Cardcaptor Sakura/Cardcaptors (Nelvana) Episode 14: Sakura, Toya and Cinderella | Sub/Dub Comparison

Card (s) of the Day: Mist – A card that creates an odd green mist that destroys anything that it touches. Its weakness seems to be Shadow as it can contain Mist and keep it from spreading and causing harm.

Plot: Toya’s school is holding a fair, and he’s set to be in the play of Cinderella. As Cinderella. The play is actually gender-swapped, meaning the boys play all the girl parts and vice versa. A girl named Yoko, who has a crush on Toya, gets the part of the prince. However, the Clow card, Mist, appears and puts Toya and Yoko in danger. Sakura has to stop Mist before they’re hurt or worse.

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Title Change: Sakura, Toya and Cinderella is changed to Play Misty for Tori, which makes sense, but also doesn’t?

Sakura’s ticket is painted over in English and the details are changed. The Seijou High School Fair is changed to the Reedington High Culture Fest. The dub gets the date right, but the original doesn’t state that it’s the 24th annual fair.

Subbed:

Dubbed:

Also, I have no clue why they erased everything but one of the x parts of one of the kanjis.

Hey guys, guess what? Yukito was cut out some more! As she looks at the ticket, Sakura flashes back to Yukito giving it to her. They talk about how Toya’s been staying late at school the past few days to prepare for it, and say he might be worried about the play. Yukito hands her the ticket, says it’s good for both her and a friend and that the ticket also allows her to eat at any of the booths. All of this was removed. And because we have an overlaid transition to get us back to where the dub starts, they do some REALLY sloppy editing that makes it seem like the footage got somewhat eaten in a VCR.

Tomoyo originally gets in a good close-up of Sakura because she looked so lovely as she was lost in thought in her flashback. Sakura then nervously laughs with a somewhat cartoony face. In the dub, this is changed to just her freaking Sakura out because she brought the camera in case a Clow card showed up – something she really shouldn’t be surprised at anymore considering that thing is almost always glued to her hand. Also, the editor must just be drunk today because they cut out Sakura’s nervous laugh and cartoony face, but it’s shown for a brief second again making the footage look like it was messed with.

The other student asks Toya if he can mend the shoes, and Toya says he can do it with the other guy’s guts (??) In the dub, the guy asks Tori if he needs the shoes, and Tori says he has his own.

After that, the girls rush over and clamor at Toya for being good at sewing and they say he’d be a good husband. The editor strikes again because they cut out the shot of the girls clamoring for no reason I can fathom, causing a jump in the footage and a whiplashing dialogue shift. The dialogue is changed to them basically mocking him for ‘losing a bet’ and taking an embarrassing role in the play.

Yukito’s stand is specifically a candy shop, not just a generic food store.

The food choices are cold-candy water and ramune soda in the original. They’re lemon soda and desserts in the dub.

Sakura looks at Yukito as he walks away and says softly ‘Yukito-san’. This is removed.

God, the editor is having a rough day. Sakura sees Syaoran, and he stares hard at the three of them. Sakura freaks out slightly, and we cut to Syaoran with intense flames in his eyes. Yukito asks if he’d like another, and Syaoran shyly nods ‘yes.’ Sakura and Tomoyo see a mess of bottles and plates indicating that Syaoran has been there for quite some time. We get more glaring and Syaoran jumps towards the girls dramatically. All of this is edited it out because it’s more poking at Syaoran’s crush on Yukito, but it, like the other scenes, was edited with a second of footage from the clip left behind making it glaringly obvious that something was removed there. In addition, Julian doesn’t ask Lee if he wants another, he just greets him and Syaoran lunges at the girls.

Toya’s friends are baffled by Toya’s work ethic and strength as he doesn’t believe the trunk that they’re lugging around is heavy. They ask if he’s a robot or a gorilla and Toya stops to think. In the dub, they just say they need help moving it.

The girls are watching the guys carrying the trunk and they gush over Toya some more. They talk about how he’s on the soccer team, good at cooking and sewing etc. and they ask Yoko, the red-haired girl from earlier, if she likes Toya too. She asks why they’d ask her such a thing, and they say she’d make a cute match for him seeing as how she’s the head of the drama club and is good at taking care of people. She rolls her eyes and walks off. In the dub, oh wait a sec:

Name Change: Yoko is changed to Vicki.

As I was saying, in the dub, the girls are basically complete bitches. They whine about how the boys better not ask them to help move the trunk and how they better get moving to get to the stage with the trunk on time. They then ask Vicki if she memorized all her lines, and she says she memorized most of them. The girls taunt about how she’ll forget her lines and make a fool out of herself if she doesn’t ensure that she memorizes all of the lines. Vicki then walks off to study her lines some more. What is with older English dubs and making girls snobby divas? 4Kids did the same thing. Also, why are they removing a heterosexual same-age crush from the series too? There are no “content” excuses for that. Do they just want to remove most romance aspects now?

Even more of these hints of a crush are removed because, after Yoko leaves, the girls assert that Yoko probably does like Toya, but they understand why she’s so avoidant of the matter because it’s supposedly one of the ‘seven mysteries’ of their school as to why Toya and Yukito don’t have girlfriends and shoot down every girl who asks them. Gee, two of the hottest guys in school who spend practically all of their time together and seem to show no interest whatsoever in the opposite sex sure is a mystery. I mean, it’s not right to make assumptions but really, come on. I refuse to believe no one at their school ever suggested this possibility. This entire scene is removed. At least they didn’t make the edit sloppy this time, though.

Syaoran responds to Sakura liking the stuffed pink bunny by asking her why she would like such childish things, and she responds that it’s because it’s still cute. In the dub, Lee tells Sakura that she has one just like that at home, and Sakura says she likes it anyway. How exactly does Lee know what stuffed animals Sakura has at home? He’s never been in her room has he?

The fee to do the challenge for the toy is actually 100 yen, roughly a dollar. But since 100 yen is a coin, they change it to a quarter. By the way, really, the challenge for getting one of various SMALL CUTESY STUFFED ANIMALS is to dribble past five players on the school’s basketball team? This is either a booth specifically designed for guys to impress their girlfriends and win them a prize or this is the suckiest booth ever. I’m not saying a girl couldn’t do it or wouldn’t want to, I’m quite certain there are some girls in the school who would, but I doubt the number would be big enough to warrant a booth. I also doubt the number of teenage boys who would do the challenge would want a pink bunny.

In response to Yukito giving Sakura the bunny, Syaoran grumbles a bit. The grumbling’s removed.

I’m actually surprised they left the following scene where it’s shown that Yukito also wins toys for Tomoyo and Syaoran.

Syaoran shyly asks Yukito if he’s also going to be in the play. Yukito says yes and that his role is a can of mackerel. The kids all try to process this weird information, but Yukito just smiles. All of this is removed and the editor mucked up the cut again. Dude, even when I did AMVs in Windows Movie Maker I was still able to do fairly clean cuts almost all the time. You have professional editing equipment, what is happening?

Also, I can understand removing the part where Yukito and Syaoran talk, at least by Nelvana’s stupid standards, but why the rest of it? There’s so much hacked away today that it’s one of those episodes that I really fear will be extended for time with something or other.

Since all of that is removed, the rest of the scene is changed. Sakura originally says that it sounds like a yummy role, and Yukito agrees because canned mackerel is really good. In the dub, Sakura continues on the previous discussion about Tori being in the play and says that whatever role he plays he’s sure to be great at it. Julian responds that he’s sure it’s a performance that they’ll never forget.

Syaoran asks why canned mackerel would be in a play about Cinderella. In the dub, Lee says Tori’s probably going to play one of the rats.

Upon seeing Toya as Cinderella, Sakura falls out her seat and the girls in the audience clamor over Toya. When Sakura pulls herself together, Tomoyo points out that Toya’s really popular. In the dub, all of this up until Sakura pulls herself up in her chair is removed, and since the scene with the girls was removed, Madison says that Julian was right about this being a performance they’ll never forget.

I’m starting to wonder why this entire episode wasn’t axed. I mean, it’s butchered enough as it is, you can tell that just from this comparison, and we’re just barely past the commercial break so there’s probably plenty more to go. Now we have crossdressing. Look at all the stuff that has been cut either for stupid reasons, pointless reasons or no reason at all in this one episode. Now take into consideration that Toya’s crossdressing and it’s left alone. It’s not just him either, the other female roles are being filled by guys from his class too, and the prince is played by a girl because it’s a gender-swapped play. I don’t get their logic at all. I’m glad they’re leaving it, but I don’t get their nonsensical rules.

ALSO, this scene directly contradicts the girls’ words from earlier about feeling bad for Tori because he ‘lost a bet’ and I guess had to take that part because of it. It’s a gender-swapped play, meaning other boys are dressed in feminine clothing too. If anything, Tori had the best part in the play because he gets a love scene with an attractive girl.

They remove a shot of the two boys playing the evil stepsisters getting in each others faces about who’s going to marry the prince.

To add more time, they add in a shot of Sakura making an awkward face from earlier.

The play’s actually been fairly loyal, dialogue wise, but before the stepsisters and stepmother leave, the evil stepmother tells Cinderella to be jealous, and the stepsisters tell Cinderella to make ramen for them before they come home from the ball. No demands for Cinderella to be jealous are made, and the stepsisters tell Cinderella to make them a late night snack for when they come home.

In response to Toya’s less-than-enthusiastic acting about wanting to go to the ball, Syaoran says “I don’t think he wants to go to the ball at all.” In the dub, it’s kept the same, but Lee’s delivery of “I don’t think he wants to go.” is almost as bad as the way Tori’s VA is purposely trying to act right now.

Okay, this is just getting ridiculous now. I’m actually getting a little angry. Yukito comes on stage and, again, all of the girls clamor. Tomoyo points out that Yukito is also very popular. Sakura agrees, claiming it’s because he’s so wonderful. Syaoran nods in agreement then realizes what he did and grumbles. Yukito’s role is….odd…to say the least. You remember how he said he’d be playing a can of mackerel? He wasn’t lying. He is playing some wizard or something that hands Cinderella an invitation to the ball. He has a can of mackerel on his head and states that the can of mackerel is where he gained his powers. Sakura and Syaoran both fall over this time, and Tomoyo states they must’ve used that to raise awareness over wasting things. It’s a weird yet funny scene. All of it is removed. Also, no, it is never once explained what this is actually about, though that’s the joke.

Something had to have been done outside of one funny face shot insertion to make this episode run longer. There is just too much removed. Maybe they jam packed a lot of commercials.

Another shot of a goofy face of Sakura’s is removed.

Sakura and Syaoran both get a goofy face and say this is a weird play. They realize they said the same thing and both grumble. This is removed too.

More of the dance is removed for no reason.

Another mention of the ramen for dinner is omitted.

In addition, since Yukito’s part was completely cut, we get another funny line gone since Toya originally says ‘but the can of mackerel said I had to be home by midnight.’ In the dub, it’s the obvious Fairy Godmother.

