Analyzing the Criticized: Sakura Haruno (Naruto) Part 2 – Chapters 101-200: Deeper Problems Starting to Bloom

See Part One Here

Chapters 101-120 (Chunin Exam Finals and the Start of the Attack of Konoha)

Sakura Analysis Part 2 1

Sakura’s not very active during this period because so much of it is the Chunin exam finals, and Sakura’s role is to merely observe (And wait for Sasuke to arrive for ten of these chapters…Just to get this off my chest – I fully agree with Shikamaru. Sasuke and Kakashi’s big overly dramatic arrival is a little irritating when they had everyone waiting. I kinda wanted them to follow that up with “Oh sorry, Sasuke, you got disqualified for making us wait about an hour. Nice pizzazz, though.”)

However, there are some points of note.

Sakura again feels a pang of jealousy when Naruto shows how powerful he is and how much he’s grown when he defeats Neji.

I especially like her saying that watching him makes her want to work even harder. She’s not only showing that she has definitely come to respect Naruto, but he is also actively inspiring her. It’s a nice circle too, considering Naruto got as far as he did in his fight with Neji by remembering the people who have inspired him, like Hinata and Rock Lee, who were inspired by him as well.

….However, as you’ll note, not a damn person was inspired by Sakura’s fight. *cough*

The second annual Naruto character popularity poll is listed in these chapters, and I didn’t think to note the first one back then because I didn’t find it relevant, but considering the topic at hand and the fact that I don’t have much to write about yet, I feel I should point this one out.

In the first popularity poll, Sakura ranked fifth.

In the second popularity poll…….she ranked 14th…..

Ouch is an understatement. Allow me to point out some notable characters who beat her as further evidence of the disdain towards Sakura starting to show up. Gamabunta, the frog who appeared in all of one chapter so far – Jiraiya who, at this point really hasn’t done much but train Naruto for a while and perv on girls – Hayate Gekko, the drowsy-looking proctor of the prelims who didn’t do much else but get murdered – and the fifth Hokage who has barely shown his non-mountain face in this manga at all and has yet to get a speaking role.

She’s not even the highest ranking kunoichi – Hinata takes that spot at #6.

Granted, she never falls this far again, but she never meets or surpasses her first ranking in the future. In fact, she struggles to stay in the top ten. The last popularity poll, taken in 2011, leaves her at 12th place.

Since we’re still not getting much in the realm of Sakura right now, let me babble for a while. The endless Sasuke praise and adoration is irritating enough, especially considering he is literally being given preferential treatment because he’s the special Uchiha kid everyone wants to see fight so no disqualification for him being late, but then he has to come in being a literal copy of Rock Lee.

I get it, Sharingan user means he can copy whatever he’s seen, but this specific instance really bugs me. Rock Lee worked his ass off day in and day out for a few years to get to the levels of speed and taijutsu skill at which he has peaked to this point. Sasuke trains all of a month and he’s matched Lee’s physical abilities – his top speed, his hand-to-hand combat, his jutsus – all of it.

Sure, he can’t open the chakra gates (or maybe he can, he did see that happen too) and these abilities still take their toll, but it breaks my heart to see Rock Lee hobbling around on crutches after a near-death experience against Gaara using everything he had as he watches Sasuke implement his own moves against Gaara and drive him into a state of desperation he couldn’t get him into even by sacrificing his body to achieve that goal. And Sasuke’s barely even tired or injured at this point.

Do you see what I mean when I say I hate ‘geniuses’ and ‘prodigies’?

I’m not saying the Sharingan is cheating – as ninja, which are basically soldiers, they’re perfectly allowed to use whatever powers and bloodline abilities they have to come out on top, even if they’re overpowered or cheap. I take this more as being a massive shortcut. It’s things like this that make feats of certain characters seem less impressive to me.

People can look at this and go ‘Wow, Sasuke’s such an impressive badass.’ but I feel underwhelmed.

Rock Lee is so impressive because he reached this insane level of skill and power at his age with a handicap, not with any born advantages like many ninja have. His main powers are determination and self-discipline. On sheer willpower, he managed to match top dog ninjas time and again, even if the series commonly doesn’t let him have the limelight. Neji’s natural genius, bloodline powers and talent were a perfect foil for him. Neji may be cool, but he’ll never be as cool as Rock Lee to me, nor will Sasuke.

And hey, just to loop around back to Sakura, that IS a point on her side of the scoreboard. Even Ino and Hinata have bloodline traits that give them an edge, but Sakura doesn’t. We don’t know much about her home life besides barely seeing her parents once and that was anime-exclusive. She doesn’t come from some special clan, she has no kekki genkai, she has no curse mark or demons inside of her – she’s just Sakura.

However, the reason that she’s nowhere near as impressive as Rock Lee is because her work ethic up until this point seems mostly relegated to the basics – book learnin’ and basic skills. Like many have pointed out, she has spent a majority of her time being preoccupied with flirting and impressing Sasuke. She gets really good grades, but she doesn’t go beyond that. She’s one of the top kunouchi in her class, but she doesn’t strive to learn any powerful jutsu or focus on a particular area of strength.

I don’t want to chalk that up to laziness, because she doesn’t seem like she’s lazy. I want to say she’s lost.

She doesn’t have an identity as a ninja yet. Even in regards to the writing, she’s in a very confusing state. She’s super smart, but not as smart as Sasuke, Neji or Shikamaru. She’s skilled with chakra control, but they don’t do anything with that. She’s supposedly good with Genjutsu, but we already know how contradictory that statement has been. She’s one of the top kunoichi in her class, but in battle she ties with Ino, who is supposedly in the middle or back of the pack.

I think one of the reasons she was jealous of Naruto wasn’t just realizing yet again that he’s on a completely different level than her – it was knowing Naruto knew exactly who he was and wanted to be as a ninja. As the character descriptions state time and again in each volume, Sakura’s main goal is to ‘win Sasuke’s heart.’ Meanwhile Naruto’s is to become hokage and Sasuke’s is to get vengeance for his clan. One of these things is not like the others.

Sakura has finally realized how far she truly falls short as a ninja, but she has no direction on what she wants to be as a ninja or, realistically, a person. Winning the heart of an edgelord is not a goal of a ninja nor is it really a viable goal as a person as we’ll delve into soon enough. And it’s not until Tsunade starts training her that she actually has direction, purpose and a goal as a ninja…….even if that goal is heavily centered around Sasuke, but, again, we’ll get to that later.

That’s likely one of the reasons why Sakura is seen as so much better once the time skip rolls around. She’s not only more skilled, serious and powerful with her own fairly unique set of skills (being fair, all of the main characters adopted and adapted most of their techniques from their elders), but she also has direction.

Once the attack is launched on the Chunin exam and most people fall under the Genjutsu, one of the enemies points out that realizing the Genjutsu and being able to use a jutsu to release it is to be expected of Konoha’s elite. Immediately after he says this, we see Sakura releasing the Genjutsu on herself as well.

FINALLY an actual implication that she’s good at catching Genjutsu and can easily escape it. Too bad there’s so much more evidence to the contrary that this actually seems weird. I almost feel like she was just taking a beat from Kakashi and Gai, seeing them do it before her.

While worrying about Sasuke, given the attack from Orochimaru, Sakura gets attacked by two enemy ninja. Kakashi rushes in to save her…..This attack has absolutely no point besides to show Sakura getting saved again.

Kakashi points out that she has a natural talent for Genjutsu again, which is par for the course at this point, roll your eyes and move on, but he also said something that made me raise an eyebrow. He said he’s glad he trained her in Genjutsu during ninja survival training….Uhm….when did this happen?…And why are you lying?

Kakashi never gave Sakura any specific training, and any training she did with Naruto and Sasuke never involved Genjutsu, that we saw anyway. The only instance I can think of was the bell test where Kakashi placed a Genjutsu on her to make her think Sasuke was mortally wounded – and that made her faint!

Sakura is recruited to break the Genjutsu on Naruto and Shikamaru to take on an A-rank mission. She’s very clearly nervous and apprehensive, but, to her credit, she doesn’t panic. Shikamaru recognized and broke free from the Genjutsu (he pretended to be asleep) so she doesn’t get to break him free.

Chapter 118 does not put any good light on Sakura at all.

There’s a fairly decent opportunity for Sakura’s character growth here. One of the aforementioned overlooked aspects of her character is in the fact that she’s supposedly very smart. Since she was shown to be quite nervous a moment ago, Kakashi might have relied on Sakura’s knowledge to help command a squad to carry out his mission. Sakura could bungle it up a bit at first, her fear getting in the way, especially since Kakashi brought up the Hidden Mist mission, of which Sakura holds bad memories, but ultimately she could come through and manage to effectively lead the squad for at least a while.

This would also give her a better moment of glory than whatever the hell happened in the Chunin exam prelims.

However, Kakashi ordered her to recruit Shikamaru, who was recently proven to be a tactical genius with an IQ over 200. And since he was also touted to be the one who would be most fitting as a Chunin out of that year’s group, it’s a no-brainer that he’d basically be leader and brains of their temporary squad.

But he went a bit overboard.

He made Sakura look about as stupid as Naruto with her suggestions, and even described her as ‘A kunoichi with no particular talent.’ I’ve stated that it’s a bit annoying when they press Sakura’s ‘she’s really smart’ button when trying to give her props when she’s in a team with Sasuke the genius, but this moment made me really glad they didn’t opt to put her in a team with Shikamaru – especially considering his outward sexism.

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Secondly, Sakura immediately believes Shikamaru probably ran away when he goes off to basically sacrifice himself to be a decoy to the nine pursuing ninja. Not only is that insulting and a poor testament to Sakura’s faith in her comrade, but that doesn’t even make any sense. If Shikamaru wanted to save his ass and run, he’d just do it. He wouldn’t come up with an elaborate plan, pretend to be the décoy in said plan and then run off.

Chapters 121-140 (Conclusion of the attack on Konoha + Battle against Gaara)

Sakura’s not present in half of these chapters because there’s other stuff going on that has nothing to do with her, namely the Third Hokage’s battle against Orochimaru, Shino’s battle against Kankuro and Sasuke’s battle against Gaara.

However, I will note something. When Naruto finally arrives on the scene, he makes a dramatic entrance by kicking Gaara in the face (Does that mean now Naruto’s too fast for Gaara’s protective sand? Come on.) as he’s about to attack Sasuke.

Sakura’s entrance is rushing to Sasuke’s side and fretting over him. Granted, he is out of chakra and the curse mark is taking over again, but still. Contrast.

Also, there’s a weird spot, shown above, where Sakura seems like she’s not even paying attention to what’s going on around her, gets pissed off when Naruto tries to ask her about their enemy, literally goes ‘grrr’ when she looks at Gaara and explains…. “That’s the guy who knocked Sasuke down.” I don’t know if the translation is just weirdly worded, but that sounds like a little kid getting angry at a bully.

And let me remind everyone, Sasuke chased after Gaara so they could have this fight, yet Sakura’s acting like Gaara sought him out.

To her credit, Sakura does jump in the way of Gaara as he tries to attack Sasuke (Though her stance is kinda weird if you ask me. Really limits your attacks if you hold your kunai down that low, doesn’t it?)

But, of course, she can’t do a damn thing and just gets slammed against the tree. Her willing to put her life at risk to protect someone precious to her creates an additional instance of emotional turmoil for Gaara, for what that’s worth.

Sakura spends a good chunk of the rest of this section being pinned to a tree and being a damsel in distress. Gaara has separated some of his sand from his body to keep her pinned to the tree and it’s slowly constricting her. Unless Naruto beats Gaara, she’ll be crushed to death.

So glad she was able to break free from that Genjutsu just so she could do literally nothing useful and become a damsel in distress. Bravo.

I love how when Naruto’s thinking about examples of people acknowledging him, Sakura’s segment is asking him about Sasuke and him desperately trying to get her to pay attention to him….

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Hey, now. Sasuke showing concern for Sakura. Sasuke tells Naruto to save Sakura no matter what and to run away with her while he makes a distraction. He also includes her as one of his ‘precious comrades.’

Tell you the truth, though, all of the dialogue in play, this is just as much a NaruSasu moment as it is a SasuSaku moment.

Gamakichi refers to Sakura as Naruto’s girl….That probably irritated me more than it should.

Some people like to also give flak to Gaara for becoming Kazekage later and being a good friend to Konoha and Naruto when he’s basically a reformed serial killer. Many people don’t give him too much leeway just because of his sordid past (“Cool motive, still murder.”), but considering he also suffered from endless insomnia possibly since birth and had his sanity chewed on by a demon whenever he did get some semblance of rest, it makes more sense to pardon his actions and believe his development when he gets a better grasp on Shukaku and comes to change his views on love and affection. His sanity is slowly repairing itself, somewhat symbolically, through the love he witnesses and eventually obtains from his friends and family.

I’ll probably bring this back up way later down the line when we get to some more questionable reformations, but since we’re focusing on Gaara right now, I thought that’d be the best time to discuss that…..Sakura’s still stuck to a tree afterall.

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Sakura got unstuck from the tree. Caught by Sasuke, showing a tiny bit more caring for her.

Chapters 141 – 160 (The Aftermath of the Attack on Konoha + Finding Tsunade)

In a flashback, Sakura initially doesn’t believe that Naruto was responsible for defeating Gaara, saving her from the Sand Gauntlet. She’d rather gush over Sasuke and believe he was responsible and that he’s just being modest. Sasuke, however, does convince her, and even though she’s not seen thanking Naruto, she does smile and seemingly respect what he did.

Sakura’s only other appearance in this section is briefly being seen sitting at Sasuke’s hospital bed side saying “Sasuke….”

Yup, 20 chapters and those are Sakura’s only appearances. Granted, the story as of now doesn’t really call for her – Naruto’s been away for most of it, but still. If you were just casually reading this, you’d be seriously questioning whether Sakura’s actually a main character or not.

Chapters 161 – 180 (Tsunade’s Decision + The Battle Between the Sannin + Coming Home with the Fifth Hokage)

Sakura’s still not in a good portion of this part, but….Alright, since I didn’t really have much else to say, I wanted to make an observation. I am in no way slamming Tsunade, but I couldn’t help but make this parallel. Even though Tsunade was holding her own, she was still very evenly matched and nearly losing to Kabuto, whom Orochimaru stated earlier was only on level ground with Kakashi. No sleight to Kakashi either, but he’s not a Sannin. I’m just saying……is Tsunade basically the Sakura of her team?

I’m not saying the skill and power difference is as great as Sakura’s with Sasuke and Naruto, but she really doesn’t seem to be on the same level as Orochimaru or Jiraiya. During this battle she needed to be saved twice. And the first time she was facing Kabuto only.

So the first instance we see of Sakura in this chunk of the story is a brief image of her and Ino looking all crazy as Shikamaru goes off bad-mouthing all woman-kind.

And the first shot we actually see of her…..is…..At Sasuke’s bedside….And Tsunade notes that she seems to have been going there every single day. Wow.

Look, I get that this is kinda sweet, but from all I can tell she has literally done nothing with the time Naruto has been gone, which is a couple weeks I think, besides sit on her ass and mope about Sasuke. While Naruto was off working his ass off to learn the most powerful move he’s ever mastered, one that will become his signature attack technique throughout his lifetime, she’s been doing nothing. Even Rock Lee was training while actually being a PATIENT in this hospital after getting his body viciously mangled, but Sakura’s just been sitting there like a lump on a log….

What happened to the Sakura who was sick of people getting hurt protecting her and being gung-ho about proving herself? You don’t only do that in the field, Sakura. You have to actually be active when you don’t have missions. You have to learn new jutsu or make up your own. Kakashi might be out of commission for the moment, but surely there are other instructors who can take over for a while, if she absolutely needs someone to help her, even if there is a shortage of people in the village lately.

However, we clearly see most of the other teams are training in their off-time, whether it be as a hobby or not, even without an instructor nearby. Sakura has no excuse to be doing nothing.

And for the record, Sakura spends the rest of the first chapter she’s really been seen in for ages crying and hugging Sasuke…..

Meanwhile, in the next chapter, Sakura is peeling an apple for Sasuke and cutting it up into itty bitty pieces for him to eat more easily…..Sakura, sweetie, he’s just tired – he’s not a three year old.

Wow, I missed this the first time around. You’re internally cheering that you peeled…an…apple. Sakura, I know people like to joke that you’re useless, but when you’re starting to pat yourself on the back for successfully peeling fruit, I think it’s time to take a good hard look at yourself.

When Sakura presents the apples to him, he’s gotten himself so pissed off thinking of how Naruto is pulling ahead of him in skill and power that he growls at her and smacks the plate out of her hands. Then he just glowers out the window without a single thought of remorse or apology.

The girls really aren’t getting a lot of love in these few chapters anyway. Tenten’s just there, Hinata is shown being jealous that Kiba and Shino have hobbies and Ino keeps ragging on Choji for eating too much and being fat. She states that she would never get Sasuke if she ever put on weight, and tells Choji to stop eating too much or else he’ll never a girl. What a bitch.

I find this dialogue to be really weird too, because she should know very well that a large portion of Choji’s skill as a ninja comes from his weight.

The apple thing gets even worse when, gasp, Sasuke steps on one of the apple pieces on the floor. Dammit, Sasuke, you might as well be stepping on her heart!

During the match between Naruto and Sasuke, all she does is stand there looking on with concern and nearly kills herself trying to stop them from fighting (Can’t help but wonder how the series would have gone had they killed her. Not as a jab at Sakura, but something like their rivalry killing their teammate and friend would have seriously messed Naruto and Sasuke up for life.)

And once Kakashi stops them and saves Sakura, she just cries….And then Kakashi tries to cheer her up instead of talking to her like an adult….Seriously, “Don’t worry, things will be the way they used to be.”? You don’t know that. Don’t promise that, especially with Sasuke clearly going off the deep end. He did something similar when they returned for the Chunin exams when he told her the curse mark was nothing to worry about when it clearly is.

Just a moment ago, Iruka was talking to Naruto like a fellow shinobi about how he needs to help the village out and take missions whenever asked. And here Kakashi is basically ‘Santa is real’ing Sakura….

Later, Naruto tells Sakura to not get in his way. Oh goodie, even Naruto’s giving her shit now.

When Naruto, of all people, is subtly saying you just did something stupid and reckless, again, it’s probably time to take a good hard look at yourself.

Sakura does make the decision to go against Sasuke’s wishes and tell Naruto about the curse mark and Orochimaru, and he tells her it’s okay because Sasuke’s too strong to be tempted by Orochimaru. This is basically the same thing Kakashi’s doing, but at least here Naruto probably believes it himself.

Sakura’s also remembering all this while lazing about in the window. Ya know, times like these might prompt some characters to think they should’ve been stronger to stop their friends from fighting and maybe become more determined to train harder and get stronger so they won’t be ‘in the way’…….Some characters.

You might argue that there’s not enough time to give Sakura a lot of focus or develop her much right here, but Shikamaru, Choji and Rock Lee are all getting mounds of development in this section and none of the main plot involves them at all right now.

Meanwhile, Rock Lee’s story never fails to make me want to sob. Please give him all of the good things in the world forever.

Chapters 181-200 (Sasuke’s Departure – Battle Against the Sound Four for Sasuke: Choji and Neji’s battles)

 

The start of this section is one of the biggest moments for Sakura and SasuSaku in the entire series.

Sakura is keeping watch over the only path out of the village because she’s concerned Sasuke will leave, which he does. She starts off kinda funny because she tries to remind him of the time when he yelled at her for acting like Naruto had it made…..Ya know….being an orphan.

And he told her she made him sick.

She brought that up as the start of them being a team…..but it really wasn’t. The start of them being a team and opening up to each other a little was probably during the bell test.

Him yelling at her over what she said is definitely the first time he even slightly shared anything about himself to her, but he never said anything in regards to his own situation. He was just pointing out what a shitty thing it is to say that an ORPHAN has it good because their parents don’t nag them. Anyone would say that.

She goes on to talk about how fun it was being a team together, that she understands his loneliness and, even with her friends and family around her that, if Sasuke leaves, she’ll be very lonely too. This is kinda sweet, but sounds kinda shitty when it immediately follows her saying she understands Sasuke’s loneliness. Again, Sakura, no you don’t. You don’t understand loneliness. You definitely don’t understand the loneliness either Naruto or Sasuke has felt before.

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And I swear to god if someone brings up her being bullied for her forehead I will lose it.

It still doesn’t work. Sasuke affirms that they’re just all going on different paths. His is of revenge. Hers is…wherever.

Then she starts sobbing (though she’s been crying this entire time) and yells out that she’s so in love with Sasuke that she can’t stand it. She’ll do anything if he stays in Konoha. She’ll do whatever she can to make him happy – even help him exact revenge. Because swearing a blood oath over a crush…..that’s healthy.

Then….she does something I’ve always kinda hated Sakura for……she offers to go with him to Orochimaru.

……………..And then what, Sakura? And. Then. What? You’ll sit by cutting up apples for Sasuke as Voldemort trains him in the dark arts? You’ll join in? Have to hope their team has room for someone whose skills amount to high chakra control, pretend Genjutsu talent and cutting her hair.

I know it probably seems like I’m being too pissed at this, but I have justification. It’s not just that going with Sasuke to Orochimaru is dumb, it’s that she’s willing to BETRAY HER VILLAGE to stay with a guy who has only barely ever given her the time of day before because she can’t stop writing ‘Sakura Uchiha’ in her ninja textbooks.

You can shout your love for him all you want, Sakura. It’s not real. The fact that your most seemingly cherished moment with Sasuke is when he yelled at you and said you made him sick is telling enough.

The fact that you think you understand Sasuke’s feelings in the slightest, after acknowledging that you know what happened to his clan, just because you’ll be sad your eye candy won’t be around anymore is more than enough.

But the fact that you’re willing to either kiss his ass to make him stay or follow him, betraying your village as well as all of your friends and family, to someone who MURDERED THE THIRD HOKAGE and god knows how many other people – the guy who cursed Sasuke and caused him untold amounts of pain, is the frosting on the cake, the cherry on top and the little umbrella in the drink.

I can understand she has good intentions, really I do, but this confrontation paints her in such a bad and immature light. She’s twelve, so I guess I can’t hate on her too much for acting like this, even though you’d think she’d be much smarter and more mature by now, especially considering the maturity levels of a lot of her peers, but it doesn’t make it any less obnoxious.

Sasuke smirks and tells her she’ll never change, which I never really understood if that was meant to be a compliment or an insult. She threatens to scream if he leaves, which causes him to fwoosh behind her, thank her, which is kinda nice (How is Sasuke the non-annoying one in this situation?) and then knocks her out and leaves her on a bench.

The next day, Sakura tells Tsunade’s associates of what happened, which sends her into a bit of a panic because now Orochimaru has Sasuke in his clutches and can achieve his ends. Which just brings another stupid thing to light – Sakura, if you were so concerned Sasuke would leave the village soon to the point where you were seemingly pulling all-nighters watching the one path out of the village, why did you not tell Kakashi, Tsunade or any other authority figure? Why did you not have have some method of alerting them if Sasuke was attempting to leave? Maybe a clone or something or some sort of signal.

Even if she didn’t know exactly why Orochimaru wanted Sasuke, she knew he wanted him anyway. She knew the biggest enemy of Konoha at present, one who just pulled off a terrorist attack on Konoha and assassinated its leader, wanted Sasuke. Yet she didn’t think to maybe give a heads up to Kakashi? Leave a note on Tsunade’s desk?

Also, if she truly doesn’t know of Orochimaru’s intentions with Sasuke, that’s the fault of everyone continuing to treat her like a child and choosing to not share vital information like that with her. Not telling everyone, sure, but she’s his damned teammate. Naruto knows, doesn’t he? There’s no excuse.

You can argue that Sasuke would have found some way to leave no matter what they did, but if they really felt he was a danger to Konoha due to his willingness to walk into Orochimaru’s open embrace….lock the kid up. Throw his ass in prison. Use some sort of jutsu to keep him in the village. That’s kinda harsh, yeah, but it’s better than Orochimaru getting what he wants and needs to end Konoha entirely, killing untold amounts of people, and letting one of their most powerful and talented young ninja become another human dynamo with dark powers who intends on mowing down anyone in his way.

After Tsunade enlists Shikamaru to the task of retrieving Sasuke, given that all of the Chu and Jonin as well as some Genin are out on missions, and Shikamaru enlists his team of Genin, Sakura shows up and does what she does best.

Cry.

Shikamaru explains that they can’t bring Sakura along with them because she failed to persuade Sasuke to stay, and even though he doesn’t directly say it, she’d most certainly be a hindrance to them anyway given her lack of notable skills and power and her clear bias towards Sasuke, meaning she’d never be able to bring him back through force. So Sakura instead starts crying and begging Naruto to grant her ‘wish of a lifetime’ to bring Sasuke back.

