Pokemon Episode 52 Analysis – Princess vs. Princess

Pokemon Episode 52 screen1

CotD(s): None

Captures: Jessie’s Lickitung – Lickitung’s random capture is matched only by its equally random sudden accidental trade away much later down the line in Johto. Despite clearly being much more powerful than Arbok, Jessie rarely ever uses Lickitung in battle because I guess she has Ash syndrome when it comes to it. Lickitung has a massive appetite, but doesn’t have much of a personality besides that.

Plot: It’s Princess Day! – A holiday dedicated to celebrating women. During this day, girls get all sorts of special perks like massive sales at stores, free food and even having the men in their lives do anything they want.

As Misty and Jessie enjoy the spoils of Princess Day, a Lickitung comes along and spoils Jessie’s day by eating the gifts she got for Giovanni and ruining the clothes she bought for herself. She tries to battle it with Arbok, but it’s easily beaten in one lick. Jessie decides instead to capture it and she’s actually successful.

Later, at a big clothing store’s Princess Day sale, Misty and Jessie are caught in a massive fight over some of the clothes while the boys sit and sigh in the corner, waiting for them to be done. Misty and Jessie start a fight over a particularly nice article of clothing, which leads to them about to start a Pokemon battle when suddenly the clothing is taken by another woman.

Over the loudspeaker, Jessie and Misty hear the announcement for the main event of the Princess Festival – the Queen of the Princess Festival Beauty Contest. The winner gets a unique princess doll collection and their photo taken with the movie star, Fiorella Cappuccino.

Jessie and Misty decide to settle their differences over the beauty contest, eyeing the doll set as their true victory.

They get dressed up into traditional Japanese kimonos, dazzling the boys with their beauty, when it’s revealed that the actual competition is not a beauty contest afterall – it’s a Pokemon battle tournament.

Misty asks to borrow some of Ash and Brock’s Pokemon to get a more balanced team since her team is all Water Pokemon. They agree, but wonder why winning is so important to her. She reveals that she never had her own princess doll set when she was younger. She was given her sisters’ hand-me-downs. Everyone always told her how lucky she was to have three sets of dolls, but she always wanted her own set.

Jessie and Misty both do amazingly in the Pokemon Tournament, and the finale match pairs them off against each other. Before the match begins, Jessie explains that she always hated the Princess Day Festival because she never had a single Princess doll. Her family could never afford to get her any, and she was the only girl in town to go without any dolls on Princess Day.

The match begins – Misty sends out Pikachu while Jessie uses Arbok. Pikachu is able to easy toss aside Arbok, followed quickly by Weezing and Meowth.

Jessie starts thinking the match is already over when Meowth reminds her of her newest Pokemon, Lickitung.

She sends out Lickitung, and it’s surprisingly able to defeat Pikachu, Bulbasaur and Vulpix with a single Lick each. Misty looks like she’s in trouble, but as she’s about to call on Staryu, Psyduck lets itself out.

Jessie prepares for victory with one final Lick, but Psyduck is, oddly, unaffected. It’s a stalemate as Psyduck is too daffy to follow Misty’s commands for attack while Lickitung is unable to follow the battle commands of Jessie since she’s telling it to do moves it doesn’t know. They try to continue the Lick, resulting in giving Psyduck a headache.

The headache allows Psyduck to use its Psychic powers and it uses Confusion to fend off Lickitung and blast Team Rocket off.

Misty gazes upon her new doll set, proud that she finally has one to call her own. She sends them back home and relishes in the idea of her sisters being incredibly jealous of her unique and expensive doll collection.

Meanwhile, Jessie sits in silence and cries over losing the doll set. In an effort to cheer her up, James and Meowth arrive in traditional Japanese garb. The final shot pans out on all of the Team Rocket gang dressed as the dolls, having turned themselves into a doll set just for Jessie so she’d never be without one again.

————————————

– We have a lot to cover when it comes to Princess Day. Some stuff I’ll save for later for the sake of avoiding a text wall.