Tomoyo only missed the capture, she never intended on recording the play nor did she ever try. The dub claims that she ran out of film before the play started and that’s why she also missed the capture.

When Yukito shows up, Syaoran bows and says he did a great job as the can of mackerel. Yukito thanks him. This is removed, but they couldn’t avoid showing Syaoran’s embarrassed face in the next shot as Sakura asks where Toya is.

Yoko brings Toya up to the roof and confesses her feelings to him. However, he gently declines. She asks if he likes someone else and he nods. She says she figured that was the case and wipes some tears away telling him to not worry about her and apologizes for crying. She then points out that the bonfire dance is starting soon and asks him for a favor – one dance. He agrees.

In the dub, Vicki just says thanks to Tori and says she owes him big time. She says it’s a shame that the play was ruined, he nods in agreement and she says there’s always next year. Then she asks to dance with him. The shot of her wiping away tears is also removed. I have no idea anymore. I guess all love is bad in Nelvana’s eyes. Maybe it was changed because Toya kinda-ish implies that he likes Yukito in the end, but it’s not that much. He just said he likes someone else. It’s only because I know about what happens later on that I know this is a poke at him liking Yukito. Plus, they could’ve left in the stuff about Yoko’s crush without implying that he has a thing for Yukito or even anyone else period. He could have just said he doesn’t feel the same way and let her down gently.

If you were only watching the dub, you’d be totally confused as to what this character’s purpose in the episode was. She didn’t study her lines much then got saved by Toya. The end.

Toya originally says as he walks away, since it was time to change partners, that he never promised anyone else to a dance. Yoko then says he acts a little too cool. In the dub, Tori says he wants to talk to his sister for a bit and Vicki says she’ll wait for him then.

Also, a music note, in the original, the song playing during the bonfire dance…..is “Do Your Ears Hang Low?”…………………………………..Wh….why? I just….why? Why would that song be playing at a high school bonfire dance? Oh yeah, when I want to have a nice dance with someone I like, the first sweet romantic hit I think of is Do you ears hang low? Do they wobble to and fro? Can you tie ’em in a knot? Can you tie ’em in a bow?

It’s not even the fact that it’s not a romantic song, because it doesn’t have to be for a bonfire dance. It’s the fact that it’s a children’s song, one most kids don’t dance to, being played on something like an organ grinder. In the dub it’s just generic BG music, which, in this one instance, is actually better.

Yet they leave in the final scene with Yukito and Sakura dancing and even the closeup shot of Syaoran’s emotionally crushed face, but they remove the later scene of him making an equally crushed face in the background as Tomoyo films.

Also, hey Madison, I thought your camera ‘ran out of film.’

Leave it to Kero-Chan!/Kero’s Corner: They actually get everything right, but the reason Tori’s bag has no school emblem is because it’s not given by the school, and they never mention that Julian’s bag is from his grandparents.

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Overall, this episode is okay. The weird play was quite funny, but the Clow card and capture were ultimately boring. The dub was awful, and they made what seems to be way more cuts than usual. The only scene that was mostly left alone was the capture scene.

Next time, Kero and Sakura have a fight and he runs away from home.

…..Previous Episode


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Space-Time Detective Genshi-Kun/Flint the Time Detective Episode 22 (21 for the Dub) Clash! Genshi vs. Ototan Sub/Dub Comparison

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Plot: TP Lady hatches a new plan to seduce Ototan and steal all of the Space-Time Monsters.

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Title Change: Clash! Genshi vs. Ototan is changed to Rocky in Love.

They originally don’t explain why Moaiwa is outside. In the dub, Sarah asks Mowah to wait outside because he’s so big he’d get in the way of their cleaning.

Putera tells Dr. Yamato that his lazy attitude towards cleaning is the reason why he can’t get a bride. In the dub, he chastises Dr. Goodman for how dirty the place is.

The original doesn’t have any mention of Dyna and Mite going surfing.

They reverse and replay TP Lady looking through her binoculars.

The sign in the garbage pile that Oto-tan falls into originally said “Garbage Disposal.” In the dub, it’s wiped free of text.

Subbed:

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Dubbed:

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Okay, I get they’re in the future so I won’t question why they have a robot garbage man……but what are these?

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Does garbage get turned into weird giant spheres in the future?

So not only are the Space-Time Monsters not a secret, but Ototan also talks with Ms. Aino like it’s not weird he’s a stone axe?

…Okay.

Originally, Ms. Aino says she was at the dump because she likes to go to there to look at the mountains of trash to relieve stress. In the dub, she says she’s taking her class on a trip there and wanted to make sure it was safe. Points to the dub here because the original’s explanation is just stupid.

I get the logic with Tokio and Wing flying higher to see more, but also Ototan’s a small stone axe. You’ll never be able to see him if you go that high.

With all the Space-Time Monsters now roaming freely around town, it truly is safe to say that they don’t care about keeping them secret.

The sign on the coffee shop says “Coffee Shop” in the original. In the dub, it says “Etta’s Coffee House.” Additionally, text is removed from the tiny sign below that one, but the image quality is too poor for me to read it.

Subbed:

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Dubbed:

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Wait a minute, so hardly anyone bats an eye at the Space-Time Monsters traipsing around town, but everyone stares at and is confused by Ototan being a living stone axe? This world makes no sense.

*sigh* I hate that this episode is making me imagine the physical logistics of a human having an intimate relationship with a stone axe…..I mean, I get that he’s a human too, he’s just stuck in the form of a stone axe, but still. Eugh.

Ototan mentions that they’re in Tama City. He doesn’t mention they’re location in the dub.

Ototan asks Ms. Aino how the ride is (he’s currently carrying her on his head….) In the dub, they just talk about where they’re going. I understand this change because uh…..yeah asking your love interest how the ride you’re giving them is….Hmm….

Genshi asks why they’re hiding, and Tokio responds that it would be bad to interrupt them. Sora then asks when Ototan and Ms. Aino got so close. In the dub, Flint asks where they’re going, and Tony says he doesn’t know. Sora then says they should follow them but make sure they stay hidden….I know, small potatoes. But this episode’s kinda uneventful change-wise so far.

They repeat a short shot of Tony talking after they cut to Dr. Goodman.

Tokio originally points out that she’s rubbing his “shoulders” while Yamato takes notes on his romantic technique. In the dub, Tony says he didn’t know Ms. Iknow was so strong, and Goodman says she’s full of surprises.

Huh, I honestly didn’t think they’d ever address this, but they actually bring up Genshi’s mom here…..and it has a very unsatisfying resolution. Ototan just doesn’t remember who she was. He explains that turning into a stone axe gave him a bit of memory loss, which is very confusing. He’s never shown to have any memory loss before now, and he remembers everything with Genshi just fine. Genshi also doesn’t remember ever having a mom, so I assume she’s either missing or dead. All this is kept in the dub.

Apparently, in the dub, Ms. Iknow’s first name is Emma. I don’t know if that has any significance.

In the original, Genshi asks if he can eat ‘marriage,’ which reminds me so much of Goku with Chichi in Dragon Ball. In the dub, he just asks if anyone can tell him what’s happening.

After Dyna and Mite shake the net and punch it in the cat mech, the dub repeats them spinning the group over their head for some reason.

Ototan tells Ms. Aino that they’ve only just met, and proposing marriage is going way too fast. However, he still wants to be friends with her. In the dub, Rocky tells her “A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.” She tells him that, if he leaves now, it’s over, and he says he’s sorry she feels that way.

Wait….so this is our payoff for Talun getting bummed in the other episode about being a coward? She just…..randomly goes super in an episode that barely involves her?….Okay.

Name Plate removed:

Subbed:

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Dubbed:

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Name Change: Super Talun is changed to Talen Master.

Eugh, Super Honey-Honey looks way too weird with its barely-changed face….

Name Plate removed:

Subbed:

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Dubbed:

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Name Change: Super Honey-Honey is changed to Jitterbug Master.

Like usual, their attacks have no names in the original. In the dub, Jitterbug has a Jitterbug Power Whirl, and Talen has…..*sigh* “Accessory power”……You see…..she throws off her beads and traps….her enemies………..*deep sigh*

Oh and Honey-Honey’s dancing beam? Jitterbug just says “Jitterbug” when he does it. *shrug* I get that the Jitterbug is a dance, but considering it’s also his dub name it just seems awkward.

Tokio specifies that the food falling on them is takoyaki. In the dub, he just says it’s a fast food attack.

Ototan originally points out that, since he’s a rock, being underwater doesn’t affect him….I guess he means….he doesn’t have to breathe? In the dub, Rocky just says it doesn’t matter how much Flint squirms, he’s not getting away.

In the original, Genshi says “Ototan, it hurts!” In the dub, he talks way too much for someone currently drowning and on his last breath. He explains to Rocky that he’s under the control of Petra’s stamp and he has to break free of it.

They inserted an old shot of Rocky using Fighting Spirit and Flint swinging him. I dunno why. He had already used it before they started running.

They reverse and replay Flint and Rocky’s hug to when he was holding up Rocky to insert a line about them achieving anything together even if Rocky married Ms. Iknow.

Again, reversed and replayed Tony, Sarah and Pterry talking.

There’s no mention of a field trip in the original.

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This episode was fine. Kinda felt like they just threw some things together, though. Like they mention Genshi’s mom, but it goes nowhere. They show Talun and Honey-Honey transforming, but there’s little fanfare to it, especially considering they made a big to-do about Talun running away before and feeling bad about it. Ototan gets mind-controlled, which is a cool concept, but there’s not much tension there because of course he’ll break free of it. Other Space-Time Monsters have broken free for much less than something like their own children.

TP Lady’s plan had legs, but it was poorly executed. Seducing Ototan and infiltrating Genshi and the group to steal the Space-Time Monsters could have worked if she was in it for the long game instead of just romancing him for an hour, assuming literally everyone on the good side would follow them and then throwing a net on them….

There wasn’t even a whole lot for me to note for changes. Much of the dub changes or story notes were extremely benign, and there was no historical figure to talk about this episode.

It has a very slow first half, but the second half has enough in it to keep your attention.

Next time, we meet the Space-Time Monster, Unita and learn about the Space-Time Monsters as they travel to the Land of Time.


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Pokemon Episode 65 Analysis: Showdown at the Po-Ke Corral

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CotD(s): None

Plot: Ash is back in Pallet to prepare for the Indigo League conference. He, Misty and Brock visit Professor Oak to get more information on the tournament. When they arrive, they’re met with Gary, who is visiting his grandpa. Oak explains that the Indigo League tournament will be taking place in two months at the Indigo Plateau, and over 200 Trainers are set to partake in the event.

Ash and Gary learn that the other two Pallet Trainers who started their journeys at the same time as them quit some time ago. The two of them are now Pallet Town’s best Trainers. Ash and Gary both butt heads about their progress with Gary gloating that he’s captured many more Pokemon and has much better training regimens and battle strategies than Ash.