Naruto obviously agrees, pointing out how much Sakura truly cares about Sasuke, which prompts Sakura to remember a time when she was talking to Naruto as a Sasuke doppleganger telling him how Naruto ruins everything, doesn’t understand her at all, if he had his way, supposedly, she’d never find love or happiness, and she can’t stand to have him anywhere near her. I’m not sure if this is her coming to the realization that that was Naruto or just that she’s reflecting on what a bitch she was then, but either way she realizes that she was wrong about Naruto and that he really does understand her and care.

Before I continue, can I point out that Konoha is very clearly hard up for help on missions, even Iruka told Naruto that he’d probably be called for missions to help out, Iruka himself has been pulled away from the academy to do missions, yet Sakura’s been in Konoha this whole time sitting on her ass and as far as I can tell no one’s asked her to do shit? Is this just convenient, like she hasn’t been picked through some random selection, or does no one….ya know….want her on the team? Or think she’d be useful? I can’t help but think the latter is very possible.

Where is Ino, by the way? I know she’d be nearly as bad as Sakura in the fogged focus area because of Sasuke, but where is she? Tenten’s nowhere to be found either, or Hinata. They explain Shino’s away on a mission with his father – where are all the girls at? Nearly all of the boys in Konoha, barring Rock Lee for obvious reasons, are going on this mission. Why isn’t at least Hinata, the one girl in all of Konoha whose heart doesn’t go pitter patter at the mere thought of Sasuke, being asked to go along? I know Shikamaru is sexist but at least explain where the girls are or why none of them were considered for this mission.

The end of the chapter has a picture of Sakura looking at the reader with a frown. Yeah, I’m not happy either, Sakura.

Sakura’s obviously not a part of a vast majority of these chapters after this point either. So….let’s continue to explore more reasons why practically every other character in this series is more interesting than Team 7 – Today’s excerpt: Neji and Choji….but mostly Choji.

I’m really enjoying that Neji has chilled out so much. He’s still a bit of a superior air around him, but it’s not nearly as bad as it used to be. Naruto and Kiba are being much more obnoxious in looking down on others, namely Choji and, for a minute, Shikamaru, in this part of the story, so it’s nice to see such a talented and skilled ninja actually be chill and helpful instead of snotty or emo.

As for Choji, his is another arc that never fails to bring a tear to my eye. Choji may be a bit on the annoying side when it comes to him outside of battles and missions, mostly because his shtick pretty much just amounts to ‘Haha, he’s fat. Haha he eats a lot.’ but when he’s set on something, he’s serious, he’s smart, he’s skilled and he’s incredibly determined to prove himself and defend his best friend, Shikamaru.

This is one of the best moments of badassery in the entire series, and it’s pulled off by the fat comic relief guy whose final form is a butterfly.

And not only that, but this plotline is actually relevant to our main topic.

Choji was ostracized from the other kids because he was overweight, yeah, but people also tend to think Choji’s stupid and useless on top of that, even though Shikamaru goes on record saying he is, by far, the strongest Genin in their group. Thanks to the support of Shikamaru, he has been able to keep his head up, continue moving forward and become a great ninja, no matter what others, including Ino and Asuma, who should know better, think of him. He’s able to take down one of the Sound Four, willfully giving his life to do so.

And, no lie, when I first saw this part of the story in the anime I legitimately thought Choji had died. And I cried. This storyline made me cry over the only person in the Chunin exams who had a more pitiful performance than Sakura – and that’s counting Tenten, because at least in the anime her fight was a little entertaining.

Especially when he reached the trees and saw the arrow carvings, knowing Shikamaru put them there, realizing Shikamaru had enough trust in Choji’s abilities to do as he claimed he would, beat the enemy and catch up.

We keep getting similar characters who are put down for being useless, talentless burdens on their teams like Choji and Rock Lee, and when it comes to their times to shine they get these grand, amazing storylines that pluck every heartstring you have. But when Sakura, a main friggin’ character with this same problem, is given a shot at proving herself she ends up with either a haircut or a double KO against people like Ino. Choji just beat one of Orochimaru’s bodyguards, who has a curse mark, who triggered his final form with this mark, and Sakura….couldn’t beat….Ino.

Also, I really like the dynamic the five of them have. I mean, yeah, Kiba and Naruto are generally being irritating brats, but they work really well together. Each has their own strengths and weaknesses that work in tandem with the others, and, given a bit more time, they’d probably be a powerhouse of a ninja squad…….still salty there’s not a single girl here, though.

Neji’s fight is not as interesting, in my opinion. It’s more tense seeing him actually struggle with someone and not constantly blather on about destiny and fate and whatnot (He does bring it up at the end, though), but I think it drags on a bit long. Just a little bit. Also, I can’t get as emotionally charged from Neji’s story when his crescendo is that so many people don’t see him as a failure, but as a genius and he can’t let those people down. They try to do the same death fakeout that Choji got, but, again, it’s not tugging my heartstrings as much.

————————————

Overall, this cluster of chapters really doesn’t reflect well on Sakura, which is shame because the first part of this analysis series actually gave me quite a bit more respect for her and now it’s fading pretty fast. There are so many more moments where she frustrated the hell out of me and much fewer moments where she was actually redeeming herself. And, sadly, none where she was really impressive.

I’m debating how much of that is her fault because she’s simply not a part of most of the storylines that are happening in this section. She’s just not given anything to do. Chapters 1-100 focused almost exclusively on Team 7. The Hidden Mist arc, the first few sections of the Chunin exam – all of them had the team together and gave focus to them as a team, usually. But the start of this cluster is where the team starts falling apart, which I guess means Sakura just gets less focus by default.

I can easily say that a majority of that isn’t her fault, but when you think about it, it really is.

She’s shaking too? Have some dignity, Sakura.

She’s not really part of the Chunin exam arc after the prelims. That’s kinda her fault because she hasn’t been doing enough training to beat Ino, of all people.

She’s not being given special training for the main event of the Chunin exams because she’s not in them because see above.

She has little to no use in the attack on Konoha because she hasn’t bothered trying to train and improve herself during the Chunin exam off time anyway – despite her drive being to get stronger and more skilled so she won’t be useless and cause people more pain and grief.

She’s not of any use in the battle against Gaara, and is, depressingly, reduced to a literal damsel in distress.

She’s not involved in the part with retrieving Tsunade, which is the first instance where the fault was entirely out of her hands. However, the entire time this was going on, she was literally doing nothing but doting on comatose Sasuke every day instead of training. They could have easily brought her along, especially considering she’ll be Tsunade’s student later. That could have made for a great baseline of Team 7 connecting with their Sannin counterparts to seek out mentors. But nope.

When Naruto returns, she’s somehow 10x worse in the whiny useless crybaby department to the point where even Kakashi seemingly babies her now. She cuts up an apple for Sasuke like he’s a preschooler and does nothing but cry and nearly force Naruto and Sasuke to murder her as she pulls an Ash in Pokemon The First Movie.

She makes a 10% heartwarming 90% stupid plea, while sobbing, to make Sasuke stay, not properly planning this out at all and nearly betraying her village to stay with him. Then she cries some more to Naruto, not allowed on the mission to get Sasuke back because she’s too useless and Sasuke crazy, and begs him to bring her back.

End of chapter cluster.

It’s a shame, too, because most of what we’ve been getting with the development of side characters, such as Shikamaru, Choji, Rock Lee and even Neji, has been pretty damn great. Why is one of the main characters falling behind so much? Why is Sakura seemingly not even making an effort to do what she keeps saying she wants to do? I mentioned that I thought Sakura was lost, which I still think she is, but she can at least make efforts to improve in the meantime. Her screentime shouldn’t constantly rely on either Naruto or Sasuke.

I probably come off as a bit harsh on her through this part, but I was really starting to lose my patience with her. We go these long gaps without seeing her at all and whenever we do see her, nine times out of ten, she’s reinforcing all of the negative things people have been saying about her for years.

But fear not, reader. We still have a long way to go…whether that’s good or bad is up in the air, but considering Part 3 will be chapters 201-300, which means we’re finally dipping our toes into the time skip chapters, I’d say we have at least a little to look forward to.


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Pokemon Episode 57 Analysis: The Breeding Center Secret

Pokemon Ep57 Analysis Screen1

Character Debuts: Butch and Cassidy – Butch and Cassidy are basically Jessie and James if they were about….40% more competent. I always like when they pop up because they are legitimate threats, but they tend to get taken down almost as easily as Jessie and James either way. Also, I hate the running gag of getting Butch’s name wrong. It got old so fast it’s ridiculous. However, it hasn’t even started in this episode so I’m good for now.

Butch and Cassidy are named after the legendary old west outlaw, Butch Cassidy, which is another mirrored attribute of Jessie and James, who are named after Jessie James.

Pokemon: Butch – As of this episode, he’s not known to have any Pokemon, but later down the line he’ll be shown to have a Primeape, a Hitmontop, a Mightyena, a Cloyster and a Shuckle.

Cassidy – Cassidy’s Ratticate is basically their version of Meowth only it doesn’t talk and stays in its Pokeball. She’s later shown to also have a Houndour, a Sableye, a Tentacruel and a Granbull.

Cap…tures?: James has a Victreebel. Don’t ask questions. He just does, okay?

Its only character trait is trying to eat James every time it’s let out, which gets super annoying over time.

Character Departures: First time I’ve ever had to use this, but Snap did stick around for several episodes so I guess it’s fitting to do this here.

Snap takes his leave in this episode.

And I’m all broken up about it.

I really have nothing against Snap, even though, I’m just going to say it, he’s even more one-dimensional and boring than Tracey. Give Tracey credit – he doesn’t just draw Pokemon. He’s basically a Pokemon Researcher that draws. And he has his own Pokemon to add to the mix. Snap’s only gimmick is taking pictures. That’s it. The end. He is a walking camera. He doesn’t have any Pokemon to make him even a little more interesting – he’s just the guy taking pictures.

I will never understand why he stuck around in the first place. It is one of Pokemon’s greatest mysteries to me.

EDIT – I pre-maturely said goodbye to our camera toting pal. He reappears way down the line in Johto in three episodes where he’s trying to capture a picture of an Articuno. Again, he stays for three episodes in Johto and I have no clue why. I already have difficulty understanding the criteria for making any characters of the day reappear, but why Snap has two three episodes bursts where he’s traveling with the group in the series is an even bigger mystery to me. Is he that much of a fan favorite, or what’s happening here?

Plot: Ash, Misty, Brock and Snap stumble upon a new Breeding Center where the owners promise to improve any Pokemon and even get some to evolve in mere days. Misty jumps at the chance to leave her Psyduck there.

Later, the group finds a restaurant that promises free food, which ignites Misty’s interest. However, there’s a catch – you have to show the chef his favorite Pokemon, which is, ironically, Psyduck. Misty is irritated that Psyduck isn’t there the one time she actually needs him, but when she heads to the Breeding Center to retrieve him, they find the shop is closed.

Impatient and hungry, Misty decides to break in. They overhear the shop owners talking in the back room – they’re secretly top Team Rocket agents, Butch and Cassidy! The Breeding Center is really a front to get rare and powerful Pokemon to send back to Giovanni. All of the Pokemon they’ve acquired are kept in small cages and treated poorly – including Psyduck.

The group hatches a plan to take pictures of everything in the room so they can show it to police and get Team Rocket shut down for good. They take their pictures, nearly getting caught in the process, but as they’re about to grab Psyduck and head out, someone else breaks into the Breeding Center.

It’s Team Rocket – the regular one – looking to nab all of the Pokemon in the center, unaware that it’s being run by other Team Rocket members. The group catches them and tries to stop them from stealing the Pokemon and getting them caught. Their efforts are in vain, however, because Butch and Cassidy catch them.

They try to escape, but not before James stops to retrieve his Weepinbell that he left at the center a few days prior. To his delight, it has evolved into a Victreebel.

The escape continues, but they’re all nabbed up in cages. Misty, Togepi and Pikachu are the only ones able to evade capture. Butch and Cassidy take Snap’s camera and call the police to get them all arrested, leaving Misty as the one who must get the evidence back and clear Ash, Brock and Snap’s good names.

She covertly uses Pikachu to snatch the camera while she disguises herself and enters the center as a customer trying to retrieve her Psyduck. Misty brings the photos back to Officer Jenny, proving the criminal nature of the Breeding Center, and the group rushes to arrest them.

Butch and Cassidy fight them with their Raticate, but Pikachu easily defeats it. They make a run for it, but are Vine Whipped into submission by Ash’s Bulbasaur.

With Butch and Cassidy behind bars and the Pokemon safely set to be returned to their owners, Misty finally takes her Psyduck to the restaurant to get as much ice cream as she can eat.

Later, Snap departs from the group to head to the mountains to take some pictures of wild Pokemon. Ash and the others bid their photographer friend farewell as they set off for Cinnabar Island and Ash’s seventh Gym match.

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– Snap is very obviously taking posed pictures of Togepi.

– Weathergirl: “Now, a Pokemon weather update!” What the hell is Pokemon weather? I know you people like putting ‘Pokemon’ in front of everything, but it needs to make some sense. Like, am I writing this blog post on my Pokemon computer? Sitting in my Pokemon chair? As the Pokemon computer sits on the Pokemon desk? Am I Pokemon typing? Please stop!

(Also, don’t think you can get away with mentioning Castform here. That little dude is a long way away from being created.)

– What is up with Brock and Misty’s face here? I didn’t realize that a weather report could make ten year olds sport an expression you’d usually only see if you bought them a pony.

Pokemon Ep57 Analysis Screen2

– I find it very weird that they opted to call this place a Breeding Center when we’ve already seen Breeding Centers before and they don’t increase Pokemon levels there. (Being fair, that same episode also included a Team Rocket putting up a front as a fake Breeding Center just to steal Pokemon, so points off for kinda recycling plots) Brock’s a Pokemon Breeder too, there’s no reason he’s not suspicious of this place.

In the original, as you can guess, it was a Pokemon Daycare. Like in the games, they promise that simply leaving the Pokemon with them will level them quickly. The reason it feels quick in the games is because 1) You’re so busy grinding and doing busywork or catching Pokemon that ‘time’ (steps) kinda flies and 2) …..You probably forgot you had a Pokemon in the Daycare. In the anime, it makes less sense because you’re left wondering how they’re leveling them in a literal quick manner (Cassidy states they had a Charmander evolve all the way into Charizard in three days.)

Also, the games didn’t have the Pokemon evolve in their care, even if they far exceeded level requirements.

Also also, when you think about it, it kinda DOES make more sense for this place to be called a Breeding Center if they went all the way with the Daycare motif because, in the games, when you leave two compatible opposite sex Pokemon (or any (non-legend) Pokemon and Ditto, because Ditto’s the real bicycle of Pokemon.) you will eventually get a Pokemon egg. Meaning, for a change, actual BREEDING would occur in a BREEDING Center if they did this right, but I can understand why they didn’t. They don’t want to have to explain the Pidgeys and the Beedrills to kids….even though, in the games, they still claim they don’t know for sure how Pokemon eggs are made….

Admittedly, this is a good plan if they only stick around for a few days, but…we’ll get to the rest of the plan later.

– Butch’s voice is terrible.. It doesn’t bother me as much as it does other people, but I can see why it might.

Dogasu brought up a very….interesting note about Butch as a character though.

“I read a theory from the Internet from waaaay back when this episode first premiered that might explain what 4Kids and / or Eric Stuart was thinking. This is in no way confirmed but here goes anyway: James represents effeminate gay men while Butch is a stand-in for their more masculine counterparts. Hear me out. The idea goes that since James is often seen cross-dressing, is given all these high-pitched squeals and giggles, hates the idea of marrying the woman his parents set him up with, and spends nearly 24/7 with a sexy female colleague but isn’t trying to get into her pants then that means that of course he’s a friend of Dorothy. It is 1998 after all; what other explanation could there be! This may not have been the intention for the character when 4Kids first started but the whole “James is a flamboyant gay man” idea is one that they would definitely end up embracing as the years go on.

And then, when it came time to dub this episode, 4Kids looked at what they had already done with James and decided hey, wouldn’t it make a lot of sense if we gave this other guy a name that means “masculine” and then also gave him this super deep man voice? You know, as a kind of yin and yang thing? So they get Eric Stuart to come in and do his Harvey Fierstein impersonation and BAM! we’ve got someone the exact opposite of James. When all is said and done, Eric Stuart plays James to be effeminate while he plays Butch to be, well, butch.

This is all just a theory and there’s no proof whatsoever that this is what 4Kids was going for at the time. Still, it all kind of adds up. I don’t think this was done out of any sort of malice or anything (from what I’ve gathered both 4Kids and TPCI seem to be very LGBTQ-safe environments) but instead was intended just to be a funny little in-joke among the staff at 4Kids. It’s still a terrible, terrible voice though.”

Pokemon Ep57 Analysis Screen3

Sooooo…..yeah, I’ve NEVER heard of this until I read the comparison and I never thought this until now, and I gotta say…..I think it’s a bunch of bull. I think it makes a lot more sense for his name to just be a play on Butch Cassidy from the get-go and not anywhere inspired from being a ‘butch’ gay guy. I also don’t think Eric Stuart was thinking that going in because I think, if he had, he would’ve put more of a deep tone to the voice instead of making it higher pitched just really raspy, like his throat had just been ripped out by rabid weasels.

I also don’t think the original writers intended for anything like that with this character. Butch and Cassidy definitely seem like they’re meant to be more offshoots of Jessie and James with a more serious/competent slant to them than having them be in any way opposites. For example, Cassidy is really just Jessie only slightly less vain, shrill and overbearing. It is possible that 4Kids was trying to force that kind of subtext onto him, but I can’t imagine they would. The reason it works with James is because the animation lends itself so well to their interpretation. The same cannot be said of Butch.

Also, if anything, James is probably bisexual because he has shown attraction to several women over the series. That’s my two cents in that bucket.

– I’m really getting sick of Misty being mean to her Psyduck for no reason. I’m also disappointed reading that her relationship with Psyduck only gets, at best, slightly better as far up as Sun and Moon. Psyduck deserves a lot more than Misty’s abuse….

– Misty can say whatever she wants, you can say she loves Psyduck more than she lets on all you want, I still believe there’s a significant chance she would indeed leave Psyduck there for good.

– Before they just started chucking out Pokeballs, they should’ve just…ya know…asked the guy what his favorite Pokemon is.

– Snap: “Hey! That looks like a picture I took!” It does? Because it could not be more posed if you tried.

Also, this picture is yours, Snap? This one?

Pokemon Ep57 Analysis Screen4

You uh….mind sharing why you had this Psyduck do a ‘draw me like one of your French girls’ pose?

– Misty: “That’s typical! It figures Psyduck isn’t around the one time I really need it!” Yeah, it’s totally Psyduck’s fault you left it at a Breeding Center to be better because you’re too lazy or impatient to actually train him yourself…..Bitch.

Ash: “You’re the one who left it at that center…” I know right?…..Hey! Stop pointing out my notes for me!

– Misty is so worried that she won’t be able to get ice cream tomorrow if she waits until the center opens that she’s willing to break into the Breeding Center…….But…the chef explicitly stated he was waiting for a delivery of 50 gallons of ice cream….Does she think they’ll go through 50 gallons of ice cream overnight?

– Butch and Cassidy are indeed more competent than Jessie and James…..but they’re still too incompetent to lock their back door. Or the room where they keep their Pokemon for that matter.

– Was….Snap really thinking of taking pictures of these Pokemon just for the sake of taking pictures? He had his camera in his hand and then said ‘These Pokemon don’t look like they want to smile for the camera….’ That’s kinda messed up, Snap.

– It’s horrible that they taped Psyduck’s eyes open, especially considering, realistically, he’d have gone blind by now, but I have to analyze this in three possibilities – 1) They thought taping his eyelids like that long enough would actually alter his face and make him look more intelligent. That’s really dark and messed up. 2) They were planning on giving Psyduck back to Misty like this, which is dumb because surely she’d notice the tape at least before she left the building. And 3) if they were just planning on stealing all of these Pokemon anyway, why tape his eyelids?

– So they’re only planning on giving Giovanni the cream of the crop?…..Why not give them all to him? Surely they’d all be useful in some capacity and the more Pokemon you have, the more powerful you are as an organization. Jessie and James are rarely ever picky about the Pokemon they try to get for Giovanni, but maybe that’s part of their problem.

….Actually, now that I’m thinking about it, isn’t this kinda a dumb plan for the sake of getting powerful or rare Pokemon for Giovanni? These trainers are sending their Pokemon to this Breeding Center for the sake of leveling up faster and improving them, so wouldn’t Butch and Cassidy only get mostly low level poorly trained Pokemon?

– I’d call the cops in addition to taking pictures of the place, but anything to give Snap some point to his existence, I suppose.

– I love how Cassidy brings up how it’s weird that Giovanni puts up with Jessie and James even though they always fail and they’re completely incompetent, but even though Giovanni agrees…..he doesn’t really answer them. He’s just like ‘Yeah, it’s a good thing those fools weren’t here to mess everything up. Those fools I still have on my payroll. Complete idiots that I still employ.’

– I get that it makes for commercial break cliffhanger tension, but why aren’t any of them trying to run or hide when they hear Butch coming in the room? They’re literally just standing there for several moments going ‘Uuuahhhhhh!!’ You lot would never survive a horror movie.

Pokemon Ep57 Analysis Screen5
Togepi’s face, though. lol

– They were still frozen in fear, shaking and going ‘Uahhhhhh’ when Butch had his hand on the door knob. How did they have time to come to their senses, come up with this plan to have Pikachu use its electricity to light up the room in a cage, implement said plan and hide before he actually opened the door?

– I’m kinda pissed it’s taken them this long to try to get Psyduck out of the cage. Also, Misty, use your Pokeball to recall Psyduck through the bars. You don’t need to fuss with a lock.

– Why are Jessie and James holding their hands over the eyes like there’s a bright light when they’re in a completely dark room?

– I don’t why, but the way that James says ‘I knew all along we couldn’t trust you!’ has stuck with me through the years. He says it at such a weird pitch for one and for another he’s almost sing-talking the line.

– I am unreasonably bothered by the fact that Butch and Cassidy don’t say their names in the proper order when they do their motto. Granted, if you’re just doing a beat-by-beat remake of Jessie and James’ motto then Cassidy saying her line when she does makes sense, but in order to poke at the fact that their name makes out ‘Butch Cassidy’ you need to have Butch say his name first.

Pokemon Ep57 Analysis Screen6

– Butch and Cassidy’s motto makes so much more sense than Jessie and James’ version, but it also brings up a lot of questions.

Jessie and James accuse them of stealing their motto, but they claim it’s the Team Rocket motto, so I always assumed it was an actual motto that Jessie and James probably weren’t reciting properly given the words. However, in this instance they’re acting like they made it up from scratch. James has never met Butch or Cassidy, so if Butch and Cassidy did steal their motto and rework it, how did they ever hear it?

Why would they steal it, honestly? If there is no Team Rocket motto or even if Jessie and James’ version is different, wouldn’t they just find it to be something silly Jessie and James needlessly say and brush it off?

Is there an actual Team Rocket motto that both teams are getting wrong? Since Butch and Cassidy’s version is so different, why are Jessie and James acting like they stole the whole thing? Is one of them right? I’m so confused….

– Uh….do you guys want to actually use your Pokemon and….battle? You guys fight Jessie and James all the time when they’re stealing Pokemon, why are you not even trying here?

– We’ve reached a point of confusion that far surpasses the previous note, though – James’ Weepinbell/Victreebel. Ever since I was a kid, I wondered where the hell James suddenly got a Victreebel that was supposedly a Weepinbell before this episode. He never hints at having a Weepinbell, not once.

Over the years, I thought this was another instance of a character having a Pokemon that they caught in a banned episode so it kinda just appeared on western airings, but nope. James just inexplicably had a Weepinbell for an undisclosed amount of time and never used it for no reason.

I would say maybe it’s been in the Breeding Center for the entire series, but James specifically says he left it there ‘the other day’ and I’d assume this place is very new.

To make matters even more confusing, it evolved into Victreebel. James acts like this is super impressive, but Weepinbell only evolves through a Leaf Stone, so Butch and Cassidy had to have used one on it. I can only assume this was one of the Pokemon they didn’t intend on giving back because why would they buy and use a valuable Leaf Stone on a customer’s Weepinbell without keeping it?

I would say maybe it would be to improve word of mouth – like proof that they can evolve Pokemon super quick – but obviously the main problem there is the stone evolution.

