It’s hard to believe that over 1200 episodes spanning more than 20 years, Ash Ketchum never once caught a Legendary Pokemon. He had plenty of opportunities to. Almost every movie featured a Legendary, and Legendary Pokemon appeared in nearly 200 episodes. Usually Ash refused to catch the Legendary Pokemon he encountered out of respect for their power or position, as was the case with Volcanion, Tapu Koko, and Victini. But even when he could have caught a Legendary, like Latias, Genesect, or the Ho-Oh in I Choose You!, he always chose not to.
It’s as if the writers of the Pokemon anime feared that letting Ash have a Legendary would create a power imbalance that would be too difficult to work around. I suppose it might be hard to make Ash’s journey to become a Pokemon master last two decades if he was rolling around with a Rayquaza. Luckily, the new Pokemon Horizons series doesn’t have that problem, and it’s making for a more interesting and unpredictable adventure. We’re only 24 episodes in, and our new heroes Liko and Roy have already acquired two Legendary Pokemon.
Technically speaking, Liko and Roy didn’t actually catch any of the Legendary Pokemon themselves, and they’ve already lost one of them. When the series begins, we’re introduced first to Liko, a young Pokemon trainer who possesses a pendant of mysterious origin that is an object of desire for an equally mysterious group of antagonists called The Explorers. Aided by adventurers called the Rising Volt Tacklers, Liko manages to escape from The Explorers temporarily leading her to cross paths with another young Pokemon trainer named Roy who has a curious object of his own: an ancient Poke Ball.
When Liko’s pendant and Roy’s Poke Ball come into contact, a Shiny Rayquaza is released, escaping into the wild. Together, the young trainers and Rising Volt Tacklers team up to hunt down Rayquaza and find out the truth about all these Poke-mysteries.
It isn’t long until the team stumbles onto another Ancient Poke Ball, this time around the neck of a Titan Arboliva. Liko and Roy learn that the ancient Poke Balls once belonged to a mythical hero named Lucius who lived one hundred years ago. After helping restore the forest Arboliva protects, the Pokemon returns to its ancient Poke Balls, which Liko takes possession of. Though he isn’t technically Arboliva’s trainer, in a recent episode the Pokemon released itself from its Poke Ball in order to defend Liko and Roy from the Explorers.
The most recent episode revealed yet another of Lucius’ ancient Poke Balls, this one containing the Legendary Pokemon Galarian Moltres. The heroes battle the Moltres twice, and in their second attempt, manage to calm it down when Arboliva uses Grassy Terrain to boost Sprigatito’s Aromatic Leafage ability. Moltres returns to its Poke Ball and allows Liko to take possession of it. While this isn’t a traditional Pokemon capture, there’s no denying that Liko battled and caught a Legendary Pokemon.
The Lucius storyline is a great way of introducing Legendary Pokemon without making the heroes overpowered. Liko and Roy are young and inexperienced trainers that are a long way off from having the skills and confidence to possess their own Legendaries, but as stewards of Lucius’ ancient Poke Balls, that can have a Legendary temporarily, and even fight alongside them, in a way that feels natural to the story. We haven’t seen Moltres in action yet, but I expect it will be acting under its own accord to assist Liko and Roy when necessary, just as Arboliva has been doing. The Pokemon Horizons have a different dynamic with their Pokemon than Ash did with his, but it works well for the story Horizons is telling.
Next: The Secret Pokemon Trading Club That Helps Complete Your Pokedex