Pokemon Episode 33 Analysis – The Flame Pokemon-athon

Pokemon Episode 33 Title

CotD(s): Lara Laramie – Part of the prestigious Laramie family, owners of a massive Pokemon reserve called the Big P Ranch, Lara is a kindhearted girl with a love of Pokemon and racing. She is one of few people that her Ponyta trusts to touch its flames without burning them.

Reappears?: No.

Pokemon: Being a part of the Big P Ranch, it could be said that Lara technically has hundreds of Pokemon, but her main and only confirmed Pokemon are Ponyta (later Rapidash) and Growlithe.

Dario – A Dodrio trainer, Dario is a jerk who mocks Lara and claims he’ll be the one to win the Big P race. He’s also a cheater and will do whatever he has to to win.

Reappears?: No.

Pokemon: Dodrio.

Plot: Ash, Misty and Brock make it to what they believe is the Safari Zone where they spot a herd of Tauros stampeding through the valley. Ash tries to send out Pikachu to battle one for capture, but Pikachu is too scared and pretends to sleep to avoid battle.

Instead, Ash sends out Charmander, but before he can do anything, a Growlithe comes out of nowhere and pounces on Charmander’s back. Ash commands Charmander to use Flamethrower, and Growlithe counters with the same. Realizing it’s a Fire type, Ash recalls Charmander. He prepares to let Squirtle out, but he’s stopped by the sudden appearance of a Ponyta and its rider, Lara Laramie.

Lara explains that capturing Pokemon is strictly forbidden in this area as it’s a recognized Pokemon reserve. She states that she’s part of the well-known Laramie family, who owns the Big P Pokemon Ranch that covers the region.

Ash and the others are impressed by Lara’s ability to ride a Ponyta without getting burned by its flames, but she explains that Ponyta never burns anyone that it truly trusts. Ash tries to pet Ponyta and subsequently gets burned since Ponyta doesn’t trust Ash.

Brock explains that the Laramie family and the Big P ranch have a great reputation with Breeders. They take very good care of the Pokemon there and train them well. Since they’re raised in the wild, they are supposedly even stronger than most Trainers’ Pokemon.

To help the group learn more about their ranch, Lara invites them to a party they’re having later that day and the Pokemon race they’re holding the following day where the winner will get bragging rights and an honorary place among the Laramie clan.

Another stampede seems to be coming their way, but this time it’s a speedy flock of Dodrio being lead by a boy named Dario. He stops by Lara to mock her, stating that he’ll be the winner of the Big P race.

Later, Lara, Ash, Misty and Brock hang out at the party when Dario suddenly rushes in to tell Lara that her Tauros herd is going nuts. She calls out Ponyta and races over to the ranch to find her Tauros are running around in a panic. Growlithe manages to calm them down, but a shadowy creature jumps out, startling Ponyta and sending Lara careening down to the ground, injuring her arm.

Ash manages to calm Ponyta while Misty and Brock tend to Lara. Turns out, Team Rocket, most specifically Meowth, were the ones riling up the Tauros. They were hired by Dario to do so in order to hurt Lara and keep her out of the Big P race. If they help Dario win, they’ll have an in with the Laramie family and supposedly get rich.

Lara is unable to race due to her injury, so she suggests Ash takes over as rider. He doesn’t want to participate due to fear of being burned by Ponyta, but accepts when everyone supports him and encourages him to try.

Ponyta initially burns him again, but after a pep talk from Lara, Ponyta allows him to ride without issue. Ash is so excited that he accidentally bumps Ponyta, sending it running out of control.

After some more practice through the night, they head to the Big P race. Ash sidles up to the starting line with Ponyta, Misty rides up on Starmie, Brock comes up with Onix, and Pikachu steps up with Squirtle.

The race begins, and Dario and Dodrio take an early lead. Several of the Pokemon are taken out almost immediately out of the gate when a ball bearing is shot from the tall grass into a Tauros’ face, causing a huge battle between some of the Pokemon.

A boy and his Electrode take the lead on a downhill slope, but a hole in the path stops them in their tracks. As the other riders make their way around the hole, Electrode suddenly uses Explosion, knocking several riders, including Ash and Ponyta, off the track. With a quick shock from Pikachu, however, they’re back up and racing.

The next neck of the race involves crossing a lake by jumping on a path of stones. Afraid of the water, Onix shies away from the obstacle and exits the race. Brock fully understands Onix’s aversion and concedes from the race. Squirtle and Starmie are making off easy on this hazard, however, and even Ponyta is flying through the jumps with ease.

The next hazard involves the Pokemon eating a whole bowl of food before continuing the race. Dario starts to have trouble when the three Dodrio heads start arguing over who gets to eat first. As everyone else prepares to eat, Dario calls out to Team Rocket, who have been sabotaging the race this whole time.

