Pokemon Episode Analysis Ep. 12: Here Comes the Squirtle Squad

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CotD(s): None

Pokemon Captures: Ash’s Squirtle – Previously the leader of the prankster gang turned firefighter group, the Squirtle Squad, Ash’s Squirtle has a bit of a cocky attitude, but is ultimately very loyal to Ash. Behind Bulbasaur and discounting Pikachu, Squirtle stays on Ash’s team the longest throughout the series.

Plot: After gaining two new Pokemon in Bulbasaur and Charmander, Ash happily continues on his Pokemon journey only to end up in yet another pit. It’s not Team Rocket this time; instead it’s a gang of Squirtle who dug the hole as a prank.

Ash attempts to capture the leader of the Squirtle, noted by his angular glasses that contrast to the rest of the Squirtle having circular ones. However, one of the other Squirtle takes the brunt of Pikachu’s electric attack to protect the leader. Wanting revenge, the leader faces off against Pikachu but the Squirtle suddenly run off when they hear police sirens.

The Officer Jenny of the nearby town greets the group and explains that they encountered The Squirtle Squad, a group of Squirtle who have all been abandoned by their trainers and now play pranks all over town.

Team Rocket watches Ash and the others from afar, and just as they’re about to enjoy a picnic lunch, the Squirtle Squad appears again and forcibly takes Team Rocket’s lunch from them after catching them in a pitfall trap and tying them to a tree. Team Rocket hatches a plan to have the Squirtle get Pikachu for them. The Squirtle won’t hear Jessie and James out because they don’t trust humans, but Meowth hatches a plan to pretend that the two are actually his ‘pets’ to gain the trust of the Squirtle.

Meanwhile, Ash and the others rest near a river bank when one of the Squirtle appears and starts making trouble for them. Ash tries attacking with Pikachu, but he ends up in the river after a Rapid Spin attack. While trying to swim to shore, Pikachu suffers from a Horn Attack from a Goldeen, leaving him weak and injured on the river bank.

Ash tries to help him, but he, Misty and Brock all end up getting tied up by the other Squirtle. Now their hostages, Ash and the others try to reason with the Squirtle Squad to get some Super Potion for the badly wounded Pikachu. They initially refuse, but after seeing how desperate Ash is to help his friend, they agree. They say that he only has until noon tomorrow to go to the next town and get the Super Potion or else Misty’s hair will be dyed purple.

Ash heads off as fast as he can, and after a dangerous journey he finally makes it to the desolate desert town. However, as soon as he arrives, he’s knocked unconscious by someone slamming the door to the shop in his face.

The next morning, Team Rocket holds up the same shop that Ash is next to. They steal all of the flash powder to scare off the Squirtle Squad from the town in an attempt to steal Pikachu from them in the resulting commotion. They run off, and Ash sets off after them but not before getting the Super Potion for Pikachu. Jenny saves Ash from the storeowners who mistake Ash for another member of Team Rocket, and with Super Potion in hand, they drive towards the Squirtle Squad’s base on Jenny’s motorcycle before the time limit is up.

With the bridge out, Jenny leads Ash to a secret entrance in the cave where he eventually finds his friends safe and sound, as well as freed. Misty states that Squirtle Squad aren’t as bad as they first thought and had no intention of ever dying Misty’s hair. They quickly apply the Super Potion to Pikachu, but as soon as they spray it on, Team Rocket arrives and they put their plan into motion. Team Rocket makes off with Pikachu while the others try to protect themselves from the bombs in the cave.

The leader Squirtle is stuck on his back outside of the cave and nearly gets blasted by the bombs, but Ash rushes in and protects Squirtle by covering his body with his own.

As more bombs fall, Ash urges Squirtle to run off and save himself, but Squirtle, touched by Ash’s sacrifice, instead gets up, picks Ash up and runs toward the cave while dodging all of the bombs.

