Watch Ash Ketchum's Japanese Voice Actor Absolutely Nail the Original Pokémon Theme Song

Screenshot:  The First Take
Screenshot: The First Take

Pokémon bids farewell to a legend next week. In Japan, the final episode of the two-and-a-half-decade-old Pokémon anime to star Ash Ketchum (or Satoshi, as he’s known over there) will broadcast, paving the way for a new series. But the voice behind the forever-young Pokémon trainer is sending him out in style.

While a few English-language voice actors have shared in Ash’s legacy in the dub of the Pokémon anime, Rica Matsumoto has voiced the character since the very beginning in Japan—and she also sang the show’s very first opening song there, “Mezase Pokémon Master,” or “Aim to Be a Pokémon Master.” As iconic as our own original theme was culturally, “Mezase Pokémon Master” has returned multiple times in the original anime—and a new version recorded by Matsumoto has become the theme song for the final episodes of the current epilogue series bidding farewell to Ash, itself titled Pokémon: Aim to Be a Pokémon Master.

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Satoshi(CV:Rica Matsumoto) - Mezase Pokémon Master -with my friends- / THE FIRST TAKE

And now, you can hear Matsumoto belt it out in the video above, for the popular Japanese music YouTube channel, the First Take—which invites stars to perform their iconic tracks live in a single take. She is, of course, accompanied by a small chorus of Pokémon plushes as she sings, including some notable ones special to Ash’s journey, like Greninja, Ho-oh, current team members (like Dragonite, Lucario, and Gengar), and, of course, Pikachu.

It’s just a very sweet way to mark a time as the Pokémon fandom prepares to bid farewell to its hero.

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about the future of Doctor Who.

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