My Poke-Pinions #037-038 Vulpix and Ninetales

Vulpix

Name: I absolutely love Vulpix’s name. It’s adorable, but also striking and somewhat intimidating. It’s meant to be a mixture of the word vulpes, which is Latin for fox, and six, due to its six tails.

Alolan Vulpix is known by the nickname Keokeo, which is based on the Hawaiian word for white, ke’oke’o. I really like this nickname. It’s very fitting, snappy and cute.

Its original Japanese name is Rokon, which is a mixture of roku, the Japanese word for six, and one of several theories for the second syllable – kon for grudge, due to the curse involved in its evolution, kon kon, which is the Japanese onomatopoeia for the sound foxes make, konro, which means gas stove (I think that one’s stretching too far.) and ko, which is a variant reading of the word kitsune, the Japanese word for fox.

Truth be told, I never much cared for the name Rokon. It’s fine. It’s kinda cute and rolls off the tongue, but it just doesn’t fit this Pokemon.

Fun Fact: Vulpix’s French name is Goupix, and that word is way too fun to say.

Design:

Foxes are one of my absolute favorite animals, and Vulpix is one of my absolute favorite Pokemon. It is one of the most adorable designs to this day, and it doesn’t try too hard to make it cutesy. It has such a sweet wittle face, pwetty eyes, curly tails and hair, wittle paws, and just the perfect shades of brown and burnt orange. How can you not love this adorable ball of everything good in life?

Alolan Vulpix

Alolan designs tend to be hit and miss, and Alolan Vulpix is a home run. I adore the shift to white and ice blue, it’s extremely adorable still, the slight change to its hair isn’t overboard, and they changed it just enough to be a true change to form and not just a recolor.

I don’t like Alolan Vulpix more than regular Vulpix, but it’s a close call.

Sprite-Wise, Gen I looks a teeny bit weird just because Vulpix’s eyes are so tiny. I think they were trying for a more realistic fox look, and while it’s cute and works alright, it’s so much better with bigger eyes.

Gen II looks nice. I love the little blink and tail wag animation they added in Crystal.

Gen II’s cute, although the animation for Emerald is slight spastic.

Gen IV…..can fuck off, quite frankly. Look, I love Vulpix. Truly. With every little bit of my heart. But I do not….ever….want to see Vulpix presenting its ass to me. I just don’t.

HG/SS is a more proper pose, but the animation is just a very simple growl.

Gen V is fine, but, like others, its constant animation makes it look like it’s hyperventilating.

Gen VI and VII are cute.

Shiny:

I…..want the name….of the evil person who decided it would be a good idea to turn my beautiful Vulpix….into…..into THIS.

This is an affront to poor Vulpix. Bright neon slightly green yellow?! Washed out orange?! Some sort of weird washed out pea soup green for the brown areas and the eyes?! What did Vulpix ever do to you?!

It’s weird. Usually Gen I shinies are nothing to write home about. They’re typically either the worst in the set or they’re just blah, but Vulpix’s Gen I shiny version is actually the best one, in my opinion. It’s like a mixture of gold and bronze. It’s quite beautiful.

In Gens VI and VII, it’s like they realized how fugly the previous shinies have been, so they changed it up. Now it looks like someone put a dull lime green filter very lightly over Vulpix. While it technically looks better, it’s still ugly. Vulpix deserves better.

As for Shiny Alolan Vulpix, well, what’s there to say about that?

…..I’m serious, what’s there to say? Because I honestly, legitimately cannot tell the difference between the two. Maybe….the inside of the ears….are darker?

This is probably in the top ten worst offenders of ‘Wait, that’s shiny?’

Dex Entries and Backstory: Vulpix is born with only one (white, for some reason) tail which then splits off into six after some time. Also look at a baby Vulpix!

You can’t tell the white tail color differentiation, but it’s so cute!

Also, there’s this weird note, “The tails grow hot as it approaches evolution.” How can it be close to evolution if it requires a stone to evolve?

Vulpix can not only produce flames – it also has an eternal flame burning within its body – like the Char line’s flame only less sucky. When it’s too hot outside, they will expel some of the flames in order to cool off. They can manipulate these flames to mimic will-o’-the-wisps, which trick its prey and local humans.

Most of the Dex entries just point out the tail splitting thing and mention that it’s beautiful, cute and cuddly – can’t argue with facts. Some of them also mention that it will fake injury in order to escape from powerful enemies and that, without brushing, its fur will tangle….because….that last one was useful information. I mean, it technically is useful information because tangled hair can be a huge issues for animals, but it’s not typically something you’d think you’d see in a PokeDex.

In terms of design, Vulpix and Ninetales are very obviously based off of foxes, but more specifically the well-known Japanese legend of the kyubi no kitsune or the nine-tailed fox. According to legend, the kitsune grow many tails over the course of their lives and develop supernatural powers the older they get. When they reach an advanced age, they can start to take on spirit forms

The Alolan Vulpix became as such due to living in the snowy mountain areas of the Alola region. They move in small packs called skulks, which is the actual name for a group of foxes, and they’re typically lead by a Ninetales. Alolan Vulpix exhales air as cold as -58°F and typically freezes its prey and threats with its breath. Shield mentions that, if you look at some of its hair through a microscope, you can actually watch ice particles form, which is really cool.

Ninetales

Name: I love Ninetales’ name. It’s elegant, fitting and a clever play on words by using the word ‘tales’ instead of the obvious ‘tails’ to reference the more mysterious mythical background of the Pokemon. The Wiki page also surmises that it could be based on the cat o’ nine tails whip, but I don’t buy that, really.

Its Japanese name is Kyukon, which I think fits a bit better than Rokon purely in regards to sound. Kyu is the Japanese word for nine, and the kon part is explained in Vulpix’s name section.

Fun Fact: In French, it’s called Feunard, which sounds really funny to me. It is mixing the French words feu (fire), renard (fox) and neuf (nine) so it makes perfect sense, but the word itself seems silly.

In German, it’s Vulnona, which makes me think Ninetales owns a classy bar downtown for some reason. Again, it makes perfect sense as it’s vulpes mixed with nona, meaning nine, but I can’t help but think that.

Design:

I stand firm in my opinion that Ninetales is a contender for most beautiful Pokemon. I can’t find a single flaw with this Pokemon’s design. Cute face, beautiful colors, striking eyes, pretty flowy tails – it’s just amazing. ♥

Alolan Ninetales

Much in the same vein as Alolan Vulpix, I absolutely love Alolan Ninetales, but not more than the original design. I like Alolan Ninetales more than Alolan Vulpix just because I think it’s more elegant than it is poofy. It comes off like the spirit of a glacier or a snowstorm more than just a different version of an existing Pokemon.

Sprite-Wise, R/B looks a little weird in much the same way Vulpix looked off. Its eyes are too small, but it’s also holding its paw in a weird way.

Green is better, and I love that pose, but the tails are way too short and the hair on the top of its head is shaped upwards Vegeta-style, which is strange.

Crystal is a bit overly yellow, like it’s more lemon than cream, but I do enjoy the subtle animations on the tails and the mouth.

I like the static pose for Gen III, but the shaky animation for Emerald is no bueno.

The head position for the sprite on D/P seems really weird, something they appear to have noticed and fixed for Platinum.

The static pose for HG/SS is okay, but the animation is overly simplistic. Why is it ‘barking’?

I like the animation and pose for Gen V, but the mouth is a little bit too wide, like it’s grinning too hard.

Gen VI and onward look really good, though. The first of the sprites to really come off as powerful and elegant.

Shiny:

Shiny Ninetales is 100000000000x better than Shiny Vulpix. It’s baffling how polar opposite these two shinies are. Whereas Shiny Vulpix is gross yellows and greens, Shiny Ninetales is beautiful silver and blue. I don’t think this color scheme would have worked well for Vulpix, but it would’ve been so much better than the puke they gave us.

Even Shiny Alolan Ninetales looks much better. Granted, it kinda loses some of its ice motif by heading more for a purplish gray than glacial blue and white, but I like to think more along the lines of a cloudy sky on a snowy day. And, hey, at least I can tell the difference between regular Alolan Ninetales and the Shiny version.

Dex Entries and Backstory: Ninetales is an extremely interesting and simultaneously confusing Pokemon. It is intelligent enough to understand human speech, which….I dunno, is neat, but also a weird thing to note because it seems like most Pokemon can understand human speech just not speak it themselves. The point is that Ninetales are extremely intelligent and vengeful.

Supposedly, this intelligence and mystical power was created when nine saints merged into one, but that’s…..huh? Were they vengeful saints? Why did they merge together? How did they merge together? How did they form an evolved Pokemon? Why take the form of a fox? Another Dex entry says the spirits of nine saints were reincarnated as Ninetales, but since when do numerous spirits combine when reincarnating? It’s really interesting, I just wish there was more information available to help clear up the hows and whys.

They can hypnotize others with their beautiful flames and can even control minds if someone looks into its red eyes. Depending on the source, or I guess your own interpretation, Ninetales either curses you if you mistreat it and/or you get instantly cursed if you grab one of its tails – the curse in question could also last for 1000 years, but considering most living beings don’t live nearly that long it seems strange to make that assumption (how would you even know?).

Ninetales can live upwards of 1000 years using the power stored in each of its nine tails. Each tail is supposed to have a unique power, but no source lists suggestions on what each individual power might be nor if it varies from Pokemon to Pokemon.

Alolan Ninetales was originally mistaken for a mountain/snow deity before they distinguished it as a variant of normal Ninetales. Locals now believe a deity lives in the mountains with Ninetales and they choose to not enter that territory out of fear. Ninetales itself seems to be a force to be reckoned with because they not only have zero tolerance for people damaging nature, but they will freeze their enemies stiff in an instant.

They guide lost travelers back down the mountain, and here’s something funny from Shield “The reason it guides people all the way down to the mountain’s base is that it wants them to hurry up and leave.” Pbbbtttt. “I’m not actually rescuing you. I just want you to leave faster.”

Ya know, I adore Ninetales, I truly do, but reading up on its lore really shines a light on the fact that it’s a bit of a dick. They can be really friendly and sweet Pokemon, but it does not come off as nice in any of its listed information…..Would definitely still get one if they existed, though. No doubt.

Alolan Ninetales was based on the arctic fox, which sports white fur to blend in with the snowy terrain. Its lore indicates it might be loosely based on Poli’ahu, a Hawaiian goddess of snow which resides in Mauna Kea – the tallest mountain (and dormant volcano) in the world if measured from the seafloor. While Poli’ahu is not a fox of any kind, she is noted as being the most beautiful of the already beautiful four goddesses, which definitely relates back to Ninetales, and it seems extremely fitting that she resides on a snowcapped dormant volcano considering Ninetales can either be Ice or Fire.

It’s also theorized that Alolan Ninetales could be based on tulikettu, a mythical ‘firefox’ of Finnish legend that creates or is made of the Northern Lights but also, obviously, controls fires.

—————————

And that was our beloved Vulpix and Ninetales. Love to love them to bits and pieces, and they are extremely interesting Pokemon, but there are some details here and there that are not exempt from criticism. I’m still salty about Vulpix’s shiny. Poor Vulpix. Ninetales fares a lot better, but there’s no denying that its Dex entries and backstory don’t paint it in a particularly pleasant light. I need a real life version of both of them, though. Right now.

Next up, get puffed, get tuff and get buff – we’re going after the ‘iggy’uff line…….I might need to workshop that name….


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My Poke-Pinions: (175) 35 and 36 – The Clef Line

Note: From now on, I’ll be omitting the section on the cries/voices. It’s just a hassle for something that doesn’t really matter or affect my opinion on the Pokemon that much. Plus, in the anime, the voices change so it’s even more pointless. Thank you for understanding.

Cleffa

Name: Cleffa’s name is cute, but kinda lazy. It’s just a shortening of Clefairy/Clefable. Cleffa is meant to be the word ‘clef’ as in the musical note, and a shortening of the word ‘fairy.’

Its original Japanese name is Py, which is also cute but just a little bit weird since I’m pretty sure it’s supposed to be pronounced “pee.”…..

Fun Fact: In French, it’s called Melo, as a shortened version of melodie (melody), and I think that it’s a really cute name.

Design: Cleffa’s pretty cute, but I think its ears come off a bit too much like weird thick horns. Admittedly, out of the entire Clef line, Cleffa’s my least favorite.

Sprite-wise, I don’t really have much to say on any Gen. Given the very limited range of motion and the teeny-tiny face of Cleffa, nearly every sprite looks exactly the same. The one exception being Silver, with bigger eyes and one of its ‘hands’ going up to its mouth. It’s almost criminal how cute that looks.

The animation in Emerald is very erratic.

The one for HG/SS is adorable.

And the one for Gen V looks too robotic, like I’d see it in a Pokemon amusement park.

Shiny:

Keeping in tradition with the entire Clef line, Cleffa’s shiny sports a lighter pink on the pink parts and lime green where the brown used to be.

This color scheme works just as well with Cleffa as it does the rest of the line. The lighter pink gives off a bubblegum-like vibe, and the green feels like a nod to its supposed alien origins.

Dex Entries and Backstory: Cleffa absolutely adore stars, are star-shaped and commonly hang around sites of craters made by meteors, leading people to believe that they originally came to earth on a shooting star. They love to dance on nights with meteor showers, and they’re more frequently found during these times. It’s said that those who witness a Cleffa dancing under shooting stars will have good fortune. Once they’re done dancing, when the shower stops and the sun rises, they quench their thirst with the morning dew.

They’re also noted as loving Minior because they resemble meteors.

In terms of their design, Cleffa, and basically the entire Clef line, are based on fairies and pixies. Cleffa in particular is based on star shapes. While I think this fits more with Clefairy and, most of all, Clefable, Cleffa’s design is also said to be based on the legend of the Moon Rabbit since they have long ears and evolve to their final forms with the Moon Stone. Not….entirely sure how much stock I put into that idea, but I guess it fits.

Clefairy

Name: Clefairy’s (Clef and fairy) name has the same origins as Cleffa’s. It’s a very cute and fitting name.

In the original Japanese version, its name is Pippi. I never much cared for that name, and I care for it even less now because my grandma has an evil psycho cat named Pippi, so no thank you.

Fun Fact: The prototype name for Clefairy was Aria, which is beautiful.

Also, in France, it’s known as Melofee, which is adorable and equally as fitting as Clefairy if you ask me.

I think they were going a bit hard with the music theme even though music is a very minor aspect of these Pokemon.

Design: Clefairy is, unsurprisingly, very cute. I can never decide if I like the wings or not. I like that it has wings, because it’s a fairy, but they’re a little too fleshy to be cute. In my opinion, though, overall….it’s a little…too cute. Ya know? All the curls and the pink and the fairy wings. I like it, don’t get me wrong, and I’d take a plushie of it no problem, but it’s just a little overkill to me. My girly side only goes so far.

It’s quite possible that Clefairy was made to be so ridiculously cute because, another fun fact, Clefairy was originally meant to be the mascot for Pokemon. In fact, Ash was meant to get a Clefairy as his first Pokemon in the anime, but they changed it to Pikachu in the last minute to better mirror the manga.

Imagine how different the Pokemon franchise and fandom would be if he started with a Clefairy. Would it have even lasted as long as it has? I joke about the almighty power and influence of Messiahchu, but his relationship with Ash is such a memorable staple in pop culture, even outside of anime fans, that it’s hard to imagine if Pokemon would have enjoyed nearly as much success as it has without them.

Sprite-Wise, I don’t really have much to note in any Gen. They’re all varying degrees of cute. If I had to pick out any as my favorite, I’d say Gen V has the best version because the animation is the arm movements for Metronome, and I thought that was really clever and cute.

Shiny:

Pretty much have the same opinion of shiny Clefairy as I did of shiny Cleffa.

Dex Entries and Backstory: Clefairy tends to be very peaceful and friendly, yet very shy. They are extremely adorable and highly sought after as pets, but they’re very rare and commonly targeted by thieves. Like with Cleffa being more common on nights of meteor showers, Clefairy are more commonly found on nights with full moons. Actually, it seems like Cleffa and Clefairy share a lot of Dex info – only replace ‘shooting stars’ and ‘meteor showers’ with ‘full moons.’ The only real difference is that Clefairy also has wings that collect moonlight and allow them to float when enough moonlight has been stored.

The design notes are also the same as Cleffa.

Clefable

Name: Clefable (Clef and fable) has a rather nice name. In fact, out of all of them, I’d say this one’s my favorite. A bit more mature and dignified than the more cutesy Cleffa and Clefairy. Still fits in with the fairy theme and actually adds a bit to their mysterious nature.

In the original Japanese, it’s called, simply enough, “Pixy” which actually reminds me more of Pixy Stix than pixies…..and now I want Pixy Stix.

Fun Fact: Its prototype name was Ariala, which is supposed to be building upon Aria, but kinda doesn’t work because Ariala doesn’t have anything to do with music. In fact, the best I can deduce about Ariala (that being a real name) is that, apparently, in Germany, it means “A beautiful, funny and gorgeous yet strong and independent person.” I guess that can apply to Clefable, but I doubt that’s what they were going for.

….Maybe they were adding a ‘la’ like singing to Aria?

Design: Clefable is cute enough. It’s not that much different than Clefairy. It’s bigger, has longer arms/legs and has bigger/spikier wings.

….Basically, if you want Clefairy, but smaller and not as cute, get a Cleffa. If you want a Clefairy, but bigger and not as cute, get a Clefable. That is really all there is to say about the designs in this line when you get down to it. I never thought Cleffa added much to the line, and I feel like Clefable was mostly pointless too, but I didn’t really care that it existed.

Sprite-Wise, it’s also keeping in line with the others. Lots of sprites that are cute, but mostly not noteworthy. The only one I think merits even a little mention is Crystal and that’s just because its animation makes it look like it’s in some sort of cutesy army.

Shiny:

Third verse, same as the first.

Dex Entries and Backstory: Somehow, they made the final evo of this line have the most boring entries of the bunch. Almost all of them are either echoing information from Clefairy or talking about how it has really big ears with really sensitive hearing and loves quiet.

The only other interesting fact listed is, if a couple sees a pair of Clefable skipping it’s said that they’ll have a happy marriage, which is neat and in line with the Clefairy and Cleffa facts about them being good luck, but….what are the odds of not only seeing a pair of Clefable, noted as being insanely rare, skipping along but also that two people sees them at the same time and those two people are a couple?

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And that was the Clef line. A fine set of Pokemon, but disappointingly kinda boring to talk about. The most interesting topic was behind the scenes stuff involving Clefairy near-missing being the Pokemon mascot. It’s strange, considering that Clefairy are made out to be alien Pokemon but they just don’t have a lot of information on what they might actually entail.

……………………………BUT WHO CARES?!

GUESS WHO’S NEXT!

IT’S VULPIX AND NINETALES!

Prepare to endure me being obnoxious about how incredibly adorable they are.


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My Poke-Pinions #029-034 The Nido Line

Nidoran ♀ and Nidoran ♂

Name: I’m gonna let the Wiki take a walk for a second.

“Nidoran♀ may be derived from needle. It may also come from cnidocyte, a type of venomous cell responsible for the stings delivered by stinging animals, most notably jellyfish. Alternatively, it may be based on ni (two) or 二度 nido (two times/two degrees) referring to the two distinct evolutionary lines with similar names and traits. Also, the Japanese word ran is translated as orchid in English. Orchids are flowers that can be purple or blue, these being the same colors as the male and female evolutionary forms of Nidoran, respectively.” That’s uh…a lot to process.

Personally, I was never really able to gauge any origins of Nidoran’s name before, but these theories are interesting, particularly the note about cnidocytes. ‘Nido’ meaning ‘two times/degrees’ also makes sense, but it seems weird to point this out considering that they’re two different evolutionary lines that are separated by gender when nearly any line could technically do that. It’s just that the Nido line happens to look more different based on gender than most lines, and they’re named differently based on those gender differences.

For instance, Nidorina ends with an A, which is typical of feminine names, and Nidorino ends with an O which is more typical of masculine names. Then there’s the obvious with Nidoking and Nidoqueen. What I’m trying to say is, technically, they didn’t have to make these lines entirely separate. They could have just given them a gender neutral name scheme and kept up the gender icons like with Nidoran at the start. It’s like they really wanted them to be separate lines because they look quite a bit different and have some small differences as a result, so they might have incorporated that into the name.

I mean, technically, we do that with regular animals too. We say bulls and cows, stallions and mares, roosters and hens, goose and gander etc. But they’re still the same species. Bucks and does are still deer. Lionesses are still lions. Drakes are still ducks. Separating the line like that just makes it seem like they are legitimately different species, which they aren’t, as far as I can tell. They are treated as different lines, but, when bred with a Pokemon that is not a Nidoran male, the egg of a female Nidoran still has a chance of hatching into a male Nidoran. In my opinion, in a real world context, they wouldn’t be treated as a separate species entirely.

Anyhoo, the orchid thing….I mean, I guess that works? But that’s really flimsy if you ask me. That would fit better if Nidoran were a Grass type or had anything to do with flowers.

After looking up more information on orchids, they are prominent symbols of love and fertility, which is an explanation that I think works better than ‘orchids can be the same colors as the Pokemon.’

I never really much liked or disliked the name Nidoran. It’s a perfectly fine name and it’s memorable enough. However, I was always slightly annoyed at how you had to specify the gender whenever you were talking about it, so their names typically come out as literally ‘Nidoran female’ and ‘Nidoran male.’ And whenever typing it out, you had to copy the gender symbol from somewhere. If you’re going to give different names to the rest of the line, why not do the same for the base evos? Also, for this sake, I’m going to refer to them as NF and NM throughout this post.

Designs: I’ve always thought both Nidorans had a very cute and unique design. NF gives off a lot of hamster vibes, which is very cute, and I love her little single front tooth. I also absolutely adore the color choices too.

NM is also very cute. I love that he has bigger rabbit-like ears and a more….kinda baby-dinosaur-esque style to it. I also think it’s interesting how they basically swapped the traditional gender colors. NF is blue while NM is pink. It’s also a very nice shade of pink. A bit of a light fuchsia-ish kinda color.

NF Sprites

R/B’s sprite looks a little off because the head is too smooth. They didn’t add the head horn until later, it seems.

Everything about average until Crystal where it gets an adorable little animation like its whiskers are twitching after sniffing the air.

Gen III’s really cute, but the animation for Emerald is a bit too twitchy.

Gen IV is also good, but, again, the animation for HG/SS is just twitchy and strange.

I REALLY don’t like the sprite for Gen V based purely on the fact that the animation makes it look like it’s hyperventilating.

Everything else is okay.

NM Sprites

What the hell is up with NM in R/B/G? Its eyes look way too big.

And what highlighter did they color in Yellow’s sprite with?

Gold is basically what R/B/G should have looked like.

Silver is incredibly adorable. Very bunny-esque

I hate Crystal’s animation, though, because it just looks like the animation was poorly done. It just doesn’t look right.

Gen III’s looking good. I like that cool pouncing animation they gave it in Emerald.

Gen IV is also good, but, again, the animation for HG/SS is just twitchy and weird.

Gen V’s animation is cute, but just bordering on moving its ears so much that it might be trying to emulate Dumbo.

Everything else is fine.

Shinies: Nidoran’s shinies are interesting because they’re palette swapped between the two subsets. NF’s shiny is pinkish purple while NM’s is blue. It’s a simple idea, but it works very well because both Pokemon look great in their counterpart’s colors.

Cries/Voices: Both of the Nidos have very similar voices. It’s basically just cute mumbling. NM’s voice might be a tiny bit deeper, but that’s about it. I think their voices work relatively well for them. They’re pretty cute.

NF’s game cry is pretty cute, but generic, and NM’s is a little more annoying because, for some reason, they gave it a higher-pitched screech-ish cry. I don’t think it fits as well.

Dex Entries and Backstories:

NF

A lot of the discussion on both Nidos is about their horns and their poisonous properties. In fact, that’s really all there is to say about the female version. NF is more docile than the male version, but they will attack with their poisonous barbs if threatened. Their horns are smaller than the male’s, and their horns are more rounded, but they do have a better sense of smell than the males.

In terms of design, Nidoran (Both male and female) takes a lot of inspiration from various rodents such as hamsters and porcupines, with some obvious inspirations from venomous mammals like shrews and platypuses, but the Wiki notes that they seem most similar to hyraxes, which I’ve never heard of before. Despite looking like they belong to the rodent family, they’re apparently more closely related to elephants and manatees, due to their features such as “toenails, excellent hearing, sensitive pads on their feet, small tusks, good memory, higher brain functions compared with other similar mammals, and the shape of some of their bones.” as well as other anatomical similarities.

NM

Like the female Nidoran, much of the focus in the Dex entries is on NM’s horns and poison. Its horns are larger than the female’s, and it tends to be more aggressive. While I thought that the aspect of having a better sense of smell made up for its smaller horns in comparison to the male’s, apparently NM has more benefits anyway because it’s heavily implied that it has much better hearing than the female…

Nidorina and Nidorino

Names: Nidorina and Nidorino both have fine names, and they’re suitable off-shoots of Nidoran. Like I mentioned before, their names are derived from simply indicating genders via the A for female and O for male rule that some languages use.

Designs: Nidorina has a cute design. She’s obviously bigger and tougher than NF, but there’s still a feminine quality to it. The shade of blue that they chose is pretty nice as well.

I’ve always really liked Nidorino’s design. It’s big and burly while still being a little cute. Definitely looks like he could impale the hell out of anything he sets his sights on. Really like the fuchsia-esque purple/pink color they have going on.

Nidorina Sprites

What…the hell….is up with Gen I? Why does Nidorina look like a pig? Why does R/B make it look like she’s presenting her ass to someone? What is this?

Gen II looks pretty good, although the animation on Crystal is questionable because it just looks like she’s saying “Shoo! Shoo! Go on, git!”

Gen III is good, but DEAR GOD the animation in Emerald is ridiculously doofy. It literally looks like she’s going “Durrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr”

Gen IV is an improvement as it’s a little more dynamic, but HG/SS’s animation is a very typical bounce.

Gen V is fine, but, again, I can’t get into the animation. It looks like she’s either clapping slowly or trying to grab something.

Everything else is okay.

Nidorino Sprites

Nidorino definitely made off well when it came to the Gen I sprites. He looks pretty damn nice and accurate to how we know of him today. I especially like Yellow’s sprite because it has such an attitude.

Gen II’s pretty good and intimidating, but Crystal’s animation looks odd. It kinda looks like he’s patting the spot next to him to call someone over to sit.

Gen III’s alright. The animation on Emerald is nice since it makes it look like it’s both approaching you and jumping.

Gen IV is a little weird just because I don’t know why his leg is sticking out like that.

The animation for HG/SS makes it look like he’s barking.

Gen V is….okay, but he’s bouncing so much that looks like he’s hyperventilating.

Usually I find Gens VI and VII to be alright, but this time they fumbled and made Nidorino look doofy. His eyes are too small and the saturation of his coloring is low, making him look sickly.

