Pokemon Episode 39 Analysis – Pikachu’s Goodbye

Pokemon Ep 39 title

CotD(s): None.

Pre-analysis Notes: Yup. There’s more behind-the-scenes stuff to go through. And this episode isn’t even a little banned. Last time for a while, I promise.

Like I mentioned in the previous episode, the airing of Pokemon was put on hold for four months after the Pokemon Shock incident. Since the show started re-broadcasting in April, they opted to skip the winter-themed episodes, Holiday Hi-Jynx and Snow Way Out, for the time being. Because of this, they had to move on to the episodes that followed.

The Battling Eevee Brothers is about—No wait, that’s not right. Wake Up, Snor—nope. That’s not it either. Showdown at D—…Still no. Where the hell did this episode come from?

Turns out, there was still damage control to do after the Pokemon Shock incident. We all know that the Electric Soldier Porygon episode got super-banned and Porygon and its evos were shoved into a closet marked “Don’t Porygon. Open inside.” But there is still one obvious loose end that needed to be tied up. A yellow rat shaped loose end.

Despite the fact that the public at large associated the Pokemon Shock incident with Porygon, many people were still very aware that Pikachu was the cause of it. And even though I said that the showrunners would never sacrifice their precious Pikachu shaped ATM, they realized what had to happen in order to properly respect the children who were affected.

They had to take the proper steps, story-wise, to say goodbye to Ash’s best pal. So they dedicated an entire episode to Pikachu finding other wild Pikachu and forming a familial bond with them. Ash, realizing that his Pikachu was happy there, tearfully bid him farewell and continued on his journey.

While he felt the weight of the missing Pikachu on his shoulders every day, he knew it was for the best. Hopefully, he’d come back and visit his old friend someday, having grown, learned, matured and—PBBBBBBBBBBTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! *snort*Ahahahaha, I knew I couldn’t make it through that! Ahahahahahahaaaaaaaaaa! *sigh* No.

What really happened, in speculation because they’d never admit to this of course, is that they realized that Pikachu had been slightly vilified by the events of the previous episode, so they knew they had to do something major to put Seizurechu back in the good graces of their audience.

During the four month hiatus, they seemingly brewed up this episode on the fly since it had not appeared in any broadcast or production schedule before the incident occurred. And if there was ever an episode cherry-picked to make you love Pikachu, it’s this one.

Step right up! Hurry hurry! We’ve got so many Pikachu, you’ll think you just fell into a bargain bin of clearance Pikachu plushies at that outlet mall that never doesn’t smell like mildew! Check it out! We’ve got Pikachu with slightly ruffled tails, Pikachu with slightly bent ears, Pikachu with slightly bent and ruffled ears! Not enough?! What are you? A black-hearted Porygon?! What do we have to show you? A baby Pikachu?! Well, that’s physically imposs—OH BOOYA! BABY FREAKIN’ PIKACHU!

Look, they’re doing cute things like throwing Satoshi’s Pikachu into the air with their tails, doing a handshake with tails, rubbing their faces together and making sparks, and chanting to the moon like a Clefairy cult!

But wait, we offer more than just diabetes-inducing cuteness! We also have heartwrenching sadness! Get a bittersweet smile as Satoshi’s Pikachu has a bunch of fun with the other Pikachu. Tear up as Satoshi comes to the realization that Pikachu’s better off in the wild. Cry your eyeballs out of their sockets when that damn clipshow with that godforsaken song comes up. Then forget all about any connections Pikachu had with the—Hhmm? What’s that? Already forgotten because Pikachu’s slow-mo jumping into Satoshi’s arms? Nevermind then!

That is basically the entire gist of this episode.

As I read the episode’s Wiki page before starting the rewatch, I came across an interesting section. When this episode aired in Japan, they had a woman named Miyuki Yadama introduce the show. She explained the reasons behind the hiatus, the whole Pokemon Shock incident and even the specific reason behind the seizures.

The interesting part is what’s in the frame with Ms. Yadama as she’s giving this intro. She’s surrounded by Pokemon dolls. There are several species in the frame, but one Pokemon is noticeably much more prevalent.

Guess who?

