Ash is swimming in a river, filled with many Water Pokémon, when a Gyarados comes towards him and lifts him out of the water. Ash calls Pikachu for help, jumping off Gyarados before Pikachu uses Thunderbolt on the Atrocious Pokémon. The young Trainer then throws a Poké Ball at Gyarados, but after a few shakes, Gyarados escapes the attempted capture and swims away. Taking the loss well, Ash waves Gyarados goodbye before turning his attention to Ren, another Trainer who had been swimming with him. Once both of them are in their proper clothes, they have a brief battle, which ends with Pikachu defeating Ren's Machamp with a Thunderbolt. Ash and Pikachu then make their way to a Pokémon Center, where Ash's mother Delia contacts them and tells Ash that she's in Tonari Town, where she's going to be meeting Ash's father the next day. Excited at the thought of seeing his father again after a long time, Ash sets off towards Tonari Town. Behind him, the Team Rocket trio sheds their latest disguises and bolts off after him, once again aiming to steal Pikachu.
After passing through a tunnel under a giant tree, Ash enters a forest teeming with Pokémon. He and Pikachu settle down for the night, but when Ash is woken up by a Lickitung the next morning, he notices that Pikachu is gone. A boy appears and offers to lead Ash to Pikachu, revealing to him that he was taken away by some weird people in weird clothes. They quickly find Team Rocket in the midst of celebrating their apparent success and seemingly inevitable admin promotion. Ash descends down a cliff to confront the three, who have sealed Pikachu inside an insulated capsule, with the only key to it being in their possession. However, while they routinely perform their motto, Ash casually takes the key from them and frees Pikachu, who then proceeds to send them blasting off, ending yet another one of their schemes in failure.
Ash thanks the boy, who introduces himself as Haruto, for his help, and offers to shake his hand. Instead of taking the offered hand, however, Haruto asks what touching Pokémon is like, since he's never experienced it himself, despite loving Pokémon very much. Ash describes the sensation as warming and soft, and offers to find a Pokémon from the forest for Haruto to touch. Unfortunately, each of these attempts ends in failure, until the escape from a horde of Beedrill leads the two boys in the middle of an Oran Berry orchard next to a house. Inside they see a man painting pictures of the sky, with Haruto pointing out the painting that he considers his favorite. A woman named Sae appears, while her husband, So, briefly comes out of the house. Ash turns around to address Haruto, only see that he's gone. So tells Ash he can take as as many Oran Berries as he wants, while Sae offers to help Ash to pick some. The gathered Oran Berries are piled in a basket, with Sae also throwing in a couple of breads made from the Berries in the forest. Ash thanks her and leaves, reuniting with Haruto as soon as the house is out of sight. Haruto apologizes for leaving unexpectedly and says he just chased after a Pokémon he saw. Ash offers him one of the breads he got, but Haruto claims he's already eaten a plentiful breakfast and lets Ash have both. While confused by this, Ash accepts this and sits down to eat with Pikachu.
Seeing how well Ash understands Pikachu, Haruto asks Ash's help with something and leads him to a pack of Mankey, one of whom is wearing a cap that Haruto acknowledges as his favorite hat. Ash recalls how his hat was also once stolen by a Mankey and agrees to help, but refrains from using Pikachu in order to avoid damaging the hat with his Electric attacks. Instead, he confronts the Mankey and tells them to return the hat. The Mankey refuse, forcing Ash to chase the one wearing the cap, until it ends up accidentally running onto an Onix. Ash saves Mankey from falling off from Onix and retrieves the hat. Mankey is upset from losing the hat it liked, so Ash gives it his own hat as compensation. He tries to return Haruto's hat, but Haruto keeps moving ahead every time he approaches him, eventually leading him back to So and Sae's house. Seeing Haruto's hat in his hands, they ask where he found it. When Ash explains that Haruto asked him to retrieve it, So accuses him of lying, while Sae breaks down in tears.
Inside the house, Ash learns that Haruto is actually So and Sae's son, who got very sick a year earlier and died as a result, explaining why he had refused to shake Ash's hand or eat anything. He had loved to play with the forest Pokémon every day and dreamed of becoming a Pokémon Trainer once he grew up. Ever since losing him, So has only been able to paint the skies that his son loved to watch. Ash points out the painting that Haruto had named as his favorite, which Sae reveals to be from one of the rare times when the entire family had been together at the same time. Losing Haruto had taught her that the comforts of life that she had taken for granted will not be around forever, so now she always remembers to thank each of them for being there. Once Ash leaves the house, So decides to start painting more than just skies now, wanting to also immortalize the forests and the Pokémon that Haruto had loved.
While making his way through the forest, Ash encounters Haruto once more. Remembering that Haruto never got to touch a Pokémon, he offers him a chance to touch Pikachu. Haruto tries to do so, but his ghostly hand just phases through Pikachu. Ash knows what to do, so he embraces Haruto and has him bring his hand on top of his, using his Aura to transfer the sensation of touching Pikachu into Haruto, who finds the experience just as comforting as Ash had described. When Ash opens his eyes again, Haruto has disappeared. Leaving the forest through another tunnel under a big tree, Ash sees a sky that looks exactly like Haruto's favorite sky. Remembering Sae's words, he takes a moment to thank Pikachu for being there.
Arriving in Tonari Town at dusk, Ash is disappointed to learn from Delia that his father has already left due to an emergency, although he did leave him a present in the form of a new hat. Delia then makes Ash some croquettes to satisfy his hunger, even offering some to a disguised and starving Team Rocket in the next table over. While eating, Ash finds himself crying, though he's not sure why he's feeling sad.
The next day, Ash prepares to head out once more, having heard that an Entei has been spotted nearby, and everyone is trying to find and catch it. Delia manages to feed him a mouthful of toast before he runs off, pursued by Team Rocket, who take a moment to thank Delia for the croquettes before resuming their endless pursuit. Dashing through the woods, Ash enters a wide open field, continuing his journey under the distant blue sky.