Shinies: Like with Nidoran, the shinies of Nidorina and Nidorino are just palette swapped versions of each other. Although, I should note that Nidorina is clearly more pink than Nidorino (he’s more of a pinkish-purple) and Nidorino is clearly a deeper more stark blue, almost bordering into a light purple shade in some versions.

For some reason, Gens VI and VII for Nidorino come out looking gray to me, though.

Both shinies are REALLY nice. I especially love Nidorino’s. Besides the gray-ish hues of the new Gens, every other version looks really cool.

Cry/Voice: Nirorina’s voice is a bit too high-pitched and close to NF’s. Nidorino’s voice is excellent, though I feel like it’s probably a stock roaring sound from some animal.

The exact opposite problem occurs in the games. Nidorina’s cry is made more low-pitched and suitable for her evolved state, but Nidorino’s is made high-pitched and not very intimidating at all.

Dex Entries and Backstories:

Nirorina

Nidorina is very gentle and motherly. Her horns obviously aren’t as developed and large as her male counterpart’s. When in battle, she will either present her barbs more prominently or choose to bite and scratch. For some weird reason, the Dex entries are very focused on the fact that Nidorina will chew up her food and spit it out for her young. She also uses ultrasonic waves emitted from her mouth as a means of defense if she feels she or her young are being threatened, though, oddly enough, while many Dex entries state that, Nidorina cannot learn Supersonic or any type of sonic attack in any Gen.

Sword mentions that it’s hypothesized that Nidorina’s horn is smaller than Nidorino’s in order to prevent her young from being poked…..is it just me or is that silly? There are many Pokemon with dangerous designs and they’re not altered for the sake of protecting their children from being hurt.

In terms of design, Nidorina is reportedly based on porcupines, rabbits, mice and/or hamsters, which….yeah okay, but are we still going to ignore the clear dinosaur vibe?

Nidorino

Unlike the more docile Nidorina, Nidorino is notoriously aggressive and will attack perceived enemies almost immediately with the venomous horn on his head. The venom’s potency will change depending on his adrenaline level at the time of attack. The horn in question is harder than diamonds, and it uses the horn to ram into boulders in search of a Moon Stone. Nidorino also use their large ears to listen for hostile presences and will react immediately if it hears anything.

Nidorino has the same design lineup as Nidorina, but the rhino has also been added as inspiration due to his aggressive and independent nature. Not sure why rhinos wouldn’t also fit with Nidorina, considering the rhinoceros was also listed as being inspiration for the name.

Nidoqueen and Nidoking

Names: Very fitting for the end of this evo line to be named King and Queen. I like the names Nidoking and Nidoqueen. They’re my favorite names of the bunch.

Designs: Nidoking has been and will always be one of the most notable powerhouse designs of Gen I. It’s an awesome final stage for the line, and it’s incredibly intimidating and cool. No Pokemon can make pink look as kickass as Nidoking.

Nidoqueen is also pretty cool, and I love that shade of blue, it’s perfect for her, but, admittedly, she doesn’t really have as cool of a design as Nidoking. It retains its femininity and gains a very motherly appearance (somewhat akin to Kangaskhan) while still being tough and intimidating.

……….Nidoqueen has boobs. I couldn’t not point that out. Oh they’re “Plates” uh huh, sure yeah, Wiki. They’re boobs. They’re very clearly boobs. Armored boobs are still boobs.

Nidoqueen Sprites

Gen I looks really good……except Green.

What the hell even is that? It looks like a knockoff plushie of a Nidoqueen.

Gen II, I’m not too fond of Gold because the teeth make it look a little doofy.

Not too fond of Silver either because she looks like she’s calling me over to flirt.

Or maybe flipping me off?

I do like Crystal because, for some reason, the animation reminds me of musical theater.

Gen III is pretty good. I like the roaring animation in Emerald. It’s very fierce.

Gen IV is okay. The animation for HG/SS is also roaring, but I don’t like it as much as Emerald’s.

I really love the animation on Gen V because it looks so natural and real.

The other gens are just okay.

Nidoking Sprites

Gen I’s looks pretty good. LOVE the angle on Yellow.

WHAT THE FUCK IS UP WITH GREEN!? I was going to make the same plushie joke as I did with Nidoqueen, but that doesn’t fit here. What is that monstrosity!? It’s like a sleep paralysis demon.

Gen II is really good, too. The poses are great, and so is the animation for Crystal even if it’s less intimidating than Nidoqueen’s. I do have to ask why his coloring is so dark in this gen. He’s just straight-up purple.

Gen III is good. The animation for Emerald is quite frightening.

Gen IV is good. Love the dynamic posing. Simple but effective animation on HG/SS.

Gen V, in a static sense, is good, but the animation just makes it look like its out of breath. I think the design was changed just ever so slightly to be a tiny bit slimmer, and I think it works out very well.

Gens VI and VII are fine, but I feel like the color’s a bit washed out and Nidoking’s face looks a tiny bit derpy.

Shinies:

Nidoking has one of the most awesome shinies in the game. Again, it’s a palette swap with the female counterpart, but I love the shade of blue they chose this time. It is a little bright, but it looks great on him. Reminds me of blue raspberry.

…….On the OPPOSITE end of the spectrum, you have whatever this used barf bag is supposed to be.

What happened? Why did they break the tradition of having the shiny version be a palette swap with the counterpart? Why choose, of all colors, that disgusting baby poop green color?

Cry/Voice: I was suspicious about Nidorino having a stock animal sound effect, but I am almost certain Nidoqueen is using one, and I’ve always been definitely sure Nidoking is using one because his roar is one of those roars you hear everywhere for dinosaurs and bears. It fits, but it’s hard to not make that connection.

In terms of the games, Nidoqueen has an extremely suitable cry. It’s lower pitched and gentle – very motherly.

Nidoking’s is like a screech, and while it is better than Nidorino’s, it’s still too high pitched to be truly suitable in my opinion.

Dex Entries and Backstory: Not in a Dex entry, but I had to mention this first.

“Although its female counterpart, Nidoqueen, cannot be bred, Nidoking [and Nidorino] can.”

Look….it’s already insanely stupid and creepy that this species that is basically designed from the ground up to complement each other from a breeding standpoint can’t breed with each other unless they’re the equivalent of children, but what is the sense behind making Nidoqueen unable to breed at all, even with Ditto? This isn’t some gender inequality tangent I’m going on – though that aspect is BS too – I mean the main focus of Nidoqueen…..IS BEING A MOM.

They have developed smaller horns and thicker skin for the sake of protecting their children. The venom in their horns will not excrete when their young is being carried on their backs. They will basically turn themselves into a makeshift wall for the entrance to their den if they’re trying to keep threats away from their children. The Dex literally says they’re at their strongest when they’re protecting their young. What young?! They can’t have young if they can’t breed!

The same thing applies to Nidorina, so unless she evolved while her babies were still young, a good chunk of her Dex entries make as little sense as Nidoqueen’s!

Oh, yeah and, fun fact – The NF line is literally the only evolutionary line that loses the ability to breed upon evolution.

Who the hell was in charge of managing the breeding system in the games, and why hasn’t this glaring issue with this line ever been fixed?

It’s especially weird when we get to the other side of the coin and see that Nidoking’s entries are mostly just talking about how out of control, violent and powerful Nidoking is.

“It uses its powerful tail in battle to smash, constrict, then break the prey’s bones.”

“Its steel-like hide adds to its powerful tackle. Its horns are so hard, they can pierce a diamond.”

“If it binds an enemy, it can snap the victim’s spine quite easily.”

“Once it goes on a rampage, there is no stopping it.”

“One swing of its mighty tail can snap a telephone pole as if it were a matchstick.”

Hardly one getting a tie for Father’s Day.

The one and only Dex entry that has anything to say about it being anything other than a destructive Pokemon who loves to fly off the handle at anything he perceives to be a threat is in Gen VIII when Sword says “When it goes on a rampage, it’s impossible to control. But in the presence of a Nidoqueen it’s lived with for a long time, Nidoking calms down.” Nothing about them being protective of their young or family.

So this one is allowed to breed, with a Ditto anyway, and mother of the year recipient, Nidoqueen, cannot have children at all.

……..Hm…..Wait a second….what if she adopts the kids that Nidoking has with Ditto? Is their line just meant to screw over Nidoqueen/rina so Nidoking/rino can stick his diamond hard horn into sentient flubber? Is Ditto a deadbeat mom? Are they a threesome? Why are you letting my train of thought keep going down this road? Please stop me.

In terms of designs, Nidoqueen and Nidoking have the same inspirations as their pre-evos, but gorillas have been added to the mix this time around – I suppose for the big arms.

Also, don’t buy my ‘Nidoqueen has boobs’ thing? Even the Wiki says her armor plates resemble a two-piece bikini.

…..I honestly wouldn’t agree with that because, what, is it a bikini that doesn’t connect up front and has giant granny panties as a bottom? But, yes….Nido-Boobs.

Next time, we’ll shoot for the moon and tackle the Cle line!


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Pokemon Episode 61 Analysis: The Misty Mermaid

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CotD(s): None

Character Returns: Misty’s Sisters/The Sensational Sisters/Daisy, Violet and Lily

Plot: Ash, Misty and Brock have arrived on the edge of Viridian City, hopeful to soon acquire Ash’s eighth and final badge – the Earth Badge. However, Misty is troubled. Horsea is depressed, seemingly because it’s been unable to get out and swim in a wide open area. Misty tries to get it to swim in fountains and small bodies of water, but it’s not good enough.

Misty suggests taking a detour to Cerulean City to allow Horsea to get some exercise in the big pool in her Gym, and Brock and Ash think it’s a great idea. She calls ahead to her sisters to give them a heads up and they head out.

When they arrive, her sisters reveal that their shows aren’t doing so hot, but they have a plan. They’re going to put on a new underwater ballet called The Magical Mermaid. They also reveal that Misty is the headliner, much to her shock and annoyance because the show is the following day and she hasn’t agreed or prepared in any way. Her sisters successfully guilt-trip/trick her into doing it, however.

The next day, she skillfully plays her part as the titular mermaid, impressing the audience with her and the Water Pokemon’s underwater dancing. The show is going off spectacularly, but Team Rocket bursts in to ruin their fun. They tie up Lily and Violet, who were set to play the villains of the story, and take their places in the show but for real. They intend on stealing all of the Gym’s Water Pokemon during the performance.

Luckily, Misty won’t take that lying down, and eventually Ash and Brock also rush in to help her. Jessie’s Arbok is the only one able to fight underwater, but Misty and Ash have all of the Cerulean Water Pokemon, Misty’s own team and Ash’s Squirtle to combat him. Horsea is sidelined rather quickly because it simply doesn’t have the power to fight very well. Misty uses Seaking in its place, along with her own Starmie.

Even with everything in their favor, Arbok still seems to have their backs against the wall. Suddenly, Seel, a seldom-used Pokemon of the Gym, steps in to protect its friends. Teaming with Misty, it manages to get Arbok on the ropes with some Headbutts and an Aurora Beam.

Its efforts are paid off when Seel starts evolving into Dewgong! No longer the little ‘baby Seel’ everyone underestimated, Dewgong Ice Beams the trio into a block of ice.

Once they’ve evacuated the pool of all Pokemon and people (not Team Rocket) Ash commands Pikachu to Thundershock the water in order to finish off Team Rocket. A final thwack from Dewgong’s powerful tail sends all of them blasting off.

Even with Team Rocket’s intrusion (or maybe because of it?) the show was a huge success, and now Misty’s sisters can enjoy massive crowds in their shows once more. Despite Misty leaving again, they explain that they can just take turns playing the role of the mermaid.

Before she leaves, Misty’s sisters suggest borrowing some of Misty’s Pokemon in order to help out with the shows. Misty is upset at this request, but Brock justifies at least leaving Horsea since it obviously needs regular exercise in big bodies of water that it can’t get while traveling with Misty. She agrees with this logic and hands over Horsea, but is appalled to hear they also want her Starmie. She agrees to this request too, albeit more begrudgingly, and the group heads off before they try to siphon off Misty’s blood for profit or something.

Biding her sisters goodbye, Misty, Ash and Brock head back to Viridian City.

———————————-

– I love how they’re all “We’re not near the ocean” when they realize Horsea needs a big body of water to get some exercise…..they literally just pointed out that they came from Cinnabar ISLAND.

Also, considering you’re all supposed to be on the outskirts of Viridian City, it looks like you’re pretty close to the ocean from where I technically stand.

See, this is why you guys need a better map.

Actually, while we’re on the subjects of maps, note how far away Viridian City is from Cerulean City (It’s two squares away from Viridian heading northeast). They’d have to go through the Viridian Forest, to Pewter City and then walk about a quarter the length of the entire region east to get there. It’s quite the detour just to get a seahorse to a pool.

I was going to mention how this is kinda 4Kids fault, because, as Dogasu’s comparison states, the original just has them in some random town stopping off at a park as they’re on their way to Viridian City – they’re not right there at the city limits or anything…..but then I thought about it….The original actually makes this WORSE. They came from Cinnabar and were traveling to Viridian, who knows how far away they actually were from it, and still decided to traverse nearly halfway across the region on a whim. Wow.

– I get why Water Pokemon, especially ones without legs, need to exercise in water, but why is it just Horsea? Why not Goldeen?

– Misty: *on the phone with her sisters* “How are you? We’re coming to visit!” Maybe give them a second to respond to your question before blurting out your news, Misty.

– Wait, wait, wait….So….they’ve been planning this underwater ballet for weeks, seemingly always intending that Misty be the star, if that poster is any indication, yet they had to wait until the huge coincidence that is Misty suddenly visiting out of the blue, a day before the event no less, for them to actually secure her for their act.

What?

The only way I can see this really working is if Misty took several weeks to get back home, which actually isn’t that unrealistic considering the distance, but if that’s true, holy shit…..just…holy shit, they traveled for days, maybe weeks just to get a seahorse in some water when they literally just left the ocean an episode ago.

But if they really started pulling all of this together after she called, why are they pissed that she seemingly didn’t rush right over?

Also, why are none of her other sisters taking the role? They mention how their water shows aren’t raking in the crowds anymore, but that doesn’t imply that they as performers are stale. And, skipping ahead a bit, the girls do play roles in the ballet, so they’re not concerned about people disliking them. Couldn’t they have just hired another actress who can swim? Just seems like a big stretch for this whole setup.

– Lily and Violet cheer that they managed to trick Misty into agreeing….right in front of her…meaning, she could just choose to decline right now out of spite. Good on her for not doing that, she’s a woman of her word, but screw her sisters….barring Daisy because she at least looks ashamed of them.

POKEMON EP 61 SCREEN2

– Another near-death experience for unsupervised Togepi. Mother of the year, Misty.

– Horsea SWAM AWAY while Togepi was about to fall in the pool. Guess the seahorse doesn’t fall far from the Misty.

– I love Misty’s glare and pout at the start of rehearsal.

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– Pbbbbttsahsahshahhahahahahaha that awkward ‘I have to hug my sister because my mom is forcing me for a Christmas photo op’-esque hug Misty and Daisy are doing during rehearsal.

POKEMON EP 61 SCREEN4

– That is even more awkward in context considering they’re hugging because their characters fall in love. Tell me again why they didn’t at least hire someone to play the prince. Or, hey, and this isn’t for the sake of shipping, why not get Ash to do it?

(Awkward note: Violet wrote this entire play….with Misty in mind for being the star and Daisy being the prince…..meaning she purposefully designed a story in which two of her sisters fall in love……..Eeeeggghhhhh.)

– Rehearsal’s kinda pointless if you can run through the entire play in less than a minute. Also, this story kinda sucks, but I guess it was a fairy tale for kids written in either 15 minutes or several weeks ago.

– Brock: “I like that charming prince!”

Ash: “I like the Seel!” *chortle* I dunno why that got me.

– Ugh, this episode reeks of filler budget if you know what I mean. It’s weird. There are some great shots and expressions but just as many awful shots and animations.

– Jessie: “It looks like there will be a lot of Water Pokemon in that show.” Jessie….there’s a lot of Water Pokemon there all the time….it’s the Cerulean City Gym…Remember? The place where you tried to steal all of the many Water Pokemon they had?

– Daisy: “I am, like, so happy we tricked Misty into this!” Oh….here I thought you were actually ashamed of tricking her. Nevermind, they’re all bitches.

– It’s adorable that Brock’s feeding popcorn to Togepi….but babies shouldn’t have popcorn.

POKEMON EP 61 Screen5

– Some dude in the audience: “Yeah the effects are totally cool!” What effects? All you’ve seen so far is the pool being lifted up so everyone can see in the water.

– Misty looks really cool as the magical mermaid.

– Shellder! I usually don’t get to express how much I love that little bivalve.

– I like how they show little instances of hidden places where they’ve planned for Misty to get a breath. It’s a small detail, but it’s pretty cool. Adds to the realism.

– Lily: “Hm, maybe I should’ve played the magical mermaid. She has a much nicer costume!”

Violet: “That is, like, totally selfish. Besides, that costume would look better on me!” Are you just now realizing that the role you’ve all described as being beautiful and magnificent has a more appealing costume than one of the thugs trying to kidnap her? Also, this just opens the door back up for that question of why they insisted Misty be the mermaid at all.

– I’ll keep saying this until the day I die – James always looks amazing in women’s clothing. Look at him pulling off that swan lake-ish outfit like it was made for him. Work it, James!

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– Aw yawning Shellder!

– Jessie: “Nobody’s better at stealing Water Pokemon than we are!” Says the person who failed to steal any Water Pokemon the last time they targeted this exact Gym…..

– James: “And next time we steal men’s clothes!” 4Kids, don’t play this that way. Jessie is wearing men’s clothing right now. If he really didn’t want to wear the ballerina outfit, he’d just wear the prince outfit and Jessie would wear the ballerina outfit. But he chose the ballerina outfit because he looks fabulous in it. Let him be fabulous.

– Eh, I’ll just chalk up the talking underwater stuff to cartoon logic.

– I will ding them for being able to hear Meowth without any distortion whatsoever when he’s hovering above the water and they’re standing at the bottom of the pool.

– So Team Rocket basically nearly got away with a school of Goldeen? I mean, yeah that’s still terrible, but I doubt Giovanni would ever be impressed with a bunch of Goldeen.

– How is Arbok breathing underwater right now?

– This is Horsea’s final episode, and it’s proven more than ever to be useless. Actually, considering how useless it is in battle and the fact that it can’t function without constant access to big pools of water, it’s actually to Misty’s benefit that it stay behind in the Cerulean Gym.

– Misty: “I know. You haven’t been feeling well.” Horsea’s not sick. It just got depressed because it hasn’t been able to swim in a big body of water for maybe two days. Again, they literally just came from the ocean after spending days on an island.

– I love that Misty can easily command Seaking too. Reminds you of the fact that she is, in fact, the Cerulean City Gym Leader.

– Ash: “Good job, Misty!”

Misty: “Thank my sisters. They trained it.” Love Misty for giving her sisters props when she honestly doesn’t have to, especially considering they’ve been so shitty to her since she got there.

– Violet: “Only Water Pokemon can battle in water.” Factually incorrect on so many levels. Arbok’s battling just fine and it’s not a Water Pokemon. Also, Dratini/Dragonair excels underwater and it’s not part Water. Technically, as long as a Pokemon isn’t weak to water and can hold their breath, or has a rebreather, then it can probably battle underwater just fine. Weezing is a unique case because of course it would float to the surface, being loaded with light gas and everything.

– Violet: “Go Psyduck!” For real, Violet? For actual real? Granted, I’m not sure she knows what a dunderhead Psyduck is (or the fact that it, ironically, can’t swim) but Misty has to have told her sisters some things about it since Violet knows Misty has one and was even able to locate his Pokeball with ease. If Misty did talk to Violet about it, then I can’t imagine she didn’t share her anger at its ineptitude. That’s pretty much all she talks about when Psyduck is brought up.

Also, maybe I’m being a hypocrite, but despite liking Misty battling with the Gym’s Pokemon, I’m not sure how I feel about her sisters commanding her own personal team.

– Violet: “Misty’s Psyduck is, like, totally embarrassing.” I feel like you did that on purpose.

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– Ash: “Underwater Tackle!” Ash…..even if you just said “Tackle”….it’d still be….an underwater Tackle….Squirtle wouldn’t be confused and go “Oh, a regular Tackle. But we’re underwater. Guess Ash wants me to move this battle to dry land.”

– Why does Arbok start lunging after everyone with its fangs when Jessie called for a Poison Sting attack? Isn’t that a Bite? I would say maybe it’s using a venomous bite, but as we’ve gone over before, venom and poison are two different things. Plus Arbok’s Poison Sting has always been a bunch of shining needles shooting from its mouth.

– It’s also quite weird that three well-trained water Pokemon, two of which being Misty’s Starmie and Ash’s Squirtle are so scared to death of Arbok’s Poison Sting – an attack they’ve faced many times.

– Violet: “It’s over!” A three on one against Jessie’s Arbok…underwater, which is Misty’s home field….with the three in question being high-ish level Water Pokemon…..is considered easily won by Arbok because he has ‘cornered’ them (underwater, meaning they have many avenues of escape) and intends on using Poison Sting? Careful, you’ll dirty the water with all that bullshit.

– How is this Seel considered a ‘baby’ when it not only knows Aurora Beam, which requires level 35, but is also on the tipping point of evolution, which occurs at level 34?

– What the hell? Look at how tiny Seel is compared to Arbok during the whirlpool sequence. Arbok’s like a titan.

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– Lily: “I never knew Seel was, like, this strong.” …….Wait…..you never trained the thing? What, did you just happen to catch Seel at a high level by default?

Daisy: “We never let it, like, be itself.” Where did that come from?

– How does Misty know how strong Seel is when she’s been gone for so long? She even knows it knows Aurora Beam….Maybe SHE trained it before she left and her sisters didn’t notice or care.

– *Seel starts evolving*

Brock: “Look what’s happening to Seel!”

Violet: “What’s that?”

Lily:”What’s Seel doing?” Have you experienced Pokemon Trainers and GYM LEADERS never seen a Pokemon evolve before?

– I wonder if it’s weird for a Pokemon to be addressed differently after it evolves. You spend your whole life being called one name but then you evolve and suddenly people call you a completely different name. This is one of the reasons why it’s kinda stupid that Pokemon nicknames aren’t more common. It’d just so obviously be a thing most people would do. Imagine getting a puppy and calling it Puppy until it’s about a year old and then you start calling it Dog.

Why Use the Pokedex?: Ash declares that he knows this is a Dewgong before Dex’ing it.

– Am I the only one who thinks using Ice Beam underwater would freeze the water surrounding it too? It’s like a laser will heat up an entire container of water instead of just shooting through to its target.

– What the hell!? Team Rocket is frozen solid, and instead of calling the cops or something Ash and the others opt to drag all of the Water Pokemon out of the pool so Pikachu can shock the everloving crap out of them? You’re a cold-blooded sadist, Ash.

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Although, I get that this whole spiel is just to give Pikachu the spotlight again….

– Alright, they’re shocked now and clearly defeated. Time to–

*Dewgong tail-slaps them all out of the Gym, blasting them off*

Is the legal system in Pokemon just royally screwed? Is that why no one ever seems to want these people arrested?

– Why are Misty’s sisters all taking a bow and waving? They did absolutely nothing this whole time.

– Violet: “And if you decide to leave, Lily and I can take turns playing the mermaid.”

So you acknowledge that Misty didn’t have to play the mermaid and either of you could have done the job just fine? You three continue to be a cluster of canker sores.

– Daisy: “If they decide to leave, we totally won’t have enough Pokemon.”

No, really, why? This is the Cerulean City Gym. Don’t they have tons of Water Pokemon there? This Magical Mermaid show doesn’t call for more Pokemon than their other shows. They’re largely aesthetic.

Also, they’re kinda screwed either way, aren’t they? Because people will be clamoring about the explosions and the ‘air show’ and the big Pokemon battle and the funny Psyduck and the Arbok and the evolution and all the other cool stuff that they won’t be able to pull off without Misty, Ash and even Team Rocket playing a part.

– Violet: “Bummer. Maybe we can borrow some of Misty’s Pokemon.” Yes, why go out and capture some new and interesting Pokemon when you can just mooch off of your sister?

Also, bitch move to ask that after she’s already done so much for you, considering you forced her into doing something she didn’t have to do in the first place all because you’re manipulative harpies.

– Lily: “You better give us your Starmie, too.” Fuck you! Not only is it really greedy to ask for more when she’s already agreed to give up one Pokemon after all of this, but the one that is essentially her strongest? Come on! Granted, it is a little redundant to have a Staryu and a Starmie, but still. I’d think it’d be more logical to give up Staryu. It made perfect sense to leave Horsea here, it was the weakest link in Misty’s team and needed to be in water, but taking Starmie as well is a bit much. Now Misty’s team is really barren.

– Misty: “Oh, how can I say no?” Like this.

Seriously, though? How can you say no? You’re acting like they’re sweet-talking you when they’re pretty much demanding your Starmie.

– Oh but she draws the line at Togepi. Every single one of them is dripping with favoritism.

– *pushes Psyduck their way* Misty: “But you can keep this if you want it!”

Lily and Violet: “We’re not THAT desperate!” First of all, Misty, keep “this”? Stop referring to Psyduck like he’s a thing. Second, stop shitting on poor Psyduck, all of you.

– Oh hey a mention of Misty’s destroyed bike. Looking back, that’s actually kinda depressing foreshadowing because I believe the next time Misty will contact her sisters will be when Misty is written out of the show – which is when her bike will also conveniently be fixed.

– Fitting that the Pikachu’s Jukebox for this episode is the song “Viridian City” where the lyrics are “We’re on the road to Viridian City.” Because they are….even though they were right next to it at the start of the episode and will have to travel god knows how long to get back there.

———————————-

As much as this episode is heavy with story and art/animation problems, I can’t deny that I fondly remember it and still enjoyed it on this rewatch. It was nice to return to Cerulean Gym, and Misty is an absolute delight in this episode. She’s badass and cool, elegant and fun, and even though her sisters are screwing her over she’s still being shockingly accommodating to their wishes – even to the point where she pretty much sacrificed half her team to them.

I also love the concept of the underwater ballet, even if the underwater battle was a bit of a missed opportunity. You can tell they really care about water physics, how sound would be affected or really anything else. Some things can be hand-waved by budgetary constraints, but others can’t. Bad time to be hit with a bad art and animation two-fer. Outside of them using their rebreathers, you’d only barely notice they were underwater. Also, a Poison Type snake nearly singlehandedly defeated three moderately high level Water Pokemon UNDERWATER is bafflingly bad writing. Arbok can hardly ever get the upperhand on land. There’s no reason whatsoever that Arbok didn’t drown that whole time, let alone that he would be dominating this match until Seel comes in.