Ash and Squirtle work together to send Team Rocket blasting off and save Pikachu, but the bombs have caused a forest fire. Ash suggests that the Squirtle Squad use their Water Guns together to put out the blaze, and they succeed in saving the forest. Thrilled with their bravery in saving the town, Jenny appoints the Squad as the town firefighters.

Later, as Ash and the others continue on their journey, the leader Squirtle starts following them. Ash asks if he’d like to join him on his journey, and he accepts. With a new Squirtle by his side, Ash continues on to the next town and his next gym challenge.

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Narrator: “You’ll recall in a previous Pokemon adventure, our hero, Ash, achieved his dream of catching a Bulbasaur with a shocking victory.” Wha…it was his dream now? His first choice back when he was selecting a starter was Squirtle. I get that he really wanted one, but if it was his ‘dream’ why wasn’t it his first choice?

Narrator: “And that’s how Ash caught Charmander and Bulbasaur.” Well, to be fair, he only legit caught Bulbasaur. Charmander just decided to go with him.

– What is up with the text crawl for today’s title? It goes way faster than usual, which I guess is better because it helps prevent the awkward pauses that Ash usually has to do in order to match up with the speed, but it’s just weird.

– Ya know, this happens so often that I’m just going to make this a new thing.

Why Use the Pokedex? – Squirtle. He should know very well what a friggin’ Squirtle is. In fact, of all Pokemon, he should know more about the starters than anything. First, I believe Ash thought day and night over which Pokemon he’d select for his starter. Second, he watched an educational program on the starters before his journey. Finally, his dream sequence in the first episode indicates that he does have a fair amount of knowledge on them.

– Also, I know this is their legit classification, but I find it kinda silly to be intimidated by ‘the tiny turtle Pokemon.’

– I know that one of the staples of the series is the odd fact that every city and town has their own Nurse Joy and Officer Jenny that are all supposedly sisters/cousins who all look the same (except the emblem on their hats) and have the same name, and I’m also fairly certain that, at least in Joy’s regard, this a poke at the games having the same sprite for the nurses and cops throughout the entire game, but you really do have to wonder what it’s like to be in their families. They also have to be insanely big families considering that this schtick doesn’t just cover Kanto but also every region to date (Well, it kinda changes in Unova onward because of the art change). At least the Joys eventually get the excuse that Joy is actually their family name and not everyone’s first names (though I could swear that’s refuted in an episode or two) but this Jenny straight out says that all of the Jennys have the first name of Jenny.

– How did Jenny even know something was going on in the middle of a dirt road out in the sticks?

– So, let me get this straight….It’s perfectly safe to assume that every starter that Ash now has was abandoned or otherwise wronged by a human? Charmander was abused and abandoned. Squirtle is part of a gang of abandoned Squirtle. And it’s likely that Bulbasaur was either abused or treated poorly by a human or abandoned by a previous trainer? Wow….That’s…wow.

And not to sound like I’m making light of this, but why would anyone abandon a starter? They’re usually some pretty nice Pokemon, and being the first one that a trainer obtains, usually, they’re typically much further along in level than subsequent Pokemon captures. I know that I kept my starter on my team full game in, I believe, every single Pokemon game I’ve ever played.

– The excuse for the Squirtle Squad’s behavior isn’t so much that they were abandoned and feel resentment towards people, it’s that, without trainers, they feel like no one cares about them so they play pranks to get attention? I…guess that kinda makes sense, but there are plenty of wild Pokemon out there who get along just fine trainer-less.

– Ladies and gentlemen, I give you JEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEELLLLLLLLYYYYYYYY DONUUUUUUUUUUUUTTTTTTS!!

Okay, not the infamous ‘Jelly donuts’ scene with Brock, but I believe this is the first time that they call onigiri (rice balls) jelly donuts in the series. They also call them eclairs. It could be that some Squirtle off screen is eating these things, but the line is preceded by watching two Squirtle eat onigiri along with drinking lemonade, which is another thing Jessie mentions when she says this. I find it weird that James was bitching before about every meal being pizza yet they have a picnic basket full of food and none of it is pizza.

