The Pokémon anime’s thousandth episode aired this morning over in Japan, which is a major milestone for the 20-year-old cartoon. And based on fan recaps and Twitter reactions, the Sun and Moon two-parter was a good one, ending a major arc for the season’s sweetest side character.
Lillie’s journey was the most poignant part of Pokémon Sun and Moon on Nintendo 3DS, and that’s true in the anime adaptation too. She had a major fear of physical contact with Pokémon for most of her life, something she worked hard to get over — until, in the 999th episode, it comes raging back after a terrifying encounter with her brother Gladion’s Silvally. It’s understandable; look at this guy:
The 1,000th episode begins in the aftermath of Lillie’s traumatic experience. Ash and the rest of the crew are committed to helping her once again move past her Pokémon phobia in ways both funny and touching.
Look at this cute moment between Ash, who’s gotten way sweeter now that he’s an 11-year-old. He takes Lillie out around Alola to cheer her up:
It’s kind of like a little date; we know Ash is a bit of a hot commodity with the preteen trainers these days. Uh, anyway, back to Lillie — although Ash and the rest of the gang want to help, it’s up to her to solve her own problem. This requires some literal soul-searching, as she dips back into her memories to recall why she developed this fear in the first place.
Her memories consist of some adorable flashback scenes featuring a little Lillie, her brother Gladion (who’s clearly kind of a jerk, now that he’s a teen) and her mom, Lusamine, whom players will remember as one of the major villains in Sun and Moon.
Lusamine seems to be on the right side of the law now, as Lillie’s whole family helps her work out her issues with Pokémon, once and for all. We get to see how close and cute the family was several years back, before learning that things haven’t changed as dramatically as Lillie thinks they have. Her mom and brother show up to save her from a powerful Hypno, teaming up to prove to her that she is loved — by humans and Pokémon alike.
And at the special episode’s end, she’s back to hugging Pokémon with a look of pure joy on her face, having conquered her biggest fear.
It’s a moving storyline because of how sympathetic Lillie is. She was the true star of the video games Sun and Moon, by our count, and it’s sweet to see her coming-of-age story continue to be at the forefront.
We’re a while away from seeing episode 1,000 here in the States, especially considering that our thousandth episode will differ from Japan’s. Several episodes of the anime never made it here, after all; Pokémon fans stateside will have to keep on waiting for the milestone.