Misty’s sisters did irritate me, as usual, but I was able to mostly tune them out. They honestly could have just politely asked Misty over the phone if she’d do it instead of springing it on her when she arrived and acting as if she should know she’s the star of their show. Misty is being incredibly kind this whole time. Surely she’d agree if they were nice about it and gave her a heads up. But nope. Instead they guilt-tripped and tricked her. Granted, that is totally a sister thing to do.

I really believe she should have been given Dewgong, though. They even pointed out how much it made sense by Daisy saying they never let it be itself. Misty helped bring out Seel’s strength, and it’d be a fine trade for Starmie. But nope. They just took and took and gave nothing back to her. Makes me glad she eventually takes the Gym back over down the line. She deserves it more than they do.

Next episode, I get a feeling of dread because I really don’t think I liked this one. Jigglypuff returns and has a beef with a Clefairy.


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Dissecting the Disquels: The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride (Part Two – Step-By-Step Analysis)

Rating: 8.5/10

Plot: Simba has become a great king in the Pride Lands, and now he’s welcoming his first child, Kiara, into the world. While Simba has become a bit of an overprotective stick-in-the-mud and greatly values tradition and the kingdom above all else, looking forward to the day when his daughter supersedes him and becomes queen, Kiara is uncertain about her future and just wants to be herself.

When she grows up, she falls in love with a lion from the Outlands named Kovu, who has been trained his whole life to get close to Kiara in order to get in good with the royal family and kill Simba. His mother is Zira, leader of the Outlander lionesses who have previously pledged loyalty to Scar and have been banished to the desolate wasteland outside of the Pride Lands because of it. But when Kovu starts legitimately falling in love with Kiara, their loyalty to both of their lands and their families will be tested. Can love end the feuding once and for all?

Breakdown:

Read Part 1 (In-Depth Analysis) Here.

Part two, baby! Before we start on this section, let’s talk about some of the foundations of the movie’s story.

First and foremost, the Lion King movies all have a tradition of sorts in that they all base themselves off of Shakespeare plays. The original Lion King was based on Hamlet, TLK 1 ½ was based on Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, and TLK2 is based off of Romeo and Juliet.

Obviously, there’s quite a bit in Romeo and Juliet that simply wasn’t adapted here, especially the suicide bit – that goes a bit too far for Disney’s standards.

Secondly, at face value, this movie seemingly tries to explore racism and/or classism in its narrative. As I’ll discuss further later, if this is a part of the narrative and isn’t just something implied though unfortunate choices of wording or situations, then they don’t do a very good job at all touching upon it. I feel like, after analyzing more, the racism/classism angle is more of a stretch than I initially thought, but it’s something to consider.

Finally, TLK2 is something kinda special in that it does remain canon to this day. In the newest iteration of the franchise, the Disney Junior show, The Lion Guard, all of the characters in this movie are part of the story, to my knowledge. We’ll return to The Lion Guard in the future, but it does show something that Disney actually acknowledges one of the Disquels as actually being canon. Granted, from what I read, TLG messes with a lot in regards to known Lion King lore, but, again, we’ll get to that down the line.

Now for the breakdown of the full story of The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride. Enjoy!

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Since the beginning of this movie is picking up right where the last movie left off, our story starts out extremely similarly to the first movie, damn near beat-by-beat, only this time Mufasa is shown watching over the presentation ceremony. Also, it seems like they do the presentation ceremony wrong or backwards? Or both. The way the ceremony went for Simba was he had fruit goop put on his head, dust thrown in his face, and then he was brought out to be shown to the animals of the Pride Lands. Here, Kiara is presented, then she has fruit goop put on her head and then it’s done.

Maybe it’s different for princesses. Actually, now that I think about it, the cub at the end of TLK didn’t have goop on his head….it was still a different lion, but goopless. Maybe when you do the goop doesn’t matter?

Goop’s a fun word. Goop goop goop.

Timon and Pumbaa actually seem to mirror the general feeling of this little twist.

Rafiki: “Hehehhe, it is a girl.”

Timon: “Girl….”

Timon and Pumbaa: “GIRL!? Oy…” Also, Timon and Pumbaa are a little sexist here – let’s just admit that. Maybe not fullblown sexist, but a little. Just a smidge.

Skip ahead to Kiara being a little older cub. Overprotective Simba is trying to reel in the adventurous Kiara before she heads off into the wilderness to play. He gives her all sorts of rules for being out by herself, which makes Kiara roll her eyes, but she knows her dad loves her. After agreeing to everything he reminded her about, she heads off.

We get a pretty cute moment between Nala and Simba, and it is really apparent how much Nala has matured over the years. Adult Nala was never really immature, but this Nala has taken to motherhood like a duck to water. She’s always very evenly toned and understanding, yet she still remains playful with Simba, even giving Simba the old trademark pin to the ground. She’s also protective of her daughter, but she’s more trusting and understanding of Kiara’s desires and her personality.

She points out that Kiara is similar to Simba, which Simba points out is a bad thing because they got into so much trouble as kids, but Nala still says she’ll be fine.

Proving Nala’s point, like young Simba, Kiara also likes to practice hunting (though, technically Simba was only practicing pouncing, since lionesses are the hunters.) and she’s enamored with the scary place outside of the Pride Lands borders – in this case the Outlands.

And like Zazu followed Simba and Nala when they went off alone, Timon and Pumbaa are assigned to watch Kiara. However, unlike Zazu, Timon and Pumbaa tail her in ‘secret’ because Simba is so paranoid that he wants to have someone keep an eye on his daughter without letting her know she’s being watched. I have to imagine this is more because of Nala, because Simba tells them to do this while whispering immediately after Nala walked away.

Of course, they suck at it and alert her almost immediately to their presence. It does create a pretty funny sequence afterwards where they nearly drown and crush her, though…..That doesn’t sound nearly as bad in context, trust me.

Which brings me to the weird change in dynamic Timon and Pumbaa now have with Simba. It seems like they’re less his surrogate parents and more his most trusted advisors (considering Zazu’s in this movie for all of 56 seconds.) They’re scared to death of what Simba might do to them if they let anything bad happen to Kiara, and I can’t decide if that’s pathetic or depressing.

They are fine in this movie – their shtick really hasn’t changed at all – but it’s just kinda weird how their role in Simba’s life has changed so much.

We get more insight into Kiara as she feels like literally no one listens to her. She feels like people just see her as just a princess when that’s only half of who she is. When Pumbaa asks who the other half is, she has no real answer. And well she shouldn’t at this point, because she’s still a little kid. Really the only thing she truly knows about herself is that she doesn’t want to be just a princess and she’s none too keen on being a queen because she feels like the position impedes on her freedom and happiness.

As Timon and Pumbaa argue like an old married couple, Kiara sneaks off to the Outlands. I don’t really understand why she does, though. It’s a bunch of dead trees, dirt and gross water. I get that Kiara’s probably a little intrigued because it’s a forbidden area, but it’s really quite boring compared to the vast beauty of the Pride Lands.

As Kiara explores the Outlands, she bumps into the lion cub, Kovu, who tries to intimidate her. However, Kiara kinda bounces back and forth to ‘evade’ him. Kovu doesn’t understand what’s she’s even doing, and Kiara tells him that her father warned her to never talk to an Outsider.

Kovu strikes back by asking if Kiara always does what her daddy says, which she vehemently denies, but Kovu doesn’t believe her. He brags that, as an Outsider, he doesn’t need anybody. He does everything on his own and takes care of himself, leaving Kiara in awe.

But enough of the meet cute – Alligator attack!

The duo are attacked by a slue of alligators, in a scene that might be reflective a little of the elephant graveyard scene in the first movie. I do like how it’s more about Kovu and Kiara working together to get out of this jam than it was when Simba was just protecting Nala. It’s a very well-done and exciting scene. I mean, any adult watching this would be able to deduce that these cubs won’t die. Not only are they cubs, they’re the main characters, but it still manages to be intense.

Back on safe ground, Kiara and Kovu more genuinely meet and bond.

And damn, Kiara’s laying it on thick.

Kiara: *eye flutter* *getting all up in his personal space* “I’m Kiara.”…..Kiara, aren’t you like the equivalent of a first grader? Maybe tone down the sultry voice.

Kiara tries to play Tag with Kovu, but realizes he’s probably never played in a normal non-violent capacity and then tries to play fight with him.

Because I guess their parents believe they’re fighting for real, they swoop in from the shadows roaring their furry faces off, which also reminds me of the elephant graveyard scene, but not so much because they don’t pretend like either of their growls/roars are coming from their parents.

Here’s where we get pretty much the only background exposition – Zira and her lioness posse were banished to the Outlands for reasons.

There.

Hope you’re satisfied.

Zira, I can completely understand. She’s bonkers, hates Simba and probably did something bad to earn being banished. I just find it hard to believe that Scar had this many lionesses who were so dedicated to his, let’s be honest, shitty leadership. I get that he has an allure to him, (I’m aware of the fanart….I wish I wasn’t.) but that idea is a bit more insulting. There are just too many of them to conveniently be missing from the first movie at once. Maybe Zira was the only one really enamored with him and she just managed to rally others into being brainwashed against Simba. I mean, she does seem pretty good at it.

This is also where we really see how deep and acidic this conflict is between the two factions. Even Nala is copping an attitude, and Timon and Pumbaa are sneering at and yelling at Zira to “get outta our Pride Lands.” For God’s sake, Simba even growls at Kovu when he learns that he was hand-picked by Scar to follow in his pawprints. Dude, he’s a little kid trembling in your shadow. Chill.

Simba reminds Zira of the penalty for re-entering the Pride Lands….which…is what? Death? Zira seems to imply it might be death considering she just hands Kovu over to him to seemingly kill. Simba tells her to take Kovu and get out because they’re done here, but in a menacing tone, while staring directly at Kiara, she says “Oh no Simba. We have barely begun.” In this one scene, she pretty much cements herself as being, by far, the best Disquel villain. Granted, it’s not like there’s much competition, but still.

In this one encounter, she sarcastically taunts Simba, plays the victim, tries to sacrifice her son while also challenging Simba at the same time and then threatens the princess. And, by the way, her voice acting is deliciously marvelous. It’s just mwah. She does act a tad like Scar, especially in the theatrics, but she’s certainly enough of her own character to differentiate herself from him.

Each side grabs their respective cub and walks off, with Kiara and Kovu giving each other a meek ‘bye.’ before losing sight of each other. Aw.

Simba breaks away from the group, him and Nala exchanging knowing glances, and Simba starts to lecture Kiara. He asserts that he simply doesn’t want to lose her and reminds her that he won’t always be around to protect her. He tries to also remind her that she’ll be queen one day, but she bursts out that she doesn’t want to be queen because it’s no fun.

Simba says it’s simply in her blood, as he is, they are all part of each other in the great circle of life. Kiara still isn’t buying it, but Simba playfully pushes her off the rock she’s sitting on and he gives that old trademark Simba smile. It’s nice to get those brief glimpses into young Simba every now and then.

They cuddle, and in starts song number one – ‘We Are One.’ You can find a full analysis on my views on this song in part one.

The basic gist is that Simba convinces Kiara that being responsible, being queen and accepting her place in the circle of life is just the way things are. It’s in her blood. She’s not old enough to understand yet, but one day she will be. Kiara solemnly accepts this for now.

Back in the Outlands, we see how desolate their land really is. Lions are pawing at bones, fighting over sticks and, if what I make out in the far back is right, eating termites and ants. We meet Vitani, Kovu’s sister, and Nuka, their older brother. Vitani is a smart and responsible girl, loyal follower of her mother, and Nuka is a bit of a bubblehead, but he’s mostly geared towards jealousy of Kovu for him being Scar’s heir instead of him. He desperately wants his mother’s attention above all else, but is usually overlooked.

Zira chews Nuka out for not watching Kovu, but Kovu defends him by saying it was his idea. Zira threatening reminds him that Simba is the enemy – the one who killed Scar, the one who banished them to the Outlands – and he should never associate with him or the Pride Landers. Kovu tries to explain himself by saying Kiara didn’t seem so bad, and he thought they might be friends. Zira scoffs at the idea until she starts believing he was cooking up an idea of getting close to Kiara so he could get close to Simba – be a bit of an insider agent and take them down. Zira praises her son for such a brilliant idea and marvels at how much he’s taking after Scar, much to Nuka’s disgust.

Zira takes Kovu back to their den to put him to bed, jazzed about the future opportunities this new plan presents to them. Kovu will kill Simba, avenge Scar, and reclaim the throne in Scar’s name. In comes the most awesome villain song of the Disquels (which isn’t saying much, honestly) and one of my favorite villain songs in general, ‘My Lullaby.’ The analysis of which you can find in part one, but damn, I love that song.

Cut to Rafiki, who acts as our time skip interlude. He makes drawings on the wall of Kiara and Kovu, explaining to Mufasa about his growing hopes for Kiara as future queen, but also his increasing concerns about Kovu growing into a threat under Zira’s guidance. Mufasa tells him through symbolism that he wants Kiara and Kovu to be together to unite the Pride Lands and the Outlands and end the tension between the two. Rafiki thinks he’s a crazy person, but after getting a gust of wind blown in his face, he relents and agrees with his plan.

So….from what I gather, Rafiki’s role in this movie is basically Friar Lawrence, only….he’s pretty much pointless. Rafiki’s only meant to speed along a process that is clearly already going to happen. The most he does is, later, when Kiara and Kovu are enjoying their time together and falling further in love, a slight rift in their relationship develops because of Kovu’s conflict with his secret duty, so he wraps them up in a happy peppy love song to make them love each other….more? Maybe to make Kovu more determined to stay with her and end the charade? I don’t dislike Rafiki here, he’s perfectly fine, I just don’t think they knew what to do with him that much.

In The Lion King, Rafiki acted as a guide for Simba to figure out who he truly was. He lead him to literally reflecting on himself and contacting the spirit of his father, which eventually prompted him to go back home and face his past and Scar. While it’s likely Simba probably would have gone home anyway, he was having an inner crisis about the situation and needed both the guidance of Rafiki and Mufasa to finally have the courage to go back. Also, Rafiki told Nala, Timon and Pumbaa that he went home, but that’s minor.

In TLK2, his role isn’t anywhere near that vital. Kovu and Kiara are already flirting with each other as cubs – they’re bound to fall in love as adults no matter the circumstances, which they did. It’s not like he did anything to streamline or allow their reunion. It’s not like he talked to Simba about giving Kovu a chance – he just sang a love-themed dance song. Again, I’m not saying I dislike his role here – he’s still a fun and unique character, especially when he was having his ‘conversation’ with Mufasa – but I wish he had been given more importance is all.

Time skip ahead a few years, and now Kovu and Kiara are adults. Kovu is sufficiently brainwashed by Zira. He’s set on his mission to trick Kiara, get close to her and subsequently get close to Simba so he can kill him.

Kiara, however, has become a beautiful young princess ready to go on her first solo hunt as a rite of passage, despite Simba’s reluctance. He promises to let her do it on her own, but sends Timon and Pumbaa out directly behind her anyway. Kiara is very excited to finally head out by herself, but finds that hunting is much harder than she anticipated. She keeps scaring away her prey by making noise. Already frustrated by fumbling her hunting mission so many times, she becomes enraged when she finds Timon and Pumbaa shadowing her under Simba’s orders, breaking his promise.

Gotta say, he was definitely starting to overstep his bounds here. If he wants to send babysitters after Kiara when she’s a little cub, fine. But sending them out when she’s performing a rite of passage as an adult is just insulting.

Kiara gets so angry that she runs off declaring that she’ll hunt on her own away from the Pride Lands. She runs off and manages to escape Timon and Pumbaa.

Meanwhile, a now-grown Vitani and Nuka head to the old hideout of Scar and the hyenas. The hyenas supposedly fled the area some time after Scar died for some reason. I would say maybe they were forced out, but they technically killed Scar and figured out he was a conniving asshole in the end, so I dunno where they went. They’re there to set some sticks on fire via the……*lip smack* I’m not exactly sure what’s happening here, to be honest. She sets some sticks on a hole in the ground, what looks like steam shoots out and then the sticks are ablaze.

I did learn of something called fumaroles, which are cracks or holes in the ground where shallow pockets of magma meet the groundwater and make steam and toxic gases, but that wouldn’t set the sticks on fire. Can someone more schooled on volcanoes/magma please explain how she just did that? Because I feel I’m might be missing something very basic.

It’s even weirder because, afterward, Nuka sticks his face over the top of the hole (scholar he is) and the steam shoots up, but his head isn’t set on fire (despite him yelling ‘AH, FIRE!!!’) it’s just kinda singed.

Anyway, they need the fire to start their plan to have Kovu infiltrate the Pride Lands and assassinate Simba. They set the land around her hunting area on fire to trap her in so they can send out Kovu to swoop in and save her.

Kiara does indeed get completely trapped by flames, in a pretty damn intense scene, but manages to give herself a somewhat safe spot for a minute by fleeing to the top of a tall rock. She ends up passing out anyway due to the heat and smoke. The last thing she sees is Kovu standing over her. He throws her on his back and rushes her out of the area. They accidentally tumble down a cliffside, so he then has to rescue her from drowning.

When he gets her to shore, she becomes upset because he brought her back to the Pride Lands. He’s understandably, confused as to why she’s pissed that he saved her life, but Kiara asserts that she didn’t need help – she had everything under control.

She tries to leave, but Kovu charmingly reminds her of who he is by referencing an exchange they had when they met. Kiara’s happy to see him, but it’s shortlived because Simba and Nala show up, and Simba’s none too happy. Kiara yells at him for breaking his promise, but he doesn’t care because he now feels fully justified in doing so since she nearly got killed. And he’s angry about it too like it’s her fault the fire started? He bans her from hunting forever because logic.

Rafiki shows up to tell Simba that Kovu saved Kiara’s life, even though, again, that’s information that didn’t need to given by Rafiki and would’ve been given by either Kovu or Kiara (or even Zazu – he was a witness) soon enough.

Kovu puts on his act and pretends that he’s a good lion who has left the Outsiders. He’s now a rogue who wishes to join the pride in Pride Rock, but Simba vehemently refuses. Kovu challenges that position because all he’s done, to Simba’s knowledge, is save Kiara’s life, but Simba seems to be persecuting him for a crime he didn’t commit.

Simba has to concede a bit here, because despite becoming a bit of an asshole in his older age he does still have some reasonableness in him, but it conflicts him greatly. He paces back and forth, frustrated that this is even an option being presented to him. However, with the words of Nala and even Zazu, reminding him that all debts must be repaid under royal decree – one his father created – Simba decides to allow Kovu to stay but basically on a probationary period. He’ll reserve actual judgment on whether he can stay after getting to know him more.

Zazu: “Hmph, riffraff.”…Erf….Okay, I can’t keep quiet about this anymore. I mentioned earlier the stuff about racism/classism that seems to be popping up throughout the movie, and it’s comments like these that really drive the point home.

Riffraff may seem like a silly insult in a modern vernacular, but he’s basically calling Kovu lower class trash right now. It’s uncomfortable how superior Zazu keeps acting to the Outsiders. Despite many characters in the Pride Lands having similar views, he’s the one who keeps being snide about it. You can maybe excuse it for the older lioness Outsiders since they may have done something to earn this ire, but this is Kovu – a young lion who has seemingly done absolutely nothing but exist and save the princess’s life.

It’s even more uncomfortable when you take into consideration that Simba and Zazu are basically falling into the typical stereotype of royalty – believing the lower class is literally below them even though it’s pretty much their fault that they’re in that position. Here, Simba literally is the direct reason why Kovu is ‘riffraff.’ He can’t control who his mother is, and he wasn’t a part of what she may have done.

And before anyone says it, yes, even here, Simba is kinda justified because Kovu IS planning something and he’s NOT on the up and up, but outside of him being born under unfortunate circumstances (Considering both Zira’s influence and being chosen by Scar.) Simba has no reason to be so vehemently against this. Simba’s making assumptions based on Kovu’s lineage and where he lives, and that’s not right. Everyone should be given a chance and judged on their individual character not on factors beyond their control.

Also,

I couldn’t not make that reference.

They all head back home, but Kovu is not allowed in the den – he has to sleep outside.

After everyone else heads in, Kiara goes to Kovu to thank him for saving her, but he scoffs at her skills as a hunter and tells her she’d never survive on her own. Kiara similarly scoffs and mockingly asks if he’d teach her, he mockingly says he would and then she seriously accepts his offer.

Later that night, Simba has a rather odd nightmare. Scenes like this usually feel like they’d otherwise be deleted, but they kept this one for some reason. Simba’s remembering his father’s death. Mufasa’s crying out for Simba as he’s latched onto the side of the cliff. Simba tries to reach him, but Scar grabs Simba’s paw and prevents him from saving Mufasa. Scar tells Simba to trust him. As Mufasa falls down to the stampede below, Simba glares up at Scar who suddenly turns into Kovu. Kovu throws Simba off the cliff, causing him to follow his father in death.

This is a really interesting nightmare because it does provide us with more insight into why Simba is so wary of trusting others. He trusted Scar, his own uncle, and look where that got him. It got his father killed and lead the Pride Lands into several years of suffering, nearly wiping them all out.

It doesn’t change the fact that Simba’s going a bit too far with it, but it does allow you to see his side a little better.

The dream is also prophetic because, yeah, Kovu is being sent there to get him to ‘trust (him)’ so he can betray Simba and kill him. Also, later, he will have a scar on his left eye.

However, he’s not seeing the flip side of the situation, which is the fact that the only way he defeated Scar and took his rightful place as king back was by trusting and working side by side with his family and friends. His traumas and fears are overshadowing that aspect. It makes his plight more understandable, but not fully.

He’s still placing a lot of misplaced fear and anger on someone for poor reasons. Even with the Scar stuff in play, Kovu was named his successor probably immediately after he was born. He hadn’t developed any sort of personality by that point, nor did he have any control over the situation.

This is one of those times where I kinda wish they had been able to work it so that Kovu was Scar’s son. Then Simba’s fears might be a little more founded. It’d still be kinda stupid, of course – people aren’t defined by their parents, especially if they didn’t raise them – but considering Simba takes such, forgive the pun, pride in being Mufasa’s son, it only makes sense that he’d have a great respect for bloodlines and believe that they do greatly influence someone as a person.

It would also make the conflict between the Outlands and the Pride Lands stronger too because they’d see Scar as being the true ruler of the Pride Lands, and Kovu, being his son, would be considered the true king now on a more legitimate level. Remember, Scar was technically royalty. He was still a prince – meaning Kovu would have had royal blood in him to strengthen this idea even further.

But I guess that’s just something to sit on anyway. Unless they removed the romance angle or became an anime, they’d never be able to work Kovu as Scar’s son.

The next morning, we get a really cool shot where a very gentle rendition of ‘We Are One’ starts playing as Simba stretches in the sunrise. There’s a part where Simba shakes off and it’s accompanied by a cymbal swell, and I just thought that was a cool detail.

Another cool detail was how the music changes to menacing in tone when Kovu is spotted prepping to ambush Simba while Simba goes to the watering hole for a drink. Not sure why he’s choosing now to attack. His guard is still very much up. He hasn’t really gotten that close to Kiara yet. He’d be way better off playing the long game. If the plan was just to wait in the shadows and attack when he was taking a drink, they’d just sneak around and do that. There’s no point using Kovu to get close to Kiara.

Anyway, Kiara pops up from nowhere and greets Kovu for her hunting lesson.

Cut to Kovu playing the prey while Kiara tries to sneak attack him, but fails miserably because she’s making a variety of noises the entire time. It’s weird how the sequence immediately preceding this scene is one where she sneaks up on Kovu flawlessly, especially when he was prepping for an attack.

Kovu tells her that she’s breathing too hard and needs to relax so she can more accurately become in tune with her environment and reduce noise as much as possible. To demonstrate what he means, Kovu decides to attack something hidden nearby, but it’s a panicked Timon begging for his life.

Timon explains that he and Pumbaa are trying to enjoy a treasure trove of bugs, but they’re being gobbled up by a flock of birds who won’t go away no matter how much they try to scare them.

Pumbaa wonders if Kovu could help them out (and Timon takes the credit for the idea because he’s a jackass) and he and Kiara start roaring to get all the birds out.

They all start running around roaring and having fun, which baffles Kovu because he still doesn’t understand playing or fun, which is even sadder than it was before. This poor kid has been robbed of a childhood.

They’re stopped dead in their tracks when they come upon a herd of rhinos who are buddies with the birds. They’re none too happy that their bird friends have been harassed, so they chase the group in retaliation.

They manage to hide in a very small cave, still yuckin’ it up and having a great time. Timon even ruffles Kovu’s hair and gives him his seal of approval, which was nice of him. When Timon and Pumbaa pluck themselves out of the hiding space, Kiara and Kovu accidentally smooch. OooooOOOOOoooohhhhh!

Later that night, Kovu and Kiara go stargazing and pick out some clouds that look like various shapes, but Kovu can’t help himself but see scenes of violence in some of them.

Kovu admits that he’s never stargazed before, which surprises Kiara since she and Simba used to do it often. He took that opportunity to explain how the great kings of the past are among the stars. Kovu wonders if Scar is up there, which obviously makes things a little awkward.

He solemnly tells Kiara that, despite Scar not being his father, he was still a part of him….I still don’t quite get that, though. Did he actually know Scar? Like…did he ever meet him? How can someone who is not related to you be a part of you if you never knew them? Scar simply pointing his paw at Zira’s new baby and saying ‘He’s my heir’ doesn’t automatically make someone connected to someone else.

Maybe he feels like Scar was a part of him because he was constantly told stories about him and everyone kept hailing him as Scar’s successor? I guess, under those circumstances, you probably couldn’t help but develop a weird sense of attachment to someone that way.

Kiara tells Kovu that her father once said that Scar had a darkness in him that he couldn’t escape. Mmm……I mean, I guess. If you take the books as being canon again, then Scar has been a little asshole since day one. He became endlessly upset once Mufasa was named primary heir to the throne when they were (the equivalent to) teenage lions. He tried to have Mufasa killed shortly after he was named future king, so he’s been a psychopath for a long time. Add to that years of stewing in jealousy and then Simba taking his place as next in line for the throne again and you have a pot full of evil stew. He’s pretty much just straight-up evil. He never tried to be good legitimately, as far as I know.

Fun fact: In the books, Scar’s original name was Taka, which has two meanings in Swahili – Waste and want. Both of these definitions fit Scar to a tee because he is fueled by jealousy (Wanting something he can’t have) and his life was basically a waste because he had such great knowledge and sophistication that he could have made him a great and lasting ally on the side of good, but he wasted it all to be evil and that lead to his death.

Apparently, The Lion Guard gave him an entirely new backstory to actually establish a canon backstory for him, but I prefer Taka being his original name than Askari. That name doesn’t fit him at all. Granted, if you look at it from a larger perspective, Mufasa and Scar’s parents come off as assholes if they give one son a name that means ‘king’ and the other a name that means ‘waste’ and ‘want.’ Askari, for the record, can mean ‘police’ ‘soldier’ and ‘guard’ and it was derived from their ancestor, who was a great king of the Pride Lands. Scar himself would later become leader of the lion guard, but I’m getting way off-topic, and The Lion Guard is a review for another day, so let’s move on.

