The Pokemon franchise entered new territory on the animated front on April 14, 2023, with its latest animated series. The show, known as "Pokemon Horizons: The Series," debuted in Japan back in April and forged a new story. However, contrary to almost all other animated Pocket Monsters media, the protagonist duo of Ash Ketchum and his trusted Pikachu are absent from the show.
With Ash heading home after Pokemon Journeys: The Series and winning the World Coronation Series championship, Horizons centers on two new Paldean protagonists: Liko and Roy, and their companions, Sprigatito and Fuecoco.
Pokemon Horizons has ever since made its debut in UK and will soon appear in the US. For Pokefans who may not be familiar with the new series, we are recapping the first eight episodes.
Recapping every episode of Pokemon Horizons to this point
Episode 1 - The Pendant of Beginning: Part 1
An hourlong pilot special, the first episode of Pokemon Horizons introduces us to Liko, a shy and somewhat awkward girl on her way to the Indigo Academy, a trainer's school in the Kanto region. Liko makes her way to the academy and meets her roommate Ann, a Kanto native.
Liko remarks that she's joining the academy because her parents had once attended the school and marvels at the Pokemon battles taking place, hoping she can soon have her own Pocket Monster to befriend.
During the school's entrance ceremony, the Indigo Academy students receive Pokedexes on their Rotom Tablets and are brought forward to select their starter Pokemon. Ann selects Oshawott, and Liko chooses the Paldean creature Sprigatito.
However, Sprigatito isn't particularly keen on its new trailer and refuses to be held and even runs away from Liko early on. Liko eventually catches up with it, and the two observe a sunset together. However, Sprigatito is still averse to Liko, which shakes her confidence as a budding trainer.
After unsuccessful battle attempts with Ann and a failed attempt to train Sprigatito, Liko dons a pendant from underneath her bed. She explains to Ann that the pendant is a gift from her grandmother, intended to help her on her Pokemon journey and safeguard her from danger. Liko and Sprigatito sneak out nightly from the academy to conduct training exercises, leading to a group of characters searching for her. During school break, Liko stays at the school while Ann heads home, and Liko is presented with a letter from a character named Amethio. According to the letter, Liko's grandmother would like the pendant returned to her, but Liko is immediately suspicious and attempts to flee her dorm room.
Amethio and his comrades give chase, and Liko and Sprigatito are cornered by two individuals known as Conia and Zir, the latter of which brings out his Rhydon to battle.
Since Sprigatito can't defeat the powerful Pokemon, Liko has it use Leafage to blind the creature instead before putting it to sleep with Sprigatito's scent. As the duo continues to flee, Amethio catches up and demands the pendant but is stopped by a stranger who intercepts him on a Charizard.
Amethio and the stranger battle, and Liko attempts to run again. As she makes a rooftop leap, a stray Psycho Cut attack from Amethio's Ceruledge approaches. The pendant then activates to create a barrier around Liko to protect her from the attack.
Episode 2 - The Pendant of Beginning: Part 2
An hourlong episode accompanying the first half of the pilot, Part 2 continues the setup of The Pendant of Beginning.
After being saved by her mysterious pendant, Liko noticed a strange Pokemon floating nearby before it morphs back into the pendant. Liko and Sprigatito begin to fall when the barrier disappears, but they are saved by the man who flew into battle against Amethio in the previous episode. His name is Friede, and he leaves some parting words for Amethio and co. before taking off.
Liko is overwhelmed by the many crazy events that have happened to her in recent days. However, she compliments Sprigatito for giving her the faith to make the jump at the end of the last episode.
Friede and Liko fly on the back of Charizard to a strange airship that was pointed out in the previous episode but which Liko was too distracted to notice while watching Ann and Oshawott. The ship, known as the Brave Asagi, allows Charizard and the group to land, and Liko is introduced to the characters Orla, Murdock, and Mollie, who berate Friede for not explaining the situation to Liko.
Our Pokemon Horizons protagonist also spots a Pawmi and a Fuecoco from her native home of Paldea. Friede points out that the airship has many Pokemon from other regions living within it, which helps put Liko at ease with her new acquaintances.
It appears that Amethio and his cohorts are in pursuit, and the Brave Asagi is approaching a large storm on the horizon. Friede leaves Mollie to stay with Liko as he and his Charizard head toward the engine room.
