Pokemon Episode 16 Analysis: Pokemon Shipwreck

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And then they died

CotD(s) – None

Evolutions: James’s Magikarp evolves into a Gyarados, but he loses it just as soon as it does.

Plot Synopsis: As a funeral is given in their memory after the sinking of the St. Anne, Ash, Misty, Brock and Team Rocket are trapped aboard the ship as it plunges into the depths of the sea. While everyone is okay after the sinking, they must still find a way back to dry land through a ship that is quickly filling with water and is upside down, teetering on a rock in the middle of an abyss.

As Team Rocket awakens and learns of their situation, Jessie uses her Ekans’ Acid attack to burn a hole in the floor as an escape route. However, that obviously just floods the place even further.

Back with Ash and the others, they reach the staircase and the waters that are flooding into the ship. Ash wants to try to dive into the water to make it to the deck, but the dangers of encountering a dead end, no pun intended, are very real, so Misty sends out her Goldeen to search for a clear pathway.

Goldeen manages to find two things; a dead end, and the corpses of Team Rocket.

Of course, they aren’t really dead, and once they get their second wind….pun kinda intended?, they challenge Ash and the others to a match. However, once they let out their Pokemon, the ship starts to shift due to the extra weight. The group tries to direct the Pokemon to a good location to make the ship level again, but find themselves on edge after several attempts.

In order to keep the ship level and manage to find a way out, the groups call a truce and recall their Pokemon. Using knowledge that she attained while making a St. Anne replica in the past, Misty states that they should go upwards to the hull and cut a hole in the ship to escape since their path to the deck is blocked.

They make their way through the staircases above and the fires below utilizing Onix and Bulbasaur’s abilities, and finally make their way to the engine room where they plan to cut the hole since the hull is thinnest in that area. As Ash cuts the hole with Charmander and they all attach themselves to their Water Pokemon to escape. Left without a Water type, Team Rocket panics, but James laughs and reveals that he does have a Water type, the Magikarp he bought earlier.

However, the Magikarp can’t swim and Team Rocket gets washed away as the ship finally falls and sinks to the bottom of the sea.

Back on a raft on the surface, Ash and the others decide to find some dry land by sending Pidgeotto out to retrieve anything from land. Instead, Pidgeotto finds the seemingly lifeless bodies of Team Rocket.

Ash and Co. decide the only thing to do for them is to give them a burial at sea, but as they’re about to put them back into the water, Team Rocket wakes up and reveals that they’re fine.

As the group floats in the middle of the ocean for over a day, they start daydreaming about eating James’ Magikarp only to have Meowth try and fail, breaking his teeth since Magikarp is nothing but scales and bones.

In a rage that the expensive Pokemon is completely useless, James kicks the Magikarp overboard, causing it to evolve into Gyarados. The fearsome Pokemon chases them down, eventually stopping to call upon other Gyarados to perform its special attack; Dragon Rage.

Dragon Rage creates a huge cyclone that sucks up the group and sends them flying. Will Ash and the others survive the ride? Will they ever get back to land if they do?

======================

– So we’re still using the Pokemon logo in the title cards when they say ‘Pokemon’?

– I’m always amazed by the fact that 4Kids kept in the funeral scene at the start. They would never even consider doing such a thing not too far down the line. Not only is it a damn funeral (That somehow manages to avoid mentioning that they seemingly died) but it’s saying that all of our main characters drowned in a shipwreck. If 4Kids were a cooler company, and complete trolls, they’d put the end credits after the final shot of the flowers sinking. I’d laugh my ass off even as a kid.

However, while we’re still on the funeral scene, let’s address some things. First of all, it’s nice that they’re treating Team Rocket well instead of excluding them due to their criminal nature. They’re put on the same level as Ash, Misty and Brock and I appreciate that.

