Pokemon Episode 54 Analysis – The Case of the K-9 Caper

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CotD(s): None

Plot: As Ash, Misty and Brock continue on their journey to Cinnabar Island, they’re caught in the middle of a police pursuit. Jenny and several other officers are chasing a thief with a bag of stolen goods.

Pikachu doesn’t want to attack him because of the gun he’s holding, but Jenny’s Growlithe tackles him to the ground and disarms him. Seeing the gun out of the thief’s hands, Ash commands Pikachu to attack with a Thunderbolt. However, Jenny and the other officers scold Ash for attacking, revealing that this was a training exercise for the police squad’s Growlithe team, and the ‘thief’ is actually a fellow officer.

They clear up the misunderstanding, and Jenny formally introduces the Growlithe to their new friends.

Ash and the others are invited to eat a meal at the police training school. Ash is frustrated that Pikachu wasn’t brave enough to take on the thief when he had a gun. Jenny offers to have Pikachu train with the Growlithe the following day. Ash excitedly agrees, hoping Pikachu will become as brave and strong as Growlithe.

The next day, waking up before the crack of dawn, Ash and Pikachu are run through the obstacle course, racing Jenny and Growlithe. However, they soon find the course to be much harder than they first thought. They struggle through each obstacle while Jenny and Growlithe make it across relatively easily.

Even though they’re exhausted from the training, Ash is determined to toughen Pikachu up.

Just then, Team Rocket bursts in with a plan to capture the Growlithe. They first spray a gas around the Growlithe to make it so they can’t smell. Then they spray helium around the group to make their voices high-pitched and squeaky. The Growlithe can’t smell their Trainer nor can they recognize her voice.

Next, Team Rocket dresses up in police uniforms and uses voice modulation to change their voices into Jenny’s. The Growlithe now obey them instead of Jenny. They order the Growlithe to tie Jenny up and prepare to load them into the van. Ash and the others are helpless since they left their Pokemon back in the room.

Team Rocket tries the same trick with Pikachu, but to no avail. Pikachu knows his trainer and his best friend no matter what he sounds like.

Pikachu shocks the Growlithe, but expends all of his energy. The Growlithe aren’t down for the count, and Jessie commands the Growlithe to attack again. Jenny, now free, attempts to stop them, but the Growlithe she’s been training most closely with bites her on the hand. As it digs its teeth into her hand, it suddenly remembers being raised by her and all of the good times they had together.

Realizing its mistake, Growlithe releases Jenny and apologetically licks her hand. The other Growlithe follow suit and turn on Team Rocket. They turn tail and run away from the Growlithe as they bite and bark at them.

Ash tells Jenny that more training at the school isn’t necessary. He doesn’t need to try to make Pikachu into the perfect Pokemon. He’s great just the way he is. With that, Ash, Misty and Brock bid Jenny and her Growlithe farewell as they continue their journey to Cinnabar Island.

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– I will give 4Kids props for keeping the gun.

Brock: “Look! That must be him!”

Misty: “He looks like a thief to me!”

…..I know you’re children, but do you really need to even discuss whether this dude looks like a thief? He’s wielding a gun, carrying a big sack on his back and is running from a bunch of police officers yelling ‘Stop, thief!’ Does he need a lapel pin that says ‘Hello, I am Thief.’?

– How is it that Pikachu has a healthy fear of guns, but these kids don’t? Keep in mind, they’ve had guns in their face plenty of times, and they’ve seen people being shot at.

Not to mention, in the next episode, Ash will see a glint in the forest, instantly assume the glint is from a sniper rifle and make a big fuss panicking over it. Yet here he’s faced with a criminal who clearly has a pistol and he pays it no mind.

– Ash hears that one of the Jenny’s has sicced her Growlithe on this guy, the Growlithe has handily disarmed him and tackled him to the ground, certainly he’s going to be arrested soon, but yet Ash’s sends out Pikachu anyway. Why?

– In fairness to Ash and the others, why the hell would you need to give this guy a gun (They don’t mention if it’s fake, but even if it was, it looks insanely real.) to do a mock police chase through public woodlands? Moreover, why not have an ‘Abort test’ signal when innocent people are clearly in the way?