Also, how does James know this Victreebel is his Weepinbell anyway? It could just be another customer’s Victreebel.

Oh well……..it’s the start of a very, very annoying trend either way….Prepare for god knows how many instances of James being eaten by Victreebel….yay.

Pokemon Ep57 Analysis Screen7

– Ya know, Misty has a fairly solid plan, but if I were Butch and Cassidy, I would’ve destroyed the camera and the film immediately after getting my hands on it. There’s no point in keeping it. I mean…maybe they’d like a cool expensive camera, but at least destroy the film.

– Considering Cassidy does give Psyduck back, I assume this Breeding Center is meant to be up for a while and they are, for some reason, giving Pokemon back?….But what about the people who are trying to get back the Pokemon they plan on giving Giovanni? I’m really trying to make full sense of this plan.

– I would think they’d take all of their Pokemon away in jail given that oh so many Pokemon abilities could probably break them out easily, but….cops in the Pokemon World….*sigh*

– Jenny really shouldn’t be calling the group Pokemon snatchers, because they never opened any of the cages and they never stole any of the Pokemon. James did technically get Victreebel out, but he can prove it’s his because he has its Pokeball. You have them on breaking and entering and trespassing, but that’s it.

– Boy, those are some awfully posed pictures on your film roll, Snap. Ya know, Snap, you have one character trait – you like to take pictures – and your once specificity in that regard is you hate taking pictures of Pokemon posed. Yet nearly every picture is posed like you work at a K-Mart photo studio in the 90s, you…you…poser.

Pokemon Ep57 Analysis Screen8

– Those photos are damning, but Misty has no proof Snap took the photos from inside the Breeding Center.

– Even though Butch and Cassidy are more competent than Jessie and James, their Raticate gets taken out in one shot, they just leave it behind and don’t seem to have other Pokemon to battle with or don’t bother trying, so they run…

– Wait, where did Team Rocket get shovels in jail? How did they dig through concrete?….I’m just gonna chalk this up to more pisspoor Pokemon World cops…

– And just as randomly as he joined their journey, Snap departs to just…go take pictures on a mountain. Have fun.

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It’s not one of my favorite episodes, but I still really like this one. Butch and Cassidy are formidable foes, though I wish they could’ve battled a little more and a little better. Trying to covertly take them down, while most of the group is imprisoned, was a nice change from the norm from just battling off the bat, though I don’t understand why they never battled in their first encounter. Heck, why didn’t they let out some of their Pokemon when they got nabbed in the cage at least?

Misty got to take the reigns in this episode, and Snap was finally useful for something even though, honestly, any of them could have had a camera and used it in that instance. Even though I’m almost insulted at how they introduced it, at least James has another Pokemon now so we can have some more variety in Team Rocket’s roster, even if it does introduce the first Pokemon who starts the ‘attacks James at every opportunity’ shtick.

Psyduck was pretty abused in this episode both by Misty and by Butch and Cassidy. Misty just chucking him into a Breeding Center to make him better is kinda insulting, the tape was blatant abuse and the fact that Misty blamed Psyduck for not being there to score her free food was very irritating. This is only compounded by the fact that she barely made any effort to get Psyduck out and LEFT HIM THERE after they got discovered. Let me remind you that James stopped and retrieved his Victreebel as they were trying to escape. You’re not as caring as James, Misty. Come on.

I would say he at least got some appreciation through that Psyduck fanboy chef at the end, but Psyduck honestly just had to put up with the chef being creepy while Misty stuffed her ice cream hole.

I have to stop going on angry tangents on episodes I like.

Speaking of episodes I like, NEXT EPISODE IS THE FIRST CINNABAR ISLAND EPISODE!

Cinnabar Island is my favorite Kanto Gym and one of my favorite Gyms ever, and I really love this two-parter for a variety of reasons, so I can’t wait to dive into it.

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Analyzing the Criticized: Sakura Haruno (Naruto) Part 1 – Chapters 1-100: The Buds of Problems and Promises

Sakura Analysis 1

When it comes to hated female anime characters, few get as much flak as Sakura Haruno of Naruto. The most common complaints about her character include – she’s useless, she’s whiny, she’s obsessed with Sasuke and she’s one of many ‘typical female leads’ where their role is defined by the men in their lives (Either Sasuke or Naruto)

I watched Naruto and a good chunk of Shippuden many moons ago and my opinions were the same. Heck, I slammed her quite a bit over the years and even included her in my entry for ‘Least Favorite Female Sidekick’ in the Salty Anime Challenge.

Everyone agrees that she becomes much better during Shippuden and….I’ll have my time with Boruto later, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still a LOT of talking points regarding her usefulness and simply how she’s portrayed. But it’s been so long and I need another perspective. I need to dive into the details of the criticisms throughout time.

I’m hitting the nostalgia button. I’ve decided to go back and read the Naruto manga, which I’ve never done, to focus firmly on Sakura’s role. Why? To give Sakura a fair shake. To break her down as objectively as possible and try to see how much of the criticism was really warranted while also giving her proper credit when due. If this analysis goes well, I may do similar evaluations to other criticized characters such as Kagome from Inuyasha, Eren from Attack on Titan and Miaka from Fushigi Yuugi. I might even do this for characters I like, though that’s more of a traditional character study than what I’m doing here. We’ll see.

Quick Disclaimer: I am going to be discussing my opinions on certain shippings in this series. I kinda can’t avoid it, honestly, because so much of Sakura’s character is entwined with her relationship to Sasuke, and it’s no secret that I have a lot of criticism for the pairing. HOWEVER, note that I am very much against anti-shipping. I may post heavy criticisms about ships, but at the end of the day I am very respectful of people’s opinions on the matter and never sling hate their way for them. Ship anything you want, it’s fine. No matter if it’s canon or not, like what you like. Have fun.

I, personally, ship Rock Lee and Sakura and Hinata and Naruto (And Temari and Shikamaru, but I doubt that’ll ever come up, really) for a variety of reasons, but I most certainly won’t harp on that. I may bring it up if it has to do with Sakura’s development or if there’s a particularly good comparison to be drawn from it, but otherwise, this series will definitely not be championing any shipping and no shipping hate will be tolerated, that includes the comments.

For the sake of brevity, I’ll be breaking up this series into 100 chapter marks and 20 chapter sections.

Chapters 1-20 (Covering basic training and part of the Hidden Mist Arc)

Even 20 chapters in and there’s already a lot of commonly discussed issues that are brought to the forefront.

Sakura treats Naruto badly. True. However, she’s a 12 year old girl and Naruto is the egotistical class clown who has a crush on her and hates Sasuke, her crush. Even though those facts don’t justify her behavior, it’s somewhat understandable.

What’s not understandable is her comments about how he behaves poorly because he has no parents and that he’s lucky to not have them, in a way, because he doesn’t have his parents hounding him.

When I got to this scene in the manga, I looked up responses online and some people justified this by saying she was explaining his behavior, not mocking him, but I don’t think so. From what we’ve seen of Sakura to this point, she never says anything kind or in defense of Naruto unless someone chews her out or Sasuke acts as an example for her. Both of which happen after the scene in which she makes the aforementioned comment.

Not to mention how unbelievable it is that she didn’t realize she was saying these things to Sasuke of all people. I can’t imagine she didn’t know about the Uchiha family massacre and didn’t connect the dots that, maybe, saying stuff like Naruto acts poorly because he has no parents and is lucky to not have them isn’t the best thing to do in front of a fellow orphan.

Then there’s the moment where they’re practicing climbing trees with their chakra and she actually seems like she’s looking forward to Naruto getting frustrated and quitting.

Sakura Analysis 2

Sakura is obsessed with Sasuke. This is also very true. Nearly every line she gets, either internal or external, somehow involves Sasuke to some extent. If not, she’s merely providing commentary on what she’s watching.

When she has moments of character development, at this point anyway, like rethinking her views on Naruto or giving Naruto some of her lunch during the bell test, she only does so because of Sasuke. He scolds her for her comments on Naruto’s lack of parents – she rethinks her views on Naruto for about ten seconds. Sasuke gives some of his lunch to Naruto first – Sakura follows suit.

Even during a moment where she actually has a time to shine brighter than the boys, a rarity to say the least, her focus is on Sasuke. She climbs the tree easily with her chakra but is upset that Sasuke isn’t impressed with her.

Speaking of chakra control, Kakashi does praise her for this, but it doesn’t come into play as an actual strength of hers until way down the line after the time skip where she uses it for medical purposes and feats of massive physical strength, particularly in punching and kicking. As of right now, her chakra control is only as useful as the ability to climb trees without her hands, and even that won’t be impressive in about one chapter as Naruto and Sasuke learn the ability.

Kakashi also mentions in passing that, despite her great chakra control, her potential power is ‘nothing’ compared to Naruto and Sasuke. While I understand that to a degree, considering she doesn’t have a massively powerful demon living in her and isn’t part of an incredibly powerful bloodline, it’s still a bit irritating to not only have confirmation that she’s the weakest in her team by far, but also that she doesn’t even have the potential to match her comrades’ power.

Also, I could’ve sworn another of Sakura’s strengths was in her being smart. I thought she was at the top of the class, but she’s not. Sasuke has the best grades in class according to Iruka. So she doesn’t even have that going for her.

That also brings about a question of the balance in their teams. Sasuke and Naruto supposedly got paired because the best in the class is balanced by the worst in the class, but where does Sakura fit into this equation?

She’s supposedly the most talented kunoichi of her class but….come on….that’s not really something to brag about. There’s all of five or six girls in her class, only three of which get names.

To her credit, she does attempt to do something brave on her own without even thinking of Sasuke. She jumps in front of Tazuna, the old bridge builder they’re meant to protect, as two enemy ninja attack him. However, the moment is still overshadowed by Sasuke because he suddenly jumps in front of Sakura to protect her. Either this was a brief fleeting moment where Sasuke actually shows concern and caring for Sakura or he knew she wouldn’t be able to do anything to protect Tazuna and was more concerned with the mission. Maybe a little of both.

Chapters 21-40 (The rest of the Hidden Mist Arc and the first part of the Chunin exams)

As you can probably expect, Sakura doesn’t do much in the rest of the Hidden Mist arc. She’s relegated to babysitting Tazuna on the sidelines for the entire fight. Sasuke and Naruto fight Haku, and Kakashi fights Zabuza.

To her credit, she is shown to be very determined to both help her friends and protect Tazuna with all her might. However, the one time Zabuza does break off to attack Tazuna, Kakashi steps in the way.

Granted, it’s not like she can do much now, as I stated before.

This is one of many times where Sakura is massively eclipsed by Naruto and Sasuke off the bat. This arc is where Sasuke awakens his Sharingan and Naruto starts tapping into his nine-tailed fox powers. Obviously, Sakura has nothing grand to show off that even comes close to these abilities, so she’s mostly relegated to being a bodyguard and she doesn’t even really get to do that.

Kakashi also mentions that Sakura’s the brightest mind on the team, which is odd because not only is there the earlier mention of Sasuke getting the best grades, but in almost the same breath as him saying that, he mentions that Sasuke is a genius. It’s hard to be impressed by her intellect if you immediately follow that up with ‘but she’s not as smart as the other main character.’

There’s a slight bit of character development here in that Sakura, without prompt, kinda compliments Naruto. She says Sasuke will never lose to someone like Haku, then she adds that Naruto wouldn’t either.

The only other thing Sakura does during this arc is cry over Sasuke’s body, believing him to be dead then her hugging him and crying more when it’s revealed that he’s alive.

Some people complain about this scene, mostly in regards to, of course, the girl is relegated to crying being one of her only notable actions during the entire arc, but these complaints are easily countered.

1) She just watched her sensei kill a kid her age in a horrible manner mere moments before she found out about Sasuke. She’s already on uneasy ground, emotionally.

2) She doesn’t go to Sasuke until Tazuna offers to go with her in order to properly perform her ninja duties.

3) Before she cries, she explains that part of the shinobi way is to never show your feelings on the battlefield no matter what, like she’s trying to apologize beforehand for breaking this rule.

4) Her comrade, teammate, crush and kinda friend is laying dead on the battlefield. I’m pretty sure anyone would get a pass for crying in that moment.

5) She’s not the only one who cries in this arc. Haku cries, Naruto nearly starts bawling and even Zabuza sheds some tears. You can’t ding the trope of girl tears if several guys are also crying.

Sakura Analysis 3

After the Hidden Mist arc, we get to the Chunin exams where Sakura starts reevaluating her standing in the team after Sasuke chews her out for being more focused on flirting than training and being ‘just as bad as Naruto.’ Trouble is, there’s an entire chapter dedicated to her struggle with this, even named ‘Sakura’s Depression’ but it doesn’t amount to anything.

Sasuke compliments her strategic skills, which haven’t really been displayed yet, and her ability to identify Genjutsu, which also hasn’t really been mentioned up til now. The only experience she’s had in Genjutsu, really, is when Kakashi tried to trick her into thinking Sasuke was terribly wounded, and she didn’t see through that one. She freaked out and fainted….

That is the first instance of Sasuke seemingly being nice to Sakura genuinely, though. I don’t know if he felt guilty for what he said or if he knew she felt useless compared to the two of them, but it was a rare moment of niceness.

Sakura did catch Sasuke after being thrown by Rock Lee, so chalk one up for her.

Chalk up more character development for her too because she believes Naruto is shaking in fear or about to cry in the face of the Chunin exam and she goes to comfort him.

She’s also being very analytical during the first portion of the exam.

Chapters 41-60 (Chunin Examsthe rest of the intel test and part of the Forest of Death)

Sakura’s actually impressive in the first part of the Chunin exam, even if Sasuke figures out the main goal of the test before she does (Actually, it’s a bit unclear whether she figures out the main goal of the test. The furthest she seems to get is that the test almost seems designed to force the participants into cheating.) She’s the only one of the main characters to legitimately answer all of the questions on the exam instead of trying to cheat…..which is the main point of the exercise….which….may mean she actually didn’t do well in this part? Hinata may have also answered the questions herself, but considering she has her Byakugan, that’s questionable. Even Sasuke the ‘genius’ and Neji the ‘genius’ needed to cheat.

She was also willing to take the hit in quitting the exam for the sake of protecting Naruto’s future as a ninja, knowing he’d be too proud to do so himself – completely disregarding that quitting would mean Sasuke would also be forced to fail the exam.

I find it funny that Sakura does this to spare Naruto from being a Genin for the rest of his life, when he stays a Genin for the rest of his life anyway. Not kidding – he never officially advances beyond the point of Genin the entire series until he earns the role of Hokage.

Sakura punches Naruto for trying to take a leak in front of her, which is kinda justified, but the little inner Sakura above her head implies that she’d be fine with Sasuke doing it in front of her…..So either Sakura has a urine kink or she’d love to see Sasuke’s doodad while he’s doing one of the most unsexy things with it. O…kay….Sakura….

Sakura didn’t notice the fake Naruto when she’s supposed to be the smartest one…kinda…Sasuke the genius realizes it immediately. She also does absolutely nothing against the enemy ninja that tries to pull this stunt.

Sakura AGAIN doesn’t detect the fake Naruto in front of her and doesn’t find it odd that he remembered Sasuke’s long complicated password with no issue. Sasuke the genius, again, realizes it immediately.

Also not a big fan of Sasuke needing to put his hand over Sakura’s mouth to keep her quiet. Nor am I a fan of the fact that chapter 47 ends with a page focusing purely on Sakura being paralyzed with fear….

Sakura spends the rest of this fight doing fuck all. In fact, when Naruto is grabbed by Orochimaru, she just stands there yelling “Sasuke, Naruto needs you!” The one thing she does do is stop Naruto from falling.

I do kinda like how she implied that Sasuke was acting cowardly because he was seemingly giving up and submitting to Orochimaru when Naruto was giving it his all. It’s a slight implication, but it is there. And I will admit that her words are what drive Sasuke to getting back in the fight.

They kept saying Sakura has an affinity for Genjutsu, but this is yet another instance of someone using a Genjutsu on her (The death vision) where she couldn’t identify it or break it without help yet Sasuke was able to recognize it, keep moving and break it entirely by hurting himself while Sakura was frozen in fear.

We’re at Sakura’s first big solo moment here, and it’s one I and many other people have slammed pretty hard in the past – her haircut.

But there’s more to it than that.

……But I’m still pissed about.

Let’s break this down. Sasuke and Naruto are both unconscious after their battle with Orochimaru and Sakura is the only one left behind to both care for them and protect them – big responsibility. Big opportunity for growth.

To Sakura’s credit, she does several things here that are worthy of praise. She carefully watches and tends to Sasuke and Naruto all through the night, driving herself to the point of paranoia and exhaustion. She sets booby traps around their camp to help catch intruders, and despite being very visibly afraid, she stands her ground and confidently confronts the other sound-nin when they show up, even name-dropping Orochimaru.

Rock Lee kinda comes in and ruins it A LITTLE. I love that little bushy browed bowlcut, and he’s being sweet here, though on a similarly misguided infatuation level as Sakura is with Sasuke, but I think this confrontation would have been better without his initial interference, mostly because it derails the story into more of a Rock Lee moment than a Sakura one for a bit.

Granted, the fact that Lee fails in his attempt to protect Sakura compounds her guilt that people are always coming to her rescue, getting hurt in the process, and she doesn’t like that.

She does try to combat the sound-nin with some throwing stars, but they’re about as effective as you’d think.

Then comes the moment of truth. One of the sound-nin, Kin, has Sakura by the hair…..Yup. She doesn’t restrain her hands to prevent her from pulling a weapon or making hand signs or just…to not use her hands, she just grabs her by the hair and expects that to be good enough.

Sakura actually pulls out a kunai and Kin, like an idiot, just doesn’t do anything, even though it’s in plain sight and she even acknowledges it. And then, after much buildup, she frees herself by cutting her hair very dramatically.

Everyone looks at her like she just cut her damn arm off.

Now, considering Sakura had been dinged a few times now for being more concerned about her looks and flirting than she was about being serious in her ninja duties, this could be seen as her growing out of that and proving her ninja prowess. Considering that she actually does have a slight moment of badassery after this, that much is certain….but 1) There’s still the glaring part about this also being a big thing because Sakura and Ino both grew their hair long because they had heard a rumor that Sasuke liked girls with long hair. They focus on this aspect, but we all know it doesn’t really matter in this respect because Sakura’s obsession with Sasuke never ends.

2) It’s still just hair, it grows back. Granted, she never does grow her hair back, whether symbolically or because she realized she looks a lot better that way, but still. It’s hair.

3) She has about four pages of badassery in her before she just resorts to biting Zaku and not letting go like an untrained puppy. I give her props for taking that beating, but it was unnecessary. Why didn’t Kin or Dosu do anything to stop it?

4)….In the end, she still gets saved by other people, which is what was she was trying to prove she DIDN’T NEED.

I know, she’s against three people and she’s already exhausted. There’s no way she’d be able to pull something uber powerful out of her butt and defeat them all. I would never expect her to. Considering they just whupped Lee’s ass, it’s completely unrealistic. It’s unrealistic even if Lee never appeared. Even Naruto and Sasuke would have great difficulty taking on three skilled ninja, BUT I have a constructive criticism on how this entire scene could’ve been made eons better.

First of all, maybe restrain Sakura in some way where there would be no way for her to escape without harming herself. It would badass, a definite show of courage and seriousness, and the scar left behind would be proof that she cares more about her stance as a ninja than her looks. Maybe even go the extra mile and put the wound on her face somehow. You don’t need to pull a Berserk, but shed some blood.

Second of all, keep the scene with Sakura fighting the sound-nin alone, but after the biting scene have her get thrown by Zaku then have him try to look for her to finish her off. He can’t find her and, after some time, the other sound-nin realize they’re in a loop (This is inspired by later events). They reveal that Sakura had bitten Zaku as a distraction. While he was focused on her head, she was making necessary hand signs to pull off a Genjutsu.

The Genjutsu in question would be making the sound-nin think everyone’s still there when they aren’t and put them into a loop of trying to find Sakura. The Genjutsu was so good even the Genjutsu-savvy sound-nin didn’t realize it until she had grabbed the boys and taken them far away. She doesn’t need to defeat the other ninja, she just needs to get out of this dire situation. She needs to ensure their survival. That in itself is a big enough moment.

Finally, Ino, Shikamaru and Choji would all witness this and just quietly give Sakura a moment of respect for how much she’s grown as a ninja.

My version isn’t perfect but it would be much higher tier than what we got, which just pales in comparison to the big moments of Sasuke and Naruto up until this point. Plus, it would actually show that she has a true affinity for Genjutsu instead of people telling us that without any evidence. How can I really give this moment much credit when it comes after Sasuke very nearly dying for a mission (twice now) and Naruto kicking ass while using his nine-tailed fox powers (Twice now)?

Another big-ish moment for Sakura, especially where SasuSaku is concerned is him reverting back from his cursed form when Sakura hugs him and begs him to stop. This moment is a bit up in the air for me considering it’s another moment where Sakura’s crying and doing more observing than anything, but I think I’ll give it to the pairing support at least. Sasuke really could’ve just pushed her away and staked his true claim as a power-hungry ‘avenger’ by taking out the last sound-nin, but instead he listened to her pleas and calmed down.

Considering this, you’d think, later, Orochimaru would have mentioned her influence being a problem for Sasuke’s dedication to being an ‘avenger’ instead of just mentioning Naruto and making him a target because of it.

Even though I give Sakura props for lying to Naruto about the reasons behind cutting her hair, the fact that they focus on Sasuke and Ino pausing as she says this, like it’s some dark secret, is a bit goofy.

Sakura Analysis 4

It’s very interesting how Tenten points out that Lee could have easily taken the sound-nin in battle if he wasn’t preoccupied with Sakura. Does that mean I have to ding her here for being the reason Lee lost?

I appreciate Sakura defending Lee so fiercely but punching the hell out of Naruto for making a comment like ‘unibrow’ is way too far. I’m also starting to get sick of the old ‘female love interest is allowed to punch the protagonist for little to no reason and haha it’s funny even though it would be clearly seen as abuse if the genders were reversed’ trope….

Chapters 61-80 (The rest of the Forest of Death and most of the tournament prelims)

Sakura is the first to get so tired she collapses when they get caught in the enemy loop Genjutsu, which is silly because Naruto and Sasuke were both exhausted from battles that left them both unconscious for several hours, but I guess Sakura did also fight for a bit and they got to rest that night while she didn’t.

Hey, speaking of Genjutsu, Sakura didn’t notice another damn Genjutsu when she’s supposed to have a talent for this shit.

Another instance of a different Genjutsu that Sakura neither notices or can dispel. She also needs to be kinda convinced that it’s a Genjutsu at all.

When they finish the second exam, there’s an interesting bit involving the scroll on the wall. It was a little interesting back then, but it’s much more interesting now given hindsight. Iruka points out that the scroll is talking about traits you should work on in order to be a good Chunin. It’s necessary to have the properties of heaven and earth with heaven signifying wisdom and knowledge and earth signifying strength and physical prowess.

He notes that Naruto’s weak point is the trait of heaven – he needs to study hard and develop himself mentally to become a good Chunin. Then he notes that Sakura’s weak point is her physicality – earth. She’s physically weak and doesn’t have much battle prowess, so she needs to work on that. (He doesn’t state it, but the framing implies Sasuke has both properties, so he’d be most fitting as a Chunin in Team 7)

The reason I found this more interesting in hindsight is because Sakura does become incredibly physically strong later after learning to channel her chakra in very specific points such as her fists and feet. Problem is, this doesn’t happen until way down the line after the time skip.

She vehemently tries to get Sasuke to withdraw from the exams due to his curse mark to the point where she starts crying and threatening to tattle on him if he doesn’t leave. I’m debating how much of a pass, if any, I’ll give her here because she has already seen Sasuke ‘die’ once before and she’s pretty much starving and sleep-deprived right now. However, I will ding her a little because I’m having a hard time thinking she’d fight as strongly if Naruto was the one who was cursed and she’s back to crying some more.

This has nothing to do with Sakura, but can we please stop referring to Sasuke as an avenger? This complaint has nothing to do with anything Marvel related – it’s just a cringey thing to say, especially when you’re proclaiming it about yourself. It’s so emo or forcibly dark and edgy. Putting the Marvel spin on it, it’s a team name so it doesn’t have that spin. It’s not like something you’d say before flapping a black cape in front of you and walking off dramatically to go reapply your black mascara.

Oh shit, son, are we at chapter 71? It’s time for the main event!

SAKURA

VS.