Next, where is everyone’s families? Have they not been notified yet? It seems really weird that they’d have a funeral without notifying any next of kin. Did they even perform a search? It looks like it’s merely the next morning. Don’t they usually have a search party out for a couple days at least before declaring people dead? At most, they’d just be marked as missing until enough time went by that they could legally be declared dead. I know they were in a sinking ship, and that looks really bad, but it’s not like the waters were glacial and the storm subsided very shortly after the sinking. Hell, even when the Titanic sunk in glacial waters they still sent out people to look for survivors despite the incredibly low chances of anyone staying alive in such conditions.

Finally, as much as I hate to admit it, the funeral scene is pretty moot because of the points mentioned above. Especially since, as we’ll later find out, their families really did never find out that they were in a shipwreck nor that they were declared dead. There’s no emotional reunion, they never even clear it up with the cops, and we already know that the group isn’t dead or else the series would end. This funeral scene serves no purpose other than to maybe make the weight of the event a little more apparent.

– If Ash spent all that time upside down, surely he’d be dead. Nitpicky in a cartoony universe, yes, but still.

– When you think about it, Acid is a really horrifying attack for a Pokemon to have in the anime. If it can burn through a metal floor/ceiling in seconds, imagine what it could do to a Pokemon.

+ 1 for one of the many times we’ll be seeing the gang utilize their Pokemon to solve their problems, though.

– Okay, I’m trying to follow Ash’s logic here. They agree that since the boat is sinking, going up is the best option. When Misty points out that the deck is below them and the hull is above, Ash thinks it’s a good idea to go down…..into the water…Brock does point out the obvious and dangerous aspect of this, but I just find it a little too dumb, even for Ash, to suggest that going down into the water, deck or no deck, is preferable to seeking higher ground in a sinking ship flooding with water. Yes, there are probably fewer escape routes near the hull, but taking the water pressure of that depth out of the equation, does he really think they can hold their breath long enough to navigate through even an open pathway to the deck and still have enough air to make it to the surface?

– +1 for using Goldeen to find a pathway under water, even if that plan is very dangerous.

– Misty tells Goldeen to bring something back from outside if she makes her way to the deck…which makes some sense, but what does she expect Goldeen to bring back? They’re in the middle of the ocean. Is she just meant to bring back something that’s on the deck? Like what? A deck chair? A lifering? Really anything that could be inside of the ship could be on the deck too.

– I don’t know why, but I like when characters on the opposite side command the other side’s Pokemon to do something….Okay, I really only like it when it’s Ash and co. commanding Team Rocket’s Pokemon.

– This sequence with the teetering ship always annoyed me. Can such minor weight differences, on a huge steel ship anyway, really cause such drastic shifts in angle? The heaviest Pokemon in that group is Geodude, and yes I was geeky enough to look up their weights just because this scene annoys me so much. Geodude weighs 44.1 lbs while all of the other Pokemon weigh between 2 and 20-ish lbs. Meaning, altogether, the Pokemon would weigh around 100 lbs if that. Guessing that Ash and Misty weigh about 60-70lbs each (give me some leeway, I’m not up to speed on the average weights of 10 year olds) and Brock maybe 90-100 (same for 15-ish year olds) and Jessie and James 100-110 each, the group weighs, at least, 410 lbs. Why were they waltzing around the ship with no problem whatsoever a minute ago but an extra 100 lbs being set right where all of them were standing suddenly causes near ship-tipping shifts?

Why is Geodude being called back over to Brock what equalizes everything? Putting 44 lbs on one side and 454 lbs on the other makes everything okay? Why is Geodude being portrayed as a super heavy Pokemon anyway? 44 lbs isn’t that much and Geodude, despite being a rock-like creature, is still small. Plus, doesn’t he have the ability to float? Why is he banging into the floor like he’s a pogo stick made of cement?

And after managing to make it somewhat even with Geodude on the human side, the final shot of the groups apart still has Geodude on the Pokemon’s side.

Why is Koffing even being commanded? He weighs the least at 2.2lbs, is made of gas, which is lighter than air, and he floats. Him moving would have no bearing whatsoever on the angle of the ship.

