Pokemon Episode 56 Analysis – The Ultimate Test

CotD(s): None. (I’m not counting the exam instructor. He’s doesn’t even get a name.)

Plot: Misty prods Ash about his lack of Gym matches lately, further expounding the topic by saying he could hope to get a pity badge next time. Ash becomes very angry at this, and Snap suggests proving his worth as a Trainer and bypassing the next two Gym battles by taking the Pokemon League Admissions Exam – a one-time test you can take to earn a special badge that allows you to gain immediate admittance into the Pokemon League.

Ash signs up, as do Jessie and James, who both seemingly have secret aspirations of being Pokemon Masters. The Nurse Joy from Fuchsia City has also signed up, being unable to travel for badges due to her job.

The first exam starts and it’s a trivia test about various Pokemon. Ash does fairly well for a bit, but the questions soon start tripping him up.

The second exam begins, and it’s centered around identifying Pokemon by parts of their body or silhouettes. The hints are incredibly vague, and Ash, Jessie and James get each answer wrong due to the questions being either tricks or just flatout stupid.

Jessie gets so frustrated that she leaves the test and is expelled.

With Jessie out, James and Ash discover that they’re the other two bottom scorers in the group. Joy scored near the top, however.

The final test is a practical exam where all of the applicants participate in a Pokemon battle with the test proctors. The hitch is that the participants must use premade Pokemon teams made of specially trained Pokemon from the organizers. They’ll have no idea which Pokemon are in the Pokeballs until they throw them out in battle.

James is ecstatic to get a Pikachu, but fails in taking down the instructor’s Graveller with it. He throws out his other two Pokeballs, which contain an Ivysaur and a Charizard, when he gets frustrated. However, he’s instantly thrown out due to using multiple Pokemon at once.

Ash is up next, and his first Pokeball contains a Weezing, which he’s not too thrilled about, but at least he knows Weezing’s moves thanks to James always using one when they battle. The instructor throws out a Flareon. Ash manages to pull out a win with Weezing, but the battle’s not over yet.

The instructor throws out a Jolteon. Ash’s next Pokemon is an Arbok, which he basically has the same reaction as he did to Weezing, but, again, he knows relatively how to use one since it’s Jessie’s main Pokemon.

He forgets about Jolteon’s spikes, however, and damages Arbok while attempting to use Wrap. One more attack by Jolteon, and it’s down for the count.

The instructor’s final Pokemon is Vaporeon. Ash’s last Pokemon is, to complete the irony trifecta, a Meowth. However, it’s barely out of its Pokeball before the enemy Vaporeon freezes it with an Ice Beam.

Team Rocket’s Meowth is furious at the abuse of a fellow Meowth, so he runs out onto the battlefield, scratches up Ash’s face and frees the Meowth from the ice.

The instructor, intrigued by a talking Meowth, tries to capture him, but Jessie and James stop him with the Pokemon James used in his test. They want revenge, and they try to attack the instructor. They fail to realize that the instructor is the one who originally trained all of the test Pokemon, so he merely commands them to obey him now and sics them all on Team Rocket.

Ash follows suit and commands his test Pokemon to attack as well. He commands Weezing to use Explosion, and Team Rocket blasts off.

With Team Rocket’s intrusion, they’re forced to call off the exam and nullify everyone’s progress so far. Ash decides to forego taking the exam again and goes off to Cinnabar Island to get his next Gym badge.

Meanwhile, Snap is trying to tend to Meowth, who was injured in the explosion, only to find his ‘friends’ left without him. The instructor takes Meowth, happy to have ‘captured’ the talking Meowth he wanted. Team Rocket, however, is confounded to discover their Meowth is the test Meowth.

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– Simply moving the mouths up and down while the voice actors go ‘Om nom nom’ and hold small bits of food to their mouths – animation perfection.

– Why is Misty confused by Snap bringing up the Pokemon League Admissions Exam? As a Gym Leader (formerly) shouldn’t she know what that is?

– There’s something really weird with the animation as the frame pans while Ash says ‘Yeah, nobody I’m not better than…’ The kid with the weirdly colored Caterpie hat and the girl behind the couch jut around a lot like the shot was poorly digitally painted. But since I can’t find any other evidence of 4Kids meddling here, I’m left to assume it’s just an odd animation error.

– Let’s go over my opinion of the admissions exam here to save some time. A lot of what I’m going to say was already covered by Dogasu, but just to cover my own bases:

I really like the idea of a difficult in-depth test that you can take for the sake of getting immediate admittance into the Pokemon League. Like Pokemon Tech, it’s cool to see that there are alternative options in place for people who simply don’t have the time or capability to travel the world and get badges from various gyms – and this one doesn’t seem to require a ton of money and god knows how many years of commitment to complete like Pokemon Tech. You can just arrive, prove your meddle and gain admittance.

As we see throughout the series, plenty of people become amazing Pokemon Trainers without ever leaving home, so this is a great option.

Problem is both the written and practical exams are bullshit. Granted, the practical exam is less so, but the written exam is some of the biggest bullshit ever. In Pokemon Tech, the knowledge you had to have on Pokemon was insane. You had to know some things by memory that a lot of hardcore Pokemon fans wouldn’t be able to tell you without Googling it. Even the kids at a mere four badge level were prattling on with Pokemon facts like they were old Pokemon Researchers, and even they would call out this test for being stupid.

Why do you need to know Pokemon silhouettes, especially when they’re manipulated to look like several other things? Why do you need to be able to identify a Pokemon by a small part of them, especially when they’re ridiculously vague? Why are some of the questions mind-bogglingly simple while others are outright unfair?

Even the characters are pointing out how insane this part of the test is. Rarely do I ever side with anything Jessie does, but the fact that she called foul and walked out was perfectly reasonable in this instance.

I have no qualms about having a practical exam because that’s completely understandable when testing entrants for the Pokemon League. It’s how they go about it that makes it ineffective in what it’s supposed to be testing. I’ll go into more detail later.

I’m just really disappointed in how this test is set up. This is a fully solid idea for bypassing badges and it’s wasted on this unfair pointless silliness. I felt bad hearing Joy say this test is a great idea for anyone whose age, health or life keeps them from going to get badges knowing what I know now. I can’t imagine anyone actually passes this test without cheating.

Other than money and time, the only ridiculous part of Pokemon Tech was somehow believing that you could become a Trainer of high enough skill to enter the Pokemon League….without seemingly ever having non-sterilized robotic simulation battles or catching your own Pokemon and gaining real world experience.

– Still on the subject of the test as a whole, I’m a little surprised Ash wants to take this exam anyway. Is it just to prove his skills as a Trainer to Misty before continuing on his actual journey? Because it doesn’t seem like he enjoys the idea of using shortcuts to get into the Pokemon League.

Jessie and James entering is similarly odd. I thought for sure this was a scheme to steal Pokemon, but they both honestly wanted to take the test to see if they were good enough Trainers to pass.

– It’s only been a minute or two since Ash entered and he got number seven. Jessie was signing up at the same time and got number 634. Despite James appearing later than both of them, his number is 546. What is the weird numbering system here? (I am aware that the numbers are Japanese puns on Jessie and James’ original names – still doesn’t make sense.)

– Surprised 4Kids left in a mention and visible presence of wine.

– I really like Meowth teasing Jessie and James about lying to take the admissions exam. It’s adorable.

– And they follow that up with distracting Meowth with a ball of yarn. So cute!

– Hey, just for fun, let’s take the test with Ash and others. Whatdya say!?

Q1 – Lickitung’s tongue is twice the length of its body – True or false?

A1 – Here’s a snag right off the bat. In the anime, Ash’s Pokedex says Lickitung’s tongue is more than twice the length of its body. Ash actually remembers this, oh my god, so he marks his answer as false.

Lickitung’s height is listed as 3’11, which means in order for it to be twice the length of its body, the tongue would have to be 7’10. The Pokedex entries in the games are fairly inconsistent because one says the tongue is over 6’6, another says it’s almost seven feet, and several others just claim it is exactly twice the length of its body.

So either Ash’s Pokedex is wrong, the conversion to feet from meters was muddled somehow, no one really knows how long a Lickitung’s tongue truly is, it differs based on some variables or D) all of the above, meaning any answer is correct, but also incorrect in some way.

Q2 – Ninetales evolves from Vulpix only by use of the Fire Stone – True or false?

A2 – While this question is insanely easy, I guess it’s meant to trip up people who might think it evolves through leveling?

Also, taking the time out now to say it’s really obvious that Ash has never gone to an actual school before. He won’t shut the hell up or even whisper as he’s talking to himself through the test. He’s literally yelling out his answers to each question, particularly this one. “Aw, that’s too easy. True, TRUE!”

He’d be getting thrown out of there almost immediately. At the very least, he’d get dirty looks from his neighbors, but not a single person is paying him any mind. Must because they’re all painted into the background and aren’t animat—I mean, they must be really focused.

Q3 – Hitmonlee is also known as ‘The Punching Demon.’ – True or false?

A3 – Ash: “Let’s see….it’s either Hitmonlee or Hitmonchan that’s the puncher.” Gee, which one is known as the ‘The Punching Demon’? The one with hands so weird I question whether it can make a fist and clearly has long, strong legs….or the Pokemon who has literal boxing gloves for hands?……..Hmmmmm…..

Ash: “Aaaahhhhhhhhhh I THINK IT’S TRUE!”….Wha….what the….Huh? You managed to remember some minor fact about a Pokemon I only barely remember you using the Pokedex on…….but you can’t remember whether Hitmonlee or Hitmonchan is the punching Pokemon.

Wanna know what’s even worse? His Pikachu had a literal BOXING MATCH with a Hitmonchan! You remember the one. It was owned by the guy who’s currently caring for the Primeape Ash has clearly already forgotten about.

I was going to be nice and say maybe he was experiencing test anxiety here and he just blanked on the answer, but this is a little too obvious for him to not get it even then. I’d be hard-pressed to go that route anyway since he’s so confident in his answers up until this point that he’s been yelling them out. (He’s still doing it, by the way.)

I was even going to throw him a bone and say maybe he’s just mixing up their names, but there’s a picture of the damn Hitmonlee on the screen, so it’s veritably impossible for him to do that.

Q4 – The only attack Magikarp originally knows is Splash – True or false?

A4 – What does ‘originally know’ mean? Like the only move it knows once it’s hatched? I only ask because I feel like it’s a bit of a myth that Magikarp only knows Splash considering that’s the move it’s most famous for using, and most of what Magikarp does is, well, splash around. Magikarp can also learn Tackle at level 15, so the answer is technically false, but since the wording is vague, we can’t know for certain.

I do love the throwback to James’ Magikarp woes, though.

Q5 – Caterpie is the world’s smallest Pokemon – True or false?

A5 – I don’t think Caterpie’s size has ever been a particularly notable trait of this Pokemon. Back in Gen I, this one could easily be considered true (It’s not. Diglett’s smaller….Though how do any of us really know how big Diglett is considering no one ever sees its lower half?….Hm.) Nowadays, it doesn’t even make the top 25.

Also, the image 4Kids uses for Caterpie here was overly cropped because they cut a part out of its neck so you can see the purple background through it.

Ya know, if anyone should be doing well on this test, it’s Jessie. This is Johto hindsight talking, but now we know that she trained to be a Pokemon nurse (Kinda…she trained in a school for Chansey) and she was good at it.

Not to mention that most of the Pokemon they’ve been asking about are Pokemon that she’s either owned or used. She owns a Lickitung, she used a Hitmonlee, James has a Koffing, and she obviously has experience with Magikarp.

Q6 – Koffing was first discovered in a public bathhouse – True or false?

A6 – I can’t find any information on this outside of Koffing’s Wiki stating one of the Koffing cards in the TCG explains that it was discovered in a weapons factory. Considering Koffing utilizes poison gas, not steam, I’m more apt to believe the weapons factory theory. However, Koffing is meant to be heavily connected to air pollution, right? And its beta name was Ny, a poke at New York City, referencing the air pollution there.

All in all, the answer is probably false, and even the TCG’s explanation is….likely wrong. It’s more plausible than a bathhouse anyway.