Mollie then spots their pursuers approaching the ship, identifying them as the Explorers. Friede takes the helm from the Brave Asagi's captain, which happens to be a well-dressed Pikachu in a naval-style hat.
Friede hopes to steer the ship directly into the storm to throw off the pursuit of the Explorers and their Pokemon. However, Amethio and the Explorers make their way to the airship, and Mollie heads to the Wing Deck while Liko stays with the Pokemon, feeling regretful that the fear they're feeling is because of the pendant she was given by her grandmother.
The Explorers successfully board the Brave Asagi and find Liko, demanding answers as to how her pendant works and if she can really trust Friede's group. Sprigatito attempts to intervene but is taken by Zir, and Liko offers to give herself up if the Explorers leave all of the Pokemon alone. Amethio agrees.
As the two make their way off the airship, Friede returns on the back of his Charizard and challenges Amethio to a Pokemon battle. Amethio selects his Ceruledge like in the previous episode, but Friethe sends out Captain Pikachu.
As the battle proceeds, Captain Pikachu tricks Ceruledge by using Double Team before making its way to the top of the airship, allowing a thunderbolt to strike it and supercharge its Volt Tackle attack.
Ceruledge strikes with another errant Psycho Cut, opening a hole in the airship where the Pokemon aboard are hiding. Liko initially calls out to stop the battle, saying that she'll give herself over to the Explorers, but Sprigatito arrives and convinces her to fight back.
Sprigatito attacks with a powerful Leafage move that breaks a portion of the barrier on the Wing Deck. This causes the storm's winds to throw Sprigatito overboard. The Explorers retreat, catching Sprigatito in midair and flying away as Liko cries out to her companion Pokemon.
Episode 3 - As Long as I'm With Nyahoja (Sprigatito), I'm Sure
After having a dream of her grandmother, Liko awakens on the Brave Asagi, remembering that her partner Pokemon Sprigatito is still at the mercy of the Explorers. She is determined to retrieve Sprigatito, but Friede states that he lost the trail and that Liko would stand no chance fighting the Explorers without a Pokemon at her side.
Friede also reveals that he and his group, the Rising Volt Tacklers, were hired by Liko's mother to protect her, which she is astonished by.
As the Brave Asagi pulls into a nearby port town, Murdock calls on his Rockruff to track Sprigatito's distinct sweet scent. Mollie sends Liko to pick up some Potions from a nearby Pokemon Center, where she meets Nurse Joy.
The sight of an injured Vulpix makes Liko remorseful about how Sprigatito is being treated by the Explorers, but it is revealed that Conia is showering the Grass-type Pokemon with snacks and gifts.
Amethio arrives and states that he won't mistreat Sprigatito or use it to bargain; he simply wants Liko and her mysterious pendant. Zir then alerts Amethio to the fact that the Rising Volt Tacklers have arrived in the port city.
Liko returns with the Potions, and Murdock's Rockruff finally catches Sprigatito's scent, coming from Conia, who had been shopping in the town in disguise. Conia flees and alerts the Explorers, who instruct her to lead the Rising Volt Tacklers to a nearby warehouse. Murdock stays behind to help the people knocked over by Conia while Liko and Friede give chase.
At the warehouse, Captain Pikachu and Amethio's Ceruledge battle once more, and Liko uses the battle as an opportunity to sneak further into the warehouse to find Sprigatito. Rockruff leads Liko to Sprigatito. Conia intervenes and fawns over Sprigatito's cuteness, but the Pokemon refuses to come to her. Conia calls her Skarmory to her side, and Liko orders Sprigatito to use Leafage to cover their escape.
On the warehouse rooftop, Ceruledge is decisively beating back Friede and Captain Pikachu, but a surprise Leafage attack from Sprigatito distracts Amethio and Ceruledge, allowing Captain Pikachu and Friede to escape on Charizard's back.
The group return to the Brave Asagi, where Liko confides that she trusts the Rising Volt Tacklers and realizes she understands her grandmother's words that being a Pokemon trainer is only scary at the beginning.
The Rising Volt Tacklers remark that they're setting out to learn about the mysteries of the Pokemon world, and Liko joins them in earnest as they set course for the Paldea region. Liko calls Ann and informs her that she'll have to attend classes at the Indigo Academy remotely.