As Oak shows them around his research facility, which houses every single Pokemon, Ash, Gary and any other Pallet Trainer has caught and isn’t currently in their party, and tells them all about Pokemon, Gary and Ash come to a slightly better understanding of each other. They’re about to have a friendly practice battle when Team Rocket shows up, demanding Pikachu and all of the other Pokemon on the premises. As Ash and Gary prepare to battle them, Ash’s herd of Tauros bursts through the fence and plows through Team Rocket, sending them blasting off.

Gary takes his leave, promising Ash that they’ll have their match in the Pokemon League tournament. Meanwhile, Oak hands Ash, Misty and Brock some wood and tools to fix the fence Ash’s Tauros destroyed.

Ash has two months of prep time until he will partake in the Indigo League tournament. Will that be enough?

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– There’s more confusion with the ownership of Mr. Mime as this episode proves that Mimey only listens to Delia not Ash.

– They misspell “Corral” as “Corrall.” in the title card.

– Mewtwo escapes from Giovanni in this episode, which helps establish a timeline a little bit with the movie, but not entirely.

That being said, having that scene in this episode was pointless. They show Mewtwo flying off, Jessie, James and Meowth meet with Giovanni who tells them nothing else but to do their jobs, and then they all leave the site of the destroyed HQ. Even taking the movie into consideration, what does this scene add to either?

– The rudeness to Ash from the previous episode continues in this episode when Mr. Mime wakes Ash up by vacuuming his face, Misty just tells him now he can go another week without taking a bath, then Professor Oak is shown being happier to see a Togepi than seeing Ash again.

– The fact that the other two Pallet Trainers quit before even getting to the Pokemon League just makes me even more curious about them. They were keeping pace with Gary throughout like half of Kanto and seemingly were nearly as skilled as he was. What happened to make them both quit? Saying “They just didn’t have the skill.” doesn’t explain much or make much sense. How can you start your journey demolishing Gym Leader after Gym Leader and then skew off into “I guess I suck now.”?

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– I do appreciate Ash saying maybe the Pokemon deserve more credit for his Gym Badge accomplishments than he does.

– Okay, pause for a second. Mewtwo just escaped. Oak says it’s two months until the Indigo League conference. Let’s say the tournament goes on for….a week? And then Ash gets on a new journey like a couple weeks later? So around three months from now is when it will seem to make sense that the movie takes place? Am I close? Sorry, it’s just bugging me.

– How the hell is Gary’s Krabby that buff and seemingly high level without Gary evolving it?

– Ya know, I really hate how much of a point Gary has. And I apologize for jumping ahead a bit in this tangent, but I feel this is an appropriate time to go over this. Ash doesn’t switch out his roster pretty much ever (hell, he barely switches it up from just Pikachu and the starters. RIP Pidgeotto), and it does cause his Pokemon to stagnate. It also causes him to stagnate because, if you never train with anything besides one roster, an incomplete one even, it makes adapting so much more difficult when you do decide to switch it up.

Gary constantly switching out his roster to level up all of his Pokemon evenly, catching a lot of Pokemon and constantly training allows him to be incredibly versatile and greatly increases his knowledge and skills in battle. If anything, this should have been one of the bigger hiccups in Ash’s performance in the Pokemon League. It would have proven Gary right and showed Ash the error of his ways in his lackadaisical training style. But no. Instead, Muk will perform perfectly well in its bout, and Krabby will do so well it somehow ends up evolving.

“But Twix” says the strawman I’m making up again, “Ash probably trained those Pokemon a little bit in the two months he had until the Pokemon League.” That would be smart, wouldn’t it? Eating some crow and deciding that he should train Muk, at least one of his Tauros and Krabby in case he needs them for the Pokemon League….

That would be very smart.

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So of course Ash doesn’t do it.

There are several episodes between now and the Indigo League competition – eight to be precise – and not a one of them includes Ash training any of his B-squad. Hardly any of it includes Ash training at all. He spends much of this downtime dicking around in random filler episodes. He’s gonna find out how Slowpoke evolve. He’s going to be in a movie. He’s going to go surfing. There’s going to be a really weird episode involving giant ancient Pokemon. Only one of them is even kinda centered on training, and most of that episode is just Ash and Brock simping after Bruno while he makes them do random exercises. Then the episode ends with a lesson that they’ve learned about fifty times over by now.

Just to prove that Ash didn’t train them off-screen, when Ash uses Krabby during the tournament, Misty points out that Ash has never used Krabby before. If Krabby was trained, then that would imply that Ash has been using Krabby in practice battles.

The fact that Ash makes it further in the tournament than Gary does kinda throw a negative moral in kids’ faces that you can screw off, ignore valuable advice and hope for the best, and somehow you’ll beat out people who have worked harder, studied more and have more experience. I know that the Charizard incident conveys the exact opposite message, and trust me we will cross that bridge with a goddamn tank when we get to it, but the fact that he skates by like this without putting in the work is one of the many reasons Ash annoys me so.

Gary may be somewhat irritating with how he treats Ash, but it’s very clear that he works hard, cares about all of his Pokemon deeply and studies a lot. He’s also proven he can be a fully respectable guy as long as he’s not stroking his ego. I actually believe Gary should’ve been the one to beat Ash in the Pokemon League. Not only would that have scratched the itch to see these two battle after teasing it for so long, but it would definitely knock Ash down even more of a peg than it did when losing to Richie. You can still have Gary lose immediately after so it humbles him a bit more too and makes him realize he needs to do some soul searching and reevaluation, but having him come in lower than Ash in the tournament just comes off so badly, if you ask me.

Oh, and Ash doesn’t even bring Krabby or Muk with him to the tournament, despite having an open spot on his team. He has to have Oak send them to him when he’s already at the Plateau. It’s no wonder it takes him 25 years to finally fully win a league tournament.

– Admittedly, though, it is kinda weird that Gary starts schooling Ash on Pokemon Type matchups for Gym Leader matches. It was totally out of the blue since no mention of Types or Gyms, outside of collecting Badges, was brought up. Ash definitely does have an issue with typing his matchups effectively, but Gary has no way of knowing this.

– When Brock asks what Gary would use against his Rock Type Gym, he says he’d use a Water Type with a Grass Type for backup. I find it weird that this exchange is even happening. Gary having a Boulder Badge implies that he battled and defeated Brock (and bear in mind that Gary made it to the Pewter City Gym before Ash, so Flint wasn’t manning the Gym as he is now) Brock should be saying something like “Yeah, when he battled me, he completely wiped me out with his Water and Grass Types.” or something.

Gary asks what Ash would use, and Misty says he’d use Pikachu. I want to half-defend and half-condemn Ash here. Misty is referencing the match Ash had with Brock in which he did use Pikachu as his main attacker, but he didn’t really have much of a choice. His roster at that point was a Bug/Flying Type, a Normal/Flying Type and an Electric Type – none of which having an advantage on Rock/Ground Types. Granted, out of all of these, Electric is the worst Type because it should be completely ineffective against most Rock Types since they’re usually dual-type Ground as well, as Geodude and Onix are, but they hardly ever remember that little caveat when Messiahchu’s in the mix.

If Ash were to battle Brock now, I’m……75% certain he’d choose a Pokemon besides Pikachu now that he has more variety. A good chunk of that 25% that was lost was because the “(Aim for) the horn!” incident is still fresh in my mind.

– Gary: “Hah! Everybody knows you shouldn’t use an Electric Pokemon against a Rock Type.” Hah! Everybody knows that’s only good advice if the Rock Type is also dual-type Ground. Rock Type on its own is neither strong nor weak against Electric.

Also, pot, meet kettle. In Battle for the Badge, Gary purposefully used an Arcanine, a Fire Type, against a Kingler, a Water Type.

– Hahah, when did Oak pickpocket Gary and Ash for their Pokedexes? He just suddenly scans them out of nowhere.

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– I’m gonna disagree with Gary on his “capture first, ask questions later” policy in regards to the Pokedex. I actually think Ash’s approach is better. You may think you know everything about a Pokemon, but the information the Pokedex offers could be invaluable to both capturing and raising it. Considering Oak made the damn thing, it’s almost like Gary is so arrogant that he’s saying he knows more than Oak half the time. Even if he doesn’t whip out his Pokedex whenever he sees a Pokemon, why wouldn’t he use it after the fact to research it more after capture?

Also, this more or less proves that the anime doesn’t keep the game’s goal of filling out the Pokedex.

– Oak: “Let’s Poke-round in my laboratory!” Never say that again.

– Well, womp womp, let’s talk about Ash’s Tauros…..or not. The dub doesn’t bother explaining how and why Ash caught 30 Tauros at the Safari Zone so………*shrug* I guess I already said my piece about it in the episode analysis for the Legend of Miniryu/Dratini, so no point going over it again here. Would’ve been nice if 4Kids even made the effort to cover up the big gaping hole here, though.

– I find it weird that they make off like Gary doesn’t make friends with his Pokemon. He loves his Pokemon and is obviously friends with them. We’ll see in a second that he’s very affectionate towards his Doduo.

– While Oak’s views on Pokemon and how much he cares for them has always been really heartwarming and sweet…..I don’t really buy that he cares for all of those Pokemon by himself. As they said, he seems to have thousands of Pokemon in his care, even if Ash and Gary combined have about 232-ish. I assume some of these Pokemon belong to the other two Pallet Trainers and any other Trainers Pallet has had in the recent past. Still, I really think he has to have employees helping him. I know them staying in Pokeballs a good chunk of the time helps, but he lets them out every day.

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– I think it’s insanely interesting that Oak was talking about variations among Pokemon of the same species. This was quite a ways off from any variant, even shinies, but it’s cool to think he may have been foreshadowing that.

– Ash, for god’s sake. Put the Pokedex away. You’ve seen a Dodu–…..Wait, has Ash seen a Doduo? He’s seen Dodrio like three times, and it’s been in the background a lot. *Googles* Wow, he actually hasn’t! This is the debut of Doduo in the anime……Huh…….My apologies. Carry on.

– That Geodude blushing when Jessie grabbed its hand was adorable.

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– Alright, so, in the end, you kinda can’t ignore the Tauros issue because the one conflict of this episode is resolved by Ash’s Tauros. Having Oak be like “Oh but you did save my research center, Ash. All of those Tauros are yours.” has absolutely no meaning whatsoever if we don’t even know where these things came from or why he has them. To a viewer who has never seen The Legend of Miniryu/Dratini, it’s going to come off like Oak is giving credit for the efforts of some completely random Pokemon to Ash.

Even if we did know…the ending message in that exchange is kinda weird. Ash is trying to give credit to the Pokemon for saving them from Team Rocket, and Oak is trying to give Ash the credit because, if he didn’t catch the Tauros and leave them all there with him, they wouldn’t have been there to save them. But also….they didn’t need the Tauros to save them. Ash beats Team Rocket by himself all the time, and he had Gary about to help him here, so victory was a certainty. The Tauros plowing through and blasting Team Rocket off, seemingly on total accident (they didn’t run to Ash or anything. They ran off immediately afterward.) really only served to beat them a little faster.

