Pokemon Episode 32 Analysis – The Ninja Poke-Showdown

POKEMON EP 32 TITLE

Badge Episode: Fuchsia City – Soul Badge

Gym Leader: Koga – An extremely skilled and serious ninja and Pokemon trainer, Koga specializes in Poison types. Though this doesn’t seem to happen in the anime due to lack of basically anything related to the Elite Four, Koga does eventually become an Elite Four member.

Reappears?: No.

Pokemon: Koga keeps tons of Voltorb as a trap in his dojo, but the Pokemon he uses in battle are a Venomoth and a Golbat.

50px-Soul_Badge

CotD(s): Aya – Younger sister of Koga, Aya is Koga’s ninja student. Aya has a lot of determination and skill as a ninja, but is ultimately felled by inexperience and overconfidence. Her dream is to be a great Pokemon Ninja.

Reappears?: Yes, actually. She reappears way down the line in Johto once in another Pokemon Dojo where she is learning Pokemon Jujitsu. It’s never explained why she is no longer learning under Koga, however.

Pokemon: Aya’s main Pokemon is a Venonat. She keeps it through the Johto episode as well.

Plot: Ash, Misty and Brock are lost yet again (They were right – Apple Maps sucks) as they search for the Fuchsia City Gym. They take a break near a stream and Misty takes this time to let out Psyduck for a drink while Brock lets out Vulpix for a brushing. After Misty expresses her displeasure over her ownership of Psyduck for the umpteenth time, they depart to search for the Gym some more.

They stumble upon an old mansion and decide to stop there for directions, but it seems like no one’s home. As they investigate, they discover that the house is full of traps such as trick doors, electric shocks from hidden Voltorb and invisible glass walls. They spot a Venonat who appears to be leading them somewhere, but they continuously run into trap after trap.

They get caught between two invisible walls. With seemingly no way out, Ash jumps on the nearest wall to take a look out the window. The wall suddenly collapses, sending Ash with it. Misty, Brock and Pikachu rush to his aid, but see nothing but a steep cliff down to the rocky riverside below. Fearing the worst, Misty and Brock start to mourn for their friend only to hear him screaming for help as he hangs on the fallen door.

After they pick him back up, Ash pursues the reappearing Venonat again only to find himself being stuck to a wall with ninja stars. Misty and Brock run into the room when a strange girl appears introducing herself as Aya, a ninja warrior.

Aya reveals that this place is a training dojo and challenges Ash to a battle. Aya uses her Venonat while Ash chooses Bulbasaur. He starts off with a Tackle, but Venonat dodges. Venonat responds with Stun Spore, but Bulbasaur blows it away with Whirlwind. He tries for Vine Whips next, but Venonat is able to avoid them. Venonat attacks with a Psybeam, which hits, but Bulbasaur remains standing. Bulbasaur uses a Leech Seed on Venonat, which disables it and sucks away its energy. Unable to battle, Aya recalls Venonat and the victory goes to Ash.

Suddenly, they’re interrupted by a stray Voltorb that Self-Destructs in the middle of the room. As the smoke clears, Aya’s brother and teacher, Koga, appears to berate her on her failure. Koga tells the group that they can’t leave unless they defeat him in a Pokemon battle, which works out for Ash because Koga also happens to be the Fuchsia City Gym leader.

The Gym match starts, and Ash sends out Pidgeotto while Koga starts off with Venonat. Ash instantly believes this Venonat will be just as easy as Aya’s, but Koga points out the major experience difference between the two, which is mirrored when Venonat suddenly evolves into Venomoth.

The newly evolved Venomoth uses Stun Spore, and Ash commands Pidgeotto to blow it away with Whirlwind. However, the force of the Stun Spore makes its way through the wind and paralyzes Pidgeotto. To finish it off, Venomoth uses Sleep Powder. Pidgeotto succumbs to the powder and falls asleep, making it unable to battle.

Ash chooses Charmander next, and Venomoth reprises its Stun Spore. However, Charmander blows through it with its Flamethrower.