And who honestly has a lunch made up of nothing but jelly donuts and eclairs? Shouldn’t that be Officer Jenny’s lunch? 😀

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– Meowth: You’re not gonna Squirtle out of this one!…….What does that pun even mean? The phrase is to ‘weasel’ out of something. That doesn’t have anything to do with turtles nor does it really sound like ‘Squirtle’.

– I love Ash’s grin after he bites Meowth’s tail.

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– I don’t know why, but these glowing scratch marks actually look much MORE painful than just showing red marks or even blood drips….

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– Really, they couldn’t find any other way to cover up the threat of killing Misty than threatening that they’ll dye her hair purple? Like, oh no, not something that’s completely temporary and reversible. And hell considering the plethora of colors we see in the hairstyles of anime, I don’t even see why this is a little threatening. Even within the main cast we have blue hair in Jenny and James, pink hair in Joy and cherry red hair in Jessie.

– I know Ash tripped and even got some air time, but was he really considering stopping after that? He doesn’t even have dirt marks or any visible boo-boos.

– Man, if Goldeen isn’t being treated like garbage, it’s being portrayed as a Horn Attack happy asshole.

– Well, hello there completely random one second cameo by Gary. Does this mean he’s finally caught up with the Pallet town trio?

Also, how did Gary not realize that he hit someone with the door? Especially if he did it hard enough to knock someone out for hours.

– How did some random country bumpkin know who Team Rocket was but not a big city’s Officer Jenny?

– Ice guns? *sigh* I suppose it’s better than turning them into Super Soakers, but I do have to say….James’ gun….yeah, no kid will believe that’s an ‘ice gun’. That’s very obviously a real rifle. I mean, I can believe the cannon thing shoots ice or some crap, it just looks like a generic weapon that could be anything, but that gun is very obviously a bullet shooting lead pumping rifle.

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– Those are very obviously cherry blossoms and not snow that Jessie shoots from her cannon.

– Okay, 4Kids, what’s the explanation as to what guns the storeowners are using? They even make real gun sounds. And you’d think they’d actually want to make a ‘safer’ explanation for these guns since they’re all being pointed at a ten year old boy….

Also, there’s a problem merely with the fact that several people are holding shotguns and rifles at a ten year old boy’s face. I mean, what the hell? More importantly, where were these guns when the real Team Rocket was robbing them?

– How the hell did Jenny know something was going on here now? And great police work, appearing after the incident has already occurred yet again….

– She was really intending on driving across that bridge? That one that Ash couldn’t take three steps on without breaking a board and subsequently fell through?

– Now, considering the threat earlier was changed to merely dying Misty’s hair purple, you have to wonder why they kept in the imaginary shot of Misty falling into a bottomless pit, insinuating that the Squirtle Squad killed her. Seeing as how they were all gone from the cave, you’d think he’d be worried that something actually bad happened to all of them, especially the weakened Pikachu. But nope, he’s more worried that the (invisible) hair dye made her fall down a pit.

– I still find it weird that merely spraying something on a Pokemon helps them recover from injuries.

– The Squirtle were bluffing about dying Misty’s hair because they’re just not that mean? When they capture people, keep them hostage, drop them down huge pits, keep injured Pokemon locked in cages without proper medical care etc? Uh…yeah. I imagine this line made more sense when it was something like ‘The Zenigame may play pranks, but they’d never kill anyone!’

– I love when Squirtle’s carrying Ash through all the bombs while crying happily. Him being able to pick up Ash at all is impressive, but that’s just hilarious.

– Yes, Jessie, I’m so sure that the town would hail you as heroes for getting rid of a few prankster Squirtle when you just robbed one of their stores earlier at gunpoint.

– Why didn’t Misty try to help put out the fire with her Water Pokemon?

– And considering how long it seems to take to get from that cave to the town, and especially considering that there’s a huge canyon/river in the land between the two areas, the fire would probably take eons to finally get to the town, if it would be able to get there at all.

