Pokémon Journeys: Ash Returns to Sun & Moon’s Alola at Last

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Season 1, Part 4 Episode 1 of Pokémon Journeys: The Series, "That New Old Gang of Mine!" now streaming on Netflix.

After traveling from region to region throughout Pokémon -- meeting up with new friends and old -- Ash finally returns to the Alolan region. Alola is a special place to Ash not just because of the family he made there, but what he had earned there as well, as he acquired his first championship win in that region.

Ash didn't return to Alola alone, bringing his new friend Goh along for the adventure as they both take a trip down memory lane together.

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When Goh uses a Leaf Stone on his Exeggcute, Ash recalls how amazing the Alolan version of Exeggutor is. Plus, with Goh's dream to catch every Pokémon, it was only a matter of time until the boys realized they needed to head to Alola to encounter all the Alolan region exclusives. Once they arrive, Ash and Goh head to Kukui's home, where they are welcomed by all of Ash's Alolan team of Pokémon and Professor Burnet's newly born son, Lei.

Sun & Moon's Alola has a strong family vibe, and these moments of reflection and seeing how much the character's lives have changed is a pleasant way to show not only their growth but how Ash affected them. Later, as the two boys are trying to catch some Alolan Pokémon, they get separated -- with Goh getting fished up by Lana and Ash running into Rotom. Goh incidentally winds up encountering Ash's school friends before his friend arrives at the reunion party, and they are very curious about Goh.

All of the Alolan characters have their unique dreams they're working towards. Mallow is training to be a fantastic cook, showing off her skills at the party, while Sophocles aims to be an astronaut and will study space in Mossdeep City. Meanwhile, Lillie is off searching for her brother, mother and father -- Gladion, Lusamine and Mohn, respectively. The cast of Sun & Moon is a large one, especially compared to Journeys, but despite this, each character is well-developed and continues their development past their given season.

Even old rivalries are revised as Ash meets up with Kiawe, his old Sun & Moon classmate. Kiawe is as fiery as his fire Pokémon and challenged Ash to duels constantly. He is initially suspicious of Goh and doesn't think he's a suitable rival for Ash. However, Goh is far less interested in battling, though he has some skills inspired by watching Ash. Unlike Kiawe, Goh's eyes are set on catching Pokémon.

Still, when Kiawe sees Goh partnered with Ash, he expects him to be Ash's current rival and challenges him to a duel. During the battle, Goh confronts Kiawe's assumptions about him and declares he is not Ash's rival but his friend and research partner. Goh has his dream to achieve, and though he and Ash may help each other on their journeys, they most certainly aren't working towards the same goal. Plus, the series has been building up Bea to be Ash's battling rival.

While Goh loses the battle, he makes some new friends along the way. Despite Goh's lofty and ambitious goal of catching every Pokémon, including Mew, the Alolan gang support his dedication, clapping and cheering him on. As the friends all go swimming together, they encounter the fated Alolan Exeggutor Ash and Goh were searching for. After successfully capturing Exeggutor, Goh takes one step closer to achieving his dream.

Pokémon Journeys has Ash and Goh travel to all the Pokémon regions multiple times, so it'll be exciting to see what the next visit to Alola will entail and how its residents have progressed in their own adventures.

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