Kovu wonders if there’s a darkness in him too, and Kiara cuddles with him to comfort him. Awww.

Anyway, Simba’s watching this from afar….….creepy. He’s talking to the spirit of Mufasa (not literally) about his conflict in accepting Kovu since he’s an Outsider and Scar’s heir.

In comes Nala with her longest scene clocking in at thirty seconds. I wish I was kidding. I know there’s just not a lot for Nala to do, but it’s disappointing that such a beloved character is given such short bursts of screentime.

Nala tries to explain to Simba that he’s so preoccupied trying to uphold his father’s legacy and do what’s expected of him that it’s clouding his judgment on Kovu, who might not want to walk the path set before him. The only way he’ll find the answer is by getting to know Kovu.

Cut back to Kovu and Kiara, and Kovu starts pulling away from Kiara because he feels guilty. He’s just about to tell Kiara about the plan to assassinate Simba, but decides not to and starts walking away. Rafiki busts in to stop him from leaving and leads them to Upendi. I guess I’ll give Rafiki some credit here because Kovu was starting to leave for…somewhere. Either he was about to just leave for the den, which leaves things open for their relationship to start back up again, he was about to bail on the mission and head back home or he was about to bail on the mission and run away somewhere. I always believed the first option, which makes the most sense. Still, there was no indication that their budding romance would end here if it wasn’t for Rafiki interfering.

Rafiki leads them to ‘Upendi’ which is basically a weird Tunnel of Love ride. Rafiki’s using a musical number to lock in their love, (Upendi means love) and because this is a musical, it works very well. (See part one for more information on my views of the song itself.)

After all the fun and luvey-duvey-wuvey-ness (Though….what time is it? Because it looks like the sun is about to rise and they were stargazing before the song, yet they’re going to bed?), they happily head back to the den. Simba decides to finally let Kovu inside the den to sleep, but as they’re walking in we see Vitani watching them. Vitani is silently urging Kovu to attack Simba now that he’s in with Kiara and Simba has his back turned to him. However, Kovu is too enamored with this new life he’s making in the Pride Lands that he doesn’t even think to do it. Frustrated, Vitani goes off immediately to report to Zira, who is not happy to say the least.

Zira realizes that Kovu has been swayed by Simba and Kiara and that he’s likely not going to go through with the plan. However, Zira is not going to allow Kovu to betray them nor is she going to let her plan fail because of him. She has a plan B….

The next morning, Kovu starts panicking because he realizes that he absolutely needs to tell Kiara about the plot now both because he probably realizes he can’t meander around for too long without something happening and because he feels he can’t keep lying to her and have a relationship with her. He practices to himself about what he’d say to her, but doesn’t have a lot of faith that it will work. Either way, he goes off to try.

Kovu: “Kiara, I need to talk to you!”

Simba: “Kiara, I don’t want you talking with him!…..I want to talk with him.”

Simba…it’s great that you’re warming up to the lad, but uh….kinda rude there. I know we couldn’t have Kovu actually confess and reveal the plot right now, it’d mess the rest of the story up, but really Simba? You can’t wait five minutes before you go off and have your little bonding moment?

Kiara is tickled pink that her father is warming up to Kovu. And aw, Simba’s little wink to her as they walk off. He is so adorkable sometimes.

As Simba and Kovu walk together through the ashes of the fire that occurred a few days prior, Simba relays the real story of Scar to Kovu, who is shocked. He now sees what a terrible person Scar really was.

Kovu: “He really was a killer.”

Simba: “….Fire is a killer. Sometimes, what’s left behind can grow better than the generation before…..if given the chance.”

I always really liked this exchange. Fire causes a lot of death and destruction. Simba knows this all too well because of the fire that raged in Pride Rock when he returned and fought Scar. And the fire started the instant Scar reached a crescendo in his intimidation of Simba, nearly causing his death. Also, the attack that resulted in Simba kicking him off the cliff and into the area where the hyenas were started by Scar jumping through the flames in an almost demonic manner. Once Scar died, the fire was nearly instantaneously put out, and everything was able to slowly regrow back into the lush and beautiful landscape that the Pride Lands originally were.

Zira (though technically Vitani and Nuka) used fire and burned all of this land just to start up a plot to kill Simba. However, Simba reveals a little seedling under the ash when he says the second part of the line, indicating that no matter how bad things look, the ones left behind can still flourish and make something beautiful again.

He’s obviously talking about giving Kovu a chance here, but I think he may also be foreshadowing the resolution later on. Remember, Simba is technically the generation after Scar. He’s been working very hard to ensure that everything’s ‘better’ than it was before, but he’s also been too blinded by fear and anger to be able to work anything out with any of the Outsiders. Zira may be a lost cause, but who’s to say anyone else there is – especially the children? And now, as we’ll see later, the next generation, Kiara and Kovu’s, help Simba’s generation see the light and eventually break down those barriers.

….I mean….the way they do it is silly, but…we’ll get to that later.

Ya know, I never really thought about it, but Kovu never had a father figure. With him, you’re so preoccupied with his connection to Scar that you never take the fact that he didn’t have a father at all into consideration. And with Zira’s nature, it’s understandable that he’s never had an actual heart to heart with a parental figure like this. It’s sweet….but bound to be ruined when the shit hits the fan.

Speaking of which….

Zira and the other Outsiders emerge from the haze. Gotta say, they made them look insanely intimidating during this sequence. Maybe a bit too much like zombies, but holy crap.

Zira congratulates Kovu on a job well done, which is such a terrible thing to do to him. In most other situations like this, Zira probably would have just done the predictable thing and called Kovu out for being a traitor while deciding to take matters into her own hands, but oh no. She decides to play pretend and act like Kovu was part of this ambush, deceiving Simba this whole time so she could simultaneously corner Simba, kill him and effectively squash any chance Kovu has of finding acceptance and happiness in the Pride Lands if Simba does get away. All to punish Kovu for balking on them. What an evil woman.

Zira commands the lionesses (And Nuka) to attack Simba. Kovu tries to get them off of Simba, but he’s flung into a rock and knocked out. Simba manages to knock the lionesses off, but he falls down a cliffside. He continues running, but he’s lead to a massive dam made of logs. He scrambles up the dam, with a now less unconscious Kovu watching from the top of the cliff. He immediately scurries down to help.

Nuka rushes in to kill Simba instead, taking his opportunity to impress his mother and have his moment of glory. He does nearly manage to pull Simba down, but he falls and is crushed by falling logs when Simba gets back on solid ground.

Yup, they killed Nuka. Crushed to death, which one of the worst ways they’ve had someone killed in Disney features. He didn’t even die immediately. Kovu rushes down to try and dig him out, but is swatted away by Zira who furiously digs to him. She’s devastated when she finds him near death. He weakly tells her,

Nuka: “I’m sorry, mother….I tried.”

In a deleted part of this scene, his final words were originally “Well…I finally got your attention didn’t I?” I like the changed version better because the original line makes it seem like Nuka’s kinda putting Zira on a guilt trip.

This scene, despite Nuka being a jackass, stayed with me through the years because it is such a dramatic and emotionally impacting scene. Zira, who has been nothing but an evil bitch and has never shown Nuka any caring, is visibly devastated by this. She rushes in to dig him out, not even caring at all that Simba got away, is shocked to find the state Nuka’s in, her voice cracks while trying to talk to him, and she even cradles his head and comforts him as he finally passes.

For a handful of seconds, you find yourself really sympathizing with both Nuka and Zira, which is something you never really got to do with Scar.

And let me point out that Nuka’s death is not quick, and it’s pretty morbid when you really pay attention. Not only did he not die immediately, which is what usually happens in Disney movies, but he was so badly pinned by the logs that they couldn’t extract his body and give him a proper funeral (however that’s done in the TLK world. They had a memorial service for Mufasa and Simba, but we never see if they did anything with Mufasa’s body.) They just had to have a short memorial service right there at the dam. Geez.

As much as I don’t care for Andy Dick, he also did a really good job acting during this scene too. He really sold it.

Back in the Pride Lands, Simba hobbles home. Zazu rushes to get help, and Simba is only able to convey that Kovu was part of an ambush on him before he passes out. Timon and Pumbaa help him back home, and as much shit as I give Timon it is very adorable that he carries Simba’s tail on the way back. However, Kiara is in shock and disbelief that Kovu would be a part of an attack on her father.

Meanwhile, back at Nuka’s funeral, Zira blames the entire fiasco on Kovu because, had he just killed Simba when he had the chance, none of this would have happened. She viciously slaps him in the face, leaving a very familiar scar across his left eye. Dun dun dunnnnnn…..however, even as a kid, I realized how bunk this was. Either she grazed him just enough to skim his fur off but not leave a wound or he has a permanent scar from a wound that didn’t bleed. In the closeup, you can see an indent in his skin, so I’m forced to believe the latter.

Again, questionable canonicity, but Scar and Kovu basically got their scars for the same reason, just on a flipside in regards to intent. Taka was scarred by a bison whom he had tried to trick into killing Mufasa, but his plan backfired on him. Kovu was scarred by Zira because she felt he had betrayed them, resulting in Nuka’s death. See? They both got scarred for ‘betraying’ their families/brothers.

….I know I probably look too much into some of this stuff, but I find it interesting.

Zira and Kovu get into a big argument about him betraying their pride and Scar, but he finally stands up to her. Zira will have none of it, though, and directly blames Kovu for Nuka’s death, even straight out saying “You’ve killed your own brother!” Damn.

Kovu runs off, but Zira refuses to pursue him. Instead, she rallies the Outsiders for one final attack now that Simba’s too weak to fend them off.

Back in Pride Rock, Kovu shocks everyone by showing up after he was seemingly a part of the attack on Simba. Everyone’s whispering about him, even pointing out the scar on his face.

Also, apparently Simba’s better now. He went from being half unconscious on the ground to acting perfectly fine when talking to Kovu. He never had so much as a visible scratch on him, but if you’re going to make the play that he’s now so wounded and weak that he’s prime for the assassinatin’ then at least…do…something with him. Dirty him up, scruff up his fur, weaken his voice, have him supported by Nala or something as he tries to maintain his balance. You’d never know he was just in a battle with dozens of lionesses and nearly died.

Kovu asserts that he had nothing to do with the attack and begs for forgiveness. Kiara pleads with her father, but he’s had enough. He doesn’t believe a word of what Kovu is saying and officially exiles him from the Pride Lands.

In comes ‘One of Us’ (See part one for my full analysis on this song.) Dammmnnnnn I love this song so much, it’s not funny. Admittedly, I might be overly attached to it because it was also put in a lot of Zuko fanvids back in the day, but it’s just such an awesome song.

The song shows all of the animals in the Pride Lands shunning Kovu as he hastily makes his way out after being exiled. It’s a very powerful and sad song because we know Kovu is innocent, but here he is being punished for a crime he didn’t commit…again. However, I can’t really blame Simba too much this time.

Sure, he can explain this away. Afterall, Kovu introduced himself as a rogue so it’s plausible that Zira would screw him over as revenge for turning his back on the Outsiders, but, all things considered, and given how much it took for Simba to even give him a chance, it’s understandable that Simba wouldn’t listen to him and choose to exile him.

In a cool shot, they throwback to the original movie and show Kovu looking into his reflection in the water and it turns to an image of Scar (which I guess means he must have met him before, so that doesn’t make things any less confusing.) In The Lion King, Rafiki showed Simba that Mufasa’s spirit lived in him by showing him his reflection in the water and it turning to an image of Mufasa. So here, Kovu sees Scar, but instead of being comforted and empowered like Simba was, Kovu is frightened of ‘his fate’ as Scar’s heir.

Kiara is fully pissed, though. She believes Simba should have at least heard Kovu out, but Simba’s just done. He even tells Kiara that she’s not to go anywhere without an escort from now on, which, again, while being a little understandable (he’s probably worried she might be the next target) she didn’t do anything and shouldn’t be punished for no reason. However, he makes it even worse by telling her she won’t leave Pride Rock period so he can keep an eye on her, which is way too far.

Simba: “I know he’s following in Scar’s pawprints….and I must follow in my father’s.”

Kiara: “You will never be Mufasa!”

Oh shit! Like, really, Kiara. Damn. Twist that knife, why don’t ya?

Although, points off because Kiara never knew Mufasa, so she doesn’t really have any ammo to shoot off that hot take.

Also, he kinda is like Mufasa in a lot of ways, both good and bad. It’s heavily implied that Mufasa exiled the hyenas (because they were too destructive) to a place where they had little food and water too. I think Mufasa had more diplomacy and a more even head about things, though. Those things come with experience and time.

Also also, fun fact, the hyenas were originally meant to be under Zira’s command in this movie instead of a bunch of other lionesses, but the lionesses make more sense. There’s no reason why the hyenas would be helping a bunch of Scar groupies. Remember, Scar betrayed the hyenas. Oh and there’s that little thing about them eating Scar alive in vengeance of him screwing them over.

The lionesses are a great deal more threatening, considering they seem more like true threats and soldiers than minions with teeth, but it’s just kinda hard to swallow that there were this many Scar fangirls out there, considering how shitty things were when he was king.

Moving on, Kiara escapes the den out of the back and goes off to find Kovu to no avail. She sees her reflection in the water and is shocked to see half of her reflection isn’t appearing. Which must mean she’s half vampire.

Sorry, I meant to say she’s missing her other half IE Kovu. Now, I do like this imagery and it does tie in well to the ‘We Are One’ theme the movie has going through it. And I am a bit of a schmuck when it comes to the idea of soulmates, but I am fully aware of how iffy the concept is, especially when it comes to imagery like this. Kiara is literally not a whole person unless she’s with Kovu now? That does sound romantic, but Kiara has enough issues as a character without implying that she’s less of a person without Kovu.

It is pretty cool that she’s revisiting previous locations from early on in the movie, though. The first place she visits is the rock that she was sitting on when she was a cub staring in awe at the Outlands. Also, it’s the place she nearly drowned in, but it barely covers her paws now. Next, she goes to the little cramped cave where she and Kovu first kissed, but doesn’t find him.

That night, we get our next song, ‘Love Will Find a Way.’ Kiara’s wandering around sullen looking for Kovu and, as movies typically do with heartbroken characters, she keeps stumbling upon a bunch of happy animal couples.

Now, as much as I do love this song (see part one for a full analysis);

Kiara: “I may not be brave or strong or smart….” I really hate that line so much. Stop highlighting how problematic her character is, and stop acting like the only thing she has going for her is Kovu’s love and her love of him.

More revisiting when Kiara spots the clouds that look like the shapes she and Kovu saw together. She also seems to think Kovu’s small enough to be the cause of the rustling in a tiny bush when it was really a frog. Yup, you may not be smart indeed, Kiara.

She finds herself in the burned out area of the Pride Lands (or maybe it’s more in a border area) and, when I first watched this, I was so confused on where she actually was because the colors and everything make this place look like it’s white sand dunes. The only indication that this is the same burned area is that there is one burned tree to her left.

Kovu appears behind her and they happily reunite, the song ending with Kovu also revisiting an earlier scene by pushing away some of the ash and showing a seedling, showing that he and Kiara have indeed grown better than the generation before.

They play around for a while, chasing a pair of butterflies, (Kovu’s actually the one who instigates the playing here, showing that sweet character development.) This is another sendup to earlier where cub!Kiara was chasing a butterfly, which is extremely cute. They eventually nuzzle near some water and find that their reflections merge together. Kovu points out that they are one, which gives Kiara a bit of an epiphany.

Kovu suggests running away together and…well;

Kovu: “And we can start a pride all our own.” You’re both really horny lions, ya know that?

I’m not looking too deeply into that line either. He’s got his ass up and waving it back and forth while saying that line in a sultry fashion.

Kiara, however, surprisingly, doesn’t want to run away. She knows they have a duty to end the strife between the Pride Lands and the Outlands because they’re their respective families and they can’t turn their back on their people. Kovu’s reluctant, but agrees with her.

Meanwhile, back in the rainy Pride Lands, buckle up buttercup because Zira’s had enough of plots and conspiring – she wants royal blood and she wants it now. It’s time for all-out war. You really gotta give her more credit as a villain here. She’s not cornered, she doesn’t have no other choice but to attack this way like many other villains of her caliber – she is just so pissed at Simba and the Pride Landers in general that she’s saying ‘screw it’ and calling for war in order to finally kill him.

This is also another reason why having Zira leading a bunch of lionesses is better than the hyenas because, again, we already know the lionesses of Pride Rock can beat them in a mass war with little issue. An army of well-trained lionesses is a much better match (Zira even mentioned earlier that they all have specific battle training.)

They do something kinda clever so you can tell the Pride Land lionesses from the Outlanders as they’re fighting. The Outlander lionesses wade through mud on the way over, so they’re covered in mud from the neck down.

It’s very foreboding that they show all of the animals fleeing the area in terror before the war even starts, but the only animals that remain are a bunch of vultures flying overhead – indicating death.

But of course Timon and Pumbaa ruin it a little by waving their asses at them and going ‘Na nana nana naaaaa!’

Zira: “It’s over Simba! I have dreamed of nothing else for years!”

Timon: “Boy, does she need a hobby.” *snort* Alright, that one was kinda funny.

Simba: “Last chance, Zira. Go home.”

Zira: “I am home!”

Love that line. Throwing his words right back in this face while also making it into a threat.

Zira: “Go for the eyes! Break his jaw! Hit him low! Get them! Do what you must!” Goddamn, Zira is vicious.

Actually, this whole battle is shockingly vicious for a Disney movie. They’re really not holding back here. It’s very intense. I mean, obviously, there’s no blood, but it’s about as violent as they’ve gotten.

Timon and Pumbaa flee the battle after one of the lionesses roars at them. When they’re cornered, we get a veiled fart joke because Timon pretends to use Pumbaa’s tail as a gun, implying he’ll make him fart at the lionesses if they come any further. It does work, and makes them run away in terror. I think this is just far enough for me to not be annoyed at another fart joke considering they didn’t actually make him fart. This entire battle would have been marred if they made him actually fart as a weapon.

Kiara and Kovu are rushing to the battleground. They run over the dam, which is currently starting to break apart due to the rain.

Simba’s being overrun, so Zira decides its her time to get in the ring. The instant she takes a swing at Simba, every other lion stops what they’re doing to watch this go down. They circle each other for a bit and are about to formally start the one-on-one when Kiara and Kovu interrupt.

And here’s where I have to basically halt the whole movie for a bit because I have a lot to say about the resolution to this battle.

Kiara tells Simba that they have to stop, and then we get this exchange.

Kiara: “A wise king once told me, “We are one.” I didn’t understand him then…Now I do.”

Simba: “But…they–”

Kiara: “Them? Us! Look at them. They ARE us. What differences do you see?”

First of all, let me introduce myself. My name is Sassy McSmartass here to tell you that there are actually visible differences between lionesses of the Pride Lands and those of the Outlands. The Pride Land lionesses are, for lack of a better term, fuller, have more rounded edges to them and have a slightly lighter/brighter color palette. The Outlanders have more washed out/grayish-tan colorings, darker circles around the eyes, are skinnier and have more jagged edges to them. They also typically look scruffier.

The differences in the male lions are way more obvious – Orange vs. Black manes, gold vs. brown fur. Scar, Kovu and Nuka are said to be based on the now extinct Barbary lions, which had black hair and were notoriously more violent than their cousins due to their higher levels of testosterone. (Barbary lions are from a lion subspecies called P.I. Leo or Panthera Leo Leo, whereas the main branch is Panthera Leo.)

Second of all, if this movie really is trying for some undertones of a message against racism/classism then…this isn’t really a good way to get that across. I get that this is technically saying that we’re all humans…or…I guess in this case, lions, but if you take her words at face value, it’s almost like she’s saying because they look similar that they’re the same, which is uh…kinda tone deaf.

Looking the same shouldn’t be a factor at all. That’s kinda the opposite of what you should be going for here.

Maybe, instead, Kiara could have said something akin to them all being lions and being equal, but then you kinda have to factor in the idea that…yeah, all LIONS are equal. But all of the power in the Pride Lands is explicitly on the lions’ shoulders. They’re the royalty of the Savannah. No other animal has any sort of power besides what is allotted by the food chain.

….And, ya know what, just to cover all of my bases, let’s talk about a sexism angle too. Because the Pride Lands very obviously work king by king. There needs to be a king to lead, even if there’s a queen. Mufasa ruled with Sarabi, but what did Sarabi get to do? Mufasa died, and Simba left, but Sarabi didn’t rule – Scar did. And when she was with Scar, she got smacked around and treated like a servant. Simba’s ruling with Nala, but what does she do?

Kiara is the first ever, as far as I can see, Pride Land princess who will become queen, but since she’s with Kovu and he’ll be king, does that mean her power won’t mean as much?

Now you may be saying “Twix, you’ve been reading a lot into stuff throughout this review, but don’t you think you’re going a bit overboard here?”

And to that I say “Yes, yes….yes, very much.” Thing is, the stuff that they’re seemingly talking about in regards to any -ism is something I feel I have to address because it’s very clear they’re trying to say something. If you don’t look into this at all, it’s a fine message about everyone being ‘one’ we’re all the same, we’re all equal, stop being idiots and fighting for no reason. Understand each other. Get along. Your differences are just surface level and are never the deciding factor in you as people. Unite, don’t separate. And that’s a very good message, but the way they dealt with this down to the details is just….sloppy. Like all of this -ismness was residual from a scrapped script, but they still kept it slightly because they liked the message.

In regards to any -ism they’re addressing, it’s, at best, confusing and, at worst, tone deaf and overly simplistic if you follow along with every step of the story.

Which brings me to my final point about this.

Kiara….that’s not what’s happening here.

Now’s an apt time to remind everyone that this movie is heavily based on Romeo and Juliet. But, before I go on, I am…..How should I put this?….Uhmm…

I’m an uncultured twit.

I barely know anything about Shakespearean works besides 1) What I’ve seen out and about in TV and movies, and 2) What I research when I need to do so – such as with this blog post specifically. So, if I miss something in the themes and meanings of Romeo and Juliet, feel free to correct my uncultured ass.

Anyhoo, in Romeo and Juliet, the audience is purposely left in the dark as to what caused the rift between the Montagues and the Capulets. The audience can’t analyze their feud or take sides because they don’t know the circumstances of it. It’s kinda implied that they themselves don’t remember what caused it. All they know is that they hate each other and that’s just the way it is. Kinda sheds a light on how stupid their feud really is and how tragic Romeo and Juliet’s situation was.

However, as I mentioned, this movie does not follow Romeo and Juliet all that closely – and one of those changed aspects is in the fact that the families have a clear reason for their rift.

I mentioned how we don’t know exactly what went down between TLK1 and 2 to lead to Zira and her compatriots being banished to the Outlands, but we can deduce at least what must’ve happened if you believe Simba is at least partially reasonable and not a dick who just jumped off Pride Rock immediately after his roar to tell Zira, her cubs and her friends to get the hell out of dodge just for having I ❤ Scar t-shirts on.

Even if the Kopa theory isn’t valid, and it probably isn’t, especially not in a post-Lion Guard world, I can bet anything that Zira either attempted to assassinate Simba/Nala or conspired to do so, with the help of her friends, earning them all a banishment. This is a woman so desperate to kill Simba that she groomed her son from cub to adult specifically for the purpose of killing Simba. There’s no way she doesn’t have a track record of attempting to or conspiring to kill Simba.

And after they were banished, the hatred of the Outsiders only got worse and worse, considering the bad conditions of their land. I wouldn’t be surprised if more assassination attempts were made in the meantime too.

But let’s just say I’m wrong about all that. They were just banished because Simba’s unreasonable or at least overreacted to a group of bitches who wished he was dead but didn’t do anything about it.

They now HAVE attempted to murder the king – and nearly succeeded! And they technically nearly got Kiara killed in that fire, too – not to mention all the lands that were destroyed and animals that were killed in that blaze, probably. Meanwhile, all Simba and the Pride Landers have done is ‘welcome’ Kovu to live with them and tell the clearly dangerous Outsiders to stay the hell out.

Is war the answer to anything? Of course not. But if someone’s attacking you, you have every right to defend yourself, especially if you’re the first line of defense for a land filled with other creatures who rely on you for protection.

Imagine if someone was attacking you with a knife and you fought back and someone got between the two of you and scolded YOU for fighting.

Now onto the second half of the resolution.

Zira: “Vitani, NOW!”

Vitani: “No, mother….Kiara’s right. Enough.” She doesn’t even know Kiara. She’s never exchanged dialogue with her. And the last time she talked about her was during the battle in which she told Nala in a very mocking tone;

Vitani: “Where’s your pretty daughter, Nala?”

Why is Vitani, Zira’s right-hand lioness and daughter, so easily swayed by this? I mean, maybe the stuff about Scar can easily be assuaged, she may or may not barely remember him, but she also blames them for Nuka’s death. Maybe a little line like “Nuka would still be alive if it weren’t for our hatred and vengeance.” would’ve helped a little here, delivered by either Kovu or Vitani.

Anyway, Kovu’s standing his ground against Zira, and now Vitani is standing up to her too, so Zira proclaims that they’re both going to die for it. She commands the other lionesses to attack, but they join the Pride Landers and refuse to fight too. I understand this one a little better because the other lionesses don’t decide to leave until they hear Zira telling her own children that she’ll kill them to achieve her ends, which is way more swaying. I, too, prefer to side with the people who don’t kill their children.

Simba tells Zira to stand down and let it go, but she refuses. Now completely alone, she decides to go ham and attack Simba herself. Kiara, however, intercepts the attack and they end up tumbling down the cliffside together. The dam upriver bursts, filling the canyon below with rushing waters filled with karma.

Kiara manages to get her footing, but Zira is hanging on for dear life. To her credit, Kiara tries to help her, even after Zira tries to claw at her paw, but Zira’s too stubborn to accept help, so she falls into the river and drowns. It’s rather poignant too, if you think about it. I mean, Nuka’s body has to be in that water now….

Kiara: “Daddy….I tried.” There’s something about this line that makes me think it’s meant to be a throwback to Nuka’s death, but for the life of me I can’t see the significance besides similar wording.

After Zira’s death, Simba admits he was wrong and welcomes Kovu as well as all of the Outland lionesses back to the pride.

Later, we get a Lion King wedding as Kovu and Kiara are wed on Pride Rock, surrounded by a bunch of the lionesses. Also, it’s insanely hard to tell if Vitani’s here. I THINK she’s the one sitting next to Kiara, but I can’t see her hair tuft, so it’s hard to tell. I can’t imagine she wouldn’t attend her brother’s wedding, but I honestly can’t discern her from the others.

After some cute as hell cuddles, they ascend Pride Rock and roar in celebration while all the animals down below cheer.

Mufasa’s spirit tells Simba “Well done, my son.” No pat on the back for Kiara, too? Or Kovu? They’re kinda the reason this all happened. Oh you’re not gonna say anything else? Could only get James Earl Jones in the studio for two lines? Okay.

