Gym Leader: Erika – Erika is a very polite and kind individual (er, well, she’s meant to be) who values empathy with her Pokemon above all else. She specializes in Grass Pokemon and has a particular connection with her Gloom, a Pokemon most people cannot stand due to its terrible smell. Erika also owns a perfume shop and treasures the beautiful scents and feelings that perfume provides. While she is a very gentle and loving person, she cannot stand ignorant people who badmouth perfume.
Pokemon – She has numerous Grass Pokemon kicking around her Gym, but in this battle she uses a Weepinbell, a Tangela and a Gloom, who is her most prized Pokemon and is in fact the source of her secret ingredient for her perfumes.
Plot: Ash, Misty and Brock arrive in the massive Celadon City. As they gaze in awe at the skyscrapers, Misty and Brock are suddenly captivated by the aroma of perfume. The scent leads Brock to a perfume shop where he gawks at the girls at the counter. Ash wants to get going to the Gym when he notices that Misty and Pikachu are actually in the store trying out various types of perfume.
She’s about to buy some when Ash bursts in and tells her not to buy it because ‘Perfume is a waste of money, and it stinks!’ The store manager comes in and states that she resents Ash’s remark. She asks if Ash is insinuating that she overcharges her customers for poor-quality perfume. Ash tries to save face by saying that all perfume is a waste of money, because ‘all it does is turn guys into zombies.’ like Brock.
She gets increasingly angry as Ash continues to speak badly of perfume and she kicks him out of the store. Ash doesn’t really care, though, since he’s off to the Gym.
When he arrives at the Gym, he’s shocked to find that the girls at the door won’t let him in since they don’t let anyone in who badmouths perfume given that they manufacture the perfume in that very Gym. Ash begs and pleads to challenge the Gym Leader, but they still refuse.
Meanwhile, Team Rocket breaks into the Gym to steal the secret perfume formula. While they’re searching for it, they stumble upon a sleeping Gloom. After James accidentally wakes it up, he attacks it with Koffing’s Poison Gas. Shockingly, not only is Gloom unaffected, it actually sucks up the gas with no problem.
In retaliation, Gloom sets off a cloud of its terrible stench, causing Team Rocket to nearlyfaint and giving the guards at the Gym the opportunity to knock them out and kick them out. They tie Team Rocket up in a tree, and Ash comes upon them.
They decide to coerce him into cutting them down from the tree by saying they can get him into the Gym. Desperate for another badge, Ash accepts. Their big plan? To dress Ash up as a girl, pretend to be named Ashley and pretend he likes perfume so he can get through the door and challenge Erika.
Posing as Ash(ley)’s parents, Team Rocket enrolls Ash in the Gym’s Pokemon training classes. As Ash gets ready to infiltrate the Gym to challenge Erika, Team Rocket excuses themselves so they can steal the formula. In retaliation for stamping a big X on her face, Jessie also has Meowth plant a bomb in the building.
The class starts, showing the Gym’s Pokemon getting exercised and cleaned up while Erika reads them all a sad story about an Omanyte. Ash(ley) is introduced to the group and he’s shocked when he notices that Erika is also the manager of the perfume store. Misty, Brock and Pikachu are also at the class, which makes him increasingly concerned that he’ll be found out.
Misty asks Erika why the seemingly always stinky Gloom smells perfectly fine while hanging out with them in the Gym. Erika explains that Gloom does indeed have a terrible smell, but only when it feels threatened or scared. If you show Gloom that its safe and that you want to be its friend, it will smell fine. Misty asks how she knows this and Erika explains how she and gloom met.
When Erika was a small child, she went off on her own and was suddenly cornered by a Grimer. Gloom was passing by, and she asked it for help. Gloom somehow sensed how scared Erika was and used its terrible smell to send the Grimer away and save Erika. Ever since that day, she and Gloom have been close friends. Her relationship with Gloom even inspired her to become a Grass Pokemon trainer and open her Gym.
