'Dubai is so captivating': Meet the voice behind Pokémon’s Ash Ketchum

Rica Matsumoto will meet and greet fans at Hamley's in Dubai Mall until Sunday


SM Ayaz Zakir

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Rica Matsumoto. — Supplied photo
Rica Matsumoto. — Supplied photo

Published: Sat 29 Jul 2023, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Sat 29 Jul 2023, 10:27 PM

Many born in the 1980s will surely remember the popular Japanese anime series Pokémon. It was a habit for us to watch at least one episode daily. And, of course, everyone can remember Ash Ketchum, the main protagonist in the first 25 seasons of the cartoon series.

Now, here’s your chance to meet in Dubai the voice behind Ash, known as Satoshi in Japanese. Rica Matsumoto, the popular voice artist, is currently in town and she will meet and greet fans at Hamley's in Dubai Mall until Sunday.

Khaleej Times had a chance to meet Matsumoto on Friday and she said: “This is my first trip to Dubai, and I am very excited. I love the warm and welcoming nature of the people, and I feel like I’m at home.

“The culture and traditions of Dubai are also captivating,” she added as she shared snippets of her life and how she became the voice of Ash.


Born into a family with a solid acting background, Matsumoto's father was a respected actor in numerous plays. Matsumoto said: “I was inspired by my father's performances and his ability to bring joy to people. I aspired to follow in his footsteps from a young age and even acted alongside my father in my early days.”

Matsumoto, however, lost her brother while growing up, and that left a void in her life. Out of sadness, she developed a disease that weakened her body, making it too risky to participate in stage plays.

But Matsumoto's love of performing and acting took her into another path in the entertainment industry, and it was her incredible voice that truly distinguished her.


She shared: “Encouragement from directors, actors, and others led me to consider a career as a voice-over artist, where I used my voice to breathe life into characters without compromising my health.”

The voice artist

Matsumoto said of her career: "More than just a job, being a voice artist means giving a soul to the character and bringing life to scripts, ensuring that the audience can connect with the stories on a deeper level.”

Since its inception in 1996, Pokémon has captivated generations of fans worldwide. Satoshi Tajiri and Ken Sugimori created the anime, which first debuted as a video game for the Game Boy in Japan. Soon after, it started as a card game, an animated TV series, movies, and merchandise. The colourful and diverse Pokémon characters fostered a sense of wonder and imagination in young fans.

Rica Matsumoto with Dr Rashed AlFarooq, CEO of Speedy Comics.
Rica Matsumoto with Dr Rashed AlFarooq, CEO of Speedy Comics.

Spreading love and peace

“The role of Satoshi or Ash Ketchum in Pokémon became my most iconic and cherished character, lasting for 25 years,” Matsumoto satisfyingly shared, adding: “My main message through the character was to spread love and peace worldwide, irrespective of age, culture, colour, and ethnicity.”

The character has left an indelible mark among fans. Till now, Matsumoto has been getting a lot of joy from interacting with the audience, and she shared a touching story about how her performance as Satoshi had a significant influence on an unwell youngster.

The boy was admitted to a hospital and was unconscious for a long time. Matsumoto wished to meet him but couldn't. She recorded instead a get-well-soon message in Satoshi's voice only for him.

“His mother played the audio note, and while he was still unconscious, he smiled and regained consciousness after hearing the message," Matsumoto said, noting how the voice she gave to a popular anime had a good influence on people.

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