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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Pokemon Episode 48 Analysis – Holy Matrimony!

Pokemon Episode 48 TITLE

CotD(s): Jessebelle – A seemingly lady-like southern belle, Jessebelle has been an extreme nag to James his entire life. She is incredibly demanding and controlling to the point where he ran away from home because his parents tried to betroth him to her. Jessebelle bears a striking resemblance to Jessie, which has massively confusing implications.

Reappears?: To my shock and horror, yes. She reappears way down the line in Diamond and Pearl to face off with James yet again.

Pokemon: Vileplume

James’ Parents: Never given actual names, James’ parents are terribly disconnected when it comes to what their son really wants or needs. They believe marrying Jessebelle will make him happy and, like Jessebelle, go to extremes to force him into doing what they want.

Reappear?: Kinda. They appear as a flashback to James’ childhood in the same DP episode Jessebelle makes an actual appearance in.

Pokemon: Technically, they own Growlie, James’ Growlithe.

Growlie (I’m counting him): James’ beloved Growlithe. He is fiercely loyal to his master and will do anything to protect him and make him happy. Likewise, James is incredibly attached to Growlie, which just makes his decision in not bringing Growlie with him to be insanely confusing.

Reappears?: Yes! Growlie makes one more appearance in the aforementioned DP episode where he basically does the same thing he did in this episode.

Pokemon: James.

Plot: Ash notices a Missing poster as they’re traveling and realizes that it’s an old childhood photo of James. As they discuss it, a limo pulls up and a butler emerges asking what they know about the boy in the photo. They admit that they believe it’s James from Team Rocket and, in a fit of excitement, the butler whisks them away in the limo to share the details.

Team Rocket also looks at the poster and decide to follow them, though James is very reluctant to do so.

Ash and the others arrive at a massive mansion, and the butler explains that James’ parents have died that morning. He must find James quickly because he’s their only heir and, per their will, he is entitled to their estate. The catch is, he has to marry a girl named Jessebelle within 24 hours of their passing or the estate will go to charity.

The group mulls over whether they should find James and tell him about his parents. Just as they’re deciding to find him and tell him, Team Rocket literally fall from the sky in front of them. James acts as if he has amnesia and doesn’t remember anything about this family.

Jessie and Meowth, more concerned with money above all else, decide to force James into making an appearance so they can take the money and scram. They don ‘invisible costumes’ and gag James so they can puppeteer him into going along with their plan.

It, shockingly, seems to work, and the butler leads James to his parents’ coffins. Suddenly, his parents emerge from the coffins and explain that they faked their death to lure James out of hiding and force him to marry Jessebelle.

They lead him down to a room where everyone finally gets a look at Jessebelle. To everyone’s shock and horror, Jessebelle looks and sounds exactly like Jessie.

She leads them down to the basement where James’ inheritance supposedly is, but it’s revealed to be some weird torture dungeon. Jessebelle and James’ parents reveal that they knew Jessie and Meowth were there the whole time and they were using their lust for Jame’s inheritance to force him into the dungeon.

Jessebelle subdues James by using her Vileplume’s Stun Spore, which also takes down Ash, Misty, Brock, Jessie and Meowth. The butler kicks them out of the mansion while Jessebelle ‘tames’ James.

They hear a ruckus in the doghouse and Meowth translates that the dog wants to be let out. They all break the dog, James’ beloved Growlithe, Growlie, out of its doghouse and it rushes to its master’s aid. It manages to save James from Jessebelle and Vileplume and they all lock themselves in the doghouse.

James explains that being betrothed to Jessebelle is what drove him to run away in the first place. She was always incredibly demanding and wanted to change everything about him in order to conform to how the upper class does things. Her views were an extreme version of what he was already getting with his parents – suffocating rules and a complete lack of freedom. When he ran away and lived his own life, he was able to experience true freedom for the first time.

Jessebelle bursts through the wall and blasts Meowth and Jessie off. James and Growlie face off against Jessebelle and Vileplume. With an unnecessary bit of help from Ash and Pikachu, Jessebelle is beaten and runs off.

James tells Growlie that he has to stay at the estate and take care of his parents, but he can’t stick around because he has to live a life with freedom. He bids his old friend a fond farewell and reunites with his friends.

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– “Ash continues his journey with Misty, Brock and their EGGS-elent new companion.” First line of the episode.

First line.

Damn pun.

Damn EGG pun. Please don’t screw around with the egg puns on me. I have bad flashbacks to Egghead from the 1960’s Batman series….People thought Mr. Freeze in Batman and Robin was bad….

– I love how Ash, Misty and Brock give zero shits about being essentially kidnapped. Seriously, they’re drinking tea and everything. Don’t take rides from strangers, kids…..even if they forcibly throw you into the vehicle.

– I have a hard time getting a read on James’ parents in relation to Growlie. They keep him locked up just because Jessebelle doesn’t like him, but they give him a massive legit mansion as a doghouse. They also don’t get rid of him even though Jessebelle hates him and James has been gone for years.

– I get that it’s the joke, but how the hell did Ash and the others not notice the ginormous mansion mere feet next to the ‘doghouse’?

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– Time to rip into James’ parents horrible ‘plan.’

First off, the butler says his parents died this morning….This morning. They’re already in coffins when they died this morning. There’s nothing to indicate this is taking place any later than noon, by the way.

Second, do they always have these coffins out just in case they get a bite on their bait? Did their butler call ahead to inform them that they need to get into the coffins and prep the flower arrangement before they arrive?

Third, they’re already making estate disbursements? When they died this morning? Let the bodies cool for god’s sake.

Fourth, this plan was setup horribly. They faked their deaths so they could lure James out, either because of grief or because it would make him believe he had just inherited a ton of money. Makes sense so far. However, the way we got to this point was through a ‘missing’ poster that didn’t even have any information on it. All it had was James’ picture.

They were banking on someone seeing the picture, recognizing him enough to realize this kid was James, being there when someone recognizes the poster, ambush them, bring them back to the estate with James in tow for some reason or at least being able to find him quickly, explain the situation, bring James back, and convince him to marry Jessebelle by claiming he has 24 hours to do so or else the estate won’t go to him while simultaneously not getting an annulment or divorce the instant he realizes that they’re alive.

They could’ve just put an announcement out that claimed they had passed away, hoping the message would find James and that would trick him into the marriage.

Would that not be more effective than a single ‘missing’ poster on a walking trail in the middle of nowhere?

Fifth, the butler explains that they both died simultaneously shortly after James left because they couldn’t handle the heartbreak? Come on. James may be an idiot, but he seems to be really knowledgeable about his parents. He should never believe that for a second.

Sixth, how long has James been gone? From the flashback, he seems to have run away as a young child, and that would explain why his parents don’t use an updated photo of him, opting instead to use one of him as a young boy. Yet the butler acts like he ran away very recently and the impact of the event was too much for them.

Seventh, there was something else really wrong with this whole plan….What was it?….Oh oh yeah, it’s insanely horrible to fake your death for the sake of luring your son out and forcing him to marry someone he obviously hates. It’s horrible to fake your death period, but that’s a stupid reason above all else.

It’s also slightly disconcerting that James doesn’t seem to care all that much that his parents died. I know they are controlling and abrasive, but still.

As a final note to this, while this won’t be the last weird moment of the episode, it is incredibly odd that 4Kids kept this entire plotline intact. They say ‘passed away’ instead of ‘died’ but that’s not censoring death at all. They show the coffins full out, even the crosses, and they talk about funerals. It’s really weird.

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– James mentions Pokemon Tech, which is something else questionable about his past. Pokemon Tech is supposed to be really expensive, and I think he was there at an age where he’d already be away from his parents, so how did he pay for it?

– Pokemon parodying The Dog of Flanders….I never got the reference when I was younger, but now that I’ve seen the movie, this hits a little hard. Also, more death references, what the hell? Not to mention them being cool with referencing a really sad tragedy story, not that most kids in the west would get the reference.

– I love how everyone (Barring Misty and maybe Pikachu) buys the story, though. It’s one of the funnier moments of the series.