First and foremost, this fictional holiday is based on a real Japanese holiday called Hinamatsuri, also known as Girls’ Day or Dolls’ day. It is part of five different seasonal festivals that occur during the year.

In the weeks leading up to the holiday, parents of young women will set up a display of dolls meant to resemble the emperor, empress and their court dressed in Heian period clothing. This tradition is meant to bring these girls health, success and happy marriages in their futures.

As the name suggests, a good chunk of the day centers on the dolls. These can range from being fairly simple displays sometimes adorned with paper dolls or pictures to extremely complex and expensive displays with intricately sculpted dolls, some costing upwards of $2,500. Dolls are typically bought or handed down before a girl’s first Hinamatsuri and the display can be improved upon as they grow.

Outside of that, Hinamatsuri doesn’t have many other ‘perks’ so-to-speak – at least not that I found through my research (Feel free to inform me). You cook a variety of tasty foods and beverages for the occasion, including a sweet non-alcoholic sake drink, and some girls hold parties, but that’s about it.

Pokemon Episode 52 screen2

In Pokemon, Princess Day is quite a bit different. The dolls seem divorced from the actual holiday – more like they’re just a special thing all girls wanted and the prize happens to be a set of those dolls.

The festivities for the holiday are also quite different. Any female is treated, well, like a princess. The perks they get are pretty insane. Gashed prices in stores, free food and the ability to force anything with a Y chromosome to do your bidding all day.

All of this culminates in a beauty contest and Pokemon tournament to win a set of princess dolls.

For those of you wondering, there was a Boys’ Day festival, but now it’s encompassed as Children’s Day, which we’ll be focusing on next time.

Also, this holiday is purely Hinamatsuri in the original version. However, it’s obviously being tweaked for this series. I haven’t been able to find anything that says part of traditional Hinamatsuri celebrations is intense shopping, ridiculous sales, getting free food and making guys do whatever you want.

Second of all, am I the only one who feels like this whole Princess Day deal is…..just a tiny bit…..sexist? Not actual Hinamatsuri – the fictional Princess Day. I mean, I’m more than down for celebrating women – I am one – but…..I dunno, maybe the name kinda pisses me off, which would be 4Kids’ fault, maybe the aspect of there being a lot of sales on clothes, cute toys and other girly things irks me, maybe part of the festival being a beauty contest grinds my gears, maybe the concept of enslaving the penised ones seems a bit uncouth, I dunno.

Actual Hinamatsuri seems pretty cool, but this seems like a bit much.

Dogasu noted this in their comparison: “(The Narrator) then goes on to say that women are basically allowed to do whatever they want thanks to all the money they bring in during the holiday.” Something’s off about that too. With such drastic sales, between 70 and 90% off AND giving lots of freebies like free food, certainly the profits can’t be enough to let women ‘do whatever they want’

I don’t have much of a mind for economics, so maybe it is. *shrug*

…..And, yes, it is entirely possible that I’m a smidgen jealous that actual Princess Day doesn’t exist. We don’t even get Hinamatsuri in the US. We do have International Women’s Day, which is awesome, but there aren’t any celebratory traditions for it that I know of….So I’m petty. Leave me alone.

– Being a hypocrite, though, I find the Narrator’s opening statements to be quite funny based purely on how he delivers the lines. When he says ‘and if you’re a male, well, you get to carry packages’ I laughed out loud.

Pokemon Episode 52 screen3

– Fun Fact: This episode was originally meant to air on Girls’ Day, March 3rd 1998, but the Pokemon Shock incident pushed the air date all the way back to July. Is there no limit to what the Pokemon Shock incident affected?

– So, we, for no other reason besides we need a hot guy to make all the girls hot and bothered on Princess Day, they bring in a celebrity…..from Italy…..named Fiorella….Cappuccino….*deep sigh*

Also, I thought this ugly-ass picture on the billboard was part of 4Kids’ digital paint job, but nope. That’s the original design….ick.

