Pokemon Episode 63 Analysis: The Battle for the Badge

Pokemon Ep 63 Screen 1

CotD(s): None.

Character Returns: Both Gary and Giovanni are present. The only reason I feel like mentioning them now even though they pop up quasi-frequently throughout the series is because this is the first time either has ever been given extended focus without having the actual focus be either Team Rocket or Ash and co.

Badge Episode – Earth Badge: Viridian City

Gym Leader: Giovanni – Leader of Team Rocket, Giovanni also acts as the Viridian City Gym Leader for some reason somehow. However, due to plot, Ash never actually battles or even meets Giovanni in this episode. Gary battles him, but loses to Mewtwo. Officially, Giovanni specializes in Ground type Pokemon, but he tends to just use whatever.

Reappears?: He appears about as much throughout the rest of the series as he does in this region, which is hardly at all but he still exists. As long as Team Rocket is around, which will probably be until the end of the series, Giovanni will always be their boss, most likely.

Pokemon: Most notably, Giovanni has his trademark Persian by his side at all times. He’s never seen battling with it, however. Giovanni is shown using a Golem, Kingler (Possibly two or even three Kingler considering we also see one in a cage in the basement. He could possibly have a second Golem as well by that logic.) and Mewtwo, though he only has Mewtwo temporarily. He also gives Jessie and James a Machamp and a Rhydon, and has a Cloyster in the basement.

Interim Gym Leaders: Jessie, James and Meowth. No intro needed.

Plot: Ash, Misty and Brock have arrived in Viridian City to obtain Ash’s eighth and final Gym Badge. Once he wins this match, he’ll have enough Badges to enter the Indigo League conference.

However, just as he’s about to enter the Gym, Gary pulls up to taunt his rival. Ash is shocked to learn that Gary has actually obtained TEN Badges and is just challenging the Viridian Gym Leader for kicks. Since no more than one Trainer is allowed in a Gym during a challenge, Ash is forced to wait outside while Gary battles.

After being spooked by Togepi, Ash accidentally throws the baby Pokemon into the mouth of a nearby Fearow, who flies off with him. Togepi manages to escape Fearow’s clutches, but Team Rocket spots him and decide to capture him to give to their boss.

Meanwhile, Gary’s battle with the Viridian Gym Leader, who turns out to be Team Rocket’s leader, Giovanni, begins. Gary starts with Nidoking while Giovanni starts with Golem, which is instantly KO’d by Nidoking’s Tackle attack.

Next, Giovanni chooses Kingler. Gary opts to switch out his Nidoking for his Arcanine. It dodges a Crabhammer and follows up with a Take Down, Fire Spin and Fire Blast, which defeat Kingler.

Gary’s victories are making him so bored and inflating his ego so much that he actually tells Giovanni that he should just end the match because there’s no way he can beat him. With a smirk, Giovanni wagers otherwise. He unveils his strongest Pokemon, a mysterious creature clad in armor that is not listed in the Pokedex, and tells Gary that he can use multiple Pokemon against it, if he wishes. Arcanine is thrown psychically by the creature with ease. Starting to panic, Gary sends out both Arcanine and Nidoking against it, but both are instantly stopped in their tracks by the Pokemon’s powerful psychic abilities.

In no time at all, Gary is handily defeated.

Afterward, Team Rocket presents their newly captured Togepi to Giovanni, but he’s thoroughly unimpressed and deems it and Jessie, James and Meowth as completely useless. He’s suddenly called away on an emergency, so he leaves the trio in charge of the Gym and gives them three of his Pokemon to help guard the place.

Meanwhile, Misty and the others continue their search for Togepi. They suddenly hear it chirping from behind the doors of the Gym, so they forcibly open them. Misty and Togepi happily reunite, but they’re quickly shocked by what they find beyond the doorway – Gary and his cheerleaders are unconscious on the floor.

Ash and the others rush to them. Gary wakes up and explains that they encountered an unbeatable ‘evil’ Pokemon, much to Ash’s shock and confusion.

To make matters even more confusing, Team Rocket emerges from under the arena to deliver the good news to Ash – they’re now the Viridian City Gym Leaders, and Ash must beat them in order to get his final Badge – the Earth Badge.

Ash agrees to the match, but this whole situation is very suspicious.