Misty wishes that Ash was around to hear the story and Ash accidentally outs himself by saying he did hear it. He tries to save face, but Pikachu tries to cuddle him, realizing who he is. Ash tells him to back off, which prompts Pikachu to shock him, revealing his true identity. Ash admits what he did and challenges Erika to a Pokemon battle, which Erika accepts.
Ash chooses Bulbasaur at first while Erika uses a Tangela. Bulbasaur uses Vine Whip to wrap up Tangela, but Erika commands it to use Constrict to coil up Bulbasaur’s vines and reel him in. She then commands Tangela to use Stun Spore, which paralyzes Bulbasaur and leaves him unable to battle.
Ash considers using Primeape, but decides against it when he remembers how crazy and violent it was. Instead, Ash uses Charmander. In response, Erika sends out Weepinbell.
Weepinbell uses Razor Leaf, but Charmander burns all of the leaves with a Flamethrower and KOs Weepinbell with a Skull Bash.
Erika uses her trump card, Gloom, and it easily knocks out Charmander with its stench. Ash struggles to figure out what Pokemon to use next since he doesn’t believe any of his Pokemon can withstand that smell. However, Pikachu steps up to the plate and volunteers to go.
Their battle is interrupted by Team Rocket who now have the secret formula in their possession and have come to gloat. Their visit is cut short when they accidentally set the bomb too close to where they are and blast themselves off.
A massive fire breaks out in the Gym and everyone tries to gather the Pokemon and evacuate. Outside, everyone tries to put out the flames with hoses, Water Pokemon and Brock’s Geodude.
Erika runs by in a panic, worried that Gloom never made it out of the building. Ash goes into the Gym to retrieve Gloom, but is deterred by the frightened Pokemon’s horrible smell. Ash has no choice but to hold his breath and brave the stench to get Gloom out, but is surprised to find the air to be clear of the smell when he gasps for a breath. He suddenly remembers Erika’s words about the smell vanishing if Gloom feels safe and friendly towards you. With a smile, Ash grabs Gloom and runs out the door.
Later, when the fire is extinguished, Erika gives Ash a Rainbow Badge in gratitude of him saving her Gloom. Ash admires his new badge, but asks what Erika will do now that Team Rocket has her secret perfume formula. Erika laughs and said they didn’t steal the formula; they only stole an ingredient of her perfume – essence of Gloom.
As we cut to Team Rocket, they open the bottle to enjoy their new perfume only to be disgusted at the odor within the bottle.
With his new badge in hand, Ash and his friends set off to the next Gym.
– Oh great, our first actual official pun title. Whoopee.
– Just a side-note/backstory thing before I get started: This episode is one my most remembered since it was one of a handful of episodes that I got on VHS when I was a kid. I also had the episode with Primeape, but I guess I didn’t much care for that episode as a kid either because I don’t remember watching that episode much.
Since there was a good chunk of time in my childhood when I was obsessed with Pokemon, but it was only on either incredibly early in the morning (before it started airing on Kids WB. And by early I mean around 5:00/30 AM. I had to pester my dad to wake me up when he woke up to go to work so I could watch it) or only on weekends (when it finally aired on Kids WB) I basically watched my VHS episodes over and over to sate my Pokemon cravings. As such, this episode became ingrained in my memory. I could probably recite the entirety of the script in my sleep.
However, looking back on it, I can definitely feel a rant storm a brewin’
– They’re still using the Pokemon logo when they include the word “Pokemon” in the title? Wow, that is going on way longer than I thought it did.
– I understand that Erika’s ‘spell out perfume with positive words’ rant is a dub-only thing, but uh, 4Kids, U for Urbane? You really think any kid knows what urbane means? Also, Erika, I can do the same thing in reverse to make your pathetic ‘point’ moot. P for Putrid, E for Ew, R for Repulsive, F for Foolish, U for Ugly, M for Mundane and E for Egregious. That spells…!
Your move, Erika.