INO

Let me give you my initial views on this battle from when I watched the anime version: This is one of those Sakura-centric plot points that I’ve heavily criticized in the past. One of the few times Sakura actually gets to battle on her own, no one interfering at all, and it’s kinda boring and ends in a silly tie. Ino, in a seeming act of defiance to Sakura cutting her own hair, cuts her own hair, which, unlike Sakura, she doesn’t keep for too long, in fact she has much longer hair when the first time skip happens and even longer in the Boruto age. It’s also slightly symbolic in that, again, the long hair was grown in an attempt to impress Sasuke.

I think this battle would’ve been more interesting if they both got past their insane love of Sasuke afterwards, but of course that didn’t happen.

We just got one of the dumbest friendship breakup baskstories in existence.

(Trying to keep this as an aside: Another common complaint regarding Sakura even in Shippuden and Boruto is that Sakura never gets to actually finish her battles, even when she’s winning. She always either has someone else come in and take over or she has someone save her. My question will be answered in time as I do this series….but does Sakura ever actually win any battles on her own? Legitimate question. Does she actually WIN, as in completely finish by herself, any battles? I’ll even take movie references as proof, even if those aren’t considered canon. I’ll become so much sadder doing this series if I find out she’s never won once…..)

So, since this is basically the first actual major Sakura event….and uh…..pretty much…..the only one until we get to Shippuden, let’s break this down a little more than we normally would.

Ino and Sakura are paired to fight in the prelims of the third round of the Chunin exams because why wouldn’t they? And we get the absolute best vote of confidence that this fight is going to be boring by Ino’s teacher, Asuma. He says in inner monologue that Ino may look fierce, but, and I quote “among the kunoichi rookies, she’s far from the top of the pack.”

Let me remind everyone that the only rookie kunoichis in konoha that aren’t nameless nobodies to fill up classroom space are Sakura, Hinata and Tenten………And I’m going to give top spot in skill to Hinata and knowledge to Sakura…..If Ino is ‘far from the top of the pack’ in konoha kunoichis and we’re ranking Sakura as one of the top dogs….this match is going to be depressingly uninteresting before the bell even rings.

Let’s be even more fair and include the non-konoha konoichis there, which consist of Temari, who is skilled probably on the same level as Hinata, at this point anyway, and Kin, the sound-nin, who is basically Tenten if she focused more on Genjutsu, and whose sole role to this point has been ineffectively restraining Sakura. Admittedly, Ino did take over her mind once, but she was defeated by Kin’s teammate there, so make of that what you will.

Asuma expounds upon this even more by wondering if Ino can even give Sakura a good workout…..He either drastically overestimates Sakura, maybe based on her grades, or he underestimates Ino, which is a bit sad because he’s her teacher. I feel like, if the rules didn’t say whole squads had to participate or none of the individual members could, Asuma never would have submitted Ino has an entrant.

And, considering this match ends in a tie, I’d say he did both massive under and overestimating on both sides here. They’re both disappointing, but to different levels.

Since this is the first time we’ve really focused on literally the only ‘tragic backstory’ Sakura has (or really the only backstory she has at all) we have to sideline the battle a few times to go over her past with her previous best friend Ino.

The flashback starts off with a female ninja leading a class specifically meant for young aspiring female ninja, teaching them feminine practices for the sake of blending into a village easily and being a covert spy. One of those important traits is flower arranging…….sure it is. And we see that Sakura’s even useless at picking flowers as she trips and falls on her face. And if you think I’m being too harsh on her, even Sakura says she’s no good at this stuff.

Ino teaches her to arrange flowers, and she’s being kinda passive aggressive about it. First she says it’s pathetic that Sakura is not being able to arrange flowers when her name is based off of cherry blossoms. Then she says blossoms should never be in the competition for the main focus of the arrangement, very clearly making a metaphor in regards to Sakura. She then compares herself to the center flower, the cosmos, and says she’s even prettier than that flower. So, if we’re completing Ino’s little metaphor, Sakura should always be kept to the background as an ‘accessory’ and Ino’s the beautiful star of the show.

This is the foundation for this beautiful friendship torn asunder. Go grab some Kleenex before it’s too late.

Three girls walk up harassing Sakura about her ‘big forehead’ but before I go off about that, what the hell is up with the designs of these girls? They’re meant to be like 8 or 10 years old yet one of them is dressed like a punk rocker, the middle one is like a female Orochimaru and the one on the right……pbbbbtttt what is the girl on the right? She looks like the love child of Bobobo-Bo Bo-bobo and Wobbuffet.

Sakura Analysis 5

Back to the ‘big forehead’ thing – I never once understood this. I get that kids are little pricks and will make fun of anything they think can be a viable target, but this has followed her into her Genin years. In fact, while Sakura’s go-to insult with Ino is calling her variation of a pig (because her name is Ino, which means ‘pig’) Ino’s is to constantly poke fun at Sakura’s forehead. Sakura’s forehead looks ridiculously normal. It looks no bigger than Ino’s.

They’re bullying her outside of the forehead stuff anyway, and Ino pulls a pretty badass move and uses flowers as ninja stars, throwing them in the mouth of one of the bullies and claiming they’re poisonous, which causes them to run off.

Sakura then continues with the metaphor from earlier, saying Ino’s so smart and cool, and if she’s the cosmos, Sakura must be a purple trousers (one of the accessory flowers) Ino then says she’s not even a bud yet. Sakura then asks why Ino gave her the ribbon she wears on her head to hold her hair back from her forehead. Ino replies that she felt it was a shame to see a bud like her dying on the vine. She gave her the ribbon to help her bloom into something even prettier than a cosmos.

Admittedly, this part, even in light of the passive-aggressiveness from earlier, was sweet. She helped build up Sakura’s confidence in herself and it strengthened their bond.

HOWEVER, any sweet sentiment involving their backstory or current situation is instantly completely destroyed all because of their stupid fight over Sasuke. It literally went ‘Hey I heard you like Sasuke. Guess we’re rivals now.’ *end friendship* It’s like they didn’t realize they can be friends and rivals at the same time or didn’t bother trying that route.

Some deep and caring friendship you two had if your competition over a guy who has never even shown a passing interest in girls can completely destroy it to the point where all you two do when you see each other is make fun of the other. I also find it particular stupid that the ribbon that Ino gave Sakura for the sake of keeping her hair back and owning her ‘big’ forehead as opposed to hiding it and giving the people who made fun of her power over her is even a thing because once they stop being friends, as I mentioned, she resorts to making fun of Sakura’s forehead too.

I won’t comment on their future friendship status yet because I don’t remember enough about it. I’m pretty sure they don’t reach a point of even really being casual friends again until either mid to late Shippuden, which is probably around when Ino started letting go of Sasuke and liking Sai, which, if that really is the lynchpin, is even more disappointing. At least it shows that Ino can get over her petty obsession….Unlike some people.

Back with more flashbacks, soon after their graduation I assume, Sakura proclaims that Ino doesn’t have much of a chance with Sasuke now since she and Sasuke are on the same team, but Ino won’t let up. Sakura returns her ribbon to Ino and proclaims she’ll use her leaf headband as a hair band until the day she feels she can face her in battle as a true kunoichi – then she’ll wear it on her forehead properly.

Ino takes the ribbon back and agrees to do the same (well, she wears hers as a belt).

Back in present day, Sakura shows she’s ALL BIDNESS by taking off her konoha headband with a flourish. Then, to prove this isn’t some silly stereotypical catfight, she announces that she’s never letting Ino anywhere near Sasuke………………….Kakashi points out that she’s riling her up so she won’t go easy on her, but still….that is one of the points they’re fighting for. Their friendship wouldn’t have ended over it if it wasn’t.

Ino realizes what’s going on, and she removes hers as well. They replace them both on their foreheads, signifying that they’re ready to prove themselves to the other.

The match starts and it’s pretty much just physical blows for a while. I love how even the other characters are cognizant of how boring this match is because, even with all of the aforementioned factors already making this match kinda boring, they point out that Sakura and Ino are too well-matched at this point in time so they’re just stalemating for over ten minutes.

The only way Sakura ups the ante is by basically calling Ino too vain and pointing out her long flowy hair, which prompts Ino to cut her hair too. However, I must have forgotten this point, Ino’s main point in cutting her hair wasn’t to prove herself to not be vain to Sakura, she was actually setting up a living hair jutsu trap, which is kinda ingenious. I still believe literally throwing her cutting her hair in Sakura’s face was part of it, though.

I’ve always loved how this moment, in a way, just highlights how silly it was for Sakura’s big moment to be cutting her hair. Like “You think you’re hot stuff because you cut your hair?! Look, I can do it too! It ain’t hard, there, Supercuts!”

And just to follow up an ingenious mark with a stupid one for Sakura – she’s top of her class in grades, Ino’s back of the pack, and even she was able to outfox Sakura in battle.

Technically, Sakura should’ve lost because she clearly said the full phrase ‘I, Sakura Haruno, wish to withdraw from the match.’ and she had her hand up most of the way. I have no way of knowing the volume at which she said that, but the text wasn’t small or implying a whisper, so, by all means, Sakura should’ve lost.

I always thought it was kinda dumb that they actually acknowledge inner Sakura is a legitimate other being – Ino refers to it as a second psyche. And Ino develops one later too, it’s weird.

Sakura manages to use her inner Sakura to literally fight off Ino internally long enough to use a release jutsu and force Ino out of her mind, with the help of some egging by Naruto. When all is said and done, they tie with one final punch, but the tie is negative – they both lose and neither moves on to the next round.

Alright, so even though I still found this fight to definitely be boring, most certainly the worst match of the Chunin exams (well…..maybe not as bad as Choji vs. Dosu. That’s pathetically short and I didn’t even remember it) it was more entertaining than I remember….but that’s really because of Ino.

She was the one thinking on her feet and coming up with clever strategies. She was the one with cool jutsu, even when Shikamaru claimed she needed to use her mind control technique with him because he restrains them first. She proved she knew that weakness and could overcome it on her own. Ino technically managed to win, but I guess the ref just didn’t hear her or something.

All Sakura did was have decent physical strikes due to good chakra manipulation, even though she didn’t seem to be hitting harder than Ino, and she had the weird inner Sakura willpower to fight off an already weakened Ino’s mind manipulation.

If this battle was meant to highlight Sakura’s growth as a ninja, it didn’t do much. I was much more impressed by her in the Forest of Death, to be honest. Yes, I was more impressed by her haircut moment than her big battle with Ino that was meant to prove herself. There, she was putting her life on the line and proving her vanity wasn’t more important than her duty as a ninja and a friend. She fought literally tooth and nail back there. The haircut was lame, but at least they painted some badass aspects over the lame.

Here, she’s not really impressive. In fact, she’s disappointing. Sakura’s so smart and skilled with chakra manipulation yet, in all this time, she never tried to learn some specialties, find a niche, or maybe make her own moves? Her strategy was just full on punching and kicking with one instances of making clones. How does that prove you’re the better ninja? It only proves one or the other is a better kickboxer. Ino, despite being more vain than Sakura and seemingly much lower in class, not only mastered her own clan technique, but she mastered an ability that fixes a major issue with its implementation.

Sakura didn’t even really come back on her own – Naruto had to pump her back up to push Ino out.

I do appreciate the sentiment behind this battle more than I did in the past. I viewed it more as a bitchy penultimate catfight over Sasuke when, at it’s core, it was more about their rivalry as ninja – Sakura proving that she’s just as good as the girl she once idolized and Ino proving her own worth. However, it pretty much failed on Sakura’s end in that regard. What a wasted opportunity for some much needed Sakura shine.

At least the very end of the confrontation has a sweet moment between the two, though I still wish they’d move past their dumb obsessions with Sasuke.

But, hey, let’s be fair to all the girls who get shafted up in here – the anime was a lot more generous to Tenten than the manga was in regards to her match. They just straight-up cut from the start of the match to Tenten bent over Temari’s fan in defeat after a brief conversation with Ino and Sakura in-between. In the anime, the match was completely one-sided, but we still got to, ya know, see it.

After Sakura wakes up, she cheers on Naruto to not lose to the sand-nin….but the framing is weird? She’s not looking at Naruto when she says this and Rock Lee’s the one who challenged Temari in defense of Tenten. Considering Gaara’s the only sand-nin left to challenge, it’s strange that she would assume that Naruto will get paired with him anyway. Oh well, at least she’s being supportive.

She goes further by basically giving him a speech similar to the one he gave her during her match and thanking him for helping to give her the willpower to break free. That was nice….I mean, Naruto had to ruin it by saying he saved her butt, but still.

When Naruto is in his match with Kiba, Sakura is cheering him on quite spiritedly. She and Kakashi also share a knowing look when everyone thinks Naruto’s down for the count, but they clearly know better. Show’s a bit of growth in her respect for him.

Hm, I had forgotten how clever Naruto was in his match with Kiba. He was pulling some really good moves and even utilized his prank-y nature to get the better of him…..The fart was still stupid, but at least it had an actual point.

And Sakura didn’t even really ding him for it, which is pretty impressive because that is definitely ripe for both mocking and yelling.

When Naruto asks what a keirakukei is, Sakura says “Here we go again. The insightful questions of an idiot!” Really, Sakura? Come on. I’ve been praising you all this time and then you go and call Naruto an idiot for not knowing what is essentially chakra physiology?

Also, Sakura punched Naruto in the back of the head for seemingly making a jab at Rock Lee’s haircut, yelling that he should be respectful since Lee outranks them…But Sakura has been really disrespectful of Lee a couple of times at this point.

I always get chills when I watch Hinata’s match with Neji. Yes, you could apply some of the same criticisms I throw Sakura’s way when it comes to Hinata, that her focus is heavily on a guy she likes when she does stuff, but her focus is less on how cool Naruto is or how attractive she finds him and it’s more about how he inspires her to be better. She admires him for being the underdog who always gives up, never backs down and is always trying to prove himself and be better.

She wants to be like him more than she wants him. She does express a desire for Naruto to watch her and acknowledge her here, but it’s more to show him that she’s improving too. She’s bettering herself, putting her life on the line and never giving up because she wants to be better and he inspired her to do that. Even Kurenai points out how much Hinata has improved over her time as a Genin, and she’s had very little contact with Naruto since graduation.

Sakura, however, is different. Her focus is on impressing Sasuke through her looks, charms and whatever skills she can muster in her ninja training (such as climbing the tree) She also feels a desire to prove herself as a ninja, to not be useless in her ninja team, and she has made strides in improving herself, but when it comes to Sasuke’s influence, he doesn’t inspire her. He doesn’t prompt her to be better – at best, she just gets sick of him and Naruto getting hurt trying to protect her. On the occasions that she is prompted to make changes for the better because of him, she moreso copies him seemingly because she thinks it will make Sasuke happy. And her rivalry with Ino is heavily based on fighting over Sasuke and who will ‘get him’ in the end.

But it’s superfluous to both of them because neither really care to know him and fall in love with him as a person, like Hinata has with Naruto. They love him because he’s dark, brooding and hot. Even today, I’d be hard-pressed to say Sakura really knows Sasuke deep down and loves him for who he is as a person, especially considering all of the crap he does later on, but I’ll refrain from making a firm statement until I’m further along in this analysis.

Chapters 81-100 (The end of the Chunin exam prelims and the entirety of training for the finals)

Sakura is cheering on Rock Lee and is clearly showing a lot of concern for him through his match. She also has a very grave look on her face as she tries to go to Lee after the match is over and Kakashi stops her, because he knows seeing her will cause him more pain at this point.

Though, goddamn, can we take the time to appreciate the Rock Lee vs. Gaara match again? This has been one of my absolute favorite matches in all of shounen for quite some time, and the manga was just as good. It’s telling how two of my favorite matches in Naruto are ones where the character I’m rooting for loses.

Gaara’s insanely powerful and scary, yet even he’s amazed and nearly defeated by Rock Lee. It’s full of tender, sweet moments with Lee’s backstory and it’s got some of the best action you can find in shounen fighting manga/anime. It’s just awesome.

Even though Sakura really doesn’t have much to do in the following chapters considering she lost her bout and thus doesn’t have to train for the finals, Ebisu does elaborate more on Sakura’s good use of chakra production and specifies why she has a slight edge over Naruto and Sasuke in that regard.

No matter what jutsu Sakura is using, she is able to precisely convert her stamina reserves into the proper level of chakra. If she needs 30% of her stamina to create the proper level of chakra, that is exactly how much she will use. Her skills with hand signs also allow her to control her chakra properly, making for a clean and efficient jutsu to be created.

Sasuke’s chakra production isn’t quite as good. For the sake of a 30% chakra move, he’ll use 40% of his stamina, causing him to waste 10%. However, his skill with hand signs is just as good as Sakura’s so he still makes a clean jutsu, he just needlessly wastes a little energy.

Naruto, however, is the worst of the lot because he’ll convert 50% of his stamina for the same 30% move and his skills with hand signs are sloppy, which makes his control over his chakra poor, creating bad jutsus sometimes.

However, even though I will definitely give Sakura this, it’s never really much of an issue. Sasuke never seems like he’s noticeably using too much chakra, and Naruto has such immense stamina due to the nine-tailed fox that his wasted chakra is also not very noticeable. Even though his knowledge and skills with hand signs needs work, he doesn’t seem to be bound by the crap jutsus he used to make, so even that note doesn’t seem to be too relevant. (Not to mention that Jiraiya notes that Naruto’s chakra control and production problems were further expounded by the five-pronged seal he had put on him, but he released it so his control is much better now.)

Sakura is the most efficient ninja of Team 7, there’s no doubt about that, but it doesn’t count for much if both of her teammates have massive chakra reserves and seem to be insanely fast learners. Sakura was desperately in need of powerful and useful skills that focused on these strengths early on, but they waited a depressingly long time to give her any.

Also, given this situation, you’d think Sakura never would have tied with Ino. I mean, if chakra efficiency Sakura’s forte and she went the longest match with Ino, and she didn’t even use many jutsu, it only makes sense. If Ino’s far from the top of the class, I’d imagine she has chakra production and control issues too, but maybe not considering she later also becomes a medical-nin.

Other than that, we have Sakura and Ino trying to get some flowers to Sasuke, who is still hospitalized, but become saddened when they find that he’s not there. Sakura does show great sympathy for Lee, who is also hospitalized, but continues to try to train despite doctors claiming he’s so badly injured he’ll never be able to be a ninja again. She even picks out a flower for him and gives it to him secretly, which was really nice. (Note: She didn’t get him a flower after she saw him try to train. She got him one while she was shopping for one for Sasuke.)

The last bit with her before we reach the end of this part is her asking Ino why boys always push themselves too far. Ino says she doesn’t know either because she’s a girl. I feel that’s an unnecessarily sexist statement that makes no sense for Sakura to ask let alone not know the answer to.

—————————————

Overall, I feel I have a little more respect for Sakura as a character, at least right now. The moments that I saw initially as being ridiculously stupid or annoying don’t seem to bother me as much upon experiencing them through a more balanced lens. At this point, I’m more annoyed at her being wasted so many times and her moments to shine being poorly executed than anything else.

Sakura does obsess over Sasuke, she does treat Naruto badly numerous times and she is pretty useless and unimpressive at this point. I get frustrated at there being so many moments when she realizes that she’s so far behind Naruto and Sasuke and can’t do much on her own, but she doesn’t respond to this by training, coming up with a plan of jutsu or areas she can specialize in, or trying to perfect the use of some tool or weapon or something – she just mopes and gets encouragement from others which spurs her to get off her ass. At least she does manage to get off her ass, but it’s frustrating nonetheless.

Here’s looking forward to chapters 101-200!


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My Poke-Pinions 019-020: The Rattata Line

Rattata

Name: Rattata’s first English name was Rattatak, a mixture of ‘rat’ and ‘attack’ Somewhere down the line, the k was dropped, leaving Rattata. Even though I, like many kids, was confused on both how to properly pronounce and spell Rattata, I will admit that the name has grown on me through the years. It’s a bit clumsy to say, but once you get the hang of it, it’s fun. Plus, it’s possible the shortened name was based on the sound ‘rat-a-tat’ kinda like a Tommy gun, and that’s just cool.

I think Rattatak also sounds kinda cool, but it’s a bit more clumsy to say than Rattata.

Its Japanese name is Koratta, which either means ‘child Ratta,’ since Raticate’s original name is Ratta, or ‘child rat.’ I like Koratta because it’s easier to say and spell, but I can’t deny that I’m slightly more partial to Rattata.

Fun Fact: In German, it’s called Rattfratz, which is one of the most amazing things ever. Not just because the name itself is awesome, but also because it literally translates to “Rat rascal” and that is too adorable.

Design: I really like Rattata’s design. Purple’s my favorite color, so it’s already winning points there (Plus, it’s always nice to have a Normal type that’s not brown, beige or white…) but it’s also an extremely good balance of cute and fierce. I’d love to have one as a pet.

In terms of sprites, it’s pretty normal until we get to Crystal, which has an adorable little butt shake.

Emerald’s animation is also really cute.

HG/SS is just a bit erratic for me.

Alolan Version:

Hey, we finally get to talk about one of these, eh? And it’s……ugly as hell. I like the dark gray/nearly black coloring with the darker tan, but goddamn that stupid whisker design to make it look like it has a mustache. Eugh.

Shiny:

This shiny makes me want to vomit.

Because it’s the same color as vomit.

Who the hell approved this? Yellow shinies tend to be bad enough, but this shade is just gross. At least the color fluctuates to a gray-ish yellow in other gens, but even though that’s not as nauseating at this yellow, it’s still really ugly.

On the flip side, shiny Alolan Rattata is really nice.

I love the maroon on tan. We don’t get enough maroon shinies.

Cry/Voice: Rattata’s voice is just okay. It’s rather bland, to be honest. Sometimes, they’ll be pretty fierce with the voice, which is kinda cool, but overall it’s just another ‘human obviously saying a word’ voices.

Its game cry is annoying. It sounds like you took damage in an old Commodore 64 game.

Dex Entries and Backstory: Rattata’s a rather simple Pokemon. It’s incredibly common, obviously (it’ll probably be the first or second Pokemon you capture in-game) it loves to chew on things and bite, it’s very energetic, it eats a lot and it’s essentially paranoid. One thing of note is that its teeth never stop growing and requires plenty of things to gnaw on it order to keep them from growing too much. Reminds me of that one episode of Angry Beavers where they let their teeth grow out and eventually they took over the whole dam, and they were worried their teeth would grow into their brains.

The Alolan entries state that, since it only loves fresh foods….apparently, which is weird because the regular entries state it pretty much eats anything it finds, some people use them to find fresh fruits when grocery shopping. Yes, that’s what I want to see on my grocery shopping trip – someone traversing the produce section with a rat.

Also, it gathers food for the boss of its nest, a Raticate.

In regards to its design origins, just guess what it’s based on. Specifically, since it has such big ears, they suspect it might be based on a dumbo rat. I didn’t know that was a thing, but spot-on naming, scientists.

The Alolan version’s origins are much more complex. It’s based on the Hawaiian rat, known for being more vicious than the mainland rats, which may explain the Dark typing. Rats were constantly attacking and eating the sugar cane fields in Hawaii, so they imported small Asian mongooses to keep them at bay, which is mirrored in the Alolan Rattata’s relationship with Yungoos.

However, that move blew up in their faces. The mongooses were ineffective at keeping the rats at bay since mongooses are diurnal while the rats were nocturnal. They never crossed paths and thus couldn’t deter them. The mongooses themselves became an invasive species and started annihilating the local bird population. The mongooses were imported in 1883 and they’re still a major problem to this day. Good job.

Raticate

Name: Raticate is either a mixture of ‘rat’ and ‘eradicate’ which I always thought it was, or ‘masticate’ which means ‘to chew.’ I’m going with the ‘eradicate’ version because it sounds and fits better. I really like Raticate’s name. It’s badass, flows nicely and works well with its pre-evo.

Its Japanese name is Ratta, which is derived from, well, ‘rat.’ I find the Japanese name to be horribly boring. It’s only slightly off-shot from ‘rat’ and just gives off a bland feel.

Fun Fact: In German, it’s called Rattikarl, which is a mix of ‘ratte’ and ‘radikal’….as in ‘radical.’ Germany, I kinda love you right now.

Design: Raticate’s design is pretty…..okay. It lost the purple, which saddens me, and gained a very boring tan color. It’s made to look more fierce than Rattata, and it succeeds, but it’s also more ugly as a result. It also bothers me that Raticate doesn’t seem to be able to really close its mouth. Must be hard on the jaw.

In terms of sprites, it’s a pretty bland collection. R/S/E looks fairly ugly mostly because of how it’s posed.

Other than that, there’s nothing really of note.

Alolan Version:

Somehow they managed to top themselves on ugly with…..whatever this is. It looks like Raticate has severe anaphylaxis. Again, who approved of this design?

The color scheme is still pretty nice, but I can’t get over that face.