The match is three on three. Jessie releases all three of Giovanni’s Pokemon – a Machamp, a Kingler and a Rhydon.

Ash sends out Squirtle first. Jessie chooses Machamp, who easily defeats Squirtle with a Karate Chop. When Squirtle takes the hit, Ash is struck with a jolt of electricity. They rigged the arena to give the Trainer just as much pain as the Pokemon whenever they get hit.

Ash sends out Bulbasaur next while Jessie chooses Kingler. With one Bubble attack, Bulbasaur seems down for the count. Like last time, Ash is struck with another jolt of electricity. He’s weakened, but he continues.

He sends out his final Pokemon, Pidgeotto, to attack Rhydon. Much to her surprise, Jessie is shocked like Ash. James wired her side of the arena too, not believing they’d lose. Meowth tries to trigger the bomb on Ash’s side instead, but Gary stops him.

Fed up, Jessie sends out Arbok and Weezing to battle as well, which is a violation of the terms they set for the Gym match. Realizing their rule-breaking opens him up to breaking the rules as well, Ash sends out Pikachu. With one Thundershock, Pikachu takes out the entire group of Pokemon.

Ash demands his Earth Badge, but Jessie won’t hand it over. Togepi wanders over to the remote Meowth dropped and hits both of the buttons, blowing up both sides of the arena and sending Team Rocket blasting off. Jessie drops the Earth Badge in the process, but Ash recovers it. He has finally earned his eighth and final Badge, allowing him entrance into the Indigo League conference.

The kids escape as the building starts to collapse. Gary has gained a bit more respect for Ash as a Trainer, but he still believes no one will ever be able to beat the mysterious Pokemon that defeated him.

Ash, Misty and Brock head off, but they soon realize they have no clue where the Indigo League conference is even held. They decide to visit Pallet Town to ask Professor Oak about it. Ash is one more step closer to trying his luck at winning the Pokemon League.

———————————

-…..*huff* Let’s get this over with.

“Golly, Twix, you sure seem perturbed. Shouldn’t you be excited? It’s the final Indigo League Badge episode afterall!”

I should be, Unnamed Disembodied Voice I’m Using for the Sake of a Segue into an Explanation. But I remember this episode. I remember how foolish it was to have hopes and ‘expectations.’ This was the eighth and final Indigo League Badge episode, and what do we get?

This.

You remember Pokemon Red and Blue? How you had so many encounters with Team Rocket the entire game and they all lead up to you facing off against the leader, Giovanni, for your eighth and final Badge? How satisfying it was to take him down and end all of Team Rocket? No, he wasn’t the biggest challenge in the world, but he was a challenge and a threat. He was the big bad of the game.

I was so excited when I first watched the series to finally get to Giovanni. After being robbed of pretty much anything Team Rocket related (outside of Jessie and James, who quickly became jokes after about the third episode) I was stoked to finally have a full confrontation with the shadowy man himself – the guy who makes Jessie, James, Meowth, and even Butch and Cassidy shake in their boots. The guy they’ve been teasing this whole time as being a big deal with all the darkness and voice filters and stereotypical cat stroking whenever he’s seen – which is rarely. The guy who had all the means to be a huge challenge for Ash to overcome in his final Badge match. And considering we’re fresh off the heels of a two-parter Badge episode, and that was the second of two two-parter Badge episodes so far in this region, surely the final Badge episode had to be a two or three-parter, right? It’s gonna be awesome, right?

Oh young Twix. You stupid naive girl in a Reptar t-shirt.

No. What we got was half an episode’s worth of a commercial for the first Pokemon movie, a quarter of an episode chasing Togepi, and quarter of an episode’s worth of disappointing battle…..with Team Rocket….

And, no I don’t mean Giovanni.

I mean Jessie and James.

Pokemon Ep 63 Screen 2

The same dolts that Ash has defeated over 60 times already.

The same dolts who couldn’t win a Pokemon battle if they were battling Pokemon plushies with a full team of Moltres.

The same dolts who are so bad at their jobs that one of the biggest mysteries of Pokemon is why Giovanni hasn’t fired them a hundred times over by now.

People kept saying it was okay because they were using Giovanni’s Pokemon, but it’s not. They’re still Jessie and James. They’ll still fuck it up. Which they do. They fuck it up so breathtakingly badly that I’m almost impressed with their newfound level of stupidity.