I can’t really take Exam #2 with them due to the way it’s designed, but let’s address every question anyway. Every question is about identifying a Pokemon by a small part of its body or a silhouette.

Q1

A1 – The ridiculousness of this question is two-fold. If you can’t see the size of the Pokemon, it’s basically impossible to determine if this is one of two known perfectly round Pokemon – Voltorb or Electrode.

But the real stupidity comes in it being a Jigglypuff……seen from above…..Kiss my ass, instructor.

On a side note, in the Japanese version, the ‘Who’s That Pokemon?’ segment also used this same trick, but it was after this scene had already played so it was more of a joke than it was an unfair question….like this is.

Why does the Voltorb in Ash’s selection screen look so depressed?

Why does James think it’s a Pokeball when the exam instructor specifically said it’s a picture of a Pokemon?

Q2

A2 – It’s a Poliwag, not Poliwhirl or Poliwrath because the direction of the spiral changes when it evolves.

Before I get to the meat and potatoes of why this question is bunk too, I’d like to point out that 4Kids used the wrong image on the screen when they explain why the answer is Poliwag. They use a picture of Poliwrath instead of the Poliwhirl they’re referencing. 4Kids, you keep making this mistake and it drives me bonkers. I gave you a pass the first couple of times (which is future-watching hindsight, but still) but now it’s just getting annoying.

Here’s a very subtle hint to discern Poliwhirl and Poliwrath. The angry looking one….or the WRATHFUL looking one is probably PoliWRATH.

Instructor: “As any Master would know….” Shut your face. And put your condescending finger down.

This question is entirely bullshit for several reasons. A decent-ish chunk of fans know about the swirl reversing directions upon evolving thing, but I can bet almost everyone who knows that much don’t know 1) Which evolution the swirl changes on, Poliwhirl or Poliwrath, and 2) What direction the swirl starts at.

BUT even if you somehow know that off the top of your head, this is still unfair and a trick question because, according to its Dex entries, Poliwag’s swirl direction changes depending on the area it originates from, and would switch direction when it evolves. Meaning that swirl pattern could literally belong to ANY of the Pokemon in the Poli line (Except Politoed, but he doesn’t exist yet)…..As any Master would know.

Ash, in this situation, would technically be correct with Poliwhirl.

Also, while Jessie’s answer of ‘An Arbok all coiled up’ employs the same stupid logic this whole test has, I’d think an Ekans all coiled up would make a better spiral pattern. Arbok’s hood would mess it up.

Q3

Again, such an insanely vague image. It’s a fire. Seven Pokemon in Gen I have flames on them – Charmander, Charmeleon, Charizard, Ponyta, Rapidash, Magmar and Moltres. You’d have to have a psychotic level of attention to detail to discern between them all properly.

Instructor: “For your information, young lady, a Pokemon Master must understand all aspects of their Pokemon’s life in order to achieve oneness with their Pokemon!” Oh shut. up.

Forgive me if I’m wrong, but we’ve never actually seen a person who is proven to be a Pokemon Master, right? Even when you win any of the Pokemon League conferences, you’re far from a Master. Even if you beat the Elite Four and the Champion, you’re still not a Master. Even if you catch all of the Pokemon in existence, even somehow the legendaries, you’re still technically not done because there are always more Pokemon to discover, more challenges to beat etc.

I can bet if you asked anyone who did do all of those things, however, if these questions are in any way vital to being a Pokemon Master, they’d laugh in your face. They’d tell you it’s more about learning about them through experiences, connections, friendships, battles, victories, losses, care-taking, hardships and, yes, textbook research, but not this crap. They wouldn’t be stripped of their eligibility to be a Pokemon Master just because they didn’t know which FIRE Pokemon had a specific FLAME on it.

This test isn’t even a Pokemon Master certification exam – it’s a test for entrance into the Indigo League tournament. All of this is such a joke.

I feel like this test is designed by people who want to feel like super smart Pokemon Masters because they know all the answers by default and can giggle at the people having trouble and getting frustrated.

Also, ‘must understand all aspects of their Pokemon’s life’? Uh, what if the people taking the test don’t own the Pokemon you’re listing? Why would they have ridiculous levels of ‘knowledge’ about Pokemon they don’t own?

If you still wanted to keep this portion of the test, maybe ask each Trainer what their first Pokemon was or which Pokemon have they had the longest and grab a test specifically about that Pokemon? Or maybe a test designed around their current Pokemon team? (You can have tests set up for each Pokemon and mix the questions randomly to fit the Trainer’s team.) That would make more sense here. It’d still be kinda dumb because I don’t see why you need to know this stuff simply to gain entry into the Pokemon League, but it’d be better.

…….The answer was Ponyta, by the way. Not that it matters.

For the sake of somewhat fairness, Ash should’ve at least taken Ponyta (and Rapidash) into consideration since he’s had experience with both. He’s at least yet to see a Magmar or Moltres. All he listed off as possibilities were Charmander, Charmeleon and Charizard, though.

– Aw, Meowth sleeping on a ball of yarn.

– Seems kinda mean to have a TV set up specifically to shame the lowest scoring participants. Also, I don’t believe anyone actually got a high score. Either everyone got similarly bad scores and those are just the least bad or ya’ll cheated.

– I like that James feels a stronger desire to succeed to sort of avenge Jessie now.

– You know how I mentioned the Japanese version’s ‘Who’s That Pokemon?’ segment used the ‘Jigglypuff as seen from above’ thing? 4Kids could’ve done the same here easily, but they opted to using a Vulpix because why would they even attempt to be fun?

Now for the least bullshit but still pretty bullshit part – the practical exam.

If there’s anything you’d expect to be a part of this exam, it’s Pokemon battles. However, they somehow manage to even make that unfair.

Each participant is given a set of Pokeballs with an undisclosed set of Pokemon in them. The Pokemon are all fully trained and are told to obey the commands of the Trainers who are using them during the test.

The concept of this is fairly understandable. A really good Pokemon Trainer will be able to adapt to whatever Pokemon they receive, will know enough about Pokemon to use their abilities properly and come out on top no matter what team they get.

I say ‘fairly’ because most Pokemon Trainers learn about a Pokemon’s battle style and abilities by training them and battling with them over time. You can research their moves, but that also might be pointless here because you don’t know what moves these Pokemon know or what level they’re at.

Also, these teams are very unbalanced. Having a Pokemon battle while the participants are using Pokemon they probably have no experience with and might be a load of crap vs. what might be/probably is a powerhouse lineup is a bit janky.

I’d be pretty pissed if I got Ash’s given garbage team (Two Poison Types and a Normal – and I’m aware this is on purpose as irony) Meanwhile, even though he lost, James got a very balanced and awesome team of a Charizard, an Ivysaur (yeee, Ivysaur! <3) and a Pikachu.

Problem is, it feels like the instructors aren’t choosing blindly. The only evidence I have to the contrary is Nurse Joy’s proctor using a Charmander when she was using a Squirtle, but the instructor just happened to get a Graveler when James threw out a Pikachu? Then, in Ash’s match, he just happened to get a full set of all the Eeveelutions?

As we’ll later hear, the instructor trained all of these Pokemon, so he has an additional advantage. We’ve seen before that part of a Pokemon’s true strength and capabilities in battle are due to its strong bond with its Trainer. Everything they’ve gone through, everything they’ve learned together etc. That creates a power and synchronicity that you can’t get with randomly selected Pokemon someone else trained.

Wouldn’t a better arrangement be having a bunch of practical exams with the applicant using their own Pokemon first? Like seeing how they react to certain battle situations, what they’d do in applying the Pokemon’s skills in a real-life emergency, properly caring for the Pokemon, etc. then have the final hurdle being seeing if you can win matches in a mini-tournament and each round you get a random selection of Pokemon in balanced teams? Perhaps you could not let the instructor who trained them act as a proctor for this test?

Actually, now that I’m really thinking about it, if this exam is meant to bypass the eight Gym matches, why not just hold eight very difficult battles that the applicants have to win? You could have different stipulations for each battle, make the teams themed, etc. maybe make the test last a few days so you won’t get people and Pokemon too fatigued. Am I making too much sense?

– I get that, in a way, they, for some reason, want this test to look ridiculous to be funny for the audience, but all it’s doing is making the test look unfair and goofy. You can just make the questions insanely hard but fair. Or are the writers too lazy to do that much?

– I love Jessie’s reaction when James explains how much he knows of Pikachu’s moveset because they’ve been attacked by Pikachu so many times he knows all of his attacks by heart.

– But that pales in comparison to James gushing over being able to command a Pikachu to do Thunderbolt. He is adorable.

– Graveler attacked without commands. Either my notes about having a strong bond with your Pokemon are a little too correct and he didn’t need to command it for it to know what he wanted it to do, or these Pokemon aren’t as well-trained as he’d want us to believe.

– Instructor: “You should’ve known that Electricity doesn’t work on Rock Pokemon.”

…..Are….Are you serious right now?…..Is this a prank?……This instructor, who was acting like knowing random superfluous facts about Pokemon and identifying them via vague parts of their body is something all Pokemon Masters should know and like he knows all of this stuff off the top of his head…….Is claiming that Rock types that are immune to Electric types…..when….it’s….Ground.

That’s the kind of mistake I’d expect from Ash, and even he’d probably know better given his past and the fact that his trademark Pokemon is a Pikachu (though I won’t say he certainly would know because…it’s Ash). You just lost any and all validity as an instructor for this test. Pack up your aerial shots Jigglypuffs and go home.

– Also, if the instructor is choosing randomly, James just got forked out the gate by sheer chance because what is a Pikachu supposed to do against a Graveler?

Just to be thorough, I looked up Pikachu’s Gen I moveset, and it only has Electric and Normal Type moves (and two Psychic, but they’re abilities, not attacks).

It can learn two Fighting moves via TMs but I’m going to assume they’re not going teach these Pokemon TM moves and not tell the participants because that’s also unfair.

Switching out is not allowed in these matches either as it defeats the point of adapting to battle conditions, so…yeah, even more unfair.

– It’s a bit insulting that James also says ‘That’s bad’ when Ash shows he got a Weezing. Have some respect for your Pokemon, James.

– I love Ash’s face when Snap takes those pictures of him, though.

– Despite the bullshittery of this test, I will give Ash all the credit he deserves for at least winning one of these matches, and with a Weezing no less.

– Team Rocket taking notes on Ash’s battle techniques is hilarious.

– Arbok’s face when Ash is trying to remember Arbok’s attacks is also really funny.

But, Ash, you fight Arbok all the time. You should know its attacks as well as Team Rocket knows Pikachu’s.

– Instructor: “Too bad you overloaded Jolteon’s spikes!” Lots of places have pointed out this error, but because this statement bugged the hell out of me as a kid, he meant to say ‘overlooked.’

Instructor: “Sizing up your opponent before an attack is a fundamental rule!” Stop acting like you know everything, you putz.

– Weird how Ash was devastated when he got Arbok and Weezing, but he seems downright amused and happily surprised at getting a Meowth.

– I’ll give Ash a bit more of a pass for not knowing Meowth’s attacks off the bat because Meowth doesn’t battle nearly as often.

– Meowth: “USE THE FURY SWIPES!” Thanks for the cheering/assistance, Meowth, but maybe wait until his opponent has sent out his Pokemon.

– Instructor: “Looks like another victory for me.” Again. Shut. Up.

– Why did Meowth scratch up Ash? All he did was exactly what Meowth told him to do – commanding the test Meowth to use Fury Swipes. The instructor/Vaporeon froze it.

– Ohhohohohoh….So not only is the instructor an idiot when it comes to knowing type advantages, but he’s also an Ash-level ignoramus because he tries to catch Meowth without battling it first. How utterly unprofessional of him to try to catch a Pokemon in the middle of the testing grounds during an examination anyway. Someone fire this guy.

– Excuse me, why was James allowed to keep those Pokemon after he was kicked out?

– Ash: “Don’t interfere with my test!” Despite my comment, your test is over, Ash. You lost the match. Considering you also got one of the bottom three lowest written exam scores too, I’d say you’ve sufficiently flunked.