The match is suddenly interrupted by a kabuki production put on by Team Rocket. They’re aiming to steal the Poison Pokemon of the Gym, but Koga, Aya and Ash quickly set up to battle them. Venomoth, Venonat and Charmander are caught in some sort of weird spiderweb that Team Rocket throws out, so Ash sends out Pikachu. However, he’s also caught in the same webbing.

Misty tries to call out Starmie, but Psyduck lets itself out instead. Consistently interrupted by it, Misty begrudgingly agrees to let it battle, but Psyduck just hugs Misty instead. Misty wonders what Psyduck can even do in battle and Ash helps out by lending her his Pokedex. Dexter explains that Psyduck’s first move is Tail Whip, but it gives a feeble butt wag in response.

Its next attack is Scratch, which it actually tries to do, but it ends up failing and Arbok merely pinches Psyduck’s head in a Bite. All Psyduck succeeds in doing is giving it (and Misty) an even bigger headache.

Koga triggers a trap in the room, dropping dozens of Voltorb from the ceiling. They Self-Destruct, creating a smokescreen and allowing everyone to escape into a slanted room. They try to use this time to remove the webbing from their Pokemon, but no matter what they do, even Pokemon attacks, the gunk won’t come off.

Team Rocket returns with the Voltorb collected in a sack. They continue their attack on the group, but keep getting interrupted by Psyduck, who is running around in a panic due to its intense headache. Meowth knocks it around, rejecting it from even being a possible score on their thieving spree. As Misty tries to get him back to safety, Psyduck immediately calms and suddenly triggers its Psychic abilities.

It freezes Team Rocket with Disable and blasts them off with Confusion. Psyduck’s Psychic abilities also allow it to melt the web gunk off of the other Pokemon. Koga and Aya, impressed with Psyduck’s abilities, offer to trade for Psyduck, but Misty has had a change of heart about him and refuses to ever trade him for anything.

Koga and Ash restart their Gym match by agreeing to a one-on-one fight. Ash chooses Charmander while Koga chooses Golbat. Golbat heads in with a Wing Attack while Charmander retaliates with Ember.

Golbat uses its Screech ability, which debilitates Charmander, but Charmander fights back with several blasts of a mostly blind Flamethrower assault. It manages to hit Golbat and Charmander finishes it off with a Fire Spin.

The battle and Soul Badge go to Ash. With his sixth badge proudly pinned to his jacket, Ash departs the Fuchsia City Gym and heads for the next Gym destination.

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– Misty, Brock wouldn’t be able to trade you Vulpix anyway seeing as how it’s not technically his.

– Also, why are you guys not letting out any of your other Pokemon for some water or grooming? Minor favoritism irk.

– Brock: “I hope they’re not trapping us so they can steal our Pokemon.” That would be sad to have all of your Pokemon sto–

Brock: “Because I don’t want them to steal my Vulpix!”

……*sigh* Major favoritism irk. Have fun on the black market, Geodude, Onix and Zubat.

– I’m going to lay out my cards on the table right now – If there’s one Gym I always upon always forget about it’s Koga and the Fuchsia City Gym. He’s not a very interesting character (I believe Dogasu put it best when they said something along the lines of ‘His house has more personality than he does’) his Pokemon aren’t that interesting either. Aya seems to be more interesting than he is, even her Venonat has more personality than Koga’s Pokemon, and Poison types are far from my favorite types of Pokemon.

Truth be told, I almost always confuse the badge design too. For some reason, I always think the Marsh Badge design is the Soul Badge’s design. I just never correlate Poison Pokemon or ninjas with little pink hearts. Wouldn’t it be more appropriate to have a skull and crossbones or a ninja star or something?

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The reason I choose to bring this up so early is because this episode is also one I completely forget about. The only thing I remember about it off-hand is the fake-out death of Ash when he leans on that wall and supposedly falls hundreds of feet to the river below. And when I do start remembering more, I only tend to remember Aya and her bright pink ninja outfit and the trick house, plus the tons of Voltorb. I even remember the upcoming scene with Team Rocket in their kabuki outfits more than Koga.

– Venonat is eternally adorable, though.