– Also, again, Officer Jenny arrives only after the dangerous events have already concluded. Sure, she’s here for the fire, but she can’t put it out.

– Why doesn’t the town have its own firefighters? They have their own cops.

– And the townspeople must really not have seen the Squirtle Squad as such terrible troublemakers if they hail them as heroes for saving them from a threat that was miles away and they likely never even saw.

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Dogasu from Bulbagarden noted this as seemingly being the weakest of all the Kanto starter episodes since the reason for Squirtle going with Ash seemed tacked on. Me? I actually enjoyed this episode most of all.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love the Charmander episode and I like the Bulbasaur episode, but this one just has so much more going on. The Squirtle Squad are cute and entertaining, and their backstory, while being overused at this point, was fine. I think the explanation for their behavior should’ve been revolting against humans since they were all abandoned instead of just ‘they’re lonely and act out because they don’t have trainers’ but maybe that’s just 4Kids’ doing.

This episode had the main group being taken hostage, a life or death situation racing against the clock, a robbery complete with actual non-painted guns, a second scene with guns, bombs, a (albeit random) cameo by Gary, an…okay-ish plan by Team Rocket, threats to lives, dangerous situations and an action climax during a rain of bombs. It’s very fun and even exciting to watch. Sure the ‘dye Misty’s hair purple’ thing is dumb, but that’s 4Kids for ya.

Bulbasaur’s episode was half made up of nothing but the group falling into traps and then them hanging out in a Pokemon sanctuary with an ornery Bulbasaur. The finale in that was fine, but the majority of the episode, while also being fine, was pretty uneventful. Plus, the lack of any backstory on Bulbasaur was very disappointing.

Charmander’s episode is obviously the biggest contender here. It is a memorable and sad episode with a decent dose of drama, for a Pokemon episode anyway. However, Damian was a laughably over-the-top antagonist, no matter if he does make my blood boil or not. There was really no huge climax, Damian only got a little comeuppance and in the end I find the reasoning behind Ash getting Charmander to be a bit more poorly arranged than in this episode. Like I stated, they go the whole episode focusing on Brock’s concern for Charmander with Ash only doing really one thing, then Ash gets Charmander and Brock and Charmander never share any sort of connection. It really seems poorly organized.

Now, with the finale of this episode, I will admit that it seemed a bit rushed, iffy writing-wise, and the sloppiest part is Squirtle joining the group. I don’t think it’s written in a way where it comes out of left field that Squirtle ends up going with Ash. You can tell simply from the scene where he saves Squirtle from the bombs that he’ll end up going with him, but it would’ve been a lot better if the leader Squirtle saw Ash leaving, visibly made the decision to go with him instead of staying with the Squad, shared a conversation or a knowing nod with his gang members to show that they understand and then have Squirtle stop him as he’s leaving and ask to go with him.

Having the firefighting team be assembled and ending on Squirtle looking really proud of his new job only to cut to the group as they’re clearly far away from the town now being followed by Squirtle and then just say ‘You wanna join us, Squirtle?’ *nods* really does seem like it doesn’t fit properly. It would’ve been nice to have something with Squirtle actually leaving the gang, but he just appears alone.

So yeah, in order, my favorites of the Kanto starter arc are;

Squirtle

Charmander

Bulbasaur

Though it is weird that all these episodes have two things in common. 1) All the Pokemon distrust people or at least the main group for some reason. 2) The Pokemon decides to trust Ash and/or go with him because he saved their lives. Yet another trope that will continue to pop up through the series.

And let me just finish by saying Jenny was such a useless person in this episode. She did three things; explain who the Squirtle Squad were to the group, explain that the town will eventually catch fire if the blaze isn’t put out and give Ash a ride back to the cave. And, to be honest, she wasn’t necessary for any of these things. For some dumb reason she was always arriving after the fact, only really arriving ‘in time’ once to save Ash from, ironically, the storeowners who were just victims of a robbery.

Next episode is Bill’s debut as well as Dragonite’s….kinda. I believe this episode will be really weird to analyze considering several factors….

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