Pokemon Episode 58 Analysis: Riddle Me This

Pokemon Ep 58 Screen1

Badge Episode Attempt 1: Cinnabar Island – Volcano Badge

Gym Leader: Blaine – A very eccentric man who likes to speak in riddles, Blaine is a very serious Fire Pokemon Trainer who detests that Cinnabar Island has become littered in tourists with real Pokemon Trainers becoming rarer every year.

Reappears?: After the next episode, which is a continuation of this one, no. 😦

Pokemon: Blaine likely has many more Fire Pokemon, but he’s shown to have a Ninetales, Rhydon and his signature Pokemon, Magmar.

50px-Volcano_Badge xd

Ash has a failed Gym match attempt and does not get the Volcano badge. (Technically, this episode leaves the match in a cliffhanger, but he loses at the beginning of the next episode, so I’m counting it here.)

Plot: Ash FINALLY arrives in Cinnabar Island to get his seventh badge – the Volcano Badge. As he journeys by boat to the island, he bumps into Gary who is having a nice time on vacation since he’s got plenty of badges to enter the Pokemon League now. Ash butts heads with him, but Gary pays him no mind. He even mocks Ash because he believes everyone on the boat is a Pokemon Trainer.

Gary reveals that everyone traveling to the island, but himself, Ash, Misty and Brock, of course, are tourists. Cinnabar Island is merely a resort and there hasn’t been an active Gym on the island since his grandfather was young.

When they come ashore, the group discovers that Cinnabar Island does seem like a tourist trap and they can’t find a Gym anywhere. When Brock wonders why, of all the islands in the area, this one is so special, a strange man pops up to answer their question through riddle – What do tourists think is hot and cool?

While Ash answers incorrectly, Misty correctly deduces that the answer is a hot spring. The man explains that, due to the active volcano on Cinnabar, there are many hot springs around, and tourists love to visit the island to enjoy the relaxation of the springs. Over the years, the place has been decimated by vacationers enjoying the hot springs. Pokemon Trainers simply don’t come around anymore.

They ask if he knows anything about the Cinnabar Island Gym and the Gym Leader, Blaine. He gives his answer is another riddle – The Gym is right where you put your glasses.

Again, Misty correctly guesses – right in front of your eyes. And the Gym IS right in front of their eyes….in a big pile of rubble.

The man explains that Blaine abandoned the Gym when tourists started flooding the area. He was sick of battling tourists who weren’t serious Pokemon Trainers, so he left the Gym to rot, much to Ash’s dismay and anger. The man leaves him with his card, which reveals that he owns a big hotel called the Big Riddle Inn.

They try to go to their other destination, which was a prestigious Pokemon research laboratory, but find that it’s also a bunch of tourist attractions.

Resigned, the group tries to find a place to stay, but everywhere, including the Pokemon Center, is filled with people. Ash can’t help himself but try to sneak into a hotel room where they’re having a banquet, and it just so happens to be Gary’s room. He ribs him for a while, even offering to give Ash some leftovers if he makes a fool of himself for Gary’s entertainment, but Ash refuses.

Suddenly, Jigglypuff shows up, prompting Ash and the others to bolt out of there before it starts singing. Gary and his cheerleaders, however, unwittingly fall into the deep slumber caused by Jigglypuff’s song…and the facial drawings that come with it.

The kids suddenly remember that the man from before gave them a card for the Inn, but the directions are another riddle – If you look near the swings, you’ll see my hands or at least my face.

They spot some swings and Misty figures out the rest when she sees a clock since a clock has hands and a face. The clock is atop the Big Riddle Inn.

The man congratulates them on figuring out the riddle and offers them free room and board as a prize.

That night, Team Rocket attacks the island’s Pokemon research laboratory, nabbing up all of the Pokemon inside. The man is contacted about this attack, sending him and Ash, Misty and Brock to investigate.