The Trainer Box shock trap? Who cares? Ash gets shocked by Pikachu so much in a comedic fashion that this never even registers as a real threat. And he’s feeling all of the pain his Pokemon feels, which gets really messed up the more you think about it. Ooh it’s so impressive that Ash is taking all of this pain and bravely continuing on. His Pokemon do that all the time. And I must point out that one of the attacks he ‘bravely endures’…..is a Bubble…hitting a Grass Pokemon.

They completely drained every semblance of coolness and tension from the final Badge episode all because Giovanni had to leave for some reason.

Don’t get me wrong – it is pretty cool to see so much of the normal anime dedicated to tying into the movies, which is something they very, very rarely ever did, and the confrontation between Gary and Giovanni/Mewtwo was pretty cool and a great tease for the movie, but they should have made this an entirely separate episode. Have it be a special teaser episode for the movie and then move on to the eighth Badge episode. Have Giovanni return after Mewtwo left and have him be incredibly pissed that his experiment escaped. That way the battle with Ash will be tension-filled AND frightening. Imagine Giovanni agreeing to the battle with Ash purely because he wants to let off some steam by pummeling his Pokemon into the Ground.

Get it? Ground? He specializes in Ground type Pokemon.

Pokemon Ep 63 Screen 3

But nope. Instead, we cram all the movie stuff into the final Badge episode and, if you never see the first movie, none of that shit ever matters. It’s a big tease into nothing. It’s like when you’re reading a comic, something really interesting pops up and then you see that dreaded text box that says something like “to know what the hell all this is about, check out ComicName #164!” It’s one of the reasons why I don’t actually mind all that much that anime movies tend to exist in their own continuity most of the time. They can definitely be considered canon, but the TV series aren’t obligated to bring them up or weave their stories into the main storyline.

And lest we forget that almost as much time is dedicated to the pointless bullshit with the Togepi chase sequence.

I wouldn’t even be upset about the time wasted if they had made this a two or three-parter, but it’s not. It’s a one-parter, and it’s barely that.

I’m not even really angry – I’m just disappointed. Because that’s what I felt when I was a kid as I watched this episode for the first time. Just a big pile of disappointment sitting on my kidneys. What makes this worse is that this is one of the episodes I first watched on VHS because I missed it on the regular airing.

Whenever I rewatch Pokemon, I get to this episode and I don’t get angry. I just think “*sigh* Let’s get this over with.” because I don’t want to think about what a massive missed opportunity this episode is any more.

If you got bored of my blathering and want to hear an interesting story about the production and release of this episode in regards to the Pokemon Shock incident, see Dogasu’s comparison found here.

And now, let’s move on with the episode.

– Ash: “I can’t believe it’s been a whole year since we were here.”

I never much paid attention to this line, but apparently a lot of people did, taking this as more or less confirmation that a year has gone by and even linking it to the idea that each League/Generation Ash goes through counts as one year. Well, as you probably read on the Dogasu comparison, this is a dub-exclusive line.

The timeline is always super vague with this show, so they only had Satoshi say it’s been a long time since he was here. We pretty much just have to accept the fact that 20+ years worth of Pokemon stuff has gone on in less than a year and Ash is perpetually ten years old and somehow keeps getting designed to look younger and younger with each new art style.

– Misty: “Hm, well the Pokemon Center’s up and running again.” I’m surprised they actually brought that back up.

Brock: “Look, Ash! The Viridian Gym!”

Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute. You’re telling me he spent nearly all of his time at the Viridian City Pokemon Center when he was here last and yet he didn’t realize the Gym was practically next door? I mean, yeah, there’s no sign, but it’s a giant building with stone pillars and Roman guards at the door. Wasn’t he at least curious as to what this place was?

– Ash: “I know I can do it. I’m on a hot streak!” Hot streak how? Just because you won your last badge match?…..After losing the first time?

Fire is shown in Ash’s eyes as he says this, and then we cut to Pikachu and Togepi enjoying a fire in front of him. I get the joke, and it’s funny, but why the heck did Pikachu decide to start a campfire in the middle of the road? It’s not even like it’s cold outside.

Misty: “Ugh, why did you do that Pikachu?” Are you ruining the joke by pointing out how ludicrous that was?

