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Ash Ketchum Is Leaving Pokemon, But What About Team Rocket?

Ash Ketchum's time in the "Pokémon" series is sadly coming to an end as the final episodes of his adventure air over the next few weeks – in Japan. One of the things on longtime "Pokémon" fans' minds is how the anime will change when it begins following a new group of trainers in mid-April. "Pokémon" has changed a lot since its relatively humble beginnings, and now it's set to change again as beloved characters will leave alongside Ash in what is set to be a complete shift for the anime. Among these characters are three of the series' most iconic baddies: Team Rocket.

The latest "Pokémon Ultimate Journeys: The Series" episode aired last week in Japan, and featured Jessie and James — plus Meowth — trying to accomplish their usual goal: to capture Pikachu. According to Polygon, the bumbling duo (or trio) returned alongside every single one of their Pokémon from throughout the years, a kind of Team Rocket reunion here at the end of the series. But as is to be expected, Jessie, James, and Meowth are defeated, Pikachu is saved, and Team Rocket goes blasting off again. 

(Spoiler warning for Ash's final Pokémon season)

They might have hit their heads on something coming down, though, because this time, instead of getting back up and coming up with a new plan to get Pikachu, Team Rocket just ... gives up. Set against a shining blue sky, viewers see Jessie, James, and Meowth go their separate ways as their team watches on. But does this truly mean the end of Team Rocket?

The end of the road splits into different paths

Jessie, James, and Meowth agreeing that it's time to split feels out of nowhere, especially when they have faced far harsher defeats in the past. After nearly 30 years of trying to capture Pikachu with few successes — successes that were later foiled, anyway — the time to throw in the towel finally came. But the abrupt nature of their departure might mean it's not the end of Team Rocket.

After they come crashing down, we see Meowth, Jessie, and James argue in front of their team, all of whom either look confused or worried — especially Wobbuffett. Then, the camera closes in on each member, they agree to depart, and they go their separate ways, apparently leaving behind their team. The scene plays out very quickly, and though Jessie and James have some issues, they aren't the type to completely abandon their companions. Some wonder if Team Rocket will reunite before the end of Ash's journey, or if they will have a role to play in the new series, but only time can tell.

We don't know when this final portion of "Pokémon Ultimate Journeys: The Series" will be ready for western audiences, in fact the second part, comprised of 12 "Pokémon" episodes, only just came out on U.S. Netflix. The series has dozens of episodes that still need to be translated, but the final steps of Ash's nearly 30-year-long adventure make up the tail end of the show. Fans in the west will probably have to wait a while before localizations are done.