Why Use the Pokedex?: Ash, you’ve used your Pokedex on a Growlithe before. Remember? Episode 33? The Flame Pokemon-athon?

– Growlithe is one of my favorite Pokemon, by the way, and I’m a dog person so I’ve already got a bit of a soft spot for this episode.

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– Ash: “Did you see the way that Growlithe tackled that robber, Brock? It was braver than Pikachu!” Tact, Ash. Pikachu is right there.

Brock: “But the officer playing the thief was holding a gun. You can’t expect Pikachu to attack somebody like that.”

I could swear Pikachu has attacked at least Team Rocket while they were wielding guns before. Nevertheless, he’s certainly attacked people with BOMBS before and that’s much worse.

Misty: “Brock’s right! I bet you never even thought about how badly Pikachu could’ve been hurt.”

I can’t believe I didn’t note this when it happened, maybe because he sends Pikachu into all sorts of dangerous situations in the first place, but yeah, Ash was pretty dumb right there.

Ash: “Of course I did!” So you’re admitting you knew you were putting your Pokemon in lethal peril. And all for what? A petty thief?

Brock: “Wait a minute, I hope you’re not thinking of having Pikachu train with the police, like Growlithe.”

What’s wrong with that idea? It would give Ash a better idea of when it’s appropriate to attack opponents and how to approach them safely, if at all, if they have weapons like guns.

Ash: “What’s wrong with that idea? It’d make Pikachu even stronger.” Yes, because clearly the problem with this entire situation is Messiahchu isn’t strong enough…..

– I find it kinda funny that a Dodrio is acting like a rooster crowing. We’re a ways away from any chicken Pokemon, so it’s understandable, but still…..Odd how the Torchic line really wouldn’t seem like they would fit any better doing that.

– Do Ash and the others not have pajamas of any kind? I know it’s a joke in cartoons to have the characters always wearing the same outfit, makes it easier for animators and designers and whatnot, but they seriously can’t throw some pajamas their way? What do they carry in those bags if not at least one pair of PJs? I mean, Ash doesn’t even take off his jeans or belt, Misty doesn’t take off her suspenders, and Brock doesn’t take off his vest that is full of random stuff. That has to be really uncomfortable.

– I really like that Ash has to do this course too. It’s all too rare to see Ash actually training alongside his Pokemon. It’s rare enough to see him training period.

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– So Jenny’s running this course too, huh?….In…those clothes? I never really gave it much thought, but Jenny’s officer uniform is horrible for doing any sort of strenuous exercise. She’s wearing a pencil skirt and frickin’ HEELS. She shouldn’t be able to do a brisk jog, let alone a military-esque obstacle course.

There’s especially no way in hell she should be able to climb that wall, especially as easily as she did.

– Pikachu never tried to climb the wall, but he should’ve been able to do it much more easily than Growlithe, being a rat.

– Brock: “This police canine training stuff sure is tough. Are you sure you still want to go through with it?”

Ash: “Of course I’m still going through with it ‘cause I want Pikachu to be the best.” Again, wasn’t the problem. Even if Jenny and the other officers and the Growlithe weren’t pursuing that thief, even if the thief was real, Pikachu was perfectly in the right to not attack him. You’re a ten year old Pokemon Trainer, not a vigilante. Just because you beat Team Rocket every week doesn’t make you Batman.

Brock: “But don’t you think Pikachu’s a great Pokemon just the way it is?”

Ash: “Yeah, Pikachu’s great. But I want it to be just as tough as Growlithe.” This plotline is really not making sense to me. Ash pretty much acknowledges that he made a mistake sending Pikachu out against an armed criminal. But the issue is continuously that Pikachu wasn’t tough or brave enough, like the trained law enforcement Pokemon. Why is no one pointing this out to Ash? He’s making Pikachu feel like a weak coward all because he was an idiot.