– Holy crap, Ash! Overkill much? You put a twenty foot crater in the arena floor.

– Instructor: “I am terribly sorry, everyone. Team Rocket’s intrusion has interfered with the entire examination. We have to start over from the very beginning.” What!? Ash’s test was over, and Team Rocket’s intrusion lasted all of a minute. You can say you can’t continue the practical exams because the arena was destroyed but 1) That was Ash’s fault, he could’ve defeated them without blowing the place up 2) You can just battle somewhere else, people do it all the time, and 3) Ash’s test was over, and, considering they were doing them one at a time, no one else’s test was affected by the intrusion.

But even if you, for some reason, can’t continue the test, can’t you just say ‘Hey, guys, we gotta make repairs. Anyone who didn’t complete their practical exam, come back in the morning of whenever the repairs are done and we’ll continue. Everyone else, here are your results, we’ll do the rest of the exam, whatever it is/if there is more in the afternoon after everyone has completed the practical portion.’?

More importantly, why are the results of their previous two exams void? I can understand maybe if Ash won and did well, and it seemed like he might pass, so the writers did this to force him to go back on his journey and retain the status quo, but he didn’t. He lost in his practical exam, he did terrible on the written portions – outside of the off-chance of the instructor being a pity badger for him helping defeat Team Rocket, he had no hope of passing.

Just seems like you’re being a, sorry for the overuse of this word but, unfair jerk to all of these people just because a couple of criminals bothered you for a minute.

– Why is Misty holding Togepi like that?

– Instructor: “I’m sure you’ll pass this time.” Uh, what makes you say that? Defeating Team Rocket is hardly a mark of skill, and you were about to do it effortlessly without Ash’s help. He went way overboard and destroyed your arena. He did poorly on all three exams. He nearly killed two people and numerous Pokemon a minute ago by blowing them up. What are you seeing that is indicating increased intelligence or skill since five minutes ago?

Unless that line is indicating that he’d rig the test for him. Wouldn’t be surprised at this point.

– It wasn’t just that one frame – Misty’s holding Togepi really awkwardly for no reason. Also Togepi’s drawn weird now too (Why is it so skinny and where are its arms?)

– Nice of Ash and the others to completely forget and leave Snap behind.

– Also nice that Meowth got badly wounded in the explosion and Snap was the only one to notice or care.

– Instructor: “I finally caught my talking Meowth!” 1) It was handed to you badly wounded, you didn’t catch anything. 2) You don’t know if this Meowth has a trainer or not. 3) You’re not more concerned over the fact that it’s badly wounded? 4) Shut up.

– If you want proof of Ash’s overly destructive behavior, not only do you have the destroyed arena and the injured Meowth, but you also have the innocent test Meowth who was injured and blasted off with Team Rocket. Way to go.

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This episode could’ve been really interesting if taken seriously, and it could’ve been hilarious if it were just Ash and Team Rocket, three very incompetent people, being taken aback by difficult or even average tests. If the Pokemon Tech episode was about the importance of real world experience, maybe this episode could’ve been about the importance of actually studying, researching, learning about the field you’ve decided to develop a….I guess we’ll call it a ‘career’ in.

Maybe have Ash realize that being a Pokemon Master is a much bigger goal than he realized and he needs to really buckle down and get serious with his studying and training if he’s ever going to reach that dream.

….Nope. Just Ash is a really good Trainer as is, despite completely flunking every test, all because he beat Team Rocket. Nothing wrong with what he’s doing. Move on to the next Gym and forget this ever happened.

Not to mention, Joy’s role was really weird. Why was she even here? Just to show someone actually doing well in this circus they call a test? She shows up, we see her scores, but not her taking the exam (we see her briefly when Jessie leaves, that’s it.) We see her beat a proctor’s Charmander with a Squirtle, then we see her bummed that her test has been invalidated before she just says bye to everyone.

I can get angry about a lot of aspects of this episode, and I kinda did at points, but ultimately I feel like this episode is a waste of time and a waste of a good concept. Granted, I wouldn’t want Ash to pass the test and skip the final two Gyms (Especially Cinnabar because Blaine’s my favorite) but maybe have a CotD try to go through it and fail or succeed and Ash learns through him/her while trying to help them prepare?

I think I have more suggestions on how this episode could’ve been better than I have ragey complaints. Despite several intentionally funny shots, the art and animation for this episode was wonkier than usual, but that’s kinda offset by the fairly funny moments that were actually intentional. That’s about all I got left for complaints.

……..That instructor definitely needs to be fired, though.

Next time, competent Team Rocket members?! The debut of Butch and Cassidy!

…..Previous Episode


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SSBS – Tokyo Mew Mew Episode 44: The City Turns into a Forest – What Protects Ichigo’s Smile

SSBS - TMM Ep 44 screen1

Plot: Aoyama continues to have nightmares about Ichigo in her Mew form collapsed on the floor and crying.

Meanwhile, Akasaka and Shirogane share more information they gathered from the alien ruins to the Mews. They theorize that the ancient aliens created Mew Aqua, and what they’ve been finding as of late are actually small fragments of the crystals they originally created that have been scattered all over the world (Or….I guess just Japan). There is a True Mew Aqua crystal somewhere out there with unimaginable power.

The good news is, Shirogane believes the aliens don’t know either of those facts yet, but now they realize that the fight to get the Mew Aqua first is more important than ever.

Later, Shirogane gives Ichigo a pep talk, promising that, if push came to shove, he’d make good on his promise to always to protect them. Ichigo can’t help but suspect again that this indicates he’s The Blue Knight.

Aoyama suddenly calls, asking to meet with Ichigo. Shirogane kindly takes over for her at the cafe so she can see him.

Ichigo and Aoyama enjoy their date, even if it’s briefly interrupted by a rain shower. Aoyama also has a brief moment of concern where he believes Ichigo might be crying, like she was in his nightmare, but she shows that she’s fine. She’s just a little spooked by the thunder.

That night, Akasaka and Shirogane detect a mass influx of strange readings all over Harajuku – a popular shopping district of Tokyo. The aliens are there and they’re causing the trees and rocks to go crazy, taking over the area and destroying everything in their path.

The girls investigate the city, now also ridden with massive insects, and eventually find the Mew Aqua. However, something seems off about it. Before they’re able to collect it, Taruto and Pai show up to battle them for it.

Taruto turns the tree holding the Mew Aqua into a Chimera Animal who increases the oxygen levels in the area so much that the girls start passing out.

Only Ichigo and Zakuro are able to fight, but they can’t do much with such high oxygen concentrations.

Shirogane, realizing what’s happening, grabs some pills to help with oxygen concentration and speeds off to the girls in his cat form.

All of the Mews but Ichigo get captured, and she’s barely able to stand. She sees the remnants of the wedding dress she looked at with Aoyama earlier, hoping to one day wear as a dress as beautiful at her wedding. Filled with a newfound determination, she gets up to fight once more, but it’s quickly proven that she physically cannot continue.

She’s about to get captured when she’s rescued by Shirogane.

And The Blue Knight.

Shirogane gives her the pills while The Blue Knight vows to protect Ichigo and rescues the other Mews.

Ichigo is dumbfounded to discover that The Blue Knight was not Shirogane, and just as quickly as he arrived, he vanishes.

The Chimera Animal suddenly loses power and is blasted away by the Mews. The aliens wonder what happened to the supposed Mew Aqua and leave the scene.

Later, the Mews, Shirogane and Akasaka gaze at the forest where Harajuku once stood. They wonder what that strange fake Mew Aqua was with concern that more might appear and be manipulated by the aliens.

——————————–

– I never thought I’d say this, but I’m glad they didn’t kill that roach. They made it way too cute, and I love the little smirk it had.

SSBS - TMM Ep 44 screen2

– Why is Ichigo sweeping the lawn?

SSBS - TMM Ep 44 screen3

– Shirogane’s being really sweet today, aw.

– I have a question: If Mew Aqua is so insanely powerful and the aliens could manufacture it before….why did they not create a ton of it and save their environment?

– I can’t stop staring at the girls faces when they’re talking to Shirogane and Akasaka outside of the car. They all look…wrong. Especially whatever Zakuro’s face is doing.

– Lettuce’s theory about the aliens knowing the humans would pollute the earth, which is why they made the Mew Aqua, makes no sense. The aliens never knew another race would develop and take over the planet nor did they know they would pollute it in thousands of years. And, again, if the Mew Aqua can fix pollution problems, why did they not use it to save their asses when they polluted the planet and screwed it up?

Also, this is another one of those things where I think 4Kids would’ve been written into a corner. In their version, the aliens are legit aliens. They didn’t originate on earth. So not only would them making the Mew Aqua not work, but the idea that they made the Mew Aqua to help stop the pollution of earth also wouldn’t be viable.

– I find it kinda adorable that Zakuro’s afraid of bugs. Also, incredibly relatable.

– The roach from before is massive and chasing them now. That’s hilarious.

– Huh, that’s kinda ironic. A minute ago, they were basically guilt tripping themselves saying the aliens might have made Mew Aqua for the sake of stopping human-made pollution and improving our lives, but now a Chimera Animal made with Mew Aqua is injecting so much oxygen into the air that it’s killing them.

– This is incredibly petty of me to nitpick, but the sounds of those pills shaking is way too fast for the speed at which Shirogane is running.

– Oh my god, the way Ichigo’s drawn when Shirogane lands.

SSBS - TMM Ep 44 screen4

– Oh my god, the animation when they’re freed from the tree. It’s like someone dropped paper cutouts.

– Lettuce’s attack is staving off the vines. Okay. Zakuro is holding the Chimera Animal still. Okay. But Mint and Pudding just, like, shot their attacks into Ichigo’s bell and…what? Did it make her Ribbon Strawberry Surprise more powerful? Doesn’t look it. You guys really couldn’t find it within yourselves to give them a real purpose here, could you?

– I think this is the first time something so massively terrible has happened without being able to pick up the pieces at all in the end. Harajuku is now a massive forest filled with a destroyed cityscape and there’s nothing they can do about it. Also, you can’t tell me people didn’t die in there. Buildings were crushed, cars were impaled with spikes while they were still driving, there have to be multiple fatalities in there.

– This whole somber ending sentiment is kinda ruined when the next episode preview is Ichigo trying in vain to make Aoyama chocolates….

————————-

I don’t have much to add on about this episode, but I enjoyed it. The enemy was really threatening this time around, they legitimately destroyed a whole district and left it destroyed, we finally learn that Shirogane isn’t The Blue Knight and it feels like the stakes continue to increase.

Only bad spots in my opinion were Pudding and Mint basically getting to be nothing but Ichigo powerups (maybe?) in the end and the somewhat janky art and animation.

Next time, Ichigo does indeed try to make chocolates for her beloved Aoyama, and we finally learn who The Blue Knight truly is.

….Previous Episode


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SSBS – Bakugan: Battle Brawlers Episode 3 – A Feud Between Friends

SSBS - Bakugan Episode 3 screen7

Plot: Dan and Drago have yet to meet eye to eye, but Drago extends an olive branch as he sees Dan as his one chance to save his home. Things go great for a while, but when Dan is challenged by a boy named Rikimaru, who has been given a Doom card and a Bakugan by Masquerade, tensions between then come to a boil. Is this partnership not meant to be?

Breakdown: Alright, Bakugan. We keep getting off on the wrong foot. I want us to have a healthy relationship. So let’s see if we can mend some bridges today.

The episode starts near the end of a Bakugan brawl between some unnamed boy and Ricky (His original name’s Rikimaru, but some kids call him Ricky, and then he introduces himself to Dan as Rikimaru, but it sounds like Ricky Maru, like the Maru part is his last name and—screw it. I’m calling him Ricky.), an angry egotistic dickwad. I’m already sorry I’ve given this show more chances.

Ricky’s sick of getting seemingly low amounts of…some points for beating low level brawlers and yells out for a real challenge. Masquerade mysteriously shows up, hands him a Bakugan ball and tells him it has all the power he’ll ever need….Uhh, he wasn’t asking for more power. He was demanding a challenge. Giving him an extremely powerful Bakugan is the opposite of giving him a challenge. You essentially made every future challenge that much easier.

