Pokemon Episode 42 Analysis – Showdown at Dark City

Pokemon ep 42 title

CotD(s): Yas – Leader of Dark City’s unofficial Yas Gym, Yas is locked in a fierce battle with the Kaz Gym for the right to shoot for official Gym status from the Pokemon League. Like Kaz, he recruits passing Trainers for his gang to help him beat the Kaz Gym. His intentions for opening a Gym are purely for the money.

Reappears?: No.

Pokemon: Scyther.

Kaz – Leader of Dark City’s unofficial Kaz Gym, Kaz is also locked in battle with the Yas Gym’s gang. It’s unknown what his intentions are with the Gym, but it can be assumed that he has the same motivation of money.

Reappears?: No.

Pokemon: Electabuzz.

Plot: Ash, Misty and Brock arrive at Dark City – a dilapidated ghost town where people seem to be afraid of Pokemon Trainers. Pikachu is suddenly pelted with rocks from a rooftop, and Ash commands him to stop the attackers with a Thundershock.

The three attackers fall from the roof, revealing themselves to be three children who are attacking them for being Pokemon Trainers. They hit them with sticks and tell them to leave their town, but they’re suddenly stopped by a local business owner. He invites Ash and co. to his restaurant to make up for what the kids did and explain what’s going on.

He states that there are two unofficial Gyms in Dark City – the Yas Gym and the Kaz Gym. They’re basically a couple of gangs who have been destroying the city on a regular basis through street fights involving their Pokemon – a Scyther for the Yas and an Electabuzz for the Kaz.

Both Gyms recruit passing Pokemon Trainers to be a part of their gangs to help them gain victory over the other and become an official Pokemon Gym. The destruction and pain has been going on for so long, some of the townsfolk are scared of Pokemon Trainers and others hate them – if they’re not destroying the town and risking the safety of the citizens, they’re being set up to be recruited for the gangs, only making the problem worse.

Just then, a fight breaks out in the streets between the Yas and Kaz Gyms, leaving a trail of destruction in their wake and causing a panic in the townsfolk.

Team Rocket, siding with the Kaz Gym, shows up to the restaurant demanding food, but the restaurant owner denies them service since the Kaz Gym hasn’t paid their tab in over two years. Angered, Team Rocket sets their Pokemon on the man, but Brock stops them with Vulpix and sends them packing.

A woman from the Yas Gym shows up, very impressed with their ability to fight three of Kaz’s best bodyguards away, and invites them to join Yas. Misty and Ash try to refuse, but Brock, unable to resist a pretty face, accepts.

The woman brings them to the Yas Gym Leader, Yas, and presents Ash as a great Pokemon Trainer with Misty and Brock as his disciples. Yas suddenly attacks him with his Scyther as a test of his ability, but Scyther slashes a ketchup bottle Pikachu is holding and becomes furious when his vision turns red.

Scyther attacks Yas, and Yas recalls him. He’s impressed enough by this ‘display’ to request that Ash and the others join the Yas Gym and help him win his fight against Kaz. Ash asks why they want to be an official Gym so badly, and Yas answers that it’s a quick way of getting money. Hearing this unethical and coldhearted reasoning, Ash refuses to join.

Yas doesn’t accept his refusal quietly and sics his followers’ Pokemon on him to ensure he doesn’t decide to join the opposition. He gets beat up fairly badly before being carried out by Misty and Brock, who regroup at the restaurant.

Ash uses his Pokedex to learn that both Electabuzz and Scyther are enraged by the color red, which was demonstrated back at the Yas Gym when the ketchup got in Scyther’s eyes. They concoct a plan to use this weakness to their advantage and stop the fighting.

Later, Yas and Kaz’s gangs meet once again in the middle of town to finally have one big brawl before the Pokemon League inspector shows up. The brawl starts, and Ash, Misty, Brock, the kids and the restaurant owner implement their plan, which involves pouring gallons of ketchup on Yas and Kaz.

Enraged by the color red, Scyther and Electabuzz both start attacking their Trainers. When they believe they’ve had enough, Ash uses Bulbasaur to pour ketchup on Scyther and Electabuzz, which shifts their targets to each other. In a blind rage, the two slam into each other and knock each other out.

It seems Ash and the others have taught Yas and Kaz a lesson, but the tables are turned when they decide to join forces against Ash and co. Just as both gangs are about to attack the group, Ash sends Pikachu off to do a Thunder attack, which is sent through the lightning rods Ash and the others planted around town and into the ground where both gangs are standing, electrocuting them all.