With Mufasa’s spirit proclaiming “We are one.” the movie ends.

——————————–

And that was The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride, the last Disquel to review for this series, what I truly believe to be the best Disquel and one of my favorite movies.

I’m not going to lie and say the movie doesn’t have its faults. I’ve written way too much about it to not go over as many as I thought were worth discussing, obviously, to say it doesn’t. Even when I was a kid I was bothered by the weird consistency issues between the two movies, which is quite a bit of the reason why this review so far has been insanely long. When you’ve watched a movie as many times as I have, and it means as much to you as this one does to me and you overthink things to a concerning level like I do, it’s hard not to get it all out when you finally have the chance.

However, I do think this movie has plenty of quality to weather its faults without affecting the outcome that much. I still enjoy this movie as much now as I did when I was a kid, and I think it’s a very deserving sequel to the original Lion King. I just wish more of the interim between movies had been fleshed out and Kiara were a more interesting character. Everything else is more or less awesome, particularly the plot with Kovu and Zira as a villain.

I keep imagining how incredible this movie might have been if they aimed for a theatrical release. Slightly longer runtime, even better animation, more elbow room for everything – It could have been even better. But I thank my lucky stars that The Lion King was one of the first to get the Disquel treatment because GEEEEEZZZ it’s mostly downhill from here. It’s amazing how we went from this to stuff like Hunchback 2, Fox and the Hound 2 and Mulan 2….

The voice acting is top notch, even if Neve Campbell as Kiara was kinda weak. Like I mentioned, I adored the performance of the late Suzanne Pleshette as Zira. She absolutely killed it. I also think Jason Marsden did a great job as Kovu. They also managed to get everyone else back from the original movie, barring two people.

Scar’s brief cameo was covered by Jim Cummings, who voiced him briefly in ‘Be Prepared’ in the original movie (he does a damn good job emulating Jeremy Irons) and Sarabi didn’t return at all because her voice actress, Madge Sinclair, died in 1995, just a year after the first Lion King movie. There is speculation that she is there in dialogue-free shots in the background, especially when Kiara goes on her first hunt, but I think that’s a stretch. I feel more comfortable saying Sarabi passed away with Madge.

The music is hands down the best you’ll find in the Disquels. People still reference and play several of the songs to this day.

The animation, while not being nearly to the original’s standards, is still extremely good for direct-to-VHS. It definitely could have gotten a theatrical release with no problem. Really, the only art and animation issues are when the characters are seen from far away, because they lose many features and become blobby. No real issues beyond that, though.

I highly recommend anyone see this movie. Even if you’re not a big Lion King fan, it’s still a good movie with emotional moments, intense action, an awesome villain and a sweet romance.

As for Dissecting the Disquels, sunset may be here, but I still have a couple things left to do before we move on to the Disquel spin-off TV series and even, yes, we’re going there, the Disney live-action reboots (I’ve been reading/watching a lot about their latest victim, Mulan, recently…..Someone hold me….) so stay tuned!

Recommended Audience: Disney+ gives it a G, but there are some darker themes here like a lot of mentions of murder, two counts of accidental death, child abuse, violence. Maybe 6 or 7+?

UPDATE 9/29/20: So quick update on TLK, they literally just announced a day after I posted this that they’ll be making a sequel to the live-action Lion King movie……but it won’t be a live-action version of TLK2 – instead, it will focus on Mufasa’s origins and be a prequel, while also somehow expanding on the main story even though he’s dead for most of the main movie? What? Don’t get me wrong, I’m relieved as all hell they won’t be doing a live-action TLK2, they’re ruining enough as it is, but I’m also getting dreadful feelings because now they’re making unnecessary prequels, which has so much Disquel vibes it’s not even funny. What the hell are they doing?


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Pokemon Episode 60 Analysis: Beach Blank-Out Blastoise

Pokemon Episode 60 Screen1

CotD(s): None

Plot: As Ash, Misty and Brock try to catch the last ferry off of Cinnabar Island, Ash runs into a panicked Wartortle. Pikachu lets Squirtle out to figure out what it’s trying to tell them. After some discussion, Squirtle and Wartortle rush off into the ocean. Ash and the others grab a boat and make haste in their direction. Their destination? A small island not marked on any map that has a mountain in the shape of a Squirtle shell.

When they arrive, they see a multitude of Squirtle and Wartortle shells scattered across the beach, and one massive Blastoise shell sits on a stone platform up ahead. Excited at seeing a Blastoise, Ash rushes over to get a better look, but when he and Squirtle put their ears up to the shell, they quickly fall asleep.

Pikachu awakens them all with a shock, and Ash explains that the last thing he heard before he konked out was weird familiar music.

They learn from the Wartortle and Squirtle that this is the island of Turtle Pokemon, and their king is Blastoise. One day, Blastoise went for a swim, but didn’t return. When they found him, he was in the middle of the ocean and withdrawn into his shell, fast asleep. Almost as soon as they got Blastoise situated on his platform, all of the other Wartortle and Squirtle fell asleep – all except one; the Wartortle that ran into Ash and the others. It had ran to the shore in a panic to retrieve help.

As they investigate Blastoise a little more, Blastoise suddenly starts waking up. It releases its cannons, but something seems to be jammed in there – something pink and blobby with a pointy little ear.

Misty and Brock realize what’s really going on – Jigglypuff is stuck in Blastoise’s cannon and is continuously singing, putting everyone to sleep. But before they can run away, they hear Jigglypuff singing once more and everyone is knocked out.

In an effort to get Blastoise while everyone is sleeping, Team Rocket sends Meowth over, but he falls asleep as well. Going to Plan B, they grab Blastoise with a line shot from their sub and nab him up. They’re happy as clams on the sub until they hear the music coming from Blastoise and fall asleep, causing the sub to sink.

On shore, Ash and co. as well as the other turtle Pokemon wake up and realize Blastoise was taken by Team Rocket. Squirtle leads the other turtles into the water to retrieve the sub and their king. They’re successful in their mission, but Team Rocket’s not done yet. They return to their sub and change it into its tank mode. They charge after the Wartortle and Squirtle, aiming to capture them all.

Ash commands Pikachu and Squirtle to wake up Blastoise with a combination Water Gun and Thundershock. It works in not only waking Blastoise up, but also ejecting poor Jigglypuff from the cannon.

Blastoise grabs the tank and stops it dead in its tracks. With a massive collective Water Gun from the Squirtle and Wartortle and one good Hydro Pump from Blastoise, Team Rocket blasts off….with Jigglypuff inside! Jigglypuff sings yet again, causing the trio to fall asleep as their sub falls back into the ocean.

Squirtle pulls off a brave rescue on Jigglypuff as the sub explodes underwater, but Jigglypuff sings yet again on shore, causing all of the turtle Pokemon and Ash and co. to fall asleep once more.

Later, the group wakes up, with marker on their faces, as always, and they bid farewell to Blastoise, the Wartortle and the Squirtle of the island, setting off to leave Cinnabar Island and head to Viridian City for Ash’s eighth and final badge.

Meanwhile, Team Rocket, also covered in marker, sits on the remains of their sub out in the middle of the sea…

———————–

– It took me way too long to figure out what that title was meant to be playing off of, but, in all fairness, what kid would get that either? Beach Blanket Bingo a very VERY dated reference. And even if it wasn’t, that’s a really sloppy title either way. Blank-out? Who says that?

– Ash: “A War-what-tle!?” Ash, if there’s any group of Pokemon you should know about quite well, it’s the starter line. They are actually Pokemon you’ve canonically studied. Unless you just stopped learning about them at their base stages, which is ridiculous. Selecting a starter has a lot to do with knowing what they’ll (likely) become in late game, too.

– Dexter: “Its long furry tail is a symbol of its age and wisdom.”

Ash: “It doesn’t look smart.”

WOW, ASH!

WOW.

FUCK OFF.

WOW.

Also, you’re the last person on earth who should be criticizing the intelligence of others.

– Why is the one person here who’s not in the slightest bit interested in Wartortle, Misty? Brock identifies it right away and is impressed by seeing such a rare Pokemon, and Ash leaps up to use Dexter on it, but Misty just doesn’t say a word.

– How does Pikachu not understand Wartortle? It’s been established that Pokemon language is universal amongst Pokemon. And Pikachu can understand Squirtle just fine. Just seems like a lazy reason to bring Squirtle out when they easily could’ve justified it anyway.

– The return of the sunglasses!!

Pokemon Episode 60 Screen2

– Ash: “Hey it’s a pair of Squirtle Squad sunglasses!”….Err…you mean “It’s Squirtle’s sunglasses!” Or “It’s the sunglasses Squirtle wore when he was in the Squirtle Squad!” It’s not like they’re Squirtle Squad brand sunglasses or anything. Ash, you’ve had your Squirtle for a long, long time now and you’re just now realizing it kept its sunglasses?

– I love how Misty let out Horsea for this little boat trip, but it’s not in the water. (Skipping ahead, she gives up Horsea in the next episode because it doesn’t get to swim enough. Yet she’s in the ocean right now and Horsea’s not in the water. Maybe it wouldn’t be able to keep up, but what’s the point of having it sit on her shoulder?)

– I was going to ask how the island isn’t on their map, but then I remembered that their maps are all useless collections of random shapes and various shades of green.

– They notice the Squirtle and Wartortle shells littering the beach before they notice the massive Blastoise shell sitting 50 feet in front of them on a stone platform?

– Really bothers me that when Ash ‘dexes Wartortle, all he has to say is ‘It doesn’t look smart.’ But when he ‘dexes Blastoise, he’s all jazzed and rushes over to see it.

Speaking of that, it’s also a little irritating that this is the second time a mid-evo starter has been introduced in the same episode a final evo starter has debuted. It diminishes the mid-evos entirely. Charmeleon got off a little better, but not by much because Ash’s Charmander only got a couple of episodes as a Charmeleon before they got tired of it and just upgraded it to Charizard.

The mid-evos have enough problems getting any sort of recognition without their debut episodes turning out this way. And it’s a real shame, too, because Ivysaur’s my favorite Pokemon and Wartortle is one of my favorite Pokemon. I’d say Ivysaur was treated a little better than Wartortle here, but it’s still a sucky situation for both sets.

– Brock: “It’s either asleep or practicing its Withdraw attack.” Withdraw is not an attack. Also, as a turtle, does it really need to practice that move?

– Ash is really so excited to see a Blastoise that he runs up and HUGS the shell? And he says “I’ve waited so long to meet you!” I guess a Squirtle was his starter of choice, before he realized all of the starters were gone and he ended up with Pikachu (and Gary likely got the Squirtle he coveted) so maybe he’s a fan of Blastoise….but that also indicates that he’d have to know about Wartortle, which means you’d think he’d be a fan of that too, but I guess he just thinks it’s an idiot. 😐

– So they’re right by the ocean, and waking people up is commonly done by splashing people in the face with water, so it’s obvious they’re going to try that–

Misty: “Pikachu, try an electro-shock alarm clock!”

………*sigh*

– Ash says he heard music that sounded familiar….and put him to sleep. Anyone want to connect those dots? It’ll be easy. They’re so close together that you’d need a microscope to see any space between them.

– Misty: “Well, I guess we better get going.” Eghasdkasoepah—wha? You haven’t helped the Pokemon yet. Blastoise is still asleep and there’s still…’some weird music’ that is completely unknown making everyone who hears it fall asleep.

Ash: “We’re not going anywhere until we wake up that Blastoise!”

That’s more like it!

Misty: “I was afraid you were going to say that.” What is wrong with you today, Misty? These are Water Pokemon in distress, but you seem to give less than a shit about them.

– Also, I know the reason for the weird faces Brock and Misty keep making in the Japanese version (Satoshi originally mentioned the sound was like something out of hell) but faces in the dub combined with the deduction skills of anyone with enough brain power to complete a two-piece puzzle really makes it seem like Brock and Misty know what the super mysterious source of the unknown sleepy music is, but they just want to leave to avoid having to deal with it, and that’s just crappy of them.

Pokemon Episode 60 Screen3

– Why did Brock sit down and draw an entire slideshow presentation about what happened to the Blastoise, Wartortle and Squirtle? And why are they wasting time watching it when they could be helping the Blastoise?

– Wartortle ran (on water) from the island to the mainland? Either this Wartortle has insane levels of stamina and speed or this island is very close to the mainland and should be on a map. Technically, it should be on a map either way because it looks like it’s high noon, if the sun is any indication, yet they got to the island that same day on a boat pulled by Pokemon. And considering they were trying to catch the ‘last ferry’ off of Cinnabar, I’d imagine it wasn’t first thing in the morning when they left either.

– Misty: “Gee, people have been looking for the Turtle Pokemon breeding grounds for years. Could this really be it?” Again, there’s no way this island is too far away from mainland Cinnabar nor is it in some remote closed off area, so it seems ridiculous that no Pokemon researchers have found this place by now. But, of course, Ash and pals manage to access it easily because of course they do. With them finding so many inaccessible/lost locations with ease and meeting legendary Pokemon once a year, Pokemon Researchers should really just shadow Ash and his friends at all times.

– I probably took too long to ask this, but why didn’t they just shock Blastoise awake and ask him what happened?

– Ash: “Looks like Blastoise was asleep too.”

Ash…..does your brain cell ever get lonely?

– *A pink blob with a pointed ear pops out of Blastoise’s cannon*

Misty: “It can’t be!”

Brock: “I hope that’s not what I think it is!”

Ash: “Uhh, what is it Brock?”

Ash: *Hears the music* “That’s it! That’s the sound I heard!”

Brock: “Jigglypuff!”

This still isn’t over. Jigglypuff is still mostly in the cannon. Keep this in mind for a little later.

– Jigglypuff is JAMMED in that cannon, and it was pretty far down the pipe too. How is it breathing, let alone singing?

– Speaking of that, HOW did it get jammed in there? Was Jigglypuff just chilling out randomly in the middle of the ocean and somehow got sucked into Blastoise’s cannon and couldn’t get out? The cannons expel things, not suck them in.

– I really don’t understand any part of sending Meowth over to get the Blastoise. It’s clear either it or something around it is causing everything in its radius to fall asleep, yet they send him over without any investigation or attempt at protection. And when he falls asleep, they slap him around, chuck him like a ragdoll and say he was a coward who fainted….right before acknowledging that they don’t want to get near Blastoise out of fear of the same happening to them.

– They had a mechanism in their sub that could latch onto Blastoise from their spot in the water, drag it over and secure it instantly….That makes the plan with Meowth even more nonsensical.

– Gotta love Squirtle taking charge as leader and getting the Wartortle and Squirtle back to their senses.

Pokemon Episode 60 Screen4

– Misty: “Ash, your Squirtle’s a real leader!”

Ash: “Well, that’s what happens when you have a great trainer.” Squirtle was a great leader before it ever became your Pokemon, Ash. Also, it remained a great leader IN SPITE of your incompetence.

Brock: “Hm. Or maybe they’re just impressed by the sunglasses.” I get that this is a joke, but please just leave it at Squirtle being awesome because Squirtle’s awesome.

– I feel the need to bring up a note the Bulbagarden comparison had on this episode, and that was why they never discussed the possibility of Ash’s Squirtle evolving in it.

While I did herald back to Bulbasaur’s Mysterious Garden in this review, I gotta say, until I saw the comparison, I never really thought too much about Squirtle’s stunted evolution when watching this episode in particular. I don’t know why, especially since I went on about how much I like Wartortle, and I have talked a few times already about Squirtle being stunted

Logically, it doesn’t make much sense. Bulbasaur just seems to be happy as a Bulbasaur and doesn’t want the physical change – as much as I gathered anyway. Pikachu also seems to be happy and proud as a Pikachu, though this will later become a bit of a contradiction once Johto rolls around and we learn Pikachu is actually a mid-evo. Pidgeotto will evolve later, so there’s no reason needed to be given there (even if it took way too long for it to happen.)

However, we never get an explanation as to why Squirtle doesn’t evolve or even if he wants to.

….Maybe he doesn’t want to evolve because his sunglasses won’t fit anymore if he does….

– Ash, Misty and Brock: “IT’S A TRAIL!” A trail that just magically appeared out of nowhere. It’s not like this is a trail of footprints or drops or anything – it’s a massive four foot wide drag mark left behind from Blastoise’s shell – and it was right in front of them. It’s not that they didn’t notice, either – it did not exist in the artwork. It’s like the stream behind Snorlax in Wake Up Snorlax!

Pokemon Episode 60 Screen5Pokemon Episode 60 Screen6

– It is really cool how Squirtle commands these Squirtle and Wartortle like well-trained soldiers. They have formations and everything.

– Team Rocket is acting as if one Blastoise will give them the power to steal any Pokemon they want. Even if Blastoise was strong enough to do that, they acknowledge that they have to give Blastoise to Giovanni, so what gives? Or….are they talking about their little suction-cup grabber thing? Because that’s a very limited use item, guys.

– Team Rocket is being extra shitty to Meowth today. I actually feel bad for him.

– Aw, Pikachu giving CPR to Meowth.

Pokemon Episode 60 Screen7
Misty…..where is your other arm?

– Jessie: “I don’t recall asking you to save our lives.”

James: “Well, I’m grateful.” Pft, can’t help but love James sometimes.

– Ash: “I kinda feel sorry for that guy.” Me too.

…Also, his name is James, sweetie. It’s episode 60 – you should know the name of your weekly adversary by now, especially considering that, nearly every time you see him, he gives a lengthy introduction including his name.

– Aw, Ash’s Squirtle tries to stand his ground against the tank. What a brave little sweetheart.

– I was going to give the combo Water Gun/Thundershock a pass because it’s just another silly Pokemonism, and I was really just thinking they were combining the awakening effects of the water with the electricity to make it more powerful, but they had to practically make me bring it up with Brock saying this.

Brock: “Squirtle’s Water Gun is carrying the electricity of Pikachu’s Thundershock!” This isn’t so much a problem with the science, even though, going by that logic, Pikachu would be shocking Squirtle too, but it’s moreso a question of…why? Why would Pikachu need Squirtle’s Water Gun to carry his electricity? If Squirtle is close enough to reach with his Water Gun, which should have much lower range than Thundershock, Pikachu is more than close enough to land a hit.

– Ash: “Ah, it’s Jigglypuff!”

infinity iq

Seriously, Ash, how…..just….how…is it 18 minutes into the episode and you’re just NOW getting that it was Jigglypuff all along? Especially since, right before you all fell asleep the last time, Brock yelled out ‘Jigglypuff!’? You had so many clues, it’s almost comical that you never got it until Jigglypuff finally popped out of the cannon.

Again, he has the nerve to say he doesn’t think Wartortle seems smart.

Truth be told, I’m still baffled he didn’t figure it out the first time he got knocked out. You hear a mysterious song that sounded familiar and made you fall asleep. A song where the lyrics are literally, as I will now transcribe for you all, ahem;

“Jigglypuff, Jigglypuff.

Jigglypuff, Jiggly.

Jigglypuff, Jigglypuff.

Jigglypuff, Jiggly.

Jigglypuff, Jigglypuff.

Jigglypuff, Jiggly.”

And you’re completely clueless.

The point is, Ash,

– I was going to maybe give the writers a pass on the grounds of they thought we had forgotten about Jigglypuff since it does take long breaks between appearances sometimes…but nope. It appeared in the last episode and one the before that. I even noted in the last episode how it seemed like they put a blink-and-you-miss-it Jigglypuff cameo in for no reason other than to remind us it exists.

– Blastoise didn’t get to do a lot this episode, which is kinda surprising, but if the one thing it actually does is stop a tank with its bare hands and then blast it off with a Hydro Pump, I got no complaints.

– Brock: “Blastoise is da bomb!” Don’t ruin it….

– Uhm….why did the sub explode when it splashed down back into the water?

– Misty: “Are Squirtle and Jigglypuff okay?”

Why does no one care that Team Rocket is surely dead now? Either the explosion killed them or being sunk underwater while being knocked out by Jigglypuff did.

– Also, Jigglypuff is a balloon. Wouldn’t it just instantly float up to the surface and be fine?

– Oh well, it gave us another badass Squirtle moment, so it’s all good.

….Well…I guess except for the dead Team Rocket thing.

– So is Jigglypuff an idiot too? Because it’s literally done nothing this entire episode except sing over and over. It’s not even reacting to what’s happening to it. Got sucked into a Blastoise cannon? Sing. Stuck there for hours? Keep singing the entire time. Land in Team Rocket’s sub? Sing. Get saved from drowning and an explosion? Sing.

Or maybe it’s stuck in plot device mode today….

– Jigglypuff’s shtick does get very old, but drawing eyes on Brock was hilarious.

Pokemon Episode 60 Screen8

– Misty: “I don’t think this is funny! I look like a cartoon character!”

Ash: “A cartoon character?! Like THAT could ever happen!” That little meta joke might have actually worked if they didn’t make Ash go too far with it. It’s not just what he says, but how he’s gesturing as he says it and the way Veronica Taylor delivers the line. We’re not as dumb as Ash, guys. We get what you did there….

Ash’s line is so awkward either way. Misty said she looked like a cartoon character. She didn’t say she was turning into one or anything.

And they hold on the shot for several seconds after he says this, like they’re waiting for the audience to get done laughing at that zinger. What a weird moment…

– And don’t worry, Team Rocket’s alive…They won’t die because of that. They’re so durable. It’s like….they’re cartoon characters.

Pftt, like THAT could ever happen! 😀

———————————–

All in all, despite not remembering this episode too well, I ended up liking it. Sure, it didn’t highlight Wartortle very well at all, and I’m still a bit salty at that ‘It doesn’t look smart’ crack, but it was pretty entertaining in its own right, even if the “mystery” was almost insultingly easy. I get that it’s a kid’s show, but I imagine even the demo for Pokemon would be rolling their eyes that they’re not figuring out that it’s Jigglypuff.

At least Misty and Brock seemed to figure it out within a reasonable time frame, but the fact that Ash didn’t figure it out until he saw Jigglypuff full out, even with Brock exclaiming what it was earlier, even with nearly every clue in existence shoved in his face, was just a masterclass of stupidity.

You never cease to remind me why I don’t feel bad about nicknaming you ‘DumbAsh,’ DumbAsh….

It was also pretty repetitive to just have Jigglypuff constantly singing and knocking everyone out over and over. I just don’t like when Jigglypuff is given so much focus because it’s a shining example of a one-note character. It’s tired old shtick gets irritating when it just randomly pops up in any episode, but giving it essentially an entire episode is too much.

And why, if Misty and Brock knew what was going on quite early, did they not think to plug their ears or something? Why were they practically keeping it a secret between the two of them and almost didn’t want to believe it was Jigglypuff? If I were them, I’d have noise-canceling headphones or earplugs on me at all times.

Even though the episode didn’t specifically focus on him, Ash’s Squirtle was a delight in this episode. We got a return of the legendary sunglasses, and he lead the Squirtle and Wartortle of the island like he was born to be a leader – and we know he was. The things he was pulling off with them, especially when he’s barely known them for an hour or two, was very impressive. I’m just a bit disappointed we never got an actual scene between Squirtle and Blastoise – like one where Blastoise would either thank Squirtle or show a mutual respect among leaders.

And while the shtick was really tired, there is a certain charm to this episode for some reason. I don’t know what it is because around every corner is another ‘Doh!’ moment. Maybe it was just how they got through it together and all the little moments that made it much more tolerable than it otherwise would be.

Next time, one of my favorite episodes, but also a slightly bittersweet one, The Misty Mermaid!


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Pokemon Episode 59 Analysis – Volcanic Panic

Pokemon Ep 59 Screen11

Badge Episode: Cinnabar Island – Volcano Badge (Attempt 2 – Success)

50px-Volcano_Badge

Plot: Ash’s Gym battle with Blaine continues with Pikachu cornered between the fearsome Magmar and the molten hot pit of magma below as he stands inches away from the edge of the arena. He barely misses getting hit by a Fire Blast, earning him a burn mark on his back and nearly forcing him into the magma below. Pikachu is okay, but Ash can’t stand to risk Pikachu’s life any further so he surrenders.

As Ash takes Pikachu to the hot spring to recover, Team Rocket devises a plan to steal Magmar – trick it into dropping its guard and then hit it with freeze blasts. The frozen Pokemon will then be transported to their boss. Their plan fails miserably as Magmar effortlessly melts the ice almost as quickly as it encases it.

Panicking, Team Rocket unleashes a barrage of freeze blasts to the surrounding rock, causing it to crack and break apart. Blaine is alerted to the situation and Ash and Co. go with him to help. The Gym is falling apart at a fast rate and, even worse, the magma is going out of control. Soon, the rocks will burst and the entire island will be flooded with magma, killing all of its inhabitants.

Team Rocket blasts off and Blaine commands Magmar to stop the magma flow with a wall of rocks. Only Fire Pokemon can withstand the heat enough to help, so Ash calls on Charizard…..who promptly naps.

Magmar is left to make the dam alone, but every time a decent amount of rocks is stacked, the magma pushes them away. Magmar simply can’t make a dam fast enough on its own. Respecting Magmar’s power and determination, Charizard agrees to help out. The two of them together make the dam more effective more quickly.

Brock decides to send out Geodude and Onix to help, since Rock Types don’t mind the heat, and Misty sends out Staryu (and Ash, Squirtle) to help keep the Pokemon cool with Water Gun. After a lot of work and a lot of rocks, the dam is successfully made and the island is saved.

Ash initially thinks this act has earned him a Volcano Badge, but Blaine offers a rematch for the badge instead. Using an arena made on the top of the volcano, over another lava pit, they start their one-on-one match. Blaine sends out Magmar. Ash is about to send out Pikachu, but Charizard insists on battling, wanting to test his strength against an opponent as tough as Magmar.

Ash is excited that Charizard will finally battle for him, even if he shows that he still doesn’t respect him. The battle heats up quickly, no pun intended, as Magmar and Charizard maintain a pretty even playing field throughout the match. However, the tides soon turn when Magmar grapples Charizard and dives into the magma with him.

This move, despite being lethally devastating, is considered legal by Blaine since the lava pit itself counts as a part of the arena, thus Magmar is violating no rules dragging Charizard down there, despite the horrible implications.

Ash starts mourning Charizard, but there’s bubbling in the lava.

Sure enough, Charizard flies out of the lava, Magmar still latched to his back, and starts shooting up into the sky. With a Submission and a powerful Seismic Toss attack, Magmar is soundly defeated and Ash earns his Volcano Badge. Charizard, however, goes back to his old tricks immediately and Flamethrower’s Ash in the face before having his own victory celebration in the middle of the arena.

With his seventh badge in hand, Ash wonders where he’ll earn his eighth and final badge before gaining entry into the Indigo League. Brock tells him that he never beat the Gym back in Viridian City. Ash wonders why Misty never told him of a Gym in Viridian City and she explains that they were fighting back then, though she doesn’t remember why. Brock nearly reminds her of the bike Ash busted when they first met, and Ash does his best to change the subject and walk off. Misty remembers, however, and reminds him that he still needs to pay her back for her bike.