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– I also like how Ash and the others are so nice to James here. Jessie and Meowth are treating him like a human ATM, but Ash, Misty and Brock want him to be free to choose who he marries and give him the opportunity to say goodbye to his parents.

– Not even Team Rocket should be stupid enough to think those ‘invisible costumes’ should work. If you were always perplexed by the weird black outfits somehow being seen as ‘invisible costumes,’ fear not. You are not alone. This is just one of those things that doesn’t transfer over to American audiences at all. To reference Dogasu’s comparison,

“The outfits they’re wearing are the same outfits that kuroko (黒子) wear. Kuroko are stagehands in traditional Japanese theater – kabuki, Noh, etc. – and wear black from head to toe in order to avoid drawing attention to themselves. Like stagehands in the West, kuroko are meant to be ignored.”

Pokemon Episode 48 Screen4

Even with this explanation, they still shouldn’t believe this would work. Ignoring the obvious, Jessie’s bright red hair isn’t even covered. I get that numerous people are surprised that it seems to work, but even little kids should be able to catch on that the people are either incredibly stupid or faking it (it’s the latter).

Let’s be overtly generous and say they would work to trick someone – how do you get around the fact that James is clearly gagged right now?

Not to mention that both Jessie and Meowth are talking very loudly to James numerous times. Surely they have to realize that the invisible costumes don’t make it so people nearby only hear them when they’re pretending to be James. Dear god, everything about this ‘joke’ makes no sense. My brain is throbbing with stupid.

– I am really getting annoyed at this butler constantly speaking through a bullhorn for no reason.

– Why the hell do James’ parents know (and partially recite) the Team Rocket motto?

– People always bring up that Jessebelle looks ridiculously like Jessie, but can we also discuss how James’ mother looks quite a bit like Jessie too? It’s not nearly as obvious, but the design similarities are there.

– Team Rocket still believes that they can’t be seen even though the butler is carrying both James and Jessie – one under each arm.

– It’s very obvious, even before she puts the fan down from her face, that Jessebelle looks and sounds like Jessie.

– There’s never any reason given for why Jessebelle spends so much time at the mansion, even when James hasn’t been around in years. Jessebelle calls James’ mom ‘Mother’ Also, her parents are never seen nor do we know her lineage. Also, I already mentioned how James’ mom looks like Jessie, thus she also looks like Jessebelle.

Incest isn’t terribly uncommon among the massively rich folk and royalty is all I’m saying.

– I’ll be honest, I never got what we were supposed to take away from Jessebelle looking and sounding exactly like Jessie – and her having a very similar name on top of that. The Rocketshipper in me wants to believe it’s meant to be because James is attracted to Jessie, but he’s definitely not attracted to Jessebelle so this makes no sense.

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Maybe it’s meant to be something along the lines of you can have two people look the same, but their personalities can differ quite a lot, and James is attracted to Jessie’s personality, but I can’t even see how that works.

In a lot of ways, Jessebelle acts exactly like Jessie too. She is extremely loud, violent and selfish. While Jessebelle’s focus is entirely on controlling James, Jessie’s is moreso on stealing Pokemon and getting rich.

Think about it. The only reason James is even in this room right now is because Jessie lassoed him and literally puppeteered him into it all for the sake of mooching off of his inheritance, no matter what he has to say about it.

This episode, given the very ending, has a somewhat heavy hint of Rocketshipping, but if James hates Jessebelle because she’s a loud, bitchy, controlling shrew who doesn’t care what he wants, why are we meant to believe he’d want to be with Jessie when she’s a loud, bitchy, controlling shrew who doesn’t care what he wants and is a physical clone of Jessebelle?

– Another problem with this episode is that Ash, Misty and Brock have no reason to be here. They’re now just commentating on everything they’re watching. Outside of being a moral voice that Jessie and Meowth don’t listen to anyway, they could be completely removed from this episode and nothing would change. Just have Jessie and Meowth find the poster and be kidnapped by the butler.

– That’s another thing – how is this inheritance plan even a thing anymore? James’ parents are alive – he won’t get his inheritance until they die, no matter if he marries Jessebelle or not. Unless Jessie and Meowth are just planning to straight up rob them, this plan lost its footing the instant James’ parents revealed themselves.

– Okay, let me prepare myself….

*inhale*…..*exhale*

WHAT THE UNHOLY HELL IS THIS ROOM!?

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I was confused by it when I first watched it and I’m even more confused now. I can’t even bring myself to breakdown and analyze everything in this room. Just…what?!

They act like it’s just a strange gym, and it does have some normal gym equipment, but look at everything else! The spikes, the pendulum of death, the giant spiky mace!

And as if this weird dungeon weren’t suggestive enough, Jessebelle dons a whip and when we pan back to Ash, Misty and Brock, Brock and Misty are visibly uncomfortable and are blushing. What is even happening right now?!

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– While the ‘invisible costumes’ were massively stupid, I will give props to James’ parents, the butler and Jessebelle for instantly opting to play along with it because they knew they would force James into the dungeon.

– Ash: *Seeing James being chased by Jessebelle* “Shouldn’t we help him?”

Brock: “Eh, I don’t like to get involved in these family squabbles.” Now you’re actively being inactive. Wow.

– Dexter: “Using the largest flower petals in the world….” Uh, no? Venusaur’s flower petals are way bigger.

– Also, the image of Vileplume in the PokeDex looks absolutely terrible.

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– Jessebelle: “Hahahaha, sleepin’ like a baby.” Stun Spore paralyzes you – it doesn’t knock you out. His eyes are clearly open, too.

– I’m not exactly sure why they let Ash and the others watch this whole time. Unlike Team Rocket, their presence was unnecessary, and they were ‘hiding’ the whole time. Besides letting our main characters be a part of what’s going on, they should’ve thrown them out ages ago.

– Even though Ash doesn’t Dex it, he still questions what a Growlithe is when he’s seen one already.

– I love James and Growlie together. It’s nice to see something actually give legit love and affection towards him, and it’s equally nice to see something make James happy and content. It pains me quite a bit that they don’t have it be a mainstay Pokemon of his, but we’ll get to that later.

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– I don’t understand. If Growlie ran away with James back then, when and why did they get split up, and why is Growlie still with James’ parents?

– James’ parents are a lot worse the more I think about them. James ran away when he was…eight or so? He’s been missing for nearly ten years, and has been on his own since he was a young child. For all they knew, James was murdered on the street or kidnapped. Yet they don’t seem like ever cared about him the entire time he was gone, and their only intention upon finding him is forcing him into marriage before he’s even turned 18. What selfish, uncaring scumbags.

You’d think, even if they always knew he was alive and well, that ten years of contemplation would make them think ‘Hm, maybe we’re being too strict with James.’ Nope, they just get even worse in their controlling behavior.

– Jessebelle breaks down one of the walls of the doghouse….and that somehow…blasts Meowth and Jessie out of the roof…..???

– Jessebelle: “Vileplume! Stun them to sleep, just like before!” Stun Spore does not induce sleep! For someone who’s had that Vileplume since it was an Oddish ten-some-odd years ago, you suck at knowing what it does. Hint – it can do more than Stun Spore.

– Why does Ash only now feel the need to intervene? Growlie is more than enough of an opponent for a Vileplume, and it ruins Growlie’s heroic moment of defeating Vileplume and Jessebelle. Just had to give Pikachu his spotlight, didn’t you?

– And now the biggest mar on this episode.

Why the hell does Growlie not go with James at the end? They explain it away by having James claim he has to stay there to ‘take care’ of his parents, but that is both cheap and a terrible idea.

Why do his parents ‘need’ him? Certainly they have a bunch of security there, and it’s not like companionship is an issue. They have each other. They’re never even seen interacting with Growlie once. They don’t seem to give much of a crap about him, at least not enough to warrant this.

They don’t really deserve him, either. It’s nice to see that James still cares about his ‘lousy’ parents, no matter what they try to do to him (or what his lack of a response to their passing would indicate) but they’re terrible people.

