|Distant Blue Sky!
Pocket Monsters: The Distant Blue Sky
|December 23, 2022
|September 8, 2023
Distant Blue Sky! (Japanese: ポケットモンスター 遥かなる青い空 Pocket Monsters: The Distant Blue Sky) is the fifth special episode of Pokémon Journeys: The Series. It first aired in Japan on December 23, 2022, in Canada on July 29, 2023, in South Africa on August 8, 2023, and in the United States on September 8, 2023.
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Ash and Pikachu are doing what they love as they travel to different places. But when Ash’s mom asks to meet at a nearby Pokémon Center, he heads out right away—his dad will be there, too! On the way, Ash befriends a boy named Sunny, who eventually leads him to a berry patch near a house. There, Ash meets a man and woman who reveal that Sunny is their son who passed away a year ago. Ash returns Sunny’s hat to them, then helps Sunny pet Pikachu before they part ways. At the Pokémon Center, Ash’s dad has already departed, but he left Ash a present—a brand-new hat!
Ash is swimming in a river, filled with many Water Pokémon, when a Gyarados comes towards him and lifts him out of the water. Ash calls Pikachu for help, jumping off Gyarados before Pikachu uses Thunderbolt on the Atrocious Pokémon. The young Trainer throws a Poké Ball at Gyarados, but after a few shakes, Gyarados escapes the attempted capture and swims away. Taking the loss well, Ash waves Gyarados goodbye before turning his attention to Len, another Trainer who had been swimming with him. Once both of them are in their proper clothes, they have a brief battle, which ends with Pikachu defeating Len's Machamp with a Thunderbolt. Ash and Pikachu subsequently make their way to a Pokémon Center, where Ash's mother Delia contacts them and tells Ash that she's in Tonari Town, where she's going to be meeting Ash's father the next day. Excited at the thought of seeing his father again after a long time, Ash sets off towards Tonari Town. Behind him, the Team Rocket trio sheds their latest disguises and bolts off after him, once again aiming to steal Pikachu.
After passing through a tunnel under a giant tree, Ash enters a forest teeming with Pokémon. He and Pikachu settle down for the night, but when Ash is woken up by a Lickitung the next morning, he notices that Pikachu is gone. A boy appears and offers to lead Ash to Pikachu, revealing to him that Pikachu was taken away by some weird people in weird clothes. They quickly find Team Rocket in the midst of celebrating their apparent success and seemingly inevitable admin promotion. Ash descends down a cliff to confront the three, who have sealed Pikachu inside an insulated capsule, with the only key to it being in their possession. However, while they routinely perform their motto, Ash casually takes the key from them and frees Pikachu, who proceeds to send them blasting off, ending yet another one of their schemes in failure.
Ash thanks the boy, who introduces himself as Sunny, for his help, and offers to shake his hand. Instead of taking the offered hand, however, Sunny asks what touching Pokémon is like, since he's never experienced it himself, despite loving Pokémon very much. Ash describes the sensation as warming and soft, and offers to find a Pokémon from the forest for Sunny to touch. Unfortunately, each of these attempts ends in failure, until the escape from a horde of Beedrill leads the two boys in the middle of an Oran Berry orchard next to a house. Inside they see a man painting pictures of the sky, with Sunny pointing out the painting that he considers his favorite. A woman named Sue appears, while her husband, So, briefly comes out of the house. Ash turns around to address Sunny, only see that he's gone. So tells Ash he can take as as many Oran Berries as he wants, while Sue offers to help Ash to pick some. The gathered Oran Berries are piled in a basket, with Sue also throwing in a couple of breads made from the Berries in the forest. Ash thanks her and leaves, reuniting with Sunny as soon as the house is out of sight. Sunny apologizes for leaving unexpectedly and says he just chased after a Pokémon he saw. Ash offers him one of the breads he got, but Sunny claims he's already eaten a plentiful breakfast and lets Ash have both. While confused by this, Ash accepts this and sits down to eat with Pikachu.
Seeing how well Ash understands Pikachu, Sunny asks Ash's help with something and leads him to a pack of Mankey, one of whom is wearing a cap that Sunny acknowledges as his favorite hat. Ash recalls how his hat was also once stolen by a Mankey and agrees to help, but refrains from using Pikachu in order to avoid damaging the hat with his Electric attacks. Instead, he confronts the Mankey and tells them to return the hat. The Mankey refuse, forcing Ash to chase the one wearing the cap, until it ends up accidentally running onto an Onix. Ash saves Mankey from falling off from Onix and retrieves the hat. Mankey is upset from losing the hat it liked, so Ash gives it his own hat as compensation. He tries to return Sunny's hat, but Sunny keeps moving ahead every time he approaches him, eventually leading him back to So and Sue's house. Seeing Sunny's hat in his hands, they ask where he found it. When Ash explains that Sunny asked him to retrieve it, So accuses him of lying, while Sue breaks down in tears.
