CotD(s): Cassandra – An herbalist like her grandmother, Cassandra’s greatest dream is to evolve her Paras and use Parasect’s mushroom spores to make a miracle potion to help all Pokemon across the world.
Pokemon: Paras and later Parasect, along with a Persian.
Evolutions: Ash’s Charmander -> Charmeleon
Plot: The group comes across a small village and decide to stop there to load up on potions and antidotes. When they approach an herbalist’s shop, they’re challenged by the owner’s granddaughter, Cassandra, to a Pokemon battle.
She sends out her Pokemon, Paras, to battle Ash, but he’s perplexed to find that Paras seemed extremely scared and unwilling to battle. Cassandra says she wants her Paras to evolve into a Parasect as soon as possible so she can harvest the spores from its mushroom to use in a miracle potion that will restore defensive power, attack power, concentration, determination and even make it smarter.
Ash realizes that Paras cannot withstand the full force of his team, so he tells Pikachu and Squirtle to go easy on it, essentially letting it win, in order to gain easy experience and evolve.
Despite a dinky spark from Pikachu and a little squirt of water from Squirtle, Paras is still easily toppled each time. Ash decides to try Charmeleon, but is shocked to find that it refuses to obey his orders, blasting Paras with a powerful Flamethrower and Tail Whip before burning Ash.
He’s able to get Charmeleon under control with the help of Pikachu, but Paras has run off in a panic.
Meanwhile, Meowth is obsessed with helping Cassandra achieve her dream since she cared for him earlier. He was suffering from a fever, and she was kind enough to stop and make him some medicine. After the fever was relieved, he found himself smitten and swore to help Cassandra.
As Paras runs away, Meowth takes the opportunity to nab up Paras and help him evolve by ‘training’ him with Arbok and Weezing. He knocks them both out himself and pretends Paras did it, then pretends to be knocked out by one measly attack, which instantly boosts Paras’ confidence.
They’re successful in their plans, but leave Ash to finish the job when they reunite Cassandra with Paras. Pikachu willingly falls to Paras, but Ash tries Charmeleon again afterwards.
It doesn’t go well.
Cassandra’s grandmother reveals that Ash is too inexperienced, making Charmeleon no longer respect him. Charmeleon won’t obey Ash at all now and starts rampaging. Paras tries to run, but Team Rocket arrives and cheers him on, revealing to Cassandra that they’ve been secretly training Paras. Suddenly, Paras manages to instantly knock Charmeleon out with a poke to the stomach. This last bit of experience allows Paras to evolve into Parasect.
Charmeleon gets up, blasts off Team Rocket and attacks again, but is put to sleep by Parasect’s Spore attack, allowing Ash to finally recall him.
Cassandra bids farewell to Ash and the others. Soon after, Team Rocket lands in front of her shop so she decides to patch them up. Meowth happily believes she’ll make him the company mascot now, but she refuses, stating she can’t take him away from their job as ‘superheroes’, the cover story they gave her before. Her grandma finds a Persian outside that she claims she’ll use as a surrogate for him before sending him on his way.
– It’s the return of the completely useless maps.
– Narrator: “It’s a quaint, cute place. But it’s so small, it doesn’t even have its own Pokemon Gym.”
They very rarely ever visit a place that does have its own Pokemon Gym. Just ask literally every region they’ll visit in the future. About 95% of the places they visit are Gym free. Size doesn’t have anything to do with it, either. They’ve been to massive cities that don’t have Gyms, and some Gyms are in small rural towns.
Ash: “There’s no use stoppin’ here if they don’t have a Gym.” Again, you guys stop at many places that don’t have Gyms. If you didn’t, this series would be much shorter.
– Ash: “I’m dyin’ for a cheeseburger.” 4Kids and their hard-on for cheeseburgers again.
Misty: “No way! I want to go to a nice restaurant!” This place is described as being a very dinky little backwoods village. What makes her think they have a nice restaurant?