Shiny:

This shiny’s pretty bland too. It’s just a darker colored Raticate. I do like it, but I feel like they could’ve done so much more….Eh, I guess I won’t complain too much if the alternative is vomit.

The Alolan shiny is a little more purple-ish than shiny Alolan Rattata, and I really dig it.

Cry/Voice: I hate to sound like a broken record, but Raticate’s anime voice is also kinda bland. It’s just Rattata’s voice only slightly more vicious.

Its game cry is alright and sounds less jarring than Rattata’s but it’s just okay.

Dex Entries and Backstory: Most of Raticate’s Dex entries talk about three things – it has massive biting power and needs to chew a lot, its whiskers help maintain its balance and it has webbed feet that allow for strong swimming. Its biting and chewing power are so great that it can topple concrete buildings.

Alolan Raticate’s Dex entries don’t really explore more than Alolan Rattata, but it does include a tidbit about Raticate being so good at indicating freshness that restaurants will have Raticate around to prove their quality to customers, which is really only a slight off-shoot of the grocery store thing mentioned in Alolan Rattata’s entry.

Its design is based off of a mixture of a muskrat, a guinea pig (for the ears) and possibly a coypu (for the webbed feet)

The Alolan version is based on the Polynesian rat. There isn’t really much to say there as it just looks like a normal rat.

Next up, the Spearow line!


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My Poke-Pinions 016-018: The Pidgey Line

Pidgey

Name: Pidgey is a combination of ‘pigeon’ and either ‘budgie’ or ‘chickadee’ It could also be in reference to the word ‘pudgy’ given the roundish design. I like Pidgey. It’s very simple and plain, but also kinda cute, memorable and rolls off the tongue quite nicely.

Its Japanese name is Poppo, which is supposedly in reference to the onomatopoeia for the sound a pigeon makes ‘poppoppo’ Poppo’s kinda goofy and less fitting, at least to my American eyes, but it’s also pretty cute and snappy.

Fun fact: In the beta versions of Pokemon Red and Blue, Pidgey was originally named ‘Pidge’

In Korean, it’s name is Gugu, while in Chinese its name is Bobo, both of which are incredibly goofily cute.

Design: ….Let’s be real – Pidgey’s design is really boring. It kinda goes hand in hand with basing a Pokemon on one of the most common and boring birds (in terms of aesthetics) in the world.

It’s a very simple brown and tan bird. That’s not to say I dislike it, but there’s not really much to like, nothing that makes it really unique.

The same can easily be said of its sprites – particularly Red and Blue’s which doesn’t display the more prominent facial features or body structure of the Pidgeys we know today and really just looks like someone made pixel art of a bird they saw on a power line outside their window.

None of them really stand out much, except DPP’s, which makes it look like it’s ice-skating for some reason.

BW (&2) ’s is also kinda cute because it does a little dance.

Shiny: Pidgey’s shiny is frickin’ awful. I don’t know who chose this gross baby-poop green color for it, but it is vile. The earlier versions don’t look too terrible because they appeared more yellow than they did green, and the more recent versions are more toned down, but middle gen versions just look disgusting.

Cry/Voice: Pidgey’s game cry is perfectly fine as it sounds like a cute little bird tweet. Likewise, the anime’s voice sounds pretty cute and like a typical sound a pigeon would make.

Dex Entries and Backstory: Just as its design is kinda plain and boring, its Dex entries are similarly nothing to write home about. It’s very common, docile and kicks up dust with its wings to deter enemies.

The only standout thing about the Dex entries are the mentions of its innate ability to find its way back home no matter where it is, like a homing pigeon. But like I noted when watching the episode about homing Pidgeys in the Johto league episodes, this is actually somehow made boring because in the games it just has a good sense of direction and in the anime they’re trained to go from point to point by just having them run the route over and over.

In reality, how homing pigeons find their way is a bit of a mystery, but there are several theories.

First, pigeons can use the position of the sun to gauge their direction. They may also use landmarks like people do to take note of where they’ve been and how to get back. This matches the Pidgey Dex entries more closely.

Second, they may use magnetoreception, which is the process of using the earth’s own magnetic fields to estimate your location and the location of the target. Scientists believe that this may be why pigeons have iron deposits in their beaks.

Finally, a new theory suggests that pigeons can use infrasound to navigate. Detecting frequencies too low for human’s to hear, they can determine where they are and constantly search for the sounds of their home.

Design-Wise, Pidgey has many birds that it supposedly gains its features from such as a Cedar Waxwing, a house sparrow, a chickadee and osprey. Out of all of these, I think it resembles a house sparrow the most, though the cedar waxwing does sport that trademark spiky crown.

Pidgeotto

Name: I really like Pidgeotto’s name. It’s very snappy, works well with its predecessor and fits the Pokemon well.

The name comes from either a combination of ‘pigeon’ and ‘diciotto’ which is Italian for 18, the level number in which it evolves, or it’s a combination of ‘pigeon’ and Otto Lilienthal, a German aviation pioneer. Truth be told, neither version seems likely to me because the former just seems convoluted and the latter seems odd because it’s the first name not the last name like most references are. If I had to pick, the latter is probably more likely, but still.

Its original name is…..Pigeon……..*cough*

Way to be creative, Japan.

Fun Facts: Originally, it was going to be named Pidgeot. Personally, I think it might’ve worked better reversed. Kinda a name-length progression kind of thing.

Design: While Pidgeotto also has a bit of a plain design, I think they did just enough to it to make it stand out and look pretty cool. I’ve always really liked the dark pink crest it has and the yellow and red tail feathers. Plus, Pidgeotto is at nice size where you can have it perch on your arm like a hawk or sit on your shoulder like an owl.

Sprite-wise, it’s mostly unimpressive. I will note that in RBG, RB in particular, they really tried to have Pidgeotto look more like Pidgey in regards to its pudginess and head shape.

Shiny: Because Pidgeotto retains the same shiny color scheme as Pidgey, it has basically the same level of ick-ness. The only aspect that makes it slightly more bearable is the reddish-gold crest it gains and the fact that many of the sprites focus more on browns than greens.

Cry/Voice: I love Pidgeotto’s anime voice. It’s very…birdy, I guess you’d say, and pretty cute.

Its game cry is interesting because it still retains a very distinct bird-like sound while also have a bit of a growl to it, making it sound more aggressive than the mild-mannered Pidgey.

Dex Entries/Backstory: Pidgeotto’s entries are a little more interesting than Pidgey’s. It is now a fierce, territorial fighter with extremely sharp claws. It also has incredibly good eyesight for targeting prey like Exeggcute and Magikarp from far distances.

Design-wise, it seems to be based on an osprey, which I can definitely see more in Pidgeotto than Pidgey.

Pidgeot

Name: I really like Pidgeot’s name, which is the same in Japanese as it is in English. It’s incredibly snappy and befitting of this majestic bird.

It’s a combination of ‘pigeon’ and ‘jet’ which I kinda get but also don’t because you’d think a combination of those words would get you a ‘Pidg-jet’ sound, but it’s ‘Pidg-ee-aht.’ Pidgeot seems similarly confused because, when it says its name, it typically says ‘Pidg-aht’

Fun Fact: In French, it’s called ‘Roucarnage’ which is too awesome for words, and in German it’s ‘Tauboss’ which literally translates to ‘Pigeon boss’

Design: I absolutely adore Pidgeot’s design. It maintains a good chunk of the simplicity of its pre-evos while achieving a majestic and beautiful style all its own. The long dual-colored crest, the noble yet intimidating face, the massive increase in size to make it have a powerful presence and allow its trainer to ride on it – it’s amazing.

Sprite-wise, Gen I’s okay, but RB still seems to want to channel Pidgey-ness with its pose and shape.

What the unholy hell is going on with Gold’s crest?

Silver’s looks pretty cool.

Crystal’s makes it seem like a chicken.

Gen III is pretty unimpressive, but what is Emerald’s sprite doing? It’s cool, I guess, but why is it doing a spin?

DPP is just weird because, while the initial pose is just fine, the animation is just stretching out its head and opening its mouth real quick. I get that it’s calling, but it looks so strange.

HGSS is better with a more dynamic pose and a more threatening animation.

Gen V and VI are perfectly fine.

Shiny: Pidgeot’s shiny started off very rocky. It retained the gross green color for the body while having washed out colors for the crest. It made it look very unappealing.

However, every Gen beyond the first has made Pidgeot’s shiny gold, and that is SO much better. It is a beautiful shiny that is very fitting for such a majestic and noble-looking Pokemon. I’d gladly sit through raising a blech shiny Pidgey and a meh shiny Pidgeotto to get that golden bird.

Mega:

My opinion on Mega Pidgeot bounces back and forth a bit – never to a negative point, but sometimes I really love it and other times I just find it to be good.

On one hand, this Pokemon is gorgeous. It rivals the aesthetics of legendaries, it’s that good – it would fit right in with the other legendary birds. It almost looks like Pidgeot got fused with Articuno, to an extent.

However, part of me thinks it looks a bit busy, and I can’t help but hate those eyes. Pidgeot had such a noble but intimidating look, but Mega Pidgeot has eyes that make it look practically evil.

Also, Shiny Mega Pidgeot has little bits of dark purple on it. That’s another aspect I’m very unsure of….I’ll say I like it.

Cry/Voice: I really love Pidgeot’s voice. It’s simple, but strong and befitting.

The game cry is good, retaining some growl-y sound while also having a higher pitched chirp to it.

Dex Entries/Backstory: The most impressive of the bunch, Pidgeot can fly at speeds of up to Mach 2 and reach altitudes upwards of a mile. It has such great vision and precision that it can see Magikarp in the water while flying, swoop down and easily nab them up, though I’m not sure why they’d do that because, as we know, Magikarp are all skin and bones. Thanks, anime.

It has such a powerful chest with an amazing wingspan that it can create windstorms so powerful that they can bend trees. They also use their large wings to scare off predators.

Another common theme in the Dex entries is mentioning that Pidgeot are so beautiful in their plumage that they’re a very common choice for trainers.

The entry for its Mega evo includes that it gains such strong muscles upon this additional evo that it can fly for two weeks straight without stopping…..which…is impossible, no? Isn’t Mega Evolution only supposed to last a very brief amount of time? I’m not sure the time limit in the anime, but in the games Mega evos can only be achieved in battle and only last as long as the battle does, right?

In terms of design, Pidgeot is based on either a osprey or an eagle with its shiny being seemingly based off of a literal golden eagle.

Interestingly, the design of its eyes may be based off of the eye designs of depictions of the sun/sky gods Ra and Horus.

Next up, the Rattata line!

Previous – The Weedle Line

Pokemon Episode 50 Analysis – Who Gets to Keep Togepi?

CotD(s): None

Captures (Does Togepi have a Pokeball?): Togepi – A baby who is meant to be cute and cause Pokemon Short levels of cuteness episodes, Togepi is a largely useless character mostly used for Deus Ex Machina Metronome usage in future episodes. Despite being around for years, Misty never doesn’t treat it like a baby because Togepi is perpetually infantile until hundreds of episodes down the line where it suddenly garners usefulness, evolves into Togetic and leaves Misty forever.

Togepi is mostly easy to ignore because it might as well be a doll Misty always carries around with a string that, when pulled, makes it go ‘Toge-prrri!’ but it is the source of much frustration in the future. For now, though, it’s just the cute baby.

I will admit that Togepi’s relationship with Misty is kinda nice, even if a lot of it just amounts to Misty yelling out for Togepi and hugging it when she finally finds it, much in the same realm as a parent on Rugrats.

Plot: Ash, Misty and Brock arrive at a small-town Pokemon Center. Nurse Joy relays a message to Ash from Professor Oak that requests Ash to call him. He gives Oak a call, and Oak informs him that he has a new Pokedex upgrade for him that has information on all the latest Pokemon and even has a new voice. Ash upgrades his Pokedex and bids Oak farewell.

They discuss the egg they’ve been carrying around for a while now as they map out a plan to head to Cinnabar Island. Team Rocket overhears them, and they target the egg since it might hatch into a rare Pokemon to give to the boss.

As they exit the restaurant, Ash and co. are ambushed by two odd egg sellers. They’re selling eggs that all have similar designs to their egg. Suddenly, the two throw the eggs at them and, in the confusion, steal their egg.

They run off with it and seemingly make a successful capture. Meowth vows to care for it and warm it like a mother, and he quickly takes to his role with passion, even sleeping and bathing with the egg.

Ash and the others manage to find them the next morning by following a trail of fake eggs that they left behind. They turn the tables and ambush them in their cabin with Geodude, Pidgeotto and Staryu. There’s a back and forth scuffle for the egg in the middle of a thick Smokescreen courtesy of Weezing. When the smoke clears by Pidgeotto’s Gust, it causes Meowth to slip and throw the egg into the air.

Pikachu manages to catch the egg and hands it to Ash. He notices that there’s something moving in the egg and it starts to glow. Misty pushes Ash out of the way so she can see it hatch. After a few moments, the egg hatches into an adorable baby Togepi.

Nearly everyone thinks they’re entitled to Togepi. Ash found it, Brock cared for it for several weeks, Togepi likes Misty the most and Meowth cared for it for a night. In order to decide who gets to keep Togepi (title drop!) they hold a tournament. Whoever wins gets Togepi.

Brock and Meowth face off first. Brock uses Onix while Meowth calls upon his trusty Meowth. Onix obviously has the upperhand, and Meowth nearly gets taken out, but he uses two buckets of water to weaken Onix and Fury Swipes to finish him off.

Brock calls out the foul, but Meowth justifies it by saying he’s merely a parent caring for its child. Since this excuse is somehow accepted, the next match starts – Misty vs. Ash.

Ash chooses Bulbasaur while Misty is forced to use Psyduck since it let itself out. Misty tries to prompt Bulbasaur to worsen Psyduck’s headache by aiming for its head, but Ash isn’t falling for it. Instead he tells Bulbasaur to lick and tickle Psyduck. Unable to take anymore, Psyduck recalls itself and the match goes to Ash.

Now it’s the finals – Ash vs. Meowth. Meowth is more determined than ever to win Togepi, but Pikachu bops Meowth’s face with his tail and Thundershocks him into an instant KO.

Meowth gets tearfully dragged away by Team Rocket, and Ash goes to claim Togepi only to find that it doesn’t want to go to him. Misty shows once again that it likes her the most. Confused, Ash uses Dexter who reveals that Togepi imprint on the first being they see, taking that as its mother. Since the first thing Togepi saw was Misty, he believes Misty is his mother.

Resigned, Ash leaves Togepi in the care of Misty who vows to love and protect him like a mother.

———————-

– I know that Pokedexes act as identification, but why is Ash holding up his Pokedex to Nurse Joy at the start of the episode? It’s also closed….

If he was showing it as an ID, why was Joy asking if his name was Ash?

– Do we really have no better way of getting messages out to Pokemon Trainers than just giving notes to Nurse Joys and hoping the recipient stops there?

– Is it necessary for this note that just says ‘Call me’ to be animated? Also, it looks like regular paper. What technology is this?

– Pbbbbt hahahahahah! The goofy expression Oak has in the first shot where he picks up the phone! It’s literally 8D

– Misty: *barges into frame* “I’m fine too!” Why are you suddenly thirsty for Oak’s attention?

– So, Ash rarely checks in with Oak at the present moment, from what Oak says. He really does give zero shits about his B-Squad….

– Wow. It is the biggest coincidence in the world that Ash’s Pokedex gets an upgrade, complete with info on previously unknown Pokemon, right before Togepi, a Pokemon not present in Gen I’s Pokedex, hatches. What are the odds?

– Why is there a Pokedex slot on this video phone if barely anyone has a Pokedex?

– Fun fact: The only differences between the US and Japanese titles are the fact that 4Kids didn’t capitalize theirs properly. You had one job.

– Ash: *looking at incredibly dirty map of the real world for some reason* “Where to next?”

Misty: “We could head to Cinnabar Island and the Cinnabar Gym.”

Ash: “The Cinnabar Gym….”

……I’m sorry…what now?

Misty: “We could head to Cinnabar Island and the Cinnabar Gym.”

………….I….wha….

Ash: “The Cinnabar Gym…..”

Where…the fuck….have you guys been headed this whole time!?

If your destination hasn’t been Cinnabar Island and the Cinnabar Gym this whole time, where have you guys been going!? Have you just been wandering around aimlessly for 20 episodes? I could’ve sworn that after the last Gym match you learned of Cinnabar Island and decided to head there. I am 100% certain I’ve heard it said at least once since then.

What are you people doing!? Make. SENSE.

– By the way, for those keeping track, it’ll still be another eight episodes before we’re in Cinnabar. Spoilers – Gary is there, meaning I guess Ash lost no time wandering around with his thumb up his ass for nearly thirty episodes. Amazing. Just amazing.

– Ash: “So, Brock, what kind of Pokemon’s going to hatch out of that thing anyway?”

I’m amazed you’ve had the egg this long and have never asked that question.

I feel ya, Misty.

Brock: “To tell you the truth, Ash, I don’t know.”

Misty: “You mean, it might even turn out to be a Tentacruel!?”

Uh, no, Misty. You can’t hatch evolved Pokemon from an egg, and you should know that, Ms. Gym Leader.

Brock: “It could be, Misty.”

Uh, NO, Brock. You should definitely know that, Mr. Gym Leader/Pokemon Breeder. Take note of the BREEDER part of that. If you don’t know the basics of literal Pokemon breeding, you should rethink your career path.

This isn’t even 4Kids having another misidentification moment. The original script said that and they even show her with a Tentacruel.

Ash: “But it could even be an Aerodactyl?”

See, this suggestion makes perfect sense because Ash found it right by where the Aerodactyl came out of the ground, and it’s a base evo Pokemon. Good boy, Ash.

Brock: “I’d like it to be a Golem.”

You’re telling me, out of all of the theories of what might hatch from this egg….Ash….ASH…has the most logical one and the only one that is even possible?….I am so disappointed in the world right now.

Also, why hope for a Golem? You have a Geodude already. Just evolve it, you lazy bum.

– Meowth: “Hey, did ya hear that? They’re hatching a new Pokemon!”

They’ve had that egg for quite some time now. How are you only now noticing it?

James: “I think he said Dragonair.”

I have to give Team Rocket some leeway on the stupidity because they’re Team Rocket, but this is getting ridiculous. It’s akin to believing a dog will give birth to a fully grown dog instead of a puppy – and numerous people believing this to be what happens instead of one person being overtly stupid.

– Ash: “So, how far to Cinnabar Island?”

Brock: “Hm, it looks pretty far.”

It’s pretty far because apparently you forgot some key things.

— Ash is a Pokemon Trainer on a Pokemon Journey.

— He is going to enter the Indigo League – an annual event wherein you need eight badges to compete.

— Badges are earned in Pokemon Gyms.

— Gyms are in set locations.

— Places are in areas.

— Time is linear.

– While we’re on the subject, buy a real map or a GPS or a bus schedule or something.

– Aw look, Togepi’s getting lost and put in peril before he’s even born. What a sign of things to come.

– Domestic Mommy Meowth is quite cute. Not sure why he suddenly shifted from wanting it for the sake of having a Pokemon to give to Giovanni and wanting it because it’s his baby now, but whatever.

– Aw, he made a little night cap for the egg.

– Ash: “They’re pretty dumb, leaving us a trail of broken eggs.”

I don’t see how exactly they did such a thing. They’d need a hell of a lot of eggs to make this trail. They weren’t carrying any eggs when they ran away, and they threw the whole batch at the group. Lazy writing to keep the plot going? Yeah, let’s go with that.

– Wait, what? So you’re not only telling me Team Rocket had a massive stash of these toy eggs hidden somewhere on their person for absolutely no reason when they ran off, and neglecting all logic in how such a thing would even be possible, AND that they somehow didn’t notice that they were leaving a clear trail of fallen eggs BUT that they ALSO walked to the edge of a cliff and….jumped down to their hidden cabin instead of going down the clearly marked trail they have for it? Not to mention that they were carrying a real Pokemon egg with them when they seemingly did this.

You couldn’t have just had them see the cabin from afar on the trail? You needed to have the trail stop right at the edge of this cliff?

– Pidgeotto’s being used for non-balloon popping purposes! YAY!

– Brock’s using a Pokemon! Yay!

– Misty’s using a Pok—nevermind. It’s Psyduck again.

Take 2: Misty’s using a Pokemon! Yay!

– I love Ash’s expression when he taunts Meowth.

– I don’t really understand how and why it seems that Team Rocket and their Pokemon can seemingly see in the smokescreens they create. And now it seems like Ash and co. can too, for this one occasion, even though, later, Ash will say he can’t see anything. They can’t be playing catch with this egg and not be able to see it.

– Brock: “Geodude, Tackle attack!”

Yeah, tackle Meowth, who is holding the very fragile egg. That’s smart.

Misty: “Staryu, Tackle now!”

Yeah, tackle Jessie, who is holding the very fragile egg. That’s smart.

– *Everyone keeps getting Tackled when they get the egg* There are non-violent ways of getting this egg, you idiots.

– Ash: “Can’t see. Pidgeotto, Gust attack! Blow this gas away!” That didn’t occur to you milliseconds after the Smokescreen went up? Did it really take you well over a minute to come to the realization that you can’t see? Also, you all should have severe lung damage right now. That’s the longest I’ve ever seen you trapped in that smoke.

– What’s this? A commercial break cliffhanger that is actually cliffhanger worthy? This episode keeps flopping back and forth between really good and really dumb.

– Let it be known that Misty only got Togepi because she was pushy and literally knocked Ash and Brock away when Togepi was hatching. If she hadn’t, it would’ve imprinted on Ash and Brock. Then the parental groups would get their underwear in a tizzy yelling ‘Ahh gay parents! Pokemon is ruining the children again!’

– I will admit, Togepi is pretty cute. I will savor it while it is still cute.

– Building on that, I used to have an electronic Togepi that would rock back and forth and go ‘Togeprrri!’ I loved it, and I have no clue if I still have it now. I doubt it works, if I do.

– Ash: “Hey! Now that Dexter’s been upgraded, he should have the answer!”

Dexter: “Togepi: The Egg Pokemon. Specific information about this Pokemon is still unavailable.”

Best. Upgrade. Ever.

– While you should leave the question of ownership up to Togepi, Misty’s a bit of a bitch thinking she’s entitled to Togepi just because it likes her. And this exchange is interesting.

Misty: “Well, maybe you should’ve taken better care of it.”

Ash: “But you never took care of it!”

Misty is arguing that Togepi doesn’t like Ash as much as it likes her because he didn’t take care of it well enough when she never took care of it. Give the points to Ash for pointing this out, because she’s being a complete unfair hypocrite.

– Meowth: “Oh yeah? I took care of it more than all of ya put together.” Uh….bullshit.

You cared for it for one night. Ash has probably taken care of it for at least a few days, and Brock has seemingly cared for it for at least weeks.

– Meowth is disqualifying Jessie and James from the tournament because they never helped care for Togepi. If Ash and the others agreed to that, shouldn’t Misty be disqualified too?

– I know it’s perfectly legal, but Brock is really choosing Onix, of all Pokemon, to fight Meowth? That’s a little dick-ish. Granted, Meowth doesn’t have a (fair) chance against any of Brock’s Pokemon, really. The other choices are a smaller rock and a fire breathing fox. His best bet would be against Zubat, and even there he’s at a technical disadvantage because Zubat can fly.

– I will never not be entertained by Meowth battling while pretending to be his own trainer.

– I also find it adorable that Pikachu is playing with Togepi with his tail while all this is going on.

– Brock really has a thing about nearly killing small squishy Pokemon. First he tries to crush Pikachu with Onix in the Boulder Badge episode, now he’s trying to squash Meowth with Onix.

– As a kid, I always wondered why there were two random buckets of water in the stadium. Thanks to Dogasu’s comparison, I now know it’s because there was originally a sign above the buckets that said to use them in case of a fire…..….These two buckets of water….and not a fire extinguisher….were meant for that….just in case…this stone/concrete structure…caught fire.

My god, my most recent scans show dangerous levels of plot convenience! If this goes on, Togepi might learn Metronome!

– First, Meowth using the water is totally cheating. Disqualify his ass. The fact that Ash and Misty seemingly accept his ‘I’m merely a parent fighting for its child’ defense is insulting.

Second, merely splashing some water onto Onix should not have made him susceptible to a Fury Swipes attack.

Third, all of this should not have been enough to knock Onix out. That’s just ridiculous.

– I love the annoyed tone in Brock’s voice when he’s announcing the next match. I’d be pissed too if I cared for the egg all this time and then got cheated out of my one chance to claim the Pokemon that hatched from it.

