Last chapter. It's been fun guys. Thank you so much for sticking with me.
He wasn't thinking about food, or his computer, not even his bed and some decent shut eye. At 12:30 in the morning, the last thing people expect someone to be occupied with is Pokemon. Yes, Pokemon - that kid anime that began all the way back in the late '90s, but it had been over a decade since the show's original start, with slogans of "Gotta Catch 'Em All" a distant memory. The show felt like it was on it's umpteenth season, but it was actually coming to an end. And tonight was the finale.
Kyle was an odd kid, at least that's what his friends and family would say. He would have to be to hold on to a hobby as lame as Pokemon. Lame wasn't the correct word to describe it, some would say 'childish and 'immature.' Pokemon was an interesting phenomenon - a person either hated or loved it, with only a few in the middle, but for Kyle, his love for Pokemon still ran strong. Sure, this surviving interest lost motivation at certain points in his life. Understandably, when he graduated high school and entered college. Certainly, when he found a girlfriend - and they dated for a wonderful yet brief time, and obviously when various circumstances forced more important things upon him. Still, through it all - Pokemon was always there. Because he still caught himself - time to time - doodling a Pokeball above his English notes, beamed whenever he saw a rerun, or laughed when he scanned through old YouTube clips.
But tonight - tonight it was reaching its highly anticipated climax. For some, they thought this day would never come, people thought Pokemon would continue forever and ever until the end of the world, where Ash would still look like an immature ten year old and the games would be on its hundredth generation. It certainly seemed plausible.
A few months back, the creators of the franchise decided to call it a quits, the papers didn't say anything specific as to why, people were just flabbergasted that is was actually happening. Ash Ketchum - after all these years - was finally going to achieve his dream to be the world's greatest Pokemon Master. Only a few questions remained: How were they going to end it? What was going to be the main plot? Who would make a guest appearance?
The subject matter, ironically, was kept under lock and key. Not even the gossip columns on the Internet could get a glimpse into the final episode. So the world of pubescent newcomers mixed with long time fans - now in their twenties and possibly thirties - were forced to wait. They all waited for this day, when everyone's questions to everything Pokemon were going to be resolved.
So Kyle waited until everyone was asleep before he decided to watch it. It was showing on Cartoon Network - bright and early Saturday morning. Unfortunately, he couldn't watch it live. Saturdays were usually reserved for volunteer work, followed by his secular job, which happened to be twenty miles away in another town. But now - at the end of the day - the eight hours of dealing with demanding clients and virus infected computers proved well worth the wait.
He flipped through the recorded play list on his DV-R. There it was: 'Pokemon: The Final Movie' - tucked in the middle of an old collection of 'LOST' episodes and an unwatched rerun of 'The Big Bang Theory.' At first, he hesitated to push the 'start' button. Maybe the finale was too built up in his mind, watching it would set up a critical disappointment. Nevertheless, he pressed on, with every bit of anticipation he had with the older episodes.
It was amazing - to say the least! There were rumors the creators found decent writers to write the ending... and they did. These were writers who's imaginations were not limited to Brock's predicable swoon over the 'girl of the week', or Team Rocket's inevitable blast off into the sky. No, the finale had substance, character development and some actual emotion to it. There were times when he forgot this was the same anime he'd grown to love all those years ago. The director even coaxed the old voice actors back into their rightful role. Kyle had a hard time getting use to the new voices (like everyone else, he imagined). They did get better as time went on, but nobody could ever replace the quality of a Veronica Taylor, Rachel Lillis or Eric Stuart. It was absolute heaven hearing Ash's low, plugged up voice again, or Jessie's evil laugh every time Team Rocket hatched another diabolical scheme.
But there was something else keeping his drive to watch Pokemon alive. Yes, he liked the RPG games - collecting Gym Battles, taking down the local crime syndicates and becoming the champion. Yes, the mangas were a good read, although he never delved into the universe fully. Yes, the Trading Card Game was awesome - he even had some old decks collecting dust in his closet. Yes, the anime offered a feeling of nostalgia and a connection to his childhood. But all those facets combined did not amount to the main reason why he still enjoyed Pokemon.
It was the characters. Specifically, the relationship of a determined, bumbling trainer from Pallet Town and a stubborn, often violent Gym Leader from Cerulean City. Pokeshipping was the real reason why he was watching. He couldn't quite put a finger on why he liked the couple so much. Maybe because Pokeshipping felt reminiscent of his own dismal love life, never really getting of the ground. Possibly because Ash Ketchum distinctively reminded him of himself, with all the romantic ignorance and genuine kindness to go with it. Or maybe it was the fact they were just so damn cute together! The bickering, the teasing, the loving banter - it was all so enjoyable.