– I am finding the sudden shifts in quality for Team Rocket’s disguises to be off-putting. One episode, they’ll have great outfits and tons of props, the next they’ll be crawling on the ground in plain view while holding up small branches pretending to be bushes.
– If Meowth’s head is so hot that it burns Jessie’s hand, through a glove no less, he should be dead.
– James: “Wait a second, Jessie. If we leave Meowth here, he could collapse from that fever.”
Jessie: “Don’t worry. He’s still got eight more lives left.” I know you guys are meant to be villains, but holy shit, you’re legit saying you don’t care if Meowth dies.
– And thus begins Meowth’s very uncomfortable crush on the human girl, Cassandra.
I get that Meowth is just not used to people being nice to him, but why does his appreciation need to be in the form of a crush? At least Cassandra doesn’t return his feelings or anything, but it’s still awkward. Between this and the crush Chikorita will have on Ash, it’s getting really weird in Pokemon. Oh well, at least I don’t believe there’s anything else like this in the further future—Oh hey, I didn’t read up on the Bulbagarden comparison for this episode.
“This was years and years before the Diamond & Pearl games dropped that bombshell about humans marrying pokemon, by the way!” The….what?
Original Japanese Text in Diamond and Pearl: ““Sinnoh Folk Story 3” There once were Pokémon that married people. There once were people who married Pokémon. This was a normal thing because long ago people and Pokémon were the same.”
…..My God….so many people on DeviantArt must have had a field day with this.
– It was nice that Cassandra helped Meowth, but she is leaving him, happily, in the hands of people who denied being his trainers and nearly left for him dead, verbally expressing that they didn’t care if he died.
– I’m just going to condense some of the biggest problems with this episode so I don’t clutter up the post with pages of material.
Major problem A – who gives a crap about the Paras line?
Personally, I don’t find it ugly or anything (Well, Parasect is a little) but you’d be hardpressed to find anyone who would either put them on their favorites list or use one on their team in the games at any point in time.
They’re not the worst Pokemon in the world, but they are a major liability being both Grass and Bug (Not one but two x4 weaknesses? Oh boy!) their stats are far from impressive and they’re really only even a little useful if you focus on status effects.
Major problem B – Pokemon specific episodes are meant to celebrate the focused Pokemon.
Like the Paras line or not – this episode makes a Pokemon with a terrible rep look even worse. An incredibly weak Paras, even moreso than you’d think, is such a pathetic sack of crap that even minor non-attacks knock it flat on its ass.
Put it this way – if you encountered this thing in the wild in the games and wanted to capture it for some reason, all you had were off-brand Pokeballs and you knew every attack of any Pokemon you owned was too powerful for it and the game included a ‘breathe gently on it’ option – if you used that option, it would probably die.
When Paras is finally fake winning battles, the thing gets an ego the size of Kanto and starts picking fights with other Pokemon. So either Paras is a drama queen little wimp or an ego-centric asshole. Why would I want to root for this fungus covered dick?
Not only that, but Cassandra purely wants Parasect to use as an ingredient in potions. She doesn’t even have anything interesting to say about Paras. She’s laser focused on Parasect.
This has nothing to do with what Paras wants or highlights anything special about Paras or even Parasect, and it’s all about what the spores from Parasect’s mushroom MIGHT be able to do. Not what it’s been proven to do. What it could possibly maybe do – which is highly unlikely anyway because, bloody hell, she basically wants this ‘miracle potion’ to do everything short of solving the debt crisis and curing death. And, as we can see in the series, that potion never happened so, in hindsight, this whole episode is a waste of time and a complete waste of an attempt at cleaning up the Paras line’s horrible rep.
Major problem C – The clusterfuck that is experience, levels and how they’re applied in regards to battles in the anime. Notably the biggest and most discussed problem of this episode is how experience is being portrayed here.
The plot goes that Cassandra is trying to get her Paras to evolve, but can’t since it doesn’t have much experience and its level is low. She tries to get it to win battles, but it’s so embarrassingly weak that she can’t win.