– I know Ash is, for lack of a better term, a typical ten-year-old boy (Thinks perfume is stupid, doesn’t get romance, fashion is dumb, makeovers are pointless etc.) but where exactly is this rabid anti-perfume stuff coming from? Disliking that Misty is buying perfume is a different level from yelling at her to not purchase it then going on a rant about why it’s awful.
And he hates it because it turns guys into zombies? Brock’s always a skirt-chasing zombie, and that’s his only example. Besides, I’ve never seen any guy gush over a woman’s perfume. Most guys I know don’t really care for perfume. They might say it smells nice on a woman they’re interested in, but never have I ever seen a guy, besides girl-crazy Brock, go zombified because he smells perfume or value a woman higher due to her perfume. It really seems like this hatred was written in for the sake of getting Ash thrown out, banned and then starting up the plot.
It also seems out of character for a woman as gentle, kind and polite as Erika to go berserk about someone disliking perfume to the point where she’ll not only refuse to battle him, but she’ll ban him from her store and her Gym. This is especially weird since she’s all about empathy. A person such as Erika would try to see Ash’s side or at least respect his opinion, despite disagreeing with it. But no – she immaturely gets in his face about it, even pointing her finger in his face while she lectures him on the value of perfume, then tells him to leave while her employees literally kick him out.
– So, instead of calling the cops and having Team Rocket arrested, the girls at the Gym stamp X’s on their faces, tie them up and hang them from a tree in the middle of nowhere…..I know the cops in the Pokemon world aren’t known for their effectiveness, but you’re basically damning Team Rocket to a slow death here.
– Retroactively, Ash doesn’t really need to crossdress and act like a girl/completely different person to get into this Gym if there are supposedly at least two additional Gyms in Kanto besides the typical eight, as seen in Gary’s badge collection. I know these Gyms are never given names or Gym Leaders and probably aren’t canon, but if there are more Gyms than the typical eight, he can just get another badge there to get his required eight badges instead of jumping through hoops for an unreasonable perfume fanatic.
– While we’re on the subject, why is Ash pretending he’s enrolling in Pokemon Training classes? Enrolling in those classes won’t get him a challenge, it will just….enroll him in training classes. Why not say (s)he’s a trainer who’d like to challenge Erika for a badge? It’s like they made this whole class thing up so Ash would get to listen to Erika’s story about her Gloom and appreciate her more.
– What the hell? It’s actually a prerequisite to like perfume before you’re accepted into the classes?
Girl: “Do you like perfume?”
Ash(ley): “Oh, yes!”
Girl: “Well, then, I’m sure you’ll be accepted!”
Being mad at Ash for being an anti-perfume asshole to the point of banning him from the store and Gym is bad enough, but only allowing confirmed pro-perfume people into your Gym/classes is downright obsessive. How does this conversation sometimes go?
Girl: “Do you like perfume?”
Trainer: “Uhm, not really, I guess.”
Girl: “Well, you can go fuck yourself then. Have a nice day!”
– Team Rocket, especially in the early days, definitely have their moments of insane evil. Jessie basically wants to commit a terrorist act (planting a huge bomb in the Gym; Which not only proves to be enough to destroy the place but also puts the lives of many people and Pokemon, Grass types no less, at risk) because they stamped an X on her face.
– Girl: *while wiping droll off of Gloom’s mouth* “Remember, a pretty Pokemon is a strong Pokemon!” Wow, you guys really are shallow ditzes aren’t you?
– I need to address several issues with this ‘Pokemon training class.’ First of all, what the hell are they even doing? One of the staff members is exercising a group of Grass Pokemon, which is technically training, but there aren’t ‘students’ watching or partaking in it.
Another employee is cleaning Gloom’s face which might be a lesson on keeping your Pokemon neat and tidy, but she also makes the stupid statement above, which is a fairly bad lesson to be teaching Pokemon trainers. (How did my Pokemon lose? It’s so pretty!) And, again, no ‘students’ are watching or helping.
Erika is telling a story to a group of her employees, Misty, Brock and Pikachu and that’s it. There are absolutely no other students besides Brock and Misty. I assume Misty and Brock have enrolled as students but there’s no reason given as to why they did such a thing. Brock may have done it because he gets to be surrounded by pretty girls for a few hours, but why Misty?