Cut to Dan who is doing some exercises while making a sad attempt at an army march song that include lyrics that proclaim he’s the best Bakugan brawler. I really am loving Dan. He’s such a likable character. I can only hope he gets even more full of himself as time goes on.

At least I can give it to Drago for trying to drill some sense into Dan’s stupid skull.

Drago: “Hey! Put me down!”

Dan: “Not until you promise to stop dissing me!” Urghghghghghghg.

Later, Dan has an online conversation with the girls while scrubbing Drago.

Drago: “Mmmm right there.”

I want to turn this episode off now.

Also, I thought Drago hated being scrubbed. He blew his cover in the last episode to demand that Dan stop scrubbing him.

SSBS - Bakugan Episode 3 screen2

Julie: “You’re so lucky, Dan. I’ve searched the web, and you’re the only one I’ve heard of with a talking Bakugan.” What? That directly contradicts the end of the first episode where tons of people were hearing their Bakugan talk. Why are we having such terrible continuity three episodes in?

They blather on for a bit, then we get Marucho chiming in to give a play by play justification for calling the Bakugan brawl between Dan and Masquerade from the last episode a draw.

The next morning…

Dan: “Morning! I’m starving!” *Ridiculously quick off-screen eating* *BELCH* “Thanks Mom!”

I hate you more with every passing second.

Realizing that he needs to use Dan to save his world, Drago tries to connect with him.

Dan: “You called me by my name.”

Dragon: “You don’t mind, do you? I can call you something else if you’d like.”

Dan: “Nah, Dan’s good. They call me worse things at school.”

We interrupt this program for a sudden change in Dan’s character. From all we’ve been shown so far, Dan’s an extremely popular kid both at school and online. Where is this ‘they call me worse things at school’ stuff coming from?

Drago and Dan agree to work together as a team, getting along almost creepily well, and you’ll never guess who shows back up…..Shuji a-freakin’-gain.

Thank God the brawl is mercifully brief this time, amounting to nothing but a final attack, but why does this moron keep popping up?

Dan: “Yeah, everything’s been aces since Drago started seeing things my way. Although, I don’t know what made him change. Something I said maybe?”

Julie: *while swooning* “Well, you do have a way with words.”

I hate you all more with every passing second. Also, yup, unpopular mocked schmuck he is.

Runo suddenly announces that she got herself a talking Bakugan off-screen without even an explanation in dialogue as to where she came from. How dandy. It’s a Haos Tigrera and I already stopped caring.

The next day, Dan bumps into Ricky who is not only revealed to have gotten a Bakugan ball from Masquerade, but also a…Doom card….Pbbbthahhhahahahahaaaaa….The Doom Dimension is funny enough without calling the card the Doom card. I won’t be able to watch anyone play it without imaging Gir singing the Doom Song now.

SSBS - Bakugan Episode 3 screen3

The game starts, they set a bunch of gate cards and Ricky sends out his first Bakugan – Robotallion.

Drago expresses concern since Ricky is using Water attribute cards, which I guess are strong against Fire attribute, but I thought last episode they had Wind be stronger eeehhhhhhhh….

Also, Drago’s ball can float now.

Dan doesn’t pay attention to Drago’s concerns because he’s too full of himself. Dan sends out another gate card, and I don’t get why gate cards seem to be sent out willy nilly now. Then he summons the male Garudamon from the first episode.

Ricky sends out another gate card, making a grand total of five out now, and summons another Bakugan, a big blue turtle. Enter Blastoise joke here.

Drago continues to express concern to Dan over Ricky’s odd moves (Putting two Bakugan out is odd now?) but Dan still doesn’t care.

He sends out yet another gate card and summons a….griffin….lizard thing, which Drago immediately advises against. (Also, Dan says it’s weird that Ricky’s summoning all of his Bakugan at once, yet here he is doing the same.)

Figuring he now has him right where he wants him, Ricky summons Aqua Siege.

Dan activates his watch to tell us, literally, word for word, that Aqua Siege is strong.

Ricky activates an unnamed ability card that creates a tidal wave, which sends all of the Bakugan on the field to the…..pbbbbt Doom Dimension….Guys, seriously, make a better name for this place or I won’t survive this series.

Also, what a horribly OP card. In the anime, the way you win is by destroying three of your opponent’s Bakugan. If that counts as defeated, you could one-hit win in just a few turns, as long as you refrain from putting all of your Bakugan out.

SSBS - Bakugan Episode 3 screen4

Drago starts berating the hell out of Dan for acting so rash and says he should’ve focused on defeating the first Bakugan at the start of the match. Now nearly all of his Bakugan are gone.

I get what he’s saying and yet I don’t. If Dan was acting impulsively, wouldn’t that translate into blindly attacking? Dan was summoning Bakugan, Drago yelled that he shouldn’t have summoned the lion thing, for no given reason, they get defeated and he was acting rash….because? If gate cards are seen as pseudo-trap cards, wouldn’t summoning and biding your time while also amassing gate cards be seen as being patient and smart? Can someone who really understands the game help me out here?

Wait, a second – even Dan points out that Drago was telling him to bide his time and be cautious. Drago, you’re making me side with Dan and that’s making me very angry.

Dan’s not worried because he has his trump card, or trump Bakugan, in Drago. He explicitly tells Drago to do the move he did from before that broke the board and automatically ended the brawl in a tie………Soooooo….Dan’s telling Drago to cheat. Pbt.

Drago: “It’s too dangerous!”

Dan: “Ahh, just do it! Win! That’s all that matters right now!”

I’ve decided to side with Ricky. Go Ricky!

What is even Dan’s logic here? He knows full well that the ‘special move’ he’s speaking of made the match result in a tie last time. If winning’s all that matters, you’d be automatically screwing yourself over again.

If Drago’s able to resist Dan’s battle commands, as seen in the last episode, can’t he resist being summoned?

SSBS - Bakugan Episode 3 screen5

Dan summons Drago and powers him up with a Boosted Drago card that powers him up to 440. Against the 350 Aqua Siege, he appears to have the advantage. Drago doesn’t like Dan’s strategy, so he breaks free of Dan’s ability card, resulting in a 100 point loss.

Drago attacks anyway, even though Aqua Siege now has a 10 point lead on him. Drago starts getting his ass kicked, and Ricky tells Aqua Siege to hurry it up or else the gate card will activate – What? Now we have timed gate cards? I was just getting to the point where I was able to keep up without referencing the Wiki, now you’re throwing in new rules?

A gate card activates, much to the surprise of Dan, lowering Aqua Siege’s attack power by 10 and adding 10 to Drago’s, giving him the upper hand. Drago beats Aqua Siege and starts to lose control of his power again when the match ends.

Mercifully, Ricky explains what the hell just happened. He set a trap gate card which switches the attack powers of two attacking Bakugan. Drago activated it somehow. The power levels switched and Drago was able to win.

Now, follow me here because this is just weird. Drago….knew what gate card was hidden, decided to purposely break free from the ability card so he could activate the trap, switch their attack levels and win. Either that, or Ricky silently activated the trap, it took forever to finally activate, Drago realized what was happening, broke free from the ability card to reverse trap Ricky and win.

SSBS - Bakugan Episode 3 screen6

What a bunch of convoluted bullshit that, again, just amounts to Drago cheating. Whether it’s breaking free of the ability card, activating an opponent’s gate card or somehow knowing what an opponent’s gate card is without seeing or hearing it, Drago cheated.

Ricky’s all broken up about it, especially since Masquerade said he could keep Aqua Siege if he won. I don’t get what was so special about Aqua Siege in the first place, but whatever.

Dan’s all happy about his win, but Drago’s furious.

Drago: “You think that battle was close? Do you have any idea how dangerous the Pyrous Maneuver is!?” Oh there’s a name for the move that is slathered in a thick coating of cheating?

Drago continues to lecture Dan, stating that it’s not right to celebrate when several of his kind just got sent to the Doom Dimension. He says Dan will never take this seriously and that he can trust him no longer.

Dan argues that he is trustworthy and that he thought they were a team. He goes on to berate Drago for his own recklessness in his final maneuver and gets angry that Drago appears to be choosing to ditch him. He gets so angry that he decides to give him what he wants and throws him into the nearby river…..which is horrible.

Not only does he not give Drago a change to respond and possibly apologize, but he’s a mostly inanimate marble. In a river. Either he’ll spend an eternity in an underwater purgatory or he’ll slowly deteriorate and break. Way to be an ass, Dan. You could’ve just sold him or given him to someone else. Do you have any idea how much money you might get for a talking Bakugan?

——————————

This episode was slightly better in explaining some moves, but they are still throwing in confusing crap that makes no sense to non-Bakugan playing audience members while changing up the gameplay mechanics again.

Ricky has some potential to be interesting, but when you get down to it, he’s just another boring ‘pleh, no one challenges me’ character.

The brawl is almost ridiculous in how little sense it makes. I still don’t understand why Ricky sacrificed two of his Bakugan in that wave. Why not try another method of luring Dan into summoning two Bakugan and then use the wave? Why needlessly sacrifice two of your own and just pray Aqua Siege is good enough? Do I even need to point out the fact that, even so, Ricky should’ve won this match?

And why were there so many gate cards sent out if only one was going to be activated?

It’s here where the poor writing is really starting to shine through. This whole story is filled with laziness, cheating and ‘the plot said so.’ Not to mention, the pacing at the start is messed up. That montage of Dan and Drago getting along was almost humorous in how quick it was. Runo mentioning that she also has a talking Bakugan was also just thrown in there with no regards as to whether or not it fit in that scene or in this episode. Just ‘we needed to get this information out and we have an extra 25 seconds, so let’s just shove it in here.’

I can’t believe Drago was being such a senseless jerk in this episode to the point where I was defending Dan. Even if only for a moment, that was idiotic. Add that to the fact that Dan later suggests they basically cheat, and I find myself liking approximately zero characters in this show so far.

I honestly didn’t expect this show to try my patience so much.

Next episode, Dan is struggling in his brawls without Drago (he was a fantastic brawler before he got Drago, now he flounders without him?) But, don’t worry. The next episode preview spoils that he’ll get him back by the end. Yay.

.Previous Episode


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SSBS – Zoids Chaotic Century Episode 3: Memory

SSBS - Zoids Chaotic Century Episode 3

Plot: Fiona and Van get lost in a sandstorm but are saved by a mysterious drifter with a Command Wolf named Irvine. After sharing a meal and telling Irvine about their situation, they sleep through the night and find Irvine has left.

They reunite with the Shield Liger and Zeke and go on with their exploration. They find some ancient ruins of a fortress from a long-since over war being guarded by a wounded pilotless Gordos Zoid. Irvine arrives, blowing the place to smithereens in an attempt to acquire Zeke.

Gordos is revealed to be the Zoid of a soldier who used to reside within the fortress yet was left behind when they decided to vacate due to its damaged leg. It vehemently defends the fortress yet again, getting damaged even further by Irvine and his Command Wolf.

Van stops to help do some rough repairs on Gordos before Irvine strikes again. Fiona and Zeke get separated from Van, and he becomes trapped under some rubble, but Gordos arrives to help him.

Back in his Shield Liger, Van faces off against Irvine and nearly loses, but Gordos comes to his rescue, bearing the brunt of another barrage. Irvine, now outnumbered, decides to leave. Likewise, Gordos turns to go back to its post. Despite Van’s pleas for Gordos to not return to the fortress and driving home the fact that the soldiers he had befriended back in the days of the war were either now dead or at least longer since gone and never returning, Gordos decides to stay behind and wait for them for as long as it’s functioning.

Breakdown: Irvine was one of my favorite characters, though considering Zoids is one of those shows I followed closely in my younger days but remember barely anything about it now, I guess I’m not surprised to find that Irvine’s first episode is one where he’s an asshole. He had his kind moments, but the majority was assholery.

We’re getting a tiny bit more backstory on the Zoids world today and even a tiny tidbit of insight into Fiona when she finds a pillar with gibberish lettering on it that mesmerizes her. She finds that she can read it, but is only able to decipher ‘Zoid Eve’ before passing out.