Also, it’s pretty sad that Ash didn’t recognize any of his Tauros until Oak pointed it out. And none of the Tauros recognized Ash either. I guess that means he’s never seen them since he caught them. At least Krabby and Muk show up on video calls with Oak sometimes.

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This episode was necessary in regards to being a buffer between all of the Badge episodes and getting ready for the Pokemon League, and it was nice seeing Gary again and getting caught up on their statuses at the end of their Kanto journey, but there’s really not much to talk about in this episode. Most of what I did discuss here was regarding future events in the Indigo League with some parts involving the movie.

As you can tell from my incredibly short synopsis, nothing much actually happened. It wasn’t even really building up to anything in the future with Gary because, as we’ll see later, Gary and Ash never get to have their match in the Pokemon League. They wind up having a battle back in Pallet after the tournament is over.

That’s not to say it’s a bad episode, it’s not, and it’s kinda quaint to have a slow and comfortable episode back home before we get into the nitty gritty of the Pokemon League tournament, but it’s just kinda void of much to actually talk about.

Speaking of the nitty gritty of the Pokemon League tournament, get ready! Because next time we’re going to start……wading through several episodes of filler before we actually get to the tournament.

It’s such a shame that they didn’t bother actually making a cool little mini-training arc for Ash. If you weren’t going to dedicate these next EIGHT EPISODES to actually showing Ash buckling down and training for the Indigo League, why even bother having this gap here? Either skip ahead the two months and use these episodes to make the main tournament longer, which, as we’ll see, was desperately needed, or use the episodes for something worthwhile to his training….Anyway, next time we learn how a Slowpoke evolves into a Slowbro using a Shellder – something that honestly doesn’t make much sense even when explained.


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AniManga Clash! Yu-Gi-Oh! Season Zero Episode 17: Close Match! A Model’s Invitation (Placeholder) Review

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Plot: Kaiba’s third shitennou appears! An idol named Aileen comes to Japan to defeat Yugi on Kaiba’s behalf using Anzu as a hostage. The game? An ancient Indian game called Raijinhai that Yugi has never played before. Can Yugi find some way to win and save Anzu?

Breakdown: The best part about this episode is the absolutely hilarious way Anzu was animated excitedly shaking a box back and forth in the beginning. If you only watch one shot of this episode, please just watch that. You won’t regret it.

As for the rest of this episode……eeeeehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh….First of all, yay, another Anzu-centric episode. Whoo. Hoo. It’s not as bad I feared because she thankfully spends a majority of the episode frozen in total silence, but still. She starts the episode being annoying, and she ends the episode being an absolute bitch. For someone who worships Aileen, a model who looked pretty unique, especially in Japan in the 90s, she’s sure easily fooled by a pair of sunglasses….

Second, the first half of the episode is mostly nothing. It’s entirely setup to the game, which, if you ask me, is too long. Most of the first scenes with Kaiba could have removed, and the scene with her….boyfriend (?) could have been removed too. The scene with her boyfriend, or whoever that was, was meant to show us that she’s really good at games and something awful happens when you lose to her. Somehow, losing to her caused this guy to break his leg. The game she chose was Raijinhai, which, I checked, is not a real game. And, somehow, losing that game resulted in the guy breaking his leg, which was a big deal because he’s a famous soccer player.

While this does inform the viewer that this woman is serious business…..isn’t it a bit better to have that be a reveal? Like she can just be a nice celebrity at first and then boom she reveals that she’s taken Anzu hostage and is one of Kaiba’s shitennou? What we learn about her through these scenes is that she became one of Kaiba’s shitennou because he promised she’d be able to meet smart and famous men to be game opponents that way, which is not exactly compelling. (Also, are women not good enough opponents for her?)

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Later, we learn that she’s all about strategy, psyching out her opponents and reading people. She loves games that rely on strategy and reading your opponent and dislikes all games based on random chance. Aileen is actually a pretty okay character. She might be the only half-Canadian half-Indian anime character in existence, which is cool. She doesn’t come off as nearly intimidating enough, though.

I pretty much just like her attitude. She’s not over-the-top evil or a massive jerk. She’s just someone who loves games and outwitting her opponents…..even if that’s not what she ends up doing. She even lost gracefully, and she left Yugi on good terms. I would say that’s a bit weird considering she held Anzu hostage, but who cares? She made Anzu shut up and not move for about ten minutes. It’s all good.

Third, the game of the episode is very poorly explained. Apparently, the people who wrote the Wiki somehow had access to more rules than they presented in this episode because, as far as I saw, it was very random and luck-based. Which is weird because she specifically said she didn’t like luck-based games.

There are a set of figurines kinda akin to a chess set. You have a king, queen, Raijin Indra, Shogun, two Elephants, two Cavalry and two Soldiers. The Raijin Indra is the strongest, it beats everything but can only be used once per game. The king beats everything and is only beaten by the queen. The queen can’t beat anything besides the king. For the rest, I’m assuming the Wiki writers were using what happened in the game to figure out what beats what and pretty much guess because she doesn’t explain what any other piece does.

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The game works like this – you have a game board with a screen in the middle. You put the screen up and choose a piece. Then you lower the screen and compare the pieces. If the piece beats your opponent’s, the losing piece is removed from the game. You win by either taking all of your opponent’s pieces, all of their stronger pieces or their king.

It’s very much just a guessing game until you have eliminated some pieces. Aileen goes on about how this is a game of psychology to the point where it honestly seems like she can read Yami’s mind. Part of this mind game is to take Anzu hostage because she knows Yugi/Yami cares about her, referring to her as his girlfriend.

The way she reads Yami is weird and never adequately explained. She invites Yugi and Anzu over after asking Yugi to bring her a really rare and interesting game from his grandpa’s game shop. She has a dance studio in her apartment, somehow, and invites Anzu to come dance. As she gets into a dance pose, Aileen tells her to hold the pose….and she does. She’s in some kind of trance. She’s not conscious, though her eyes are wide open and not focused. She can’t move a thing, and she’s totally silent.

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Yami later asks if this ability is hypnosis, and the Wiki says it is, but she doesn’t seem to agree. When she tries to explain this power later, she says “All I do is use words to get into the crevices of people’s hearts.” How did saying “Hold that pose, okay?” get into a crevice in Anzu’s heart?

During the game, it seems as if she’s cheating because she predicts every single piece that Yami uses, but this also makes no sense. It’s explained that she can do this because she rattled Yugi by taking Anzu hostage. Then she used probabilities combined with his disrupted thinking to predict what he’d play.

Here’s the thing, though…..That makes no sense. There are seven pieces. Yugi has no experience with this game. He can’t really make much of a strategy either since it’s largely random. There’s no way she’s accurately predicting every single move based purely on probabilities and the fact that Yugi’s a bit distracted by Anzu being in danger.

What’s even funnier is that Yugi turns around and does the same thing to her. Once he realizes what she’s doing, he rattles her by predicting one of her pieces accurately. Once she’s rattled, he’s able to predict all of her moves. But here’s the thing….again…..this doesn’t make sense either. Not only should he not be able to do this because of the reasons I just explained, but him doing this trick wins him the game. Why? Wouldn’t they just be stalemated because they can both read each other? Or would they stop letting the other read them and still end in a stalemate?

Oh and the funniest part of this whole game was when Aileen randomly upped the stakes. Apparently, the threat of Anzu forever being a ballerina statue wasn’t enough. She reveals that there’s a door slowly opening in the dance studio. With each piece Yami loses, the door raises slightly.

What’s behind this door?

……Aileen’s pet tiger!

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Because she’s Indian and thus has a pet tiger, I guess.

I laughed out loud when this was revealed. How completely random both with the unnecessary stakes increase and the sudden tiger.

Yami kinda uses his powers a little…..I think….or maybe not. His Puzzle glows as he boasts that she has 2000 years of Indian experience with this game behind her, but games were invented in ancient Egypt – so he has 5000 years of experience behind him…..I don’t get it. But whatever.

Yami wins, and Anzu’s safe, Yippee frickin’ skippy……

Oh, sorry. Does it seem like I’m being overly mean to Anzu today? You know, you’re right. I give Anzu too much crap. She hasn’t done anything awful today….Okay, she was kinda rude to Yugi earlier because he didn’t know who Aileen was, but she was okay besides that. Yeah, I’m sure once Anzu wakes up, she’ll perfectly delightful…….*cough*

I was so caught off-guard by what Anzu did when she was released from the trance. It was one of those moments where I had to pause because I was just flabbergasted.

……She slapped the unholy fuck out of Yugi.

For no reason.

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He ran into the room, concerned for her, and the instant she snapped out of her trance she slapped him so hard he fell down. She says that he got in the way, but 1) No, he didn’t. He was in front of her when she woke up. 2) Even if he did interrupt her, she was POSING before she was frozen. How do you get in the way of a pose? And 3) He didn’t touch her or do anything. He just ran in yelling her name and she scrambled his face meat with her palm.

Fuck you, Anzu. I can’t believe how much you make me yearn for 2000anime!Anzu. Do you realize how shitty of a character you have to be to make me yearn for Captain Friendship over there?

When all is said and done, Kaiba fires Aileen, and her final words to him are that he’s not as strong as Yugi. Later, Aileen flies back to….wherever she’s from…..wait, did she bring her tiger with her on an international flight…..for a day trip? Or does the tiger stay in Japan? Who takes care of that thing? She said it attacks everyone but her.

As Aileen flies off, she thinks to herself that she wants to play another game with Yugi in the future – a game of love. She’s 19 and Yugi’s like 17, so this isn’t squicky. I just always get distracted when people are romantically interested in Yugi because he looks so much like he’s ten….

This isn’t the last we see of Aileen, however. Apparently, she returns later in the show again under Kaiba’s employ for some reason.

All in all, this episode was fine, just kinda boring, which is a shame for the third shitennou episode.

Just so we’re clear – Kaiba’s shitennou so far have been a guy obsessed with dolls, a guy who was really lucky and a model who could kinda-ish use hypnosis and whose specialty game was one that relied extremely heavily on chance while saying she dislikes games relying on chance and acting as if the game doesn’t rely heavily on chance……….Cool.

Also, I should note that Jonouchi, Honda and Miho don’t appear for a single second in this episode, which is very, very odd. They constantly get shoehorned into episodes that have little to nothing to do with them, but here we have plenty of time to throw them in and they chose not to. Weird.

Next time, we’re finally getting back into comparison territory as we cover chapters 46-47 and an ancient Chinese game where your soul is on the line.


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Yu-Gi-Oh! Capsule Monsters | Episode 1: Getting Played Review

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Plot: Yugi and Téa are getting into a new game called Capsule Monsters – a spin-off (?) board game of Duel Monsters. Joey wins an all-expense paid trip to India and invites all of his friends to come along, but their plane suddenly crashes on a remote island. While everyone is okay, they’re stuck until help arrives. The group decides to explore the island while they wait, and they quickly stumble upon an unconscious man named Alex Brisbane. According to him, he was exploring a strange Egyptian-esque pyramid on the island with Yugi’s grandpa when he suddenly went missing.