Ash decides to let Cassandra win by making her Pokemon do such lame attacks that, logically, no Pokemon should be able to be knocked out by. Ash is unsuccessful at this, but Team Rocket has better luck by knocking out their Pokemon behind Paras’ back and pretending it did it. It can be argued that the one battle it legit won was against Charmeleon, but let’s save that little nugget for later.
The point is, experience was fabricated and ‘levels’ were gained through fake battles, which ultimately let Paras evolve into Parasect. After The School of Hard Knocks, it seemed like they were dropping the idea of an experience system that was close to what the games had, especially since Ash’s Pokemon should be well into evolution by now if we estimate their levels.
However, now it seems like it’s back, at least in a sense. They’re not talking about levels, but they are clearly talking about experience as if it’s a quantifiable concept that can be measured and gained explicitly through battle.
That’s all well and dandy, but the idea of faking battles for the sake of evolution is just unreal. Experience, in a more subjective view, is much like how you’d gain experience in anything in real life. You learn, you build muscle, you get a little faster, you get a little stronger, you get better at developing strategies etc. Somehow, that translates to a Pokemon’s body or spirit or whatnot affirming that they’ve reached whatever point is deemed necessary for it to evolve, and it does so, if the Pokemon wishes (They use their internal B button if they don’t)
If it is as such, experience should not be able to be gained in such deceptive manners, unless, somehow, the concept of experience is all in the Pokemon’s head, which just creates more confusion. No timid Pokemon in existence would ever evolve, and egotistical Pokemon could evolve without barely a battle under their belt.
In a less realistic but, given the games, understandable viewpoint, experience is something quantitative that we can measure in numeric units. Which means this plan still shouldn’t work. Experience points, whatever they are, should only be able to be gained when legit battles are won. I’m not sure how the body or whatever is distributing these points would be able to tell the difference, but, logically, that’s the way it would go.
The only game canon thing I can think of that skirts around this rule is the item Exp. Share, which grants a Pokemon experience whenever another Pokemon on your team wins a battle. I have never been able to come up with a logical explanation behind how that device works and it’s not anime canon as far as I can see so it’s hard to work that into this discussion.
It just doesn’t seem right in any way that Paras is able to fabricate experience by faking battles – Which leads us into the next issue.
Major problem D – The ethical ramifications of faking experience.
I’m certain that Ash and the others don’t see much harm in throwing these battles because it’s not like Cassandra is trying to win a contest or do anything official – she just wants a Parasect to make medicine. However, ethically, this practice would be ludicrous.
If it were that easy to gain experience, surely becoming a Pokemon trainer would be a gigantic pain in the ass. If you wanted to be legit, you’d have to face trainer after trainer of cheaters who have massive teams of level 100s that they got by playing ‘Pokemon Battle Theater’ for a few days.
And just forget about getting into the Pokemon League. Afterall, I doubt they’d have any method of determining if a Pokemon got their experience through legitimate battles or fake ones. Imagine how easy it would be if you wanted to be a professional baseball player and you reached pro level in skill by playing against two year olds in strollers while you play teeball with a bat the size of a pizza peel.
Let’s not leave out Team Rocket, who would’ve easily taken over the world by now with an army of level 100 powerhouses that they obtained in a few weeks.
(Admittedly Less) Major Problem E – Why can’t Cassandra just find a wild Parasect?
They’re not exactly the rarest Pokemon ever. Or maybe find a Paras that is not a complete spineless wuss and train that to evolve. Paras definitely aren’t too rare, and I assume she lives in an area where they are indigenous because she has one.
For that matter, if Parasect’s spores are so well-known for their medicinal properties, surely it’s sold commercially. Given the commonality of the Paras line, I can’t imagine it’s that expensive either.
(Admittedly Less) Major Problem F – The unsettling connotations of this evolution.
