CotD: Damian – A pile of dog crap that calls itself a Pokemon trainer, Damian uses and abuses his Pokemon like tools. He doesn’t even care of one of his most loyal Pokemon dies if they’re seen as weak and useless in his eyes. He’s one of the few examples of a bad person in the Pokemon world who really doesn’t get much in terms of comeuppance outside of getting a quick burn by Charmander. Also, for some reason, he’s Australian in the dub.
Pokemon: He has lots of Pokemon according to his Pokeball count. He used to own Charmander, but he’s not seen using anyone else.
Reappear? No, thank god. However, it should be noted that he does appear, in a more polished fashion, later on in Best Wishes! In a flashback.
Pokemon debuts – Ash’s Charmander: Charmander has a rough backstory in that he was previously owned by a trainer who only cared about power in a Pokemon. He didn’t care about befriending them or respecting their feelings at all. His trainer, Damian, left him to die on a rock by tricking him into thinking he’d return, but Charmander refused to leave. After realizing how much of an ass Damian was, Charmander decided to be Ash’s Pokemon since he and his friends made the effort to rescue him. Despite being a fiercely loyal and powerful Pokemon in Ash’s roster, he eventually developed severe behavior problems when he evolved into Charmeleon and eventually Charizard.
Plot: Still lost in the woods on the way to Vermillion City, Ash and the others come across a Charmander laying on a rock. Ash is excited to capture one, but Misty and Brock point out that it’s in rough shape and will need to go to a Pokemon Center immediately after Ash captures it. Ash attempts the capture, but Charmander swats the Pokeball away. He tries again, and is able to get it into the ball, but the capture is unsuccessful.
In an effort to figure out what Charmander’s deal is, Pikachu speaks with it. Through charades, Pikachu tells Ash that Charmander actually has an owner and he’s waiting on the rock for him to return. Under the realization that the Charmander has an owner, the group finds it best to leave it be while hoping the trainer returns soon.
Later, Ash, Misty and Brock reach the Pokemon Center just in time to dodge a storm. Meanwhile, Charmander tries its best to keep its tail flame lit since extinguishing it results in the death of any of the Char evolution line.
Brock continues to worry about the Charmander, and his worries are soon realized when a nearby Pokemon trainer, named Damian, starts openly bragging about how he abandoned his Charmander for being too weak and laughs about how he tricked him into thinking he’d come back for him.
Brock, enraged by Damian’s cruelty, walks up to him and demands that he go back and get Charmander. Damian vehemently refuses, and a huge battle between Ash, Misty, Brock as well as Damian and his friends nearly starts before Nurse Joy shows up and reminds them that Pokemon battles are not to be used to settle personal disputes.
Damian and his friends leave and Brock and the others rush off to save Charmander before his tail flame goes out.
Charmander is suddenly attacked by a flock of Spearow until he is saved by Ash, Misty and Brock. They barely make it to the Pokemon center in time and Joy gets to work on treating Charmander.
After several hours of tense waiting, Joy emerges to share the good news that Charmander will be fine after a night of rest. The next morning, the group realizes that Charmander escaped from the Pokemon center in the middle of the night to go back to the rock to wait for Damian. Ash and Brock want to go get him back, but Misty and Joy explain that they can’t force Charmander to go with them or forget Damian. Brock and Ash resign and the group leaves the Pokemon center hoping that Charmander will soon realize that Damian’s not coming back and eventually return to the wild.
Meanwhile, Team Rocket uses their super duper new hole-digging machine to create another pitfall trap for the group in order to capture Pikachu. They capture Ash and the others in the hole while Team Rocket captures Pikachu in a rubber balloon.
As they’re about to leave, Charmander shows up and demands that they release Pikachu. When they refuse, Charmander Flamethrowers them and they run away.
Damian suddenly returns for Charmander after seeing it defeat Team Rocket. He claims that his abandoning it was for the better since it toughened it up and made it a worthwhile Pokemon without him even needing to bother raising it. Brock and the others try to convince Charmander that it’s not worth going with Damian since he only cares about winning matches and doesn’t care about Charmander. Damian tries to force Charmander back into his Pokeball, but Charmander swats it away with his tail causing it to smack into Damian’s face. Damian attempts to throw out numerous Pokemon to force Charmander to go back with him, but Charmander and Pikachu deliver a nice dose of Flamethrower and Thunderbolt to Damian causing him to run away.
Once Damian is defeated, Charmander turns to Ash and Brock. Brock decides to step aside and let Ash capture Charmander since he knows he’ll raise it well and have plenty of great matches with it (Well, half of that statement was true anyway). Ash captures Charmander, and they all continue on their journey to Vermillion City with their new fiery friend along for the ride.
– We’re still using the Pokemon logo when we say ‘Pokemon’ in the title screen? I really thought that was a one or two-shot deal, yet it continues…
– Seems really weird to me that Ash and Misty are considering battling Charmander to capture it when they are already well aware that it’s weak and/or sick/injured. That’s like seeing a weak deer in the forest, wondering how to get it to a vet and then thinking it’d be a good idea to sic a coyote on it to make it easier.
Wouldn’t it make more sense to try and get the local Nurse Joy out to treat it? Or maybe try to find an Officer Jenny to help get to a Pokemon Center considering these types of things seem to be somewhat under her job description? They have several options available to them but they just decide that since Charmander’s being so difficult that they’ll just leave it there.
– Misty: “I think this Charmander has an attitude problem.” Wha….no way. There is no way that they actually foreshadowed Charmeleon and Charizard’s behavior problems this early….No way….right? Hm.