The story of Gordos was quite sad, and somehow I’m more bummed out that Gordos actually survived this episode than I feel I would be if he ‘died.’ The thing is, in the end, Van says, with triumphant music playing and sporting a smile, that Gordos will wait for his pilot/these soldiers for another hundred years if he has to, which is a massively weird tone to be putting on this situation.

Why is it a happy or a triumphant thing for this poor damaged Zoid, who was left behind by these soldiers for, quite frankly, dumb reasons (his leg was damaged, yeah, but he was more than functional enough to leave the area if he has been able to protect this area for over 50 years and survive two battles with a Command Wolf.) to decide to live in denial for the rest of its possibly immortal existence waiting for people who could neither be bothered to find a way to bring him with them, come back for him later or died in the war/of old age or something and will never come back? That is insanely sad.

Sure, he’s a Zoid, and I’m sure there’s a forum thread or two dedicated to the idea of Zoids’ souls and if they pass on to some garage in the sky, but I think it would’ve been better and, yes, less sad, if they had him take the blast from Irvine and then ‘die.’ It would finally give Gordos peace and, depending on whatever religion exists in Zoidland, possibly be reunited with his fellow soldiers.

Instead, this poor innocent Zoid is left to his own purgatory until he finally does get taken out by another threat. I would say until he runs out of power, but he’s been in those ruins for over 50 years and still has ample amounts of power to spare.

As a final note, the battles in this episode were more poorly animated than they have been. They mostly amounted to running at each other and having a brief push fight. I laughed out loud during one ‘action’ shot during Gordos’ battle with Irvine the first time around.

They didn’t even animate OR DRAW damage to the ruins as Irvine was blowing shit up every which way. I was starting to think these blasts were really just harmless and it didn’t click for the characters, but one blast blows a wall up and a bunch of debris lands on Van (and he’s somehow entirely unharmed after….) Zoids has never been pretty or nicely animated, let’s just be honest there, but I think we can chalk this one up to being a budget episode.

Final-final note – Fiona, you exited a tunnel, assumed you were safe without noticing the GIANT ROBOT WOLF about ten feet to your right. (Zeke didn’t even notice it when he had the proper POV!) and then when Irvine’s about to attack, acting like you’re trapped, you don’t think to just….run back into the tunnel and go back to where you started? Come on.

Rating: 7/10


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Episode One-Derland: Kekkaishi

Plot: Yoshimori Sumimura and Tokine Yukimura are the youngest of their rival clans. Their families are heirs to the Hazama style Kekkai technique, giving them the powers to contain, battle and destroy ayakashi – monsters with immense power who threaten the land.

The Kekkai users or Kekkaishi are tasked with protecting the Karasumori school – a building that was built on top of the burial ground of Tokimori Hazama himself. He was born with a strange power that drew ayakashi to him and increased their power exponentially in mere moments. Even after his death, the power still resonates within the school grounds.

A young Yoshimori used to want nothing more than to shrug off his responsibilities as a Kekkaishi. He hated the constant training, always getting his battles interrupted by Tokine, the fact that his older brother seemed more suited for the job despite not being a legitimate heir, like him, and the fact that their roles as Kekkaishi put a real strain on his and Tokine’s friendship.

Tokine, on the other hand, loves her role as a Kekkaishi and excels at it. She’s stern with Yoshimori, but only because she realizes what a dangerous and important job it is.

One day, Tokine badly wounds herself trying to protect Yoshimori from an ayakashi that he failed to properly dispose of due to being tricked by it. Ever since that day, he’s felt a heavy burden of guilt and has vowed to become stronger so he won’t get anyone hurt ever again.

Breakdown: Hey, it’s Kekkaishi! That show everyone’s heard of, but no one ever seems to talk about ever.

Even when this show was airing on Toonami/Adult Swim, I really heard no one talking about it. The best I managed was someone mentioning the OP on a ‘Best Anime Opening Theme Songs’ list, and I’d agree with that.

I caught a bit of the show here and there when it was airing on TV, but it never caught on with me for some reason.

Now that I’ve finally sat down and given it a full chance, I’m happy to report that I really liked it.

Is it breaking new ground in the shounen genre? No. At the end of the day, it’s still a show where it’s the MC’s ‘destiny’ to beat monsters and protect the land and those he cares about. At the very least, he’s not a prodigy MC. In fact, he’s quite inept, at least so far, at being a Kekkaishi. Even when we cut to present day where he’s older and more focused, he’s still overly headstrong and makes a bunch of mistakes.

The thing more people remember about this show, at least I do anyway, is the unique aspect of the glowing boxes, also known as Kekkai. Despite just being, well, glowing boxes, they’re useful for a plethora of purposes, and it’s a welcome change up from the typical ‘blam-blam Imma firin’ mah lazar’ powers most supernatural shounen shows get.

As a first episode, it lays down the groundwork extremely well – maybe a bit too well, because they went way overboard with those text-boxes that explain every little thing, but it’s not a big deal. In one episode, we firmly establish the backstory, the enemies, the lore, the characters and their motivations – and the pacing never felt off-kilter.

Yoshimori is a little annoying, but he’s also very relatable. He doesn’t want to get out of being a Kekkashi at first because he’s sick of the training and being out every night – he’s sick of being bad at it and knowing that being a Kekkashi and even part of the Sumimura family prevents him from being close friends with Tokine.

He’s also emotional and greatly sympathetic towards others, even perceived enemies, which is something I greatly appreciate in my shounen protagonists.

His grandfather is more annoying than anything. The worst part of this whole episode was the five-ish minutes of him just screaming at Yoshimori.

Tokine is also a good character. You can tell she still wants to be close friends with Yoshimori again and feels the strain of their families and responsibilities impeding on them. She’s a great Kekkashi, even if she does seemingly ‘take’ Yoshimori’s targets and kinda treats him poorly when they’re older.

I was very disappointed to read on the Wiki that she’s regarded as the weakest Kekkaishi when she’s so good right now. I am sick to death of female fighters getting nerfed in action anime just because ‘hurr hurr penis=power, go battle an ayakashi in the kitchen lol’ I really hope that I’m wrong about that and the Wiki’s just wording things poorly, but seeing as how I’ve found several sources of this label, I’m inclined to believe it. Can someone who’s actually seen all of the show or read the manga tell me otherwise?

He didn’t get much screentime, but I really liked Yoshimori’s father. He reminded me a lot of Sakura’s father from Cardcaptor Sakura. He’s kind and very supportive.

The art and animation is okay. The character art, particularly with the noses, never meshed that well with me, but it’s not really bad. The animation is nothing special, but alright.

The music is really good. Not sure it’s a soundtrack I’d run out and buy yet, but I really love the OP, the ED is good and the BGM is pretty nice.

The voices, English dub, were good, though I’m questioning whether Laura Bailey is fully-suited for Tokine. Love ya, Laura, I’m just not sure you fully fit her yet. Judgment pending.

Final Verdict:

Continue Yes

I was pleasantly surprised by this episode, even if it is fairly generic. Being generic isn’t necessarily bad as long as the execution and style is interesting enough to hook my attention. I look forward to the rest of this series and hope that it’s a lost gem, not rightfully buried under the sands of time.


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Smile Precure/Glitter Force Episode 7: Where Could it Be? Our Secret Base Sub/Dub Comparison

Plot: Unable to talk about Precure stuff in public, the girls use the portals in the Wonder Library to find a secret base all their own,

————————–

Miyuki: “We place the Phone Decor in the Decor Decor…” She just said ‘decor’ three times in one sentence. Perfect example of why the name of the box is terrible.

Pop originally says he’s happy to see they’ve mastered the phone décor. In the dub, he asks if there’s any news to report or anything he can help them with.

Akane said the UFO was a crow, but Kelsey says it was a pigeon.

Title Change: Where Could it Be? Our Secret Base is changed to The Perfect Hideout.

The dub inserts an exterior shot of Emily’s house after we cut from school, probably because that’s where the original’s title screen was.

The first book Miyuki took was Alice in Wonderland. She doesn’t mention the title in the dub.

The second book she takes is Heidi, and the third is Cinderella. For some reason, Netflix removed that shot.

The final book she takes is Anne of Green Gables. The dub, again, omits this.

A closeup shot of Miyuki after the portal opens is removed.

Reika says she hopes she remembered the combination for the portal right. In the dub, Kelsey is saying it’s so wild how they can all open portals in their bookshelves.

Yayoi says it’s great no one got lost. In the dub, she says it’s great no one fell down.

Nao says that it’s especially impressive considering they’ve never used portals from their own houses before. In the dub, April says it’s just like soccer – gotta practice.

Okay, how the heck did Miyuki’s scarf get caught on a tree branch that high up when she was on the ground?

Candy’s kinda cute when she says ‘And they all fall down, kuru~~’ In the dub, this line is ruined because Candy says ‘No roughhousing in the library!’

Nao says if they can go anywhere in the world, they might as well go someplace nicer. In the dub, she says they might as well go back behind the air conditioners if they stay there because it’s dirty and there’s no furniture.

For some reason, Miyuki and Yayoi both yell out ‘Nicer?!’ when Nao says that. In the dub, they yell ‘And it’s dangerous!’

I thought the portals worked by everyone needing to think of the exact location before they enter. Miyuki’s mind wandered in the previous episode, which is how she got lost. However, when Reika says she has an idea for a place and they ask her where, she just says ‘Why don’t you see for yourself?’ and opens a portal. That shouldn’t work…

Reika specifically says they’re on Mt. Fuji. I don’t know why they decided to omit this detail because they have said time and again that the portals can take them anywhere in the world, which means this doesn’t de-Americanize the show, but all Chloe says is it’s a high-altitude weather station.

The Kanji for ‘The road ahead’ is changed to ‘GF’ It’s actually a very good paint edit since it tracks with the flapping so well…..really loses the oomph of Reika’s big road of hardship to something as grand as Mt. Fuji speech, though.

Subbed:

Dubbed:

Chloe writes a poem as a mission statement instead of giving said speech in the dub. It has…basically the same message, but it’s made to be…well…humorously dorky….You can tell because when she’s done…Netflix adds a record scratch when they cut back to the girls….You’re so original and clever, Netflix.

Being fair, the original kinda does the same thing thing by slowly stopping the heroic music, but it’s not as blatant or eye-roll-worthy as the record scratch.

Honestly, Reika’s idea wasn’t bad. I’m not sure if anyone works in that station on Mt. Fuji and you never really know when someone might be there, but it’s one of the most remote locations in the world with a, what I assume is, a relatively warm and accommodating facility to use. April mentions there’s no furniture there, either, which I get to a degree….There have to be at least a few chairs, but yeah, I get it.

The writing on the box Reika has is removed.

Subbed:

Dubbed:

So I’m guessing all of them will open a portal without telling the others where they’re going. Why even establish that rule about everyone needing to picture the location if you’re not going to follow it?

Yayoi snips at Reika for choosing a stupid location, but then she chooses a MOVIE SET CURRENTLY IN USE for her ‘SECRET BASE’ location?!

Akane admits that she and Nao are two peas in a pod because she likes girly cute stuff too. In the dub, she says she never pegged April for a cutesy girly stuff type, but she can see herself relaxing in that room.

They omit the mention of Akane wanting to eat some okonomiyaki while relaxing in the room.

The sign that says ‘Plush toy section’ is changed to ‘Furries and fuzzies’………..Uhmmmm……so….who wants to be the one to tell Netflix what a furry is?

Subbed:

Dubbed:

Also, Nao, you should be intelligent enough to know that a toy store isn’t anywhere near private…..

The sign that says ‘Stuffed Shop’ is changed to ‘Plushie’s Playhouse.’

Subbed:

Dubbed:

Wait, now they’re even ignoring the bookshelf aspect? Because it seems like they went right from running in the street to running into the next base location.

Is Akane a crazy person!? A zoo, especially inside of an exhibit, is a really stupid place to put a secret base. Emphasis on SECRET….and more emphasis on NOT GETTING YOUR BODY RIPPED IN HALF BY A GORILLA!