The unsettling aspect of this situation comes in Paras’ evolution. It’s not being forced to evolve or anything, but there is a question of whether Paras might be afraid to evolve, which is why it seems like such a wimpy drama queen in battle.
Why might this be? Have you ever read the games’ Pokedex entries for Parasect? Most of them explain that, after evolution, the mushroom on its back grows so large that the bug ‘host’ is drained of energy, loses consciousness and its control over its thoughts and body while the mushroom controls the ‘host’ for the rest of its life.
Yup. The mushroom is basically a parasite (name makes more sense now) and once Paras evolves, it becomes a mushroom zombie. That is one of the most horrifying ramifications of evolution I’ve ever heard.
– Cassandra: “Good luck, Paras! All the Pokemon on earth are counting on you!” All the Pokemon on earth? You’re being about as dramatic as Paras is about to be.
Also, this thing is so skiddish that it ran away from Pikachu for saying ‘hello’. You really want to pile on the pressure by saying that all of the Pokemon on earth are counting on him?
– Paras is certainly a good Pokemon to have. Look at it roll over and faint after receiving an electric shock so weak that I probably get more amperage flowing through my body when I rub my stocking feet on the carpet. It’s understandable, given that Electric types are ½ as effective on Paras.
– I would applaud Ash for actually researching Paras and deciding to go down the route of a weak type matchup to make it easier to let Paras win…..but…..let’s not waste it. In about two minutes, it will not matter.
– If you ever had any doubt that Paras was faking – just look at his match with Squirtle. Not only are Water moves not very effective against Grass types, but it was a piddly Water Gun. Give the Electric type some credit – even static shocks hurt a little bit. In the case of Squirtle, his attack was so weak, there’s more pressure and water coming out of the water fountain in a middle school hallway. Either Paras is more fragile than an egg made out of a teenager’s feelings or he’s faking it.
– Ash: “I choose you, Charmeleon!” You….dumb….ass…mother…fucker.
This is why I chose not to praise him for looking up type disadvantages with Paras, ‘Hurr durr, if I can’t lose with a Pokemon who’s got type disadvantage, let’s go for my newly evolved soon-to-be dragon who has a quadruple type advantage! HURADURRDURR!’ Granted, Pidgeotto wouldn’t be any better (well, maybe, considering he at least listens to Ash) but why not give Bulbasaur a go before trying this stupidity? Or maybe letting Misty and Brock try? Outside of Vulpix and Zubat, all of their Pokemon have type disadvantages with Paras.
– Some people apparently believe that Charmeleon’s personality shift happens here due to Ash telling Charmeleon to go easy on Paras, making Charmeleon lose respect for Ash, but I call bunk.
First of all, he was misbehaving the instant he evolved. This is the first we see of Charmeleon straight out disobeying Ash, but blowing fire in his face isn’t something a well-behaved and trained Pokemon would do.
Second, this one incident is definitely not enough to warrant a year or so of misbehaving and assholery.
Third, the old lady later says that Ash simply doesn’t have the experience to handle Charmeleon, but that’s another thing I’m calling out. If we’re still bringing experience and levels into the equation, Ash has more than enough experience as a trainer to handle a Pokemon who is either level 16 or nudging level 36. Game-wise, even getting the Cascade badge (Up to level 30) should be enough to handle Charmeleon, and, if not, the Rainbow Badge (up to level 50) would definitely allow it. Just to make this scenario more realistic, let’s assume it’s the experience level of the trainer to get the badge and not the badge itself that allows for this.
Charmeleon is acting as if evolving gave him amnesia. He either doesn’t remember or doesn’t care about his past with Ash anymore and that pisses me off to no end. Evolution should not be an excuse to change Charmander’s personality this much.
If winning over the misbehaving Charizard was end-game, they should’ve had Charmander be a difficult brat from the start, which would’ve been believable given his past with Damien. Maybe have him have a bad attitude, but still obey Ash, then when he evolved he started disobeying? They could have had a perfect foundation for this plot, but it’s like they were making it up as they went. This whole extended plotline just seems like it was built on poor writing and planning. The fact that we’ll have to deal with this misbehaving crap until late Orange League is ridiculous.