– While we’re on the topic of this billboard, we have a sexy heartthrob advertising something called ‘Gigantic’ Oh the innuendos I could make.

– I always, always, forgot that this episode is where Jessie caught Lickitung. I nearly always forget she has a Lickitung to begin with. What is with these sudden instances of characters catching Pokemon, sometimes very useful powerhouses like Primeape, Snorlax and Lickitung, only to have the characters seldom use them until their cheap departure episodes?

– I will give Jessie a bit of props for attempting to battle Lickitung before capturing it, but Arbok never did a thing to it, so there’s no reason Jessie should have been able to capture it without issue, especially considering Lickitung are pretty difficult to capture by default.

– Why didn’t she even consider giving Lickitung to Giovanni? It would be a decent replacement for those eaten gifts and he does want Pokemon above all else.

Pokemon Episode 52 screen4

– Part of this plot is Jessie and Misty as well as a slue of other women fighting over clothes while the boys sit in melancholy lamenting over the misery that is being a man out with a woman while shopping. The copious amounts of stereotypes are staggering.

– It’s kinda cute that Pikachu’s also excited about all the beautiful women who will be partaking in the beauty contest….but it’s also kinda….confusing. Is he just admiring the beauty of the human female form or is he…..attracted to humans?

– Of course the prize for the beauty contest is a bunch of dolls and a picture with a hot guy. And of course all the women in the store stampede when they hear of the photo part. Sorry, the stereotypes are getting to me.

– This announcer’s an idiot or purposely misdirecting people. The winner of the beauty contest gets nothing. It’s the winner of the following Pokemon battle tournament that gets both prizes. This is irritating enough, but what if you enter the beauty contest and don’t happen to be a Pokemon trainer too? It’s a massive waste of time.

– Misty: “And the winner gets to keep the doll collection?” Uh…..yeah? That’s how prizes work. It’s not like either of you is currently in possession of the doll collection and will battle to determine the owner. The dolls don’t belong to either of you and will be given to the winner. There had to have been a better way to phrase this.

– I hate Fiorella Cappuccino. Just thought I’d sum up every scene with him to save space. The way he talks, the way he acts, his dumbass name. I hate him.

– Misty: “Being so smart and beautiful and talented, I shouldn’t have a problem winning!” No, I didn’t mislabel that as Misty’s dialogue instead of Jessie’s – Misty legit says this.

– Announcer: “Batteries sold separately.” Uh, what would batteries do in this doll set, exactly?

Pokemon Episode 52 screen5
Note that the dolls are set up as a hierarchy, and Pikachu is, of course, in the place of the Emperor.

– Okay, so the Pokemon battle is part of the competition, but they don’t advertise that at all. Also, what exactly is the point of having the girls dress up like this? The beauty contest never actually happens and they go back to their regular clothing when they battle. Did they just want an excuse to make Jessie and Misty all (forgive the pun) dolled up?

– Ya know, I definitely feel more for Jessie in this situation. Misty never had her own doll set, boo hoo, but she still got three doll sets. Jessie got a grand total of none. Misty seems like she was pretty well-off growing up while Jessie was poor and got shitty toys when she was a kid. I love the ending to this episode, but the fact that Misty wins always rubbed me the wrong way.

– How is it not cheating to use other people’s Pokemon?

– I don’t believe for a second that Jessie is blasting her way through the tournament like this. All she uses are Arbok, Weezing and Meowth, and she regularly gets beaten by a ten year old idiot. Either she has the best luck ever or she’s getting incredibly crappy opponents.

– I think this is probably one of the last times we see guns in Pokemon, but don’t quote me on that.

– Why does the announcer note that Misty is undefeated? Given the structure of the tournament, of course she is, otherwise she would be out of the tournament altogether. And why does he not state the same of Jessie? She’s undefeated too.