When they arrive, Ash uses Pikachu and Pidgeotto to save the Pokemon and blast Team Rocket off.

Impressed by his skills, the man offers Ash some information. He happens to know that Blaine has a secret Gym set up somewhere on the island, but he will only give a riddle as a clue to its location – it’s in a place where firefighters could never win.

Back at the inn, Ash, Misty and Brock relax in the hot springs to try and figure out the riddle. Togepi hops on one of the stone Gyarados statues feeding water into the spring, which suddenly opened the door to a secret passage. The passageway lead to Blaine’s secret Gym deep in the heart of a volcano – the arena is even suspended over a lava pit.

The man is waiting on the other side of the arena, offering Ash another riddle – It’s not a hat, but it keeps your head dry. If you wear it, it’s only because you already lost it.

Misty, again, correctly deduces the answer – a wig. The man has been wearing a disguise this whole time. He’s actually Blaine, the Cinnabar Island Gym Leader!

Blaine challenges whomever wishes to battle him, in this case Ash, and starts the match with a Ninetales. Feeling cocky with a type advantage, Ash chooses Squirtle, but he soon realizes that type only accounts for so much. Blaine commands Ninetales to use Fire Spin, and it makes quick work of poor Squirtle.

Blaine chastises Ash for thinking purely about type in his battles, so Ash decides to fight fire with fire, literally, and sends out Charizard. However, predictably, Charizard refuses to battle and goes off to nap instead. Having left the arena, Blaine gets his second victory.

Ash sends out his last hope, Pikachu, to battle Rhydon. He does a good job evading Rhydon’s attacks, but finds that his Electric attacks do nothing against the Ground Type. Using its horn as a lightning rod, Pikachu manages to knock Rhydon out with a Thunderbolt.

Realizing the heat has been turned up in this battle, Blaine uses his most power Fire Pokemon – out from the depths of the lava comes Magmar, a Pokemon who might as well be the living embodiment of magma.

Pikachu gets slightly burned from one of Magmar’s Fire Punches, but gets up to try a Thunderbolt. Ash and Pikachu are shocked to find that Pikachu’s electricity will not work against Magmar. The air around it is so hot that it is able to create an air lens that refracts the electricity.

Stuck between the edge of the arena with a pool full of lava at his feet and the fierce Magmar before him, Pikachu faces Magmar’s most powerful move – Fire Blast. With nowhere to go, will Pikachu be fried or will he find some way to beat the heat?

——————-

– Gary doesn’t mention how many badges he has right now, but considering he later has ten, I’ll say he has between eight and ten if he feels he can take a vacation before the Indigo League Conference – and he definitely has more than Ash right now. Also, this basically confirms that Gary definitely didn’t get a Volcano Badge yet, even if one of the badges in his case later on looks VERY similar to it (It just looks longer for some reason. I believe it is the right badge.) If he only has eight or nine as of now, I suppose it’s possible that, after Ash discovered the Gym, that Gary found out about the real Gym, went to Blaine and got one himself after Ash left just so Ash wouldn’t best him anywhere.

– I find it somewhat odd that Gary wasn’t able to determine that there actually was a Gym on Cinnabar. Ash found out and Gary’s much smarter than he is. Gary should have checked to see if the badge or Gym was still valid under the Pokemon League’s certification. If it was, then there has to be a Gym or at least some place to obtain the badge. Unless Gary’s so full of himself and has such a lack of caring about badges at this point, considering he later has so many, that he just didn’t bother really looking into it and just accepted the vacation opportunity.

Pokemon Ep 58 Screen2

– Ash: “A real Trainer never takes a break!” Excuse me, need to laugh raucously for a minute.

Ash, your life IS taking a break from training. I can probably count the amount of times you have actually trained so far on one hand. MAYBE two, if I’m generous. And lest we forget Charizard who has been wading in the lack of training pool for quite some time now.

