showcase World while Clemont attempts to create various inventions and Bonnie focuses her efforts on taking care of her brother.

    The nineteenth season follows Ash as finishes his journey in the Kalos region. He and his friends will explore more about Kalos and its mysteries while thwarting Team Flare as they try to use the Legendary Pokemon Zygarde. They also cross paths with Alain who is searching for the Mega Evolution. At the end of the series the team parts ways, Serena heads to Hoenn, Ash returns home and Clemont and Bonnie stay in the Kalos region.

    Sun & Moon

    Pokemon Sun & Monn is the next installment in the Pokemon anime. The first season or twentieth season overall focuses on Ash as he vacations in the tropical Alola region. He begins attending the Pokemon School in the Alola region and much to his delight discover several new Pokemon in the new region.

    Ash meets several new faces along the way including Professor Kuki and Samsung Oak, as well as, a group of skilled trainers consisting of Kaiwe, Lana, Mallow, Sophocles, and Lillie. Team Rocket makes an appearance in this season, as well as, a new team of villains called Team Skull.

    The twenty-first season of the anime continues to focus on Ash as he continues his education at the Pokemon Academy with his friends. Ash has a dream about legendary Pokemon called Solgaelo and Lunala, he makes a promise to them but can’t remember what it is.

    In his quest to jog his memory he comes across a strange Pokemon called Nebby. Ash, Pikachu, and the students explore the Aether Foundation which is dedicated to the care and preservation of Pokemon, however, the organization isn’t as innocent as it seems and Ash must work with his friends to discover its secrets.

    The twenty-second season of the anime continues the journey of Ash and his classmates at the Alola Pokemon Academy. Ash’s focus is on completing the fourth grand trial in the Aloa Region and obtaining new Pokemon. He must also work with his classmates as they protect the Wela Volcano.

    Pokemon Journey: The Series

    The current installment of Pokemon anime focuses on Ash as he travels with new friends this time his goal is to see as much of the world as possible. In the twenty-third season, Ash and Pikachu attend the opening of the Cerise Laboratory.

    The laboratory is tasked with finding the mysteries of Pokemon across various regions. Ash then meets a boy named Goh who loves Pokemon just as much as Ash does. Together they become research fellows for Cerise Laboratory and set out to find new mysterious Pokemon.

    The twenty-fourth season of the Pokemon Anime is the most current season available and is available on Netflix in two parts along with the previous season of the show. This season focuses on Ash and Goh as they continue their journey around the world catching various Pokemon.

    Ash continues to climb higher in the World Coronation series bringing him closer to his Pokemon Master dream. Goh starts a quest to catch a Mew Pokemon. A new face Chloe starts her own journey as a Pokemon Trainer.


    Pokemon Chronicles is a spin-off of the Pokemon Anime that focuses on characters that aren’t Ash. The spinoff is made up of a 4kids Entertainment backlog. The backlog consists largely of undubbed unreleased content

    Pokemon Origins is a miniseries of only four episodes that follows the plot of Pokemon Red and Green. It follows the adventures of Red and Blue who are rivals and features Brock from the original series, as well as, Professor Oak.

    Pokemon Generations

    Is a spinoff that features moments from the first six generations of the Pokemon Games. The episodes are short last roughly 3 to 4 minutes, therefore, are available on The Pokemon Company’s Youtube. Some of these episodes also aired along with the Movie I Choose You! And The Power of Us!

    Pokemon Twilight Wings

    Twilight Wings is another mini-series that is based upon the Pokemon Sword and Shield set. There are eight episodes total each running roughly 5 minutes long. The series focuses on the Galar region and its residents where Pokemon battles are a cultural sensation.


    Each installment is accompanied by several movies, however, there has been a lot of debate as to whether the movies are canon because they often have little to no impact on the main storyline.

