The original airing credited 志村泉 Izumi Shimura and 岩根雅明 Masaaki Iwane as animation directors in addition to Hiroshi Sakai.
Pikachu's Goodbye (Japanese: ピカチュウのもりForest of Pikachu) is the 39th episode of the Pokémon anime. It was first broadcast in Japan on April 16, 1998 and in the United States on November 20, 1998. It was the first episode to air after the EP038 incident. Notably, it is also, with EP040, the first hour-long Pokémon special.
Misty and Brock continue to journey with Ash as he seeks to become a Pokémon Master. Passing through a beautiful forest, the three of them stop for a rest. As they enjoy the restful mood, Pikachu notices something staring at them from the shadows of the bush around them. Realizing that they are being watched by a group of wild Pikachu, Pikachu bounds after them into the woods. Paying no heed to Ash's call, Pikachu runs further and further into the wild unknown. Though they seem frightened at first, the group eventually opens up to Pikachu and they play together as friends. Will the group be as receptive to Ash when he makes his presence known?
As Misty and Brock rest in a forest clearing, Ash swings on a vine, but he slams into a tree trunk. Pikachu rushes to Ash's side, though he notices a small Pikachu. Pikachu runs after it, as Ash, Misty, and Brock follow him. The pursuit ends at a forest clearing, where they find a whole clan of Pikachu with the small Pikachu. Pikachu, eager to say hello, jumps forward, but the wildPikachu become scared and run off. Pikachu becomes disheartened, but the small Pikachu comes over and shakes tails to greet him. Soon after, the other Pikachu surround Ash's, and Brock claims they must have accepted him. Ash, also eager to join the Pikachu clan, runs toward them, but they feel scared and flee.
Later, Ash asks Brock and Misty why the Pikachu ran away. Brock tells him that he probably scared the Pikachu because they were not used to human contact. The small Pikachu, watching their conversation from a nearby tree branch, falls into a river and Ash's Pikachu jumps in to save it. Before the pair are about to go down a waterfall, the other Pikachu grab each other's tails to save them, and they succeed. As a reward for his effort, Ash's Pikachu receives an apple and is hoisted up by the other Pikachu, who cheer. Brock keeps Ash back from Pikachu, encouraging him to just observe. Meanwhile, Team Rocket sees the group of Pikachu and decide to capture all of them for their Boss.
Night falls, and all of the Pikachu start singing their Pikachu chant. Ash and his friends watch on and see how happy Ash's Pikachu is. Over dinner, Ash becomes sad and loses his appetite, but when asked what was wrong, he claims it was nothing. He stays up, watching the fire, to reflect on Pikachu's happiness, and concludes that Pikachu should be with his own kind. Suddenly, the Pikachu scream for help, waking Misty and Brock. The trio goes to investigate and finds all of the Pikachu captured by Team Rocket in an electric-proof net. James ensnares Ash and his friends in another net while they make their getaway. Pikachu begins chewing through the net; the others follow suit, and they soon begin their escape. Ash and his friends hold up the net they were captured in and the Pikachu jump into it unharmed. However, Ash's Pikachu, who escaped first, makes its way to Team Rocket and bites a hole in the balloon, sending them blasting off.
Ash catches his friend, though he soon decides to leave him with the other Pikachu. Misty and Brock confront Ash by the campsite, where he announces his plans and claims Pikachu would be happier with its own kind. Pikachu reappears and starts following him, but Ash yells at him to stay behind and runs away. Eventually, Ash stops running, with Misty and Brock catching up to him. As the sun rises, Ash's Pikachu shakes tails with the small Pikachu and all of the wild Pikachu started chanting, before Pikachu runs into Ash's arms. Ash is touched by the gesture, and he starts to cry.
Explanation of EP038 incident
Miyuki explaining the incident
The first broadcast in Japan begins with Miyuki Yadama formally greeting the viewers while surrounded by Pokémon dolls. Miyuki mentions that the Pocket Monsters anime will be starting again soon. Miyuki then mentions the details of the incident and apologies for the issue and its effects on the viewers.
Miyuki continues by discussing the hiatus and the reason why the anime was taken off the air, mentioning that research was conducted into how the incident occurred with the help of doctors, Japanese government officials, and the broadcasting stations. She highlights that the main cause of the issue was a scene where the colors red and blue were rapidly switched at a rate higher than 24 frames per second. She then notes early hypotheses that had been rejected, such as the effect of strong lights. She mentions that the research found that striped or swirling patterns and the color red should be used with care.
The scene then switches to a board with letters, drawings, and postcards from viewers in support of the anime. After focusing on two of the drawings, Miyuki thanks the viewers for the letters of encouragement.
After the scene changes back, Miyuki makes a request for all viewers to watch television at a distance from the screen and in a room that is well lit. The debriefing ends with a shot of the Pokémon around Miyuki.
Not counting the flashbacks, Pikachu and Meowth were the only two species of Pokémon seen in this episode. This is the lowest number of Pokémon species appearing in an anime episode.
The episode's plot later became similar to that of A Plethora of Pikachu!, which also revolves around a location where a large number of Pikachu live. In addition, that episode marked the anime's move from its Thursday 6:55 PM time-slot to a Sunday 6:00 PM slot, the first time the show changed its airing day since the aforementioned EP038 incident.
After Team Rocket finishes their motto, James says, "We'd like to thank all of our fans for their loyalty and support. This victory is for them." This obviously breaks the fourth wall, and possibly referencing how Pokémon fans in Japan helped get the anime back on air after EP038.
The episode title is spelled Pickachu's Goodbye on the back of the box of the Australian VHS release.
When the wild Pikachu save the smaller Pikachu and Ash's Pikachu from going over the waterfall, all of the wild Pikachu in the chain have a torn tail. This is a result of the animation studio cycling the animation in order to save time.
Some care was taken into this scene as only the leader Pikachu has torn ears.
Later scenes are inconsistent with the number of Pikachu which have torn tails. This could be up for interpretation as the number of Pikachu Team Rocket steals is much greater than depicted in any other scene.
At this time, the leader Pikachu is missing the brown at the base of its tail when its rear end is facing the viewer.
The number of Pikachu changes throughout the episode. Although about 30 Pikachu are present when Ash, Pikachu, Brock, and Misty first see the group of Pikachu, the number of Pikachu increases greatly when Team Rocket steal the Pikachu and fly off with their balloon.
In the Japanese version of the scene leading up to the Ash and Pikachu montage, Ash originally yelled at Misty and Brock to shut up when they asked why he's leaving Pikachu. Then, when he was saying his goodbyes to Pikachu, Ash's voice was trembling as he was trying not to cry. Additionally, there was originally no music playing from the moment Ash puts out the campfire until he starts running away.
The original montage of Ash and Pikachu is different in both versions. The original Japanese version has clips that are shown in chronological episodic order. The dubbed English version have clips from certain episodes in random order, with many clips missing from the original Japanese version, and it also has some clips not present in the original Japanese version.
In the Tamil Hungama TV dub of this episode, there is no voice of the narrator throughout the episode.