Yugi and the others follow Alex into the pyramid to Solomon’s last location only to see a massive empty room with a strange map covering the floor. As he walks onto it, Joey vanishes in a flash of light. Realizing Yugi’s grandpa likely vanished the same way, Yugi, Téa and Tristan step on the map as well, following Joey and Solomon to find them and bring them home. Little do they realize that they’ve actually become trapped in the world of Capsule Monsters, and they’ll need to play the game in order to leave.

Breakdown: Ever since I did my 4Kids retrospective, I’ve wanted to completely review Capsule Monsters. I won’t be able to do an SDC on it since a Japanese version either doesn’t exist or simply isn’t available, so I thought I’d just do a simple episode-by-episode review on this…spin-off?….Season? Arc? I dunno. Whatever 4Kids intended for this to be.

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The first episode starts with Yugi having a nightmare about Yami, who is clad in gold armor for some reason, fighting a giant shadow creature, who winds up consuming him. Yugi jolts out of bed and reveals that this is a recurring nightmare. He then notices the Puzzle glowing and acting strangely.

Yugi heads out, but then remembers that his grandpa is still gone after suddenly leaving for a ‘secret’ week-long trip. He should have been home that morning, but there’s been no sign of him. Does he not have a phone or anything?

After the theme song, we get such a dramatic reveal of Joey that I really thought this was indeed meant to be a spin-off moment. There’s no reason whatsoever to reveal him so dramatically when nothing is going on. However, no one else gets such a dramatic reveal so I dunno.

Joey partakes in a street contest for a prize of some sort.

Back at school, Téa and Yugi are playing Capsule Monsters, and Téa, being the mostly stereotypical girl character she is, doesn’t bother learning how to play and only wants to play cute monsters like Happy Lover. She duels the same way, basically, but at least she roughly knows how Duel Monsters works and gives a crap about it.

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Téa: “I suppose that means your soldier guy is going to fight my flying guy?” Soldier gu—That’s Celtic Guardian. You know Celtic Guardian. You’ve seen that monster tons of times.

Tristan shows up followed soon after by a super excited Joey who explains that he won three tickets for a special trip for all of them…..All four of them. I guess it’s possible that he was showing off the tickets he was offering to the others and withholding his, but why would he do that?

As they walk along, Téa thinks to herself that she has a bad feeling about their trip because whenever they go places terrible and usually supernatural things tend to happen. Well, I mean….yeah, she has a point.

She’s snapped out of her concerns by the voice of Yami, and they oddly note his sudden appearance with a chime like “Oh who cares about all those supernatural threats that tend to follow us? I have my hunky pharaoh now!”

It’s only here, right before they’re about to get on the plane, that we learn this is a six-day trip to India. Before, all he said was they were “tickets to paradise” and literally all the tickets showed were vague images of fields with stone walls with a statue in the foreground.

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As they’re flying, the plane starts shaking violently and the first thing Tristan says in response to this is;

“Hey! You messed up my photo, man!”

Either he has nerves of steel, or he’s an idiot.

Their engines fail, and the plane crashes into the water below. We cut to the group, sans the pilots, on shore. Joey complains he lost all of his stuff, but uh…..how? He has a backpack, and it looks like you can still access the plane no problem. Go back and get it? I guess it’s possible that it’s all waterlogged, but if that’s the case then how were all of their backpacks left dry? Why do they even have backpacks? It sounded they were planning on a vacation not a backpacking trip.

Téa says that the pilot, who is never shown again, sent out a distress signal, but it could be hours before they’re rescued. Joey and Tristan immediately decide to leave and wander in the unknown wilderness so their trip won’t be wasted. You guys are going on a six day trip. They said it would take a few hours to get rescued. I’m sure they’d still take you to your destination. Just stay still. But of course they don’t, and I guess it’s made okay because they point out how stupid they’re being.

They stumble upon a man in black robes passed out on the ground. They give him some water and help him out when Yugi notices a black bandanna fall out of his pocket that looks identical to his grandpa’s.

Shocked, the man, Dr. Alex Brisbane, reveals that he was on an expedition with Yugi’s grandpa in the area, but he went missing….I just realized Yugi flippantly went on a six-day trip to India right after he became suspicious because his grandpa hadn’t returned home yet. He DOES have an off-screen mom, and he had to have gone home and packed. Didn’t he learn any more about grandpa’s trip or anything during that time? Was the trip literally immediately after Joey won the tickets?

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As they travel with Alex to help find Solomon, Yami tells Yugi that this all seems way too suspicious. They randomly win a trip, they randomly crash, they just so happen to stumble upon the last person to see Solomon before he went missing right in the area they ‘randomly’ crashed in – it’s all too weird. Very good point, Yami. Although it’s so obvious that you really wonder why no one else has gotten suspicious before now. I mean, yeah, weird things do tend to happen to them……I was going to continue, but then I started listing all of the weird things that happen to them in my head, and realized this is probably one of the easier things to accept.

They reach a pyramid, and Alex explains that they were exploring and analyzing this weird Egyptian pyramid that somehow is in India (I assume they’re in India) when Solomon went missing. According to him, this pyramid is the tomb of Alexander the Great who was briefly crowned a pharaoh in Egypt, which is why he supposedly has a pyramid, but the mystery is why the pyramid is in the middle of the jungle instead of in Egypt.

Alexander the Great was indeed a pharaoh, and the Egyptians even named Alexandria after him and hailed him as a god after he died. However, he was mummified and buried in a tomb in Alexandria. No one knows where exactly in Alexandria the tomb is as of now, but they’re fairly certain it’s in Alexandria because several people who claimed to have visited the pyramid in the past stated it was in Alexandria.

There was a recent report in 2021 claiming the tomb had been found in Siwa, Egypt, but it hasn’t been verified, and there hasn’t been any updates on that report as of this writing.

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Anyway, is anyone going to ask why two professional archaeologists went in the middle of nowhere to investigate an incredibly fascinating out-of-place pyramid that they’re theorizing is the resting place of one of the most famous historical figures ever whose tomb is so mysterious that people have referred to it as the ‘Holy grail’ of archaeological discoveries, should it be found, and went to this place entirely alone and without proper emergency equipment or communication with emergency services?

No? Okay. Moving on.

Actually, while I’m at it, why did none of them go back to the plane and notify the pilots who have radios and stuff? Yugi’s grandpa is missing and possibly hurt or worse. Can someone please make an intelligent decision?

As they wander the halls of the pyramid, Joey accidentally sets off a spike trap that nearly kills him, and Alex, whose name totally isn’t suspicious, by the way, just ignore that, remembers to mention that there are deadly traps around every corner in this place. To avoid them, they have to hang from ledges 50 feet above more spikes and scoot across the chasm as well as crawl in tunnels.

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Téa is only now getting suspicious, but not of anything I’ve mentioned. She gets suspicious because Alex seems to know an awful lot about a pyramid he’s only been in once before. Yes, the one thing that’s not all that suspicious is the thing she gets suspicious about.

They reach a fork in the path – one leading up and one leading down. Alex explains that he and Solomon, being the incredibly dumb people we’ve already established them as being, decided to split up at this point. Alex would explore upstairs while Solomon explored downstairs. It’s stupid enough to split up in an unexplored tomb in the middle of the jungle, but they already knew at this point that the place was covered in lethal traps. Why the hell did they split up?

Alex eventually reached a sealed door, so he went back, but Solomon wasn’t there. He took the path down and reached a dead end where only Solomon’s bandanna lay on the floor.

They’re all adamant that Solomon has to be there somewhere, so they all head downstairs. They reach a massive room with a giant map on the floor – a detail Alex omitted from his story. They all believe, for some reason, that the room is so big that Solomon probably got lost in it, so they head off to find him……*lip smack*….The room isn’t THAT big, guys. Is it big? Yes? Is it so big someone would get lost in it? No. There are no walls, and you can clearly see the other side of the room. It’s about as big as a hockey rink. Even if, for some reason and somehow, Solomon did get lost in this room, you’d be able to see him and vice versa.

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Joey rushes off to find him, but the instant his feet hit the map on the floor, it glows and Joey is sucked into it. Yugi, Téa and Tristan run off to investigate what happened, only slightly weirded out by the fact that their friend just vanished in a magical floor. Again, though, given their lives at the moment, it’s understandable that this doesn’t surprise them much. They realize that there’s an odd pattern to the map. It’s a mixture of multiple environments such as mountains, jungles and deserts. Yugi thinks that it looks familiar somehow. Alex mentions that this tomb is also said to house some sort of game. Yugi believes that it now makes perfect sense why his grandpa would come on this trip – he loves games. I think him just being an archaeologist would justify him being here, but okay.

Yugi proclaims that he’s going to enter the floor map and find his grandpa and Joey. Téa and Tristan offer to go as well, but Yugi tries to convince them not to go.

Yugi: “Thanks a lot. But I’ve been leading you guys into danger week after week for way too long.” Haha, it’s funny because Yu-Gi-Oh! used to air weekly.

Also, it’s not really your place to act like this is purely your responsibility anymore, Yugi. Joey’s lost too. Besides, if anything, it’s your grandpa’s fault. He’s a very bad archaeologist.

When they jump into the map, they wind up back in the forest, but now they have weird contraptions on their arms and belts that look like they’re meant to hold things.

They also notice strange stone pods around them, and Yugi tells Yami that he thinks something might be inside.

Before Yugi can investigate further, they’re suddenly attacked by three monsters.

Yugi: “I recognize those things!” Yeah, you should. They’re Gokibore, some of the most common monsters in Duel Mons– “They’re from the Capsule Monsters board game!”

Uh, well…yes, that is accurate, I guess. They are in that game too.

*Kamakiriman appears* “That looks familiar too!”

Yeah, it’s a very basic insect card from Duel Monsters. You know, that game you incessantly play every single day of your life?

….Uhm…anyway, Téa and Tristan wind up getting separated from Yugi. They’re being chased by the Gokibore while Yugi gets chased by Kamakiriman. Téa and Tristan manage to escape the Gokibore by sliding into a very small cave that leads down a deep hole and lands them onto a beach. Behind them, they see that a Happy Lover and Thunder Kid have followed them, but they’re posing no threat. If anything, they seem very friendly to them. Téa recognizes Happy Lover from the Capsule Monsters game. I’ll accept this because, as far as I remember, despite Tea having a fairy themed deck, I’ve never seen her use or witness the use of a Happy Lover card.

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Briefly back with Joey, who somehow got to the top of a cliff, he’s suddenly taken away by a giant crow-like monster I can’t really identify because I can’t see it very well.

Back with Yugi, he escapes the Kamakiriman by diving into the water, but it follows him when he reaches shore. Just as he’s about to be attacked, Yami shifts into action and jumps away, accidentally touching one of the weird pods. In response, it glows and reveals Celtic Guardian, who leaps into action against Kamakiriman.