And, hey, let’s jump back to Jenny’s line about not commanding your Pokemon to do anything you wouldn’t do. Even though that statement makes little sense (human limitations make it impossible to do 90% of the things Trainers command of their Pokemon) would Ash have been brave enough to tackle an armed man? I say ‘brave’ when that’s just stupid, but by Ash’s point of view, would he?

– I love that Growlithe van. Someone buy me one.

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– Okay, as much as I find this to be one of Team Rocket’s better thought out plans, I find it hard to believe that these Growlithe get this close to these officers yet it takes them until one of them bites Jenny to realize, oh shit, you’re my Trainer. My bad.

The fact that they’re confused because of their sense of smell being screwed up, I understand. Also, the fact that Jessie is using a voice modulator to sound like Jenny while Jenny’s own voice is screwed up, I also understand.

But they have eyes. They can clearly see that neither James nor Jessie looks like Jenny no matter if they’re wearing her clothes. The fact that they were confused to the point of assaulting Jenny yet Pikachu isn’t fooled for a second makes the Growlithe look like idiots.

Not to mention that, since Jenny seems to know more about what it takes to be a true Pokemon Trainer/Master than Ash does, it’s even more unrealistic that the Growlithe haven’t bonded with her enough to recognize her instantly, even without scent or hearing similar people.

Just for the sake of argument, I wanted to see what cues were most important when training or commanding a dog. I have had dogs my whole life, I’ve trained several of my dogs and I used to study dog training on my own time. My own skills with dog training aren’t the best, but I agree with these findings.

I found several articles and studies that show that body language is most important when it comes to having a dog follow your commands. Vocal commands are obviously followed and important, but body language/hand gestures comes out on top over it.

Realistically, Jenny should be able to call off the Growlithe through hand gestures.

Additionally, while I couldn’t find any information on this, I kinda doubt that the Growlithe would pay much attention to Jessie’s voice in the first place because it would sound so different not only being an artificially created voice in the first place, but also being further altered by going through a megaphone. To us, it may sound pretty much the same, but to a dog it’s vastly different. They can pick up on little discrepancies that would inevitably be caused by both Jessie’s natural manner of speech and the artificial filtering.

All in all, I give this plan a B-. They put a lot of thought and work into it, and it is pretty clever, but it makes these trained police dogs look way too easily fooled to the point of stupidity, and it makes Jenny kinda look like a poor trainer.

– Awwww the Growlithe with the little bandit masks awwww.

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– Expecting the Growlithe the rob banks, I can swallow, but that balloon art heist…What the hell was that even?

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And, what, are you going to somehow clog the Growlithe’s noses forever? Because unless Jenny has a perfume line with her exact essence, they won’t be fooled forever by voice modulation. Dogs rely more on scent.

Jessie: “Wait until they try Team Rocket’s….”

James: “Esopho-gas!” Pfft…..Alright, that one was pretty good, 4Kids.

– Jenny does have a point, though. Even if you make believe you’re Jenny through voice modulation, even if you somehow keep their noses clogged forever, they’re still trained to obey and uphold the law. They wouldn’t become criminals just because you say so. Again, this is kinda implying that they’re idiots who just blindly follow the orders of whomever sounds like their master.

You can make the argument that they’re animals, but they’re POKEMON. They have much higher cognitive reasoning than our world’s animals. The instant their Trainer OFFICER Jenny would order them to rob a bank, they’d probably go “What? That’s not what you taught us to do.”

– Forgive me if I’m wrong, but considering the properties of helium, isn’t impossible to get the high-pitched squeaky voice effect by just blowing it around people? They don’t specifically call this gas helium, but what other substance causes this effect?

– Just want to point out that Jessie and James are changing clothes behind the same changing curtain….

– If the effects of helium are lasting this long, they’d all be long since dead.

– Also, why does the helium not affect the Growlithe’s voices?

– Kinda random to specifically order the Growlithe to place Jenny under house arrest. Also, since when does house arrest involve tying someone up?

– Ash: “Uh oh! I know! We’ll use our Pokemon to battle them!” I have a great idea! Let’s do that thing we do to solve basically all of our problems! Ash must’ve caught a bit of Captain-Obvious-itis from Brock.