And finally, to end this nitpicky rant that might have holes in it, it took them way too long to think that recalling their Pokemon would fix the problem. Yes, recalling your Pokemon technically means conceding defeat to Team Rocket, but even if they did win, who cares?

Even if them winning somehow meant they got Pikachu, still who cares? I’m not saying that as a sleight against Messiahchu, I really mean who cares? Where the hell would they go with him? They’re stuck in the same predicament that Ash and the others are in. They could grab Pikachu and run but they would never get far without the help of Ash, Misty and Brock as well as their Pokemon.

Even if they did somehow escape the ship with Pikachu, still still who who cares cares? They’re in the middle of the ocean and the Ash group has a way better chance of making it out first. They could just sit at the surface and wait for them, attack their unable-to-fight-in-water asses and take Pikachu back.

This whole thing is rooted in personal pride, and I’m confused as to why Brock of all people is one of the hotheaded ones here. If anything, Misty should be the hotheaded one battling alongside Ash, especially with her advantage in water, and Brock should be the voice of reason. Misty can be more levelheaded later when she’s devising the escape routes and showing off her mad St. Anne blueprint memorizing skills that still baffle me a little.

– Was everyone seriously thinking that Misty built a life-sized St. Anne? Poor girl had to deal with a hand-me-down doll set, but yeah she totally builds life-sized luxury cruise liner replicas of luxury cruise liners for funsies.

– Okay now we’re at the scene that makes the whole tipping ship scene really confuse the hell out of me as opposed to merely being a slight annoyance.

Since the ship is upside down, they can’t access the stairs easily so Brock uses Onix….Take that in, Onix…..to make a makeshift staircase in the stairwell above them.

While I will give them the proper dues for yet again using a Pokemon to solve a problem, +1, Onix….the giant snake made of boulders, weighs 463 lbs….How the hell did Brock release this thing without even having the ship shake a little bit if 100lbs of extra weight can turn the ship into a see-saw?

Also, I think his proportions are horribly misrepresented here. Onix seems a lot smaller in this shot than he actually is.

– Using Charmander to solve the problem of loss of light in the stairwell. +1

Although you’d think that a bunch of people who travel the world and always camp out would have flashlights and lanterns. You can’t argue that they may have gotten wet as none of them have been in the water yet outside of Team Rocket.

– Why would the hull be the thinnest in the engine room? That’s not a complaint, I’m just curious as to why that would be. Wouldn’t that be a really dangerous design flaw or does that hold some function?

– Ash asks Pikachu to shock him to help him think. This is the second instance of this happening that I’ve noted in the series (technically the first since the other one in way down the line in Johto) and I just don’t get it. Has anyone really ever felt like they got better ideas or concentrated better after getting electrocuted? It really just seems like they needed something for Pikachu to do since his abilities are zero help here.

– Using Bulbasaur’s vines to get across the gap is good, +1, but the manner in which they cross seems unnecessarily dangerous. Why go in a group and try to stand and balance on Bulbasaur’s vines, which has to be incredibly difficult especially considering they’re vines that a small Pokemon, who merely weighs 15lbs mind you, is holding and not strong cable connected to a heavy anchoring point, when you could hang from them and go one by one making it both easier on Bulbasaur and less difficult to cross?

You could make the argument that hanging from them, even with legs and arms attached, would be more dangerous considering the lake of fire below but if Bulbasaur’s vines can stand up just fine without any heat damage from where they are, I can’t imagine the kids would be in any danger of burns while trying to hang and cross.

– I really like the moment where James freaks out and Jessie convinces him to go across the fire together. That was legitimately sweet and a layer of characterization that is very much welcome for them.

– Mmm….Misty should really know by now that the only Pokemon Team Rocket has are Koffing and Ekans. At the very least, she should’ve checked to see if everyone had a Water Pokemon before they even started cutting the hole. She thought ahead enough to lend Starmie to Brock, there’s no excuse with Team Rocket.