– This is followed up by an equally funny joke where Ash and Pikachu do that sparkly dreamy ‘run into each other’s arms’ thing after Ash proclaims that he can do anything with Pikachu by his side.

– I know Gary’s just teasing Ash, but why would he think Ash quit Pokemon training? He literally just saw him four episodes ago, and he got his Volcano Badge there.

– Now we have to give proper focus to Gary’s insane assortment of Badges – not just in the fact that he somehow has ten Badges, and is aiming for his eleventh, but also that only three of the Badges seem like they’re from known Kanto Gyms. He has the Boulder Badge, a Cascade Badge and the Rainbow Badge. Like I mentioned earlier, it’s also possible that he got a Volcano Badge after Ash since one of the badges looks very similar, but it’s not the exact same so maybe it’s not meant to be the Volcano Badge.

Pokemon Ep 63 Screen 4

I’d think all Badges from a Gym need to look identical to prevent counterfeits. Is there a black market for Badges? Because I can totally see people just grinding at a Gym for Badges so they can sell them to lazy Trainers. Do Gyms even allow you to have rematches if you won already?

I’m getting off-topic.

I can totally understand that there might be other Gyms in Kanto for the sake of making official Gyms more accessible to Trainers who may live far out in the country or whatever, but why is it that Gary doesn’t have the traditional set if it seems like he was following Ash’s route for the most part? He bumped into him way too often for him to not be roughly following the same path. Ash always went to the nearest Pokemon Gym when he was out adventuring. Why wouldn’t Gary do the same?

For that matter, why hasn’t Gary gotten his Earth Badge yet? In the games, the Gym was closed down when you first visited Viridian City, which is why you had to skip it and move on to the next town. In the anime, they never say such a thing. The only reason Ash never goes to that Gym is because he didn’t know there was a Gym there.

– Jeez, look at how huge the guards are compared to Ash. They’re giants.

Pokemon Ep 63 Screen 5

– Guard: “Only one Trainer allowed in the Gym at a time, kid.” They didn’t check if any of Gary’s cheerleaders were Trainers.

– Ash: “I have to do something fast or else Gary is going to get way ahead of me.”

Misty: “Uh, reality check, Ash. Gary’s been way ahead of you since the beginning.”

Damn, Misty. I thought you specialized in water not fire.

How can he even say, with a straight face, that Gary’s ‘going’ to get way ahead of him? He literally just showed him that he has three more Badges than Ash. Every time Ash catches a Pokemon, he’s reminded that Gary has caught ten times as many as he has.

– Ash: *not looking* *Togepi bops him on the head because he’s sad* “Thank you. You’re the only one who always stands by me no matter what. Oh Pikachu!” More favoritism. Because he certainly can’t rely on his other Pokemon to always stand beside him no matter what. No sirree. Isn’t that right, Snow Way Out?

– Ash was so spooked by Togepi that he threw him high enough to bounce off of a flagpole and into a Fearow’s mouth….Wow, Ash….Just wow.

– Misty: “Why did you do that to my Togepi!?”

Ash: “Misty it was an EGGcident!”

– I know I said that I liked the confrontation between Gary and Giovanni, but I really only meant that in terms of when Mewtwo finally shows up, because, prior to that, this match is absolutely pathetic.

Gary starts with Nidoking, and Giovanni chooses Golem. They both opt to use Tackle, and Golem is ONE-HIT KO’D………BY A TACKLE.

Are you fucking kidding me?

Then Giovanni chooses Kingler, who uses Crabhammer, which is a bit better, especially considering they show it smashing the stone floor, but then Gary switches to Arcanine, whom I do love, but why did he even switch out in the first place? Nidoking’s a fine match against Kingler, and Arcanine’s a FIRE type. I’d expect Ash to make a move that nonsensical, not Gary. He attacks with a Take Down, which is fine, but then follows up with a Fire Spin? And then a Fire Blast? And that defeats Kingler.

– Why exactly does Gary need to use a Pokedex on a Kingler? His Krabby should be a Kingler by now, and even if it’s not he’d certainly have done the research on Krabby to know it’s evolutionary line. Gary makes such a big deal later about not using the Pokedex whenever he sees a Pokemon like Ash does and yet here he is using it when, by all means, he shouldn’t have to.

– The perspective in this shot…

Pokemon Ep 63 Screen 6

Why is Arcanine so small?

