Pokémon anime series passes the Pika-torch to Captain Pikachu.

There are big changes coming to the Pokémon TV anime this spring. After focusing on the travels and trials of Satoshi/Ash for the last 26 years, the series’ human lead is stepping aside, making way for a new pair of protagonists named Liko and Roy.

It’s a logical shift, seeing as how Satoshi finally achieved his dream of becoming the very best by winning the Pokémon World Championship last November. It’s not just Satoshi that’s stepping aside, but Pikachu as well, as the last remaining Satoshi-led episodes are being billed as “the final chapter of Satoshi and Pikachu’s story.”

But while the time to say goodbye to Satoshi and his Pikachu is drawing near, the next arc of the Pokémon anime is getting a new Pikachu of its very own.

That determined looking fellow with the jaunty cap is Captain Pikachu, the partner of new character Friede.

Friede is the latest in the line of Pokémon professors, but as his goggles, aviator jacket, and roughish smirk suggest, he’s not the kind of researcher who spends all his time in the laboratory. The Japanese-language announcement describes him as a “fighting Pokémon Professor,” and the English-language one adds that he’ll “accompany our protagonists during their adventures.”

Classical Pokémon professors have had a mature and nurturing nature, but the Japanese illustration tweet poses the question “What sort of influence will Friede and Captain Pikachu have on Liko and Roy?”, implying that their dynamic might be somewhat different than the typical pupil and mentor roles.

▼ Captain Pikachu appears to be a different Pikachu from the Pikachu captain that appears at the Nihonmaru sailing ship in Yokohama during the summertime Pikachu Outbreak events.

Also still a mystery is whether or not Ikue Otani, Pikachu’s voice actress since the start of the series, will be voicing the Captain. Ordinarily, all Pokémon of the same species share the same voice, but after more than two and a half decades of recording for a weekly TV series, the 57-year-old Otani’s vocal cords might need a break, especially since voicing Pikachu is a more difficult job than it seems.

The new Pokémon TV anime arc starts on April 14 in Japan.

Source: Twitter/@anipoke_PR
Top image: Twitter/@anipoke_PR
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Follow Casey on Twitter, where he can’t hear Pikachu’s voice without hearing a little bit of Merle’s too.