Ash sends Squirtle and Pikachu out, but are promptly halted by Arbok’s Glare. Misty sends out Starmie, but it’s disabled by Weezing’s Sludge. Ponyta starts to freak out again, so Dario takes this as his opportunity to head back off into the race.

Misty tries to convince Ash to continue the race while she and the other Pokemon take care of Team Rocket since Ash is racing for Lara, but as Ash tries to make his decision whether or not to leave, Arbok tries to attack Ponyta with Poison Sting. It protects itself with an aura of flame. Weezing tries to use its Poison Gas on Ponyta as the flames continue to burn. The mistake is realized too late as the gas ignites, sending Team Rocket blasting off.

The race continues, and Ash and Ponyta are blazing (hehe, puns. Also, literally blazing) towards the lead. They’re neck and neck, so Dario commands Dodrio to Peck at Ponyta, causing it to fall behind. Ponyta, fired up (heheh, more puns) to win, suddenly evolves into Rapidash and closes the gap between them and Dario. They reach the finish line, and Rapidash wins by a literal nose. Dario won’t take that lying down and tries to attack Ash and Rapidash, but Rapidash easily kicks them away.

Ash, Lara and Rapidash celebrate their victory and later bid their goodbyes as Ash continues on his journey to the Safari Zone.

—————————–

– I think this is the first time the word ‘Pokemon’ has been used in the title without them using the logo. Not sure if the fact that it’s being used in a hyphenated word has anything to do with it, though. Stay tuned for updates on this ongoing exposé.

– You may have noticed several things odd about the Safari Zone in this episode. First, Ash and the others are able to enter without even realizing where they are. In the games, you can’t access the Safari Zone without going through a guarded gate where they charge you for your ‘time’ (steps taken), give you some Safari Balls and Pokemon bait. Once your time is up, you are forcibly booted from the place.

Other than that, the area is entirely inaccessible (you can’t even ‘see’ the area on a wide shot of Fuchsia City.) In the games, the entire area is blocked by impassable trees, hedges and rocks, though one should assume that in ‘real life’ this area would be securely surrounded by fencing.

Second, and most confusingly, Lara specifically says that it’s a Pokemon reserve and capturing Pokemon is against the law there. Anyone who knows even a little about the game’s Safari Zone knows that statement is entirely backwards. In fact, they promote capturing Pokemon in the Safari Zone.

Like I mentioned, when you pass through the gate, you have to pay 500 Pokedollars. When you do, you’re given 30 Safari Balls and some bait and rocks (Unless you just find the rocks on the ground and use your own bait.) You have 500 steps to try and catch any Pokemon that comes your way using just the bait, rocks and the Safari Balls. Bait is meant to distract, rocks piss them off and the Safari Balls are so you don’t waste all of your regular Pokeballs in the park trying to capture Pokemon.

The only thing against the law/rules in the Safari Zone is battling Pokemon (because throwing rocks at them is so much better).

The reason for these screwups is because Ash and the others actually aren’t in the Safari Zone in the original episode. They’re really in Safari Land, which is an area outlying the Safari Zone that is an anime-exclusive region.

It’s understandable that 4Kids would make this goof because the Safari Land is not in the games and the name is so similar, but the dubbing implies later on that they’re aware of the fact that they’re not yet in the Safari Zone. So either 4Kids just had a derp moment while translating this part and didn’t go back to correct their mistake or they believe there are two Safari Zones each with incredibly different functions yet named the same thing, which, holy crap, that would be SO unnerving. ‘I’d like to try and catch this Pokemon, but which Safari Zone am I in? The one where you’re encouraged to catch Pokemon or the one where catching Pokemon is illegal?! I really don’t want to get arrested, but it’s a Chansey!’

I joke, but that last line is seriously foreshadowing.

Pokemon Episode 33 screen1
I endlessly love this screencap for some reason.

– Someone named their child Lara when their last name is Laramie.

– I know Brock is trying to…..impress (?) Lara by putting on a southern accent, but he just comes off as mocking of her own accent. Who does that anyway?

– Adding even more confusion as to where the hell Ash and the others are, Lara states that they’re at the Big P Pokemon ranch (Pbbbbttt….the Big P…..heeeeheheeheheh), which her family owns. And, again, if this is a ranch and Pokemon reserve, why isn’t it protected by fencing?

– Also, YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE PONYTAAAAA YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!…..Excuse me, Ponyta’s one of my favorite Pokemon.

– Ash hears that Ponyta will never burn anyone it truly trusts, so of course, the guy who just nearly tried to battle and capture Pokemon in this Pokemon reserve tries to pet it and, of course, gets instantly burned.

– Dexter: “Dodrio – a three-headed bird Pokemon that can run faster than it can fly.” I want to make a joke about this, but just checking the facts to make sure I don’t look like a moron has lead me to a rather lengthy debate on whether or not Doduo and Dodrio can actually fly.