– Why is Gary so confused as to how his Arcanine got psychically thrown across the ring? Surely he has faced Psychic Pokemon by now, and surely he knows that Confusion is basically Poke-speak for Telekinesis.

I was going to say surely he had faced Sabrina, but according to his weird-ass assortment of Badges, he never fought her.

– I love how immediately after Giovanni gets pissed at them for being half-wits, Giovanni leaves Jessie, James and Meowth in charge of his Gym. Does he not have literally anyone else working in this place that is capable of being a Gym Leader? No other Rocket grunts?

– What exactly happened after Giovanni defeated Gary? He had Mewtwo psychically knock out Gary and his cheerleaders? For what purpose? They had to have been out for like an hour. That’s pretty serious.

– Gary: “This Pokemon’s not just powerful – it’s evil.” How is Mewtwo, based from Gary’s interaction with it, any different from any other Rocket Pokemon? When called to attack others, it will, usually. I do believe some Pokemon are evil, despite what the show may insist, because it’s just unrealistic for them to all be good at heart. If some Pokemon are jerks, some have to be evil. What I don’t get here is why Gary believes Mewtwo is evil just because it attacked them when Giovanni probably called for it to attack them. Giovanni’s the evil one.

– Cheerleader: “I can’t believe Gary lost.” *they all start bawling*

Misty: “Why are you making such a big deal about one lost battle?! If I cried like that every time Ash lost a battle, I’d be waterlogged.” Damn, Misty. You’re being really vicious to Ash today.

– I’ve also been a little annoyed how it’s never explained how and why Giovanni became a Gym Leader in either the games or the anime. Pokemon Origins implies that he was a Gym Leader first and later started Team Rocket and kept the Gym as a cover, but that was never in the games.

– Misty: “You mean this Gym is controlled by Team Rocket?”

Brock: “Why would they want a Gym?”

Jessie: “Oh, you little dweebs couldn’t understand the complex schemes of Team Rocket.”

Ash: “Oh yeah? Try us!”

James: “They’re for us to know and for you to find out….” *to Jessie* “What are they?”

Jessie: “Huh?…..Those plans are classified information.”

Meowth: “She don’t know ‘em either.”

So….basically “We never thought of anything clever or interesting to write as a reason, so we’re going to joke about how there isn’t one.”

– Gary didn’t battle in a Trainer’s Box. Why are there suddenly Trainer’s Boxes in here? Did….did James install the Trainer’s Boxes themselves as well? Jeez, that’s a lot of work for such a short amount of time.

– 16 Minutes…..

It takes 16 GODDAMN MINUTES of a 22 minute long episode (including credits) Before the ‘Battle for the Badge’ actually starts.

– One of the Pokemon Jessie uses is Giovanni’s Kingler, which was defeated earlier, which must mean it’s really tired right now. Unless it’s a different Kingler, but is his pool of Pokemon so shallow that he has duplicates? I was really confused because he has a Kingler on him, but there’s a Kingler in a cage in the basement where he keeps Mewtwo, and he gave Jessie one. No matter, really, because even if he does have two or even three he’d obviously keep his best Kingler on him, which means the others have to be weaker, which is a problem when we already saw his best one be easily defeated.

– This Gym makes no sense. The Trainer’s Boxes are rigged to have the Trainers shocked whenever their Pokemon receive damage, meaning they ‘feel all of the pain the Pokemon feels’ but how do they detect any of that? The Pokemon aren’t connected to anything to gauge such a thing.

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– Also, dammit, Ash, CALL THE COPS! Not only is Team Rocket running this Gym, but they’re physically assaulting you and they (well, Giovanni/Mewtwo technically, but still) knocked out Gary and the girls. Gary is proof that there are other Gyms to get Badges from – it’s not worth this trouble.

– The fact that Ash’s Bulbasaur basically gets taken out with one hit of a Bubble attack by a Kingler when Gary handily defeated it with a Pokemon that had a type DISadvantage is so depressing.

– You can argue that Squirtle and Bulbasaur merely got hit, not defeated, but Ash and Jessie both switch out Pokemon when the hits land, so it’s clear they’re making off like it’s a defeat.

– Ya know how I said Team Rocket would inevitably fuck it up? Well, here comes the fuck up.