EP038_incident_explanation

There are, at least, 12 Pikachu in this shot. Maybe 13, but I can’t tell if the first one to the right is an Electabuzz. If you had any question about the validity of my suspicions, just look at this picture. This intro preceding this episode makes me wonder if there’s such a thing as overdosing on Pikachu.

They so very desperately want you to fall back in love with Pikachu again, it’s almost creepy.

Without any further adieu, Pikachu’s Goodbye.

Plot: Taking a rest in the forest, Pikachu spots a Baby Pikachu in the bushes and runs to greet it. The Baby Pikachu runs off to its group and Pikachu tries to make friends with them. The group is leery, but welcome Pikachu into the group when the Baby Pikachu properly greets him with a tail shake.

Ash decides that he wants to make friends with them too so he bursts from his hiding spot and yells out that he wants to play with them. However, they’re quickly scared off by him, leaving Pikachu disappointed.

Later, Brock explains that the Pikachu are likely scared of humans due to a lack of contact with them. They’re currently so far into the woods that people likely don’t wander around there very often. This area is like a paradise to them, and they agree that they should do everything in their power to avoid disturbing them.

Suddenly, the Baby Pikachu from earlier falls into the nearby river. It’s not strong enough to fight the current, so Pikachu jumps in to save it. The other Pikachu form a Pikachain to grab onto the two of them and pull them to safety. Pikachu’s now even more welcomed into their group, and Ash comes to the realization that Pikachu may be better off living with the wild Pikachu than traveling with him.

He struggles with the thought through the night when the Pikachu cry out in panic. Team Rocket has wrangled up all of the Pikachu in an insulated net and plans to take them all. They start to fly away, but Pikachu bites through the net and climbs up onto the balloon’s basket to distract Team Rocket while Ash and the others catch the Pikachu in a net as they jump from the balloon.

Pikachu bites the balloon and sends Team Rocket blasting off. As the Pikachu cheer, Ash becomes adamant that Pikachu really would be better off in the wild with the other Pikachu and tries to silently leave. However, Pikachu follows him. Ash tries to get Pikachu to understand that the other Pikachu need him there and that he shouldn’t follow him anymore.

Trying his best not to shed tears in front of Pikachu, he quickly bids him goodbye and runs off. Misty and Brock catch up to him and struggle to understand why he feels the need to do this. They’re unable to argue when Ash explains the situation.

Suddenly, Pikachu shows up again, much to Ash’s surprise. The Pikachu cheer on the both of them. Ash realizes that Pikachu has chosen to stay by his best friend. They tearfully reunite with a hug, knowing they’ll always continue their journeys together.

————————

– Narrator: “Our hero, Ash, along with his friends, Misty and Brock….” Oh, we’ve gone from ‘our heroes’ to ‘Ash, the hero and friends.’ Nice.

– Ash: *swinging from vine* “KANGA-KANGASKHAN!” It’s less than 30 seconds into the episode and so far it’s given me two prompts to punch Ash in the face. Good job.

– Eeeeeee! Baby Pika…….I mean *cough* in hindsight, baby Pikachu is impossible because it’s an evolved form from the yet to be revealed Pichu. Hahaha, what adorable continuity—HORRIBLE! What HORRIBLE continuity.

Pokemon Ep 39 screen1

– Awwww the Pikachu rubbing their faces together to get sparks. That’s so cu—Uh….Shouldn’t they be stuck together like Pikachu and Raichu did in Pikachu’s Vacation? Pbbtt, you guys sure are messy with the yet-to-happen continuity today. Hahaha…..ha.

– AW THEY’RE NIBBLING APPLES AND WRESTL—Ahem….errr…..where the hell are they going? Pikachu are only indigenous to the Viridian Forest, The Power Plant and the Rocket Game Corner (in Green) in Kanto.

So, given the last few episodes and considering they’re in a forest, they went from the Safari Zone to Cycling Road (it’s definitively called that in the original version) to two anime-exclusive towns along the way to Viridian Forest.…..when their next destination is Cinnabar Island, which takes them nine episodes. Because, apparently, between Viridian Forest and Cinnabar Island there are at least seven different towns and cities when it would’ve taken an episode or two from where they started, especially considering the Seafoam Islands don’t seem to be the same hurdle that needs jumping to get there from there and they just take a boat anyway.