Both are based on flightless birds – most obviously the extinct dodo bird, but also the emu and ostrich. Given this and the fact that they don’t appear to have wings, it’s easy to assume that they simply can’t fly.

Pokemon Episode 33 screen2

The general consensus seems to be that Doduo and Dodrio can merely jump extremely high and very far, like it can fly, since it still is part Flying Type and can learn the move ‘Fly’. However, neither bird is ever shown to really ‘fly’ in the anime.

The closest we get is Falkner, much further along the line in Johto. Ash says this, which kinda debunks everything right out the gate – “I’m not scared. Everyone knows Dodrio can’t fly.” but Falkner claims his can. However, like everyone has been speculating, all it does is jump really high – it doesn’t fly.

The only other ‘proof’ is this ridiculousness which is Doduo performing ‘Fly’ in Pokemon Stadium.

As you can see, it’s just floating in the air with a walk cycle animation going. Unless we’re meant to assume Doduo and Dodrio are filled with helium, this Pokemon cannot logically fly.

In conclusion to this unnecessarily lengthy and geeky analysis, I return to my initial joke which isn’t even that funny in hindsight….ahem.

“Considering it can’t fly at all, that’s about as impressive as saying my toaster can make toast faster than it can perform calculus.”

– If Dario’s voice sounds familiar, this is Maddie Blaustein doing her AJ voice. Absolutely no difference.

Pokemon Episode 33 screen3

– Why is Lara so impressed with Ash calming Ponyta down? All he did was yank on Ponyta’s reigns and yell out ‘CALM DOWN, PONYTA!’ He’s far from the Ponyta whisperer.

– It could be argued that Dario is one of the worse one-off antagonists in Pokemon because this plan was specifically set up to get Lara physically injured.

– Why is it so important for Ponyta to be in the race? Just to represent the Laramie clan? Because the main prize is being an honorary part of the Laramie clan, so it seems a little pointless.

– Okay, so we get some reasons why Ponyta should race….but they’re…..egocentric? Lara says Ponyta has to race to show everyone how great it is and to show everyone that its the best. And ‘that will be the best praise for me (Lara)’…..All I’m getting here is ‘You have to race because, if you win, everyone will know you’re the best and then I’ll be the best by proxy because you’re my Pokemon.’ If not taken that way, then it’s just putting a lot of pressure on Ponyta for no reason.

– I’m a little confused as to how Ponyta’s flames work here. They’re obviously actual flames yet Ash can grab onto Ponyta’s tail like it was made of hair.

Pokemon Episode 33 screen4
That has to hurt like hell.

– At this point, I’m kinda wondering why this episode is called The Flame Pokemon-athon. Ponyta’s a Fire type, sure, but other than Growlithe, it’s the only other Fire type here and it’s the only Fire type in the race. Ponyta and Rapidash aren’t called The Flame Pokemon, and it’s not like Lara or the Laramie clan specializes in Fire types or anything. They’ve already been getting into the puns, so why not call it My Little Ponyta or The Ponyta Express or Fire Horsing Around?

– Mad props to the guy partaking in the race while balancing on an Electrode, though.

Pokemon Episode 33 screen5

– How is Pikachu a contestant? That has to be against the rules. And if you’re going to have Pikachu ride any Pokemon, why, of all things, Squirtle? Not only is it far from the most coordinated of Ash’s Pokemon, it’s also a damn turtle. Tortoise and the Hare be damned, that would never work.

Let’s see, which of Ash’s Pokemon is the best in terms of speed? Squirtle’s base speed is 43, Bulbasaur’s is 45, so Squirtle’s already lost. Charmander’s is 65. Pidgeotto’s is 71. And Pikachu’s is

*drumroll*

90. His base speed is 90.

So, in short, the slowest of Ash’s Pokemon is being ridden by the fastest of Ash’s Pokemon in a race….Logic…is….fun.

– How is Misty standing on Starmie? Starmie aren’t known for their speed either. I mean, it has to be slower than Squirt—115?!….Starmie’s faster than Pikachu? ….The hell? It’s faster than Ponyta too. (90) and Rapidash (105) Okay fine, floating is power. I stand corrected. Have at it, Starmie. Sure am glad I’m being ultra snoopy today.

– If the main thing about this race is to help Lara and Ponyta win, why are Brock, Misty and Pikachu risking its chances by partaking in the race too?

Why am I complaining? Misty and Brock actually get to to do stuff today. GO MISTY AND BROCK!

– Announcer: “Rock Pokemon can’t deal with water so Onix is out of here!” Seems a little unfair to have such an obstacle when you know certain Pokemon can’t cross.

Pokemon Episode 33 screen6
Forever this screenshot.

Come to think of it, it’s also unfair if some people *coughMisty and Pikachucough* are riding Water Pokemon.