Furthermore, why the hell are they having irrelevant storytime with this one ten-year-old, another teenager and a group of her own employees who are all either in their mid-teens or twenties? What does this have to do with Pokemon training? Did they accidentally sign up for Pokemon daycare?
– Erika and Gloom’s backstory is all fine and dandy, but the logistics don’t really add up. Little girl Erika went into what looks like a dark, broken down abandoned house all by herself? Why? It’s understandable that there’s a Grimer there since that’s a typical area where Grimer might hang out, but why is it attacking her?
It’s much less understandable as to why Gloom’s there. It might be part Poison type, but it’s mainly a Grass type. There’s no reason for it to just be wandering aimlessly in this building.
– This line always pissed me off.
Erika: “I accept your challenge! It’s my duty under the league rules!” IT IS, IS IT?! Hoo boy, it sure is a good thing you haven’t been denying his attempts to challenge you this whole episode! And if it’s true that you have to like perfume before you’re allowed entry into the Gym, it sounds like you deny quite a few challenges, Erika.
– It bothers me how arrogant Erika is when she lets out a new Pokemon. Every time, she says ‘This ought to be easy!’ Even when Ash lets out Charmander, which is a big threat just on the type advantage alone.
– Yay! Tangela! Whoo! Call your agent and get more use in the series, please. You’re almost as ignored as the Paras line.
– Uh, Erika….what is Tangela doing? I don’t know if you know this, but Constrict isn’t a move that makes you spin in circles. That doesn’t even make sense.
– Ah, Ash thinking about using a powerful Pokemon (Primeape) only to decide against it because he can’t control it and never trained it. This is annoying, but remember everyone, this is totally the last time it happens.
– While we’re on the subject, remember what I mentioned in the last analysis about not getting used to Primeape?
Wiki – “This episode marks the only appearance of Ash’s Primeape between its capture and departure episodes, although merely in a flashback.” You may repeatedly bash your head against your desk now.
– What exactly leads Erika to believe that Ash has no empathy with his Pokemon? Except maybe that one line where he refuses to take her offer of a Paralyze Heal for Bulbasaur just because he wants to do things for himself.
– Also, more ego.
Erika: “Without it, you’ll never be a great Pokemon trainer like me!” I honestly don’t remember Erika being this obnoxious, but holy hell she’s an ego-driven, pretentious crazy person.
– Erika: “Now I’m going to give you a lesson in empathy! Gloom, go!” Yes, here’s a lesson in empathy. A putrid stench. I’m starting to wonder if you know what empathy means, Erika.
– Now she’s laughing at Ash for losing. She is a lot different from her game counterpart, isn’t she?
– Actually, Ash, Pidgeotto would be a fantastic choice to combat Gloom. Not only is Grass weak to Flying, but who better to air out a stinky Gym than a Flying Pokemon who can stay above the smell and blow it away with Gust? But oh yeah, keep giving Pikachu all the shots and completely forget Pidgeotto, you little welp.
– Girl: *during the fire and trying to round up the Pokemon* “We’ve gotta catch ‘em all!” No! No, 4Kids, no! Bad 4Kids. Bad!
– Alright, fine; the shot of Pikachu trying to put out the fire with a watering can is adorable.
– So the fire department never showed up? What assholes! You’re about as useless as the police in the Pokemon world.
– Now, in typical pity badge fashion, let’s go over the reasons why him getting one for the Rainbow Badge is stupid.
1) Ash only got the pity badge because he braved a burning building to save Gloom and he managed to show Gloom that he was friendly and could keep it safe. It was very brave and nice of Ash to do that, but that shouldn’t earn him the badge. Partly because of principle and mostly because of reason two….