Elsewhere, on a small island near Kanto, a boy named Roy discovers the ragged flag of the Brave Asagi on the beach, likely blown there by the storm in the first episode of Pokemon Horizons.
Episode 4 - A Washed-Ashore Treasure
Liko awakens on the Brave Asagi and hears a strange noise. When she and Sprigatito investigate, they find the sound coming from the ship's Fuecoco, which is singing.
Docking on a nearby island, Orla begins to make repairs to the inflatable bags of the Brave Asagi while Friede flies off with Charizard to find his former mentor and guardian. However, Fuecoco gives chase and ends up falling from the Brave Asagi.
Liko discovers that Fuecoco is missing and sets out to find it with Sprigatito. Fuecoco is seen snacking on berries, but Liko and Sprigatito arrive late and are ambushed by Pokemon in the forest.
Meanwhile, after dreaming of having his own Pokemon, Roy finds a set of footprints at his forest base and hears a nearby song, which he follows to find Fuecoco. The Fire-type Pokemon runs away, but Roy saves it before it falls off the side of a nearby cliff, where the two find the landing spot of the Brave Asagi.
Roy and Fuecoco begin singing together, and Friede fails to get assistance from his former guardian to repair the Brave Asagi's balloons and inflatable bags. After hearing a scream, Roy and Fuecoco run into the woods to find Liko and Sprigatito being attacked by wild Scyther.
By distracting the Scyther with a rock, Roy rescues Liko, learning Fuecoco's name and introducing themselves properly. Roy shows Liko his most valued possession, an ancient Pokeball found by his grandfather but which he's been unable to open.
Roy shares his dream to explore the world and find Legendary Pokemon as the ancient explorers did many years ago. However, the two's meeting results in them being beset by wild Pokemon again. Sprigatito and Fuecoco attempt to fight back but are bound by String Shots from Caterpie and Weedle. It is revealed that Fuecoco had eaten the wild Pokemon's stash of berries.
Friede and Captain Pikachu arrive to help, tricking the aggravated Pokemon into wrapping themselves up in their String Shots before feeding them berries to calm them down. After Roy and Liko are freed, Roy asks if Friede is a Pokemon Professor due to his skills, which Friede admits that he is.
Liko and Roy then gather up some berries for the forest Pokemon to replace those eaten by Fuecoco. Liko, Friede, Captain Pikachu, Sprigatito, Fuecoco, and Charizard head back to the Brave Asagi, but Roy realizes how badly he misses Fuecoco's company almost immediately.
Fuecoco continues to sing that night, waking Liko while Roy is incapable of falling asleep. Elsewhere, the Explorers contact a butler named Hamber, who works for the organization's leader Gibeon. Amethio asks Hamber not to alert Gibeon about the situation yet. Hamber tells Amethio not to underestimate the Rising Volt Tacklers.
Aboard a submarine, the group heads toward the Brave Asagi thanks to a tracking device that the Explorers left on the airship.
Episode 5 - I Found You, Hogator (Fuecoco)
Without being able to sleep, Roy heads towards the Brave Asagi, where it remained landed. However, as he tries boarding the ship, he is found and shocked by Captain Pikachu, which ends up alerting the Rising Volt Tacklers.
Liko and Friede find Roy, who apologizes and states that he simply wanted to see Fuecoco again. Friede allows Roy to spend the evening on the Brave Asagi. Roy attempts to find Fuecoco by singing the song he had sung with it in the previous episode.
However, Fuecoco is asleep after snacking in a food storage crate, unable to hear the song. Roy worries that Fuecoco may not like him, but Liko assures him that things will be okay, as Sprigatito took a while to warm up to her as well.
The next day, Orla is exhausted and incapable of fixing the inflatable sections of the Brave Asagi. Roy recommends seeking help from the island's wild Pokemon and potentially asking his grandfather for help. Roy leaves some berries for Fuecoco before he leaves. When Fuecoco finds them, Mollie informs it that Roy had left them. Fuecoco immediately jumps off the Brave Asagi to find Roy.
Elsewhere, Friede finds out that the old mentor he once had was, in fact, Roy's grandfather, who offers up some Dango for his guests. The Dango gives Friede the idea that they could use the wild Caterpie/Weedle to string up and close the holes in the Brave Asagi's inflatables, and Scyther could cut the strings.