Yas and Kaz still try to attack Ash and the others with sticks this time until they’re stopped by a mysterious woman in a trench coat, hat and mask. She reveals herself to be the Pokemon League inspector, Nurse Joy. She refuses to approve of any Gym that uses Pokemon as tools for street fighting.

When Yas and Kaz beg for a second chance, she agrees to give it to them if they learn how to be true Pokemon Trainers from Ash. He fumbles through his lessons, but demands that they repair all of the damage that they did to the town.

With that, the kids from before have gained a new appreciation for Pokemon and Pokemon Trainers. Ash and co. take their leave, knowing Dark City may not have gained a new Pokemon Gym, but it’s certainly creating a more hopeful future.

———————-

– “Hey, guys, we did a good job getting Pikachu’s rep back up after the Pokemon Shock incident, so I want you all to clear Pikachu scenes with me for a while so we can maintain momentum with it.”

“Sure thing. Hey, there’s this scene we want to animate where Pikachu electrocutes a group of small children and makes them fall off a roof, is that cool?”

“For some reason, I see nothing wrong with that.”

“Cool!”

Pokemon ep 42 screen1

– Guys, you can introduce yourselves without explaining your goals in life.

– Misty: “And I’m going to be the world’s best everything!” Well, you’re certainly giving Ash a run for his money for biggest narcissist.

– And thus we begin this one episode long affair Pikachu has with ketchup. Is it cute? Sure. But it comes out of nowhere, is never brought up again (Alright, it’s brought up one more time 234 episodes from now…) and is borderline creepy.

– I still don’t understand how becoming an official Gym even works. If you’re only allowed one Gym per city, why don’t these guys just move their Gym to one of the many, many, many towns with no Gym? Maybe a less….crappy looking city?

What is the officiating process for a Pokemon Gym? What entails an inspection beyond ‘don’t be a skeevy jerk and/or a gang leader’? (Which just raises all sorts of questions on how Giovanni became a Gym Leader.)

Is there a limit to how many Gyms can inhabit a region? Because we know from Gary that, canonically, there are at least ten Gyms in Kanto that are official under the Pokemon League, meaning they must allow more than the standard minimum of eight per region.

This makes sense because traveling all that way is a pain in the ass. You’d think there’d be tons of the Gyms, in the anime anyway, since the Kanto region seems to be massive and covered in cities, towns and villages. Does it specifically have to be a city? Because so many areas where there are Gyms seem far more suited to be towns than cities. Dark City is a perfect example. What part of this run down old west-styled ghost town screams ‘city’?

Gyms get money?….Actually, I guess that makes sense. They probably get grant money or something from the Pokemon League for maintenance and Gym Leader salary. That would explain how Brock was able to care for his family as an unemployed 15 year old. Also, if they do get paid, they’re totally obligated to accept all challenges. Screw you again, Erika. (And….well, more confusion when we get to Blaine)

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– I do find the concept of a Gym v. Gym gang war to be intriguing, but, I’m sorry, I cannot take these idiots seriously in those outfits – especially the Yas Gym. I mean, at least the Kaz gym just looks like a bunch of Team Rocket ripoffs. The Yas Gym looks like a weird combination of Luigi and Fred from Scooby-Doo.

– Oh and, does Dark City have no…..oh what’s the word?….Uh….COPS! Right, them. Not that the Pokemon world cops are effective at their jobs, but they’re non-existent here.

– *Team Rocket shows up*

Ash: “There’s something familiar about them.” Obvious aside for a second, they’re only covering their mouths with scarves. Obvious back, THERE’S A TALKING GODDAMN MEOWTH, YOU DINGUS.

– Wait, the Kaz Gym, and supposedly this war, has been around for over two years? How long does it take to get a Pokemon League inspector out there?

– Why did Team Rocket hear the word ‘trouble’ several times before their ears finally perked up at the mention of it?

– Team Rocket’s gang affiliation at this point is a bit of a cluster. They were part of the bridge bike gang, and maybe still are, then they joined Team Rocket and now they’re part of the Kaz Gym.

– Ash: “It’s Team Rocket. I knew it!” No, you didn’t, you ninny.

– Why are Ash and Misty so surprised that Brock used Vulpix? It’s basically his signature Pokemon now. Are they just surprised he’d let his precious Vulpix out into battle?

– What the hell is up with this woman’s outfit?

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She looks like a reject extra from a Chattanooga Choo Choo music video.