    The original series has five movies:

    • Pokemon: The First Movie-Mewtwo Strikes back. In the movie, Mewtwo Team Rockets’ pet Pokemon attempts to take over the world by cloning Ash and his friends Pokemon.
    • The second movie is called The Power of One and focuses on Ash as he visits Shamouti Island in time for their annual festival of the Chosen Ones.
    • The third movie is called Spell of the Unown: Entei. In this movie, a young girl Molly brings her own world into the Pokemon World. Ash must help the young girl before the power of Unown warps the Pokemon World.
    • The fourth movie is called Celebi: The Voice of the Forest. In this movie, a boy named is accidentally transported to modern Celebi from forty years earlier. His family believes he vanished. He is then captured and brainwashed into doing Team Rocket’s bidding.
    • The last movie in the original series is called Latios and Latias. The movie focuses on a legend of guardians Latios and Latias who protect the city of Alto Mare. They use Soul Dew or the essence of these guardians to keep the city safe. When Team Rocket operatives steal the dew Ash and friends must recover it quickly.

    Ruby and Sapphire had four movies in total:

    • Jirachi: Wish Maker is the first movie and focuses on a former member of Team Magma Butler who uses the passing of a comet to create a Groudon and that can be used to lower the sea level. Ash and his friends are tasked with saving Jirachi.
    • Destiny Deoxys is the second movie and focuses on a meteor that crashed into earth with a war between the Rayquaza and Deoxys that are trapped inside. When the Rayquaza win scientist takes a piece home to study. Four years later the Deoxy is back and attacking the place the scientists call home. Ash and his friends need to find out the mysteries of the meteor to save the city.
    • Lucario and Mystery of Mew is the third movie. The movie focuses on Pikachu as he is taken to the Tree of Beginning by a mew. To get Pikachu back Ash must team up with Lucario. However, Lucario is anything but cooperative.
    • The last movie is called Pokemon Ranger and The Temple of the Sea. This movie is about an egg from a mythical Pokemon that falls into the hands of pirates. A Pokemon Ranger entrusts Ash and May to keep the egg safe until it hatches and takes care of it as it grows.

    Diamond and Pearl

    • The Rise Darkrai is the first movie in the Diamon and Pearl installment and focuses on a town called Alamos Town which has a large shrine to Dialga and Palkia, The Spac-Time Towers. When the two gods battle in their dimension it starts to spill over into the Pokemon world. Ash and his friends must save the town before its destroyed forever.
    • Giratina and the Sky Warrior focuses on a poisonous cloud that appears in the reverse world which is home to Giratina. The cause of the clouds is none that than Dialga and Palkia. Giratina wants revenge, as a researcher is going after renegade Pokemon in hopes of harnessing Giratina for themselves. Ash and his friends must save the world.
    • Arceus and the Jewel of Life focus on Ash as he travels to an ancient area called Michina Town which is home to many legendary Pokemon. When a young woman named Sheena stops Dialga and Giratina from fighting it is revealed the Arceus has emerged and is seeking revenge for its betrayal. Ash, Sheena, and his friends must travel back in time to undo what went wrong and prevent Arceus from destroying the world.
    • Zoroark: Master of Illusions follows Ash as he arrives in Crown City for the Pokemon Baccer World Cup. Unfortunately, new and mysterious Pokemon have destroyed the city and Ash must save Crown City and those taken by a new villain.

    Black and White

    • Victini and Zekrom & Victini and Reshiram follow Ash, Iris, and Cilan as they arrive in Eindoak Town and learn of its history and the Victory Pokemon Victini. Victini is captured by Damon who wants to restore his people’s kingdom to its former glory. His actions set off a chain of events that could lead to the end of the world.
    • Kyurem vs The Sword of Justice follows Keldeo who is training to become scared swordsmen. Keldeo ends up injured after challenging Kyurem and encounters Ash and friends on board a train. Ash and friends help Keldeo finds their inner strength.
    • Genesect and the Legend Awakened follows Ash and his team as they visit new Tork City, where the Cenesect Army is attacking. When Ash is protected by the appearance of Mewtwo they team up to help save the city and convince the Genesect Arm to go somewhere that artificial pokemon can live in peace.