While I would be hard-pressed to say they likely abuse Growlie, it can be assumed that he’s regularly locked up because of Jessebelle. Speaking of her, Jessebelle will probably do everything in her power to get rid of it. Growlie is one of the only things standing in her way of forcing James into marriage.

He probably wouldn’t have an easy time on the road considering Team Rocket regularly starves and never has a real place to live, but I think he’d sacrifice all that to be with his best friend.

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I really like James’ expression here.

Not that I’d particularly like to see Growlie as a bad guy. If anything, Growlie is a symbol of James’ good side. Making him a member of Team Rocket, despite the significant and interesting power shift, would tarnish Growlie’s image.

Still, I at least would’ve liked a better reason as to why he couldn’t go with James. The one they came up with just seems to lazy and nonsensical.

I feel like the writers had this nice backstory laid out for James, knew they wanted him to have a great Pokemon at home to connect with, but couldn’t figure out how to fit that Pokemon into the regular storyline so they agreed to have it be a one-off character. He is reprised later, but, truth be told, while I haven’t seen it, that Diamond and Pearl episode sounds like a massive rehash of this episode.

Hearing Growlie howl as James walks away is heartbreaking. I wish they would’ve done more with this story.

– Why do Jessie and Meowth assume James suddenly changed his mind and married Jessebelle willingly and decided to stay at the estate? He was talking about how miserable Jessebelle and his parents made him as a kid, then they blast off and the next scene they’re in they’re lamenting over James leaving Team Rocket.

– As much as I like the Rocketshipping moment at the end, in hindsight, it seems really disjointed. Jessie goes from being dead set on forcing James into marrying Jessebelle for the sake of leeching off his inheritance to being sad he’s ‘leaving’ for no reason to happy that he’s staying.

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Every moment that they wasted on Ash and Co.’s discount pointless recaps and reactions should’ve been spent on making these Team Rocket moments a little better. Have Jessie be at least reluctant to marry James off once they see Jessebelle or have her battle Jessebelle or something. Like I mentioned earlier, Jessie is being as much of a shrill harpy as Jessebelle is this entire episode yet they make the ending sweet Rocketshipping.

—————————

I still really like this episode, and my main fault is really just with the Growlie issue. Everything else is basically a testament to James’ poor upbringing or just bad writing. Jessebelle is a good concept, but they have to make her more different from Jessie in order to have her truly work as a character.

The invisible costume shtick is kinda funny, but you have to be willing to accept that Jessie and Meowth are about ten times stupider than they normally are in order for it to work.

The episode still has a lot of fun moments and jokes, and the animation is higher quality than it normally is. Plus, it’s always nice to get some backstory and insight into our main cast.

One of the reasons the Growlie thing hurts so bad, aside from what I’ve mentioned, is Growlithe is one of my favorite Pokemon. It’s an adorable fiery powerhouse. The fact that we missed out on having one on the main team (and potentially an Arcanine later!) is disappointing to say the least. He could’ve rounded out the animal sidekicks! (Dog→Cat→Mouse) Plus, Growlie got very little screentime as a whole. He appears two-thirds of the way into the episode and is dumped at the end.

Next episode, our introDUCKtion (I’m so sorry) to Farfetch’d – the Pokemon who’s never not a douche.

Previous Episode…

Pokemon Episode 37 Analysis – Ditto’s Mysterious Mansion

Pokemon Ep 37 title

CotD(s): Duplica – A Ditto trainer, Duplica loves to put on shows for people. She wants to make a name for herself as a great impersonator and Ditto Master. Duplica is very intelligent in regards to Pokemon since Ditto can transform into any Pokemon.

Reappears?: Yes. She appears later on in Johto.

Pokemon: She has one Ditto now, but later she’ll get another one.

Plot: In an effort to get out of a sudden storm, Ash, Misty and Brock wander into a nearby mansion. They see Pikachu playing with another Pikachu and are surprised to find the other Pikachu has a weird face. Ash decides to capture it, but is blocked in his capture attempt by a guy who looks suspiciously like Ash.

He reveals himself to be a she – Duplica of the Imite House. Likewise, the weird Pikachu turns out to not be a Pikachu at all. It’s actually a transformed Ditto.

The group initially marvels at the unique transforming capabilities of Ditto, but quickly get less impressed when they realize that it can’t transform its face and that transforming is all it can do. Ash is especially unimpressed since he believes being unable to teach a Pokemon new moves is boring. In order to prove Ash wrong, Duplica challenges him to a match.

Ash chooses Bulbasaur and Duplica chooses Ditto, who transforms into Bulbasaur. Bulbasaur uses Razor Leaf, but the leaves are all smacked away by a Vine Whip from Dittosaur. Everyone’s baffled that Ditto can also mimic the attacks of whatever it transforms into. Dittosaur wraps up Bulbasaur in Vine Whip and Ash surrenders.

Duplica shows off her impersonations in the costume room where she mimics Nurse Joy, Officer Jenny and Misty. However, Ash is still sulking after his loss because he believes the real versions shouldn’t lose to copycats.

Misty says Ditto technically was a real Bulbasaur, and Brock adds that Duplica has to be very knowledgeable to use her Ditto so well. Since she’s only used a Ditto but it can copy any Pokemon and its attacks, Duplica must know every Pokemon and all of their attacks.

Duplica states that she wants to be the greatest Ditto Master and a star of the stage, but her Ditto can’t break through its problem of leaving its face the same way. Her audiences get annoyed by her Ditto’s lack of face transformation and leave her shows, making Duplica pessimistic about her chances of stardom.

Suddenly, Team Rocket breaks in and snatches Ditto. They manage to get away and try to get it to Transform into a Dratini for Giovanni, but it keeps messing up the transformation. After some threats and intimidation, Ditto is finally able to perfect a facial transformation.

Ash, Misty, Brock and Duplica figure out Team Rocket’s location with Pidgeotto and Zubat, so they head out. When they arrive, they mimic Team Rocket’s motto and demand to have Ditto back. They realize that its taken the form of Meowth perfectly and they cant tell the difference.

Duplica tearfully thanks Team Rocket for helping Ditto fix its Transformation problem. At Duplica’s gratitude, Team Rocket decides to give Ditto back and leave.

However, Duplica instantly realizes that this is a trick – they gave her the real Meowth and took Ditto. She throws Meowth to the balloon and Ditto bites Jessie, jumping back down into Duplica’s arms.

Jessie unveils a cannon under the balloon and prepares to fire. Duplica tells Ditto to Transform into the cannon, and Ash uses Pikachu as a makeshift cannonball. Jessie and Ditto shoot at the same time. A net is launched from Team Rocket’s cannon while Pikachu jets off from the Ditto-cannon. Pikachu Thundershock’s the net, which shocks the balloon and Meowth, causing his claws to puncture the balloon and send them blasting off.

Duplica fixes up the Imite House and prepares for many shows with her newly perfected Ditto, and Ash, Misty and Brock head off to their next adventure.

————————–

– Narrator: “As our heroes continue their journey, the future looks sunny and bright. *storm clouds come in* Uh ooooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhh!” He says that with such snark, I almost want to believe the narrator is omnipotent and made the storm to mess with them.

– Things Ash and co. don’t seem to ever carry with them.

  • Flashlights.
  • Umbrellas.
  • Coats.
  • Basic survival gear despite being children on a global backpacking journey.

– Getting this out of the way right now – there’s nothing mysterious about this mansion. It’s not even Ditto’s. In fact, it’s questionable whether this place even belongs to Duplica.

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How is the sign falling down but the ribbons and flag look like new?

– Ash: “Hello! Sorry for barging in!” You better apologize. You didn’t even knock or open the door like a normal person. You literally barged in.

– Ash: “Hey, since nobody’s here, we might as well stay here until the rain stops.” Ash seems to work on video game protagonist logic sometimes. You watch. Eventually we’ll hear him say stuff like ‘I wonder if there are potions in this vase. I should break it and find out. Afterall, no one’s around.’ and ‘No one’s home. Wonder if they’ll care if I pick this locked chest in their basement and take everything in it?’

