Pokemon Journeys‘s third and latest anime opening teased that Iris would be making her return to the Pokemon anime after eight years of absence, but to avoid spoilers, it didn’t give any indication of the context behind her reappearance. Instead, it just flashed her along with several other characters already featured in Pokemon Journeys or characters Pokemon Journeys plans to feature in the future, such as Gary Oak. As of now, though, her ambiguous return has some clarity.
Pokemon Journeys will officially see Iris make her anime comeback in its 64th episode. The confirmation comes through promotional pics and even a summary of the episode that she’ll be guest-starring in. According to the information, the episode — titled “Reunion of the past, present, and future!? Vs. Kairyu!!” — will air on April 30, four episodes from the present-day. Kairyu is the Japanese name of Dragonite, Iris’s strongest Pokemon back in Black and White.
As the “Vs.” of the title implies, the episode will revolve around a battle, one that will likely feature Ash’s Dragonite against Iris’s — at least as the main event. The episode summary reads that Iris actually reaches out to Ash for the battle, having sent him a request for it. Why she wants to battle is unclear, but most likely, she’s heard of Ash’s Alola championship along with his standing in the World Coronation series; she wants to test her mettle against him since her dream is to become a Dragon-type master.
A battle between Ash and Iris after all this time should be an interesting one. Iris is arguably the most powerful traveling companion Ash has ever had. She herself is a champion in the Black and White video game series. Her anime adaptation is different from the games, of course, but considering Ash is a champion now, it wouldn’t be surprising if Iris returned as one too. Her Dragonite could also teach Ash’s a thing or two about anger to help it learn Outrage.
More than anything, it’ll be interesting to see how Iris has changed in the time she’s spent away from the anime. She should conceivably be coming back with a nightmare of a team being a Dragon-type trainer — or at least, a trainer with a preference and affinity for Dragon-type Pokemon. Her Axew should be a Haxorus by now, and her Gible should be a Garchomp. Maybe she’ll even challenge Ash with an entirely different team than what’s expected.
Pokemon Journeys is available now on Netflix.