    Xy and Xyz

    • Diancie and the Cocoon of Destruction take place in a land deep under Kalos where Cerbink lives. The land functions thanks to the Heart Diamond created by Diancie. Ash and his team decided to help Diancie find Xerneas so she can become powerful to create a new Heart Diamond. When an ancient Pokemon is awakened on their travels and threatens to destroy the world Ash and his friends are tasked with helping Diancie and saving the world.
    • Hoopa and the Clash of Ages follow Ash and his team as they arrive in Dahara City where they meet Meray. Meray is tasked with carrying for Hoopa who brought legendary Pokemon to the city which threatened to destroy it. Hoopa was then bound in a prison bottle. When Hoopa escapes Ash and his friends must save the city.
    • Volcanion and the Mechanical Marvel follows Ash as he becomes bonded to a Volcanion who hates humans. The Volcanion is forced to bring Ash along as they attempt to free Magearna from an evil minister in the Azoth Kingdom.

    Sun and Moon

    • I Choose You!, takes us back to the early days of Pokemon as he starts his journey as a Pokemon Trainer with Pikachu. Ash and Pikachu come across a Ho-Oh and promise to see it again someday. Now, Ash, Pikachu, Sorrel, and Verity travel to Mount Tensei in search of Ho-Oh.
    • The Power of Us follows Ash and Pikachu as they travel to Fula City for Wind Festival that celebrates Lugia. Suddenly a series of events threaten the festival and all those who live in Fula City. Ash and Pikachu rush to save the day but struggle as the people in the city refuse to work together.
    • Mewtwo Strikes Back Evolution is a remake of the Original Movie Mewtwo Strikes Back.

    Pokemon Journeys: Thee Series

    • Secrets of the Jungle follows Ash and Pikachu as they meet Koko, a young woman raised as a Pokemon, and Zarude who raised Koko and believes he is a Pokemon. Ash and Pikachu try to help these two lost souls find their true identities while fighting to save the Forest of Okoya from the Biotope Company.


    Question: How old is the Pokemon Anime?

    Answer: Pokemon has been on the air since 1997 making it 24 years old. The show has released roughly a season a year since its first broadcast, along with several movies and specials.

    Question: Will Pokemon Anime ever end?

    Answer: Potentially one day but I see Pokemon being on the air for a long time to come, it’s popular with both adults and most importantly the newest generation of children who will keep it on the air. This wasn’t always the case, however, as the original writer was concerned it would get canceled. He came up with an ending for the series.
    The ending would focus on the Pokemon rebelling against humans for being treated like slaves with Pikachu leading the rebellion. Team Rocket would attempt to save the day but unfortunately would make things worse. This seems like a harsh way to end the series.

    Question: Where can I watch Pokemon?

    Answer: The older episodes can be found for free here:
    Newer episodes can be found on Netflix and Hulu.

    Question: Which Pokemon episodes have been banned?

    Answer: Eight episodes have been unaired in English for controversial reasons relating to inflatable breasts, guns, seizures, and the Jynx controversy, and three episodes that are banned globally.
    • Unaired in English
    • Beauty and The Beach
    • The Legend of Dratini
    • Cyber Solider Porygon
    • Holiday Hi-Jynx
    • The Ice Cave!
    • Stage Fight!
    • The Mandarin Island Miss Match
    • A touchdown for the Team
    • Globally Banned
    • Cyber Solider Porygon
    • Shaking Island Battle Barboach vs Whiscash
    • Team Rocket vs Team Plasma! Parts 1 & 2.
    One of the most notable banned episodes is TBO38: Cyber Soldier Porygon which caused some viewers to have seizures due to a 12 cycle per second light sequence when Pikachu used a thunderbolt attack. The episode was only shown in Japan and set the guidelines for flashing lights in anime. It also meant that the Porygon never had a major role in the series again. After the episode aired there was a hiatus where TB039: Pikachu’s Goodbye was created and subsequently postponing the rest of the season.

    Pokemon Anime Final Thoughts

    The Pokemon anime has been around nearly as long as the games have, making it a hallmark part of the franchise. The show features many fun adventures, cute and powerful Pokemon, as well as, a variety of characters. The show is perfect for the Saturday morning cartoon lineup. With its emergence in popularity thanks to Pokemon Go!, the anime and the games are sure to be around for a long time.

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