Basically, they did this

Map confusion

When they just needed to do this. map6

 

I really need to stop applying game logic to this show or else I’ll have to buy one of those blood pressure cuffs.

– Aw, the Baby Pikachu is ‘shaking tails’ with Ash’s Pikachu. Awww—fully easy to earn your trust, eh Baby Pikachu? Yeah….*sniff*

Pokemon Ep 39 screen2

– Ash, after seeing how wary they were of his Pikachu, thinks nothing of bursting from a nearby bush, running towards the group of Pikachu, waving his arms and yelling to them. *sigh*

– Not for nothing, but couldn’t any of Ash and Misty’s Water Pokemon help save the Baby Pikachu?

– I get that it’s hard to grab anywhere else in a Pikachain, but pulling on their tails has to be really painful.

– Uh, why is the Baby Pikachu, the one who was originally drowning, fine, but Ash’s Pikachu is unconscious?

– Cheek to cheek resuscitation would be a cuter term for this if not for the giggles it would receive….heheh, butts.

– Awwwwww, they’re lifting him up and throwing him through the air with their tails to cheer for Pikac—No!….No…*cough*

– Is that one Pikachu rubbing the other’s ass?

Pokemon Ep 39 screen3

– Awww, they’re sing/chanting at the moon that’s….cute and creepy? Are we back to the theory that Pokemon are aliens? What is this exactly?

– It’s cool that their chanting matches the BG music.

– The Who’s That Pokemon shot of Pikachu just reminds me of how much weight little chubby Pikachu has lost since he met Ash.

Pokemon Ep 39 screen4

– I do like how they create this dilemma with Ash. Pikachu is Ash’s best friend and first Pokemon. He obviously loves all of his Pokemon, but Pikachu is still very special to him (blatant favoritism aside.) Hearing that Pikachu might be happier without him while seeing the evidence in front of his face has to be incredibly difficult.

I’d compare it to Bye Bye Butterfree to a major extent. Butterfree was the second Pokemon Ash ever had and he realized that its future and happiness was not with him but with his new mate and children out in the wild. Even though Butterfree meant a lot to him, he knew he had to let him go. One of the purest forms of showing true love is pushing your happiness and feelings aside in order to make the other happy.

He’s doing the same thing here, which could nudge this episode slightly into rip-off territory (even the title is similar: Bye Bye Butterfree → Pikachu’s Goodbye) but I think does enough to skew it away from that.

The thing that kinda snags this is that Ash isn’t really taking into consideration what Pikachu wants. I know that seems counter to what I’ve been saying, but he never really asks Pikachu if he wants to stay there. He’s just doing what he believes is right for Pikachu, when, in reality, wouldn’t every Pokemon who is captured be better off with their own kind back in the wild?

Ash knew Butterfree had made his decision to stay with the other Butterfree and his mate to start a new life in the wild again. He knew that was what he wanted. Here, Ash just sees Pikachu enjoying himself and making new friends then assumes he’d be happier there without him.

It also messes up the departure scene. Whereas in Bye Bye Butterfree where the entire departure is sad and heartbreaking, though bittersweet because you know it’s for the best, here you get like an Old Yeller impression, like Pikachu’s confused as to what Ash is doing and seems like he’s being abandoned, to a degree. Before Pikachu goes to see where he went, Ash seems like he’s going to leave Pikachu without even saying goodbye. The sadness is mostly triggered by the clipshow and accompanying song.

– I think I understand now why Brock’s eyes are the way they are. He sleeps facing fires.

Pokemon Ep 39 screen5
Thank God, a Pika-free screencap…..are they sleeping on top of their sleeping bags?

– Ash: *facing a net filled with the Pikachu* “Pikachu! PIKACHU!”

This is one of those times where calling a Pokemon by its species name seems stupid. This would be like me naming my dog Dog, losing him in a pack of dogs and yelling ‘Dog! DOG!’

– Hey, you know what’s a good idea to include in your first post-seizure episode? A shot where the characters are blinded by bright lights!

– Misty: “You’re not swiping anything!” Swiper no swiping! Swiper no swiping! Swiper no swiping!