Yami: “Why does this all seem so familiar?” Because it’s Celtic Guardian. He’s been in your Duel Monsters deck for age–

*flashback to Yugi and Téa playing Capsule Monsters*

Uh…..are you guys okay? You all collectively seem to have Duel Monsters amnesia. I mean, I get that he touched the capsule which summoned Celtic Guardian, but that is the only factor that would lead back to the board game. You can’t even argue for the map being strictly Capsule Monsters related because that’s just bumming off of Field Spells from Duel Monsters, particular in season one where Duelist Kingdom pre-made their field spells based off of the environment.

Also, I’d like to point out that this is the exact same shot they used earlier (the one I used as the header image), but the one they used in the flashback has an animation error where the capsule to the far right is on the wrong layer, so it looks like it’s floating beside the desk.

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Once Celtic Guardian defeats Kamakiriman, he speaks to Yami, which is trippy as hell, and tells him that, for the duration of the game, he shall protect his new master, Yami/Yugi. In a glow of light, he’s sucked into the device on Yami’s arm, which then ejects a capsule just like the ones from the Capsule Monsters board game. This would have been a much more appropriate time to make that connection. Like, have them think this is all Duel Monsters related like normal but then when they see the capsule that’s when they say “No….this is….Capsule Monsters!” But, hey, I’m not the director.

With his new Capsule in hand, Yami proclaims that they’ve found themselves in the world of Capsule Monsters. Just to really drive it home that it’s Capsule Monsters, when they do a big zoom out, they overlay grid lines and Celtic Guard to make the area look like a game board.

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———————————————

And that was the first episode of Capsule Monsters…….it was bad.

The animation and art are noticeably jankier than the regular series is, and that’s already not that good. I kept getting distracted by how cheap it all looks. The story, which, again, is something you’d typically give leeway to anyway because it’s Yu-Gi-Oh!, is somehow even sloppier than the writing tends to be. No one is acting or thinking the way I’d think they would be or should be.

Téa is nervous about the trip before they even go, and for no other reason besides terrible shit just seems to follow them, but then she sees absolutely none of the major red flags raised by Alex. The one she does see is barely a red flag. Like “Hm, this archaeologist certainly does know a lot about this place he was researching and has explored before.”

Everyone has Duel Monsters amnesia, which, given how much of their lives revolve around that game, even if half of them don’t really play it, is really, really weird to the point where it’s kinda unsettling. It would be one thing if this was an entirely different game from the ground up. I wouldn’t be as preoccupied wondering why they’re not thinking of Duel Monsters. However, as far as I’ve seen, it’s just Duel Monsters in pods with a weird crystal involved.

In the manga, they had entirely different monsters than the Duel Monsters game so it felt more unique. This just feels like it’s piggy backing off of Duel Monsters.

What’s even worse is that they explain almost nothing about this new game besides you have to play strong monsters and you need to capture your opponent’s symbol thingy, if that ever comes into play. That is a pretty big sin for a gaming anime to commit. You can’t just throw your audience into this completely blind. They don’t even show them playing a full game. They just show Téa gushing about her cute monster while Yugi passively explains two facts about the game.

The only real hook I see from this series is that they have ‘real’ monsters in a ‘real’ environment, but that’s something they’ve already done before several times. Specifically, this feels awfully reminiscent of the Legendary Heroes and the Virtual World (Noah’s) arc. Hell, anytime they have a Shadow Game the monsters are technically real.

But let’s see how the story unfolds further next time.


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My Poke-Pinions #58 and 59 – The Guard Dog Line

Growlithe

Name: Growlithe and Arcanine are two of my absolute favorite Pokemon ever. I love dogs, Fire Pokemon are my favorite Type – they’re the perfect combination.

Growlithe’s name is a combination of “growl” and…..”lithe” Wow, thanks a bunch, Bulbapedia. That was really helpful. I didn’t know what “lithe” meant, so I googled it, and it means “thin, supple and graceful.” Uhm….I mean….I….guess? Those aren’t really traits that immediately jump out at me when I think of Growlithe, but okay? The “growl” part of the name obviously works very well, but I have no idea what the thought process was with the “lithe” part. It’s still a good name in regards to being memorable and snappy, but I just don’t quite get it.

In Japan, it’s originally known as Gardie, which seems to be indicative of “guard” or “guardian” I think like guard dogs. I prefer Growlithe, but Gardie is a bit more of a fitting name. It kinda just sounds like a name someone would give a Growlithe, if that makes any sense.

Fun Fact: In the beta version of RB, it was going to be named Flamie, which is……very not creative, but cute.

Design: Growlithe is one of the most perfect Pokemon designs. Fight me. It does indeed just look like a dog, but the absolute perfect shade of orange for the short fur with stark black stripes all over the body really help it stand out, and it definitely portrays the Fire Type quite well.

On its longer fur, it has shaping and spiky features that resemble flames, making the fire connection even stronger. I think Growlithe is absolutely adorable. I love its face, it ears, the little hair tuft on top of its head, its paws, its tail – just everything about Growlithe. I especially think the eyes are the perfect shape. They’re adorable and friendly while still having enough angle to them to convey a truly threatening expression if need be.

Sprite-wise, Gen I…pbbbtthhhahahaha…Sorry. R/B is really cute, but it comes off a bit too much like a real puppy/animal than it should. Also, I don’t much care for the tail being so tiny.

Yellow looks pretty normal, and R/G looks—PBBBTTAHAHAHAHAHA! It’s looks so doofy. It’s cute, don’t get me wrong, but it’s so doofy. It almost doesn’t even look like a real Pokemon. It’s kinda more like a plushie.

Gen II is quite the tonal shift, making all of the sprites for the Gen look really friggin’ angry.

Gen III is a bit better, but I have no clue what the animation for Emerald is doing.

Gen IV is pretty cute, but the animations for DPP are a bit too hyper for my tastes.

HG/SS is very adorable, though.

Absolutely adore the animations for Gen V. It’s such a playful pup in those sprites.

Everything else looks pretty good.

Shiny:

I hate you, Pokemon. First you spit in my face with Vulpix’s shiny, and now poor Growlithe? How dare you?

Granted, Growlithe’s situation isn’t quite as bad as Vulpix’s. Growlithe’s shiny is more stark yellow than anything, but still this is just insulting. It looks like it did a fusion dance with a mustard bottle.

In Gen II, its shiny looks…lame, but better. The orange parts were simply turned to a brown color, which kinda just makes it look like a regular dog.

Hisuian Growlithe

Oooooohhhhhhhhhhwwoooooooooooooooowwwwwwwww……Okay, uhm…I’ve never seen this version of Growlithe until this very moment, and it’s…..a lot to take in.

First of all, I’m not against the idea of having like a half-shaggy dog and half-short haired dog – I actually find that very cute – my issue is with the way they styled the hair. The fur on its head looks ridiculous. It looks kinda like a helmet, which is a neat idea, but it’s giving off seriously strong “I was desperately trying to look cool in 1967” vibes.

The fur on its chest is just confusing. Are those balls? Why are they balls? I don’t understand. The tail is fine. It kinda reminds me too much of Wartortle’s tail, though.

The other noticeable detail is that they changed the orange color to being a much deeper orange-red, heavy on the red. I don’t think it looks that bad, but it kinda looks unnatural.

The shiny version is shit, because they just did the exact same color scheme as shiny normal Growlithe.

Dex Entries and Backstory: Growlithe is noted as being extremely loyal, brave, friendly and territorial. It will bite enemies, and it will remain motionless unless commanded by its owner/Trainer. BW also mentions that it’s so protective of its Trainer that it will bark at enemies and run them out of town. It has such a good sense of smell that it never forgets the scents of those it smells, and it can use scents to determine the emotions of others.

Gen VII explains that Growlithe’s natural enemy is Rockruff, and Growlithe are said to have been living and working alongside humans since the stone age.

The only Dex entry for Hisuian Growlithe explains that they patrol their territory in pairs, and it’s believed their typing changed to be dual Fire/Rock Type because of nearby volcanic activity, which is kinda cool. This design doesn’t give off Rock Type or volcano vibes, though.

Growlithe’s design is based off of shisa, which are Japanese statues meant to resemble a mix between a dog and a lion. I can definitely see it. Shisa are guardians meant to protect people from evil spirits, which is very much like Growlithe.

It’s theorized that its striped pattern is either based on tigers, which I don’t buy because it doesn’t have anything to do with tigers, a thylacine, otherwise known as a Tasmanian wolf, which I believe a bit more, or a Kai Ken, also known as a Tora Inu/Tiger Dog, which is one of the most adorable things I’ve ever seen.

Hisuian Growlithe’s Rock typing is seemingly based off of komainu statues, which, as far as I’ve researched, are pretty damn similar to shisa legends. The only difference I can see is that shisa are from Okinawan mythology while komainu are more generally used all over Japan and are primarily guardians for Shinto shrines? Correct me if I’m wrong there.

I don’t really understand this Type change if this is accurate. If Growlithe are already based off of statues, then it doesn’t make much sense for Hisuian Growlithe to be part Rock just because it’s based off of a statue and legend that is almost identical to the one its original form was based from. Why didn’t they just say it was because of volcanoes like the Dex entry stated?

Additionally, while the Wiki doesn’t note this, the fact that Hisuian Growlithe work in pairs is also taken from both shisa and komainu legends since they’re always put out in pairs – one with its mouth open and the other with its mouth closed. The shisa legends states that one pair is always male while the other is female. The male will have its mouth closed to keep evil out of the home while the female keeps hers open to share goodness.

In the komainu legend, the one with its mouth open is pronouncing “A” the first letter of the Sanskrit alphabet while the one with the closed mouth is saying “Um,” which is the last letter. This is meant to symbolize the beginning and end of all things. Both combined create “aum” which is a sacred syllable in Sanskrit that has many meanings – far too many for me to go over here – but check out that link. It’s fascinating.

Arcanine

Name: As much love as I have for Growlithe, and it’s an awful lot, I have a tiny bit more for Arcanine. It’s a beautiful, adorable, powerful giant fire dog, and I love it to bits.

Arcanine’s name is a mixture of “Arcane” and “Canine” which kinda surprised me because I always thought the first part was meant to be based off of “Arf” like the dog noise, but “Arcane” is a much better origin for that part. So fitting, and such a cool word. I love Arcanine’s name. It has such a majestic and cool flair to it that it could easily be a Legendary name.

Speaking of legendary, while I usually don’t discuss category names, Arcanine is called the Legendary Pokemon, and this has lead to a lot of confusion. Arcanine is obviously not a Legendary Pokemon, but it is classified as THE Legendary Pokemon because it is a Pokemon of many legends and tales….Do you get it? Yeah, I don’t either. Maybe because it’s so relatively common given that Growlithe is so common it can be called a Pokemon of legend, but it’s not rare enough to be considered a Pokemon so few people have seen it’s considered simply a legend, making it Legendary?

Also doesn’t help that in episode two of the anime, Arcanine was included on a depiction of an ancient tablet with Legendary Pokemon including the Legendary Birds.