– The Pokemon League doesn’t have any problem with Blaine having such inactivity in his Gym that nearly everyone thinks it simply doesn’t exist anymore?

– I’m just imagining how pissed I’d be if the Cinnabar Island Gym really didn’t exist and we’d have to spend god knows how long getting to one of Gary’s non-canon Gyms where he got one of the six mystery badges (if that other one is a Volcano Badge) And, remember, it’s confirmed that Gary never got an Earth Badge either – he lost his match there and the Gym shut down before he could get a rematch.

– Oh hey, Jigglypuff. Come back to remind me that you exist again, eh?

– I find it weird that they seem very willing to accept that ALL of Cinnabar is nothing but a big tourist trap just because they see a lot of festivities and stuff right off of the boat. Of course they’d put that stuff right by the harbor and get as many people hooked in as quickly as possible. At least have a look around before you start giving up. Places like Celadon City and Saffron City have much more than just their Gyms right out the gate, and you kinda have to walk around a while before you find the Gyms.

– I’m really not gonna rag on Ash’s silly riddle solution. It may be silly, but sometimes people just throw out weird ideas when they’re trying to figure out riddles.

– Misty: “I heard that the Gym Leader was someone called Blaine.” It really bothers me that it’s never made clear whether or not Gym Leaders know each other in the anime. You’d think at least the ones in the same region would have met a few times before. Also, who did you hear this info from if everyone believes Cinnabar Island is a Gym-less tourist trap and has been for decades?

– The man laments that more and more tourists come to the island and hardly any Trainers come anymore, but how do you expect Trainers to come if you have at least had the rumor going around for decades that the island’s Gym doesn’t exist anymore?

– Doesn’t help the tourist or Trainer situation if, when led to the Gym, they basically get confirmation that it doesn’t have one by showing them a collapsed building and explaining that Blaine essentially quit.

Pokemon Ep 58 Screen3

– Misty: “An inn? How can you run a hotel and then blame tourists for ruining the island?” Uh, it’s called making a living, Misty. If your island has nothing but tourists and you still want to live on the island, sucking up a bit of pride and taking advantage of the deep pockets of vacationers is the best course of action. Plus, him running an inn doesn’t mean the tourists still didn’t ruin the island. They come for the hot springs, which are natural. Everything else is just taking advantage of the tourists.

– Without actually going INTO the Pokemon research lab, the kids determine that it’s just another tourist trap because of all the stands outside of it. They really aren’t good at actually looking into things, are they?

– I guess it’s nice that they do let everyone in, but it’s really weird that the Pokemon Center is full up for the night with people who don’t have Pokemon. Also, if this place is purely for tourists, why are so many of them so ill-prepared that they didn’t book a hotel?

– Come to think of it, if no Pokemon Trainers ever come to Cinnabar anymore, why is there even a Pokemon Center there? Just for the research lab and wild Pokemon?

– I would say Gary heard Misty and Brock yelling or Ash talking, but they clearly imply that Gary somehow heard Ash’s stomach growling from outside, which is what caused him to go to the porch. I sincerely doubt that is louder than either of the aforementioned noises.

– I feel very uncomfortable asking this, but here goes: Are Gary’s cheerleaders……sleeping in the same room as him? Their situation is creepy enough without this, thank you.

– Ash: “I’d die of hunger first!” 4KIDS! The D word! Have you no shame?

– Gary’s, again, being unreasonably dumb to not think twice when seeing that a Jigglypuff is about to sing to them….

Pokemon Ep 58 Screen4

– Jigglypuff is really out of sync with the music. This isn’t just an audio syncing issue, it happens very frequently when Jigglypuff sings. It’s like the voice track for Jigglypuff is sped up for some reason or Rachel Lillis doesn’t have the audio track playing when singing.

– Brock: “Ash, what about that card that old guy gave you?” I love how they try literally every. single. other hotel on the island before they remember that they had a card for an inn on them.