It’s off to Viridian City and the battle for the Earth Badge!

——————————–

– Alright, alright, alright, this is completely unimportant and kind of silly but I swear this has been driving me nuts for years and now I finally have a platform to point it out.

In the flashback to the previous episode, when Ash is talking to Pikachu right as Pikachu is stuck between Magmar and a fall into a pit of magma, surely ending his life, Ash says ‘You’ll feel 100% soon, Pikachu.’

Obviously, this is not only the wrong line, but this line was taken from after the title card when Ash is bathing Pikachu and trying to soothe his battle wounds. I don’t know if this was a mistake in the editing room or this was something 4Kids consciously did (Wouldn’t put it past them) but still, how did such a mistake even happen? It’s a clip mashup recap. That’s one of the easiest things in the world to edit. Just take clips from the episode and put them to new music with a voiceover. It would make more sense if they accidentally put this audio clip over the audio for that scene, but nope. It’s purely the ‘100%’ audio.

This drove me nuts as a kid because it’s just so hard to miss and so awkward. It’s a very inappropriate thing to say at that scene. It’s like it’s implying that Ash is okay with Pikachu getting hurt because he’ll be treated soon after.

– Narrator: “As Ninetales won the first round with its Ember attack!” Nope. That was a Fire Spin.

You can tell because the clip you’re playing shows the fire…spinning……Also, it literally takes two seconds to check the last episode.

– Narrator: *In regards to the battle against Rhydon* “It was Pikachu to the rescue with another electrifying effort!” Don’t remind me…

– Flashback!Blaine: “Come out, Magmar!” That’s not what he said – he said “I choose Magmar!”

Flashback!Ash: “What’s that?” That’s not what he said during that shot. He said, “Mag….mar?” Dogasu from Dogasu’s backpack/Bulbagarden stated that they suspect this episode was made when Riddle Me This was likely still in production or at least not solidified, as that’s the only way they can explain how screwed up the dialogue in the flashback is. However, not having the right lines is different from taking a line later in this same episode, one that’s completely nonsensical in this context, and using it in the previous shot. 4Kids really doesn’t have an excuse with that one.

Plus, technically, 4Kids does this all the time. When they make cuts to insert commercial breaks in their shows and then replay the last scene when they come back as a mini-recap, they very commonly change the dialogue for whatever reason. Their theory is still sound, but I can’t help but think this is just more 4Kids sloppiness.

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– Narrator: “Pikachu is in real Pika-peril!” Narrator, Pikachu is about to be burned alive or melted in molten magma. Maybe now’s not the best time for cute wordplay.

– Ash: “Pikachu! Duck for cover!” That’s actually pretty smart seeing as how Fire Blast’s shape leaves a big gap in the bottom. If you duck, you should be able to avoid it, especially at Pikachu’s size.

– High five to Ash for stopping the match. It definitely shows his growth, particularly when you remember his first Gym match with Brock. However, maybe I should dock that to a high four or something because I think he waited a bit long to call it off. When Pikachu was cornered between an insanely powerful Fire Pokemon who wasn’t affected by electricity and a pit of magma, that would’ve been the time to raise the white flag.

– Blaine: “The hots springs will help it recover from its injuries.” I know people say hot springs have medicinal or therapeutic properties, but are hot springs really wise for treating….burns?

– Ash: “Hey, Blaine, where ya goin’?! You have to give me another chance!” Why are you stopping him from leaving? He never said he wouldn’t give you another chance in the future, and you obviously can’t have one immediately.

– It is pretty cute to see Ash bathing Pikachu. Although, that has to HURT on a burn wound.

– Ash: “If Charizard would battle, I know I’d win!” Why? It’s Fire v. Fire and Magmar is an incredibly experienced Pokemon who is basically magma incarnate. Charizard is his most powerful Pokemon, but the matchup is so iffy to act like it’d be a sure thing.

Ash: “But it still won’t listen to me…” Yeah, I don’t get it. Charizard still won’t listen after all the nothings you’ve tried to get it to obey. It’s so weird.

– There’s a very interesting and somewhat irritating comparison note/rant on this scene with Team Rocket found here.

– Team Rocket’s going to battle Magmar with an ice gun…..Uh….Huh…

– James: “A frozen Magmarita!” Did you just reference a margarita? As in, you made an alcohol reference in Pokemon? Keep making sense, 4Kids.

– They plan on tricking Magmar into thinking he won something so they can get a chance to take it off-guard and freeze-blast it….but they also decided to carry their freeze blaster rocket launchers into the room with them….Yeah, that doesn’t seem suspicious. Keep in mind, this show frequently incorporates cartoon logic – as in you always see Team Rocket pulling various items out of nowhere like the space behind them is an endless void of props. There’s no reason they can’t walk in seemingly carrying nothing.

Yes, I am nitpicking the fact that they’re NOT using cartoon logic here, but only because their real logic makes their plan completely pointless.

(Another alternative – they could have been carrying briefcases or something that turn into the rocket launchers.)

– Would Magmar really care that he won a trip to Mount Vesuvius if he already lives in a volcano?

– I love how Magmar gives zero shits about the rockets being shot towards it. Like ‘Yeah, whatever.’

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– I don’t know why Blaine is suddenly all about puns instead of riddles.

– If I’m going to go off about lack of cartoon logic, I guess I’ll keep my mouth shut about the fact that Jessie and James seemingly have an endless supply of ice rockets.

– Ash literally just told Blaine to stop the jokes, and when Blaine asks what will happen when the volcano fills with ice, he responds that it will become a snow cone…..

– So, Team Rocket’s plan was not only stupid, but their plan B was 100x more stupid and didn’t even have an end goal besides ‘freeze gym.’ Okie dokie.

– That being said, a volcano breaking apart and threatening to spew lava all over the island, killing all of its residents in a short time frame, is certainly a high-tension moment for this series.

– It’s really cute that Pikachu wants to help too. Kinda reminds me of him using a watering can to help put out the fire in Pokemon Scent-Sation.

– Blaine: “WAIT! Only a Fire Type Pokemon can withstand the heat from that lava!” I don’t think the lava at its current level is any lower or higher than it was to the Gym platform. This is either not true or Blaine knows his Gym setup is ridiculously unsafe for non-Fire Types (and people for that matter) but keeps it that way because screw you.

– I am even more annoyed than usual about Ash’s typical ‘expecting Charizard to obey out of nowhere’ shtick this time. I think it’s because his body language and voice acting make him seem more cocky about it in this episode.

– Ash: “Argh, Charizard never listens to me…” At this point, I wouldn’t listen either. Yes, Charizard is a big brat who had a personality change out of nowhere just because of evolution. However, after all this time, look at it from Charizard’s perspective.

This little shit knows you’re a powerhouse and keeps commanding you like an army general. He makes no efforts to understand you or train you. Time and again, he keeps throwing you out because you’re his trump card, expecting you to obey simply because he’s the Trainer and you’re the Pokemon. Each time you get let out is another reminder that he’s an entitled asshat who just wants to use your power to win without working with you to earn it. Wouldn’t you just continue to lose any desire whatsoever to obey him whenever he calls on you?

That coupled with Charizard’s pride makes this relationship a recipe for disaster.

I really, truly think Charizard would be more cooperative if Ash showed more maturity and respect for Charizard, even if Charizard himself doesn’t deserve it either. One of them has to be the bigger man/Pokemon and put the cards on the table.

It’s been shown time and again, including here, that Charizard can put aside his pride and his attitude if the other person/Pokemon shows some sort of strength in character to earn it. Here, Magmar is trying valiantly to save lives by stopping the volcano from erupting. Charizard recognizes its noble feats and decides to get off his ass and help. In contrast, Ash demands that Charizard help out, which leads to the predictable outcome of Charizard taking a nap.

Pokemon Ep 59 Screen3
I love Pikachu’s expression here. He’s not even surprised anymore.

– Seems really dumb to segue from such a topic to something as silly as this, but I don’t think Magmar have the ability to sweat.

Pokemon Ep 59 Screen4

I mean, not only would the sweat certainly evaporate immediately, but a Pokemon like Magmar wouldn’t need a biological function designed to cool off the body.

– Also, uhh, Rock Pokemon can also easily withstand the heat from the magma…..*lip smack*…Sure would be nice if we had some of those, huh, Brock?

Big strong Rock Pokemon…sorta like, eh, Rhydon or something….huh, Blaine? (You can argue that Rhydon was KO’d earlier, but Squirtle was barbecued and he’s perfectly fine to help out now.)

– It is pretty awesome when Charizard starts helping out. That little look Magmar and Charizard give each other is cool. They don’t need to say anything, they’re just fiery badasses saving the day.

– Brock: “Right! Okay Onix and Geodude – Rock Pokemon can take heat! GO!” Oh NOW your brain starts working! Good thing you weren’t in a horribly perilous situation that could end the lives of thousa—oh wait.

– Misty: “And Starmie you can help them all to keep cool while they’re working!” The sentiment is nice, Misty, but no. No. Don’t do that. No.

First of all, we just saw the kind of cataclysmic effects that occur when you quickly cool hot rocks. I don’t know the temperature of water from within a Water Pokemon, and quite frankly I don’t want to research that, nor do I know if quickly cooling a hot Rock Pokemon has the same effects, but it’s too risky to try that.

Secondly, they’re all Fire and Rock Type Pokemon, Misty. They’re WEAK to water. Spraying them the whole time would just hurt and weaken them while they’re doing intense manual labor. (Being fair, they obviously don’t spray the Fire Pokemon, but my point still stands)

The only one this would be beneficial for is Pikachu, who shouldn’t be helping even with the Water Pokemon’s help.

– Misty, you called out StarYU not StarMIE. (I also think I mistakenly claimed Misty had already left Horsea and Starmie at the Cerulean Gym an episode or so back when that won’t happen for another two episodes. She uses them so infrequently now I legitimately just thought she already left them…..)

– It’s so sweet that Psyduck lets itself out to try and help.

– I know Jigglypuff was in the previous episode, but why the hell did it suddenly appear down here? It just randomly appears for one comedy shot running in front of the group of Pokemon as Ash chases it and then disappears for the rest of the episode. What the hell?

Pokemon Ep 59 Screen5

– Why are Squirtle, Onix, Geodude and Staryu just standing there posing until Pikachu tells them to go? Misty and Brock already gave them commands. Now’s not the time for this comedy skit. Thousands of people are about to die a horrible, horrible death.

– Togepi is super cute trying to help the others make a barrier.

– I want everyone to think about the previous note and consider why this is actually a massive problem.

The answer is ‘Togepi nearly falls to its death and becomes a fried egg all because Misty, for some godforsaken reason, thought now was a good time to put down the baby Pokemon and stop watching it. Here. In this volcano. That is breaking apart. And filling with magma. And the only reason I can see for her putting down Togepi in the first place is because she threw a Pokeball, but she’s thrown plenty of Pokeballs with Togepi in her arms, and you don’t even need to throw Pokeballs to let Pokemon out…’ The parents from Rugrats wish they could see your level of negligence from where they stand, Misty.

– Blaine: “I don’t know how to thank you, Ash.”

Well….technically, he didn’t do anything. Charizard and Pikachu did stuff, and Charizard didn’t even do it because of him – he did it because of Magmar.

Brock would actually deserve way more credit if we’re going by Pokemon because Onix was the only one throwing several rocks in at once.

As for Misty, between sending a Water Pokemon out to hurt the helpful Pokemon and nearly letting Togepi burn to death, she should probably get arrested or something.

Ash: “Are you gonna give me my Volcano Badge now?!”

Blaine: “Uh!? NO! I was going to say I’ll give you another chance to battle me for your Volcano Badge!”

I’ve mentioned before that I love this exchange, and I do for several reasons. First, it acknowledges the clear issue of Ash constantly getting pity badges and somewhat makes up for it, especially with Blaine’s dumbfounded response to Ash’s request.

Pokemon Ep 59 Screen6

Second, it truly shows Blaine’s professionalism as a Gym Leader (regardless of his questionable Gym location) that he is downright insulted to hear Ash expecting him to just hand over a badge for helping him.

Finally, it knocks Ash’s entitled attitude down a peg, if only for a second. Seriously, I was embarrassed for him when he asked Blaine if he was going to give him his Volcano Badge. The fact that he asked at all was bad enough, but the way he asked was just childish. (Yes, I recognize that he’s a person of child nature.)

You know how I pointed out how Ash has gotten increasingly obnoxious about how he handles his pity badges over time? At first, he didn’t even want to take it. Then, he was very uneasy but accepted anyway. Then he was just ‘WHOO FREE BADGE!’ Now he’s expecting free badges when he does anything for a Gym Leader.

And, again, I feel the need to bring up that Ash didn’t even do anything this time. He let Charizard out of its Pokeball and it didn’t obey him…again. That’s all he did. (Oh yeah, I forgot to mention he let Squirtle out to spray the Rock Pokemon, which is the same issue as Staryu doing it) At least in the Rainbow Badge episode he braved a burning building to save a Pokemon and nearly died.

That being said, this isn’t even really a prize or a thank-you kinda thing. Blaine said they’d have a rematch again sometime, and didn’t Erika say that it’s in the league rules to accept all challenges? Pretty sure that includes rematch challenges.

– Alright, so this makeshift ‘Gym’ has always greatly confused me.

1) How did the lava get way up there?

2) How is it being held so close to the brim? Is it a man-made pool of lava?

3) Where did those pillars come from? They’re all spaced apart basically evenly and are at the same height, indicating again that this arena is man-made.

Pokemon Ep 59 Screen7

4) If it is a man-made arena, what is it for? Training for Blaine’s Fire Pokemon?

5) How did they even get up there?

6) WHY are they even up there? Is it really necessary to have this match anywhere other than a perilous pit of molten rock?

When you think about it, this place is even more dangerous than the actual Gym. At least there you have a wide platform to walk on, even if there are similar pillars to get to the platform. Here, you just have a bunch of pillars as your arena. One false move and you’re the Terminator……ya know…at the end of The Terminator…..2…..Judgment Day.

– Blaine: “Since my Gym has been wrecked, would you object if we held our match right here on the volcano?” Uh….you already made the climb up there and took positions at opposite ends of the arena. Pretty sure you guys agreed upon this beforehand.

– Blaine: “Let’s make this a one-on-one!” ‘Because there’s not enough time left in the episode for anything more than that!’

– Ash’s sense of entitlement is totally rubbing off on Pikachu. Ash hasn’t announced his choice yet, but Pikachu still steps up like ‘Of course, it’s going to be me. Pftt who else?’

Why would Pikachu think Ash would choose him anyway? We already know Magmar is immune to electricity, leaving Pikachu with only physical attacks at his disposal. This wouldn’t be too bad in any other situation, but 1) He’d be fighting a Magmar, meaning I think any physical contact with him would equal deep, searing pain. And 2) the arena is now a bunch of pillars, meaning he’d have an incredibly difficult time attempting any physical attack.

– Ash: *After Charizard doesn’t pay any mind to Ash calling him out, focused too much on Magmar* “Oh….guess Charizard could still use a little training.” He could use ANY training period. Do you think that when Charizard does things that benefit you, not caring about the benefits to you at all, that counts as training? You’re a backwards little waffle.

Pokemon Ep 59 Screen8

– As cool as that explosion looked, fire combining with fire should not make an explosion. To be honest, I’m not even sure how those two Flamethrowers collided like energy beams in Dragon Ball Z.

– Again, as cool as it was to see Charizard physically stop the Fire Blast with his bare hands and deflect it into the sky, it should not be possible to grab and throw fire. Then again, maybe Fire Blast is somewhat solid-ish considering it’s flying through the air while maintaining its shape.

– How is Magmar running towards Charizard during the Skull Bash? He should be hopping at least a little considering their battlefield is pillars.

– Also, Charizard can fly, he specifically extended his wings while watching Magmar come towards him and yet he still somehow failed to fly even a little and got hit.

– That bit was saved by Charizard slickly saving himself from falling into the lava.

– The shot where Charizard flies into the sun and then shoots straight down into Magmar was awesome. (However, Ash didn’t tell him to do that.)

Pokemon Ep 59 Screen9

– Ash: “Rrrgh, it’s against the rules for Magmar to pull Charizard into the volcano!” I don’t think there’s a specific rule about that. Probably because if you brought up that issue with the Pokemon League they’d go ‘Blaine has a Gym in a WHAT?!’ and shut the whole thing down.

However, Ash does have a point. I do believe it’s very much against the rules to MURDER YOUR OPPONENT’S POKEMON!

I don’t know if all Fire Pokemon have the ability to withstand being submerged in molten lava and maybe Blaine knows this, so he’s not worrying about Charizard very much – I feel like this has to be false, just because I’m trying to imagine something like Vulpix swimming in lava and my mind keeps drifting to dark scenarios that make my heart hurt.

Then again, the alternative is that Blaine just had a ten year old’s Pokemon murdered in one of the worst ways imaginable and he just doesn’t care. In which case, what a friggin’ psychopath.

Then again again, it’s also not a good look for Ash to be more concerned over Blaine breaking the rules than….ya know…the murder.

– Blaine: “Magmar didn’t cheat. You agreed to using the volcano for our Pokemon battle didn’t you?. Under the volcano is part of the volcano too.” First of all, they’re in the volcano, not under it – that would be underground and under all of the magma. Secondly, why do you think he’s talking more about being out of bounds than…ya know…the murder?

– It does break my heart when it finally hits Ash that Charizard might be dead.

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– Ash: “Charizard! Let’s show Magmar your aerial submission attack!” Lots of people seem to point out that this is probably a dub flub since ‘Aerial Submission Attack’ isn’t an attack, but I honestly just think Ash is describing the attack (It’s an attack, it’s aerial and it’s Submission….) Maybe that’s just me.

Still, Ash, this is the first time Charizard ever uses Submission (or Seismic Toss, for that matter) so how do you even know he knows these moves?

– Magmar should certainly be dead after being flown up to the clouds, thrown so hard it actually had a fiery aura around it when it was falling and landed face-down. I don’t care if it landed in the lava pool – it would not live through that.

– I usually get a little annoyed when Ash gets Flamethrowered by Charizard, but this time he kinda deserved it. After all that fuss, after getting Charizard to listen to his commands if only for a minute, after thinking Charizard died in a horrific fashion, after Charizard earned him the win and his seventh badge, all Ash has to say to him is ‘Yes! Charizard, return!’ No thank you, no nothing. Just ‘Get back in your Pokeball!’

– Ash: “I know that Charizard will learn to obey someday!” I don’t like the way this is worded, because, again, it just sounds like Ash is expecting this to be something Charizard will do on his own instead something he needs to be taught in training….

– I like how they bring up Misty’s bike again. They haven’t mentioned it in many moons, and it solidifies that Misty follows Ash at this point because she wants to, not because she’s pestering him for a bike.

——————————————–

All in all, this is still one of my favorite episodes. It has great action, animation, direction, music choices, tense moments and the final battle was simply awesome – one of the best battles in all of the Indigo League episodes.

Blaine, in my opinion, definitely proved to be the most brutal and difficult of all of the Kanto Gym Leaders here, edging out Sabrina, in my opinion. Yes, she’s very scary with her dolls and telekinesis, and yes, she’s incredibly powerful, but she was still defeated by the joy of laughter….Meanwhile, Blaine is holding his Pokemon battles over volcano pits, nearly murdered two Pokemon and used a Pokemon so powerful it was matching Charizard blow for blow.

Also, it’s not a secret that I really don’t care much for the Earth Badge match, but that’s a story for another day…

Magmar is an awesome Pokemon that I’m sorry to say we don’t really see that often. Even though it has a size disadvantage and can’t fly, it still gave Charizard more than a run for its money, and it’s cool to see them have a sort of respect between warriors type of relationship.

However, I am really getting worn out on Ash continuing to expect Charizard to just up and obey him at every turn when he does absolutely nothing to change the situation. His cocky attitude doesn’t help. I know I won’t get off this, but it does bother me a lot. Not to mention that it’s a bad message to send to kids. Have a problem with something? Don’t try to fix it. Just wait. Eventually, it will work itself out. This episode in particular is a shining example of that bad message because Ash doesn’t train Charizard at all and yet he still wins his Volcano Badge with him, even if Charizard goes back to disobeying afterward.

What if Charizard didn’t give a crap about respecting Magmar? Not only would Ash have certainly not won his Volcano Badge in a reasonable time frame, but they also might not have created the barrier in time and thousands of people could have died – all because Ash won’t train the damn thing.

Also, the plot device of the episode, Team Rocket, was just a bit too forced. Trying to capture Magmar, especially considering it beat Pikachu, is very understandable, but there was absolutely no reason for them to completely decimate the volcano with freeze blasts. How would that help them at all, and why did they not think it stupid to blow up a volcano that they’re currently inhabiting?

Still, love the episode, love the two-parter arc, love the Gym’s destruction and racing to stop the magma, love the final battle. It’s just a lot of fun from start to finish.

Next episode, we have some fun with another starter evo final form – Blastoise! With Wartortle! And Wartortle are awesome!


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Analyzing the Criticized: Sakura Haruno (Naruto) Part 3 – Chapters 201-300 – Starting to Blossom

See Part One Here

See Part Two Here

Chapters 201-220 (Kiba and Shikamaru’s Battles + Kimimaro Appears + The Sand Siblings Arrive + Naruto and Sasuke’s Battle Starts + The Beginning of the Full Story of Sasuke’s Past)

I can’t believe we’re starting off on such a blasé note, but I have nothing really to discuss here since Sakura is in a grand total of zero chapters in this section. She appears very rarely and very briefly in flashbacks of Naruto’s to remind him of his promise to her and she’s just there in a lot of his flashbacks of Sasuke in general, but present-time Sakura is not shown at all. Ever. Not once.

But you know who does come back and even fights? Rock friggin’ Lee.

Not only did he accept an insanely dangerous surgery with a high mortality rate, not only did he survive it like a damn boss, but the same day as the surgery he’s rushing out to help with the mission to retrieve Sasuke because Rock. Lee. Is. Awesome.

And even though he still needs assistance from Gaara (always loved this brief but poignant team up) he was able to hold his ground fairly well against one of Orochimaru’s strongest, in terms of powers anyway, associates. (Kimimaro’s story is sad, but his powers freak me out)

Let me repeat that. Rock Lee, who was essentially crippled when Naruto and the others left for their mission just that morning, had surgery to fix his body, survived it and was out helping with that same mission almost immediately after the surgery was over.

Meanwhile, Sakura is literally nowhere to be found.

Maybe she’s practicing her apple peeling skills.

I’m not blaming her for not also rushing out the door to help behind everyone’s backs because she understands that she’d be more of a liability than an asset in this circumstance, but we can at least get a brief scene with her doing…something. ANYTHING.

I will note something funny, though. The entirety of the second chapter cluster, a whole 100 chapters, not a one had a chapter title card pic including Sakura even though she was at least in a decent amount of those chapters. In this section alone, she’s in two chapter title cards. Granted, one of them shows her from very far away, but she’s at least there. Yes, in the 20 chapter section where she’s in all of, being generous, ten panels, and that’s only in flashback, she’s in two chapter title cards. *shrug*

Maybe they want to remind us that she exists. I mean, even Tenten got one and we haven’t seen her in so long I’m starting to think she was a figment of my imagination.

But hey, Shikamaru gets his sexist ass saved and then some by Temari, who completely dominates the battle.

Kiba’s battle was a little boring, to be honest. I never really connected with Kiba that much, outside of his relationship with Akamaru (and that’s probably born of my love of animals, particularly dogs) Kiba’s always been kinda obnoxious to me, nor is he very interesting as a character (He’s basically a more abrasive and possibly less mature Naruto with little in terms of decent backstory and motivations. The fact that Naruto has a lot of fox traits while Kiba has a lot of wolf/dog traits doesn’t help this comparison) and he’s just not all that impressive in this battle. It was badass of him to stab himself to hurt Ukon, who had merged with his body, but that’s about it.

Shikamaru’s fights are always entertaining simply because of the incredibly clever ways he manages to defeat his enemies. Even though he needed Temari to finish off Tayuya, the match as a whole was very entertaining.

Chapters 221-240 (Sasuke’s Full Backstory – Naruto and Sasuke’s Fight – The Aftermath and Naruto’s Departure – Start of Kakashi Chronicles)

This is a pretty inappropriate chapter title card for the chapter where Sasuke’s family and clan get slaughtered…..I’m not making a joke. This is the title card they used for this part. What the hell?

Obviously, almost none of this section involves Sakura since so much of it is taken up by Sasuke’s backstory and Naruto and Sasuke’s battle. Surprisingly, she’s not even brought up much, if at all, in the emotional pleas and flashbacks the two have. She’s barely present in the background.

Sakura finally appears when Naruto and the other Genin who were on the mission get brought back home to the hospital for medical care. At first, she believes Sasuke has been brought back, but she soon learns about the group’s failure in returning Sasuke after she overhears Shikamaru and Naruto talking through the hospital room door. Sakura initially puts on a smile and tries to push through her disappointment and despair, but Naruto asserts that he will keep his promise, as his ninja way states, and he’ll bring Sasuke back home no matter what.

Driven by Naruto’s resolve, Sakura decides to FINALLY take some initiative in her ninja training and asks Tsunade if she’ll take her on as her apprentice, which she accepts.

After a three month time skip to allow everyone ample time to recover and get their ducks in a row for their futures while Naruto’s off training, we see Sakura has a talent for medical jutsu. She healed a fish!

I’m not making a jab at her – fish need care too. Have a heart, guys.

Tsunade even points out that she hasn’t seen someone with such talent and promise in medical jutsu since Shizune.

……Also, let me just get this off my chest – it does bug me that most prominent medical-nin are girls – or, more to the point, that most girls are medical-nin. Tsunade did make the very good suggestion to have at least one medical-nin included in squads or brought along with squads when they have missions, but that pretty much makes it seem like if there’s a girl in the squad, she’s the healer. And considering I can’t think of any squads that have more than one girl in it…..yeah. The girl=support thing has always been a pet peeve of mine.

I’m not badmouthing medical jutsu, it allows you to do some pretty fantastic things as we’ll see soon enough, nor am I ignoring that male medical-nin exist (Kabuto was the first medical-nin we ever met) but considering the relatively poor treatment of women in this series as it is, it only serves to irk me more that the new role of most of the girls will be medical related.

Sakura becomes the healer of Team 7. Ino becomes the healer of her squad. Rin was the healer in her squad. Karin is the healer in her team. Tsunade was the healer in her squad. And even though she’s not specifically a healer, Hinata will also learn some medical jutsu, which she is able to learn rather quickly due to Hyuga techniques requiring such precise chakra control.

The only prominent Konoha girl who never develops skills in medical jutsu is Tenten, and that’s not for lack of trying. She idolized Tsunade and wanted to be a medical-nin, she just never had talent for it. Poor Tenten. So overlooked and mishandled that you even fail at becoming an annoying stereotype.

