Episode Review Time: Ash catches something
by, 28th August 2010 at 07:21 AM (505 Views)
And now, another episode review... in which the thing that the title suggests happens, happens.
Episode 3: Ash Catches a Pokémon
When we last left Ash, he was making a dramatic attempt to catch a Caterpie. That's right, a Caterpie. He throws the ball, and after some suspenseful ball-shaking action, he catches it. Ash does a happy dance with Misty, who is still following him about the bike thing. It turns out that Misty dislikes bugs, and so Ash naturally decides to be a dick about it and taunts her with his Poké ball. Then he sends Caterpie out, and Misty runs away and hides. Predictably, though, Caterpie likes her and tries to cuddle up to her. Ash taunts her some more, the two of them argue, and Ash goes off with Pikachu and Caterpie. Misty follows them, claiming that she's only doing it because she wants her bike replaced, and anyway, it's the quickest route out of the forest. Hmm. Then its night, and we get a bonkers yet cute scene of Pikachu and Caterpie discussing God-knows-what.
Actually, wait, maybe it goes on a bit too long. Oh well. At the end, it seems like Caterpie is dreaming of evolving so that Misty will like it more. Aww.
Misty wakes up to find Caterpie sleeping inches from her face. She screams, wakes everyone up, and now it's her turn to be a dick as she tells Caterpie to bugger off. Poor Caterpie hides in its ball, and Ash resumes yesterday's yelling. Misty seems to feel bad, a bit, but then a Pidgeotto shows up and Ash no longer cares. He chucks a ball at it, but the Pidgeotto bats it away. Misty tells him that he has to weaken Pokémon before he catches them, and that he only caught Caterpie because it was already weak. Ash insists that he knows what he's doing, and then sends out a tiny insect to fight a vicious bird.
The Pidgeotto chases Caterpie, and Ash, having been informed of his mistake, withdraws it and sends Pikachu instead. Pikachu shocks the Pidgeotto, the screen darkens slightly to save me from epileptic seizures, and Pidgeotto is caught. Ash is jubilant, but Misty points out that he doesn't know the first thing about Pokémon battling, and needs to learn strategy. Ash is about to cry when Team Rocket show up again.
Team Rocket want Ash's Pikachu. This has become so familiar that new viewers probably don't question why, but Meowth does explain why: basically, Pikachu is way stronger than it should be. As an aside, Meowth does actually seem to be senior to Jessie and James at this point in the series, according to the dialogue. Which is something I hadn't noticed before. So, Team Rocket send out their Pokémon and Ash complains that you can't use two Pokémon at once, which was a stupid thing to say to villains even before double battling was made a feature of the games in Gen III. Koffing uses Sludge to blind Pikachu, but then backs off for long enough for Ash to pick Pikachu up, hand him to Misty and deliver detailed instructions regarding his proper care and nutritional requirements. Since the plot demands Ash use his newest Pokémon, he sends out the still-weakened Pidgeotto (instead of the weak-by-default Caterpie).
A battle ensues, which I won't bother describing as it basically involves Pidgeotto dodging constantly until Ekans and Koffing finally hit it. Ash withdraws Pidgeotto and tries to fight Team Rocket himself, only to get knocked down by James. James, of all people. So, it’s down to Caterpie, then. Team Rocket laugh a lot at the sight of Caterpie, which is all the proof we need that Caterpie is about to humiliate them somehow or other. Koffing and Ekans go for Caterpie, which uses String Shot, and reduces their speed slightly! Er, wait. This is the anime, not the games, and so String Shot becomes an awesome move that mummifies both Koffing and Ekans, and then Meowth. Team Rocket run away (this is back before the show demanded they be physically assaulted every episode) and Ash celebrates his victory by being a dick again and waving Caterpie in Misty's face. After some more taunting, Misty agrees to pet Caterpie, but Caterpie suddenly coats itself in its own String Shot (that... doesn’t sound too great, does it?) and evolves into Metapod. Just because all of Ash's Pokémon have to be super-awesome, the 'dex tells him that this is the fastest-evolving Caterpie on record. Ash teases Misty again and then runs off into the forest. I know he's ten, but bloody hell. He'll be pulling her hair and running away next.
The moral of the story: "If you just try hard enough, things will work out." This was Ash's strategy in this episode, and although Misty rightly decried it as pathetic, he continued to use it for the rest of the episode. And series.
Pokémon of the day: Caterpie. The cute, fast-evolving Bug type of the original games, and counterpart to the less cute, less popular Weedle.
Ash is an idiot: He shows off a lot of stupidity here, as well as the first signs that his stupidity is highly situational. Despite having an interest in Pokémon all of his life, he doesn't seem to have a clue about type advantages, even fairly self-evident ones like Flying vs. Bug. On the other hand, he seems to know instantly what moves both Caterpie and Pidgeotto have. Quite aside from this, his taunting of Misty was pretty smackable, even if her bug phobia was a little over the top.
The shipping forecast: For those who would seek to find it, there's plenty of Ash/Misty romantic tension here. Misty following Ash through the forest is the most glaring example. Hard to say exactly what she sees in him, since Ash spends half the episode taunting her...
Thoughts: So, what about that title, eh? It's usually only the Japanese episodes that have the absurdly literal and spoiler-filled titles. It's not only a spoiler, it's also misleading – since Ash catches two Pokémon here. But, as we'll discover, nobody really cares about Pidgeotto.
Let's go through the good stuff in this episode first. Caterpie's voice is adorable. The animation and direction was really enjoyable, too – lots of weird cuts and super-deformed characters that really suited the tone of the episode. However, this was slightly marred by the weird contrast-shifts that were introduced to the early episodes every time anything remotely bright came on the screen. For some reason, they were really noticeable in this episode.
The bad? Well, Ash was pretty insufferable in this episode. On the one hand, it's true that Misty could have just sucked it up and at least tried to be nice to Caterpie... and one has to wonder what sort of gym leader she is if she freaks out every time she sees a Bug Pokémon. On the other hand... Ash is somewhat to blame for Caterpie's hurt feelings too, since he insisted on shoving it in Misty's face every five seconds, knowing she was afraid of it. His ignorance of type advantages is pretty astounding in this episode. Yeah, I get it that he's supposed to be a rookie trainer who's still learning the ropes, but this is taking that idea to ridiculous extremes.
I feel bad for Pidgeotto. Most Pokémon get a debut episode all to themselves. Pidgeotto got a bit-part in Caterpie's episode, where it was caught and then immediately sent out in order to lose a battle. The battle itself was very weakly plotted, bending logic to breaking point just to ensure that Caterpie struck the winning blow.
There's something else that bothers me. Ash proudly announces in this episode that he and Pikachu are best pals. It seems to be the case. So when did this happen? Pikachu spent most of the first episode either ignoring Ash or trying to stop his heart. At the end, he helps Ash out and seems to have warmed to him, just a little. In episode two he's mostly unconscious, and here in episode three they're best friends forever. It just seems crazy to me that the most important relationship in the series – Ash and Pikachu's friendship – sort of happened in the blink of an eye without really being remarked upon. Later in the series, we'd have whole plot arcs about less prominent Pokémon gradually coming to trust their trainers, whereas Pikachu went from hating Ash to liking him so quickly that it's not even clear when it happened.
Conclusion: Well... at least Caterpie is cute, right? We can look forward to many more episodes of Caterpie and its cute voice... oh, poop. It evolved.
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