It wasn't like the couple didn't have any legitimate hints to begin with either. Pokeshipping's evidence ranged from the subtle, to flat the out blatant. There were the cute scenes from the Indigo League: When Jigglypuff first put the group to sleep, when Misty thought Ash died in the Lavender Tower, or how their competitive spirit always seemed to get in the way of being nice to each another. Then there were the obvious hints - 'Pokeball Peril,' 'Misty Meets Her Match,' 'The Heart Break of Brock,' 'Gotta Catch Ya Later,' even the whole second movie for crying out loud!
But Pokeshipping seemed to ground to a halt when Misty left the show, and only appeared in a handful of episodes afterward. But missing roles didn't deter him one bit, not when May replaced her, not even when Dawn came and Misty didn't have a proper cameo throughout the entire Diamond and Pearl series. He still had hope, and that hope typified itself in this series finale... where once and for all the results of everything 'shipping' would be answered.
The finale did not disappoint. In fact, it was better! Not only was Misty there, but she was a main character again with a significant role. She was at her rightful place, at the side of Ash Ketchum ready to take on the villain with him. But it was more than that. It was the subtle hints, when Ash looked at her with the romantic interest we all knew he had in there somewhere, or how they kept on getting paired together every time there was a battle or chase scene. And the whole movie ended with an unbelievable climax, where Ash realized his dream of becoming a Pokemon Master was not enough. It finally dawned on him that he needed more than just family, friends, Pokemon and a lot of shiny badges. He needed someone to share his life with - and he found it with Misty. In a beautiful moment were the couple stood together in the glow of an orange sunset, Ash attempted to explain to her how much she meant to him. His confession was awkward, embarrassing, with tons of stammering... but he did it! That lunkhead finally did it!
The feeling was almost indescribable. It was like being surrounded by joy - as if 'joy' were something tangible - like being wrapped in a blanket or taking a nap in hot laundry, fresh from the dryer. All the years of hoping, believing and yearning was finally replaced with reality and irrefutable evidence. As soon as the movie ended he vaulted from his seat and sprinted to his computer, he knew he was too late for the party, but he wanted to at least catch it in its wake.
He had a lot of work to do on the forums and fan sites, but he didn't log on to gloat. No, he was beyond bragging to the Advanceshippers, Pearlshippers, Orangeshippers and the like. He hoped they knew Pokeshippers in general didn't hate them, or their attached character, it was just poor planning on the producers part and the enthusiasm of the younger fans. Take May for example, who certainly got a lot of heat for replacing Misty. But, after the initial knee-jerk reaction, most Pokeshippers realized they never hated May. Seeing the Advanced Generation fans pair Ash and May up willy-nilly was like breaking up with your significant-other and the next day seeing them with another person. Of course there was going to be tension, but it was never personal. May was sweet. Dawn was cute. Tracey was a good guy.
All he wanted to do was write.
That's exactly what he did. He wrote for hours into the night, sharing his joy with others like him all around the world. Finally, their favorite girl and boy were together. Finally!
The excitement eventually waned, but the feeling was still there. It was a feeling of relief. Relief because he didn't have to check the sites all the time - hoping for a glimmer of a Misty cameo. Relief because he didn't have to continue those old fanfics anymore - the plot bunnies were gone. He didn't have the need to work tirelessly on his projects anymore, because what they represented were already fulfilled. Pokeshipping had the best fanfiction writers in the fandom, you couldn't just pick one. There were the old school fics, untouched but still legendary. Who could forget Trish's rendition of "Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better," or the masterpiece that is Legacy's "Codename: ASHURA"? All the way to the 'active' generation, who bravely held the candle light for years at a time. From the string of Alphabet Challenges by Erina-chan, Cristipotter and Milotic to the delightful one shots of eggplantdance, Alyss Ashworth and Bittersweet Romanticide. But now, Pokeshipping didn't have to be some epic love story invented by the minds of its fans - it was real. It was everything they hoped it to be.
Eventually, Kyle went to sleep, just before the sun ushered in the daylight. It was the best sleep in recent memory because something that had been a part of him for so long was finally gone. He would always consider himself a fan of the series, a full time Pokeshipper and author, but now he could finally move on. It was the embodiment of happiness, the zenith of hope and dreams, and now he didn't need them anymore.
Because every time he wanted to experience the joy that first swept him away, all he had to do was watch it on TV, buy it on DVD or reminisce with old comrades in arms. But for now, he was sleeping - engulfed in his pillow that never quite felt so soft, and a blanket that never quite kept him this warm before. And he just knew, that his friends, Pokeshippers like him, in the most distant reaches of the globe were feeling exactly the same way.
All done! I'm already working on my next project. It's something I've never tried before, so you know it's gonna be all sorts of fun. Till then...