Back on topic, its Japanese name is Windie, which I was never really a fan of. It sounds overly simple and like something you’d expect them to use as a name for a Flying Type. It’s meant to be in reference to the fact that Arcanine supposedly runs faster than the wind, which I also think is flimsy. You have this awesome majestic Pokemon and your only thought is it runs faster than the wind?

Fun Fact: In the beta version of RB, it was called Blaze, which is cool, but also a bit too overly simplistic. I much prefer Arcanine.

Design: Arcanine’s design is amazing. It still has the cute characteristics of a dog, but it’s big and intimidating without looking scary. The lion attributes, though still subtle, come through much more with Arcanine than Growlithe, and it’s just the right balance here. I love that it’s big enough to ride on. When I was a kid, I always wanted to ride on an Arcanine, and I still do, to be honest. I want to give one a hug too. It’s such a cuddly-looking Pokemon.

Sprite-wise, RB looks pretty cool, actually. They made the longer parts of the fur more flowy instead of spiky and I actually think it looks awesome.

Yellow also has this really cool attitude to it. I love it.

RG looks doofy, though.

Gen II looks really cool except for Crystal where he looks like he’s about to sneeze and stops himself by gently putting his paw down.

Gen III looks really good. The animation for Emerald makes it look like it’s barking before growling really intensely, which is cool.

I don’t really have much else to say about the rest of the sprites. They’re all varying amounts of cool and cute.

Shiny:

They committed the same shiny sin to Arcanine as they did to Growlithe. He now comes in lemon flavor. The least I can say is that some versions, specifically Gen IV and V, make him look golden instead of yellow, but it’s not much consolation.

Gen II’s shiny is also brown, but it’s a bad shade of brown. Like Arcanine hasn’t taken a bath in three years and spends his days running in dirt.

Hisuian Arcanine

Aaaaggggggggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…..pbfft.

Where do I start with this thing? I don’t hate it, I just don’t like it that much. I think the tail is the best part. I like how it looks like a smoke plume, especially with the shade of dark gray they chose for the longer fur areas. I don’t dislike how the mane looks.

My opinion on it seems to vary by the minute. I never really like it that much, but I can’t bring myself to really hate it. However, if I do hate one aspect, it’s the way they changed the head design. It looks awful. I also don’t care for the shade of red they chose for the rest of the body. Unlike Hisuian Growlithe, this shade is a bit too red to the point where it’s basically fire truck red. I think having more orange in it is necessary, especially if they’re trying to pull off a lava/magma vibe. Lava/magma is not pure red.

Its shiny is, again, bright yellow. However, it works a tiny bit better with this version, because it comes off more like Arcanine changed to an Electric Type. Then I realized that this shiny looks a bit too much like a Raikou. I was going to make an Entei comparison with the main version, but I didn’t think it looked quite similar enough. But then I saw the shiny and couldn’t get Raikou out of my head.

Why yellow for ALL of the shiny versions of this line? It’s so bad. Please, if another version of this line ever comes out, choose a color besides yellow for their shiny.

Dex Entries and Backstory: Arcanine, like Growlithe, are known for their intense loyalty and bravery. They are incredibly fast and graceful runners. When running, they are considered captivating by many. They can run around 6,200 miles in 24 hours, which is insane. The fire within their bodies is said to help power it to run so far and fast. They are world-renowned for their beauty, and they are said to look like they have wings and are running on air.

In a bit of surprise, the early Dexes note that it is a legendary Pokemon in China specifically (this is later changed to “the east.”) There are legends of Arcanine working alongside military generals and conquering an entire country.

It has a bark so powerful and majestic that people actually grovel when they hear it.

Hisuian Arcanine has a fierce look, especially with fangs that they can cloak in fire, but it mostly feints and avoids fighting fairly often, choosing to playfully chase after and dance around its opponents instead…..Wait, that’s it? That’s all they have to say about Hisuian Arcanine? That’s kinda lame, actually. No notes about volcanoes or lava or rocks or what have you? Why even bother then?

Not many additional design notes for Arcanine except that it might have also been based off of Xiezhi, which…..maybe, but I doubt it? Bulbapedia says it’s a fire-breathing dog with similarities to lions and tigers, but the Wiki page for that legend specifically says it’s an ox, sheep or a goat, and there’s no mention of fire anywhere.

According to legend, the Xiezhi was called upon as a figure of justice. It could accurately detect who was guilty and who was innocent with a glance. They would signify who was guilty and innocent by ramming whomever was guilty and sparing whomever was innocent. That doesn’t sound like anything Arcanine does so….*shrug*

Hisuian Arcanine also doesn’t have any additional notes besides the very obvious fact that the tail and ankle fur look like smoke, which is very disappointing.

And that was the – eh, what should I call this one?….The Guard Dog line. I would’ve said “Legendary Dogs” but then people would probably get confused with the three Legendary cats/dogs/beasts…ya know. I still love Growlithe and Arcanine to bits and pieces, even if their only alternate versions are underwhelming. They’re just such awesome Pokemon, and they’re always high on my favorites list. I wish they existed in real life. Or at least I wish they were a bigger part of the anime. I still have trouble accepting that they wouldn’t let James keep Growly with him. Gary had an Arcanine, but we barely see him.

Next up, the Poli line!


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AVAHS – Bear in the Big Blue House: A Berry Bear Christmas Review

Plot: Bear and the residents of the Big Blue House prepare to celebrate Christmas together when they meet an old dog suffering out in the cold named Jack. They take him in and discover the poor pup is homeless, having been recently kicked out of his old home. Bear and the others try to make an extra special holiday for Jack while trying their best to understand his situation and extend a kind hand.

Breakdown: Ah Bear in the Big Blue House. This special was suggested to me by a commenter named Joseph. Thank you for your suggestion, and have a very happy holiday! 🙂

My background with Bear in the Big Blue House isn’t that vast. I did watch the show a bit when I was younger, but I think I was just starting to grow out of Playhouse Disney, Nick Jr. and the like at that point. I definitely remembering watching it and enjoying it, but I just didn’t watch it all that much. I definitely don’t remember ever watching this special, which is a shame because this is an extremely enjoyable special, even as an adult.

There’s something very heartwarming and special about how some shows aimed at much younger viewers interact with their audiences. Yeah, some of them talk a bit too far down to their viewers and make interactions seem more condescending than anything, but shows like Bear in the Big Blue House make you feel like an old friend they’re always happy to see. I honestly couldn’t stop myself from smiling whenever Bear and the others would talk to ‘me’.

Initially, this special seemed like it was aiming for the typical message of “Don’t be greedy on Christmas (or in general)” which isn’t a bad message at all, and it’s one that a lot of little kids probably need to hear this time of year, but then the special shifted about halfway in when we’re introduced to Jack the dog. He’s howling outside in the cold and snow, about to pass out, and Bear and the others bring him inside to warm him up. When he awakens, he explains that he’s homeless, and most of the members of the Big Blue House don’t understand what that entails.

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Homelessness/poverty really isn’t a foreign subject for holiday specials. In fact, it’s used quite often. It’s just that, when it’s tackled, it’s typically done in a manner that doesn’t really discuss it so much as just have the characters feel bad for poor people and then give to charity or volunteer at a homeless shelter or something for the holiday. That’s not a bad way of approaching it at all, and it’s still a good message, but actually discussing the topic of poverty and homelessness would most certainly drive the point home of why it’s important to give to charities, volunteer at homeless shelters and, most importantly, be kind to homeless people.

Now, I haven’t really reviewed a special that explored homelessness since…since The Proud Family Kwanzaa special……*huff*

To say they didn’t explore the topic in a satisfactory manner is a bit of an understatement. They were pretty much treated like subhumans by nearly everyone for a majority of the runtime, and, to make matters worse, the homeless family themselves weren’t really likable either. They gave major holier-than-thou attitude to the Proud family every five seconds. They rejected very kind gifts because they didn’t want to buy into the consumerism of Christmas. The mother acted as if she was better than Trudy because Trudy cared about her home and cleaned her dishes. The father basically chastised Oscar for working for a living instead of spending all of his time with his family. They didn’t tell the Prouds that they were vegan and proceeded to disgust everyone out of their family dinner of turkey by sharing horror stories at the table of how turkeys are tormented and slaughtered for meat.

Then the message basically seemed backwards in the end because they clearly were, intentionally or otherwise, telling the audience that working, valuing money and buying things, even a home, were not the right path to an enlightened and happy life, but then they direct the Prouds to helping another homeless family by giving the father a job so he can get money to buy his family things, including a home……

If there is one thing I will give The Proud Family Kwanzaa special in regards to their depiction of homelessness is that they definitely shined a light on the stigma of homelessness. Many of the characters, such as Oscar, Penny and Penny’s awful friends judged the family without getting to know them or after learning some aspects of their homeless lives, which is wrong. It’s just that the other half of that equation should be showing the audience that this family is a normal family just like anyone else and they just try to make the best of their situation to be happy. Instead, they’re a literal family of spirits who come off more as cult-y and conceited above all else. And their holier-than-thou attitude is fully justified in the end because they are, seemingly, the legitimate spirits of Kwanzaa and may actually be….I dunno. Angels? Demigods? I have no idea. They’re just depicted as celestial beings up in the clouds looking down on the Proud family.

Bear in the Big Blue House, on the other hand, takes a more meaningful approach. Jack the dog is just an old dog. He doesn’t want to bother anybody, he’s polite, he’s kind, and he’s just tired and cold. He also speaks of his circumstances in a manner that is very realistic. He doesn’t sound bitter about his life, but he also clearly has a bit of embarrassment about it. He mentions that he was abandoned, but decides to phrase his situation initially as being “between homes.”

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Likewise, the residents of the Big Blue House don’t quite understand homelessness, but they’re not rude to Jack. Much of the questions they ask him are asked and phrased in manners many children would ask.

Later, Tutter has a moment where he becomes concerned that one day the Big Blue House will be gone and he’ll be homeless as well, but Bear assuages his concerns by saying the Big Blue House will always be there and his place is in that house with them, which….not sure I’m 100% on board for. I’m not saying you should let kids spiral into anxious thoughts of becoming homeless one day, but the reality is that becoming homeless can happen to anyone for a wide variety of many circumstances, and responding to fears of that happening by saying that it won’t kinda doesn’t really address the concern.

Maybe they’re more saying that, as long as you have people who love you and are willing to help you, like Bear points out, that you can get through those tough circumstances should they arise, which is a better response, but I think they could have been a little clearer with it. This is definitely a conversation that needs follow-up with a parent or guardian.

In the end of that portion, however, Tutter suggests that they offer as much kindness to Jack as they can, which is a great idea and very sweet.

What I find especially great about this storyline is that it actually addresses another serious issue of homeless pets. I think it was an awesome idea to make Jack a dog character. Everyone in Bear in the Big Blue House is some form of animal, but I think that having Jack be a dog was particularly poignant because not only are there tons of dogs on the streets who wind up suffering in the cold winter months, but many dogs (and other pets) are abandoned around the holidays because people buy/adopt them for someone for Christmas but then realize that the recipient either didn’t want the dog or they were too lazy/young/what have you to properly care for them, so they just dump them on the side of the road either expecting someone else will adopt them or not caring what happens to them.