Pokemon Ep 58 Screen5

Ash: *pulls out card* “Hmm…must be directions to his hotel.” No. It must be little illegible squiggles.

Also, it seems like a bad business practice to have a riddle be the directions to your hotel. It’s even worse that it’s a terrible riddle. Either Blaine had to make sure his inn could be seen from every swing on the island or guests have to stumble upon the exact swing set that Blaine is referring to in the riddle.

– The prize for figuring out his riddle is free room and board? That’s a REALLY bad business practice….

– Ash: “Your riddles may be dumb, but your prizes are terrific!” Your riddles are dumb, says the boy who thought the answer to his first riddle was wrapping yourself in an electric blanket while laying in front of an open refrigerator.

I know I said I wouldn’t rag on Ash much for making silly guesses, but he’s open to ridicule when he starts putting down others.

– I love this exchange.

Blaine: “Well………guess you want dinner too.”

Ash: “Right.”

It’s the timing and delivery – it’s golden.

Pokemon Ep 58 Screen6

– See? The research laboratory isn’t just a tourist trap. The power of actually seeing what’s in a building to know…what’s in the building.

– I love that they contact Blaine when the research lab is attacked. Not only does this give them a realistic excuse to have Ash and the others go to the research lab to help, but it also hints at Blaine’s real identity.

– I would get excited over Pidgeotto being let out, but it’s literally just a vehicle for Pikachu to get close enough to attack the balloon.

– Why is Team Rocket so shocked (oh god, the puns are infecting me) that Ash and Pikachu are on the scene. The only reason they’re on Cinnabar is because Ash and co. are.

– Nice that Ash had no plan to actually catch the Pokemon – instead he let them all fall to the ground and break their necks.

– Blaine only gives Trainers a hint to the location of his actual secret Gym once they prove themselves to him in some way. So Trainers not only have to ignore rumors that the Gym doesn’t exist and come to Cinnabar anyway, ignore that the original Gym is a pile of rubble and meet Blaine while he’s in disguise so they can get on the trail of the real Gym, not even realizing there even is a real Gym, but they also have to have the opportunity to prove themselves to him somehow and solve his riddles that lead to the real gym before they can find the real Gym and challenge him.

Not that it would help if they figured it out anyway. The answer is simply ‘a volcano.’ How the hell were they supposed to find the Gym in a volcano unless they stumbled upon the secret entrance to the place – which they did.

Blaine, I love you, buddy, but this is a lot of convoluted and, quite frankly, unfair bullshit just to try and avoid tourists challenging you – especially considering this requires you to be in disguise 24/7. You could literally clear this up with a pre-requisite test or something before you’re allowed admittance into the Gym. “Are you a tourist?” “Do you have at least a few other Pokemon League Badges?” “How many Pokemon do you own?” Stuff like that.

– Always kinda bugged me that Ash and the others never really figured out Blaine’s riddle until the answer was literally in their faces. Togepi just activated his plot convenience powers and found the switch that opened the door to the place.

Pokemon Ep 58 Screen7

– It’s kinda funny how Misty freaks out when Ash and Brock see her in a towel. She’s technically at least as covered up as she usually is in her street clothes.

– Why would Blaine have it set up so that opening the door destroys the hot spring divider?

– Was Blaine alerted to the fact that the door to the secret entrance had been opened or was he just waiting down there for Ash and the others to randomly stumble upon the switch?

– Forget Blaine’s really odd practices as a Gym Leader – how does the Pokemon League not have safety rules against this place? Holding a battle over a LAVA PIT is insane! The arena doesn’t even have any safety rails or anything. It would just take one false move and Pokemon or people could die in there easily.

The walkways to the arena aren’t even walkways, they’re narrow pillars you have to balance on one at a time. In fact, given the heat, you wouldn’t even need to die from falling in the pit, you could just die from heat stroke.