Misty: “Pikachu! Break through the ropes with an electric attack!” Why did Misty get these lines? Pikachu is not her Pokemon.

– Hey, you know what’s a good idea to include in the dubbing of the post-seizure episode? This line-

James: “They’re no match for our Pikachu insulated SEIZURE net!” Good job, 4Kids.

– *sigh* Yet another time where Ash and the others forget they have non-Pika Pokemon.

Misty’s Staryu and Starmie have been known to cut through things. Brock’s Vulpix could burn the ropes. Geodude could just rip them up. Ash’s Bulbasaur could Razor Leaf them out. Charmander could burn the ropes. Pidgeotto might be able to cut through them.

Even after they get captured in the net, they could still easily use a Pokeball.

Pokemon Ep 39 screen6

– Pikachu, the mouse Pokemon, just now decided to start chewing the ropes.

– The animation for the chewing, when seen from afar, seems so erratic.

– Forgive me if I’m wrong, but I think that’s a hell of a lot more Pikachu than we’ve ever seen on screen before this point. We’ve been seeing like 20-30, but there have to be hundreds in there.

– Ash: “Alright! We’re free!” We won’t explain how, but we’re free!

– Ya know, I know this episode wasn’t even a thought back then, but I feel like this episode should’ve preceded Sparks Fly for Magnemite. At least this would explain why Pikachu has a fear of being abandoned by Ash, to a slight degree.

Pokemon Ep 39 screen7

– It’s actually a little funny. The episode’s called Pikachu’s Goodbye, but Ash is the only one who says it.

– Ash: “All of these Pikachu in the forest need you.” That’s highly debatable. He could help them out, sure, but need? That’s going a bit far. Honestly, Pikachu wouldn’t have even been successful in saving the other Pikachu from Team Rocket if Ash and the others didn’t catch them with the net.

This is another reason why the departure is a bit screwed. He should’ve just sat down with Pikachu and explained that he believed he’d be happier there with the wild Pikachu.

– “I close my eyes….and I can see….the day we m–” NOPE!

You’re not getting me this time! You can’t make me feel feelings!

feelz

NO! LEAVE ME ALONE!

drowning

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

feelings

– Must….include….cynicism….Urgh….Oh I know. Way to save two minutes of animation by having a somewhat sloppy clipshow. Our second one this episode, I might add, but the first was much shorter.

– Oh look, honored Messiahchu literally summoned the sun. That’s the only way to explain away going from dead of night to sunrise in three seconds.

Pokemon Ep 39 screen8
Pikachu: “You’re my bitch now, Ra!”

– Aw, the Baby Pikachu saying goodbye to Pikachu—I mean, it’s really stupid how—Awwww, Pikachu jumping into Ash’s arms. Rrrghh…resist…. Aw, the look on Ash’s face before he does it…..I’m slipping….Aw, he’s crying! Not gonna make it….not…gonna…Aww the other Pikachu are cheering for them–

Feels-Explosion

————————–

Fine! I like this episode, okay? It’s not a masterpiece, but I like it. I don’t care if it has minimal story, I don’t care if they’re obviously cutting corners with the animation to get it out within four months, I don’t care if the art sometimes looks really weird like making them seem too tall or too old (Ash looks about five years older when he’s watching the fire.) I don’t care if this plot is a little recycled from Bye Bye Butterfree. I don’t care if the departure’s botched a little. I don’t care if my feelings are being manipulated for the sake of ‘love Pikachu again, we promise he won’t make you foam at the mouth anymore.’ They succeeded in their mission.

Hell, I’ll even forgive a minor issue with this episode – the Baby Pikachu might just be a chibi Pikachu. *shrug*

As we’ve all learned by now, sometimes we just like things without needing a good reason. It’s cute and sad. That’s my justification. As much as I hate the favoritism sometimes, Ash and Pikachu can be legitimately heartwarming as a friendship. I grew up with these two. I can’t untug the heartstrings.

Next episode, Eevee! The Eeveelutions! More continuity problems with later generations! Annoying as hell CotDs! And hair.

Previous Episode….

3 thoughts on “Pokemon Episode 39 Analysis – Pikachu’s Goodbye

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