– Woman: “Those were some of the strongest bodyguards from Kaz Gym.” Then neither of you deserve to be Gyms considering Team Rocket was seen as competent enough to be hired as bodyguards by the Kaz, and the Yas considers them to be some of the strongest Trainers on the Kaz side. Ten-year-olds beat them on a regular basis. In fact, they beat them and blasted them off with one Gust attack just the previous episode.

– I thought that the making up the names from foods thing was kinda cute as a kid, but now….seriously guys, you can’t just think of some BS names? You just jump to ‘Ketchup’ because it’s a thing in the room? Then you purposely theme the rest of your names on foods? That sounds more difficult than just making up a real name. Try it. Think of a fake first and last name then try to come up with another where both names translate to a food. It’s pretty hard.

– Just because Brock accepted the invite to Yas doesn’t mean Misty and Ash had to go. In fact, they didn’t even show their Trainer prowess considering Brock did the work to send Team Rocket away. I guess their reputations as Trainers are important enough to create false identities but not to avoid joining a gang.

– Hey look, a Gym where people are actually working out. We didn’t even get that in the Fighting Spirit gym…ya know, the gym that was a literal gym.

– Woman: “Yas leader, let me introduce to a great Trainer. This is Pokemon Trainer, Tom Ato. He’s brought his two disciples to help us.” I do not understand this at all.

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1) Like I said, Ash did nothing in the ‘demonstration’ against Team Rocket. He was going to, but Brock took the lead for some reason.

2) She was focusing on Brock before, why is she ignoring him now?

3) Why does she just assume Misty and Brock are Ash’s disciples? Why can they not be at least treated as equals, especially when, again, Ash did nothing to earn this praise?

At least Brock brings up how unfair this is, but it doesn’t make it any better. Can I just chalk it up to this woman being even stupider than they are?

– Even as a kid, this ketchup thing seemed like bunk to me. It’s ketchup, not red wine. It’s not even translucent. If you got a bunch of ketchup in your eyes, two things would happen 1) you’d probably see next to nothing since, again, you can’t see through ketchup and 2) you’d go OH GOD! THERE’S KETCHUP IN MY EYES! IT BURNS! THE ACIDITY! I AM WAY TOO FOCUSED ON THE PAIN RIGHT NOW TO BE ENRAGED BY ANYTHING! ARGH!

Pokemon ep 42 screen7
One of the best Pikachu screencaps, though.

– Getting infuriated literally causes steam to appear on Scyther. I know it’s a cartoon, but it’s not steam out the ears or cartoonish – it’s like they want you to believe there’s really steam on him.

– Yas: “That’s the first time my Scyther has been frightened so badly. You are a powerful Trainer.” Oh for the love of….where do I begin? First, was this guy even watching the ‘battle’? He attacked a ketchup bottle, got ketchup in his eyes and then went on a rampage. How does that, in any way, translate to an impressive Pokemon battle?

Second, Scyther was obviously enraged, not frightened.

Third, Ash didn’t command Pikachu to do a damn thing. How does his Pikachu shielding himself with a ketchup bottle make Ash a good Trainer?

Fourth, that splash of ketchup to the eyes does not physically make sense. I imagine, if you sliced open a ketchup bottle, you’d only have the ketchup spilling downwards, not backwards towards the attacker. At most, it would follow the direction of the slice.

Fifth, if he was paying attention at all, he should’ve called BS on Pikachu’s use of a ketchup bottle in battle to possibly blind his opponent.

Why are so many people in this episode so insanely stupid just to move the plot forward?…..Oh I guess I answered my own question.

– Yas: “You must work for me. I need your power.” No, you need their ketchup…..I am actually not kidding. That’s how they resolve this plotline for the most part…with ketchup.

– Ash: “Why is it so important that this should become an official Pokemon Gym?”

Yas: “That answer should be obvious. What faster way is there to make money in today’s world than becoming an official Pokemon Gym?”

Pokemon ep 42 screen8

Oh geez, this is going to be one of those episodes where I need to make a list of reasons why characters make no sense every line or two, isn’t it?

*sigh*

First, no…no, that answer is not obvious. At all. I could think of many reasons to open a Pokemon Gym without even thinking for a second about the money involved. In fact, I’m only now thinking about the financial aspects of a Pokemon Gym.

Second, ‘What faster way is there to make money than becoming an official Pokemon Gym?’….Uhh…getting a job. Selling your crap on eBay. Selling your body to science. A laundry list of other methods of getting money which are faster than starting a Pokemon Gym.

Actually, if this whole gang war has been going on for years and becoming a Gym is crazy difficult, then this seems like one of the absolute worst ways of getting money. Certainly not worth all the property damage, criminal mischief and reputation destruction.