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That’s not what happened to Jack – he explains that his last family abandoned him because he dug up rose bushes – but it happens an awful lot. Having Jack serve the dual purpose of showing children, in an understanding manner, the homeless problems of both people and the abandonment problems of animals will hopefully drive them to make positive strides to help resolve these issues as they get older. Even simply sharing what they learned in the special can have a strong effect and change people’s perceptions.

The fact that Jack is also an older dog adds another layer to the situation. Approximately half of the homeless population in the United States is over the age of 50, and older individuals are the fastest growing age group in America for poverty and homelessness. In addition, continuing on with the abandoned dog parallel, many pets are abandoned because they’re elderly. Their owners don’t want to put up with them as they age, become sick and have difficulty doing everyday activities.

I know I’m putting a lot more thought into this than the target audience for this would, but you have to keep in mind that kids do carry small details with them from the media they consume, whether they know it or not. Even subconsciously recognizing these details and being able to kinda recall them as they get older might help shape their attitudes and behaviors towards issues like homeless, poverty and abandoned animals. That’s one of the reasons why I get so irritated when people brush off kids’ media as being allowed to be stupid, hollow or just flat-out bad. Kids can have silly fun with the shows and movies they watch, and I’m not saying everything needs to inject a heavy topic or message, but give them more credit and expect more from your children’s sources of entertainment at least.

Of course there’s a happy ending for Jack (or maybe I shouldn’t say it’s an ending, per se) when he finds a home with Doc Hogg. After Doc Hogg randomly finds a dog house buried in the snow of his yard (….??? Just go with it.) he invites Jack to come live with him, and Jack accepts.

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They don’t even brush off Jack like a one-off ‘very special episode’-ish character. He reappears in the show a few times and even becomes the fire chief. Good for ol’ Jack!

The special also briefly explores other holidays such as Kwanzaa and Hanukkah. It doesn’t spend more than a minute or two on either, but I appreciate that they do include them and even give each holiday their own songs.

Something I’ve failed to mention in the other muppet features I’ve covered is how great the puppetry is. Bear in the Big Blue House is a Jim Henson production, and they do such a wonderful job both crafting puppets/muppets and bringing them to life with skilled puppetry. The facial expressions, their gestures, the way they move, they way they interact with their environments – it’s all very natural and impressive.

Over the two parts, there were a lot of songs, and many of them were very well-composed and enjoyable. Not sure I’ll remember all of them after a while, but I’d certainly like to hear them again.

Overall, this was a fantastic Christmas special. It wasn’t too heavy for its younger audience despite the themes that it tackled, it was heartwarming, and it had a lot of holiday fun. I’d gladly watch it again, and if you have never seen it, I recommend giving it a watch this holiday season. Only part one is available on Disney+, for whatever reason, but the second half is readily available online. I watched it on Archive.org.

I hope all you amazing visitors of my blog have a very merry Christmas, a wonderful holiday season and a fantastic new year! 🙂


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AVAHS – A Pinky and the Brain Christmas Review

Plot: Brain has a plan to take over the minds of people across the globe by planting his mind-controlling Noodle Noggin dolls in Santa’s sleigh.

Breakdown: I watched a lot of Pinky and the Brain when I was a kid. I wasn’t as big of a fan of the series as Animaniacs, the series on which Pinky and the Brain spun off, or even Tiny Toon Adventures, but I did like it quite a lot.

I only vaguely remember this special, but I’m very glad I rediscovered it because this is a really great Christmas special. Not only does Brain have a pretty good plan that very nearly works, not only do they get into some pretty funny shenanigans in the meantime, but they also manage to end on a legitimately heartwarming moment. It was kinda predictable, admittedly, but it was also super sweet. I audibly said “Aww!” at least four times when watching the final five minutes. Pinky is just the sweetest sweetheart in the world.

What’s weird is that the quality of the footage is quite bad on Hulu. It’s available on DVD, but the quality of the episode on Hulu is kinda bad for some reason.

Anyhoo, this is a very sweet and funny Christmas special that I recommend to anyone.


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AVAHS – Prep and Landing Review

Plot: Prep and Landing is a special covert team of elves who go out every Christmas Eve night to prepare the homes of children all across the globe for Santa’s arrival. Their services are vital to ensuring that Santa can land, deliver gifts without being seen and leave without being caught. Wayne is a legendary member of Prep and Landing, but he’s burned out and ready to leave those days behind him for a cushy life in a higher position. When that doesn’t work out, he becomes lackadaisical and uncaring about his job, which leads to a major catastrophe that puts the Christmas spirit of an innocent child on the line.

Breakdown: This is an interesting one for me, because I know for a fact that I heard of this special when it first came out, and it seems kinda familiar, but for the life of me I don’t remember sitting down and watching it. Shame if I didn’t, because this is an excellent Christmas special.

Someone said this seemed very reminiscent of Arthur Christmas, and I agree, to an extent. While it doesn’t have the Aardman style to the artwork, the way Santa and the elves are portrayed comes off a lot like the way they were portrayed in Arthur Christmas, only not in a negative slant. In Arthur Christmas, they were getting so reliant on technology that it really seemed like Santa didn’t need to go out to visit houses every year, the elves were being phased out or just made to be tech specialists, and the spirit of Christmas was dying as the use of technology was increasing.

However, this special portrays the integration of technology in a much more positive light. Santa’s still Santa, and the elves are still the elves, but they have new jobs to ensure that Christmas magic stays alive and well. For example, while they treat the launching of Santa’s sleigh almost as if it’s a rocket launch, they toy with the process to not diminish the original roles of Santa’s reindeer and sleigh. When they say to “Rev up the engines” they send down an elf who basically acts as the hype man for the reindeer who gets them super excited before they head out.

It’s a much more natural and fun integration than they had in Arthur Christmas, but, then again, that was the point in that movie. The technology here is more of a fun backdrop for the antics of the story, not a focal part of the story.

I really like how Prep and Landing is made out to be such an integral part of the process. It’s a pretty unique idea to have elves who prepare the house before Santa visits to help ensure everything goes smoothly. It’s pretty realistic, too – at least in regards to the Santa mythos. An operation like Santa’s would want to make their activities as efficient and covert as humanly possible, and having a special team of elves preparing the house beforehand while also doing everything in their power to streamline everything back at the North Pole makes it much easier to pull off this job every year.

In regards to the story, I feel like this plot lends itself more to adults than children, and not because it’s mature or anything, but the themes surrounding it give me a feeling like if I watched it and enjoyed it as a child I’d have more of an appreciation for it as an adult.

Wayne starts out the special being arrogant and uncaring. We don’t really spend a lot of time with him as a young and enthusiastic Prep and Landing agent. Once we learn of his backstory, we see him as a cocky guy who thinks he’s about to land (hehe) a fancy promotion to being head of the naughty list. While he is being arrogant and kinda rude, he’s not being so bad that he’s obnoxious or your don’t sympathize with him.

As we learn later, he’s just a very, very burned out elf who, despite being top of his game in Prep and Landing, wants to go higher and get more respect. That position is ripped from him for no given reason, and the promotion is handed to his partner – an elf he trained. We never learn much about his partner nor do we ever see him after the backstory portion. Him getting the job doesn’t matter as much as Wayne not getting it.

Being burned out, wanting more out of your job and losing promotions to younger people who may or may not have snaked them from you are all very real situations adults find themselves in more and more. Not to mention that the office-esque vibe the entire factory gives off (while still being loaded with Christmas stuff, of course) makes it feel, almost sadly, very familiar to adults. They’re not really aspects of the story that kids get – and they don’t really have to connect with that aspect of the story. They really just need to know that Wayne is a grump who is fed up with doing the same stuff over and over, and he needs to rediscover his Christmas spirit to get back in the swing of things.

Wayne does get dangerously close to being obnoxious when they enter their first house. Wayne is so done with his job after losing his promotion that he leaves every task in the home up to the brand-new rookie, Lanny, who, despite being enthusiastic and skilled, is still extremely inexperienced and self-conscious. He idolizes Wayne since he’s such a legend in Prep and Landing, but Wayne just dumps all of the work on him while he goes to laze around and take advantage of the comforts of the home.

Lanny does his best, but he still screws up some stuff because he’s never done this before. Wayne won’t help him because he doesn’t take his job seriously anymore.

This, of course, leads to them getting caught by the kid in the house. He’s a nice young lad who immediately starts taking pictures of them, because, well duh. Most kids, especially after the advent of digital cameras and smartphones, would immediately jump on taking pictures of elves in the house. Though Lanny was smart enough to delete the pictures when they managed to knock the kid out.

Wayne still doesn’t care all that much about causing this mess until he realizes that they still haven’t prepared the landing strip on the roof, and there’s a big snowstorm coming through. Santa is unable to land safely, so they’re forced to do something they almost never do – call off a visit to a house.

Only then, when he completely screws up Christmas for an innocent boy, does he both see how badly he’s messed up and how important their job truly is. They save Christmas for the boy together, and Wayne isn’t hailed as a hero or anything (which he shouldn’t) but he’s offered a promotion to director of the nice list, and he turns it down because his true place is with Prep and Landing.

All the way through, this special was very entertaining. It wasn’t the most emotional thing it the world, but it’s not trying to be, and I think it could have stood being a little longer, but it was funny, well-animated, a little heartwarming and managed to create fairly memorable, likable and relatable characters in a short 22 minute time frame. It’s a special I really feel would instantly become a classic for families. I’m certainly thinking about putting it on my annual watch list for the holiday season.

It received an Emmy for Outstanding Animated Program (for Programming Less than One Hour), it was nominated for nine Annie awards – winning three – and it was so popular that it actually dethroned the Rankin-Bass Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer special as the number one Christmas special on TV.

Prep and Landing went on to have a sequel called Prep and Landing: Naughty vs. Nice, which I may get around to watching and reviewing this month, several shorter spin-offs and even a comic book crossover where Wayne and Lanny prepare the Avengers mansion for Christmas. However, nowadays, Prep and Landing is all but dead, and it seems the sequel is kinda the reason for that. There was a third Prep and Landing special meant to come out some time after 2011, but the plans were scrapped because reception for the second special was too disappointing.

Still, Prep and Landing and Naughty vs. Nice air every year to this day (although, for some reason, they stopped in 2020, they’re set to return to Freeform, ABC and the Disney Channel this year.) and it seems to be a well-remembered short for many people. I certainly enjoyed myself, and I recommend anyone reading to give it a shot. It’s available on Disney+, but will also be airing on Disney Channel, Freeform and ABC throughout the month.


If my work makes you feel jolly and you’d like to send some Christmas cheer my way, please consider leaving a gift under my Ko-Fi tree. Every donation goes to helping me pay my bills and keeping this blog running like Santa’s Workshop. Thank you! Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and have a Wonderful New Year! 🎄☃️

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