2) Ash is right; it’s kinda his fault that ever happened to begin with. He was stupid enough to free Team Rocket and fall for their little scheme when, logically, Team Rocket wouldn’t bother keeping up their side of the bargain if he cut them down any other time. The only reason they’d help him is if they had ulterior motives, which Ash should’ve been able to figure it out because the only reason they were up in that tree was because the girls at the Gym found them trying to steal something and kicked them out. Even if they didn’t tell him the reason, it’s not hard to deduce considering who they are and the fact that they had those trademark red Xs on their faces.
You could say they would’ve sneaked in anyway, but there’s no denying that Ash facilitated it here. If Ash were more intelligent and more mature, he’d suck up his pride and apologize to Erika and the girls about what he said and he’d probably be let in.
Instead, he freed a group of criminals who try to steal his Pikachu every week and believed their stupid plan that didn’t even need to involve them. There’s no reason why Ash couldn’t have gone into the Gym alone in his disguise. He didn’t think it odd that his character needed parents to walk her into the building? Which is all they did. They didn’t even sign him/her up like they said they would. He signed himself up.
3) Ash definitely would’ve lost that match, I don’t care what Pikachu ‘said’ to him. He might’ve had a good chance with Pidgeotto, but Ash’s mantra is always ‘Fuck Pidgeotto! Go pop Team Rocket’s balloon!’ Ash himself said Pikachu is trying to battle even though he knows he’ll probably lose. Pikachu just says he’s sure he’ll win without us ever finding out why Pikachu is so confident of that.
4) Pikachu is an especially stupid choice against Gloom because not only are Electric Types not very effective against Grass types, but we’re well aware that Pikachu has a super sensitive nose. He’d be out of the match just breathing in the leftover fumes.
– Notice how Ash has gotten progressively less resistant to these pity badges? When Brock gave him one, he was really reluctant to get it. When Misty’s sisters did it, he was more easily swayed. When Sabrina did it, he only mildly questioned it as he was walking away from the Gym and admiring the new badge. With Erika, he just asks what he’s getting the badge for, Erika says he earned it and Ash is all “Look at my new badge!” I can’t wait until Cinnabar Island, I tell ya what.
I still hold a nostalgic love of this episode, but giving another look for this review really showcases what a hot mess it is both in the grand scheme and in the little details. In addition to everything I already covered, they also never revisit the perfume angle. They have the whole first half be about appreciating perfume and having Ash being a rabid anti-perfume advocate and then nearly everything perfume related is dropped in the second half. I don’t even care much for the perfume plot because, in my opinion, both sides were being ridiculously immature and stupid, especially over perfume of all things, but if you’re going to spend that much time on it, why not continue it in the second half?
This plot might make a little more sense if the episode started out with Ash mocking or disliking Gloom based on its disgusting smell (perhaps it could’ve been the mascot for the perfume shop), and her relationship to her Gloom made her so insulted that she banned him from the shop and the Gym. Sure, it’s a bit OOC, but no more than he’s being here. That way, the moral at the end, which they outright say is not judging a Pokemon by its smell, would be more fitting. He was never judging Gloom for its smell – he was just understandably put off by the stink as a whole. Looking back, that Aesop might actually be trying to apply itself to Ash’s dislike of perfume, but since the perfume is never addressed in the second half, I sincerely doubt it.
I used to find Erika to be just fine as a character and a trainer, but looking closer at her just shows her to be egotistical, perfume-crazy and just as immature as Ash. I’m convinced that Brock liking her perfume (and her) is the only reason she doesn’t post a ‘No boys allowed’ sign outside.
The battle is fine, but mostly unimpressive for a Gym match. Tangela’s win was half because of a move that isn’t performed properly for the sake of plot convenience. Charmander’s win was predictable and a little boring, and, like I mentioned, with Ash not using Pidgeotto, there’s no way he would’ve legit won against Gloom’s stank. If there is, they never bother to tell anyone, and I can’t think of any way it would’ve been possible without pulling something out of Messiahchu’s ass.
It’s yet another pity badge, which is already major points off, and the only really good point standing is Ash’s heroics during the fire. However, that scene would’ve meant more if he had more interaction with Gloom in the first half.
Next episode, Hypno’s Naptime! It’s time to get….confusing and weird….