Third, it’s not like these are real gangs fighting over drug dealing turf. How much money can there really be in being a Gym Leader? Not many Gym Leaders seem like they’re rolling in money. In fact, most seem to live a rather modest life.

Pokemon ep 42 screen9

Brock’s house looked average.

Misty seems better off, but considering she got hand-me-down doll sets, I can’t imagine her parents were rich either. Plus, they seem to have the side-business of the Sensational Sisters underwater shows.

Lt. Surge’s Gym was like a hollowed out high school gym.

Erika seems rather well-dressed and elegant to a degree, plus her Gym is fairly impressive. However, she also owns her own perfume business, which might generate a lot of money.

Koga had an old mansion, but I’m more apt to believe he inherited it through family ties instead of buying it with Gym Leader money.

Sabrina had a nice-ish psychic training facility, but nothing lavish. Plus, she might generate money from training those psychics.

Outside of Giovanni who obviously gets income from Team Rocket, Blaine seems like he might be the richest with his super secret in-volcano Gym, but he also has supplemented income with a hotel. Plus, game canon-wise, he’s a scientist.

In fact, it seems like most Gym Leaders, even in Johto and beyond, have another form of income besides their Gyms, and even then they don’t seem particularly rich. If they did offer a lot of cash, Misty and Brock should never ever ever have a problem with money. It’s already a stretch that Ash keeps running out of whatever money we assume his mother sends him, but traveling with two Gym Leaders, by this guy’s logic, should result in no money problems whatsoever.

It would’ve been much more believable if these Gym Leaders were just petty dickheads who were all ‘We’re just better than the other guy! So there!’ Or maybe they just wanted the power and prestige that seems to come with being a Gym Leader, which is also a stretch because it rarely gets Brock and Misty more than a passing glance (Just look at this episode – they’re tossed to the side in favor of Ash and called his disciples.)

Pokemon ep 42 screen10

Fourth, if opening a Gym were easy, quick cash in copious amounts, way more people would be doing it. There’d be Gyms everywhere.

Finally, if money’s the reason, why is anyone following either of these idiots? No matter who wins, they won’t get any money from the Pokemon League – only the Gym Leaders would. Don’t tell me they intend on divvying the money up across the gang, because then you’d really be earning next to nothing.

I don’t understand how so many people are getting caught up in this. If money’s not the allure, then what? What do they intend on doing when whomever wins, wins? Are they going to stay at the Gym and….Enter activity here?

Another tangent over. We now return to me stopping at the very next line to complain.

– Ash: “Pokemon are not just tools for fighting or making money. And I know…because I’m going to be a Pokemon Master!” A being who, by definition, uses Pokemon as tools for fighting.

– Pikachu is spending way too much time mourning that ketchup bottle. They’re back at the restaurant now – just give him another one.

– This whole ‘enraged by red’ thing is considered canon by the Wiki, but is entirely a fabrication of the anime. I will even go so far as to say the Wiki’s wrong in confirming it’s anime canon, because they never do this again, and Scyther and Electabuzz are fairly common Pokemon throughout the series.

And what a friggin’ coincidence that the main Pokemon of each of these Gyms just happens to be two Pokemon who are infuriated by the color red? Though they didn’t seem bothered by the ketchup bottle itself, Kaz’s gloves, Kaz’s scarf, most of Ash’s hat, the red in the logo for the Yas Gym, Misty’s suspenders, Misty’s backpack, Jessie’s hair – Hell, Pokeballs are half red!

– Weird how that woman completely disappears during the big gang battles. I’m to assume she’s stupid AND useless.

– Why was Team Rocket climbing on that building anyway?

Pokemon ep 42 screen11

– It’s very interesting how nearly everyone in these gangs have a ‘bad guy’ Pokemon. Ya know, Pokemon who are usually used by villains, excluding Poison types. We have a ton of Fighting Pokemon, then we have Rhydon, Raticate, Kingler and Golem. Also, why did everyone just release one Pokemon? If this is really a ‘We don’t care about fair battling, we just wanna fight’ brawl, they’d release all of their Pokemon. Even Yas and Kaz only seem to have Scyther and Electabuzz. How do they expect to run a Gym with only one Pokemon?

Disclaimer: I am aware of the minuscule teams Gym Leaders commonly have in early game, but according to Pokemon Origins, it’s not that they don’t have more Pokemon, it’s that they choose to use fewer Pokemon based on the experience of the challenger.

– How do the owners of a Scyther and Electabuzz not know of the red thing? Especially considering that it’s the first thing the Pokedex focuses on when their entries are brought up.

