The Pokémon Company recently shocked the world by announcing plans to end Ash Ketchum's time as the franchise's main character, with a new female lead taking over after a 25-year stint for her predecessor.
Details on that retooling are currently scarce, though we believe she'll be called Liko. Spotted alongside her were Scarlet and Violet's trio of starter Pokémon, Sprigatito, Fuecoco and Quaxly, with this series clearly meant to serve as a fresh start. However, those of you concerned about not seeing some familiar faces can now put those concerns to one side.
As you can see below (via Toonado.com), we have a first look at supporting characters Friede and his partner Pokémon, Captain Pikachu, who accompany the new protagonists during their adventures.
Many fans are already questioning whether Captain Pikachu is Ash's Pikachu, but we have no reason to suspect that's the case. Instead, this new Pokémon series is clearly making sure fans can still see the most popular Pokémon in action, albeit with a cute hat we're sure will help the company sell a lot of toys!
"As the Pokémon world expands and evolves, fans will be able to embark on a new journey of action, adventure and friendship through the eyes of unique characters like Friede and Captain Pikachu when the next animated series begins premiering later this year," says Taito Okiura, vice president of marketing for The Pokémon Company International.
"For 27 years, Pikachu has been synonymous with the Pokémon franchise, and we look forward to seeing this beloved Pokémon continue to have a significant presence in the animated series and remain an icon for the brand."
We're definitely intrigued by this new direction for Pokémon, and expect more details to be revealed soon.
Check out a first look at Captain Pikachu below!