– Wow, Misty. You see a Pikachu with a slightly goofy face and your first instinct is to drop it and then yell out at the top of your lungs “WHAT IS THIS?! WHAT’S WRONG WITH IT!?”? Way to be an ass, Misty. Ditto’s face is cute, too, so you’re an ultra ass.

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– I love how Ash is all gung-ho about catching this ‘weird Pikachu’ Does he intend on it replacing his Pikachu or does he just want it for a trophy? Either way, it’s messed up.

– Also, one of the few times he’s gung-ho about catching a Pokemon and it’s one he already has. *huff*

– Okay, Ash, good. You’ve learned that you need to battle with Pokemon to weaken them before using a Pokeball on them. You’re learning….but….first off, you used Pikachu on it, which, considering you think it’s a Pikachu…..duh.

Second, Pikachu have been known to absorb electricity (though this seems to turn off and on), so your attack would barely do anything even if the Electric vs. Electric wasn’t already weak. (I will give him some leeway because, technically, he has no Pokemon strong against Electric types. His best bet would be Bulbasaur, and he just doesn’t take as much damage from electricity – his attacks aren’t 2x effective against them.)

And finally, Dittochu used some form of Electric attack to counterbalance the Thundershock, so the attack wasn’t even damaging him anyway.

All in all, I give this capture attempt a C+. Needs improvement.

– Duplica had Ash’s exact outfit, down to his supposedly unique Pokemon League hat, on hand to trick the group despite never meeting them before just now, but she didn’t have a wig to mimic Ash’s hair?

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– Misty: “Ash, that guy is dressed just like you.” See? They didn’t say anything like ‘There are two Ashes!’ or ‘That guy looks just like Ash!’ they said that guy is dressed like Ash. B- Try harder.

Brock: “Except it’s a girl.”

Misty: “How can you tell?”

Brock: “Men’s intuition.” I feel weird for analyzing this, but is he saying….he’s turned on and thus this has to be a girl? Because Duplica’s around Misty’s age…in which case, ew.

Or is he just saying that men have the innate ability to tell who’s a girl and who’s a guy from a distance? Do penises double as divining rods? I don’t get it.

– Is Megan Hollingstead actually doing an Ash impression, or is Veronica Taylor dubbing her over here? Because she’s actually very good at it if she is doing an impersonation.

– Why do they have no problem saying the term ‘Imite’ but they changed her named to Duplica? I usually don’t complain about name changes much, but Imite is such a cool name. So is Duplica, but I much prefer Imite.

– Misty: “You were right, Brock. She is a girl.”

Brock: “But she may be a little young for me.” Brock, stop, please.

– I like that Duplica also mimics Ash’s mannerisms in battle.

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– Just because Ditto is shown to be able to mimic attacks too….that’s what impresses Ash enough to say it’s not boring? But…the reason he said they were boring was because you don’t get to have the fun of teaching it new attacks. She’s still not doing that – She’s just mimicking the moveset of the Pokemon in question.

– That Razor Leaf being smacked away by a Vine Whip scene gives me deja vu for the Venusaur vs. Cloneasaur battle in the first movie.

– Ash: “But…how could the real thing lose?” Because you surrendered just because Bulbasaur was caught up in vines, moron. Bulbasaur could still use Razor Leaf (which would actually hit this time because its vines are being used to wrap up Bulbasaur) and its own Vine Whip, but you just gave up instead.

– Oh but she has a Misty wig.

– Brock: “That Ditto’s moves are unbeatable.”

Misty: “Better than the real Pokemon.”

Pbbbtttttttttttttt nooooooooooooo. Okay. Ditto is a not a crappy Pokemon. It can be very useful and fun….but also kinda bad. Ditto has horrible base stats out the door, which isn’t a bad thing in itself because it transforms and copies the stats of whatever it’s transforming into, but a Pokemon can easily get the first attack before Ditto can transform and just knock it out, which is easy anyway because its speed is terrible (coincidentally or on purpose, all of its base stats are the same.)

Ditto also cannot copy the HP of its opponent, meaning if you have crappy HP on your Ditto, which is likely no matter the level, it doesn’t matter if you’ve copied a powerhouse or a weak Pokemon, because it can still be knocked out with not too much issue.

Plus, you rarely have the type advantage with Ditto since it can’t do Transform twice in one battle. If you start with a Goldeen, it Transforms, and then you switch to a Jolteon, you’re golden. If the Ditto is not wild, you can switch it out and back in to initiate Transform again, but there is still no type advantage and you leave yourself vulnerable for two turns.

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Dittosaur: “What the hell just happened?”

It’s been my experience that most people just tend to use Ditto for breeding purposes since it’s a Poke-whore that can make babies with nearly anything breedable. Hardly anyone uses Ditto for competitive purposes because there are so many workarounds to beat it.

The thing of it is, the anime’s Ditto bypasses all of these problems through suspension of disbelief. Ditto seems to get first move no matter what, meaning it can Transform right away and not leave it susceptible to attack. Ditto can still use Transform even if the opponent has switched Pokemon (I’m getting this from the fact that it Transforms from a Machoke form into a Voltorb when a new Pokemon gets on stage in the flashback) Anime!Ditto can also turn into anything as well.

Game!Ditto is a good Pokemon with several flaws, but these flaws are understandable for the sake of balance. Plus, having an OP copycat Pokemon just seems lazy and annoying. Anime!Ditto, as long as you have the patience to study Pokemon attacks, seems OP no matter how you look at it.

– Brock: “Duplica must know all of Bulbasaur’s potential attacks. She can order Ditto to use the strongest attack possible, according to whatever form it takes.”

Misty: “That’s right. I guess Duplica must know every attack of every Pokemon there is.”

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There’s a bunch of things wrong with that. First of all, Ditto copies the moveset of the Pokemon it’s copying too. Bulbasaur’s strongest move, at the moment, is Razor Leaf.

Second, if she wanted to use Bulbasaur’s strongest move, she’d tell it to use Solar Beam. She doesn’t know Ash’s Bulbasaur doesn’t know it and since she has no game-esque HUD, she’d have to guess. But since that would make her look a little dumb, they didn’t.

Third, I can buy that she knows Bulbasaur’s moves, but the moves of every Pokemon in existence? Even taking into consideration TM’s and HM’s, should they exist here? No. I doubt even Gary can do that. Hell, I doubt even Professor Oak can do that. Why would she study that much anyway when she wants to be a great impersonator/comedian and not a Trainer? I guess maybe to better impress audiences?

– Duplica should really stick to human character impersonations because her Pokemon imitations kinda suck.

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Nothing more entertaining than someone imitating a Pokemon that is known for not moving.

– Duplica: “This place is so flat and boring, but people pass by here all the time. I figured when people stop by to rest, I could entertain them.” You mean people break into your house all the time? Buy a lock, woman.

– Duplica has Ash and Charmeleon/izard syndrome. She knows Ditto has a problem but instead of trying to fix it, she just keeps expecting it to stop this ‘habit’. She even says flatout that Ditto has yet to fix his problem.

– Audience member: “It can’t transform at all!” Uh…obviously it can transform a little or else it would still be a pink blob.

– I really love how blasé Ash has gotten about Team Rocket’s appearances. I’d gladly take one of his goofy expressions and an exasperated brush off over him saying ‘It’s Team Rocket again!” for the billionth time.

– Duplica: “Ditto’s gone!”

Ash: “Team Rocket….What are they up to this time?” Don’t quote me on this, but I think, I THINK…They might be trying to capture Ditto. Just maybe. I’ll have to post this on r/FanTheories and see what other people think.

– James: “Transform into Dratini, the Pokemon we’ve never been able to capture.” When did you try to catch a Dratini, James? My poor little American brain doesn’t understand when this may have happened.

Pokemon Ep 37 screen8

Joking aside, why are they asking it to Transform into Dratini when they know of and have ‘seen’ a Dragonair, which is more impressive?

– Why not just give Giovanni the Ditto? It’s a rare-ish Pokemon with a unique and fairly powerful ability. Having it Transform into Dratini won’t work for long. Eventually, it would just change back and then Giovanni would get pissed at them for tricking him.