Jessie: “James, why did you set it up to give shocks on both sides? Ugh, turn it off, turn it off!!”

James: “I didn’t think it would matter. It didn’t occur to me that we could lose.”

You….*sigh*

How long do you think it takes to set this system up? Quite a long time, right? (Which begs the question how they had the time to do that between Giovanni appointing them Gym Leaders and now. Also, they had to have been doing all of that construction with Gary and the girls unconscious on the floor…..) And it’s probably a pain in the ass. James went through all of that work to set up the shocking device on Jessie’s side in addition to Ash’s side just because whoopsee he didn’t think they’d lose or I guess they’d never even get hit once. And they have no way of just turning it off, whether purely on their side or entirely…….That is so monumentally stupid I think it shaved years off my life.

Also, Rhydon getting hit by Pidgeotto twice, despite them clearly winning against Squirtle and Bulbasaur with one hit, is enough to make Jessie flip out and start cheating, thereby allowing Ash to cheat, sealing their fate and blasting them off again *ding* Screw this whole battle.

– Rhydon’s getting shocked by Pikachu even though it’s a Ground-type……Need I remind everyone this is the second time they’ve made that mistake with this exact same Pokemon. Ultra screw this whole battle.

– FFS, Giovanni’s Pokemon are such wimps they actually RUN AWAY COWERING after Pikachu shocks them – EVEN RHYDON. Infinity screw this whole battle.

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– Technically, Pikachu just won this whole battle by one-hit KOing five Pokemon at once (Only Rhydon had taken damage so far, by Pidgeotto) – three of which were Giovanni’s Pokemon.

– Gary gets a way better story in this episode. He gets to fight Mewtwo, he gets his ass handed to him, which helps him learn some humility, and he gains a better respect for Ash. All the more reason this should have been a lone episode about him instead of having it also be Ash’s final Badge episode.

Ash doesn’t learn anything or grow here. He just battles.

– Wait a minute. So they were not only stupid enough to put the shock system in Jessie’s Trainer Box, but they also took the time and effort to RIG IT WITH EXPLOSIVES?!

– Both sides of the arena blew up, but Ash and the others are just fine?

– That explosion was powerful enough to LEVEL THE WHOLE BUILDING?! But also somehow weak enough to leave Ash and the others untouched? What the hell!?….Also, this is the second time Team Rocket has blown up a building in Viridian City. You’d think blowing up his friggin’ Gym would be enough for Giovanni to finally fire these two, but of course not….

– Misty: “But where is the Pokemon League?” How the hell does a former Gym Leader not know that?

Brock: “I’m sure Professor Oak could tell us all about it.” You don’t know either, Brock!?

– I love the song, but the fact that the Pikachu’s Jukebox of this episode is ‘(Double Trouble) Team Rocket’s Song’ feels insulting.

——————————————

Well, that’s that. That’s the sloppy mess that is the Battle for the Badge. I’ve already said my piece, and I don’t really have anything else to add. I’ll just cap it off by acknowledging my disappointment in the completely lost opportunity one more time.

Knowing how the Indigo League ends, it’s almost like this was foreshadowing of how the entire region would wind up being disappointing. But that Charizard-shaped problem will be addressed later….and compounded by other things on the table that need to be discussed.

Next time, Mr. Mime’s debut. I don’t remember disliking this episode, which was another I had on VHS, but I also don’t remember much about it besides Mr. Mime making a huge box out of Reflect panels…

….Previous Episode


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Pokemon Episode 58 Analysis: Riddle Me This

Pokemon Ep 58 Screen1

Badge Episode Attempt 1 – Volcano Badge: Cinnabar Island

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

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

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

50px-Volcano_Badge xd

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

——————-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– I love this exchange.

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

Ash: “Right.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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– Ninetales! Whoo!

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

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

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

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

– What else did I have to say about this?

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

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

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

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

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

Imagine the look of pure shock on my face.

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

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

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

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

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

Pikachu…

(Aim for)….The horn.

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

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

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

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

Likewise, its reveal is sick.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

——————————–

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

.Previous Episode.


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Pokemon Episode 14 Analysis – The Electric Shock Showdown

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Badge Episode – Thunder Badge: Vermilion City

Gym Leader: Lt. Surge – An American army lieutenant, Lt. Surge is as full of energy and passion as his Electric Pokemon. He tends to look down on Pokemon that are not evolved as he considers that a weakness.