– Misty: “But isn’t that color a bit bright for a ninja?”

Aya: “I don’t need your fashion report!” Girl, trust me. You do. Even Naruto is shaking his head right now.

– I don’t think I need to tell you this, but Bulbasaur cannot learn Whirlwind. This is a translation error, Satoshi was really just telling Fushigidane to blow the spores away……but even that’s stupid. Like he has the lung capacity for that.

That move would be totally pointless to keep if everyone Pokemon could just blow it away like they were blowing out the candles on their birthday cakes. It would’ve been more believable if Bulbasaur used his Vine Whips and spun them like a fan or something….or, hey, how about using the Pokemon that’s strong against Bug types and CAN use Whirlwind?….Begins with a P….rhymes with—oh I’ve done this joke before. Use Pidgeotto, DumbAsh.

– I never realized this until I read about the episode, but despite this being the Fuchsia City Gym, Fuchsia City is never seen or visited in the series until 400 episodes later. I guess I never cared or noticed because…..well….Fuchsia City’s boring in the game’s too. Really, they might as well call it ‘Another Gym and we chucked the Safari Zone here.’

The only other notable aspects of Fuchsia in the games are the move deleter, which I have never once used because I never saw a point in it. (I usually think my HM decisions through quite thoroughly and hardly ever regret it.) and the Pokemon Zoo, which is simultaneously boring and pointless depending on how much you’ve done at this point.

– Everyone say ‘Hi!’ to Maddie Blaustein’s debut as Meowth. And you can tell she hasn’t found her footing in the role yet (she’s putting a lot of emphasis on the drawling for lack of a better term) but she will come to be one of the most beloved roles in the dub. I miss Maddie’s Meowth so much nowadays.

– He’s using Pidgeotto in a battle! WHOO!

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Ash: “What’s your name again? Err…Go Bird! Use Bird Attack!”

– This isn’t the first time a Pokemon’s evolved during a battle, but why and how did Koga’s Venonat evolve right out of its Pokeball?

Story-wise, is there a point? We see his Venonat for all of 10 seconds before it evolves. Why not just have him use a Venomoth from the getgo?

Logic-wise, how? It’s more than possible that it has enough exp to evolve, but why choose this very moment to evolve?

– Brock: “A metamorphosis attack!?”

Misty: “No, it just evolved!”

Brock, you should be smart enough to know what that was. Plus, when is transformation an ‘attack’? I swear, you get dumber with each episode.

– So, Pidgeotto finally gets to battle for a change and what happens? Its Whirlwind is apparently not strong enough to deter Venomoth’s Stun Spore or Sleep Powder when Bulbasaur literally blowing air out of its mouth was enough to do it to Aya’s Venonat. Level differences be damned, it’s still powder and Pidgeotto is far better at creating winds than Bulbasaur. He’s even created wind so powerful it’s caused Team Rocket to blast off.

And that’s it. It falls asleep, making it unable to battle. I would start a ‘Pidgeotto gets shafted’ tally right now, but at this point I’ve already lost track.

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Writers used UNREALISTIC CIRCUMSTANCES TO SCREW OVER PIDGEOTTO. It’s SUPER EFFECTIVE.

– Okay, back up. You’re telling me that a powerful Whirlwind from a bird Pokemon isn’t powerful enough to blow away the Stun Spore from Venomoth, but what looks like one of the weakest Flamethrowers Charmander’s ever done (it barely opens its mouth. It looks like it’s whistling) can knock through it easily? Blow me.

– I do love Psyduck’s pose when he comes out, though. Like, ‘Here I am to save the day!’

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– And Psyduck’s ‘Tail Wag’ is hilarious and adorable.

– It’s a little weird that James can identify a Pokemon faster than Meowth for seemingly no reason. Meowth, being a Pokemon I guess, usually can identify Pokemon much faster than Jessie or James. Sometimes, he identifies them faster than Ash and Co. with Dexter.

– Why did Voltorb Self-Destruct when it was at the feet of Koga and everyone else? Being a part of the mansion, Voltorb’s trainer should be either Koga or Aya. It should know better than that.