– Actually, it wouldn’t Transform into a Dratini at all considering they don’t have the real thing there.

– Does Jessie not understand how Ditto works? You can’t show it a picture of someone, ask it to predict how the depicted person will look like older and then expect it to Transform into anything but the exact same picture. Ditto’s a copying Pokemon not age progression software.

– I really don’t understand how the Transform ability works when it comes to transforming into things. When it Transforms for Jessie, Ditto actually agrees to show her a picture of the boy as an adult, but since we don’t see the source picture, we don’t know if he succeeded.

Meowth calls him a ‘little boy’ and Jessie describes him as her first love, which commonly occurs in childhood (loosely using the term ‘love’ since that can stretch to ‘crush’) He doesn’t describe Ash and Misty as little boys or little girls (Jessie and James do mockingly on occasion) so I’m to assume he has to be younger than Ash and co.

However, the depicted boy looks to be about Brock’s age at least. Did Ditto actually succeed in age progressing this kid? If so, screw Pokemon training. Ditto could be invaluable in searching for missing children.

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– It’s also a major shame that we never learn anything about this kid besides this one photo, and we don’t even see his face due to it being Ditto-fied. It’s obvious he’s still very important to Jessie, considering she still carries a framed photo of him around, but we don’t even get his name. Was he a fellow orphan? Did they go to Pokemon Tech together? I’d assume not because James would know of him. Did he like her too? What circumstances separated them?

Why the hell would you make up such an interesting plot thread and then do absolutely nothing to explore it later?

– The scene with it transforming into the book would be more humorous if it copied the book exactly, but the Dratini’s face was Ditto-fied. Showing a blank book with a Ditto face makes the joke fall flat.

– Brock: “We’ve already sent Pidgeotto and Zubat out for surveillance.” Pidgeotto’s allowed to be useful! Praise the pigeon gods!

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Pikachu: “Whoa whoa whoa! Who let this peasant share a frame with me, Messiahchu!? Just for that, I’m taking your balloon popping scene later in the episode. BEGONE!”

– Props for Zubat being able to do something once every 15 episodes too.

– Ash: “It’s not the Pokemon but the Trainer who decides what attacks to use in battle, right? So that means, if you raise a Ditto, its progress and power are connected directly to your own.”

Brock: “Yeah, I think you’re definitely right about that, Ash.”

Misty: “Sounds like you’ve been studying, Ash.” Studying what? I’ll give him credit for actually using that sloshy pile of goo in his head for a change and it is nice to see Ash thinking, but all he’s saying is something that is incredibly obvious and really not unique to Ditto Trainers.

All Pokemon grow and increase in true power based on how their Trainers grow and change. Having a powerful Pokemon does not, by default, make you win. Just as a crappy Pokemon can become great in the right hands, a good Pokemon can be useless if in unskilled hands.

For instance, Bulbasaur is a very intelligent and fairly powerful Pokemon. But it just lost a match against itself in one move because its Trainer was a doofus.

– Why is it that Ash can seemingly understand what Pikachu’s ‘saying’ but not Pidgeotto? Result of not spending enough time with it?

– Well, of course they found Team Rocket’s hideout when they’re in a house with a huge Meowth head on the roof.

– It’s always bugged me a bit that Ditto needed to be threatened and intimidated to finally Transform correctly.

But, hey, at least Team Rocket was useful for a change.

– Again, I absolutely love Ash and co. doing Team Rocket’s motto, and the fact that they’re in Team Rocket costumes this time makes it all the better….but Duplica ruins it. Not only are there way too many people doing the motto, but Duplica says the ‘That’s right!’ line way too early.

Pokemon Ep 37 screen11
We need an AU where Ash and Co are Team Rocket and Jessie and James are aspiring Pokemon trainers.

– Where did Duplica get four properly sized Team Rocket uniforms anyway? Let’s say, at best, she knows of Team Rocket as an organization. She’d have the black uniforms, not the white ones. The black ones are the standard issue designs – Jessie and James altered them because they thought they looked better that way.

– Can I get a consensus? Would the mock-motto be funnier if they were also wearing James and Jessie wigs? Or would that be teetering into creepy?

– Why is Ditto going along with Team Rocket’s plan? I might say it’s to show that it can Transform faces now to Duplica, but it can do that without seemingly siding with Team Rocket.

– I can buy that Ditto is mimicking Meowth’s voice, but I don’t think I’d suspend my disbelief enough to say he’s learned human language, too.

– I’ll give major credit to Team Rocket for coming up with a great on-the-fly ruse….but…did they really think they could get away in a hot air balloon quickly enough without Duplica noticing that Meowth wasn’t her Ditto?

– Likewise, it took until Ditto was being carried away in the balloon and Duplica noticing that Meowth wasn’t Ditto for Ditto to finally go ‘Oh wait, you’re kidnapping me. Fuck off’ and bite Team Rocket before going back to Duplica? Your motivations confuse me, little Ditto.

Pokemon Ep 37 screen12
Take that, three-minute Stockholm Syndrome!

– Again, Ditto’s object transformation doesn’t make sense. It transformed into a cannon, yes, and Team Rocket has a cannon, yes, but the cannon they’re using is attached to the balloon. It doesn’t sit on the ground with big wheels.

– Ash, you just shot your Pokemon out of a damn cannon. What is wrong with you?

– Minor thing, but Duplica is nowhere near hitting any nails when she’s hammering on the sign. It bugged me is all.

——————————-

All in all, I like this episode, but the only thing mysterious here is what the hell is up with Ditto’s ability to Transform into objects?

Duplica’s okay, but I never thought she was interesting enough to warrant her getting a revisit. The writers seem to suck at choosing good characters for that.

Ditto is an interesting Pokemon to highlight, and I believe they hit all the high notes, but added a few too many because anime!Ditto seems slightly OP.

Team Rocket was useful for a change, we got some extremely minor backstory on Jessie that becomes irritating when you realize it’s another interesting factoid they’ll never speak of again, and their plan this time around nearly succeeded.

They really have to work on running very far away when they succeed….and hiding in places that doesn’t make it glaringly apparently that they’re hiding in there. Even their plan B was fairly good barring the slow as hell balloon making the getaway impossible. If they can get Giovanni to invest in flying stadiums and giant robots, they can surely get him to pay for a car or a plane or something.

Even if it’s never in my game roster, I still think Ditto’s an adorable Pokemon and Rachel Lillis does a great job voicing it.

Next episode, Porygon and the Seizures that Shook the Anime World. Alternative title – Porygon Was Wrongfully Martyred for Messiahchu.  #JusticeforPorygon

Previous Episode….

Pokemon Episode 36 Analysis – The Bridge Bike Gang

Pokemon Episode 36 Title

CotD(s): The Bridge Bike Gang – A group of thugs on bicycles that frequent the new bridge to Sunny Town. The most notable members of the Bridge Bike Gang are the leader, Chopper, a man with spikey red and yellow hair that rides a Zapdos themed bike, and a girl with green hair, Tyra. Jessie and James used to be very notable members of their gang, and the entire gang idolizes them.

Reappear?: No. 😦

Pokemon: Chopper has a Golem while Tyra has a Cloyster.

Plot: After spending eons in the woods looking for the Safari Zone, the group gives up on finding it, miraculously finds 30 Tauros off-screen, and head to the nearest city (that’s my take on it in the dub, anyway). They spot a huge ten mile bridge that has almost fully completed construction. If they can cross the bridge, they’ll have a straight path to their next destination. Only bikes can cross the bridge at the moment, and since they have no financial means of getting a bike, the group is unable to cross.

Later, at the Pokemon Center, Joy recruits the group for an important mission. The Pokemon in the Sunny Town Pokemon Center, just across the bridge, are very sick and are in dire need of a delivery of medicine. She’d usually do it, but she’s too busy at the Center to make the journey, so she asks Ash, Misty and Brock if they’ll do her this favor. With the promise of lending them the Pokemon Center’s bikes, they agree to do it, killing two birds with one stone.

They head down the bike path, making great time, until they’re cornered by a bicycle gang and forced into a Pokemon battle.