– Misty: “Ah, yes, just as I suspected. You chose Bulbasaur.” Really? You suspected he’d use Bulbasaur? Why? Wouldn’t it be more logical to assume he’d use Pikachu, or is Pikachu still in the ‘I won’t battle friends’ camp?

Also, what Pokemon were you prepared to use against Bulbasaur? All of your Pokemon are at a type disadvantage against it.

– Oh my god, guys. Ash is actually learning from previous events and making clever strategies as a result!

 

– The whole Bulbasaur vs. Pysduck match is just hilarious. It’s also really cute when Bulbasaur starts licking Psyduck’s head.

– I’m pretty sure this is the only time we ever see Psuduck recall itself into its Pokeball.

– I love how there’s so much tension and dramatic buildup for Pikachu and Meowth’s match, and then it’s just insta-ended by Pikachu’s Thundershock. That look on Meowth’s face when he realizes what’s about to happen is gold.

– It’s also pretty weird how Meowth never has these feelings of motherly affection towards Togepi ever again.

– Even though this basically means the entire tournament was a waste of time, I like that they resigned and let Togepi pick its Trainer/mother. Not only is it what’s best for Togepi, but it also shows that Togepi’s not a prize to be won.

– Dexter: “Togepi is imprinted with the first image it sees after it hatches, thinking this is its mother.” Hm, that’s a very interesting fac—Hey wait a minute! You said information on Togepi was unavailable, you lying piece of junk!

– I never understood how Togepi’s feet have such a wide range of motion considering they have no slots in the shell to move properly.

– The final shot of Ash and Brock is funny, but you also have to feel for them. Out of everyone, one of the two were the most deserving of getting Togepi. Ash found it and Brock incubated it. I kinda have to wonder if Misty only got Togepi, from a writing standpoint, because she’s the girl of the group….

—————————-

Overall, I really love this episode, even though I ended up with many more notes than I thought I would about the more technical aspects of it.

Meowth caring for the egg like a mother and the tournament were hilarious and well-written. I haven’t been so thoroughly entertained by an episode from start to finish in a long time. Team Rocket fit into the episode well, even though I’m still not sure why they didn’t take the egg from the start, and no one was being annoying, not even Ash, who actually played each round incredibly smart. Even the facial expressions were spot on and hilarious.

Taking Togepi’s future tropes out of the equation, it is very adorable in this episode. Misty really didn’t seem like she deserved Togepi considering 1) she never cared for it as an egg, and 2) she only imprinted on Togepi because she was pushy. She became a…pretty good Trainer/mother for Togepi, but in my opinion, she’s not all that great in that department.

She obviously cares a great deal for Togepi and sees it as a baby, but she also seemingly stunts its development because it stays as a stagnant baby for a very, very long time – longer than any other baby Pokemon we’ll ever see. She doesn’t train it at all nor does she teach it anything. She just carries it everywhere and lets it be cute.

Seeing as how Togepi has to have solo adventures, he’s also prone to getting taken or lost. Pikachu then takes over the stressful role of saving his ass.

I have to wonder how the series would be had Ash finders keepers’d their asses. Perhaps caring for a baby Pokemon for a prolonged period of time would help mature him, like it sorta did for Misty. Maybe he’d become more responsible and make better choices. Maybe he’d be like a lot of kids doing that ‘this egg is a child’ assignment for school and accidentally drop him and have to replace him with another Togepi. I dunno. It’s interesting to consider.

Next episode, IVYSAUR! YAY!

Previous Episode…..

Pokemon Episode 49 Analysis – So Near, Yet So Farfetch’d

Pokemon Ep 49 Title

CotD(s): Keith – An idiot and a thief, Keith utilizes his Farfetch’d to trick Pokemon trainers so he can steal their stuff.

Reappears?: No.

Pokemon: Farfetch’d.

Plot: Ash, Misty and Brock stop in the middle of a forest to rest. Ash looks up Farfetch’d on his Pokedex since Brock mentioned a rumor about one being spotted around the area. They’re extremely rare, so Ash is itching to catch one.

As Ash and Brock head off to get some water, Misty rests with her Psyduck. She spots a Farfetch’d that is clearly trying to impress her, so she prepares to capture it. However, it runs away from her. She bumps into a boy in the woods and after they exchange apologies, he grabs her bag off the ground and hands it back to her. He leaves, but now Farfetch’d is long gone.

When Misty returns, she meets up with Ash and Brock and tries to relay her story to them when she realizes her bag is filled with rocks. The boy she bumped into, Keith, must’ve taken her bag on accident. Misty freaks out since all of her Pokemon were in her bag, so they rush off to tell Officer Jenny.

Meanwhile, Keith is revealed to be a con man. He switched her bag on purpose to steal her Pokemon, and the Farfetch’d who ran off was actually his.

As he enjoys the fruits of his mischievous labor, Team Rocket walks by. He decides to pull off another con. He tells them that he’s looking for someone to take his Farfetch’d, Staryu and Starmie off his hands because he’s tired of being a Pokemon Trainer. They happily agree, and he suddenly claims that he has to take off for a few minutes, so he asks them to watch his Farfetch’d and his bags. Again, they agree, but decide to just swipe his stuff and make a quick getaway on a nearby boat.

They laugh about their haul until they realize the boat has been sabotaged by Keith. It starts to sink, and Jessie and James’ Pokeballs float off in the water. Farfetch’d scoops them up in a basket to deliver them to Keith. Jessie and James try to use the Starmie and Staryu they believe they stole until they discover that the bag is yet another one filled with nothing but rocks. Team Rocket, sufficiently conned, get swept away by a waterfall.

Misty, Brock and Ash arrive at the police station, and Jenny reveals the swap was no accident. That same Farfetch’d con was pulled on at least five other Trainers that week alone. She’s been trying to catch the culprit for a while, but he never stays in one spot for too long.

Meanwhile, Psyduck lets itself out of its Pokeball and takes notice of its situation. It runs off into the forest to tell Misty. She brings Jenny out to the spot in the forest where Keith bumped into her and Psyduck suddenly pops up. They decide to follow Psyduck’s direction to find Keith.

Team Rocket find and confront Keith. He gets them to go away again by giving them a whole bag filled with Pokeballs as an ‘apology.’ He’s about to move camp when Misty and the others find him. They scold him for stealing Pokemon, citing how much love and hard work goes into training them to help them win battles. Jenny believes he’d learn a good lesson if he had to battle with his Farfetch’d. Keith doesn’t want to battle, however, since he believes Farfetch’d is too weak.

Farfetch’d decides to go in on his own, against Keith’s wishes. Ash sends out his Bulbasaur and the match begins. For a while, it seems Keith was right. Farfetch’d is getting beaten down badly by Bulbasaur. Keith tries over and over to get Farfetch’d to give up, but it won’t listen. It suddenly turns the match around with Agility to confuse Bulbasaur. Then it finishes the battle with a Fury Attack.

Keith is baffled since he never knew Farfetch’d had such power. He admits that, had he known, he never would’ve used it for stealing.

That’s not quite good enough, and Ash tries to continue the battle, but Misty intervenes to battle him herself. She tries to send out her Pokemon only to remember that she never got her Pokeballs back. Psyduck steps up and it’s a duck on duck smackdown….literally.

Farfetch’d starts smacking Psyduck in the head with its leek, laughing at how pathetic Psyduck seems. Misty, realizing that Psyduck will get a terrible headache this way, encourages Farfetch’d to keep attacking. The headache triggers Psyduck’s psychic powers and it uses Disable to throw Farfetch’d into Keith and then throws them both into a tree.

Meanwhile, Team Rocket is in their balloon, and they want to see what Pokemon Keith gave them. They open the Pokeballs and reveal that they’re all filled with Voltorb. They chuck them all out of the basket before they can explode, and the Voltorb rain over Ash and the others. As the explosions go off around them, Keith yells out that he’s sorry for stealing and that he’ll never do it again.

Later, at the police station, Keith is relieved to hear that none of his victims will be pressing charges since the Pokemon are all being returned to their rightful owners. He decides to start a proper Pokemon journey and work hard to train his Farfetch’d to be the best it can be.

Team Rocket keep up the search for Keith, prepared to report their encounter to Giovanni, but Meowth convinces them not to since he’d probably want to hire him and fire them as a result. A leftover Voltorb explodes in the basket and Team Rocket blasts off.

—————————

– I always thought it odd that, out of all the Pokemon you could claim are hunted for their delicious meat so fiercely that they’re nearly extinct, you’d choose…Farfetch’d….the Pokemon based on the very common non-nearly-extinct duck.

– I also find it odd that no one says anything in disgust or outrage that Farfetch’d are nearly extinct because they’re too yummy. Ash just says he wants to capture one because they’re so rare.

– Let’s just get this out of the way – I don’t care for Farfetch’d.

I adore ducks. Ducks are insanely awesome. I am always checking local ponds, lakes and rivers for ducks when I drive by them. My favorite hockey team is the Ducks purely because their mascot is a duck. Yes, I am that petty. I have a duck Beanie Baby. Ducks are amazing.

This duck, however, is boringly designed and ugly. It’s a blah shade of brown, it looks like it has a unibrow, and it’s a little dumb to have a duck Pokemon that’s not at least partially Water Type. What were they thinking? Make an ugly duck and give it a leek. Then make it Normal-Flying. Another Pokemon successfully designed.

Pokemon Ep 49 Screen1

It’s also redundant because, as we plainly see, we already have two duck Pokemon in this gen with Psyduck and Golduck. Sure, neither really looks like a traditional duck, but since when does that matter?

Even its voice is annoying. Ducks aren’t exactly songbirds, but Farfetch’d sounds like a kazoo being tortured.

People only even remember this thing because it has a silly name. And that’s English-exclusive, so it doesn’t even really have that. Why is it called that anyway?

Wiki – “Farfetch’d is derived from far-fetched, meaning unbelievable, perhaps relating to Farfetch’d’s rarity or the “far-fetched” theme of its Japanese name.

Kamonegi is a combination of kamo (wild duck) and negi (spring onion). Additionally, 鴨葱 kamonegi is an abbreviation of the proverb 「鴨が葱をしょって来る」 (“a duck comes bearing green onions“), which means “something surprising but convenient”.”

……Alright, first of all, Farfetch’d would’ve had to have been nearly extinct since it was first discovered to warrant the name ‘Farfetch’d’ because of that, which is impossible.

Second, Farfetch’d is uncommon at best. It’s nowhere near rare enough to call it ‘far-fetched’ to ever see it. It also has a fairly high capture rate.

Third, alright, let’s say that they were clever enough to poke fun at the origins of Kamonegi’s name. Why poke fun at that name specifically? There are a hell of a lot more Pokemon with weird name origins to warrant being called ‘Farfetch’d’ A duck holding a leek based on an old proverb? Weird, sure, but considering the other weird Pokemon in existence, it doesn’t deserve that moniker.

– “So Near, Yet So Farfetch’d” And I hate your title! It’s a pun for the sake of nothing, and it barely makes sense!

….Sorry, residual anger.

– I’m confused. Since when do they need to ask the others’ permission before they go off to try and capture a Pokemon? I know Farfetch’d is ‘rare,’ but what did they expect her to do? Run off and tell them about it, bring them back and hope this ‘super-rare’ Pokemon sits still long enough for them to return and discuss who gets to capture it?

Pokemon Ep 49 Screen2

– So this kid’s scam, one of them anyway, is to lure Trainers into running into the forest after Farfetch’d, bump into them and….somehow have a bag that looks identical to theirs prepared to swap out with the victim’s…..How?

Not only that, but he seems to be under the assumption that all of the Trainers he tries this with will be holding their bags so loosely that they’ll pop off when he bumps into them. Even with Misty having her bag on her shoulder and not grasping it with her hand, chances are the bag would slip down her arm and not just fly off after being hit.

Even so, he is a master of slight-of-hand if he can grab the bag as it’s slipping off, throw it to where it won’t be seen, and make the switch for the identical bag filled with rocks without the target seeing him do it.

A better plan would be to lure Misty away from the spot so he could steal Ash and Brock’s bags, since she just left them sitting there to chase after Farfetch’d…..Actually, he had no way to know she’d take her bag in the first place so this whole trick could’ve been for nothing. A lot of ridiculous dominoes had to fall in place perfectly for this to work.

– What is in Misty’s bag that she doesn’t find it suspicious when her bag is switched with one filled with rocks?

– Keith: “Let’s see what’s inside. Five Pokeballs! This must be all of her Pokemon!” Why would you assume that when most trainers have full parties of six?

– Give him credit, though, he’s way more successful at this than Team Rocket ever was.

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– I’m a little confused as to why Misty and the others believe Keith switched the bags on accident. Do they really believe this kid was carrying a bag of rocks wrapped with newspaper on a random walk through the forest?

Not only that, but Keith obviously didn’t leave the scene with a bag.

– For some reason, Keith’s character design is modeled after Farfetch’d. I have no clue why they randomly decide to do this with some CotD and their Pokemon, but it’s obvious and goofy.

I’m aware that Ash has those lines on his face because they’re meant to look like lightning bolts and he has a Pikachu, but it’s not like he looks like a Pikachu.

– Jessie: “I hear that people are spotting Farfetch’d in this forest all the time.” Well, then, they’re not that rare then, are they?

Oh excuse me, I meant to say ‘That’s far-fetched!’

– Why are Team Rocket so disheartened to learn Farfetch’d has a trainer? They do remember what they are, right?

– Meowth: “Hehehe, that sucker just lost one Farfetch’d!” But he was planning on giving it away anyway. I don’t get why this plan had any further steps since he should’ve screwed himself over after saying ‘I’m looking for someone to take all these Pokemon off my hands.’ Team Rocket would be all ‘We can do that!’ and his response would’ve been…what? They just cut from him saying he’s looking for someone to take his Pokemon to him walking in the forest with Team Rocket.

Pokemon Ep 49 Screen4

“Look, he even left a boat for our getaway!” How and why does he have that there? Also, either he knows what Team Rocket is, and hardly anyone, even those in law enforcement, know what Team Rocket is, or he’s just under the assumption that any random Trainer will steal Pokemon when given the chance.

– How did he know they’d take the boat instead of just running away?

– Meowth: “Too bad he didn’t leave his recipe for Farfetch’d flambe!” I know he’s joking, but this is the third time they’ve mentioned eating this thing. They finally manage to snag a ‘really rare’ Pokemon and they seem to be seriously considering eating it.

– How did he know merely putting them out in the water would be enough to knock their Pokeballs off? I thought Pokeballs sank. Or is this one of those factoids they screw with whenever they feel it like because the plot says so?

How did he know they wouldn’t be able to stop the boat from sinking? How did he know they didn’t have a Water Pokemon capable of saving them? How did he know they wouldn’t be able to grab their lost Pokeballs before they floated away? This guy is either the luckiest kid in the world, or this is some of the most convoluted writing in the world.

– How did Jessie and James even know those Pokeballs contained Arbok, Weezing and Lickitung (Lickitung’s here because of episode arrangement problems due to the incident.)? They didn’t check their belts to see if their Pokemon had gone missing. They could’ve just been garbage Pokeballs floating in the lake.

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– Congratulations, Keith! You’ve been upgraded from a petty thief to an attempted murderer!

Even if you take the boat sinking and capsizing on purpose as a harmless prank, and he had no reason to believe they could swim, there’s a massive waterfall they get dragged into as a result, which would almost certainly kill them whether or not they can swim.

– Jenny can’t catch a backpack thief who is staying in a large tent no more than 100 feet from the nearest trail, considering he can easily see Team Rocket passing by. She’s been on this case for at least a week, but says she’s been trailing him ‘for a while.’ He targeted both sets of main characters within an hour and he’s really cocky. Bait him out. It’d be easy.

– Keith: “We’ve been together for a long time, Farfetch’d. Right after I found you injured on the road and nursed you back to health, we started stealing. I wish there was some other way for us to get by, but…how else are we going to survive?”

That was so exposition-y I’m going to have a bruise from the exposition hammer you just slammed into my face.

Who just randomly spouts out their backstory to the only other being who knows it?

Also, that second sentence is so weird. It sounds like the reason they started stealing was because he nursed a wounded Farfetch’d back to health.

“I wish there was some other way for us to get by”? Do you not have parents, kid? I assume most Pokemon Trainers have allowances sent to them by their parents so they can travel the world without needing to get odd jobs or resorting to….well…thievery. Either his parents are terrible or he’s an orphan. In the case of the latter, why isn’t he in a group home or with relatives or something?

Keep in mind that he’s very clearly stealing money and other items from these trainers in addition to their Pokemon, but all Jenny and anyone else seems to be concerned with is the Pokemon. If he wasn’t stealing items or money, which he must be considering he’s stealing whole backpacks, where did he get the money for that massive tent or all that camping gear or that boat that he just flippantly sank on purpose?

Either way, don’t try to BS me into feeling bad for this guy. It would be one thing if he was obviously reluctant to steal or at least outwardly expressed remorse to himself after he stole something, but he doesn’t. Like I said, he’s cocky about it. He finds it entertaining. Not to mention that you don’t need to steal POKEMON to ‘get by’ unless he’s selling them or something, and that’s even worse.

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Oh but please, continue, Keith.

“We’re just too weak to battle.”

1) Is this confirming that Trainers give out money to their opponents when they lose, like in the games? That sounds like it’d be a huge pain in the butt. How do you even decide upon the amount?

2) If the parent thing was the real reason he doesn’t have money, he’d have said that. Since he blames their lack of money or whatever on weakness in battle, which we’ll address soon enough, I’m left to assume he’s not an orphan. What’s the deal there, then?

3) If that’s the issue, why did he not just steal some Pokemon and start using them to win battles, legitimately catch more Pokemon and get money? Why is he collecting a mass amount of Pokemon just to seemingly use them as tools in his tricks? He’s been at this ‘for a while’ (At least enough time for a significant injury to heal) and has at least ten backpacks, not counting what I believe is his own bag. Unless he’s been selling the Pokemon, there’s no reason why he hasn’t been doing this unless he’s just making dumb excuses for himself to make it seem like he’s a victim somehow.

– I commend Psyduck for going off to find Misty….but I think it’s more than strong enough to have brought her bag to her as well.

– Misty gives zero shits that her Psyduck was stolen. Being annoyed by it is one thing, not caring that it could now be in the hands of someone who might be doing harm to it is just low.

– Then she turns around and is all happy to see Psyduck. I hate how she acts around Psyduck sometimes. Does she think her friends will think less of her if she shows affection for a Pokemon she has had an unreasonable amount of anger for since the day she met it? I’d think they’d think less of her for treating it like crap for no reason.

– Why is Misty asking Psyduck all these questions like it possesses the ability to answer back with anything but ‘Psyduck’?

– Granted, it’s a kinda funny scene…..until Misty blows up at Psyduck.

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– How did he manage to pack up ten backpacks, a tent, cooking equipment and all those Pokeballs in three bags?

– Why is he not packing the Pokeballs in their shrunken forms? Surely that would make them easier to pack and carry.

– Keith: “Well, if we meet someone on the road, we’ll just have to take their Pokemon too!” See, even he states he’s doing this purely for the Pokemon, which let’s assume he’s keeping. And he’s outright proclaiming that even bumping into a random person on the trail is grounds for stealing their Pokemon. He’s not doing this because he has no choice. He’s not doing this to ‘get by.’ He’s doing it because he’s a jerk.

– Keith: “Hey, can’t you guys take a joke?” A joke where you steal their Pokemon and try to murder them? Haha.

– Why and how did he have an entire bag filled with Pokeballs that only contained Voltorb? That either means:

1) He legitimately caught all of those for the sake of using them as a means to deal with threats or anyone who manages to find him. In which case, that means he has a bunch of Pokemon who are, objectively, fairly strong. Why does he not just use them in battle?

I doubt this one because that would most likely mean he’s used Farfetch’d in battle, and he hasn’t.

2) He ran into several Trainers who had numerous Voltorb on them for whatever reason. How does that happen?

3) Either way, he just gave up like 25 Pokemon. He could’ve easily just used one, had it explode and run away in the smoke.

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– Jenny: “You’re under arrest for grand theft Pokemon!” That’s a thing? Also, many counts of regular theft and several counts of attempted murder.

“Maybe we should start off by showing this kid just how difficult a Pokemon battle is!” Jenny, for the love of god, just cuff him! You’re not his mom. It’s not your job to teach him a lesson about how difficult it is to battle Pokemon, which is an asinine lesson at this juncture anyway.

You want to teach a real lesson? Take his Farfetch’d away. The real moral Ash was going for was you can’t take someone’s Pokemon away because they put a lot of love and care into raising them. The battling thing is only a small part of that.

He’d lose his Farfetch’d anyway since I doubt they allow Pokemon in juvie.

– Who really has the final say in consent when it comes to Pokemon battles? Keith is very clearly against this, but Farfetch’d wants to battle.

– Misty: “At least now you can see the right way to capture a Pokemon in the wild!” This line is bafflingly horrible to me because she’s saying this while Bulbasaur is beating the living hell out of Farfetch’d. It’s hard to see who has the moral high ground here. No, it’s not right to steal other people’s Pokemon, but it’s also very difficult to say it’s better to beat Pokemon into submission, jam them into a small ball and enslave them for life.

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– Ash: “What’s that?”

Brock: “It’s Farfetch’d’s Agility!”

Keith: “I didn’t know Farfetch’d could do that.”

Let’s play pretend and believe levels properly exist in the Pokemon world again. If this is right, Farfetch’d is at least level 31. How did it get to this point without Keith battling with it? If it was that level when they met, why did he ever believe Farfetch’d was a weakling?

The only thing I can come up with is that, since they met when Farfetch’d was very injured, Keith subconsciously believed Farfetch’d never recovered to a point where it was strong enough to battle again. However, nothing in the episode implies this. Keith never states such a thing. It’s a very weak correlation that is basically fantheory territory.

The best explanation I can make out of this for real is that Keith never bothered trying to train it or battle it. I would say maybe he’s so worthless as a Trainer that he couldn’t do much with Farfetch’d but he is literally doing nothing but telling Farfetch’d to stop and it’s winning.

He just assumed Farfetch’d was too weak to ever battle for absolutely no reason and never bothered putting him in a battle because of that fact. I don’t even know how he managed that because Farfetch’d is very confident in battle and is going in against its master’s commands.

In essence, his reasoning behind why he ‘has’ to steal Pokemon and backpacks, which is ludicrous enough, is based on a ridiculous assumption he never bothered to check.

– Keith: “Wow, I never knew Farfetch’d had attacks like that.”

Misty: “You really didn’t know about its powers?”

Keith: “No. If I had known it was this strong, I wouldn’t have used it to steal.”

If they hadn’t wedged in that exposition earlier, purely on the basis that he said that to no one but himself and Farfetch’d, I would swear this is another con. Even Misty facepalms at how clueless this kid seems.

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Brock: “You can’t judge a Pokemon by the way it looks.”

Oh….so his assumption was based on….the fact that Farfetch’d’s design looks weak….That’s even worse. There are a multitude of Pokemon who look much weaker than Farfetch’d and they win matches just fine.

– Wait, now he’s sending Pikachu out? For what purpose? Keith only has Farfetch’d, legitimately. If Farfetch’d falls, he’d have nothing to even the match with. Why is this not merely one on one? Is this match designed specifically to have Keith lose? That’s unethical to say the least. Two wrongs don’t make a right, guys.

Let me also point out that Farfetch’d is very visibly injured right now. They rarely ever show wounds on anything in this show, but Farfetch’d looks like it’s been thrown off a cliff. Not to mention that Ash is sending Pikachu after a Flying type. This is needlessly cruel, even if Farfetch’d won. He gets the point.

– Misty: “Hold it! He robbed me, so it’s my job to battle him!” What? He’s already in the middle of a battle. Where was this five minutes ago?

“I choose you, Staryu!….Oh wait. I forgot. I didn’t get my Pokeballs back yet.” This is kinda funny, but it’s also a little stupid considering Misty also didn’t notice that she didn’t grab nor throw a Pokeball. Did she think Staryu was already out for some reason?

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– Psyduck fighting for Misty’s…honor I guess, is kinda cool, but I really wish the poor thing could use its psychic abilities without needing to be put in terrible pain.

– Yeah, you threw a ten-year-old into a tree and cheered. Be the bigger person, Misty.

– Why would Team Rocket think it smart to open all those Pokeballs in the hot air balloon? Any one of those could hold something like a Snorlax, which would cause them to crash, or a Magmar, which would probably kill them just by being in such close proximity. Even if they were all small Pokemon, opening them all at once is incredibly risky in such a small space in a hot air balloon.

Do I even need to mention that, since they didn’t think to check the Pokeballs before leaving the area, Keith could’ve just given them empty Pokeballs?

They are being ridiculously dumb today, even for them.