– Announcer: “This could be one of the greatest comebacks in Pokemon history!” Okay, calm down, guy. This is a Princess Day Pokemon match between a ten year old girl and a Team Rocket member, not an Indigo Plateau climb.

– Announcer: “Now Misty has only one Pokemon left…” Wait, what? Lickitung took out Pikachu, Bulbasaur and Vulpix. Is this a four on four match? Because Misty has many other Pokemon. Why would this be four v. four? How random.

– Announcer: “This is incredible! Lickitung’s Lick attack isn’t working against Psyduck!”….Uh….care to wager a guess as to why? Are they trying to make off like Psyduck’s too dumb to be Paralyzed?

Pokemon Episode 52 screen6

If I wanted to be overtly generous and stretch things a lot, I’d say they thought Psyduck was part Psychic type, and considering that Lick is a Ghost type move, the writers believed it was entirely ineffective against it.

However, I can’t be certain if they realized their mistake in this at this point because Ghost types were originally meant to be strong against Psychic types in the games, and they took the glitch in the games that made Ghost strong against Psychic to heart, resulting in such events like the Marsh Badge episode.

In all honestly, I’m probably reading way too much into this and it’s likely the ‘Psyduck is too dumb to be affected’ theory, but it’s interesting to consider either way.

– I always remember the ending of this match being so dumb. Lickitung and Psyduck just derping and either not following orders or being unable to follow commands because their trainers are telling them to do things they can’t do, making for a painful stalemate until the obvious of Psyduck’s headache comes around.

– Let’s pause for something funny, though. In Gen I, Lickitung could not learn Lick.

– This is less funny, but, Jessie, Lickitung also can’t learn Tackle.

– It’s really sad that this random Lickitung’s debut episode showed it off much more than Arbok and Weezing did when they debuted.

– You wanna know what pisses me off even more about Misty winning the dolls? When she sends them back home, she’s clearly more intent on making her sisters jealous than she is happy that she finally got a doll set all for herself. I’m so glad this petty little brat who got three doll sets as a kid now has her own unique expensive doll set to rub in her sisters faces while Jessie, the dirt poor girl who grew up with no dolls, loses even though she was fighting the whole tournament completely on the up and up.

Pokemon Episode 52 screen7

– Ash: “They’ll be pretty jealous!”

Brock: “I’ll bet that’s the best prize of all!” They’re obviously speaking in a weird tone here, in response to Misty literally saying “I’d like to see the looks on my sisters’ faces!” with a big evil grin on her face, but even Ash and Brock point out that this was always more about showing up her sisters than it was filling some stupid youngest child void she always had.

– Despite all that crap, the ending where the Team Rocket gang dresses up like the dolls for Jessie is one of the most touching endings I’ve ever seen in Pokemon. Those are true friends right there.

Pokemon Episode 52 screen8

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I used to enjoy this episode much more than I do now. Not only am I more jaded on the sexist-ish aspects of the story, but looking at it over again I’m actually pissed that Misty won. Poor Jessie. She doesn’t even go on her typical rage rampage when she’s defeated and blasts off. She starts crying and sits huddled next to Lickitung until her friends come to cheer her up. Meanwhile, Misty’s super smug as she sends off her new dolls to the Cerulean Gym as she imagines her sisters turning green with envy….

Not much really happens in the first half, either, besides catching Lickitung completely at random. There’s shopping and the boys being exasperated with the girls and the girls living up to damn near every stereotype imaginable, blah blah.

I will admit that the episode is well-written in terms of dialogue. There are several funny lines, some sweet moments and the ending is very beautiful. I won’t really say I disliked the episode, but I don’t like it nearly as much as I did back in the day.

Next ep–…………………………..Wait…..a…..second…..Where the hell was Togepi this entire episode?! This has nothing to do with the episodes being messed up by the Pokemon Shock incident – they literally just straight up forgot to put Togepi in this episode. Wow.

Next episode, Children’s Day!….Kinda….a little.

Previous Episode….

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