Subbed:

Dubbed:

Wait, wait, wait….they entered through…a fake bookshelf? Well, how the hell does THAT work?

Yayoi yells at Reika for quietly contemplating their situation. In the dub, Lily yells that this is a terrible place for their secret base.

Akane: “I just thought nobody would disturb us in there, ya know?” In a public gorilla exhibit at a zoo!?

Miyuki brings out the Anne of Green Gables book. In the dub, it’s The Magic Meadow. I’m not sure if Netflix thought there’d be copyright issues or they just BS’d something for no reason.

Additionally, Netflix leaves the girls nameless whereas, in the original story, they’re Anne and Diane.

Lily: “Will we fit? There are four of us.” Will you four preteen girls fit……in a clearing….in the woods………Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Why does the dub even bring up that the spot is by where she used to live, and Emily asking if it’s too far?….They’ve just come back from the top of MT. FUJI….Or I guess just a mountain in the dub. Surely that’s not farther than a spot near her old house.

The games the little kids originally come up with are ‘Grown-ups’ and ‘tailor.’ In the dub, it’s ‘tea party’ and ‘store.’ I kinda like the dub’s version better.

A good joke is removed in the dub. Wolfrun originally says he wants to make it clear that he’s not smiling, he’s grinning menacingly. In the dub, he says the little girls should know not the wander around in the woods because a big bad wolf might come out.

Is Wolfrun seriously just randomly targeting some little girls in the forest?……I realize now that that’s the big bad wolf’s forte and feel kinda silly asking that.

Ya know, Pierrot could’ve been revived ages ago if all of the enemies just went out to different locations, sucked up the energy and then left and did it a few more times. The clock doesn’t go back down when the Precures succeed in defeating the Akanbe, and if merely two girls worth of energy is enough to make it go up one, it’d be easy as pie.

They remove them applying their powder right before their pose again.

Rock, Paper, Scissors!: Draw this time. We both chose scissors.

So, yeah, altogether, they now have two and a half minutes worth of recycled footage they can use in each episode with the girls’ transformations. Including the OP and ED, that’s probably like five minutes worth of recycled footage they can use in every episode.

Miyuki says she won’t let Wolfrun ruin these girls’ special spot in the woods. In the dub, she says that she can’t believe he turned an oak tree into a monster and that it’s terrible for the environment to do so.

Miyuki says she always forgets how high she can jump (Wait, if the other girls can jump just as high, does that mean jumping isn’t really Miyuki’s special ability?) Emily asks if anyone has hedge clippers.

I really like how Wolfrun is drawn/animated in this episode. I dunno why.

Miyuki yells that this spot in the forest is the most special place in the world. In the dub, she calls Ulrich a ‘mangy old flea bag’ and tells him to keep his mitts off of it, which ruins the impact of the scene, if you ask me.

The Akanbe’s attacks don’t have names in the original. In the dub, they’re Buffoon Bulldozer and Buffoon Bash.

This Akanbe was pretty damn boring. All it did was smash stuff with its branches. Also, how completely and insanely random that Wolfrun happened to choose a spot in the woods that just so happened to be the spot Miyuki used to love that they just so happened to be visiting at the same time even though it was at her old town and that two kids just happened to also not only choose that spot to be their secret spot but also be there when they arrive so Wolfrun can have someone to target for some reason.

Today’s Cure Decor is a ring….Hm.

Candy: “That’s the prettiest bling so far!” Urhghh

I really wish April would shut up about furniture. Just bring some chairs if it’s so important to you.

Whatsadnaskdjhdsfkjhsadfhsadhsadjhgah! The Star Decor is a……house making…furniture making….decor? Alright, I’m just going to stop trying to make sense of the decors.

Nao teases Akane by asking who it was that objected to the Magical Library as their secret base in the first place. In the dub, she teases her by asking if it’s alright that the library doesn’t have gorillas.

—————–

For my opinions on the episode as a whole, check out my episode review here.

As for the comparison, it fared pretty well. There were more paint edits than I was expecting, but it was tame as pudding compared to what I’m used to with other shows. Many of my notes are just about the episode itself. I was a little bummed they chose to edit out the mention of Mt. Fuji for no other reason than Americanization, but what can you do?

I’m more bummed that Netflix seems intent on talking about books as minimally as possible. Miyuki loves books. Books are a big part of the plot and her desire to go to that spot was built on a book plot, yet they do everything they can to just not talk about books. Did they adopt 4Kids’ disgusting take on ‘Kids don’t read, they just enjoy purty pitchurs’?

Edit and Important Final Notes: It’s been brought to my attention that I have been mistaken during this entire comparison. Netflix only distributes Glitter Force – it was actually dubbed by Saban. I won’t be retroactively editing my previous posts, but I apologize to Netflix for this error and will correctly attribute all problems with the dub to Saban. Sorry for my misinformed posts. I will be more careful in the future.

Next episode….

Previous Episode


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Digimon Adventure V-Tamer 01 Volume 7 (Manga) Review

Plot: Neo nearly kills Omegamon while trying to take down the Aliases, but both Hideto and Omegamon manage to escape to tell Taichi what’s been going on.

Meanwhile, the other Aliases, now imprisoned by Neo, give Rei a chip with Arkadimon’s data on it. If Zero and Taichi can use that data, they’ll might have the advantage they need to win.

After Hideto and Omegamon reach Taichi and relay their information, they set off. On their way, they run into the fierce Callismon, a Digimon Neo made from some of Arkadimon’s power. Callismon has set out to stop Rei and bring her back to the castle, but Taichi and Zero save her, showing off Zero’s new powers after his newest data overwrite.

Taichi and Zero leave an unconscious Rei in the hands of Gabo as they set off towards the castle and stop Neo once and for all.

Breakdown: I’ll be honest, this volume’s a bit boring. Not much really happens in it. Callismon is such an obvious speed bump. He’s there to solidify some of Zero’s new power and that’s about it.

Rei never gives the chip to Taichi because she’s unconscious, and we learn that Zero should never use Dragon Impulse again for fear of a more massive and possibly fatal data overwrite.

We also learn that Neo can create Digimon, but it’s too little too late for that revelation, is it not? The final showdown’s coming up very soon, and even Neo himself outright states that Callismon was essentially an experiment. He only had a small amount of Arkadimon’s power, and he was using him to see how powerful Taichi and Zero really were.

One last minor story element is solidifying that Neo really doesn’t seem to give a crap about Rei or making a world for her to walk in – he just wants both worlds under his thumb for himself. We already knew that, but there is 100% no signs of remorse or caring in his face. It’s just the same cocky smirk he always has no matter who’s talking to him or what they’re saying.

Even Ken faltered in his expressions and speech when he was challenged in such a way. If they try for a redemption with Neo, they’re going to have to work incredibly hard for me to believe it.

Other than that, we have another bonus chapter, this time with Digimon Frontier’s Takuya!….Which means they skipped Tamers…..feh.

I guess understand why they skipped Tamers, because it’s not set in the Digital World, but they do go there in later episodes. You could write something to make it work.

The bonus chapter is the best thing in the volume. Even though I’m not a huge fan of Frontier, it was nice to see the generations come together….though that does raise a metri ton of questions in canon.

Takuya is upset at Kouji for taking the last hit in a battle where he did most of the damage (and loot distribution is complete BS when it comes to last hits.) Kouji cooly brushes him off and explains that he hates attitudes like his. Takuya goes off to pout only to be transported by a Jijimon into a weird parallel Digital World that is being ruled by an evil Metamorphmon, who can copy any Digimon’s data and transform into it, restoring its power to full when it does.

Jijimon summoned two saviors, Taichi and Takuya, to save them. Takuya, at first, thought that Taichi’s and Zero’s fighting arrangement was terrible. Why have a tamer and a Digimon when you can be the Digimon and fight on your own? He thinks Spirit Evolution is much better since you rely on your own strength to fight.

Takuya runs into battle headfirst and doesn’t listen to a thing Taichi and Zero are trying to tell him about teamwork. He gets in the way of their strategy by not even trying to listen and, after getting their asses kicked, he berates Taichi for not being able to handle his Digimon. He then tells him to let him do everything.

Metamorphmon returns, and Taichi and Zero run into battle since Takuya is too wounded. Zero, as a Digimon, has a faster recovery rate. As Takuya watches them battle, he realizes that they have a lot of advantages as a team. Taichi can see things that Zero can’t, and they can communicate strategies that work on Taichi’s keen eye and his tactical instinct and Zero’s power and trust in his partner.

Takuya thinks back to the earlier battle with Kouji and realizes that it was better for Kouji to take the final hit because he wasn’t paying attention to his surroundings and could’ve been attacked without warning. Kouji was trying to have his back, and he saw it as taking the spotlight in a battle when battling isn’t about being the strongest or getting attention.

Takuya overcomes his injuries for the time being and Spirit Evolves to help Taichi and Zero. Utilizing their strategies and trusting them as teammates, they manage to take down Metamorphmon, but it’s not that simple. He tries to copy Vritramon, but Takuya devolves. Since Metamorphmon can’t copy humans, he seems stuck. He tries to copy AeroVeedramon, but he Dragon Impulses his ass before he’s able to complete the copy.

With the threat defeated, Taichi, Zero and Takuya return to their proper worlds having learned that there are many styles of fighting, but fighting in a team without teamwork never wins.

I really like how this story played out, and it’s a great way to address the criticisms Frontier had in not having partner Digimon. This chapter isn’t saying one or the other is best, but that relying on your friends for help and support to protect you and achieve victory is always best.

I think Takuya may be a little OOC, but I’m not sure I know Frontier enough to say that. Also, they just said that Dragon Impulse was way too dangerous to ever use again, yet here Zero is using it without a thought. I get that this is probably non-canon, but still.

Rating: 7.5/10

Next time, we’ll finally see Neo vs. Taichi. How can they hope to take down Arkadimon?

Recommended Audience: Nothing worse than usual. 8+


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Hell Girl: Two Mirrors Episode 15 – For the Sake of this Country Review

HGTMEP15

Plot: Yuriko and her father have been doing nothing but relentlessly campaigning to overthrow the current administration, whom they blame for all of the country’s hardships. They spend all day and night campaigning for the upcoming election for Prime Minister, neglecting school, work and everything around the house, leaving everything up to Yuriko’s mother, Harumi.

Their lives are falling apart, and the blame always rests with the current Prime Minister. If he was gone, their lives would get much better. Or would they?

Breakdown: I hate politics. Let’s just leave that there.

Instead of trying to make a political message here like many other shows would try to do, this one really doesn’t. It’s moreso exploring how it’s not healthy to allow yourself to be consumed with hatred for the government to the point where you start destroying your own family for ‘the cause.’

It’s great to be involved in politics, it’s awesome to actively try to make a change for the better, but when it gets to the point where you’re skipping school, not even trying to make a living for your family and dumping the finances on one person in your family who is literally making themselves ill trying to keep up, it’s time to take a step back.

Yes, the government can and commonly is the cause of many problems, but a lot of the time the best thing to do is band together and work hard as a team to help everyone through it. Send out your political support however you can, but never forget that the people around you are the most important things and they have the real power to make things better.

It’s also not right to have the mindset of ‘the government is to blame for literally everything.’ I can’t tell you how tired I am of seeing something happen that is completely unrelated to the government, whether it’s a good or bad thing, only to see someone turn it into something political.

Yuriko’s father is a whole new level, though. He doesn’t just blame the government for everything bad that befalls him – he blames his family when he can’t find a reason to blame the government. His wife ends up being hospitalized because she’s overworked herself trying to keep themselves from drowning in debt, and not only does he not care, he claims he wishes she had died instead.

But we’re not even done. Yuriko’s father starts a fight at an important speech for their candidate, which means they need to do damage control. The campaign manager cooks up a scheme with him to have Yuriko attacked in a dark street in order to make a statement about the fact that they requested more lighting on that street, but were denied. He hopes this will make people forget about the fight at the rally and make them look better.

As if that’s not bad enough, not only does he agree to do this to his daughter, because he blames her for the campaign incident happening in the first place as she was with Harumi in the hospital, he specifically asks for them to do their worst in order to teach her a lesson about the real world. That lesson, by the way, is rape.