I’m not saying this is a hard and fast rule. There are several female characters who also don’t utilize medical jutsu like Temari, Kurenai, Anko and even Kushina, but it is a trend and it is still annoying.

And that’s the end of Part One of Naruto. There is more to this section, but it goes into the backstory of Kakashi. I’ll save any notes about that for the next section.

Chapters 241-260 (The Rest of the Kakashi Chronicles + The Start of Part Two + Reprise of the Bell Test + Gaara’s Battle with Deidara and Capture + The Start of the Mission to Save Gaara)

Alright, so since Sakura isn’t in the Kakashi Chronicle chapters, obviously, I thought I’d try to draw some parallels between Team 7 and Team Minato. Parallels have already been made as a whole by others, but I’ll try to focus on Sakura’s parallel specifically.

First of all, even though the other two look very different from Naruto and Sasuke, Rin looks strikingly similar to Sakura, in my opinion. Maybe it’s just the haircut and the fact that we can’t see her hair color in this black and white manga, but she looks very similar to Sakura.

Rin is much more useful to her team even in these handful of chapters than Sakura probably ever has so far, and I’m pretty sure they’re the same age here. She’s a skilled medical-nin who patches up her teammates, Kakashi and Obito, when they get hurt, which was a few times in this side story (Am I going to get in trouble for calling this a side story when it’s so important to future events?) She also performs a rather complex eye transplant right in the middle of the battlefield on two people who stay completely conscious through the whole thing and neither seems to experience pain during the procedure…..Wow.

However, she doesn’t seem to have really any battle prowess, and, guess what? She ends up getting kidnapped and needs saving.

The main reason I even decided to start drawing comparisons between Team 7 and Team Minato is because of the love triangle….angle. Obito is a screw up who is in love with Rin, but Rin is in love with dark and stern Kakashi, who has never given her the time of day. Sound familiar?

To her credit, Rin is nowhere near as Kakashi-crazy as Sakura is Sasuke-crazy, in fact until she outright blurts out her love confession to Kakashi near the end, you can barely tell she has a thing for him, but still.

What annoys me a bit more in Rin’s particular situation is how her love confession is handled. After Obito dies slowly and horribly right in front of both of them, half his body crushed by a boulder, sacrificing his life to save his friends, giving his sharingan to Kakashi, telling Kakashi specifically to take care of Rin for him, Kakashi tells Rin that Obito loved her (since he could never admit it before his death and probably to treasure her life enough to honor his wishes and leave before they get slammed by a group of enemy ninja.) Rin basically doesn’t even react to this information and stubbornly tries to stay with Kakashi and basically die with him because she loves Kakashi.

Yeah, Rin basically spit on Obito’s dying wish and love for her so she could needlessly die with Kakashi. The way the whole scene was structured was just terrible, at least in regards to the light it puts Rin in. It was basically “Let me protect you because Obito loved you and his dying wish was for me to protect you!” “Yeah, well, I love you so I’m staying and dying! Nyehh!”

Onto the Part Two of the main story – Sakura’s a Chunin now, yay!

Our first sighting of Sakura is more or less her reacting to how much Naruto has grown. It actually kinda seems like Sakura’s smitten for a few pages because she blushes several times and even makes flirty expressions. This is reverted back to same old, same old when Naruto breaks his new maturity for a minute to attempt to show off a newer, sexier version of the Sexy no Jutsu to Konohamaru.

I really love that our first venture into Part Two is a revisiting of the bell test. As you’ll recall, I criticized Sakura quite a bit for her role in the first bell test. She pretty much fretted about Sasuke, tried to impress Sasuke to no avail and then ended up fainting from a Genjutsu that made it seem like Sasuke was severely wounded.

Sakura’s performance in that test was almost laughably bad. To be fair, Naruto’s was similarly terrible, but at least he was making honest efforts. I can’t even remember a moment when Sakura made a play for the bells.

This time, Sakura’s visibly impressed with Naruto’s initial strikes, but when she realizes Kakashi’s coming for her next, she quickly assesses her surroundings and correctly surmises that he’s dug down below her. Which means we get our first glimpse into Sakura’s new abilities. That of which being Hulk-Smashing the ever-loving hell out of everything.

A single punch from Sakura can now cause massive craters, something Kakashi experiences firsthand as he cowers under a pile of rocks after barely evading her strike. I really love that Sakura’s new abilities manifest themselves into both massive explosions of raw power like this and extremely precise abilities that she’ll display later on with medical jutsu. They took a really awesome route with her power and it fits perfectly with her specific talent being chakra control.

Kakashi mentions Sakura’s affinity for Genjutsu again, whatever, and thinks to himself that she certainly shows potential to be even more skilled than Tsunade.

But Sakura’s growth reflection in the bell test doesn’t end there. In the bell test two and a half years ago, none of the trio were working together. They were all trying to gun for the bells on their own. Sakura would try to work with Sasuke, but her focus was more on gushing over him or trying to impress him. Sasuke saw Sakura as a liability and Naruto was too bullheaded to do anything but rush out on his own without thinking. Sakura basically wished for Naruto’s failure in the test or, at the very least, enjoyed watching him screw up.

Here, Sakura and Naruto are sticking together and working alongside each other. Not only that, but Naruto comes up with a final plan that actually sounds really silly, but Sakura doesn’t think to mock him about it for a second. Instead, she thinks it through, and realizes that, even if it’s silly, it could very well work – and it does. There’s a method to Naruto’s goofiness sometimes, even if he’s still a doofus on occasion, and Sakura realizes that. She respects Naruto as a teammate much more now than she did back then. Likewise, Naruto earns this respect by showing that he’s more mature, serious and focused, even if he’s still Naruto at heart.

Later on, after the battle with Deidara and Gaara’s kidnapping, as Sakura and the others are traveling to Sunagakure, Sakura reveals that she’s been snooping around and secretly reading private reports in Tsunade’s office for the past two and a half years. She explains that she now knows everything Naruto and Kakashi know about their current situation, which absolutely floored me.

This confirms that Sakura did not, in fact, know the details that Naruto and Kakashi knew about Sasuke’s situation with Orochimaru, Itachi and the Akatsuki, and, apparently, no one thought to ever actually clue her in all this time. She had to sneak around and read private reports instead when there is absolutely 100% no reason to keep this information from her considering how involved she is with Sasuke and Naruto, how much she already knows about the situation and her drive to return Sasuke to Konoha.

Do they really have such little trust in Sakura’s resolve as a ninja, even now that she’s clearly more mature and focused, that no one ever thought to explain this shit to her? Not even right before they sent her on a mission against other Akatsuki members?! That is ludicrous!

At least Sakura ends the chapter proclaiming that she’ll be the one to protect Sasuke and Naruto this time – but her mileage may vary.

For now, she’ll settle on saving Kankuro’s life.

Once we get to Sunagakure, Sakura quickly saves Kankuro’s life by removing poison from his system with her own chakra, which is pretty baller. She can’t get all of it and he’ll need additional treatment, but her medical skills were well beyond that of Chiyo, a very experienced medical-nin, and it’s clear that both she and Naruto are impressed with Sakura.

Later on, she even expertly crafts a medicine to help combat the effects of the residual poison.

Our first look at Sakura’s actual battle prowess is a bit…..disappointing, though I suppose it’s understandable. Itachi confronts the group, and while Naruto and Kakashi try to fight off Itachi, he actually knocks both Sakura and Chiyo to the ground so quickly that Naruto and Kakashi don’t even notice until they look behind them.

Yup, Sakura didn’t even get to throw a punch before she’s flat on her face.

Now, I’m giving Sakura a good deal of leeway for this for two reasons; 1) It’s Itachi. No one would ever expect, no matter how much Sakura has improved, that Sakura would be able to successfully fend off Itachi. 2) Naruto and Kakashi are both having trouble simply trying to keep up with him, so it’s understandable for him to get off a cheap shot.

Later, Sakura breaks Naruto free of a Genjutsu that Itachi had trapped him in, and he was unable to release it himself because he wasn’t skilled enough to break it. Chiyo did help her, but I’m giving Sakura the points here.

Chapters 261 – 280 (The Battle Against Sasori + Pursuing/Battling Deidara)

Sakura cries again, but I’m giving her another pass because she’s just learned that any jinchuriki that has its biju taken out of them will surely die, meaning Naruto will be killed if he’s captured by the Akatsuki.

Sakura uses her Hulk smash to break the giant boulder in front of the entryway to the room where Gaara’s being held.

Before we start the battle with Sasori, can I just say that it’s very nonsensical to split up the group and take your only two medical-nin and pit them against an extremely powerful enemy? Especially when you’re pursuing a near-dead or fully dead Kazekage who would need immediate medical attention?

In her battle against Sasori, Sakura pulls off some really impressive evasive maneuvers and breaks through Hiruko’s hard shell with her hulk smash. Then she does more impressive evasive maneuvers and barely escapes harm time and again …..buuuuuuuuuuuuuutttttttttttttttttt.

I can’t give her credit for most of this because Chiyo was controlling her body like a puppet. Even though Sakura was likely the one doing the Hulk smashing, I still have to take points off here.

She finally starts taking the initiative for herself when she’s trapped in a cloud of poison gas. She’s able to trigger a paper bomb on her belt, allowing her to dissipate the poison and allow her to break away. While this was kinda badass, it was also, as Chiyo pointed out, very reckless. I can’t really ding her too much here because it was either take a chance with the bomb or get poisoned to death.

Sakura then makes a big tough declaration that is supposed to be intimidating and show how much she’s grown, but all it really does for me is show how immature she still is. A true, mature, shinobi doesn’t bother with such grandstanding…especially when her role in the battle so far has been mostly playing Pinocchio and blowing herself up. She’s yelling at the top of her lungs, she’s making rather vicious threats to him (because she was triggered by him mentioning Orochimaru, which made her think back to Sasuke) and she’s obviously puffing out her chest more than she’s earned so far.

This little speech is made even more laughable when Sasori basically ignores her and throws a ton of kunai at her, which she needs to be saved from by Chiyo and her puppets because Sakura’s an idiot who would rather blather on about how much she’s going to kick Sasori’s ass than pay attention in battle.

Later, she’s targeted by Sasori again and Chiyo needs to use her puppets to save her….again…

Then they’re attacked again, and Chiyo uses her puppet to save Sakura…..again…..*cough*

But then, hip hip hooray, when Chiyo is out of puppets and down an arm, it seems like Sakura finally has to step up and take Sasori on by herself……Well…Kinda.

Sakura does step up. She refuses to leave even when Chiyo, again, tells her to flee since Sasori is too powerful and dangerous. However, instead of defending Chiyo and fighting on her own two feet, she tells Chiyo to use her as a puppet again….

This time, it’s not quite the same. Since Chiyo’s arm is gone, she can’t control all of Sakura’s body like she did before, but, still, a majority is still being puppeteered. Sakura pretty much just has full control over one of her arms, meaning yet again Sakura stands there like an idiot as something is about to hit her so Chiyo can yank her strings and pull her away and Sakura can Hulk-smash another projectile.

I really don’t understand why Sakura is having such difficulty evading shit in this battle on her own. Logically, it makes even less sense than when she was younger. She should have much more battle experience by now that would allow her be better at evading.

Not only that, but her training in honing her chakra at specific points in her body should also make her insanely good at evasion since all she’d have to do is focus it into her feet and either launch herself up or zoom off in literally any other direction. Remember, she was skilled at honing her chakra evenly into her feet near the start of Part One before she ever met Tsunade. Remember? One of literally two times where she proved to be more skilled at least in some area above both Sasuke and Naruto, for like a second? Climbing the tree?

Note that they still show the strings, implying that Sakura is being controlled here as the projectile misses her.

I was about to say that maybe she’s just standing there gawking at whatever attacks are about to hit her because of Chiyo’s chakra strings making her unable to move but:

1) There have been numerous instances of her gawking and nearly getting killed without the strings on her.

2) She has been shown to be able to move with the strings on her. See: Hulk -smash

Chiyo is impressed with Sakura’s next attack to break one of Sasori’s projectiles, claiming she’s quickly been able to predict Sasori’s offensive patterns. She also goes so far as to say she ‘never dreamed she’d be so good.’…Okie dokie, Granny. Dial it back a little.

We get a flashback to Sakura’s training with Tsunade. She asks Sakura why medics should never have their first focus be offense. Sakura immediately, and somewhat obnoxiously, explains in a textbook-like manner that medic ninja are meant to be support. They’re always meant to be providing aid, not fighting.

Tsunade declares that answer to be incorrect. Medical-nin are meant to treat the wounded, yes. But the reason they should never focus on combat first is because it puts their lives in danger. If they die, there’s no one to treat the wounded.

Now this is all well and good, but Tsunade mentions something else – something that directly contradicts everything I’ve been writing for this section.

Tsunade says one of the most important skills for a medical-nin to focus on…..is evasion.

……..I don’t get it. Sakura has been a deer in headlights for most of this fight, needing Chiyo to pull her away from danger or her block her from it numerous times. The one time she actually got away from danger herself, she didn’t evade it, she Hulk-smashed it away.

Not to mention that Sakura’s also completely disregarding that entire lesson from the ground up with her declarations that she’s going to make Sasori scream and she’ll kick his ass and yadda yadda.

But enough criticizing Sakura for the moment because her next move is indeed all hers and is very intelligent. Sakura is poisoned by the iron sand and topples over. Sasori’s about to finish them both off, but Sakura gets up and saves Chiyo. She had secretly made two and a half doses of antidote when she treated Kankuro. She gave one to him and saved the other two for the mission in case they faced off against Sasori. She kept it hidden from Sasori because she wanted him to use his trump cards before revealing that she had something to combat the poison. Why she kept it secret from Chiyo, I have no idea.

The catch is the antidote isn’t so much an antidote as it is a temporary treatment. It will null the effects for two and a half minutes, but after that the poison will start affecting her system again.

She heals Chiyo’s wounded hand, but at this point Sakura’s already at her limit. (Chiyo also mentions that Sakura’s been using chakra to dodge, but, again, that doesn’t really match what we’ve been seeing.) With what little chakra she has left, Sakura heals the worst of her wounds and prepares to take on Sasori. He’s impressed that she was able to make any sort of medicine that can combat his poison since even he needs to consult ratio charts to make suitable antidotes for it.

Sasori, wanting to end the battle quickly, uses some giant mass of needles to attack Sakura once more. Even with Chiyo helping, Sakura’s unable to evade all of the needles – the poisoned needles, and she ends up with a bunch of deep cuts all over her.

Another assault from Sasori delivers a stomach wound to Sakura, but his real target is Chiyo. Sakura manages to grab a reel of some kind of cord coming out of his stomach to pull him away and Hulk smash him to pieces.

However, he’s a puppet so he just pieces himself back together again.

Unbelievable – she literally hit him about two and a half inches away from his clearly marked weak spot….

Chiyo kinda takes the spotlight now since Sakura’s reached her time limit with the antidote and Chiyo is now breaking out an army of puppets, as is Sasori. To Sakura’s credit, though, she’s still not backing down.

Sakura, in conjunction with a sealing puppet-esque tool Chiyo gives her, ‘seals’ Sasori so he can’t move his puppets, but she throws it at an empty puppet. The real Sasori attacks Chiyo with a sword, but Sakura jumps in the way and takes the hit to her stomach. She’s able to heal the wound a bit even with the sword inside her, which is impressive, and her gripping the sword allows Chiyo to have the opening to hit Sasori’s weak spot. The totally well-hidden not completely obvious weak spot under that giant-ass insignia panel on his chest that completely stands out and has no purpose other than to be a beacon that says ‘THIS IS MY WEAK SPOT’ to his enemies.

Chiyo also saves Sakura’s life by injecting her with the last vial of antidote, which is a problem because Chiyo was also poisoned in that battle. That’s not really good enough, however, because Sakura falls and starts to die because of her wounds from the sword, which is weird because she was specifically healing the wound around the sword, but maybe the wound was too dire. Chiyo saves her life by healing her while also pulling out the sword.

However, even THAT’S not good enough, so Chiyo uses a jutsu she invented – a life-transferrence technique that is so powerful it can bring the dead back to life, but only if the user sacrifices their life. Since Sakura wasn’t actually dead when she did the technique, Chiyo doesn’t die. Sakura gets up and pointlessly punches Sasori in the face….It’s pointless because he’s basically already dead anyway and he’s a puppet so he doesn’t feel pain. It’s not like she crushed his head with a Hulk-smash, she just regularly punched him in the face.

Even Sasori points out how pointless and wasteful of her energy it was to do that…and…well..yeah. Chiyo’s nearly on death’s door trying to revive you, Sakura. Why would you waste any energy to slap a puppet and lecture him? Your mission doesn’t end with Sasori’s death. Chiyo needs your help. And what if Naruto or Kakashi need you for medical aid later? Gaara certainly will. Save your energy, you dingleberry.

My issue with this battle has always been that it feels like Sakura’s merely an assistant here. That is way better than her being useless and watching from the sidelines, but it’s still frustrating. This is her first actual battle since the time skip – this is our first chance to really test out her skills in the field after actually training and working her ass off to improve and she’s mostly just following Chiyo’s lead and being foolish.

Between her irrational behavior here and Naruto continuously losing his temper throughout this whole mission, to the point where he’s frequently acquiring Kyuubi features on his face, I feel like backwards character development has actually occurred over the past two and a half years.

Not to mention that Sasori and Chiyo have their own storyline going on, which obviously makes this battle more about them and less about her. It always seems like Sasori is more focused on Chiyo as his main enemy than Sakura.

Granted, both Chiyo and Sasori take the time out to point out how impressive Sakura is being (in inner monologue) but usually it feels like they’re being too impressed. Usually. Sometimes, there are moments when the awe is called for, like realizing Sakura could make a medicine to treat the effects of Sasori’s poison without having any of his charts or knowing the exact makeup of it. Most of the other instances of this, however, felt really exaggerated.

It’s just disappointing, because this is the one Sakura battle that actually sticks out in my mind in Part Two and they didn’t even let her have the full spotlight….they gave her a flashlight with cheap batteries.

I will, of course, give credit where credit is due here. This is certainly the most impressive Sakura has been in the entire series. She’s getting to actually fight, she’s making some really smart decisions and she saved Chiyo’s life a couple of times…..but…I feel like Sakura wasn’t really needed here that much.

If Sakura just gave Chiyo the antidote vials and let her fight the battle, Chiyo probably would’ve been fine on her own. The only part of the battle Chiyo most likely couldn’t have done on her own is destroy Hiruko’s shell. That’s about it. Sakura was otherwise a good meat shield to get Sasori to use up his energy. There were also numerous points where her presence was actually a little detrimental, such as Chiyo getting injured, losing her arm and using more chakra than was necessary in order to help Sakura.

Again, I’m not saying she was useless in this battle – of course she wasn’t. She did much more than she ever did in any battle in Part One, but, as a whole, it’s disappointing as Sakura’s premiere battle in Part Two. There was never a point where she really wowed me. And nearly any time where she was very impressive is offset by instances of her making poor decisions or being rash.

I almost feel like this battle originally was written for just Chiyo and Sasori but they realized they didn’t want such a massive section of the start of Part Two to focus on two characters we barely know. So they hastily wrote a role for Sakura to play here – and a good chunk of it was literally Sakura being a puppet for Chiyo.

I also don’t appreciate the fact that not only was Sakura saved numerous times over the course of this section, even if Chiyo acts like she wasn’t (??) but in the end, she nearly died and had to be saved again, technically twice since Chiyo gave over her antidote when she needed it, and this time it was nearly at the cost of Chiyo’s life.

In addition, in my opinion, this self-sacrifice was pretty needless. Why didn’t she just Hulk-smash Sasori to pieces to stop the attack instead of acting as a human shield? It wouldn’t have killed Sasori, unless she knew to hit his giant weak spot button, but it would’ve halted his attack.

Why did we need to see Chiyo’s life-transferrence technique at this stage anyway? It didn’t actually kill her and she’s just going to do it again in a chapter or two. It would have been more badass if Sakura removed the sword herself and completed her own healing, which she was already in the process of doing.

Sakura deserves all the credit in the world for not leaving when prompted, several times, and standing her ground to help Chiyo and succeed in their mission. She had her moments here, but I’m just disappointed that our first venture with her on a mission after the time skip is a two on one battle where she gets a few cool moments peppered throughout a lot of the same old Sakura stuff.

Later, when Sakura and Chiyo meet back up with Naruto and Kakashi, Sakura can’t heal Gaara – his condition is either too grave or he’s already dead. I’m not blaming Sakura for being unable to do this as I doubt any medical-nin, probably even Tsunade, would be able to treat him at this point. Plus, she’s very drained of chakra. Chiyo offers her life to save his instead.

In a surprising moment, she actually tells Sakura that, in the future, she shouldn’t risk her life to help a dying granny like her. Which…yeah, I guess I agree a little – as I said there were better options than jumping in front of that sword – but if she hadn’t saved Chiyo, Gaara would be dead for good. So, save those old grannies, Sakura. Just be a bit more careful about it next time. Chiyo praises her abilities and her spirit and tells her that she definitely has it in her to surpass her master.

Can I just take the time out to say it continues to baffle me how hypocritical people are in the Naruto universe? Two and a half years ago, Gaara was treated as nothing but a monster – someone everyone, even his father, wanted dead. It was understandable for him to become Kazekage in that time, even if that is a stretch, but for everyone in the village to be so fangirly/boy-y about him…it’s just….a little irritating.

For contrast and fairness, they did have one of the government officials act like Gaara wasn’t worth saving because he was just a monster, but still.

It’s more understandable when Naruto’s drowning in fans later on, considering he becomes a war hero, but the fact that most people don’t apologize for how they treated either Gaara or Naruto really bothers me. Because it’s like Naruto and Gaara were required to work their asses off to earn the respect of their peers when all they did to not have it at the start was exist.

Chapters 281-300 (Returning to Konoha + Introducing Yamato and Sai to Team 7 + A New Mission – Deceiving Orochimaru and Kabuto + Naruto Going Insane in Four-Tails Mode)

Gonna point out how adorable it is that Gaara nudged Naruto’s hand for a handshake by manipulating some sand around it. Seriously, I had to stop reading for a second – that was so sweet.

Sakura is put on the same level as Shizune in regards to them being the two people Tsunade trusts most explicitly.

Anyone else feel really bad for Shino when Naruto recognizes Kiba, Choji and Hinata but not him?

I find it very…interesting that Naruto seems way more offended and threatened by Sai’s inclusion on the team as Sasuke’s replacement than Sakura is. It’s strange. Naruto is literally yelling out how much cooler Sasuke is than Sai and I feel like, if the panels didn’t show the characters, I’d be mistakenly attributing his dialogue to Sakura. Meanwhile, Sakura is teasing Naruto about it, trying to cheer him up on the situation.

After Sai insults Sasuke with some….err…well…truth (He IS a traitor who turned his back on everything to pursue power.) I was about to give Sakura heaping mounds of props because it seemed like they were going to have Sakura be the most mature and level-headed one here. Considering Sai’s insulting Sasuke right now and tensions are high with Sai seemingly taking Sasuke’s place, I was looking to the sky to see if the heavens had opened and bestowed upon me a wonderful moment of proof that Sakura’s a mature ninja who can put aside such personal feelings and keep her team focused on the mission – reflecting those two and a half years of hard work and change.

PBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBB…..No.

Sakura does step between Naruto and Sai when it seems like Naruto might actually start a fight with Sai. She calmly apologizes for Naruto’s behavior and explains that, even though Naruto doesn’t know Sai very well yet, it’s no excuse to judge him so harshly.

………..Then she punches Sai square in the face, knocking him several feet backward and with a scary face she says ‘I don’t care if you forgive me.’ Blah blah blah you don’t know Sasuke blah blah I won’t hold back next time blah.

Seriously, what the hell is up with the wishy washy maturity levels Sakura and Naruto are displaying since we entered Part Two? Is it understandable that Naruto doesn’t trust Sai? Sure. He’s an identity-less wack-a-doo who attacked Naruto before they even met. Is it understandable that Naruto’s uncomfortable with someone taking Sasuke’s place, even temporarily? Definitely.

Is it understandable that Naruto’s yelling out at that top of his lungs that they don’t need another member since the fourth member of their squad is Sasuke and this “loser” will never be Sasuke or anything close to him? No.

It’s especially stupid that Sakura’s like ‘Naruto barely knows you, but that’s not an excuse for him to to judge you.’ and then immediately follows that up with judging Sai herself, even though she barely knows him either. It’s like they’re trying to be badass by covering up immaturity by even worse immaturity and that’s just dumb.

“But, Twix, they’re just teenagers! You can’t expect them to be emotionally stable!” Agreed. Leeway where leeway is appropriate, BUT, like I’ve mentioned before, there’s only so much leeway I can give in that regard given the world they live in.

Children in the Naruto universe, particularly when they’re ninjas, are expected to grow up faster than children in our world would. Children as young as twelve, sometimes younger like with Kakashi and Itachi, are sent on life-threatening missions all the time. They are treated as if they’re still students, and they are, but they’re also full-fledged ninja and are, technically, comrades in arms with Chunin and Jonin, who commonly aren’t even that much older than they are.

For example, Shikamaru is now a Chunin (and so is Sakura) who is proctoring the Chunin exams and taking squads out on missions as team leader – and he has been doing that since he was 12. Temari is a Jonin who is basically acting as an ambassador between Suna and Konoha. And lest we forget that Gaara is the flippin’ Kazekage whose maturity and emotional stability has grown so much in just two and a half years that you almost wouldn’t recognize him.

Sakura and Naruto have both been given special attention and direct individual training by two of the Sannin for the past two and a half years and, if anything, it’s like they reverted in maturity half of the time.

Now Naruto is badmouthing Sai’s art for no reason. I think we’ve reached a point where I can comfortably say Naruto can go fuck himself. What’s the matter? The series can’t reach its angst and attitude quota without Sasuke so now Naruto has to pick up the slack? At least Sakura is being nice about it now and showing a legitimate interest in his art and life (when she discovers the picture of Sai’s brother.)

By the by, I’m not defending Sai’s behavior. He may be emotionless, but he’s been a dick so far.

Sakura does show more restraint after Naruto says he’ll team up with Sai if it helps them bring Sasuke back. She’s about to punch Sai again after he showed more insensitivity towards their relationship with Sasuke, but she acknowledges that he can’t help them to the best of his abilities if he’s injured via Hulk-smash.

Aaaannnnnnddddd…..Sakura’s knocked out by hitting her head on the bridge right as the battle between them and Orochimaru and Kabuto starts. *sigh*

Not only that, but Naruto’s loss of control over the Kyuubi causes the bridge they’re on to collapse and Sakura’s unconscious body falls off of it. She’s saved by Yamato, though.

After Sakura wakes up, the next thing she does, after some conversation with Yamato, is confirm to Kabuto Sasori’s fate….because why not give the enemy more intel for no reason? (Seriously, if they thought Sasori was still alive, Konoha might have been able to use that to their advantage somehow. It’s not much, but think before you speak, Sakura.)

