Cynthia, one of the Pokemon series’ all-time greats, is part of a the World Coronation Series story arc currently going on in the Pokemon Journeys anime. While she’s been a recurring character in the games, having been primarily featured in Pokemon Diamond & Pearl and their remakes where she was the champion of the Sinnoh region, her anime appearance has been focusing on the character more recently. But the latest episode that aired in Japan this morning seems to be bringing her reign to a bittersweet conclusion.
Spoilers for Pokemon Journeys episode 121 follow:
Pokemon protagonist Ash Ketchum is nearing the end of the Pokemon World Coronation Series arc, which has him facing off against some of the most powerful trainers from around the Pokemon world. Cynthia is among them, and any seasoned Pokemon player will know why. Sure, she’s the champion, but even among the series’ reigning regional champs she has a reputation for being one of the toughest battles in the series. Even her musical theme is burned into players’ brains. Without delving too much into spoilers, battling Cynthia in Diamond & Pearl elevates one of Pokemon Legends: Arceus’ best moments, as well. It’s infamous among fans.
But while Cynthia and the Sinnoh region got a bit of love in the last year with the Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl remakes and Pokemon Legends: Arceus, it’s been a minute since fans really got to sit with her in a new context, so her appearance in recent anime episodes has been quite welcome. But from the sound of it, this might be the last time fans see her for a bit, because the iconic champion is planning on retiring from Pokemon battling after the tournament. She said as much to Diantha, the champion from the Kalos region seen in Pokemon X & Y.
— Anipoke Fandom (@AnipokeFandom) August 12, 2022
This is just before she goes out to face Ash, which will be the focus of the following episode. Whether Cynthia will actually retire remains to be seen, but this would be an easy way to let Ash win the fight and allow Cynthia to hang up her hat and make way for the next generation. Or this could just be a fake out and the battle with Ash will inspire her to continue battling. Even so, who would take her position as the Sinnoh champion? It’s unclear at this point, but fans have theories it could be rivals Paul, Barry, or maybe even former protagonist Dawn.
Of course, I’m excited to see the actual match unfold, as Ash and Cynthia never actually battled, even during the Diamond & Pearl era of the anime. But man, I’ve been really reflective of Sinnoh, Cynthia, and her place in the apparent history of the Pokemon universe (again, play Pokemon Legends: Arceus and play through the post-credits questline. It’s good shit.) over the past year, and her retiring from battling in the anime feels like a sad but heartfelt way to close this chapter.
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At any rate, Pokemon Journeys is just a few episodes away from its finale in Japan, which will line up timewise pretty well with Pokemon Scarlet & Violet’s Switch launch on November 18. So whatever conclusion Cynthia and Ash’s battle unveils, a new era for the Pokemon anime is on its way.