The leader, Chopper, sends out his Golem while Ash sends out his Bulbasaur. He tries Vine Whip first, but it doesn’t make a dent. Golem uses Tackle and instantly KO’s Bulbasaur.

Ash sends out Charmander next. He starts with an Ember, but it’s not very effective. Golem tries to Tackle, but he misses. Charmander uses Flamethrower, which seems to do a little more, and then follows up with Fire Spin, which sets Golem on fire and makes him red hot. Golem tries to Tackle again, but Charmander dodges and Golem rolls out of control towards the other gang members, setting them on fire.

With Chopper defeated, the lone girl of the group, Tyra, steps up next. She sends out Cloyster while Misty tries to send out Starmie, only to get Psyduck instead. The gang all laugh at the goofy duck, especially when it hurts itself trying to Tail Whip and Scratch Cloyster’s spiky shell.

Misty realizes that Psyduck can’t use its Psychic powers without a severe headache so she tries to get them to trigger it by attacking its head, but they don’t fall for it. She’s about to beat the headache into Psyduck herself when Team Rocket arrives, saying their motto on unicycles.

Jessie and James reveal that they were actually extremely respected and beloved members of the bike gang once upon a time, and they recruit the help of the gang to get revenge on Ash and co. for continuously ruining their plans. Chopper, Tyra and the others are about to gladly help out their old pals, but a slue of cops rush to the scene, scaring them all away.

Ash and the others continue down the path when a storm suddenly surges. The bike gang and Team Rocket watch from a building on the other side of the bridge, and Chopper and Tyra convince them to ride through the storm too to show the other gang members how to really ride.

Team Rocket reluctantly agrees and both sides are faced with a huge challenge – the draw bridge is opening. Ash and the others believe they can’t wait for it to come back down because they need to get to the sick Pokemon as soon as possible. Team Rocket is pressured into making the jump for the gang.

As they reach the gap, neither side seems like it will make it, but Ash and the others bounce off of Team Rocket’s heads, allowing them to make it to the other side. Seeing their dedication to pull off such a stunt for a sick Pokemon, the gang decides to escort Ash, Misty and Brock across the rest of the bridge.

They’re able to deliver the medicine in time, saving a sick Shellder in the process. The gang celebrates Ash, Misty and Brock as heroes. As Team Rocket sadly unicycles their way back onto land, Ash and the others continue on their Pokemon journey.

—————————-

– Narrator: “With fond memories of the Safari Zone fresh in their minds….” Actually, if we really never made it to the Safari Zone in the dub, they have fond memories of a land they never visited. Unless you mean the area where the Kangaskhan were in. In which case, bite me. There were no fond memories in that episode.

– Norman: “Even if it were finished, this bridge is only for cars anyway.”

-Literally two lines later-

“Of course, you could always cross if you had bicycles.”

Why wait to divulge that information to these kids? Why not just say “This bridge is only open for cars and people on bicycles.”?

– Norman: “The road isn’t finished but the bicycle path is.” That’s so dumb. Why would you finish the bike path first when the vehicle road would obviously be the most important thing? And if the road isn’t finished but the bike path is, that makes even less sense for you to wait to tell them that they can cross with bikes.

Pokemon Episode 36 Screen1
Hi, My name’s Norman. Can I interest you in some double-talk and pointless run-arounds?

– Misty: “Well…If a certain someone here hadn’t completely destroyed my bike, we could just be zipping right across this bridge right now, couldn’t we?”

No. One of you could. Last I checked, your bike wasn’t a three-person tandem bicycle.

– Even though I know bikes in general are expensive and Ash and the others have never been known to have money, I like to think that their complete resignation on getting one, to the point where they won’t even enter the store, is a throwback to the games where bikes are ridonkuously expensive.

– Call me crazy, but certainly there are faster ways of getting that medicine to those Pokemon in Sunny Town than three kids on bicycles. A boat? A flying Pokemon? Hey, a car would be really helpful. Boy howdy, if only that ROAD was given priority over that bike path.

– On paper, Misty and Ash’s plan makes sense, but there’s a fatal flaw in it. They plan on using the bikes the Pokemon Center is loaning them to cross the bridge and get to Sunny Town….but that’s the problem. They’re borrowing them. They have to return them. And when they ride back to return the bikes, they’ll be back to square one. I guess they could just leave them at the other Pokemon Center and they can send them back somehow, but how would they do that without a car?

Pokemon Episode 36 Screen2

– I adore that they’re using the game’s bike music, though.

– Ash: *biking* “See, we got to cross the bike path afterall!”

Misty: “Right, Ash! We sure are lucky!” Those sure are things we’ve already established both in dialogue and something being shown to us on screen right now!

See? I got to type out that complaint afterall! I sure am lucky!

– Okay, so let’s leave the tangled web of Jessie and James’ backstory alone for the moment, especially since the bike gang is my favorite backstory for them. However….how are they treating this bridge like it’s their old home when it’s only recently even gotten a little completed?

I guess it’s possible that they still hung out on the incomplete bridge, but…what? Did they just bike to the cutoff then turn around? Or did they hang out in one area and….do nothing because no one would be trying to pass on bicycles since the path wasn’t done? Actually, they probably wouldn’t be let on at all if it wasn’t done. I don’t get it.

– I like how they make sure to show them throwing away their cans and bottles into the garbage to prove they’re not littering out there.

Pokemon Episode 36 Screen3
Give a hoot. Don’t throw your trash on the ground like an asshole….oot.

– I love how Misty nearly breaks out laughing when she hears they’re a bicycle gang. She has a point, though. At that age, they should be a full-on motorcycle gang.

– You’d think a Zapdos bike would be awesome, but I just find it really dorky for some reason.

– Also, as an adult, this whole ‘circle them with bikes and act like badasses’ thing is hilarious. Don’t piss them off, Ash, or you might make them ring their little bells.

– The ‘proper introduction’ scene is priceless. The timing, the voice work, it’s all great.

– Pbbbbtttttttttttt They’re even wearing knee pads. Hahahahah!

– Ash’s face a millisecond before Brock asks Tyra out.

Pokemon Episode 36 Screen4

– Tyra: “Give me a break, loser. I only care about my bike and my gang.” Soooo…do your Pokemon count as a part of your gang or do you not care about them?

– Ash: “Alright, let’s get started. Then we’ll see who’s the master!” Master? Wha? Who said anything about a master of anything?

– Jesus, the choking sounds Bulbasaur makes after getting hit by that Tackle. God.

– *Bulbasaur get’s KO’d by Golem* Well, if a Grass type couldn’t hack it, time to see what Squirtle can d–

Ash: “Charmander, I choose you!”

Ash, goddammit.

– Ash: “Use Ember!”

Not only are you going to use a base-evo Fire type against a fully evolved Rock/Ground type, but you’re going to use the weakest Fire Type move in Gen 1 on it (Not counting Fire Spin because it’s DOT and for some reason the anime keeps portraying it as like the second strongest Fire move.) Strategist of the year.

– Ash: “Charmander, use Flamethrower!” That’s better, but still won’t work…..why is Golem glowing?

Pokemon Episode 36 Screen5

Ash: “Fire Spin, now!” Seriously, Ash? What did I just say? In summary, Ash did noth–

*several confusing moments later*

What the hell did I just watch? There are so many scientific and fictional logistic reasons why everything that just happened there was bullshit.

Golem, this giant rock, caught fire? What?

The only way the fire would ever even affect him in such a way would be if the Flamethrower was so hot it made the rock in its body red hot, like a coal. But even that’s stretching it a mile because it would probably die if it ever got that hot.

Plus, we’d have to believe Charmander has flames powerful enough to pull that off, which is more bullshit. Even if it did, it would need to Flamethrower Golem for hours probably to get it that hot.

Even rolling around for a few seconds should be enough to put out those flames and cool off Golem a bit. If its Trainer would tell it to follow his voice or something or stop and un-withdraw, this match wouldn’t have ended so soon.

None of what just happened should’ve happened. That is a legit Messiahmander moment. You’ve got me making that a word, Ash! That’s shouldn’t be a thing!