Meanwhile, Fuecoco searches for Roy but is unsuccessful. However, the Fire-type Pokemon does notice the Explorers' submarine traipsing through the waters surrounding the island.
Onboard, Amethio instructs Conia and Zir to distract the Rising Volt Tacklers so that Liko and the pendant could be captured. Fuecoco runs and finds Roy's house, attempting to alert everyone to the Explorers' presence, and Friede flies off on Charizard to investigate.
Friede, Orla, and Murdock enter a standoff with Conia and Zir near the Brave Asagi, and Conia deduces that Liko must be in the direction that Friede arrived from. Liko explains to Roy and his grandfather who the Explorers are before they head into the forest to enlist the help of the wild Bug-type Pokemon.
The Bug Pokemon agree to assist, but Roy and Liko are intercepted by Conia. Liko readies for battle with Sprigatito and tells Roy to run ahead, and Mollie's Chansey steps into battle against Zir's Rhydon but is struggling to overcome it. The Bug Pokemon manage to patch the holes in the Brave Asagi.
Roy and Fuecoco attempt to take over in the battle against Rhydon, but Fuecoco can't unleash its fire attacks until Roy conveys his feelings for it by singing. The Ember attack distracts Friede, who had been facing off with Amethio, and Amethio falls back in the confusion. He uses his Pokemon Corviknight to stir up a whirlwind, diving in to kidnap Liko.
Episode 6 - The Ancient Monster Ball (Pokeball)
As Amethio's Corviknight swoops in, Liko's pendant activates and creates another shield around her. Roy's ancient Pokeball begins to glow, and Amethio faces off in a Pokemon battle against Liko and Roy with Ceruledge.
Sprigatito and Fuecoco can't measure up in the battle and are quickly beaten back, and Liko calls for help. Her pendant and Roy's Pokeball begin to glow, and the ancient Pokeball opens to release a shiny Rayquaza. After attacking with Draco Meteor, the Explorers retreat, and the black Rayquaza looks at Liko before flying away into the sky.
The Brave Asagi's fisherman Ludlow finds the tracking device on the airship and has his Quaxly break it. Liko, Roy, and Friede talk to Roy's grandfather about the black Rayquaza and the ancient Pokeball. However, Roy's grandfather doesn't have any answers to the Pokemon mystery, as he states that he had just found the Pokeball on the beach when he was a young man.
Mollie calls to inform the group that Sprigatito and Fuecoco are feeling better, so they return to the Brave Asagi, where Friede's Charizard gives Fuecoco an empty Pokeball.
On the beach, Roy tells Fuecoco he wants to keep spending time with it, and the Pokemon replies by spitting the empty Pokeball out of its mouth so that Roy can capture it.
Liko invites Roy to join the Rising Volt Tacklers on their adventure to Paldea, which he can now undertake as a trainer with a Pokemon to protect him. Roy's grandfather agrees to let Roy join the adventure, and Roy remarks that he will one day return on the back of the black Rayquaza.
Elsewhere, Amethio gives a report to the Explorers' leader Gibeon and is mocked for saying that a black Rayquaza foiled his plans. Roy returns the Brave Asagi flag he found on the beach to Friede, realizing that the storm brought him the treasure of meeting his Pokemon companion.
The Brave Asagi departs the island, with Liko and Roy waving to the people gathered from Roy's hometown to see him off, including his grandfather.
Episode 7 - Special Training! Captain Pikachu
As the Brave Asagi continues on toward Paldea, Roy challenges Liko to a Pokemon battle. However, the two inexperienced trainers essentially keep using Leafage and Ember back and forth, showing that Sprigatito and Fuecoco have a long way to go.
Friede installs a special Rising Volt Tacklers app on Liko and Roy's Rotom Phones and also bestows a Pokedex app to Roy.
The two Pokemon protagonists also meet attempt to meet Dot, a member of the Rising Volt Tacklers who developed the app and specializes in collecting information. However, the Water-type Pokemon Quaxly jumps out from the slot on Dot's door, wearing a note that depicts Roy and Fuecoco losing a battle.
The two return to Friede and ask for some help training, Friede agrees and assembles the team on the Wing Deck. Liko and Roy initially prepare to battle Friede's Charizard, but Captain Pikachu makes a flashy appearance instead and takes on Sprigatito and Fuecoco. Friede decides that Roy and Liko will be considered the victors if they can land a single hit on "Cap."