The fact that any unlucky person who happens to lean on a Gyarados statue in his hot spring could get to this death trap without issue is even more alarming. Sure, there’s a red-hot secondary door, but if you manage to open that, you might be as good as dead.

Pokemon Ep 58 Screen8

– Ninetales! Whoo!

– Either Dexter didn’t have much useful information to share on Ninetales, which I find hard to believe, or Ash cut Dexter off before it said anything other than its type and what it evolved from.

– Brock: “Fire Spin is Ninetales’ most powerful attack!” No, no it’s not. Even with DOT, it’s not as powerful as Flamethrower. Fire Spin has 15 power and can last for up to five turns. Flamethrower has 95 power. Even though it can’t learn it with a TM, in Gen I anyway, there’s also Fire Blast with 120 power.

– That Ninetales’ Fire Spin is much less the massive fire tornado that Brock’s Vulpix makes. Its eyes didn’t glow or anything. It’s almost like the move was ridiculously overblown in that episode.

– Look….I get that Ash, again, doesn’t have many options, even though this would be a GREAT time to have gotten out Krabby or Muk or even one of his Tauros, but using Charizard just seems misguided. I know that Charizard is his powerhouse, but he’s banking on having a stronger Fire Pokemon than this Fire Pokemon Gym Leader….This Fire Pokemon Gym Leader who loves fire so much he put his Gym OVER A LAVA PIT DEEP INSIDE A VOLCANO.

– What else did I have to say about this?

…..Uhmmm…..Oh, oh yeah, yeah, CHARIZARD STILL ISN’T TRAINED, YOU IGNORAMUS!

Pokemon Ep 58 Screen9

– I get that a Rhydon would be able to withstand the intense temperatures of the lava pit Gym, but Blaine, you’re a Fire Pokemon Gym Leader who put his Gym OVER A LAVA PIT. Why are you using a Rock/Ground type? I guess it could just be because Ash sent out Charizard, but come on – you can’t take a Fire v. Fire match? Especially after you literally just said matches aren’t purely about type?

You can’t even justify this by saying this is something they took from the games, because he never has a Rhydon in the games. He has a Golem in the manga, but that’s about as close as you get. As a Fire fan, I am disappointed.

And I’ll be even more disappointed in a few minutes…..

– Oh look, Charizard refuses to battle and goes off to nap.

Imagine the look of pure shock on my face.

– Ash: “Awh, gimme a break, Charizard!” You don’t deserve one!

– I know what happens, I do. People who have never seen Pokemon know what happens next. But Ash is a full-blown airheaded shit-for-brains idiot for sending out a PIKACHU against a Rhydon. We’ve already been over the type debate, but there’s a difference between using a Pokemon who does or does not have the advantage and using a Pokemon whose attacks DO NOT AFFECT your opponent. Even physical moves would do little to nothing.

Pidgeotto’s also not a good choice, but if Bulbasaur could survive in the hot arena, he’d be a decent selection. However, the lack of sunlight would mean no Solar Beam. Ash, your roster blows. Please do better.

– I’m going to ding Ash for this just because he needs extra punishment for the stupidity that will happen in a minute – Ash should know Rhyhorn is Ground type, which means he must know RhyDON is Ground type too. Yet he still launches an Electric attack.

– Ya know, I’m not even going to bother analyzing the scene. It’s been done to death. So, I’ll just go ahead and say it.

Pikachu…

(Aim for)….The horn.

Pokemon Ep 58 Screen10

Gonna give you a minute to soak that in, maybe find some appropriate memes to enjoy. I’ll just take a sec to curl up into a ball and weep.

– Blaine: “This Pokemon is too hot to handle. And it has a power that should interest you, because it turns all of its opponents into ash.”

Ash: “No fair, it’s too hot to solve riddles!” That was in no way a riddle. He’s just saying he has a super powerful Fire Pokemon.

– It’s pretty badass that Magmar lives in the lava pit.

Likewise, its reveal is sick.