Pokemon Episode 36 Screen6

– While we’re on the topic of this scene, yes, just recall the Pokemon that is currently ON FIRE. Don’t put it out or anything. Let it burn to death.

– Ash and Charmander are laughing at people being set on fire. Good job.

– Why would his Pokeball heat up from that? There are Pokemon who are literally living fire and lava and they don’t heat up their Pokeballs. Given this and the thing with Muk, they really pick and choose the rules of Pokemon based on how they’re feeling that day, it seems.

– Did that Golem only know Tackle?

– Misty: “It’s a Water Pokemon. Leave it to me!” Yes, I do love matches where I have a .5x effectiveness rate, too.

Ash wouldn’t be able to help anyway. Not like he has any Electric Pokemon.

– Misty: “Which one would be best against Cloyster’s hard shell? I know! Starmie, go!” What logic went into that decision? What better Pokemon to throw against a Pokemon with a shell so hard that it can withstand a bomb than a starfish!?!

– Poor little Psyduck. Being laughed at and hurt. 😦

Pokemon Episode 36 Screen7

– Misty: *sigh* “You were supposed to be attacking….” Well then, Misty, maybe command it to do an attack instead of the de-buff, Tail Whip.

Misty: “Psyduck, use your Disable attack!” Disable – another not-attack.

– The reason I like Jessie and James when they’re part of this gang is because, despite the fact that they’re still basically thugs, they’re much more harmless in this group than they are with Team Rocket…..and I use that term loosely.

It’s nice to see them be happy in their organization instead of being miserable all the time in Team Rocket. They’re extremely proud to be Team Rocket members, but it brings them nothing but problems. We never really know anything that they did to earn the respect they get in this gang, but they have fun. They get respect. They seem generally happy.

I know Team Rocket can be extremely annoying, but I want them to be happy….in a legal non-harmful way. That’s one of the reasons why I like it so much when they open shops and stuff. They have a passion for those things and seem happy making an honest buck.

– I get why Jessie may have been a badass with her chain and everything, but how did James get any sort of badass rep with a name like ‘Little Jim’ and ‘Trainer James,’ a name he got because he was the only gang member who still used training wheels?

– Tyra: “I guess your cycle gang must save a ton of money on handlebars.” Are handlebars a huge frequent expense for bicyclists?

– Who alerted the cops?….Why are the cops here? It was just a Pokemon battle. No one else tried to get through here, so it’s not like they were bothering anyone. Wait, I thought the road wasn’t done yet. How and why are Jenny and her backup driving through here?…..This Jenny has backup!? In circumstances where backup of any kind would be necessary, there’s none to be found. Legal Pokemon battle on a bridge that’s no bother to anyone? CALLING ALL CARS! SOME MINOR EVENT HAPPENING! THIS IS NOT A DRILL!

I wasn’t kidding on the ‘calling all cars’ thing, either. There’s a grand total of five police cars shown, not counting Jenny’s motorcycle. What….the hell.

Pokemon Episode 36 Screen8

– Jenny: “You need to get there, so I’ll give you an escort. *radio crackles* This is 303. Roger. Over and out. There’s been an accident – I’ll have to go.” Oh, no worries, Jenny. They’ll just hitch a ride with one of the other officers in one of the five—where the unholy shit did they all go!? Either you Pokemon world cops are overreacting and being useless or you’re not there and being useless! Bloody hell.

– Wait, she was offering them an escort….that means the bridge must be fully done for cars. At least before I could maybe justify that they were only driving on one side of the bridge, but now they go and create a conundrum.

– Misty: “We should go, Ash. A sick Pokemon needs us.” Where was that when you were stopping for a nice soda? Or when you were battling? I know they challenged you and everything, but they didn’t really threaten you and you were eager to accept the challenge. You never even tried to say ‘Sorry, but we have to get this medicine to a sick Pokemon. Can’t you please let us pass?’

– The question here is, did Jessie and James agree to go out in the storm because they wanted to prove themselves or because they didn’t want to let their old friends down? Hm.

Pokemon Episode 36 Screen9

– I love how they’re coaxing Meowth into doing it too even though they know nothing about him. Plus, he has tiny legs.

– Ash: “We can’t wait. They need that medicine!” Again, where was that earlier? And you can stop for soda and Pokemon battles but not for a draw bridge opening? You’re on bicycles….in the rain….you’re small children. That bridge looks like it opens and closes fairly fast. Just wait a minute or two. If the Pokemon can’t wait that long, Joy should’ve sent a more fitting emergency crew out for this mission…..Like….a cop.

– I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Jessie and James actually have more justification for doing this than Ash and co.

– Why are Misty and Brock trying to make the jump? I assume Ash is carrying the medicine, so why can’t they wait for the bridge to close? Let me remind you, they’re on a tandem bike. If this is a bullshit jump for Ash, it’s a double-scoop of bullshit with sprinkles for Misty and Brock.

– Just all of the no to bouncing off of Team Rocket’s heads in mid-air.

– Also, Ash and the others condemned Team Rocket to death just there. Brock yelled out ‘we’ll drown!’ before they bounced. So either Team Rocket will drown or–

*boat comes by immediately after*

–they’ll be crushed by a boat. Good job.

Pokemon Episode 36 Screen10
Whoo! Manslaughter!

– ObliviAsh and the others smiling as they land after that might be understandable, but why are Tyra and Chopper? Their idols were just murdered.

– Chopper: “Alright, now you’ll have to battle us.”

Ash: “I’m delivering medicine for a sick Pokemon. Outta my way!”

Tyra: “You mean that’s why you’re out in this storm?”

Misty: “That’s right!”

Chopper: “Unbelievable. That’s a real biker for ya. Listen up guys, we’re gonna take ‘em there in style!”

See? Everyone in the Pokemon world loves Pokemon. If you had just said that at the beginning, none of this would’ve happened. Is this one of those ‘if we did that, we wouldn’t have an episode’ things?

– Chopper: “Don’t worry, Ash, we’ll clear the way for ya!” Clear the way of what?

– Mmm….thinking about it, I guess I can just assume that, given their new hero status with the gang, they might have offered to bring the bikes back to the other town. Yeah, I’ll take that.

——————————

This episode is still a ton of fun, even if there are many, many, many logic flaws. I like this part of Team Rocket’s backstory, even if they seemingly get thrown away by the gang in the worst way in the end. (They just got brutally murdered? Eh. Sick Pokemon!? LET’S GO!) The bike gang, whom I wish got a name, were also very entertaining. The fact that they ride bikes and try to act badass is just hilarious, and something about Chopper just entertains me a lot.

This episode was also a nice sendup to the game’s Cycling Road, even if they never call it that.

Next episode….*sigh* Duplica’s debut…..Mmm.

Previous Episode…..

Pokemon Episode 15 Analysis – Battle Aboard the St. Anne!

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Character Debuts: Giovanni – Leader of Team Rocket, Giovanni stays cloaked in shadow for a good chunk of the first series. He rarely appears on-screen at all, and, sadly, he never amounts to much as a villain. Outside of the dub exclusive creation of Mewtwo later in movie 01, this massive attack on the St. Anne is probably his biggest and most notable plan. Ultimately, a wasted character and villain.

Pokemon: Probably a lot, though the only Pokemon confirmed to actually be on his team are Rhydon, Machamp, Kingler, Golem and a Cloyster. However, his trademark Pokemon is a Persian, which he treasures and never leaves his side.

The Magikarp Salesman: Never given an actual name, the Magikarp salesman, oddly enough, has made at least one appearance in every Pokemon series to date. He’s always swindling people, James especially, into believing that Magikarp are a great investment that will end up making the buyer millions of dollars only to leave his stand when the customers find out about the scam.

Pokemon: Gee I wonder.

CotD: Gentleman – While technically not a character, he doesn’t even get a name, the Gentleman that Ash battles and trades his Butterfree to is a significant enough character to at least be mentioned here. He seems like a very kind and respectable Trainer who also enjoys trading.

Reappears?: No.