In a fierce battle, Sprigatito and Fuecoco attempt to remove Captain Pikachu's Double Team clones until only one is left. However, the overexertion causes the two starter Pokemon to fall asleep just as they're finally about to hit Cap.
After a quick lunch and some rest, Friede suggests that Liko and Roy used what they learned against Cap and face off in battle with each other again. During the battle, both Pokemon trainers notice that they're now reacting to their opponent instead of simply attacking ad nauseam.
Fuecoco moves in for a final Ember attack, but Sprigatito runs through it incredibly fast and knocks out Fuecoco, making Liko the winner. The two discover that Sprigatito used Quick Attack to secure the win, and the two Pokemon trainers thank Captain Pikachu for its mentorship.
Suddenly, the two are contacted by the elusive Dot. When they attempt to return to her room, Quaxly emerges again with another note. The note depicts a drawing of the black Rayquaza as well as the region of Paldea, implying this is where the powerful Legendary Pokemon has traveled to.
Episode 8 - The Secret of the Unopened Door
Roy and Fuecoco wake up in the middle of the night to find Friede and Murdock opening a hidden cabinet in the kitchen. However, Friede tells the two to head back to bed.
Friede and Murdock are disappointed to find a plate of uneaten donuts, so the two share them and talk while Quaxly eavesdrops nearby. When morning arrives, the Rising Volt Tacklers are having breakfast when it is shown that Dot's seat is empty. Friede points out that Dot is a bit of an introvert and tends to stay in her room and eat nutrient gummies instead of having breakfast with the rest of the team.
However, Mollie notices that many of the sweet ingredients on the ship have been going missing lately. Team members suspect Murdock and Friede have been making sweets in secret, and the team agrees to head to a nearby town to get more supplies.
Liko and Ann speak online before a class, both being excited about an upcoming live stream by Nidothing, a Pokemon personality that both girls enjoy. Meanwhile, Roy attempts to find the black Rayquaza in the clouds, but Friede points out that the Legendary Pokemon resides in the stratosphere. This inspires Roy to search the unexplored reaches of the world.
After carrying out a few chores around the Brave Asagi, Liko searches for food in the kitchen before accidentally opening the hidden cabinet and getting surprised by a blast from Alcremie.
Murdock points out to her that there are lunchboxes available for the team to eat, so Liko grabs boxes for herself and Ludlow before noticing Dot has a lunchbox as well. Liko attempts to reach out to Dot to have her eat lunch with the group by heading to her room, where she hears audio from a Nidothing video.
Liko offers to let Dot watch the Nidothing livestream with her, but Dot frantically barks out a reply before panicking about the current time. Liko apologizes for disturbing her and leaves Dot's lunch by her door and heads out. It is then revealed that Dot is Nidothing as she dons the streamer's costume.
In the nearby town, Roy asks around about the black Rayquaza, where a salesman remarks that a young man and two of his comrades had asked about the same Pokemon not long ago.
Thinking these individuals may be tied to the Explorers, Friede offers to buy the salesman's wares in the hope of getting more info. Liko tunes into Nidothing's stream, where she leaves a comment asking for advice on how to make friends.
Nidothing replies by stating that friendship is like a Pokemon battle, which emboldens Liko to keep trying to befriend Dot (unaware that Dot and Nidothing are the same person).
Back in town, Roy wins his first Pokemon battle against a Spearow before the Rising Volt Tacklers head back to the ship. Roy challenges Liko to a Pokemon battle outside of Dot's room, which causes the girl to shout from behind her door again. The duo asks what Dot's interests are, and she brings up the ancient Pokeball and the black Rayquaza. The two joke that Dot may be pretty close to the mystery before Roy heads off to the kitchen.
Liko thanks Dot and leaves. Dot eventually reads a message from Murdock stating that he found a new recipe book. To Murdock's delight, he checks the hidden cabinet in the kitchen later in the night to find that Dot has eaten the donuts he left for her.
The next morning, Friede and Captain Pikachu wake up, and Cap notices something on the horizon. Upon closer examination, Friede finds that the team has finally made their way to the Paldea region, no doubt complete with many more Pokemon adventures and challenges.