– Also, giving people a bunch of Pokemon that are essentially bombs. More counts of attempted murder.

– Also, also….does this mean Team Rocket never got their Pokemon back?

– Team Rocket has been gone for a while now. What are the odds they would be flying right overhead as they decided to open those Pokeballs?

– Good thing Voltorb can easily survive 300 foot falls.

– From what we’ve seen, Voltorb explosions are typically much more violent than this. Either these are some very low-level Voltorb or this is more inconsistency.

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– Keith: “Forgive me. I’ll give back all the Pokemon I stole.” You don’t really have a choice.

Jenny: “None of the victims are going to press charges since they all got their Pokemon back.”…..What!? This is seriously a three numbered list rant episode? Fine.

1) None of them are going to press charges? Not a single one?

2) All of them are still in the area? Or do more people have cell phones in this world than we’ve been lead to believe?

3) You managed to contact all of these people and ask them if they’ll press charges in such a short amount of time?

4) Keith only now agreed to give back the Pokemon, meaning the victims haven’t yet gotten their Pokemon back. *Some might be missing. If none are missing, that confirms that he hasn’t been selling them, but if he hasn’t been selling them or using them in battles, what is the point in stealing them at all?

Also, same issue with Team Rocket, what if this is another con? What if all of those Pokeballs are empty or have more Voltorb in them? You’d never know until after he left.

5) Again, you’re only focusing on the fact that he stole Pokemon. He also stole property and money. I assume they’re getting at least most of their property back (though, if he also stole the boat…) but what about the cash? Considering he’s been ‘getting by’ on stealing, he must’ve used up a good chunk of the money and can’t replace it if he doesn’t get money of his own.

6) Let’s be really, really, insanely generous right now and say this kid would get off without charges or juvie time. Jenny should still technically be taking him in since he seemingly has no parents and no financial assistance.

Pokemon Ep 49 Screen13
Alright thief kid with no money, no place to stay, no parents and a penchant for attempted murder. Be on your way.

– I was under the assumption that the big blue bag was legitimately his, but he left it behind. Now he’s traveling without any supplies whatsoever?

If you really don’t get money through Trainer battles, he’ll be back to stealing within a day or two.

– *There was a Voltorb left the in the basket, meaning one of those victims must be missing a Voltorb if none of those were legitimately caught by Keith, which, if he’s never battled with Farfetch’d, must be true. Charges filed then?

– Where was that Voltorb hiding in the balloon?

———————————-

This episode is dumb.

It is.

This is another episode I have on VHS, and even back when I was a kid I didn’t care for it.

Keith’s character is all over the place. I don’t like Farfetch’d (and it’s yet another Pokemon that never seems to be characterized as anything but a cocky jerk) Misty was being a bitch, Team Rocket was being stupid even for them and Keith’s cons weren’t so much clever as they were simultaneously insanely lucky and completely contrived.

Not to mention that this is another criminal character who is getting away with various crimes without a drop of legal ramifications just because they ‘learned their lesson’ some other way. I don’t think this one’s quite as infuriating as the criminal situation with Melvin, but it’s on the same level. At least Keith’s not nearly as obnoxious or creepy as Melvin.

Next episode, prepare yourselves.

The egg is hatching……and the Togepi is upon us….

Previous Episode…..

My Poke-Pinions: 007-009 – The Squirtle Line

Squirtle

Name: Squirtle’s name is a mixture of ‘squirt’ as in a squirt of water or a small child’s nickname, and ‘turtle’ because…..turtle. Apparently, it might also poke at squirrels because of the shape of its tail. I have never heard of that, and it kinda blew my mind.

I love the name Squirtle. It’s very bouncy, memorable, and if I ever have a pet turtle, you bet your ass I’m naming it Squirtle…..and I’ll get a second named Donatello.

Its original Japanese name is Zenigame, which literally translates to ‘baby pond turtle.’ Also, it was revealed in Black and White that the ‘zeni’ portion of its name is an allusion to the pattern on its shell. It looks like an old coin and an old term for money was ‘zeni.’

I like Zenigame. It’s a very cool word with an adorable meaning, and it rolls right off the tongue. I do prefer Squirtle, however, because it has more zip and isn’t as much of a mouthful.

Fun Fact: In German, it’s known as Schiggy, and I find that endlessly adorable for some reason.

Design: Like Charmander, Squirtle’s design is so straightforward that it’s almost exactly just a cartoony turtle…..but it’s an ADORABLE cartoony turtle! Look at those big expressive eyes! Look at that widdle beak and big smile! Look at it’s tiny hands and feet! Look at it’s curly tail! Look at it’s cute shell! It’s so adorable!

I have a Squirtle plushie, and it was one of the first pieces of Pokemon merchandise I ever got. And it’s adorable too! I just want to hug it.

The colors are nicely chosen. If you’re not going to go for the turtle-y green, which is reserved for Grass types, basically, a cool baby blue will do wonderfully.

In regards to sprites, Red and Blue’s always looked….cute but goofy? It’s like Disney tried its hand at drawing it.

Yellow is adorable.

Green’s is like a baby for whatever reason.

Gold, Silver and Crystal are alright. Ruby and Sapphire’s look like it’s teaching math class.

Emerald looks like it’s teaching math and roll back and forth on your butt class.

FireRed and Leafgreen are fine. I find Diamond, Pearl and Platinum to be hilarious because it looks like it’s tap dancing.

The newest generations are consistently alright, except the most recent incarnations have Squirtle in a zombie stance for some reason.

Shiny:

I’ve always really loved Squirtle’s shiny form. It has a beautiful lighter blue color on the skin, which makes it look cool, and I love the contrast with the lime green shell, which is a very fitting throwback to actual turtles.

My only complaint is that the earliest versions of this sprite also have a green tummy, which I think is too much.

Cry/Voice: Truth be told, Squirtle’s cry was always a bit obnoxious to me. It’s loud, it’s grating and it doesn’t sound like it fits very well.

I’ve always loved Squirtle’s voice in the anime. It’s very unique and fitting for the character. I’ve always thought it sounded very vaguely Donald Duckish, but maybe that’s me.

Dex Entries and Backstory:

Ash’s and FireRed’s Pokedex Entry: “Squirtle. This Tiny Turtle Pokémon draws its long neck into its shell to launch incredible water attacks with amazing range and accuracy.”

Long neck?

Artwork by TeleDildonics

……???

Squirtle’s Dex entries are pretty basic. After birth, the Squirtle’s back swells up and hardens into a shell. It will withdraw into the shell to shoot blasts of water and foam at its enemies. It has a smooth, well-rounded shell for hydrodynamic purposes. Not terribly interesting, but that’s to be expected, really.

Squirtle as a Pokemon is merely based on turtles, so there’s no interesting backstory to go over, either.

Wartortle

Name: Wartortle is a mix between ‘war’ or ‘warrior,’ ‘tortoise’ and ‘turtle.’ I really like the name. It’s more intimidating than Squirtle, but it’s still cute. It’s fitting and the ‘tortle’ part is really unique. It’s especially cool because it’s a middleground between Squirtle (Turtle) and Blastoise (Tortoise).

I will share a pointless story, though. When I was a kid, I had a bad habit of pronouncing it as ‘Warturtle.’ and my friend had the annoying habit of condescendingly correcting me whenever I’d say it that way.

Wartortle. TORtle. It’s an O.

I get it, thanks.

Yeah, but it takes years before I correct myself in not pronouncing ‘Gyarados’ ‘Jai-ar-a-dos.’ That’s much more embarrassing, Jamie! Thanks for nothing!

……Uuuhh….*cough*

In the original Japanese, it’s called Kameil, which is either a mixture of ‘kame’ for ‘tortoise’ or ‘turtle’ or is an offshoot of ‘Kameru’ which means ‘to be able to bite.’ I’ll be honest, I don’t much care for the name Kameil. It sounds like a dog food brand. Wartortle’s a million times better.

Fun fact: In German, it’s called Schillok…I have no clue why, but that sounds like an insult.

Design: I almost love Wartortle’s design as much as Ivysaur’s. It’s another example of a great mid-evo design. It’s different enough from the other two to stand on its own without seeming like it’s just ‘the placeholder’ and it has a lot of style that the other two don’t have. I particularly love it’s ears and eyes. The ears are an adorable add-on, though I’m not sure why they get lost in the final evo (same for the tail) and the eyes are sharper and fierce while maintaining a cuteness to them.

Truth be told, I’ve never been a major fan of the tail, but it is cute when drawn well, and it adds a lot of character to it.

I also love the colors. It’s such a beautiful shade of blue.

Sprite-wise….Uh, what’s up there, Red/Blue? You’re cute, but you have a bad case of Jack-O-Lantern face.

Yellow looks badass because he looks like he’s really cocky lol.

I don’t know what’s up with Green’s. He looks like he’s pretending to be Yao from Mulan. “I am Yao! King of the rock!”

Gold’s is alright. Silver’s is like ‘Come at me, bruh!’

Crystal’s….made me laugh uncontrollably. What is up with that weird pelvic thrust animation?

I have no clue what’s up with the coloring in Ruby/Sapphire. It’s so deep blue, like Blastoise. And I don’t much care for the pose, either.

Emerald fixed the coloring, but the animation is weird, like it’s throbbing.

FireRed/LeafGreen is alright. D/P/P has a great starting pose, but what is the animation doing? It’s hopping on one foot like it just stepped on a Lego brick.

HG/SS look better because it’s like it’s calling you out and yelling at you.

I love the ones for B/W/B2/W2 because it adds a cute twitching animation to the ears.

The most recent versions are just okay. They’re very stiff and have no dynamic posing.

I don’t really like how they keep changing the coloring on Wartortle. His original artwork color is fine, thank you.

Shiny:

I’ve always loved Wartortle’s shiny. It’s such a cool purple color, and, again, the contrast with the green is fantastic. The only gripe I have is that Wartortle shares the same issue as Squirtle – in the first version of the shiny, they also make its belly green.

Cry/Voice: Wartortle’s cry in the games is alright. It’s a bit high-pitched at the start, so it’s kinda cute, but they add the lower tones at the end to make it seem more intimidating.

As for its voice in the anime, Wartortle pretty much just sounds like a Squirtle with a sore throat saying ‘Wartortle’

Dex Entries and Backstory: Wartortle’s lore has always been very fascinating to me, partially because it’s not a part of either Squirtle or Blastoise’s but equally because, when you dig into it, there’s a lot of it and it’s hard to make any sense of it.

Wartortle’s big fluffy tail is said to be symbolic of age and wisdom, which, while being cool, is also a bit weird considering Wartortle’s a mid-evo. Usually Pokemon of advanced age are fully evolved. They go even further with this by stating if you find algae on a Wartortle’s shell, it’s a sign that they’re very old.

It’s said to live for 10,000 years(!!!???) and the tail fur changes to deeper colors the older it gets.

Its tail is also said to bring good luck.

It uses its ears and tail to maintain balance while swimming, and Wartortle can also store air in its tail to stay underwater longer.

The Dex notes that scratches on Wartortle’s shell are signs of its toughness, which is also weird to note because you could say that of nearly any Pokemon if you include scars in that.

Wartortle is based off of the legend of the minogame – a Japanese legend about a 10,000 year old turtle who grew a tail of seaweed. Supposedly, the Dex fact about it storing air in its tail for use underwater is a reference to the fact that some turtles have the ability to breathe through their cloaca. Yup, some turtles have air sacs in their tummy and can breathe through their butts. Biology is fascinating and disgusting.

Blastoise

Name: Blastoise’s name is a combination of ‘blast,’ which is fairly obvious, and ‘tortoise.’ I’ve always really liked Blastoise’s name, for the most part. The ‘blast’ part is really powerful and cool, but I feel like the ‘toise’ part kinda hangs there.

It’s original Japanese name is ‘Kamex’ which is a mix between ‘kame’ for ‘turtle’ and ‘max.’ I’m alright with Kamex, though it seems a lot like a brand name.

Fun fact: In French, it’s called Tortank, which I find to be insanely awesome. In German it’s ‘Tortuk,’ which, again, kinda sounds like an insult.

Design: It’s a mix between a tortoise and a tank. What’s not to love? It’s so simplistic, just adding cannons onto a tortoise, but it works so well. I also love the color scheme. It’s the perfect shade of blue.

Sprite-wise, Red looks…..cool, but weird. It’s like he’s a gang member from the 50s and the shell is his leather jacket. The back sprite doesn’t help this theory because the dimensions on the shell are entirely off. It looks flat.

Yellow’s kicks ass.

Green’s make it look like a bear.

Gold’s alright. I really like the pose in Silver.

Crystal’s awesome both for showing the cannons ‘firing’ and its little tail wag like ‘yeah, I’m badass, and I like it.’

Ruby and Sapphire are alright. Emerald’s playing a really violent game of patty-cake.

FireRed and LeafGreen are fine. DPP is aggressively waving at me.

HG/SS is pretending to be Thumper.

And the most recent gens are alright, though they also have zombie stance syndrome.

Shiny:

I really like shiny Blastoise….mostly. I love the cool purple color much in the same vein as Wartortle’s shiny, but the shade of green they chose for its shell is a little too dark for me. Blastoise’s first shiny also shares the same green belly issue, though, with the poses, it’s not as noticeable. Also, it’s licorice flavored.

Mega:

*sigh* Mega Blastoise…..Gurl, you fugly.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some things I like about it, but it is flat-out ugly. They made it very wide, messed up its face and now it’s all hunchback.

I like the new wrist cannons, and the back super cannon is a little cool, but kinda sloppily designed and clunky. I just feel like they had a great opportunity to make this bad-ass turtle tank and messed it up.

Cry/Voice: Blastoise’s cry is friggin’ terrifying. It’s awesome, but terrifying.

Blastoise’s voice in the anime just sounds like Venusaur saying ‘Blastoise.’ Venusaur drawls a bit more, but it’s basically the same voice. It’s not a bad voice. It’s very powerful and commanding, but it’s still a bit lazy to me.

Dex Entries and Backstory: As you can probably guess, most of Blastoise’s info involves its water cannons. They’re powerful enough to blast through concrete walls and thick steel, they’re so powerful that Blastoise is intentionally heavy to withstand the forces. They’re so accurate that they can hit soda cans from 160 feet. It can use the force of its cannons for high-speed tackles, and that’s about it.

Also, Blastoise likes to crush its enemies, I suppose.

The origins of Blastoise as a Pokemon is…well, it’s a tank merged with a tortoise. Again, that’s about it. How that derived from the mythical 10,000 year old turtle with seaweed for a tail, I’ll never know. Supposedly, the cannons may be based off of the tubes that some mussels use, hence why it’s now a shellfish Pokemon, but I find that to be a bit of a stretch. How do you go from tubes used for eating and extracting feces to high-powered steel water cannons?

Next up, the Caterpie line.

Previous – The Charmander Line

Pokemon Episode 46 Analysis – Attack of the Prehistoric Pokemon

Pokemon Ep 46 Title

CotD(s): None

Evolutions: Ash’s Charmeleon evolves into Charizard. It does get much more powerful, but it remains being a dangerous little brat.

Plot: Our heroes are wandering through Grampa Canyon (No map gif can help me now) when they run into a bunch of people with picks and shovels. Gary appears and explains that it’s the great fossil rush. Everyone, including himself, are gathering to dig up Pokemon fossils.

As everyone digs, Team Rocket sets up their latest plan – blowing the canyon up with dynamite and taking all of the fossils for themselves. Ash and the others hear their plans, and while Ash tries to stop the fuse, Misty and Brock go off to warn everyone.

It’s a huge race between Ash, Squirtle and Pikachu against Team Rocket as they try to extinguish the fuse and Team Rocket tries desperately to keep it lit. They fall down the cliffside, and in an effort to stop the fuse, Pikachu shocks the stockpile of dynamite, accidentally igniting it and blowing the place to ruins.

The ground opens up and swallows up everyone except Squirtle. The opening of the crevice quickly becomes sealed with nearby falling rocks. Squirtle manages to stay above ground and reunite with Brock and Misty, who immediately try to dig Ash and the others out.

Meanwhile, Ash and Team Rocket awake in a huge cave deep underground, and they soon realize that they’re not alone. The fossil Pokemon, believed to be extinct, Kabuto, Kabutops, Omanyte and Omastar, angrily confront the group.

Ash calls on his Charmeleon to keep them at bay, but he refuses to listen to Ash and instead takes a nap.

They all get attacked by the fossil Pokemon, but they suddenly flee when they hear the call of the fearsome Aerodactyl. Charmeleon gets smacked by Aerodactyl, triggering its rage and desire to battle.

It nabs up Ash in its claws and flies out of the cave with Pikachu and Charmeleon hanging on its tail.

Aerodactyl continues to smack Charmeleon around, and they start taunting each other. Angered by Aerodactyl’s taunts, Charmeleon evolves into Charizard and they start a confrontation in the sky. Ash is ecstatic, believing Charmeleon evolved to save him, but when Charizard starts recklessly shooting off Flamethrowers in his direction, he realizes he evolved to fight Aerodactyl.

Jigglypuff arrives and Misty tells it to sing its song for everyone. It gladly agrees, and the lullaby soon makes everyone sleepy. Charizard is able to fight the effects by plugging his ears. Aerodactyl falls asleep, dropping Ash in the process. Charizard catches him and sets him down on the ground safely before also falling asleep.

Meanwhile, Aerodactyl falls back into the cave, which seals itself back up again with the aftershock of Aerodactyl’s landing.

After everyone awakens, Jenny assures everyone that there was no prehistoric Pokemon, and any sightings of them was just a dream caused by Jigglypuff. Furthermore, with the instability caused by Team Rocket’s bombs, digging will no longer be permitted in Grampa Canyon.

Ash and the others are happy that Aerodactyl and the other ancient Pokemon will be able to rest now, but they didn’t leave the great fossil rush empty handed. Ash reveals that he stumbled upon a Pokemon egg after he woke up and decided to take it. The three then argue over who gets to care for the egg.

Meanwhile, Team Rocket are trembling in fear, still trapped in the cave with the now sleeping fossil Pokemon.

————————-

– Yeah, I’m so sure you direct archaeologists to their dig sites with signs that have pictures of shovels and picks with an arrow.

– Hi Gary!

– Gary: *In reference to Ash* “Even a nerd like you shoulda heard about the great fossil rush.” ‘Nerd’ implies a great deal of intelligence, so this line makes no sense. Come on 4Kids, this isn’t difficult.

– Ash: “Loser?! That know-it-all!” That line implies that Gary knows Ash is, in fact, a loser.

– Brock: “I don’t feel right about digging up old Pokemon fossils, especially after they’ve been resting in the earth for such a long time.” As opposed to those Pokemon fossils that have been resting in the earth for a few minutes? Also, I get where Brock is coming from, respect for the dead and all, but is he making an anti-archaeology/paleontology argument?

Misty: “If they’ve been lying underground for thousands of years, maybe they’d like a little fresh air.”

Ash: “I think it’s your brain that needs some fresh air.” Wow, Ash. Uncalled for.

– STILL using the Pokemon logo in the title screen when saying ‘Pokemon’? Wow, I was off by light years.

– I tend to give some shows leeway when it comes to topics like this, and for all I know the laws in the Pokemon world are somehow different, but actively digging up and collecting fossils is a heavily regulated practice, not to mention that extracting a fossil, intact and without damage, is very difficult even for trained experts. This massive group of ten to twenty year olds should not be able to just crowd a single area like this and smack away at it.

– I’m no archaeologist, but I don’t think this looks right in any way. The fossil is perfectly cut out of the ground by Gary merely picking at it, there’s no rubble on top of it despite Gary seeing this exact image immediately after hitting the area with a pick, and the rock with the fossil is a drastically different color than the rock surrounding it. If the footage didn’t suggest otherwise, and I didn’t know Gary was too good for cheating, I’d say someone dug a small hole and plopped a fossil in it.

Pokemon Ep 46 Screen1

– I know Gary’s disappointed that he found a poop fossil, but isn’t that still valuable? Don’t scientists learn a lot about diets and prehistoric vegetation and whatnot from poop fossils?

– Brock: “All these people digging and no one’s found any fossils yet.” Uh, Gary just found one. It’s poop, but it’s fossilized poop – it counts. Also, you’re greatly underestimating how long this process typically takes.

– James: “Once we blast Grampa Canyon to smithereens, we’ll be able to scoop up all those Pokemon fossils.” Yeah, because they’re impervious to dynamite.

– Misty: “Did you hear that? They’re going to blow up this whole canyon!” Yeah, we all heard, Misty. Team Rocket was literally yelling out their plans for no other reason than to alert nearby main characters about their plans.

– Oh hey a Team Rocket plot that involves explosives and mass murder. Every now and then, I feel like calling them Terrorist Rocket.

– James: “Oh it’s that pest again!”

Jessie: “Always messing up our plans!” Technically, you screwed yourself here with your yelling, Jessie. If you just kept your trap shut, Ash and the others would be dead along with the 50+ people you’re about to try and murder by now.

– I’d also like to point out that Meowth is perfectly allowed to use a zippo lighter here, but in Snow Way Out that same lighter will be painted into a candle for no reason.

Pokemon Ep 46 Screen2

– Again, if they just didn’t alert Ash to the fact that the fuse was already lit, their plans would’ve gone through. Team Rocket, I implore you to get more intelligent, because there’s only so much you can wring out of idiot vs. idiot(s) storylines.

– Squirtle should be a good enough shot to have gotten that fuse before it even left the cliff, but I guess this might show contrast and development in how awesome Squirtle’s accuracy gets later on, especially in the Orange League.

– I know Team Rocket is trying to stop Ash from extinguishing the fuse, but….*sigh* do I even need to ask if they realize that they’re running towards a massive bomb, and, should they succeed, they’ll have front row seats to a massive murder explosion of death?

– Pikachu, there is no reason whatsoever, even in a panic, that you should’ve believed electrocuting dynamite was a good idea in any capacity.

– The reactions are priceless, though.

Pokemon Ep 46 Screen3Pokemon Ep 46 Screen4

– I call bullshit on them living through that. I get the cartoon logic, but, come on. That thing looked like a nuke when it went off and cracked the ground in two. No way did they get off without a scratch.

– How did Squirtle get separated from the others? He was in the same cluster that Ash, Team Rocket, Arbok and Weezing were in when the bomb went off. If anyone should be separated, it should be Pikachu because he escaped from the cluster beforehand to go off and be an idiot.

Even if he did somehow separate, how did he not fall into the crevice? It was massive. If it took Pikachu, surely it would take Squirtle.

– How is Weezing falling if it can float?

– Our friends fell into a massive hole that is being covered by rocks! Quick! Walk on top of it and chuck the rocks away!

Best case scenario, they don’t know how deep this chasm is and believe Ash and the others are just covered by rocks, which, hate to break it to you, but corpses.

Even if they lived through that and this hole wasn’t deep, they have no clue where they would be. They could be chucking stones ONTO to Ash or Pikachu.

Worst case scenario, they shift the rocks so much they collapse the stones that are plugging it up, causing them to fall into the hole and inevitably crush the people below before they also die. Not exactly sure about the best way to approach this, but certainly it isn’t that.

– Jigglypuff thinks a mound of rocks is a stage with lights and everything….So…what has Jiggly really been puffin’?

– It seems like one of the most pointless scenes of fanservice/filler or whatever to have Jigglypuff all entranced by a rock stage, see the pile of rocks fall down, then get pissed that they fell.

– I think I’ll give a generous pass to (almost) every time characters survive huge falls because otherwise I’d have to call out whenever Team Rocket survives getting blasted off.

– Jessie: “Looks like we got blown all the way to the moon.” Jessie…*sigh* I’ll be nice and chalk this one up to head trauma.

Pokemon Ep 46 Screen5

– Ash is not the slightest bit concerned about where his Squirtle is. For all he knows, it’s dead.

– That rock formation doesn’t look like it follows the laws of physics…or gravity….or anything.

Pokemon Ep 46 Screen6

– Realistically, the only fossil Pokemon I can believe has glow-in-the-dark red eyes is Kabuto. Everyone else just had it done for dramatic effect.

– I am so baffled by how ungodly pissed Omastar looks here.

Pokemon Ep 46 Screen7
The best part of waking up is–MURDERING YOU!

– Uhm, gonna call bullshit on them sleeping for thousands of years. 1) Why would they do that? 2) How could they do that? 3) How did they survive all that time? 4) You’re telling me that in thousands of years, they’ve never been woken up or decided to go outside?

– Jessie: “Argh, nevermind! Let’s just capture them! Pokeball, go!” They’re being far too stupid in this episode for me to take them forgetting that Pokemon need to be weakened before capture as being note-worthy….except for the fact that I noted that I wouldn’t note it…..urr…Uhm….