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– I find it VERY hard to believe that they ALL left ALL of their Pokemon back in the room. And if they did, uh, Team Rocket, that’s more ripe for the picking and easier to get than these trained police Pokemon.

– You know, it’s not every day that Ash forgets he has Pikachu….He realizes he left his Pokeballs behind and he’s just not remembering that Pikachu is right there.

– Pikachu jumped down from nowhere to land on Ash’s head. I feel like that was his punishment for dare forgetting Pikachu for even a second.

– Either Jessie does an insanely good Ash impression or the dubbers screwed up and make Ash’s voice come out of Jessie’s mouth before she used the voice modulator.

– Still find it creepy that they have an Ash costume….

– I will admit that Pikachu’s even higher than usual voice is really cute and funny.

– Uh, Pikachu, can you chill the hell out? One or two shocks was enough to deter the Growlithe. You’re just torturing them now. Stop! This is getting hard to watch. They’re not evil Pokemon, they’re innocent police dogs getting tricked. If I want to impose my own twisted views on this, it’s almost like Pikachu is taking out his frustrations with Ash this episode, dinging his ‘lack of bravery’ in comparison to the Growlithe, on the Growlithe….

– What? You’re telling me one shock was enough to put the first team of Growlithe on their backs, but relentlessly shocking them to the point where Pikachu is out of energy and they still are able to get up and fight with little issue? Uh….Huh.

– Oh hey, Jigglypuff. That’s actually a good thing! Jigglypuff can sing, put them all to sleep and the gas will wear off in the meantime, ruining Team Rocket’s plans!

…..What…the shit?….Jigglypuff suddenly got…embarrassed? Self-conscious? And then walked away after one line? One of the few times this pink balloon might actually save the day and it just…..leaves for no reason? This isn’t an untranslatable joke, by the way, this scene is just completely random and makes no sense.

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My sentiments exactly, Ash. Also, I love how Misty and Brock look pissed at Jigglypuff in this shot.

– It’s very heartwarming when Growlithe remembers the good times with Jenny and comes to its senses.

– LITTLE. BABY. PUPPY. GROWLITHE. *heart explodes*

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– I can understand them having voice modulation options for Jenny and Ash, but why each other?

– Uh, Jenny? You gonna make some noise as you cuddle the pups in your weird little jutting animation? Anything? Awkward silence then? Okay.

– Aw, Ash actually learned a lesson today. It’s not the right lesson, given the context, but it’s a lesson.

– Jenny: “You two recognize what’s in each other’s hearts, and that’s what matters. I’ll try to keep that in mind.” Why are they kinda acting like Jenny made a mistake here? And maybe that’s why the Growlithe were fooled but Pikachu wasn’t? She was practically telling Ash that exact lesson earlier.

– And following up Jigglypuff’s initial pointless confusing cameo is its equally pointless and confusing followup cameo where the Narrator says ‘Uh oh’ as Jigglypuff finds the voice modulator. Why ‘uh oh’ anyway? What trouble can it cause singing through a voice modulator?

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All in all, I like this episode, but it’s kinda dull and the conflicts, both with Ash and Team Rocket, don’t make a lot of sense.

If you push that aside, it’s a really average episode with a good Pokemon at the forefront, but it doesn’t really highlight anything that’s special about Growlithe. These particular Growlithe are well-trained and brave, but the conflict makes it seem like they’re not trained well enough because they’re too stupid to visually recognize their trainer.

Additionally, I would’ve liked more exploration on the police training of the Growlithe at the very least if we weren’t going to focus on what makes Growlithe special. Canine police training is actually very interesting, and I’m disappointed that they didn’t make much of an effort to explore it here outside of doing a mock police chase and running an obstacle course.

Much more effort and thought was put into Team Rocket’s plan this week, and, admittedly, liberties can easily be taken with what I researched, but it’s still far too stupid to think the Growlithe wouldn’t recognize their owner by sight, especially considering that they likely don’t have the visual limitations that real life dogs have.

Next time, it’s the debut of Snap—Todd….Todd Snap? I guess?

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