– Paras is still in the match after getting a full-blast Flamethrower to the face. He was faking before.
– Ash: “I was so happy when Charmander evolved, but now I’m not so sure I was ready for it.”
I give him props for owning up to his shortcomings and inexperience, but I immediately take them away in hindsight because Ash will never learn from this. He will just continue to use Charmeleon and Charizard and expect that each time he does so he will behave and listen even when he does jack to train him.
– There are many reasons to call foul on Paras evolving, but there’s another reason I just realized. Charmander evolves into Charmeleon at level 16. Paras evolves into Parasect at level 24. No way do I believe Paras’ level at the start was even in the double digits, so I’m left to believe all these fake battles gave it ridiculous amounts of experience, surpassing nearly 40 episodes of legitimate experience with Charmander. That’s a load of crap.
– Meowth: “I can’t do that unless you lend me Arbok and Weezing.”
James: “What do you need those two for?”
Meowth: “Because losing battles is their specialty.”
Jessie: “He’s got a point.”
James: “They’re bigger losers than the guy who invented homework. How did we get stuck with such rejects?”
First of all, nice line about homework, 4Kids. You’re really connecting with the youth.
Second, damn, you two are being really mean today. Arbok and Weezing are two Pokemon that I would actually understand not obeying orders. They live in poverty, probably starve all the time considering the main three can barely keep themselves fed, (Come to think of it, outside of Island of the Giant Pokemon, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Arbok or Weezing eat.) and have to listen to their trainers constantly call them worthless.
– Paras is not only a drama queen wimp and soon to be egotistical jackhole, but it’s also an idiot. How can it really be falling for these fake battles when it’s literally just standing there covering its eyes?
Meowth’s not being subtle in the fact that he’s the one knocking Arbok and Weezing out. The only reason he’s getting away with it, even a little, is because Paras keeps covering its eyes. But even that shouldn’t work entirely because Meowth practically shouts what he’s doing as he does it.
– Meowth pretends to be knocked out by Paras. Why couldn’t they have commanded Arbok and Weezing to fake it too? They just hurt their Pokemon for no reason.
– Ash: “It’s Paras!”
Misty: “How’d it get up in that tree?”
Gee, I dunno, Misty. I’ll have to contact an etymologist about this, but I have certainly never heard of a bug climbing a tree.
– Ash: “Remember, Pikachu, go easy on it!”
Better yell that right as the battle begins with Paras five feet away so Paras will never hear you say that and catch onto what you’re doing.
– Paras is a douche for stabbing Pikachu’s tail when it had its back turned. Not cool.
– Ash: “Charmeleon! One more time!”
Take this in, ladies and gentlemen, because this is but the first of many, many, many times this complete braindead imbecile will just up and expect Charmeleon/izard to obey him when fuck all has changed between now and the last time he tried.
Can we get a flashback, by the way?
Ash: “I was so happy when Charmander evolved, but now I’m not so sure I was ready for it.”
Boy howdy, I sure am ready after, hm let’s clock it….five minutes and ten seconds of doing absolutely nothing.
This occasion is ten times as stupid as it is normally because Charmeleon was the one who made Paras run off in the first place, AND there’s still that glaring x4 weakness thing he’s not paying attention to.
What was so wrong with re-selecting Squirtle or letting Bulbasaur have a try or giving Misty and Brock a try? Logic in this episode does not exist.
– Ash: “Hey, what’s the matter? Charmander was always totally obedient.”
…..Do…you have amnesia? Is amnesia contagious? If telling Charmeleon to let Paras win before did have anything to do with it misbehaving at all, doing it again is just going to make it worse. Even if it didn’t, he still has amnesia for obvious reasons.
– Misty: “Charmeleon won’t obey Ash.”
You sure are a quick study, Misty.