Reappear? No 😦

Pokemon: Raichu, though it can be assumed that he has many Electric types.

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Plot: After two weeks of being lost in the woods, Ash and the others finally reach Vermilion City. They stop at the Pokemon Center to get Pikachu something to eat and to make sure Ash’s other Pokemon are in tip top shape for his upcoming Gym match when a boy comes in with a wounded Rattata. The poor Pokemon is the latest in a string of many who have been thrashed by the Vermilion City Gym leader – Lt. Surge.

Ash has no worries about his upcoming match in spite of this, but Misty reminds him that he’s had many difficulties battling and his only two Badges were given to him out of pity by her and Brock. Ash remains excited and confident that he can beat Surge, but when yet another trainer comes in with a badly wounded Pidgey, Pikachu panics.

Ash tries to force Pikachu to go with him and battle, confident that he’ll win and not end up like all the wounded Pokemon. Eventually, Ash succeeds in bringing Pikachu to the Gym and faces off against the gargantuan Lt. Surge.

Surge is far from impressed by his challenger and laughs at the fact that he uses a Pikachu. He reveals that his Pokemon of choice is actually the evolved form of Pikachu, Raichu. Lt. Surge believes that good Pokemon Trainers should waste no time in getting their Pokemon to evolve after capturing them, and Ash using a Pikachu is sign of weakness. Ash and Pikachu are both insulted at this claim, and Ash says he doesn’t want to force Pikachu to evolve since he likes him just the way he is.

Lt. Surge continues to show his edge by also stating that his Raichu knows all of the Electric type attacks, something Pikachu hasn’t accomplished yet. After having his ego bruised, Pikachu gears up for battle and the Gym match begins.

Pikachu starts the match with a Thundershock, but it has no effect on Raichu. In retaliation, Raichu performs its own Thundershock, which heavily damages Pikachu. Brock urges Ash to recall Pikachu because Raichu is simply too powerful for him to handle. Ash agrees and tries to call Pikachu back, but he wants to continue battling.

Pikachu heads back into battle only to be knocked back time and again by a Thunderpunch and a Mega Kick. Surge finishes Pikachu off with one final Thundershock, and the battle concludes.

Later, at the Pokemon Center, Pikachu rests to recover from its wounds, and the others point out that Pikachu’s biggest wound was to its pride. It tried its hardest to prove that it was just as good as Raichu and failed miserably.

Ash wants to try again, but realizes that there’s no point unless they find some other way to take down Raichu. Nurse Joy overhears their conversation and offers Ash a Thunder Stone, which would grant Pikachu the ability to instantly evolve into a Raichu.

Ash is conflicted because, on one hand, evolving Pikachu to Raichu would give him a better chance of beating Surge. On the other hand, evolving Pikachu purely for battle purposes would make him no better than Surge. He sets the stone down next to Pikachu and leaves the decision up to him.

Pikachu considers it for a second before smacking the stone out of Ash’s hands. He says he doesn’t want to change and that he’ll fight Raichu in a rematch for the name of all Pikachu.

While they all express concern over the next Gym match, Brock says he has an idea that might give Pikachu the edge over Raichu.

After watching Pikachu’s story from the windows of the Gym and Pokemon Center, Team Rocket decides to shed their villain clothes for the day and actually cheer on Pikachu while disguised. The gang appreciates Team Rocket’s support, even after recognizing them.

At the Gym rematch, Ash touts a new strategy which seems to instantly fail as Pikachu takes a Tail Whip to the face and then repeated Tail Whips as he lies on the floor.

Pikachu continues to get pummeled, and it only gets worse when Raichu Body Slams him. Surge is about to finish him off with another Body Slam, but Pikachu manages to slip away before getting hit again.

Ash puts his new strategy into play and commands Pikachu to use Agility, allowing him to dodge all of Raichu’s Body Slams. Brock reveals that the logic behind this strategy is that Raichu was instantly evolved when Surge caught him as a Pikachu, meaning he never got the opportunity to learn the speed moves that it can only learn as a Pikachu.

Raichu is baffled by Pikachu’s speed, and it seems like Ash and Pikachu have finally gained the upperhand when Surge decides to stop messing around and blasts the entire arena with a Thunderbolt.

