Pokemon Episode 57 Analysis: The Breeding Center Secret

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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.

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– 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.”

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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?

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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.

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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.

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– 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.

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– 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.

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– 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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