– I never liked Magmar as a kid, but now I love it quite a bit.

– This battle has always been one of my favorites because it’s so intense. Pikachu gets burned and the cliffhanger has him between Magmar and nearly falling into the lava pit.

– Brock explains that Magmar is immune to Electric attacks because it’s so superheated that it creates an air lens around it that refracts electricity. This, as far as I can see, is completely false.

I wanted to go in depth about the air lens itself, really I did, but my research on air lenses is pathetically sparse. I just can’t find much on anything that doesn’t correlate to cameras. The best I got was a Wiki page which mentioned them in passing when talking about explosive lenses, and that wasn’t very applicable to what was happening here.

So enough about air lenses, I don’t even know how 4Kids knew that term (Dogasu’s comparison doesn’t even mention that this is a change, so maybe the original writers are to blame for this?) what of heat’s affect on electricity?

As far as I can tell, nothing. Remember, lightning itself is INSANELY hot. It causes fires all the time, but it’s much hotter than you might think. In fact, according to National Geographic, a flash of lightning can heat the air around the bolt to temperatures up to five times hotter than the surface of the sun.

Lava, at best, reaches a little over 2,200 degrees F, while the sun can reach 10,000 degrees F (Source). So, obviously, being five times hotter than that makes lava look like an ice cream sundae. By all means, making the air around Magmar even hotter than lava levels would have no effect at all on Pikachu’s electricity.

In conclusion, I have no clue what they were thinking.

I actually find it funny that they did this, because that means they did BS science to Rhydon to make it vulnerable to electricity and then did BS science to Magmar to make it immune to electricity.

– So….Is Blaine trying to straight up murder Pikachu? It’s at the very edge of the arena and it’s commanding Magmar to use FIRE BLAST of all things, which, considering it’s cornered, would surely mean its demise.

Pokemon Ep 58 Screen11

– And Ash refuses to stop the battle. Best Trainer ever.

– I always thought Fire Blast was trying to take the shape of a stick figure. It wasn’t until I was much older that I found out that it’s actually the kanji for “large” or “great.”

——————————–

Cinnabar Island, Blaine and Fire Types are some of my favorites in Pokemon (Really bummed that Cinnabar Island was basically completely decimated beyond Gen I), and I do love this match even with the bullshittery that goes on. Having Squirtle be instantly KO’d out the gate was a massive blow that I didn’t expect, but it doesn’t get really awesome until it’s just Pikachu v. Magmar. It’s intense and ends on one of the best cliffhangers of the series. Of course we know little Messiahchu won’t die or anything, but it did get actually wounded, and that kinda surprised me as a kid. Still does, to be honest.

I also enjoyed Gary and his dickishness, even if he was a tad badly written this time around. He’s earned a vacation, I suppose, but he had one too many moments where he was too stupid to the point where it was almost OOC. He has an almost encyclopedic knowledge of Pokemon and the league, but he seemingly doesn’t do any actual serious research into whether or not the Cinnabar Gym exists?

I guess if Blaine’s so ridiculously overly secret about the Gym that it might be beyond researching, but I still found it odd for him.

I like Blaine when he’s this weird riddle hippy dude. He’s pretty amusing. I find his methods of getting ‘real’ Trainers to his real Gym and masking the fact that his Gym still exists to be massively overcomplicated and dumb, and I find the Gym itself to be dumb just based on the safety hazard aspect (though I find it really cool as a concept.) but at least it adds some flavor to the story, I suppose.

Oddly, one thing I really remember a lot about this arc it’s an audio flub that happens in the recap in the next episode. It’s almost laughably bad, and it was seemingly done on purpose for whatever reason.

As for the rematch, I actually didn’t like it as much as this match, but we’ll tackle that when we get to it.

Next episode, spoiler alert – Ash loses his bout with Blaine and has to figure out a way to beat him to earn his Volcano Badge.

.Previous Episode.


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