Luckily, Wanyuudou interferes before they can actually do anything, but still. Later, her father chews out the attackers for failing in their mission, so yay.

A few interesting aspects of Hell Link pop up today. We get error messages upon entry, for some reason. The site has never really been all too picky about the target, as long as it’s someone you have a deep grudge against, it’s usually fine. Today, however, despite Yuriko’s deep hatred for the current prime minister, entering his name doesn’t work. She gets an error message pop up whenever she tries.

Later, when she tries to input her father’s name, she also gets an error because someone already has a contract out on him. I checked through some previous episodes and didn’t find another example of this, but I could’ve sworn it was possible for two people to have contracts out on the same person but whoever pulls the string first….is ‘wins’ the right word there?

It was a pretty decent twist that the father was the target. I got to about the commercial break thinking it would be the campaign manager or the prime minister, but the instant I realized Hone Onna hadn’t shown up all episode and Harumi was hiding something in her drawer, the internal ‘dun dun dunnnn’ went off.

I’m also glad this one had a relatively happy ending. No Hell Girl ending is truly happy because usually someone innocent is also damned to hell (and this is no exception) but, still.

Rating: 8.5/10


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Pokemon Extravaganza! Movie 08 (Sub) Advanced Generation The Movie: Mew and the Wave Hero, Lucario Review

Plot: Many years ago, the land was rife with war. Two opposing factions threatened the kingdom’s safety, and a hero named Sir Aaron and his faithful partner, Lucario, were the only ones with any hope of saving it. As Lucario asked his master for guidance, Sir Aaron claimed he had forsaken the crown and abandoned the kingdom.

Baffled at this supposedly betrayal, Lucario finds himself sealed within Sir Aaron’s staff as he seems to run away when the kingdom needs him most. After Sir Aaron left, the kingdom miraculously found peace and Sir Aaron was proclaimed as a hero for whatever he might have done to save the land.

Back in the present, in the mystical and beautiful town of Rota, lies Celeran Castle where the current Queen of the land is holding the annual festival in honor of Sir Aaron. Satoshi, Haruka, Takeshi and Masato arrive to partake in the festivities. Satoshi wins a Pokemon battle tournament for the festival and is given the title of Hero of the Wave.

He’s given Sir Aaron’s real staff to hold during the festival, but suddenly starts hearing voices from within the staff. Suddenly, the staff shines brightly and unleashes Lucario who is blindsided by the new era he finds himself in. However, he quickly remembers the betrayal of his master and is consumed with confusion and bitterness, especially in the face of Satoshi with his strong bond with Pikachu.

When Pikachu is accidentally taken away by the local Mew to the Tree of World’s Beginning, Lucario is tasked by Queen Ilene to help him find his friend. Is the truth behind Sir Aaron’s ‘betrayal’ going to be uncovered along the way?

Breakdown:

PokemonM8SUBSCREEN1

20 Minute Mark

The original also has that ‘Before Monster Balls existed’ “error.” Though, coincidentally, this is explained through text on the screen instead of narration because, say it with me now, kids can’t read.

Sir Aaron is actually Arlon…..though, considering r and l are interchangeable in Japanese, it’s not too much of a stretch. Also, according to the Wiki, it’s surmised that Arlon’s name is derivative from the prophet, Aaron; Moses’ brother in the bible. 4Kids probably wasn’t going for that for obvious reasons, but considering the possible origin, it’s a totally understandable change.

It still really bothers me that Aaron doesn’t seem to give a crap about his crash-landed and injured Pidgeot.

Ya know, you’d think more people would gun for a Hero of the Wave costume in this festival, especially since the prize for winning the tournament is to be named Hero of the Wave for the year, but it seems like only Satoshi wants to.

New theme song this time around. It’s alright. A little catchy and pretty easy on the ears, but nothing too great to me.

Ilene says Satoshi is allowed to merely hold the staff, she doesn’t imply that it’s his. Nitpicky still, but eh.

PokemonM8SUBSCREEN2

40 Minute Mark

The thing I find ironic about the whole ‘The Hero cannot leave his seat’ thing is that if that were the real Sir Aaron, he’d probably be allowed to get up and join the party.

If both Haruka and Musashi fall for the same guy and both seemingly have a chance, something’s creepy.

I didn’t even notice the Celebi toy box and legendary birds merry-go-round. Damn, I want those too.

I still can’t get over how stupid Kidd’s plan is. She is seemingly such a smart and damn near perfect person yet she’s so sloppy with this.

Kojirou correctly surmises that Lucario’s been locked away for hundreds of years, not thousands.

Why does Masato instantly know what a Mew looks like but not a Lucario?

Kidd says she went there to go to the Tree of World’s origins and unlock its secrets. If that’s true, why start at the castle and why try to get the tracker on Mew?……Did….she not know where it was?…..Give you a hint. It’s that gigantic tree that’s actually a mountain. I know it’s so terribly hard to see, but use your binoculars and maybe you’ll catch a glimpse.

PokemonM8SUBSCREEN3

Hour Mark

Aura was originally called the wave.

I’m going to revise something I said in the dub review for a minute. I didn’t realize the group was actually halted by the geysers and just decided to bathe in a nearby hot spring while they waited. Chalk it up to completely derping during watching or some dialogue change I didn’t catch, I dunno. I’m still gonna call foul here a little because I really think the car could make it around those geysers with no problem.

It’s so cute when Lucario purrs.

The whole ‘Satoshi and Aaron have the exact same wave’ thing is present in both versions. Irritating and nonsensical either way.

While Satoshi does claim that Lucario’s story is a bunch of bull, he doesn’t accuse Lucario of being the one who betrayed Aaron like Ash does.

So, even in the original version Lucario says to never abandon Pikachu specifically and not ‘any of his Pokemon’. Seriously, sometimes you have to wonder how jealousy and Pokemon rivalry doesn’t come into play more often in this series considering playing favorites is so common.

PokemonM8SUBSCREEN4

Hour and 20 Minute Mark

It’s kinda cute when Haruka helps Masato climb up the crystals.

How the hell has no one discovered or studied this place yet? I know, the Regis and blah blah, but if a bunch of kids could get passed them I don’t see why adults couldn’t. Even if they had to call in skilled Pokemon trainers to help. It’s not like it’s in some inaccessible area. You can easily drive to it and walk into it. And it’s not like it’s hidden either, it’s a gigantic mountain in plain sight for miles with tons of legends surrounding it.

Hm….Listening closely to what Regice is saying, it really does sound like he’s saying Regi-Ice and not Redge-ice, despite how it’s spelled. Oddly, though, Satoshi still sounds like he’s saying ‘Redge-ice.’ I guess it’s the former, but it’s spelled like the latter? Please just add another I to make me feel better.

PokemonM8SUBSCREEN5

End

I’m starting to think that, while they don’t outright say it, these gloves somehow amplify the wave ability or somehow focus it better. Though, if so, why would a wave master such as Aaron need them and why would he take them off near the end?

Also, Aaron must’ve had small hands if Ash, a ten year old boy, can wear them without issue.

Satoshi merely says, as Sir Aaron and Lucario before him, that the wave is within him. Ash said that Lucario’s aura is with him. Nitpicky a little, but the original is basically honoring the sacrifices and lives of the wave users before him. The dub is basically ‘he lives in you’. Nothing wrong with the change, per se, but it is a change.

Here’s another weird thing; when Satoshi and the others are looking at the altered painting of Lucario and Sir Aaron, we get a closeup of Satoshi as he points out that they were finally reunited. In the dub, 4Kids chose to not include any dialogue here, so it’s a bit awkward to have a closeup of him talking with no sound. They really can’t make up their minds on how they feel about shots like that. Either that or they just put the song over all the credits and didn’t pay attention to the fact that there was voice work there.

Interestingly, there are shots of more talking later with Brock in the gondola, but there’s no audio from it in the original and the same is said of the dub. *shrug*

The original’s ED….is actually not as good as the dub’s in my opinion. The dub’s was similarly moderately high in tempo, but with an air of somberness in its lyrics. The original’s is a bit overly happy with no real somberness to the lyrics.

—————————————

Overall, yes, I would say, barring some minor changes and mistakes and the totally predictable ‘let’s skirt around death’ thing, this is definitely 4Kids best dubbing effort that I’ve ever seen from them. The music, most of the writing, a majority of the voice work, the relative lack of edits outside of those that are ‘necessary’, I’m damn near proud of those idiots.

Of course, it’s a bittersweet ending, just like the movie, because it’s yet another reminder that 4Kids had it in them all along to do solid dubbing work and they just chose to be….well, 4Kids.

It’s a shame because dubbing companies for anime aimed purely towards kids isn’t really common anymore. Nelvana’s still dabbling in a couple of shows, DiC hasn’t done an anime since Knights of the Zodiac in 2003; and that’s pretty much all the main ones that still exist to my knowledge. 4Kids could’ve been a great dubbing company for bringing anime to a younger audience in America, but they never cared about anything but money.

I’m not gonna say 4Kids didn’t at least help expose younger audiences to anime. Part of my doing these comparisons was because I used to love old 4Kids dubs like Yugioh and Pokemon. They obviously had a huge impact on many kids of the anime resurgence back in the early 00’s. 4Kids took up most of Kids WB on Saturday mornings, and they took up so much of it that it was eventually full out changed to 4KidsTV at a certain point.

Problem was, most kids didn’t realize that what they were watching was anime. It was so Americanized and filtered that most kids took it as cartoons with weird art. 4Kids never understood that these shows can have a widespread appeal without whitewashing every single thing out of it. I may never have known that what I was watching was anime without the help of a friend of mine who was actually into anime for real and pointed out Japanese versions of stuff like the Pokemon games and Sailor Moon to me.

Every time that I do a comparison with a 4Kids show, I know most of these edits are pointless and stupid, but when they actually do a great job dubbing something I get even more angry since they seem well in the knowledge that what they do to shows is mostly pointless and stupid. I know these shows need some tampering to coincide with American laws, such as the card paint edits in Yugioh because of advertisement laws in kids shows and some instances of violence, alcohol and whatnot, but to say 4Kids went above and beyond the call of duty when it came to edits is a huge understatement. They were just determined to be as kid-ified, paranoid, xenophobic and MURICA’d as humanly possible.

They weren’t even good with money and covering their ass legally what with the several lawsuits from Pokemon and Yugioh’s creators. Their greed lead to their downfall, and it’s both a good thing and kind of a waste.

Sorry for the big tangent, but since this is 4Kids final excursion, I felt it fitting to get that off my chest here. Plus, I don’t have much else to add about the movie. It’s still a great movie that I would gladly watch again. The original Japanese version is only a tiny bit better, mostly in regards to voice acting and not including the very minor changes.

But now, we have to move on from 4Kids. It’s Pokemon USA’s turn up to bat.

Recommended Audience: There’s several mentions of death and some tense moments where you think several characters have died, and a couple of characters do die. However, it’s presented in such a way that’s not horribly traumatic or anything. Still, maybe, just maybe, a parent or guardian would be nice to have around with kids watching this. Just to be safe. 7+


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Sunshine Blogger Award x2!

Hey everybody! Lesley of Lesley’s Anime and Manga Corner and Bloom Reviews nominated me for more Sunshine Blogger Awards! Thank you very much for the nominations, guys, and go check out their blogs now if you haven’t already. There’s plenty of anime and manga reviews, discussions and just overall goodness for ya. 🙂

Here are the rules:

  • Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link to their blog so that other people can visit them
  • Answer the 11 questions put to you by the nominator
  • Nominate 11 bloggers of your choosing and provide them with a new set of 11 questions to answer
  • Notify the nominees by commenting on one of their blog posts
  • List the rules and display The Sunshine Blogger Award logo within your post or on your blog site

Let’s start with Lesley’s questions!

1) What was the first anime that you watched that made you realize that you were a fan of the medium?

This question I had to give some deeper thought that I first anticipated, because while I definitely remember the first few anime I watched that started me on this path, it’s hard for me to say which series made me truly realize that I was becoming a fan of anime as a medium.