– *Paras one-hit KO’s Charmeleon by poking it in the stomach*
Hmmmm *dials phone*….Yeah, hi, is this every manure company in the world?….Ah, yes, I’d like to order all the bullshit…..What’s that? This episode gained sentience and already ordered it all? Okay.
– Charmeleon immediately gets up and smacks Team Rocket away with its tail. Either it was faking, which is unlikely, or this episode is forgetting that being knocked out takes a lot out of you.
– Why are Ash and Brock so impressed by the Spore attack? How many times have they seen a Pokemon be instantly paralyzed or fall asleep due to one spray of a powder or spore attack? In fact, you almost never see them needing more than one spray. Either the move is avoided, blown away or it hits, and if it does the effect is immediate and strong. I have yet to see a ‘weak’ powder or spore attack. I’ve seen one instance of a ‘more powerful’ Sleep Powder in the Soul Badge episode, but that was in regards to its…force? And ability to blast through a Gust attack.
– Misty: “Looks like you need to evolve into a better trainer, Ash.”
Ash: “Next time, I’ll be fine.”
I have no qualms about not giving him those props for owning up to his shortcomings because he doesn’t even go the rest of the episode before basically saying ‘Yeah, I don’t need to train anything. He’ll obey me next time.’
Also, minor note, but Misty’s entire role this whole episode has been to either fight with Ash or insult him. Seriously, nearly every line directed at him has been super bitchy. I didn’t bring it up because, being honest, I feel he deserves it today, but wow.
– Ash: “Well, losing on purpose is the toughest thing we’ve ever done.” He says, again, five feet away from Parasect. Though, being a mushroom zombie, he probably doesn’t care.
– I should really keep a tally of instances where people who should be questioning a talking Meowth aren’t.
– Meowth: “I guess it’s only natural to make me your company mascot–”
Cassandra: “NEVER! I’D NEVER TEAR YOU AWAY FROM TEAM ROCKET!” Why does she seem so pissed at this comment? She is practically screaming this line.
– If Cassandra’s shop needs a company mascot, why would it not be the obvious choice of Parasect? And why is she so willing to adopt this Persian as the mascot? Paras just…’went through all that trouble’ to evolve for Cassandra and she’s going to be using its spores for her miracle potion. Persian have nothing to do with medicine yet she’s instantly into this Persian.
The Problem with Paras? More like The Problem with Everything in this Episode!
Pbbtbbtttthahahahaha….ha….that was funnier when I thought of it before writing this.
While March of the Exeggcutor Squad may be infuriating and filled to the brim with terrible, at least it has a few good or funny moments. This is the first episode I remember watching where I can barely think of even one slightly positive thing to say about it.
The faces that Jessie and James make, as well as their tones of voice, at the start of the scene where Meowth is trying to convince them to help him are a little humorous. It’s a teensy bit funny when Squirtle and Pikachu do their pathetic attacks.
Everything else is just awful.
Ash is being a major league hall of fame idiot. Misty’s being a bitch. Misty and Brock were basically talking backgrounds. Charmeleon officially starts his assholery here. Paras is boring. This Paras is terrible in regards to every facet of its personality. Parasect is creepy and tragic. Cassandra’s nice, I guess, but has a hair trigger temper. The grandma, despite rightfully blasting Ash a couple times, seems out of place and unnecessary in this episode. The plot and story are nonsensical garbage. The experience and levels and everything related to it are nonsensical here and continue to muddle the concept in the anime universe. Meowth’s crush is creepy. Team Rocket’s being assholes. Even the animation was notably much worse than it normally is.
Paras and Parasect may be far from impressive Pokemon, but I think they deserved more than an episode that makes them look like ultra weak chickens who are only useful for the mushroom that inevitably takes over their brains and turns them into zombies.
Next episode…..Jigglypuff’s debut. I don’t have much against the episode, that I recall, but this begins the start of an annoying unfunny running gag that, not lying, is STILL going on to this day. Yup, they brought him back for several episodes of Sun and Moon. Just…wow.