– Lara: “That’s right. You can do it, Ash!” You can do it, Ponyta* Does she have a crush on Ash or something? I thought she was amped up for Ponyta to race, but all she’s focusing on is Ash. And, truth be told, all Ash is doing is going ‘FASTER FASTER FASTER FASTER FASTER!’ She must be very easily impressed.

– I was actually hoping that food hazard would show us how Starmie eats.

This whole obstacle is dumb anyway. Do you want to give these Pokemon a bunch of cramps in the second part of the race?

– Yes, Dario, yell out to Team Rocket to help you. Not like the people around you or the cameras following the race can’t hear that.

– Heh, I love that Pikachu and Squirtle are happily eating away while Team Rocket does their motto.

Pokemon Episode 33 screen7
Despite the horrid art and animation issues this episode, there are some great screencaps here.

– Yes, Team Rocket, point out that you’re in cahoots with Dario. Again, not like there aren’t tons of witnesses around you and a camera pointed right at you while a huge audience watches the race.

– Okay, so the camera’s feed was off during that whole thing…..but it wasn’t. They lost the picture due to Team Rocket’s smoke screen. The feed never cut out or anything, the picture was just obstructed. When Team Rocket blasts off, the camera suddenly cuts back on, implying that the feed had been cut when it wasn’t.

Even so, there would be at least two witnesses (several if, for some reason, you count the Pokemon) who could claim Dario was cheating and sabotaging the race with Team Rocket.

– Is this announcer and the whole audience blind? How did no one see Dodrio Peck Ponyta?

– Just to be nerdily thorough, Dodrio has a base speed of 100, five less than Rapidash. However, in its Dex entries, Rapidash can run around 150 mph (listed as 100 in this episode) while Dodrio tops out at about 40.

I realize that the anime doesn’t mirror the games well enough for this to truly matter…..but research is fun for me. 😀

Pokemon Episode 33 screen8

– Even taking the complete hypocrisy of Dario’s claims out of the equation, how could Dario ever back up the statement that Ash ‘interfered’ with him? He did absolutely nothing, unless there’s a rule about evolving during the race.

– Also, they should both be disqualified for not eating the food at that last obstacle.

—————————-

This episode was fun, and I like the racing aspect, but it does have its problems. First of all, the art and animation are notably much worse than normal. I don’t know if the race caused budget cuts for the rest of the episode, but nearly every other part looks like garbage. There are unfinished lines, shine and highlights missing, shaky frames when minor movement such as talking is occurring, numerous missing frames and jutting movements.

I liked that Dario was a different antagonist for a change, but his motivations seemed odd. He was already almost winning the whole time, even without Team Rocket’s help. Is he such an asshole that he feels the need to cheat just to cheat?

Also, his motivations are never really clear. Team Rocket wants Dario to win so they’ll have an in with the Laramie family and somehow get rich off them, but Dario never explains why he wants to win outside of maybe bragging rights.

I don’t really like that Ash was the racer here. I don’t mind it too much, but it seems a bit unfair that Ash is the one riding and racing Ponyta when it evolves when Lara is the one who raised and trained it its whole life.

I don’t have much to say against this episode, but it still never reached the prestige of being a personal favorite, which is weird because Ponyta is one of my favorite Pokemon and Fire types are my favorite type. There’s just nothing too special about it.

Maybe it’s because there’s nothing important on the line and no character development, not even for the CotD or the Pokemon. Lara’s already a part of the Laramie clan, it’s not like Ponyta or Lara has something to prove to the village because they all adore her, Ash is just in it for the fun and to help Lara and Ponyta. Really the only thing on the line is stopping a cheater from winning the race, which is fine and all, but not that interesting and something you can see a million times over on literally any other show.

Who cares if he wins anyway? What does being an honorary member of the Laramie clan do to benefit him? This isn’t even as interesting as those episodes where Team Rocket tries to cheat their way through competitions because at least they usually have malicious goals and Pokemon they want to steal.

Unrelated, but I would like to draw attention to the depiction of Dario in The Electric Tale of Pikachu manga.

Dario_EToP

Someone designing for the manga really liked Dario and fanarted him up because he is so bishie there.

Next episode, The Kangaskhan Kid! Sure to be very…interesting to say the least.

Previous Episode…..


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4 thoughts on “Pokemon Episode 33 Analysis – The Flame Pokemon-athon

    • Ponyta love! ❤ The fact that Starmie is so great makes the fact that it will get left behind in Cerulean at some point in the future all the more irritating. I love the 'HYAH'ing Staryu and everything, but it still irks me.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Kudos on all of the research for the Pokemon speed stats. It is definitely an unfair race for Onyx since he could have done pretty well otherwise. I remember enjoying this episode as a kid even if it wasn’t as action packed as others. They did a good job of making the race fun

    Liked by 1 person

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