I’ve mentioned before that my first few anime were Pokemon, Digimon and Sailor Moon, then I watched a bunch of stuff like Yugioh and Beyblade, things on Toonami, shows on Adult Swim etc. I had watched a lot of anime before I think it truly clicked with me that I was a fan of anime.

I remember, when I was much younger, G4 Tech TV had an anime block on very late at night. I didn’t have access to the channel on my bedroom TV, and at one point my dad even put a timer on the thing to make the power to it cut at a certain time so I wouldn’t stay up to crazy late hours.

But when I could, I’d sneak downstairs where the living room TV had access to the channel and watch shows on that block. Even though the block had several series, the one that always stood out for me was Crest of the Stars. I think when I realized I was sneaking around to watch anime, particularly that one show, was when I came to truly realize I was an anime fan.

Shortly afterward, I was ordering Anime Insider magazine and getting into making AMVs and truly immersing myself in the medium.

2) Which anime series is your favorite and why?

Fruits Basket. Even though it’s somewhat of a hot button topic now that the reboot is out, I still really adore the original 2001 series. It has a perfect mixture of humor and drama, and I love nearly all of the characters. Outside of it obviously being unfinished in regards to the manga ending, it’s hard for me to find many flaws with it. And it’s a rare case of me having seen a series fully in Japanese and English and loving both.

3) Which anime character do you feel most resembles you?

My answer to this question used to be Haruhi from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, but now I feel like I look a bit more like Hange from Attack on Titan.

4) If you ever have kids, would you consider naming one after an anime character? If so, which name and why?

True story: So before Jaden Smith became a joke, I considered naming a possible future kid of mine Jaden because of Jaden from Yugioh GX. I just liked the name, and it might not count because I’m not too attached to the character. Plus it’s an English name and I don’t think that’s what you’re going for here.

For either a boy or girl, Voyager. It was the name of a one-off character on Pokemon The First Movie and I fell in love with it. It’s badass, it has an anime background, it’s mysterious, what more could you ask for?

5) Is there a manga or light novel series that you’re currently reading?

As of this writing, I’m reading Higanjima, which is a horror manga, I’m finishing off Digimon Adventure V-Tamer. I’m re-reading Fruits Basket in a weird read-watch-watch along with the original anime and the reboot. And I’m reading Tokyo Mew Mew for the sake of an AniManga Clash.

6) If you could be best friends with an anime character, which one would it be and why?

I’m feeling Luffy for this one. He’s a ton of fun, a great friend, incredibly loyal and he’d kick the ass of anyone who’d do us wrong, or at the very least give me the confidence to kick their ass.

7) Are you a fan of any particular anime director? If so, who is it and why?

I’m probably going to go for the somewhat cliché route and say Satoshi Kon or Shinichiro Watanabe. I don’t much follow directors unless they have really really notable works under their belts, and these were the ones who came to mind. Satoshi Kon made some insanely creative and thought-provoking features while Shinichiro Watanabe has such an amazing style in storytelling and building the world for you that it’s hard to not get immersed in it.

8) Do you have a favorite anime studio?

Would it be too obvious to say Madhouse? Bones coming close second.

9) Do you have a favorite mangaka?

Not really. Maybe Yukinobu Hoshino, the creator of the 2001 Nights manga.

10) Do you have a favorite anime animal character?

I’ve gone through this question a few times, so I’ll change it up and say TurtleDucks from Avatar the Last Airbender….It’s a duck mixed with a turtle. How does that not spawn love in your heart?

11) Is there anything else you want to say in addition to the other questions that I asked?

I feel like I should take this opportunity to say something inspirational.

So….

Something inspirational.

Now for Bloom Reviews questions!

1) What was the scariest movie or show you’ve ever watched?

It takes a lot to actually scare me in regards to stories and movies and such, but I have always been freaked out by the Halloween movies (well, most of them) Even though I absolutely love them (Not the Rob Zombie ones….) they do make me consider leaving the lights on at night after I watch one, and I do feel a bit of paranoia during watching.

Michael’s mask as a whole, at least when they do the lighting right so you can’t see his eyes, is one of the most haunting things I’ve ever seen, and the original movies have a great sense of pacing and suspense.

2) Are there certain genres of TV shows or books that you stay away from or hate reading? Why?

I pretty much avoid any reality show that is literally just ‘watch (blank) live their lives.’ Watch a famous couple live their lives, watch a family of little people live their lives, watch a bunch of spoiled rich snobs live their lives, watch a bunch of famous spoiled rich snobs who also happen to be little people live their lives, watch this unreasonably large family live their lives etc. etc. etc. (Just in case I stepped on toes with the little people comment, it’s great to give everyone representation and show their struggles, but at the end of the day 99% of it is still watching normal people live their lives.)

I don’t know how we reached a point where just watching other people do the most mundane stuff with the most obviously fabricated drama thrown in became such a big sensation. My mom likes a ton of these shows, so I’m forced to watch some of them sometimes and I just don’t get it. I especially don’t like when they focus on the rich people living their lives, and yes some of that might be based on jealousy, but other times it’s just because of how ridiculous these people are disconnected from the real world and conceited at that.

I forget the name of the show, but there’s a rich famous couple, I think the guy is a wrestler, and they decided to make friends with their neighbors by sticking action figures….of themselves…into the mailboxes of their neighbors.

I say ‘pretty much avoid’ because I do watch some reality TV, but most of it is competition shows or things with educational value.

3) Who was your first celebrity/character crush and why?

I think it was the Blue Ranger/Billy/David Yost from Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. Not only was he very likable, cute and super smart, but damn if he didn’t get hot in later seasons. David Yost also seems like he’s a great guy IRL, so if I was going to have a first character/celeb crush, I’m glad it was him. Shame he left the series, and even bigger shame as to the reasons why.

4) What was one show your parents hated you watching but you watched anyways?

That’s a real tough one because I was a goody two-shoes most of the time and my parents had a pretty good hold on what I watched. I guess Pokemon might qualify here. They never liked me playing the games or watching the anime because, at the time, their religious beliefs skewed them into thinking it was unhealthy for me to watch. But they still bought me Pokemon stuff, same with my Grandparents, who had the same beliefs, and I still watched it every chance I got.

I’ll sneak in another mention here because I know my parents wouldn’t have been happy if they knew I was watching the Adult Swim block on Cartoon Network. Not like anything on that block was horribly adult, especially back then, but they certainly wouldn’t have let me watch it anyway.

5) I’ve recently gotten addicted to podcasts, do you have any recommendations for podcasts or other talk shows you enjoy listening to?

I don’t really listen to a lot of podcasts, but my personal favorites are Sawbones, which is a medical podcast where they talk about a lot of interesting aspects of old and new facets of medicine – The hosts are a married couple, and they bounce off of each other very well and have a great energy about them – the Nick Animation podcast, which is awesome for anyone interested in animation and the BTS stuff involved in their favorite old and new Nicktoons, and If I Were You, hosted by Jake and Amir (previously) of CollegeHumor, which is basically an advice podcast where they give both funny and serious answers to inquiries.

6) I’m currently relaxing on vacation right now. What’s your favorite summertime or beach read?

I’m not the biggest reader (at least of regular novels – I read western comics and manga a lot). Also, I don’t tend to read much while on vacation or at the beach. I’m usually chilling out some other way. I guess I’ll say any Star Wars novel, because those tend to be really relaxing to me for some reason lol.

7) It’s starting to get towards the end of summer. What’s one aspect of this season that you look forward to the most? Vacation? A certain event? Warmth?

I tend to not like summer too much because I am miserable in the heat, but I do like swimming, roasting marshmallows and going to the local fair the most.

8) Conversely, Fall is pretty much upon us. What’s one thing about the season you’re really looking forward to?

Now you’re in my wheelhouse! Fall is my favorite season! And I’d have to say it’s a tie between Halloween and seeing the leaves change color.

9) Tell me about the style of your blog and why you picked the color, banner, and subject matter that you did.

My blog’s style, as you can probably tell from the name, is just general craziness. Initially, I had a much lighter blog theme and only the banner was really crazily designed, but once I switched, I had a bit more fun with it. I picked darker colors with some bright/glowing contrasts in my second (technically third or fourth, considering I tried a couple other briefly before settling here) theme because I think that lends itself better to the crazy type of tone going on.

I made my banner myself. I basically looked for shots from anime that had stuck out in my mind for being particularly over-exaggerated or insane. I fiddled around A LOT with fonts, colors and background designs before just reaching one I liked after hours of trial and error. I did purposely throw some purple in there because purple’s my favorite color.

I picked the background image after searching Google for insane anime-related pictures and just stumbling upon it. I thought it was, forgive the pun, insanely awesome and fit perfectly in my page. It was also the background of my menu on my first blog theme, but you couldn’t see it well.

When I first started doing anime reviews, I had been inspired by a lot of Internet reviewers at the time, and I had been somewhat known for my rants, ramblings and weirdness, so I figured a blog with a crazy ‘madhouse’ theme was best suited for me.

As for why I chose anime, manga and animated features to review and discuss here, I simply started doing it a long, long time ago on a long-since dead website. I kinda enjoyed writing and I loved anime, so I started writing posts about it in the website’s blog section since that was the place relegated for personal opinion pieces and whatnot. It took me a little while longer to branch out into reviewing western animation and several years more before I started reviewing manga.

I try to stay within the confines of anything animated since that’s what I know best. I also love horror movies and comics, but I am definitely not comfortable enough to review those. I just don’t know enough to talk about them as a whole in enough depth to give them justice.

Also, despite still keeping a tone of craziness and fun in here, I do now try to keep a stronger balance with serious analysis and exploration when the situations call for it. Never giving up the Madhouse, but definitely want to give more quality for your views.

10) What about blogging drew you to make your own blog?

I really didn’t have much experience with blogs before starting one of my own. I did start posting on a blog on the aforementioned website/forum, and when I moved to another forum where I started doing these reviews more formally, even though we did have a blog section, I mostly posted in official review threads.

My drive for seeking out a real blog was to have a place all my own where I could organize my reviews and other writings, particularly because, by that point, I had started writing several other series such as Sub/Dub Comparisons, my Pokemon movie/short/episode reviews and even my special reviews for holiday specials.

I was spread out all over the forum, and the forum was mostly dead by that point. I didn’t have really any readers at all and I felt like I was bombarding an empty land with my writing for no reason. Even though I still don’t have the biggest audience, I still feel like I’ve built a home here and have people reading and even responding to my work, which makes me feel much more content.

11) Is there anything about content creators in particular or content creation in general that you find annoying or frustrating?

I can’t really think about one encompassing thing about content creators that annoys me. It’s mostly just things specific content creators do because of their own specific style or personality.

Myself, though, I find trying to convey my opinions in a manner that is both entertaining but not devalued by the entertainment aspect to be frustrating. I want my blog to be enjoyable to read. I strive to be funny while also providing a valid opinion and interesting information about what I’m covering. Finding the balance is insanely difficult to the point where I feel like I rarely, if ever, actually find it. I’ll re-edit posts several times trying to find this balance and so many times I feel like I just have to compromise for one or the other.

My Questions

1) Have you ever completely changed your opinion on an anime or manga after rewatching/reading it again or because someone shared some compelling thoughts about it?

2) What is the most ridiculous reason you’ve seen for someone not liking something?

3) What flying animal or device from any anime or manga would you choose as your primary mode of personal air travel?

4) What was your favorite subject in school and why?

5) What character in an anime or manga do you think suffered from the worst example of backwards character development/devolving? (IE, they started out fine or even good but got progressively worse over time?)

6) What’s your favorite board or card game to play?

7) In your opinion, which anime/manga character had the most pointless death? (Spoiler tags)

8) Besides anime or manga, what’s something that you can talk about endlessly? Like once you get going on the subject, time flies?

9) No shipping hate, but which shipping in anime or manga makes the least sense to you but somehow ended up canon and/or endgame?

10) Did you have a toy, doll etc. that you never went anywhere without as a child?

11) What plot twist in an anime or manga basically ruined the entire series to you?

I’m opting out of tagging people this time around, so anyone who sees this and wants to give it a shot, step right up! 🙂