Rika Matsumoto, the voice of Ash Ketchum in the original Japanese version of the Pokémon series, gave fans an absolutely electric performance of the opening title theme for Ash’s final journey. She performed it as part of The First Take YouTube series and it’s a must-watch for Pokémon fans and anyone wanting to brighten their day.
Ash and Pikachu will be retiring as the protagonists of the Pokémon series in March. The young trainer and Pikachu have been the protagonists of the series since it started in 1997, and will star in their final episode on March 24 in Japan. Ash’s final arc will feature notable reunions between Ash and other beloved characters like Brock, Misty, and of course, Team Rocket. In addition to an original story, the arc’s final chapter will be getting a special theme sung by Matsumoto.
The song is called, “Mezase Pokémon Master -with my friends-,” and you can check out the full recording on YouTube. Matsumoto oozes charisma and energy in the video. At the very beginning, she shouts in Ash’s familiar voice, which lends even more nostalgia to the performance. She’s accompanied by a full band and background singers, and nails it. As she ends, we see her clutching her own hands and smiling — it’s honestly heart-warming.
For those unfamiliar, Matsumoto’s work isn’t limited to voiceover. She’s also an accomplished musician who helped found the anison band JAM Project and performed other songs for the Pokémon series in the past. She has sung the Japanese themes for several movies, including Pokémon: Mewtwo Strikes Back — Evolution, and various seasons of the show.