– Why did their big plan involve pouring ketchup on Scyther and Electabuzz? Wouldn’t a better option to be using Squirtle or something to wash the red off of Yas and Kaz and stop the rampage?

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There’s no way they knew they’d be stupid enough to charge literally head first into each other and knock the other out.

Also, I’m aware that these barrels might be filled with red paint, not ketchup, but ketchup was the inspiration for this plan and I believe they’d have more readied access to big containers of ketchup given they’re being helped by the restaurant owner.

– While I do applaud Ash for having the foresight of setting up a plan B just in case the gangs turned on them, Thunder shouldn’t require lightning rods to strike multiple targets.

– I was always immensely confused as to why Nurse Joy was a Pokemon League inspector. Even her badge seems more fitting for a nurse than an inspector. I might be able to swallow this better if they made her look the part, but she’s a Nurse Joy to the bone. Her Chansey still has a nurse hat on, she still has a nurse uniform on, and when she reveals her identity she calls herself Nurse Joy.

I really feel like they got insanely lazy with the character designs for this episode and when they got to the inspector, they panicked because they were short on time and just borrowed Joy’s.

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– For that matter, why was she in disguise in the first place? I know she wanted to secretly monitor the gangs, but she’s a Nurse Joy. No one would suspect that she was the inspector.

– Why did Joy release Chansey? Besides to give a hint as to who she was literally three seconds before she revealed herself.

– Joy shouldn’t have given those two a second chance at becoming a legit Pokemon Gym. She doesn’t offer any resolution to their problem of ‘this town ain’t big enough for the two of us,’ both of them are guilty of numerous accounts of assault and they’ve spent the last two years or better continuously destroying the town. But Joy seems to only see the crime of them using Pokemon for street fighting.

– I love how Ash really doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about when he’s trying to teach Yas and Kaz about being an ethical Pokemon Trainer. He means well, but he can’t get around the logistic problems of the Pokemon World. Don’t use Pokemon to fight, except when you use them to fight.

– I also believe this was the first episode where one of those ‘jokes that don’t translate’ really became apparent to me. I never once understood why there’s a picture of some food that flashes on Ash’s face when Yas and Kaz call him ‘Tom Ato’

It wasn’t until I read the comparison that I learned that Satoshi’s fake name was the food seen on screen, Omurice. For all the digital painting 4Kids is known to do, why the hell couldn’t they have drawn a tomato?

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Also, it’s very awkward when they always say their full fake names. Who talks about themselves or other people with their full name?

– This is another infuriating instance of two assholes turning on their heads and completely changing their personalities when it doesn’t seem like enough happened to do so. They got beat up and their Pokemon knocked each other out, then they got chewed out by Nurse Joy.

Remember, their incentive to becoming legit Gyms was to make money. Why do they seem to act like it’s just something they really want to do now? Unless they’re faking it for the sake of getting another chance at the money, which is possible I guess, but Kaz definitely doesn’t seem smart enough for that….and we know Yas isn’t.

– Ash: “Oh well, Pikachu really is the star.” Don’t remind me….Seriously, it’s totally unnecessary. And as sad it is, he really is right. Even Ash is not as irreplaceable as Pikachu.

——————————-

I like some parts of this episode, but others just confuse me so much that I lose my enjoyment. The Pokemon League stuff I can mostly overlook – it’s the incredibly stupid red stuff and the Nurse Joy thing that miff me.

I do like the gang v. gang concept, though I think it could’ve been executed much better. I also like Ash’s plan for stopping the fighting, even if the second splash of ketchup didn’t make much sense to me. It seemed unnecessary to knock them out if their Trainers agreed to stop fighting.

Ash was pretty well done in this episode. He stood by his principles in the faces of gang leaders, and even when he was beaten up he still wanted to help the town and stop the fighting. I also like how Ash was portrayed at the end. He may have a good heart, but he’s still a bit of an idiot even when he’s being noble. Him having his ego put in check several times throughout the episode through his clumsiness and by the kids being more interested in Pikachu is also more than welcome, even if it is more Pika-pandering.

Team Rocket is probably the most absent they’ve been in a very long time. Outside of that one battle in the restaurant, which was hardly a battle at all, they were completely superfluous to the plot and barely appeared.

Finally, I want to reiterate how awful the character designs are in this episode. Just awful. Outside of the clothes being eyesores, the actual designs of the faces are forgettable as hell. And just screw off with the Nurse Joy thing. I see through your laziness.

Next episode, one I actively hate and the debut of Exeggcute and Exeggcutor.

Previous Episode….


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