– Those Pokeballs hit Meowth and didn’t even open. This just brings up the question of whether Meowth truly does have an owner.

– Ash: “We have to battle! Charmeleon! I choose you!”

Here we go.

Ash Being a Charmoron Count:

2 (I’m giving him a pass for the first time in The Problem with Paras, but not for the second time.)

In case this isn’t clear, this is a count for every time Ash calls out Charmeleon/izard and just expects it to obey him + bonus points if he uses him in incredibly stupid situations or if Charmeleon/izard creates a hazard by being out.

I will, however, give a pass for the incredibly obvious x4 disadvantage he’s not seeing. While he could’ve just looked up the typing quickly before selecting a Pokemon, he did have his Pokedex out a few seconds ago afterall, it’s incredibly hard to tell what types the fossil Pokemon are, even if blue snails are a little obvious.

– Geodude gets to do stuff! Whoo!

….It’s just moving rocks…..but whoo!

– Blah blah, the anime forgets that Rock Pokemon are not immune to Electricity, blah blah. Actually, scratch that, not only do they mistake Rock for Ground yet again, but Kabutops are part Water, so that should be very effective.

– I’m going to give Ash another pass for calling on Charmeleon again, considering he’s in a tense situation and Charmeleon is already out, but I will mark him off for not trying any of his other Pokemon. Squirtle may be out of the picture, but he still has Bulbasaur (who would be awesome right now) and Pidgeotto.

Pokemon Ep 46 Screen8
Pictured above: Everyone’s expression when Ash let’s out Charmeleon/Izard.

– I kinda wish Charmeleon/izard had kept that cool ‘scar’ on its forehead. Would’ve been some neat although minor characterization.

Pokemon Ep 46 Screen9
And he could be a stand-in for Harry Potter.

– I love how they yell to Ash to ‘watch out!’ when Aerodactyl has his entire body clutched in its talons/feet. Yeah, he can totally avoid that.

– Here we are. The point of ranting about Charmeleon’s cheap as hell evolution. You can definitely make the case that Charmander was at the right time to evolve into Charmeleon. You can also make the argument that it deserved to become a Charizard at least before Cinnabar Island or the Indigo League conference. But I cannot accept this evolution as being anything other than bullshit.

It’s been all of, what, three episodes since it evolved? And it hasn’t even won any battles since then (except kinda against Paras) because it wouldn’t listen to Ash, and it wasn’t even in Jigglypuff’s debut episode.

The only way I can really justify it a little is that Charmander was overleveled when it evolved into Charmeleon, so it only need a small nudge to make its way into Charizard. However, if he was stopping himself from evolving, like Squirtle and Bulbasaur seem to do, why? Why would he choose, of all times, The Exeggutor Squad episode to jump into Charmeleon?

Pokemon Ep 46 Screen10
He looks like an eight year old who just got told he couldn’t get ice cream for lunch.

I saw someone mention the hordes of Exeggutor that it beat as being the source of an ungodly amount of experience, but 1) we’re meant to believe Melvin beat like half of those and 2) I don’t believe even beating all of those Exeggutor (who were god knows what level) would be enough to jack his level that high.

Even if he was overleveled, you need to level again before you can evolve, and bullshit he got experience from being smacked by Aerodactyl a couple of times to evolve when he’s around level 36.

Even that explanation seems illogical because he didn’t get experience here.

He was just pissed.

Here’s Charmeleon’s evolution scene entirely.

Charmeleon mocks Aerodactyl by…swiping his fingers against his forehead?

Aerodactyl responds with a ‘bii-daa,’ which, I don’t even understand how it knows that considering it’s supposed to have been underground for thousands of years, thus would have no way of knowing Japanese schoolyard taunts.

Charmeleon stamps its feet and has a tantrum.

Evolve.

Pokemon Ep 46 Screen11

That’s it. That’s everything. Some people justify this by saying he evolved in order to beat Aerodactyl, but I just keep feeling like that’s more bullshit. Whether numeric levels and quantitative experience exist or not, there’s no denying that you need these things in order to evolve. Otherwise, most Pokemon would do it a lot more often. It’s a permanent change that requires thought, sure, and their paws may always be on their internal B button, but imagine if it really is supposed to work that way.

You could catch yourself a bunch of base evos, beg your Pokemon to evolve so you don’t have to grind exp, because that’s boring, and rare candies are like….rare, and poof, let’s mow down the gyms before the weekend.

If we revisit The Problem with Paras for a bit, it’s suggested that experience and evolution is based on perception, so cocky twats like Charmeleon evolve with no problem (Charmander was looking a bit proud in the Exeggutor episode) However, I’m having a harder and harder time believing that too, because that would mean pretty much all arrogant Pokemon would evolve in a snap and no self-depreciating Pokemon would ever evolve.

Pokemon Ep 46 Screen12
Chalk up yet another instance of Ash crying that I can remind myself about when he’s stone-faced during actual emotional moments.

Can we just be honest here and admit that the writers desperately wanted Charizard to come on the scene because everyone loves that overrated orange dragon? I like Charizard (as a Pokemon) too, it was my first ever fully-evolved starter in Pokemon Red, but could we have at least a little bit of time with Charmeleon before you chuck it aside for Charizard? Mid-evos, particularly starter mid-evos, get shafted enough as it is.

From a less skeevy viewpoint, maybe they realized that Ash was already nearing the end of his Kanto journey and had zero fully evolved powerhouse Pokemon? Outside of Muk, but, remember everyone, he can’t have Muk around because it stinks even in its Pokeball. So he never, ever uses it, ever. Despite having the omnipotent Messiahchu, he needed a Pokemon that also looked like a powerhouse. Gary was going to get Blastoise so his Squirtle wasn’t much of an option, and Bulbasaur……Pbt. Dragons>leavy frog dinosaur.

And don’t even mention Pidgeotto.

– Uhm, Misty, I understand this is a crucial moment and everything, time is of the essence and whatnot, but uh….don’t you think it might be a bad idea to play Jigglypuff’s song right now? Doesn’t that seem just a smidge dangerous? Charizard will fall asleep in midair, crash, and die. Aerodactyl, the Pokemon carrying your friend through the air, will fall asleep, crash, and Ash will die….And so will Aerodactyl.

– Props to Charizard for being smart enough to plug his ears.

– I’ll also give him props for showing that, despite everything, including nearly frying Ash to death several times while trying to beat Aerodactyl, Charizard caught Ash and safely put him on land.

– Rrrgh…..

Pokemon Ep 46 Screen13

Frickin’

Egg.

– Where did hell did that egg come from anyway? Where are Togepi’s parents?

– See? Jigglypuff inexplicably has a microphone marker out of nowhere.

– Jenny: “Some of you are claiming that you saw a prehistoric Pokemon here in the canyon. That is ridiculous. Let me assure you it was only a dream caused by Jigglypuff’s song.”

Wha–…What? The song that they didn’t even hear until they had already been watching an Aerodactyl nearly eat Ash for over two minutes? Also, what are you saying? That 50+ people all had the exact same dream? That’s even weirder than seeing a previously-thought-to-be-extinct Pokemon.

This is very much cover-up-ish, but if so, why? It might be to protect the fossil Pokemon, but there’s nothing to protect them from, besides Team Rocket and they died in the second cave-in.

I get the good intentions behind these ‘we have to keep pretending they’re not here so they won’t be bothered’ motivations, but I doubt the government, of all things, would see previously-thought-to-be-extinct Pokemon and just ignore them for the sake of maintaining their peace and quiet.

Pokemon Ep 46 Screen14
Now just wait a moment and my associate, Will Smith, will make you all look into at a pen for a second.

We have no clue how many of these Pokemon are even living underground. They could be a thriving species and studying them might do no more harm than studying anything else.

Prohibiting mass excavation of the land I can definitely buy in this situation both for the safety of the people and the Pokemon, but I still don’t see why such a big coverup is needed. Especially seeing as how, later, we’ll see a certain someone caught Aerodactyl on film.

– Gary, you believing this dream stuff is just out of character for you, even if you are quietly questioning it to yourself.

– Brock: “But I think Aerodactyl and the others would be happy just going back to sleep.” They’ve been asleep for thousands of years. Why do you believe they’d find happiness in perpetually being asleep? Not much of a life, if you ask me.

– First Brock is asking if Ash should even take the egg from the area, then he and Misty are all gung-ho about straight-up stealing it from him. What a confused ending. Suck it, Togepi’s parents!

—————————

Outside of the evolution and the weird coverup, I’m pretty alright with this episode. There’s not too much wrong with it outside of the evolution, but there’s not a lot going for it in regards to fun or interesting things, in my opinion.

I think they could’ve done a lot more with the fossil Pokemon, and jam-packing all of them in one episode is a bit too much, but I guess I can see why they went down that road. Also, for an episode about the fossil Pokemon and starting with a ‘great fossil rush’ we see all of one fossil and it’s of crap. What prompted the great fossil rush anyway?

The evolution really is the biggest mar on this otherwise alright episode. I never got over how insanely cheap it was. They want to make a big to-do about Charizard finally appearing, but they chose such a random moment to debut him in. I always constantly forgot what episode Charmeleon evolved in, and he’s a Charmeleon for such a short amount of time that you barely remember him.

Looking back on it, it would’ve been so much better to have him evolve into Charizard in the Volcano Badge episodes. It’s a two-parter, which means it’s already a big deal to begin with, it’s centered on Fire Pokemon, it contains a notable rival to Charizard (Magmar), Charmeleon could eek out more experience between now and then, and there’s a much better motivation lying there.

Instead of Pikachu getting his ass handed to him by Magmar, have Charmeleon, cocky and hot-headed, get whupped. Have him contemplate his standing as a fighter, because Charmeleon just do that, then evolve right before the rematch or during the volcano disaster or something. Have him evolve not in a fit of immature rage triggered by insults but in a pure desire to defeat a worthy opponent.

Next episode, we play doctor…~~ Actually, considering the next CotD, that joke is incredibly creepy.

Previous Episode…..

Pokemon Episode 45 Analysis – The Song of Jigglypuff

Pokemon Ep 45 title

CotD(s): None

Character Debuts: Jigglypuff – Wanting nothing more than to be an adored singer, Jigglypuff is constantly annoyed when its attempts at singing result in everyone falling asleep. Its singing translates into the Pokemon move, Sing, which lulls humans and Pokemon alike into a slumber. When its audience falls asleep, Jigglypuff scribbles on their faces in anger.

Jigglypuff, for some reason, follows around Ash and co. throughout their journey doing this same shtick over and over. It’s rarely ever funny, almost always annoying. It was a fairly regular character in Indigo, but faded in and out throughout the seasons until Advanced Generation where it appeared a few times before disappearing entirely. I only just learned that, for no other reason I can think of besides nostalgia, Jigglypuff was brought back in the newest anime series, Sun and Moon.

Plot: After getting lost in the desert, Ash, Misty and Brock make it to Las Veg—Neon Town. The city that never sleeps….literally. Everyone in town is incredibly rude and short tempered because no one ever gets any sleep.

They leave the city the next morning and find a Jigglypuff. Misty tries to capture it, but is surprised to find it starting to cry after attacking it.

After learning one of it’s main talents is singing, Misty asks it to sing a song, but it refuses. They believe it can’t sing, so they start trying to teach it to sing. Brock gets the idea to feed it a fruit which is said to soothe sore throats and revitalize tired vocal chords. The fruit works, and Jigglypuff sings, but they all soon find out that Sing puts people to sleep.

Jigglypuff is extremely angry when they fall asleep at its song and draws on their faces in revenge. They try everything to see if someone can listen to the song all the way through, but to no avail.

They get the idea to bring Jigglypuff to Neon Town. Since the people in Neon Town seemingly never have to sleep, they should be able to hear the whole song. They bring Jigglypuff to Neon Town, and Team Rocket, in disguise, offers them a fancy outdoor stage for Jigglypuff to perform on. They want Jigglypuff to put everyone in town to sleep so they can swipe all of the Pokemon and money.

Jigglypuff sings, and the entire town falls asleep, including Ash and co. and Team Rocket. Angry again, Jigglypuff draws on everyone’s faces before running off.

Ash and Co. wake up to find everyone has fallen asleep. Not only that, but they’re suddenly much nicer, and everyone’s apologizing for their past rudeness left and right.

Misty laments over Jigglypuff running away, but she has nothing to worry about. Jigglypuff is never too far behind.

————————–

– We’re literally not even a second into the episode and I have to stop. Why…and how….are Ash and Co. lost….in a damn desert? Where the hell is there even a desert in Kanto? Hang on, let me check that map gif from Pikachu’s Goodbye.

labeled_map_of_kanto_by_rythos-d3c4hsg

 

Hm. Can’t argue with that. I hope they rescue that castle that’s yelling for help, though.

I know that their shtick is getting lost, but there’s a difference between ‘Well, damn, there’s a lot of forests and they all look the same’ and ‘Hey, there’s a desert. There’s no desert on the map, but there is on this globe, so I guess we’re going the right way. Remember, just follow the sun at all times, except when the sun sets, then we follow the moon. If the moon isn’t out, we follow our nose. We’ll find Fruit Loops eventually.’

– Ah I get it. They’re trying to emulate Las Vegas….with the desert surrounding it…..Ya know, you can have an episode with a Las Vegas-esque town and not require that it be surrounded by a bunch of desert that doesn’t make any sense.

…Hey, wait. Does the real Las Vegas not exist in this world or is Neon Town trying to pretend it’s Las Vegas? If it does exist for real, as hinted at in March of the Exeggcutor Squad, then the fact that they put in a desert to give a nod to the real Las Vegas makes no sense. I would ask why they don’t just say this is Las Vegas since they established that it’s a real place, canonically, especially since 4Kids usually has no qualms about pretending this show is set in America, but…..No, I’m actually going to ask that question. Why?

– Might I also bring up that it seems odd to set an episode of Pokemon in a place that is very clearly Las Vegas anyway? Let’s see, a city known for prostitution, gambling, drinking and mafia ties, with the nickname Sin City. Perfect place to set a kids show in.

Let me remind everyone that Pokemon got flak for years for having the Game Corner because it promoted gambling. Let me also point out that, while children don’t seem to be doing it, they clearly show slot machines and gambling in this episode.

– How did Jenny hear these two having an argument when she was probably a hundred yards away and in the middle of an insanely loud city?

For that matter, why does she feel the need to rush over on her motorcycle and stop this argument? It’s an argument, and it’s not loud enough or going on long enough to warrant police action.

Pokemon Ep 45 screen1

– Now for the major gripe about Neon Town….They’re making a play off of the moniker ‘the city that never sleeps’ by having the citizens….literally never sleep. They stay out all night and never go to sleep, so everyone’s bitchy all the time.

That is so stupid. Yes, most people in Las Vegas are night owls, because Las Vegas is basically known for its night life, but that doesn’t mean the people there never sleep. The place is loaded with hotels, and a lot of people probably sleep in the daytime over there.

I’ve never been, but shouldn’t people in Las Vegas be very laid back? There are a ton of fun things to do there, and the place is a den of getting laid, getting drunk, watching shows, partying and gambling. Most people who take trips to Las Vegas do so to relax and have fun.

Even so, I understand that lack of sleep makes people snippy, but it also makes them….ya know….tired. No one in this town is acting tired in the least. They’re all just acting like assholes. If no one here really did get an ounce of sleep, people would be more apt to toppling over in the sidewalk than they would be to blow up at someone over bumping into them.

– Sooooo…Jenny hears a little argument and rushes over to yell at them to break it up, but that same guy is punching James in the head and….a large woman is spanking Jessie, and Jenny is nowhere to be found. Pokemon Police: We All Suck.

Pokemon Ep 45 screen2
Ah, fond memories of my childhood.

– Wait, first the city was surrounded by desert, and now it’s directly parallel to a forest? Where the hell is this place?!

– This is another instance of Pokemon capture just seeming mean. ‘Hey look! A super cute Jigglypuff smiling and minding its own business! I’m going to attack it without provocation and slam it into a tree!’

– *Misty attacks Jigglypuff out of nowhere with Staryu*

*Jigglypuff starts crying*

Misty: “What’s wrong?”

Ash: “It looks like it’s crying.”

Brock: “There’s something strange about it.”

Ash: “I wonder what its problem is.”

What the hell is wrong with you people

Durrr, why’s this pink little puffball Pokemon crying? I only slammed a giant starfish into its face and smashed it into a tree. Durrrrr how weird.

– Seems really rude to request a song from Jigglypuff after you just viciously attacked it like that.

– Ash: “I see. A Jigglypuff that can’t Sing. So that’s why it didn’t attack.” Yeah, because Sing is its only attack…..Also, I thought you were questioning why Jigglypuff was crying after being attacked, not why it wasn’t fighting back. Given how Pokemon are portrayed as do-no-wrong angels, I’m certain some are just pacifists.

– Misty: “I still think it’s cute, but who wants a Jigglypuff that can’t Sing?” I dunno, Misty. That sounds like it would almost be as useless as a main character who is ultimately given nothing to do and is relegated to being a part of background 80% of the time.

ohsnap

– Team Rocket actually has a fairly solid plan this week. Put Neon Town to sleep with Jigglypuff’s song and steal all of their stuff.

– I’ve always loved Team Rocket’s motto-song. I wish they did more song versions of it.

– Considering that Rachel Lillis voices Jigglypuff and Misty, it’s surreal to see Misty teaching Jigglypuff how to sing.

– Awww, Pikachu trying to Sing.

– Jigglypuff kicking Pikachu behind its back is incredibly dickish. One of the main reasons I don’t like Jigglypuff much isn’t because they milk the Sing→face scribble joke so hard, though that is a big part of it – it’s because Jigglypuff’s also an annoying petty little puffball. It’s nice sometimes, but it’s almost on the same level as Chikorita in terms of vindictiveness.

– I appreciate what they’re trying to do…..but uh…do you guys see anything weird about them trying to teach Jigglypuff to improve its lung capacity by blowing up a balloon?…Jigglypuff?….the BALLOON Pokemon?

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– Why would you just shove a full balloon into its mouth like that? If that were me, I’d punch her in the throat.

– Okay, kicking Pikachu before was a dick move, but slightly understandable from a motivational standpoint because Ash was praising his singing while Jigglypuff couldn’t sing, making it jealous. But Pikachu cheers that Jigglypuff can sing now and it does it again. And laughs! Go to hell, Jigglypuff.

– That same dumb cliché of the other characters not noticing when something is happening. How can no one be seeing Jigglypuff kicking Pikachu? Especially considering that, given the editing, it looks like Misty is basically watching this happen.

I think it’s even dumber that Pikachu isn’t realizing that Jigglypuff’s kicking it, particularly after that last time. Gee, something kicked me from directly behind me and Jigglypuff jumped into Misty’s arms from directly behind me….I wonder who kicked me.

– It’s smart of Team Rocket to use a recording of Jigglypuff’s song instead of going to the trouble of catching it, but 1) I’m not sure that would work on a technical level and 2) They didn’t think that recording the song would put themselves to sleep.

– Aw Ash and Misty sleeping next to each other. And since Misty has returned kinda in the new series, I can watch these scenes without feeling too bad! Yay!

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– How does Jigglypuff not know that Sing puts people to sleep?

For that matter, if this is one of Jigglypuff’s main abilities, why did Dexter not share this information?

For another matter, why did Misty care whether or not the Jigglypuff could sing if she didn’t know Sing was a move that put others to sleep?

– Brock: “I got it! Maybe there are some Pokemon who wouldn’t fall asleep!” The Pokemon move meant to put Pokemon to sleep….better see if it works on our Pokemon.

– Awwww, the sleeping Pokemon. Though, I still have to nitpick.

Where are Vulpix, Starmie, Zubat or Geodude? I understand why Horsea and Goldeen aren’t out, because they’re not near water, and, wow, good on ya Ash, for not letting Charmeleon out, but why not the others?

Also, where are Onix’s ears? Or Staryu’s?

– Why didn’t Jigglypuff draw on the faces of the Pokemon?

– I guess there’s some reasonable yet insulting logic behind trying Psyduck, but why was he excluded in the first place?

– Psyduck falling over in a daze is hilarious.

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I caught this frame by accident. What the unholy hell?

– The amount of time Jigglypuff’s ‘victims’ for lack of a better term, stay asleep seems really inconsistent. Before, Ash and co. were asleep for…eh, ten minutes or so? Then they were only asleep until Jigglypuff finished its song. But Team Rocket is only just now getting up. Later, it takes hours for the town to wake up.

– Why didn’t they get Jigglypuff’s song on tape? They used a boom mic and recorded right at the tail end of the song. Even if they did record a good deal of snoring, surely the very start of the tape has some of the song. Not sure if that’s enough, but still.

This would be more understandable if they caught the snoring of Ash and co, considering the boom mic was very close to them. Maybe make them snore so loudly it drowned out the song. However, Team Rocket’s snoring is all they recorded, despite the mic not being anywhere near them.

– The animation on Brock when he says ‘They’ll be able to listen to Jigglypuff sing!’ is extremely shaky.

– This plan is stupid. It’s not a literal city that never sleeps. These people don’t have a super power of Mega Insomnia. Given that they’re not toppling over each other in exhaustion, they have to sleep sometimes.

How the hell are Team Rocket the smart ones in this episode? They don’t believe for a second that the people of Neon Town will stay awake through this.

– I feel weird saying this, but James looks really good in his punk rocker disguise.

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– I am not in the least bit surprised that Team Rocket has quick access to a portable outdoor stage.

– I can understand the song reaching the town square and maybe even a little beyond that, but Neon Town is incredibly loud. I doubt it would cover the whole city, even with loud speakers and amps. I especially don’t believe it would be audible in the buildings, particularly the casinos and bars…..Oh yeah, by the way, there’s a place here called 7 Diamond Bar in this town and 4Kids didn’t censor or paint it. I guess because it just looks like a slot machine, but it’s very obviously the sign for the casino/bar.

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– Bullshit those people are not only sleeping standing up, but also holding things and not dropping them. This town is filled with people that don’t make sense.

– While Team Rocket somehow failed in their attempt to not hear the song, why didn’t Ash and Co. think to do anything?

– I realize now that Jigglypuff’s shtick would be funnier if it actually drew things half the time instead of just making mindless scribbles. He makes some actual drawings, like drawing open eyes on Pikachu and a twirly mustache on Brock, but it’s mostly just scribbles.

– Jigglypuff has to have massive petty vengeance to go all around the city and draw on every single person….except Ash and co. for some reason.

– Ash: “Uh oh, everybody in town fell asleep.” Yeah, because they’re human.

– Getting a few hours of sleep does not reverse rampant dickishness.

– Brock: “Jigglypuff’s song not only puts people to sleep, but maybe it has the power to make people nicer, too.” Oh pft. Fuck off.

Gonna keep that line in my back pocket because I am almost positive it will be needed in the future.

– Also, this solves nothing for Neon Town. I don’t believe Brock’s theory for a second, so I’m left to believe these people just lost their grumpiness because they got some sleep, even if that’s incredibly stupid too. Be that as it may, won’t they all be back to being jerks in another couple of days or so without Jigglypuff to forcibly thrust them into slumberland?

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I really think the original ending of this episode was Jigglypuff staying in Neon Town to help visitors and citizens sleep when they had to either combat insomnia or to get sleep when the lights and sounds of the city were too much to sleep through, but then the writers thought Jigglypuff’s shtick was so gosh darn hilarious that they kept it as a recurring character.

– They really try to hammer Brock’s theory in by having Team Rocket ridiculously giddy as they leave the city, but-

1) Nope, still bullshit.

2) If it really does make you nicer, and Ash and Co, have fallen asleep from it three times at this point, shouldn’t they be joining a convent by now?

3) Team Rocket was not any nicer after they fell victim to the song the first time.

4) If they’re nicer now, shouldn’t they stop being criminals, or is the nice thing just temporary? Because that makes this ending even more pointless.

And 5) This little extra power stuff is never seen or mentioned after this episode, so bullshit.

– And just to get this out of the way, we know Jigglypuff got the marker from Ash’s backpack, but where did it later get a microphone that also doubles as a marker?

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I’m alright with this episode. Jigglypuff can be pretty entertaining in small doses, and it is cute, but knowing what I know will become of it now, and taking into consideration how jealous, petty and mean it can be sometimes, I have mixed feelings.

There is definitely a good deal of humor in this episode that works, but the plot with Neon Town is so terrible and poorly written it’s insane.

The animation in this episode was also weird. Half the time, the animation seemed better than normal and the other half it seemed worse.

Next episode, we meet the fossil Pokemon, and Charmeleon suddenl–…..*sigh* This is going to be a ranty episode, isn’t it?

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