Pokemon: Squirtle and Raticate. Butterfree (temporarily)

Captures: Ash’s Raticate – Ash traded away his Butterfree for a Gentleman’s Raticate in this episode. However, he changed his mind and traded him back before the end of the episode.

James’ Magikarp – James gets coerced into buying a Magikarp. He tosses it away later in this arc.

Plot: As Ash and the others are leaving Vermilion City, they see a beautiful cruise liner, the St. Anne, in port. After they gush over the idea of going on a cruise, they sulk when they realize they don’t have nearly enough money to ever go on one. However, as ‘luck’ would have it, two ridiculous teenage girls approach them offering them free passes to the St. Anne. What’s more is that there will be a big party of Pokemon Trainers on the ship.

As the teenagers reveal themselves to be (shocker) Team Rocket in disguise, they hold a video meeting with their leader, Giovanni, who reveals that he’s gathering tons of Pokemon Trainers on the St. Anne in order to take all of their Pokemon when they’re out at sea.

While Ash, Misty and Brock are in awe of the St. Anne and all the cool Pokemon stuff happening on board, Ash sees a Pokemon battle going on between a Gentleman and his Raticate and a boy and his Starmie. The Gentleman wins, but gives his opponent some respectful words of encouragement before asking the crowd if anyone else wants to challenge him.

Fired up, Ash challenges the Gentleman with his Butterfree. It’s a pretty even match until Butterfree paralyzes Raticate with Stun Spore. As he’s about to finish him off with a Whirlwind, the Gentleman calls off the match and says to call it a draw, much to Ash’s disdain.

Meanwhile, James comes across a salesman at a kiosk who shows him a Magikarp. He claims that the fish is a gold mine since they have many babies and each Magikarp can be sold for around $100. James is easily suckered into buying one.

Later, the Gentleman from earlier approaches Ash and tells him that he really liked his Butterfree. Ash thanks him for the compliment and says he also liked his Raticate. The Gentleman then offers to trade his Raticate for Ash’s Butterfree, stating that trading is a great practice that is part of what makes being a Pokemon Trainer so great. While Ash is a little uneasy about it, he ultimately agrees and trades Butterfree for Raticate.

Back with Team Rocket, James gets chewed out for buying a worthless Magikarp, and Jessie demands that he get his money back when she finds out that he used some of her salary to pay for it.

Ash speaks with Misty about how he’s feeling regret over the trade and worries that Butterfree won’t be cared for the way he cared for it.

A horde of Team Rocket members emerge and demand everyone hand over their Pokemon, but no one’s going down without a fight.

As Team Rocket gets thrashed by an onslaught of Pokemon, Ash accidentally tries letting out Butterfree only to sadly remember that he was traded away. He stops to remember all the good times he had with Butterfree before snapping out of it to help the effort against Team Rocket. They eventually blast all of the Team Rocket grunts away, except, oddly enough, our regular Team Rocket trio.

Suddenly, a terrible storm appears, knocking the ship violently. As Ash trades for his Butterfree back, the passengers angrily confront the captain, who ends up escaping on a life raft while trying to convince everyone that everything’s okay.

The passengers flee to the life boats, but Ash lags behind as he makes his trade. He completes the trade, but Butterfree’s Pokeball slips from his hand and rolls away after the ship gets hit by a wave. Likewise, James, Jessie and Meowth are also chasing his runaway Magikarp Pokeball.

While both groups manage to recover their Pokeballs, the ship gets hit with a huge wave and ends up capsizing. As the ship sinks to the bottom of the sea, Ash and his friends as well as Team Rocket lie unconscious from the hit. Will they be able to escape?

———————————————————–

– Narrator: “Has Ash’s ship finally come in? Or are Ash and his friends cruisin’ for a bruisin’?” That was an awful line, Mr. Narrator. Please go to your corner and don’t come out until we’re questioning the fates of our main characters.

– Ash: “Do you know anyone who says ‘radical’ anymore?” Ooh, look at 4Kids believing they know when slang is dated or not. That, kids, is what we call ‘kidding ourselves!’ Also, uh, considering this was made in 1998, I’d say ‘radical’ was not that dated by then.

– I can’t help but love James in the scene of him as a teenage girl. I know he’s mostly just going ‘CoooOOOOOOoooolll!’ over and over, but he just cracks me up when he does it.

– It’s kinda weird to see Giovanni actually having some modicum of a real connection with Jessie, James and Meowth considering he soon drops them like hot rocks and forgets about them, outside of their debts of course. He actually entrusted them with an important part of his newest scheme here.

– It’s also weird how, during these first handful of episodes, Charmander is sometimes pronounced ‘Char-minder’ I thought only Damian did it in Charmander’s debut, but I think I heard it an episode or two ago and now Ash said it here.

– I have to sympathize with Ash here – it’s a pretty dick move to see that you’re losing a match then decide to call it off as a ‘draw’. If you want to call off a match and accept defeat because you don’t want to see your Pokemon get hurt anymore, then fine. But calling a match you were clearly losing a draw, even if Whirlwind doesn’t actually do damage, is just stupid.

– Okay, so not only do we have Charmander being pronounced ‘Charminder’ but also the Gentleman calls Pokemon ‘Pokeymon’…..Apparently he’s my grandma.

– Whoa! What the hell? A splash of blood and a flying tooth made it through 4Kids’ censors? It’s only for a few frames, but it’s a closeup after a clear strike on another person. Even this early in their career, they would’ve edited that out.

– I do find it a little weird that Ash, a Trainer so intent on making strong relationships with his Pokemon, was so quick to accept this trade. He is uneasy about it, but he really let go of his first caught and evolved Pokemon for a Raticate, that was losing to Butterfree no less, all because of a pretty trading speech by the Gentleman?

– Ah it is so nice to see Team Rocket (the full one) doing something…..Even if they suck about as much at their job as Jessie, James and Meowth. Yes, kidnap all those Pokemon without protective suits to prevent people from using their Pokemon on you. What’s more is that the Trainers outnumber the Rockets like ten to one and they just assumed that they wouldn’t fight back, even without weapons to threaten them. They are literally just walking up to people saying ‘Gimme your Pokemon!’

Even WORSE is that their only capture mechanisms are vacuums that suck up Pokeballs only….so they have no way of taking Pokemon who are out of their balls.

And finally, they don’t even have Pokemon of their own to actually battle with!

You. All. Suck.

No wonder Team Rocket fizzled out and had to be rebooted in Best Wishes!

– Also, nice recycled multiple Pikachu footage from episode two. No idea why the Bulbasaur followed suit and made a pyramid too, same with the Charmander. This a Pokemon battle, not cheerleading camp, guys.

– Recycled footage from this episode doubling as recycled footage from the Pikachu in episode two. Wow. That’s really lazy.

– Nice to know that the captain and crew of the St. Anne don’t bother checking the weather report for storms strong enough to capsize a ship. Did no one even look out the window?

– Captain: “This ship is unsinkable!” Wow, that foreshadowing was so big, you could say it was Titanic!

 

 

 

 

 

*cough*

– Captain: “Attention; anyone who did not leave the ship safely, please say ‘aye’!….Good, everyone’s safe then!”

You’re a goddamn idiot, and I hope you fall overboard.

– Narrator: “How will they escape their watery fate? I don’t know, but I have a terrible sinking feeling.” That’s it, you’re grounded until the next episode, mister.

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This is the start of a rare three-parter, with actual continuity, and it’s one of my favorite arcs in all of Pokemon. While not all of the pieces fit perfectly together (the final episode in the arc is particularly disjointed) the first two episodes are a great arc to the series. The cliffhanger is exciting, they brought on the concept of trading…even though trading in the anime has always made me a bit uneasy since you’re meant to grow emotionally connected to the Pokemon…Team Rocket actually did something….. even if, in hindsight, it was just an insanely stupid plan….And we get our first sneak peak at Giovanni….who ultimately amounts to nothing—wow, looking back at these episodes sometimes just makes me sad.

I did really enjoy this episode, but my favorite of the arc is coming up next. It’s one of my favorite episodes of Pokemon period, and while I’m aware of some wonky things with it, I hope the watch won’t be tarnished after reevaluating it.

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