Inside the house, Ash learns that Sunny is actually So and Sue's son, who got very sick a year earlier and died as a result, explaining why he had refused to shake Ash's hand or eat anything. He had loved to play with the forest Pokémon every day and dreamed of becoming a Pokémon Trainer once he grew up. Ever since losing him, So has only been able to paint the skies that his son loved to watch. Ash points out the painting that Sunny had named as his favorite, which Sue reveals to be from one of the rare times when the entire family had been together at the same time. Losing Sunny had taught her that the comforts of life that she had taken for granted will not be around forever, so now she always remembers to thank each of them for being there. Once Ash leaves the house, So decides to start painting more than just skies now, wanting to also immortalize the forests and the Pokémon that Sunny had loved.
While making his way through the forest, Ash encounters Sunny once more. Remembering that Sunny never got to touch a Pokémon, he offers him a chance to touch Pikachu. Sunny tries to do so, but his ghostly hand just phases through Pikachu. Ash knows what to do, so he embraces Sunny and has him bring his hand on top of his, using his Aura to transfer the sensation of touching Pikachu into Sunny, who finds the experience just as comforting as Ash had described. When Ash opens his eyes again, Sunny has disappeared. Leaving the forest through another tunnel under a big tree, Ash sees a sky that looks exactly like Sunny's favorite sky. Remembering Sue's words, he takes a moment to thank Pikachu for being there.
Arriving in Tonari Town at dusk, Ash is disappointed to learn from Delia that his father has already left due to an emergency, although he did leave him a present in the form of a new hat. Delia makes Ash some croquettes to satisfy his hunger, even offering some to a disguised and starving Team Rocket in the next table over. While eating, Ash finds himself crying, though he's not sure why he's feeling sad.
The next day, Ash prepares to head out once more, having heard that an Entei has been spotted nearby, and everyone is trying to find and catch it. Delia manages to feed him a mouthful of toast before he runs off, pursued by Team Rocket, who take a moment to thank Delia for the croquettes before resuming their endless pursuit. Dashing through the woods, Ash enters a wide open field, continuing his journey under the distant blue sky.
- This special appears to take place in the alternate continuity from I Choose You!, The Power of Us, and Secrets of the Jungle.
- This is one of the few episodes storyboarded by the original executive director Kunihiko Yuyama.
- Shinji Miyazaki's music from Pokémon the Series: Ruby and Sapphire, Pokémon the Series: Black & White, Pokémon the Series: XY, and Pokémon the Series: Sun & Moon is reused as background music in this special.
- This episode does not have a title card segment, with the episode title instead appearing as part of the logo at the end of the episode.
- The English dub instead displays only the Pokémon logo, with the episode title appearing only in episode listings and television programming guides.
- A Mankey stealing a hat from Sunny and Ash is a reference to Ash getting his hat stolen from a Mankey in Primeape Goes Bananas.
- Ash also mentions this event with Mankey during the episode, which means that part of the events in said episode also happened in this timeline.
- Ash receives a new hat from Delia at the end of this special, which is the same Pokémon League Expo hat that Ash wore in the original series.
- This is the fourth time that Ash's father has been mentioned in the anime.
- Unshō Ishizuka was added into the credits for this episode, with archived audio of his voice being used for the narrator.
- Jessie's Wobbuffet is the only Pokémon introduced after Generation I to be featured in this special.
- This is the last episode where Carter Cathcart is the script adapter and a voice actor for the English dub, as he opted to retire from the anime following his diagnosis of cancer.
- In the English dub, this episode was aired after The Rainbow and the Pokémon Master!, as the season finale of Pokémon Ultimate Journeys: The Series.
- Similarly, the season finale of Pokémon the Series: XYZ was also a special episode. However, this is the first special episode included as part of a dub season to not be counted by the official websites, rental DVD releases, or video-on-demand streaming services as an episode of the main series in the original Japanese version.
- It is also counted as the 12th and final episode of the Pokémon: To Be a Pokémon Master arc in the dub, even though it was released separately from the aforementioned story arc in the original Japanese version.
- In the English dub:
- The closed captions incorrectly identify Goldeen's cry as "good evening" instead of "Goldeen".
- The credits erroneously credit 篠原隆 Takashi Shinohara as one of the animation directors instead of 岩根雅明 Masaaki Iwane.
- With You is credited as the opening theme, even though the episode has no opening or closing themes.
- The Netflix listings omit the exclamation mark in the episode title.
- Delia refers to Tonari Town as "the town next to the one you're in now", not revealing a dub name for the location.
In other languages