To be fair, you’d think in the time it took to recall Charmander, call out Starmie, Goldeen and Squirtle, get rope and tie themselves on that Team Rocket would’ve said “We don’t have any Water Pokemon. Can we borrow some of yours, or at least share a rope if you don’t trust us??”

– +1 for using Charmander to burn the hole. Though it is incredibly dangerous for Charmander of all Pokemon…

– Hehe, I do love the scenes with James revealing he has Magikarp and then the long pause when they try to escape with it only to realize it can’t swim.

– What a convenient raft they found out in the middle of the ocean….

– Guys, there is totally something you can do to find out where Team Rocket is and if they made it; send out your Water Pokemon to search for them. I mean, they’re basically directly above the shipwreck, it wouldn’t be that hard to at least conclude that they didn’t make it. What is with people in this episode not wanting to search for survivors? They just go ‘Not here? Dead. Oh well, let’s move on.’

– Ah referencing the Bible in Pokemon. Yet another thing that would never happen in later episodes. Also, does that mean Christianity/Catholicism/Judaism exists in Pokemon?

– Great use of Pidgeotto, +1, even if they already did something very similar to this earlier with Goldeen.

And like Misty did with Goldeen, Ash should’ve been more clear with his instructions beyond ‘Bring us back whatever you find.’ There is tons of debris from the sinking floating around. He could just grab some crap from the water and come back without ever touching land.

The reason the branch in the Noah story is significant is because an olive branch would be a clear indication of land.

– How did Pidgeotto bring back Team Rocket? And considering James and Meowth were floating with their faces down in the water, both of them should be dead or in desperate need of CPR.

– These children are awful calm when faced with three supposedly dead bodies.

– While I do find it kinda cute and funny the way he snaps his fingers, Pikachu was disappointed that Meowth didn’t die. That’s messed up.

– For a show/franchise that really tries to make you connect emotionally with Pokemon and makes tons of them super cute and cuddly, plus taking into consideration 4Kids harsh censorship, that is some pretty messed up imagery of Magikarp. Fileted, fried, make into marinated slices. And keep in mind this isn’t just like they’re showing plates of food, they make it a point to put a little Magikarp severed head on each imagined plate….

– Being kicked makes Magikarp evolve? Dammit, if I had known that I wouldn’t have wasted my time using Exp. Share and putting it out front to switch out in one turn….

– I love the way James says ‘I’m James, your master, obey me.’……Not in that way….

– If James really is still its master, under the belief that kicking it and saying he didn’t want it anymore wasn’t a legit abandonment of it, however the hell that works, couldn’t this all be solved by James recalling it to its Pokeball? I mean, yeah, Pokemon break out of their Pokeballs all the time ala Psyduck and Wobbuffet, but surely you could maybe recall it then tape the ball up or something.

– I also find it funny when Misty just decides to book it instead of even attempting to fight Gyarados.

– Forgiving that they suddenly got five sticks of the same length and width out of nowhere, wouldn’t those be completely ineffective in moving a raft in the ocean? The don’t have paddles at the bottom, they’re just sticks. Those might help in shallow swamps and ponds, but not in the ocean.

– You don’t typically need numerous Pokemon to do one attack, especially in Gen 1. It wouldn’t bother me as much if the attack didn’t just look silly.

======================

Overall, this episode, despite its many flaws in logic, is still one of my favorite episodes. It has tons of Pokemon utilization, some of it pretty damn clever, neat and realistic obstacles, some character development, life-threatening situations and just a lot of action and fun. This kind of episode is really a rarity in the series now so it’s nice to get a taste of a more linear and less episodic Pokemon.

Next episode is the finale to this three-parter even if it could very easily be a stand-alone. Island of the Giant Pokemon. I’ve always been a bit iffy with this episode, so here’s hoping it’s better than I remember.

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