On the XY&Z Finale
So… XY&Z finally comes to an end…
In all honesty, especially all the hype and anticipation of the ending that I’d been giving it, I found myself worried that it wouldn’t meet my expectations.
How wrong I was.
This is pretty close to the perfect ending for this series as I could’ve hoped for, at least in my opinion. While I wish we had a bit more on the Bonnie-Ash and Clemont-Serena fronts, that seems to go hand in hand with the rest of the series lack of focus, but for all that, I’m thankful for the time spent on what we had, even giving Mairin and Alain a proper sendoff.
The flashbacks, while I know a few might critique the re-use of old footage in such an important episode, felt well placed. Each character got focus, had their most promiment, emotional, or stand-out moments given a last hurrah. It was a great way to help encapsulate the breadth of their journey in the time they had to show it, and it was certainly a fond look back for me.
We had all the pokemon saying their goodbyes. Chespin and Pancham, Sylveon and Bunnelby, Pikachu and Bunnelby, Hawlucha and Luxray, and so much more. Even at that point I was starting to feel emotional over it. And then we came to Bonnie and Dedenne, and as I’m told, Bonnie swearing to become a trainer, to earn a badge from Clemont, to compete against Serena in a showcase, and to even beat Ash and Pikachu one day. While I couldn’t understand most of it, the emotional sentiment was powerful enough to move me to tears, the first of many times in the episode.
And even though Bonnie is herself a child, she knows that this is all for the best, and even she’s growing up, and is helping to care for something akin to another child’s sorrow in the process: That of Dedenne. My darling lemon child is going to make a great trainer, and more, one day.
Then we came to Serena’s goodbye. And gosh, how much I love her in this, and the series as a whole. I’ll admit that early on in the series, I felt some form of discontentment about how long it was taking her to decide on a goal, but in retrospect, given the build-up, the expositions of the various facets of Showcases before they were even shown to exist, was actually fairly well done. And it was paired with her uncertainty, her wrestling with her path forward, and what that would actually come to be.
Fast-forward through the series. Her growing resolve, conviction, skills, and self-confidence, and we arrive at this final crucial moment. Her riding down that escalator…
Only to run back up and finally give that kiss that she’d probably been wanting to give him for a good part of their journey together. In my mind, that scene was so tastefully done. I know there are some wondering why it wasn’t shown on screen, but then I love that it’s left to our imagination. Because in fact, Serena probably could’ve only imagined what it felt like for the longest time, and then she got to know it first hand. Conversely, we knew about this desire, but then, we’re left to imagine the payoff. The inversion feels not only incredibly well executed, but doesn’t overglamourize the gesture itself.
This whole act isn’t just to show the intensity of Serena’s affection for Ash. This was to also contrast the growth of her courage and personality over the course of the series. The girl who went from being unable to hold his hand, to launching into a quick kiss of her own accord. I’m proud of Serena, and her development stands alongside that of characters like May and Dawn for me. She’s going places, and I for one would love to hear about her exploits in Hoenn and how she’ll continue to reach for her dreams with the new resolve she’s found.
And finally, we end where we started:
Ash versus Clemont.
A battle between Bunnelby and Pikachu is the perfect way to book-end the series. And while it may parallel the way they start, the battle’s progression is certainly no copy of their battles before. They bring all their new strategies, moves, and lessons learned to the table. They’re doing what they do best for each other: Driving each other to greater heights, to bring out their best, whether it be through planning, tactics, or instincts. They’re so engrossed in it, making it a final great farewell between the two of them, that they’re sweating from the intensity. Only these two share such a love of battle that they’ll make the meeting and farewell in this manner. We may not get to see all of it, but we know that regardless of who won, or who lost, they both gained something from their meeting and from their journey together.
Clemont’s emotional, if grateful, look as Ash’s plan flew off in the end only cemented that in his and my mind as Ash’s final moments in Kalos came to a close.
And with that, my family has parted. And now Ash is left with memories of a great journey, and so are we. Coupled with an iconic song for the series, we had a chance to relive them once again, and while I’ve been vocal of my misgivings of the ways that the writers, handled certain characters, relationships, and what have you, I can honestly say that I loved this series. And as the first series I’ve watched air live in my adulthood, I feel like it was fantastic, exciting, and invigorating. And further, this finale capped it off in a spectacular way. Neither the series, nor the episode were perfect, nor will anything in the pokemon anime ever be, but I will carry fond memories of this series forward in my life, and I know that coming back to it, its characters, its battles, its journey, will help me through tough times ahead.
Thank you, Pokemon XY&Z, for a great three years that have allowed me to become a part of a fandom, a part of the fic-writers community, a part of the RP community, a part of a group of friends, and even now, a part of a relationship.
I will carry the memories onward in my heart with great fondness and appreciation, just like Serena, Clemont, Bonnie and Ash will.