Then she gets pulled away from an attack by Naruto from Yamato.

Realizing Naruto’s current condition, Sakura rushes towards him and tells him she’ll save Sasuke so he doesn’t have to keep suffering in the Kyuubi form…which, while noble….is also really, really, REALLY dumb. It’s been made clear that Naruto has no control over himself right now – as evidenced by the massive amounts of destruction and nearly turning Sakura and Yamato into shish kabobs – but she still decides to rush right towards him. Of course, Yamato needs to save her from Naruto’s wrath and, of course, she gets wounded anyway.

Again, you’re perfectly utilizing Tsunade’s training advice of trying not to get wounded or killed as much as humanly possible because the team needs their medic, Sakura. Just perfect.

To her credit, she does ask Yamato if he can teach her the jutsu used to pacify Naruto. She’s seemingly biologically unable to do so so, however, since he has the First Hokage’s cells inside of him and they’re the only ones that can utilize the jutsu. Due to her wounds, she also suffers from pain while trying to heal Naruto, but does her duty anyway.

This exchange was sweet but also a little irritating.

Sakura: “The only things I can ever do for Naruto…are these little things.” I really thought the point of the last two and a half years was to allow you to grow outside of that box, so nice to see you’re still in it. /sarcasm

Again, It’s good that she at least acknowledges that she has these shortcomings but we’re only a little bit into Part Two and we’re right back to ‘I can’t do much to help.’ Giving her some big credit, though, she is healing Naruto pretty quickly from the wounds he received from his four-tailed state, and from what Jiraiya said about the first time he transformed that far, his wounds must have been pretty severe. Considering they really need Naruto on this mission, getting him back on his feet is no easy…well….feat.

It’s just a bit disheartening knowing that her biggest obstacle as a character is trying to keep up with Naruto and Sasuke and she really just…can’t and never will. She takes two steps forward and they take an airplane to the next country.

Yamato: “It doesn’t matter whether the things you do for him are large or small…what matters is how much you care about Naruto.” Realistically, he’s right. From a narrative standpoint….eeehhhhh.

Someone’s ship teasing the NaruSaku fans…

Sakura lies to Naruto about the damage caused by him since he doesn’t remember doing it. I don’t really feel strongly either way about this. It’s understandable that she’d lie since he’d probably feel like garbage about what he did, especially considering Sakura got wounded by him, and there’s no real benefit to telling him, at least not now.

Because Sakura’s wound was caused by the Kyuubi’s chakra, Sakura is unable to heal it fully and it basically acts like an acid or poison, so she’s a wounded duck for now and they need to stop their pursuit to let her rest.

No big note to end this entry on besides Sakura reading Sai’s picture book and getting a sneak peak at Sasuke.

————————————–

A lot of stuff happened in this entry, and it was quite the roller coaster of progress in Sakura’s character.

On the other hand….

As I pointed out, Sakura does show a lot of growth after the time skip. She’s more mature, she’s developed many useful skills, and she’s become a medical-nin with abilities that have already surpassed much more experienced shinobi in her field. I may have my qualms with the battle itself and her role in it, but Sakura also faced down an Akatsuki member when, last we saw of her in battle, she couldn’t even take on the Genin-level Sound-nin or even friggin’ Ino without being laid out at the end.

She’s Hulk-smashing shit, she’s eager to learn and even though she still does cry numerous times throughout this entry, she’s not bawling at the drop of a hat or simply staying on the sidelines anymore. She’s also grown as a ninja in regards to her teamwork with Naruto. As shown in the bell test with Kakashi, she gives his ideas, even seemingly goofy ones, more credit than she would have in the past and she’s working with him not against him. She’s no longer snickering at his failures or hoping for his downfall.

That being said, the improvement is not as sharp as I’d like.

She’s being very impulsive and illogical, especially where Sasuke is concerned. She’s screaming threats at her enemies, she’s punching her comrades, and she’s ignoring Tsunade’s guidance to stay reserved and defensive in order to stay alive and well to treat her teammates if need be. I can’t count how many times she suddenly flung herself into danger unnecessarily.

Her position as a medical-nin also basically means she’s now solidified as being the one teammate who will always need to be protected and never put on the front lines unless absolutely necessary, and that’s a little irritating – made all the more irritating considering there were already many times where Sakura needed to be rescued or otherwise protected by her teammates.

I know it seems like I’m being contradictory for dinging her on rushing into danger while also dinging her for needing to be saved just as much as she used to back in Part One, but the thing is a good medical ninja – or just a good ninja in general – needs to find a balance between being effective in offense, defense and evasion.

The one time where it seemed like she did find this balance, kinda anyway, was when Sasori stabbed her. She healed herself while she was being stabbed and kept him in place that way, but 1) She shouldn’t have allowed herself to get stabbed in the first place, there were better options, and 2) this technically didn’t matter as she ended up on the brink of death afterwards anyway. Maybe this did give Chiyo the opening to cut through his weak point, but I think Hulk-smashing him in the right spot would’ve have achieved the same aim.

Speaking of the battle with Sasori, that was a really confusing and lackluster battle debut of time skipped Sakura. She was used as a puppet for a good chunk of it, which is disappointing, but Sasori and Chiyo seem really impressed with what she was doing. Chiyo praises her for having good evasion when I thought for certain Sakura was being pulled by Chiyo most of the time. They always made a point to draw the chakra strings, so I’m doubly confused.

She definitely Hulk-smashed on her own, which was good. She also had the forethought to make three antidotes and bring two with her in case they ran into Sasori, which was very smart. She had the skills and knowledge to save Kankuro from the poison when no one in Suna could, including Chiyo, which is really impressive.

Later on, she also healed Naruto from a fairly terrible state after he reverted back from four-tails, which was impressive, even if Yamato wants to leave him behind after being mostly healed (He’s still very weak and falling over.)

This entry really has been a massive mixed bag for Sakura, but the highs were higher and the lows weren’t quite as low. I’m certainly thankful for the development Sakura has gotten, but I can’t help but feel they’re still holding back on making her really astound me. Plus, even though Sasuke is not present for most of this chapter cluster to outshine her, Naruto still is. Hell, Gaara still is, for that matter. It’s hard to be truly floored by Sakura’s Hulk-smashes and medical prowess when Gaara’s guarding an entire village with his sand while fighting an Akatsuki member by himself and Naruto is leveling a 1000 foot radius with his Kyuubi powers and nearly killing Kabuto and Orochimaru without thinking.

Speaking of Sasuke, this was the first cluster where we were completely free of Sasuke, barring a bit at the end. Meaning, we finally get to see Sakura fully without Sasuke’s direct influence. I can’t help but wonder where Sakura would be right now had Sasuke not left the village. She still had a drive to better herself, but she wasn’t doing anything with it. She was doting on Sasuke and stagnating like a puddle in an alleyway.

With Sasuke gone, she’s become an apprentice to a Sannin, she’s become an incredible medical-nin on her way to surpassing Tsunade, she’s….kinda matured….And the only reason I say ‘Kinda’ there is because, even though she has shown a lot of mental and emotional growth, she’s at her worst, maturity-wise, in Part Two when Sasuke is involved. Sakura’s making rash decisions and calling out a frickin’ Akatsuki member with loud threats? Happened because he mentioned Orochimaru, which implied Sasuke. Sakura socks her teammate so hard he flies several feet backward? Happened because he badmouthed Sasuke.

Then again, while Sasuke’s influence was hindering her, he is technically responsible for her growth, in a way, too. Afterall, she’s mainly doing all of this so she can bring Sasuke back home. And once Sasuke’s back, I’m not sure she continues improving beyond what she had already achieved. I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

I’m actually pretty bummed we’re moving out of this chapter cluster because Sasuke is definitely returning in the next one, and I’m very worried it will result in more backwards development for Sakura. I’m not saying she’d gush over him like she used to, I’m almost certain she wouldn’t, but I do fear that she’d be paralyzed with pre-time-skip-Sakura uselessness if she came into contact with him. I’m pretty sure she never throws a punch in his direction over the entirety of the manga, so, whenever he’ll be the enemy, she’ll most certainly be a passive party. I definitely know some very questionable things will happen in this regard, but let’s save that for next time.

Speaking of next time, there’s a whole lot going on in the next cluster, but how much Sakura actually has to do over the following 100 chapters, considering the very wide focus, is up in the air. Hopefully, we have some great things to look forward to with her, though. If she’s not still not wowing me, maybe she can at least get some spotlight and growth.


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My Poke-Pinions: (172,) 025 and 026 – The ‘Chu Line

Preface: I struggled a bit with how to do this. Since I’m giving my opinions on entire lines, but I’m also going in numerical order, it presents a bit of a problem when I confront Pokemon in early gens that got evos or pre-evos in later gens. Ultimately, I decided I would still go down a numerical line, but when circumstances like these pop up, I will be including any future gen pre-evos and evos just to get the entire line out of the way. If future gens add more evos or pre-evos to any line, I’ll try to update them.

Pichu

Name: Wiki: “Pichu is a combination of ピカピカ pikapika (onomatopoeia for sparkle) and チューチュー chūchū (the sound of squeaking).” …..Mmhmm….

“It may also be a play on プチ puchi (petit).” Sure….

“Pichu is ultimately a diminutive of Pikachu.” There it is.

I like Pichu fine as a name, it’s pretty snappy and cutesy, but I can’t get away from the vibe that this is just them further banking off of ‘Hey look, guys, a chibi Pikachu!’

Design: Pichu’s pretty cute. I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite of the mini-Pikachu clone Pokemon, but it’s cute. It always kinda bothered me that it looks like its head is too big for its body, though. I’m always afraid it will tip over and break its neck. I like how they added more black to the design to help break up the yellow more.

Sprite-Wise, Gen II’s is pretty…..chubby. I think Pichu was designed when we were still in Pikachu’s chubby phase, so this makes sense, but it still looks a little off.

Gold looks worse than Silver, which also looks happier, and the animation on Crystal is adorable.

Gen III looks better, though the animation on Emerald is a bit too erratic for me.

Gen IV is very cute, and the animation for HG/SS is adorable.

All of the other Gens get really cute constant animations.

Spike-Eared Pichu:

It’s a Pichu with a spiky ear……Wheee.

I don’t dislike the spikes. I guess I kinda wish the base Pichu design had spiky ears to make it a little cooler, but it’s just fine.

Also, in the Portuguese version, it’s called SLICED-EAR Pichu! OW.

Ukulele Pichu:

It’s a Pichu with a ukulele…..Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. Actually, considering how tiny Pichu is, how do we tell the difference between it having a ukulele and a regular guitar?

Shiny:

It’s just a darker color yellow. In fact, they’ve taken to calling Shiny Pichu “Pikachu-Colored Pichu,” which is a little irritating, all things considered. I guess it tracks with Shiny Pikachu, which is also just a darker colored yellow, but still. The ones that are just darker colored versions of their original palettes are usually really lame to me. Oddly, the first shiny is the best to me because it looks more orange, channeling Raichu more than Pikachu.

Cry/Voice: Pichu’s anime voice is almost too cute. It’s not too high-pitched and it’s really sweet….when you hear it once or twice. But it’s one of those voices that gets annoying REAL fast.

Its game cry is similarly cute. It’s basically a midi-version of the Pillsbury Doughboy’s giggle.

Dex Entries and Backstory: Unsurprisingly, its Dex entries focus heavily on how much it sucks from a practicality standpoint. Pichu can only hold a small amount of electricity and they are unable to control it. As a result, they constantly let off bursts of electricity when they laugh, get upset or become startled. It will also commonly shock humans without meaning to. They might short out when playing with other Pichu, causing them both to cry.

What’s even worse is that they can’t help but shock themselves when they accidentally or purposefully let off their electricity either.

In short, their shocks are very weak, but they shock their trainers all the time without warning because they can’t control their electricity, they can’t play with other Pichu without creating sparks and hurting each other, and they are useless in battle because purposefully using Electric attacks will just backfire on the Pichu while also barely causing any damage to the enemy. Yay.

The only other real note is that they’ll touch tails to purposely create sparks as a sign of courage. Is that like me punching myself in the face as a sign of courage?

In terms of design, Pichu’s supposed based on squirrels, but I don’t see that. I just see a chibi more circular Pikachu. I get that the cheek thing comes from squirrels, but that’s about it.

Pikachu

Name: First off, dear god the Wiki page for Pikachu is ridonkulously long. I should have opted to do Pikachu on its own page. Yikes.

That being said, I think I need to take a minute to remove myself from this topic since, with all the reviews and stuff I’ve done with Pokemon over the years, Pikachu kinda brings on a lot of knee-jerk reactions. I’m going to try to keep my opinion from being skewed based on the oversaturation of Pikachu’s usage and his utmost favoritism and Messiahchu-isms in the anime.

Pikachu’s name is very cute, snappy and sticks with you for a long time. Every syllable is cute, really. When he says ‘Pika’ it’s cute. When he says ‘Chu!’ it’s even cuter. And if you get him to say ‘CHAAA!’ some of your brain cells explode with cute. It’s a very cute name.

Like I mentioned in Pichu’s section, Pikachu is a combination of the Japanese sound for sparkle and the sound a mouse makes, which is very fitting. However, the Wiki also felt like adding that it could be an offshoot of ‘Peekaboo.’ I can only guess they got that from the short Pikachu’s Peekaboo, because other than sounding similar they have no connection whatsoever.

Design: Pikachu’s frickin’ adorable. It has a very simple design, but it’s also extremely memorable. Most people, even those who aren’t Pokemon fans, can easily discern Pikachu from its silhouette, and I don’t mean to reference Who’s That Pokemon? there. It has an adorable face, cute little chubby cheeks that add some more color to it to break up all the yellow, it has perfect ears and adorable paws – it’s just adorable.

Female Version

It’s just Pikachu with a heart shape on its tail. Quite frankly, I roll my eyes a lot at the fact that so many Pokemon have their gender discerned through little heart designs….

Base Cosplay Pikachu

It’s just Pikachu with a heart shape on its tail….shaded in black. I actually kinda wish this was the female version because it stands out more.

Pikachu Rock Star

It’s too much, in my opinion. I get that that’s the point, but it’s just too much.

Pikachu Belle

It’s alright….Nothing much else to say….It’s very alright.

Pikachu Pop Star

Well, if you’re going to have a rock star version, you might as well have a pop star costume too. This one is at least better than the rock star one, but I still think it’s a bit much.

Pikachu, Ph. D.

I adore this one. It’s hilarious.

Pikachu Libre

I think that costume is extremely well-designed. It’s very cool. Kinda makes me wish there was a Pikachu superhero.

Cap Pikachu

Pikachu wearing one of any version of Ash’s hat….It’s Pikachu wearing hats….It’s adorable. Also, to get this out of the way, I won’t really be addressing Pikachu’s Pokemon Go costumes, same as I didn’t with Pichu. Most of them are just hats anyway. I do love the straw hat one because it makes me think he’s cosplaying as Luffy.

Gigantamax Pikachu

I’m only barely warming up to Mega forms, so don’t expect me to be singing many praises here, especially since I find the Gigantamax idea to be really lazy. Take Pokemon and make them bigger….and change their designs a little, I guess. At least with the Mega forms they changed their designs quite a lot, to the point where they tend to look very busy, but they do the bare minimum with most of the Gigantamaxs I’ve seen. Gigantamax Pikachu, for example, seems to have gone back to his chubbier form, which I like, and they made his tail an actual lightning bolt, which is a little cool, but other than that….it’s just Pikachu.

In terms of sprites, R/B is simply classic.

Yellow is like it was ripped straight from the anime, which is pretty much the point. They, oddly, didn’t change its back design for this game, though. Weird.

Green doesn’t look like a real animal. It looks like an inanimate toy.

Gen II is really cute with one of the most adorable animations for Crystal.

Gen III is also cute, but they’re starting the annoying flashing animations for it in this Gen and, not lying, it makes me physically ill. I think I’m more prone to flicker vertigo than I first thought….

Gen IV has even more flashing, and a weird stretchy animation on HG/SS.

Gen V is really cute, especially with that little finger wag and tail twitch.

All of the rest are just okay.

Shiny:

Like I mentioned, Pikachu’s shiny is just a darker yellow color – like a yellow-orange. It’s a bit lame, and I wish they had just gone all out and made it Raichu orange or something, but it’s fine.

Cry/Voice: Pikachu’s anime voice is basically perfect. It’s really cute and fitting with some great emotion put into it without being overly high pitched and irritating. Thank god he maintains his Japanese voice actress (And has for over 20 years!)

Pikachu’s game cry is pretty good. The starting note is cute and it ends with a burst that sounds just slightly intimidating.

Dex Entries and Backstory: Pikachu stores its electricity in its cheeks, which is the send-up to squirrels, but I don’t really see the design based off of them here either. It uses its tail to check its surroundings, which sometimes causes it to act as a lightning rod. As a result, Pikachu nests tend to be dangerous spots because lightning hits the area a lot.

They tend to shock new things that they see, which I honestly didn’t know. What a weird and destructive trait for little Pikachu to have. It also notes that they’ll commonly roast hard berries with their electricity.

When weakened, a Pikachu can and commonly is brought back to health by a jolt of electricity by a fellow Pikachu. They will also touch tails a form of greeting, which I don’t get. How do you go from touching tails as a show of courage as Pichu to a greeting as Pikachu? When many Pikachu gather together, they can cause lightning storms, and Pokemon Sun notes that there are plans to make a power plant with Pikachu as the generators, which you’d think would be a thing by now.

The Wiki also mentions that Pikachu will get stressed if they don’t discharge their electricity regularly, which I think they got from the anime, but Pikachu got sick in that instance. They also need plenty of sleep or else their electricity doesn’t build up as well…..Oh haha. When you don’t sleep, you don’t have as much….energy….haha.

In terms of design, Pikachu was obviously based on a mouse, but its cheeks were inspired from squirrels storing food in their cheeks, as previously mentioned. Pikachu’s designer directly said that Pikachu was based on a design she made from a daifuku with ears, which…I guess I can see. Supposedly, only the black parts of the ear were kept from that original design.

Raichu

Name: Raichu’s name is perfect, because it is perfect. (Should I mention that Raichu’s my second favorite Pokemon? Nearly tied for first.) Anyway, Raichu breaks down into ‘Rai’ for ‘Thunder’ and ‘Chu/chuchu’ was already explained. In all honesty, I DO find this name to be perfect. It’s a great alteration from Pikachu, it sounds tougher and more intimidating without losing its adorable vibe or snappiness, and it is technically tougher with Rai’s meaning being more threatening (Thunder>sparkling)

Alolan Raichu is also known as Hodad, which I find really weird and not at all fitting of Raichu or any of the ‘Chu line for that matter. However, it does have a purpose to it. Alolan Raichu looks like a surfer, uses its tail like a surfboard, but cannot learn Surf (unless evolved from an event Pikachu). Hodad is actual surfer lingo for someone who dresses like a surfer, comes to the beach with a surfboard but never actually surfs. So, basically, a surf poser.

I don’t much care for that name as it’s basically an insult to an otherwise rather cute Raichu form, and there’s nothing really stopping Alolan Raichu from surfing. Surf basically just summons a tidal wave, it’s not the actual skill of surfing. But hey, any opportunity to jab at Raichu, right? *eye roll*

Design: Raichu is such an adorable cuddly-wuddly pumpkin pie–….Err…Uh…*cough* I really love Raichu’s design. It didn’t sacrifice any cuteness upon evolution – in fact, I think it really gained cuteness. Those ears are more mouse-like while also being unique. I love the little swirl at the bottom. I also like how its tail is now a more mouse-like long tail with a lightning bolt at the end.

It’s body shape is really cool. It’s sweet and pudgy while also having adorable stubby arms and strong legs that look like it could kick you pretty hard. It has the perfect shade of orange, and it’s got just the right amount of yellow, white and brown on it to break it up.

Alolan Raichu

I prefer regular Raichu, but I think they did a really good job with Alolan Raichu. They made its eyes blue, which is nice, and made its orange fur a more burnt-orange color to signify tanned skin, which is pretty cool. Not a big fan of the ears. The shape and design make me think of fairies, and they stand out too much. I love its feet, though. They made the feet shorter and thicker and it reminds me of a bunny.

I like its tail. It’s basically the same as before, but with more of a rounded shape to look like a surfboard. I also find it really adorable that it stands on it. I think a Flying type could easily be made of that with the tail being a cloud with lightning coming out of it.

Female Raichu

I almost thought this was a mistake because I honestly could not see the difference between male and female Raichu. I had to bring my face right up to the screen to realize female Raichu’s tail doesn’t have a pointing end. It’s blunt. Like someone cut it off. That is probably the laziest way to make a female version. Why not just make the lightning bolt a heart or make the cheek marks hearts or make the stripes on the back hearts? Heartheartsheartsgurrlllssluvhartz

In terms of sprites, Gen I needs some work. R/B looks too oval-shaped and has a derpy expression.

Green has a similar problem, just a different derpy expression.

Yellow is adorable, but way too yellow on the coloring, almost like they thought Raichu had Pikachu’s colors.

Gen II is good, but what the hell is up with Crystal’s animation? It either looks like it’s cat-calling or heckling the player.

Is that more effort to make Raichu look like a jerk?

I absolutely love the pose in Gen III, but I can’t help but think the animation in Emerald is Raichu doing the Spongebob laugh.

In Gen IV, D/P is cute, but Platinum’s expression is back to derpy and HG/SS is adopting the annoying flashing animation Pikachu had.

Gen V is adorable because it has a constant bouncing animation, and everything else is alright.

Shiny:

Following the trend of Pichu and Pikachu, Raichu’s shiny is also just a darker version of its base color, but I actually really like it. That deep shade of orange looks great with the darker hues of yellow.

Gen II’s version looks strange because it looks more like a sickly gold color, but it’s corrected in every Gen onward.

As for shiny Alolan Raichu….it’s…..uhm….it’s…Well, I guess it still fits the beach theme because it looks like a very, very dark tan. And it’s a rarity in being a brown shiny. But otherwise it kinda looks terrible. At best, it looks like someone made an Alolan Raichu out of chocolate.

Cry/Voice: Raichu’s anime voice is adorable. It’s lower pitched to give off a more serious and mature tone while also being high enough to be cute. I also love the specific way it pronounces ‘Rai’ usually. Like it’s halfway between ‘Rai’ and ‘Wai.’

It’s game cry is perfect with a ‘shocking’ kind of noise to it while also adding in a cute little high pitched sound.

Dex Entries and Backstory: Raichu’s tail serves as a ground to protect itself from its own electricity, which might be a window into another reason why Pichu always hurts itself when it uses its electricity – its tail is too short to act as ground. When Raichu does discharge electricity this way, it leaves scorch marks on the ground. It can also stick its tail into the ground to search for sources of electricity.

Unlike Pikachu who gets weakened and sick when it stores too much electric energy, Raichu actually gets very aggressive. Raichu is also proactive in avoiding this issue by using its tail to discharge its own electricity into the ground when this starts happening.

In the opposite extreme, if it is running low on electricity, it can recharge by gathering electricity from the atmosphere, which is awesome.

When it is fully charged, its ears will stand up, which is a cute detail.

Raichu has electric power of over 100,000 volts (Gen I and Stadium mistakenly lists this as 10,000. The Wiki states this is a translation error based on how the Japanese language writes numbers (In this case, 100,000 or juu-man would read literally like ‘ten ten-thousands’ since ‘man’ is 10,000 and ‘juu’ is 10. They must have just dropped the first 10 on accident.) which is powerful enough to down an elephant.

Raichu can glow in the dark by constantly emitting a weak electrical charge throughout its body…..I want a glow in the dark Raichu doll now.

Also, Ultra Moon can kiss my ass because it is the only game that omits all of this and instead notes: “Because so many Trainers like the way Pikachu looks, you don’t see this Pokémon very often.” Couldn’t resist kissing Pikachu’s ass, eh?

And, really, Pikachu’s just so adorable and wonderful that Raichu are actually considered rare because no one wants to sacrifice their Perfectchu for, ew, Raichu? That’s like saying “Eevee can evolve into a wide spectrum of other Pokemon, but you never see them usually because Eevee is just so gosh darn adorable that no one wants to evolve it.” I was having such a nice time writing this entry until I read that. Thanks, Ultra Moon.

As for Alolan Raichu, it uses psychic abilities to control electricity (it’s also noted that Alolan Raichu is the only Pokemon with a Psychic/Electric combo) as well as for levitating on its tail. It attacks with star-shaped thunderbolts, which is honestly a little random.

It emits a sweet aroma if you rub its cheek sacs, and it loves PANCAKES! That has got to be one of the most adorable notes I’ve ever seen in a Dex entry. Granted, it’s explaining this because it loves pancakes prepared with a special secret Alolan recipe that some believe might be the key to this Pokemon’s evolution…..Actually, upon second thought, that’s even cooler. Alolan Raichu might have evolved this way because of PANCAKES! How can you not love everything Raichu related?

As for the design origins, Raichu’s cheeks are still based on squirrels, but its long tail and thicker, longer hind legs (and possibly wider bunny-like ears) seem to come from Jerboas which are hopping desert rodents that are somehow adorable and somewhat frightening looking at the same time, and kangaroo rats.

Alolan Raichu was obviously inspired by surfing, and given the area they’re in it makes a lot of sense. However, it’s also very possible that it was based on the novelty Pokemon, Surfing Pikachu from Pokemon Yellow, Gold, Silver and Crystal (I didn’t talk about that one because it’s literally just Pikachu with a surfboard and it doesn’t even have much of a sprite) and even Puka, the surfing Pikachu from the anime who also had blue eyes.

Interestingly, Raichu in Pokemon Stadium can learn Surf, and the animation for performing this move had it using its tail as a surfboard, which might have been additional inspiration.

Absolutely none of those things clicked with me when I first saw this Pokemon, and I think it’s really cool that so many old cogs might have been put into play to make Alolan Raichu’s design.

Next up, the Sandshrew line!


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Pokemon Episode 58 Analysis: Riddle Me This

Pokemon Ep 58 Screen1

Badge Episode Attempt 1: Cinnabar Island – Volcano Badge

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

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

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

50px-Volcano_Badge xd

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

——————-

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

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

Pokemon Ep 58 Screen2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pokemon Ep 58 Screen3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pokemon Ep 58 Screen4

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

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

Pokemon Ep 58 Screen5

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

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

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

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

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

– I love this exchange.

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

Ash: “Right.”

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

Pokemon Ep 58 Screen6

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pokemon Ep 58 Screen7

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pokemon Ep 58 Screen8

– Ninetales! Whoo!

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

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

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

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

– What else did I have to say about this?

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

Pokemon Ep 58 Screen9

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

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

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

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

Imagine the look of pure shock on my face.

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

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

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

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

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

Pikachu…

(Aim for)….The horn.

Pokemon Ep 58 Screen10

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

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

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

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

Likewise, its reveal is sick.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pokemon Ep 58 Screen11

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

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

——————————–

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

.Previous Episode.


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