As the smoke clears, they see that Pikachu has managed to escape the blast unharmed, using his tail as a ground to avoid the shock. Surge calls for another Thunderbolt, only to realize that Raichu has used up all of its power and cannot perform Electric attacks anymore.

Pikachu, however, is perfectly fine and uses his Quick Attack (and a Tail Whip?) to take down Raichu, winning Ash the Thunder Badge.

Pikachu’s honor has been restored, Ash has earned the respect of Lt. Surge and they’ve both reached a new level of understanding in their friendship.

———————————————-

– Was….Ash about to punch Misty in the face? He was going slow, so he was probably going to stop after his arm extended, but the way Nurse Joy stops his hand it’s almost like he was going to go through with it.

– Eeeee the Pokemon Center sound. ~Nostalgic game shivers.~

– To the Trainer who came in with a Pidgey….Really dude, you used a Pidgey against Lt. Surge? Why not save the trouble and stick your Pidgey’s beak in an electrical outlet?

– It should be noted that the Lt. Surge of the anime is WAY bulkier and taller than his game counterpart. Lt. Surge of the games is definitely muscular but he has a much thinner physique and doesn’t seem particularly tall. Lt. Surge of the anime is like eight feet tall and is built like a body builder.

– Yay Raichu! Also known as Way-Better-Pikachu!

– Wait, Ash knows what a Raichu is?….And he’s still using his Pokedex on it? I’m not sure if I should make this a ‘Why Use the Pokedex’ moment since I don’t see why he does know about Raichu when he didn’t seem to know about Pikachu when he first met one.

– I’m surprised that Surge doesn’t point out that a Pokemon disobeying its master and continuing to battle after being recalled is a sign of poor training. Yes, it’s gutsy of Pikachu, but it also shows Ash’s lack of control over his Pokemon.

– Brock: (In regards to evolution) “Pikachu will never be the same.” Can someone tell me exactly what goes on in evolution in the show? Because it seems like sometimes evolving greatly impacts a Pokemon’s personality, like with Charmander, but other times they stay exactly the same and only have changed appearances and base stats, like Caterpie. No, Pikachu will never technically be the same, but it’s really just changing appearance and power, isn’t it?

– Also, considering we now know that Pikachu is actually an evolved form itself, this internal struggle seems kinda….confusing? Pichu aren’t ‘forced’ to evolve into Pikachu, but it’s still an evolved form. And taking Bulbasaur’s ability to deny itself evolution later on, it seems like Pikachu willingly evolved when he was a Pichu. You got something against Raichu? Because I have an exterminator who owes me a favor, you little yellow rat.

– Misty: “How can you see a star in the middle of the day?” Uh…it’s called the sun, Misty.

– While I give Ash and co. props for seeing through Team Rocket’s disguises for the first time…I can’t give them too much credit considering a big hint was probably the talking Meowth. Not that it means much in later seasons.

– Gotta love Surge’s VA’s line delivery when he says ‘What?’ after the Thunderbolt. If there was ever an audio version of the ‘wat?’ meme.

– Any reason why the Thunder Badge looks like a sunflower or the sun?

————————————

So, another Badge episode down, and I’m pleased to say that I really like this episode. Ash loses the first time around, making for a real question of concern over whether he can truly win. Surge is made out to be a major threat here. He’s definitely the most powerful and intimidating Trainer Ash has faced so far.

I love Raichu, even if he’s made out to be kinda a jerk in the majority of the episode like Surge is. Plus, his existence throughout the episode seems to be to signify being something that Pikachu doesn’t want to be, which makes Raichu look bad.

The fact that Team Rocket cheers Pikachu on instead of ruining the flow of the episode with stealing was very welcome, and I like how Ash didn’t use made up BS or cheating to win this match. In addition, it’s his first actually WON Badge as the other two have been pity badges.

The only thing I kinda don’t like is how it was Brock who was the one who gave Ash the match-winning advice. I usually like when Brock and Misty actually impact the plot, but, if he hadn’t been there, Ash would’ve lost. He’d probably run back to Pewter City and try to juice up Pikachu with a water wheel again. I would’ve preferred if he had done research himself, figured it out on his own etc. Even if it was just a fluke. But it’s not like this is the first nor far from the last time this will ever happen. I take what I can get.

Next episode, we start off the St. Anne arc!

Previous Episode…


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