– Brock: “Hey Ash, why don’t you try to figure out what Pikachu’s trying to say?” Hey Brock, he was totally already doing that, pay attention.
– While I love Maddie Blaustein’s portrayal of Meowth, she is just so awkward as Damian. And I really don’t know why he was made to be Australian either.
– I know that Damian is a totally over-exaggerated antagonist, but I really do hate this guy. If you really want to piss me off as quickly as possible, animal (or in this case, Pokemon) abuse will do the trick. Laughing about animal abuse will make a few veins in my face pop up to say ‘hi’. Laughing about the possibility that the animal is dead (which they actually do here, holy crap) is white hot flash of rage.
– Not only all that, but he pronounces Charmander as ‘Charminder’, and that bugs me a lot more than it should.
– I know its still early in 4Kids’ career so hearing ‘die’ over and over in this episode shouldn’t be that noteworthy, but it really does seem like Charmander is the exception to the rule when it comes to talking about death.
– Ah, the 90’s, when ‘nerd’ was a valid random insult. Nowadays you have to go on the Internet and find a poorly prepared troll to get that insult thrown at you.
– I honestly don’t know why Brock and the others are trying to demand that Damian take Charmander back. I mean, it’s quite obvious that this guy is a complete asshole who likely abuses what Pokemon he actually keeps, if his laughter at abandonment and possible death by neglect are any indication. Why would they want Charmander to go back with him? He abandoned him. Just go back and get him. I know Charmander’s super loyal and wants to stay on that rock no matter what, but if it’s a matter of life and death, just go and grab him.
– Speaking of which, how do wild Charmander deal with nearly dying at every rain shower?
– Nice faces in this shot.
– Okay, is there ever an instance where Spearow aren’t a bunch of complete jerks? I am legitimately curious.
– I don’t know why, but it’s bothering me that Team Rocket’s voices aren’t muffled in those anti-Pikachu suits.
– I get the science behind the rubber balloon capturing Pikachu, to a degree, but how is it following him? Static?
– Ah, it’s so nice to see that it’s never too early in the series for Ash and the others to completely forget that they have other Pokemon besides Pikachu. Bulbasaur could Vine Whip them out of the hole. Pidgeotto could pop the balloon and tear holes in Team Rocket’s suits, which they aren’t even wearing after they capture Pikachu so that makes it even easier. Onix could make a staircase/ladder out of the hole. Staryu or Starmie could fill the hole up with water with their Water Guns and they could swim out. That would take a long time, but I needed another viable example.
– Another instance of the skeleton showing up when someone’s electrocuted.
– What the….did Damian’s other Pokemon just disintegrate after the Flamethrower and Thunderbolt? One second he’s holding like 100 Pokeballs over his head, defying the laws of physics I think, then after the attack the Pokeballs are just gone.
– Ash’s first capture not involving a battle. Definitely won’t be the last.
Two down and one to go in the Kanto starter trilogy, and this episode, despite being the most memorable, does have a few big problems with it. It does seem really weird that they set up the entire episode like Brock will get Charmander in the end, yet Ash gets it. Why? Because he kept his tail flame from going out. Yeah, he deserves Charmander for holding a jacket over its tail and watching it. I’m not saying it wasn’t kind, I’m just a little confused.
Brock was the one who carried it away. Brock was the one worrying like crazy over it even when Ash and Misty had mostly gotten over it. Brock was the one who nearly beat up Damian and demanded he return to Charmander. He was the one we kept cutting away to with worrying thoughts of Charmander. Misty had about as much to do here as Ash did, so why does Ash get him?
One reason; because Brock is or will eventually become such an inert character that Charmander would rarely come out and we’d never get Charizard. Giving him to Ash is the only way that we’d see Charmander on a regular basis and eventually get Charizard.
Even so, why couldn’t they have had Charmander and Brock have a little bit of a friendship? A special connection? Something? Brock and Charmander don’t act any more friendly to each other than Brock and any other of Ash or Misty’s Pokemon.
Also, this episode just really brings to light the confusion behind Charmeleon and eventually Charizard’s later behavior issues. Ash and the others were Charmander’s supposedly first actual loving connections with humans, and it was one of Ash’s most loyal Pokemon. Then it evolves into Charmeleon and suddenly its entire personality changes. It becomes an insufferable ass who constantly reminds us that Ash is an idiot trainer.
I mean, neglect, possible abuse and abandonment would probably do a number on you, emotionally and mentally, but it was just so jarring. No other Pokemon I can think of had such a drastic change of personality merely because of evolution, but then again I haven’t remained current on the series in years.
It is a thing in the games that training a Pokemon with a level higher than your training abilities, indicated by your badge numbers, will mean they will disobey you. Though that’s something I never had happen since I don’t think I ever entered into that situation. However, Ash gets all of his badges, goes through some of the Indigo League tournament and even most of the Orange League before Charizard finally listens, but that’s a mini-rant for another day.
Finally, while I can believe full heartedly that people this asshole-ish exist, Damian is a really bad character. He’s so hammy, they’d probably serve him for Christmas dinner. His dialogue, the way he looks, the way he acts, especially his voice, just everything. Also, early Kanto seems to have a real issue with horrible accents.
I do like this episode, though. I love Charmander, the story is believable, sad and memorable, and it was a darker episode than normal dealing with possible death, Pokemon abandonment/neglect/abuse and even a near fist fight. It’s just not a great episode as a whole, though.
Next episode, the end of our Kanto starter trilogy; the Squirtle Squad! Prepare for a really silly threat, a weird hostage situation, darker themes yet again and the first appearance of unedited guns on Pokemon!