– Poor Psyduck. Hated by its owner for no reason and rejected by Team Rocket.

– Psyduck’s great and all, but the thing that irks me about Misty’s sudden change of heart is that she only did it because she realized Psyduck has value as a Pokemon – not because she found it within her heart to actually, I dunno, care for an innocent Pokemon who has done nothing to her. She was about ready to chuck that duck out the window before she realized ‘cool, it can use Psychic powers!’

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Misty: “Oh, PSYduck! I get it now!”

I can relate to be annoyed to hell by an animal you own. I have a very crazy, misbehaved elderly border collie who drives me up a wall. But no matter how much she annoys me or makes messes in the house, I still cuddle her and love her to death. And, truth be told, I would be scared shitless if this dog suddenly got psychic powers. Seriously, with all the badmouthing Misty gives to Psyduck, you should be worried we’d have a duck!Carrie on our hands.

– And I am still aware that trading is a real thing in the anime, I’ve already expressed my unease about this concept outside of the games, but uh, Koga, Aya, Venomoth and Venonat are right there… four feet away from you. I’m sure they don’t much appreciate you discussing trading them away for a goofy psychic duck. Especially you, Aya, who actually says ‘I’d gladly trade my Venonat!’

– Wow, Ash has had three battles today (counting the Gym match as two since one got interrupted and not counting the Team Rocket run-in since they couldn’t do anything there) and never called on Pikachu once.

– Brock getting hit by Charmander’s Flamethrower and responding with a mere ‘ouch’ is hilarious.

– When the hell did Charmander learn Fire Spin?

And, if we’re assuming he learned this by level, that means Charmander should be at least level 46 right now. Meaning, he should be well into his Charizard stage at this point.

– I don’t know why Koga added on that Psyduck helped save Koga’s Voltorb from being stolen as a reason why Ash deserves this badge (in addition to beating him – no pity badge today) Psyduck is Misty’s Pokemon – why does that matter?

– Misty, did someone punch you in the mouth?

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As you can tell by my synopsis, holy crap there’s a lot to go over here. Like I’ve already mentioned, the Gym is one I’ve always found to be mostly forgettable. In the games, Koga’s not that memorable, the battle’s nothing to write home about (I’ve never seen anyone have trouble with him) and the anime reflects this in spades.

Aya really has no point here. She is a complete time waster. I almost feel like this dynamic of student and teacher as well as brother and sister was originally written to be something much more, but so many other things got crammed in here that it took the focus away entirely. It’s even more baffling to me now that she’s one of those rare characters who actually comes back further down the line.

Half of the episode goes by with the story focusing on the trick house and Ash’s battle with Aya, which, like I said, is entirely unnecessary. If Aya wasn’t in this episode, would anyone miss her? What did she contribute? Koga could’ve easily been the one who ambushed Ash and the others, starting their match in an interesting way.

Team Rocket took up more time than they usually do, and this is compounded by the intrusion of Psyduck. I love Psyduck (usually), and I’m glad it finally got to prove to Misty that it’s not a useless sack of feathers, but why couldn’t they have used a different episode to do this in?

This isn’t supposed to be Psyduck’s episode – it’s supposed to be a Gym match. It’s meant to focus on the Gym Leader for this area and their Pokemon. This show is infamous for its filler, we even have our biggest amount of filler, 26 episodes worth, coming up after this, why couldn’t this happen in one of those?

There’s also the minor ‘issue’ of having so many Pokemon debut in this episode. Venonat, Venomoth, Voltorb and Golbat all make their debuts here.

Every Gym match so far has given focus entirely to the Gym match and Gym Leader, but here there’s so much stuff being crammed into the episode that you almost have to struggle to pay attention to the fact that this is a badge episode. Given that we’re already dealing with the most forgettable and boring Gym in Kanto, that’s a huge problem.

This is a very entertaining episode both with the trick house and with some of the shenanigans that go on, but I shouldn’t be much more impressed by nearly everything outside of the Gym match.

Next episode, Ponyta’s debut and Pokemon racing.

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