PokeManiac Monday – Rewatching the Pokemon Anime (Episode 4: Challenge of the Samurai)

Written by admin

August 8, 2023

It may be hard to believe, but 2023 will mark 25 years since the Pokemon anime first premiered in the west. That’s a quarter century of battles, exploration, and boneheaded decisions by Ash Ketchum.

To commemorate this momentous landmark, we’re taking a look back by rewatching the earliest days of Pallet Town and beyond. Join us on this most marvellous trip down memory lane, and remember to stock up on Super Potions for the journey ahead!

PREVIOUS EPISODE: Episode 3: Ash Catches a Pokemon

Pokemon Episode 4: Challenge of the Samurai

First Aired: April 22, 1997 (Japan), September 11, 1998 (US)

We pick things up with the continued exploration of Viridian Forest, where Misty is still freaking out about bugs and Ash is still being vacant and inconsiderate. This time, they happen upon a friendly Weedle, throwing us right into the action. Ease up, children’s anime, I just got here!

Ash sends Pidgeotto out to duel with the poisonous insect, and the avian assailant seems to have miraculously recovered from the injuries it sustained in the previous kerfuffle. Are we to believe that Ash used some sort of healing item on it, or that sufficient time had passed for it to rest up? Or more likely, it’s a new episode so screw it, BIRD FRIEND IS READY TO RUMBLE.

While Pidgeotto is busy giving Weedle a whoopin’, Misty has dithered off for no apparent reason. She doesn’t get far, however, before she’s accosted by a boy wielding a katana. As unwise as it sounds to give minors dangerous weapons, it’s also unwise to send minors off on intercontinental missions with captive animals that can breathe fire, so really, it’s par for the course.

This kid is apparently dubbed Samurai, and he is awaiting a challenge from a trainer hailing from Pallet Town. Yeah, you read that right, he calls himself Samurai. His real name is probably Ted or something, but we never get closure on that. With his misplaced enthusiasm, the closest anime parallel I could draw for him would perhaps be Konohamaru from Naruto, albeit a much, much less likable version.

…This is saying something considering that, you know, nobody likes Konohamaru.

Why he so thicc tho? | Image Source: OLM via Netflix

When he tracks Ash down, he immediately declares war, distracting the preoccupied trainer and allowing Weedle the chance to dip. To add insult to injury, Samurai proclaims that Ash’s Pokemon handling is dimwitted and clumsy. This seems a little harsh when one considers that Ash was quite capably whittling down his target beforehand, leading me to assume that Samurai must have read my first three episode summaries.

Ash starts things off with Pidgeotto, who is apparently fatigued after dominating Weedle. In response, Samurai deploys Pinsir — a hulking, fearsome Pokemon not typically seen until much later on in the games. The brutish beetle ends Pidgeotto’s whole career, sending it into the turf with a single Tackle.

Samurai laughs a cruel, throaty laugh. “Go home and be a family man!” he sneers. He then aggressively dabs in Ash’s direction before pulling out his iPhone and enjoying the latest video from MrBeast. He does none of these things, but I figure the keywords in this paragraph could boost my SEO somehow.

Next up to bat is Metapod, and in a visual that is admittedly quite traumatic, Samurai threatens to split Ash’s Pokemon in half. Fatal injuries are really glossed over in this series for the most part, but here, we get a morbid peek into a future where our lovely little cocoon baby is outright murdered.

Thinking fast, Ash commands Metapod to use Harden. Its defense increases by one stage! And in the anime, this equates to it becoming an uncrushable tank that is able to withstand Pinsir’s mandibles. Samurai hastily recalls Pinsir to the ball, no doubt discouraged by its shallow gen 1 move pool, and summons a Metapod of his own.

Metapod battles Metapod in the Pokemon anime
This image makes me uncomfortable. | Image Source: OLM via Netflix

In a duel for the ages that is unfortunately yet to see its glory recognized in the Twinfinite ranking of top anime battles, the combatants engage in a Harden contest. They Harden! They Harden again! They Harden some more! Why, it’s enough to make James Harden himself take interest, though the difference is that there’s actual defense being played here.

Speaking of James (what an amazing segue), Team Rocket are currently trekking through Viridian Forest as well, donning a large cardboard tank to protect them from Beedrill stings. Barely resembling the cool, calculated villains of episode 2, they are already slipping into slapstick territory, though their precaution isn’t entirely unfounded. A swarm of the menacing bugs is circling above, making a beeline toward the location of Ash’s battle.

Samurai nopes out immediately, leaving our heroes to fend for themselves. A Beedrill scoops up Metapod before Ash can return it to the safety of its ball and deposits it near a Kakuna nesting area. Sickeningly, this would indicate that the intention is for the larval Pokemon to feast upon its flesh upon hatching, but it could just be a misguided attempt at adoption.

As if to spite Ash and all he believes in, the Kakunas evolve into Beedrill upon spotting him, forcing them to ditch Metapod and take refuge in a nearby log cabin. Here, Samurai berates Ash for allowing the Weedle to flee, for abandoning his Pokemon, and for being vastly inferior to his contemporaries from Pallet Town. Evidently, suffering a series of defeats at the hands of Gary and the others had inspired him to train harder in preparation for Ash’s arrival.

Charmander uses a fire attack against Pinsir in the Pokemon anime
“Remember when my Pinsir was literally set on fire? Good times.” | Image Source: OLM via Netflix

It forces the beleaguered trainer to consider the sheer enormity of his failures, numerous as they are. Ash spends the night ruminating on how he probably allowed his cool bug thing to be eaten alive, and then returns at the crack of dawn to try to retrieve it while the Beedrill slumber.

But what’s this? Team Rocket interrupt his rescue attempt, loudly reciting their motto and alerting the horde to their presence. They might have gotten away with it had they not set off their trademark pyrotechnics like the goddamn Power Rangers.

Ash is able to slip under the swarm, which redirect their focus on the Rockets instead. Jessie and James pull out their handy dandy tank, only to find it has been chewed away by ravenous Weedles. I did a quick fact check by Googling “do bugs eat cardboard”, and yep, scientifically this checks out.

Other Google searches that people have done include “do bugs eat chocolate”, “do bugs eat cement”, and “do bugs eat children”. Although I have not yet ventured down that rabbit hole, this might be something you would like to explore for yourself.

With the Beedrills diverted, Ash dashes up to Metapod and requests it enter its Poke Ball. Despite the severity of the situation, it refuses. Not even a chrysalis respects Ash Ketchum as a trainer, surely marking a new low point for Pallet Town’s most incompetent resident.

He confesses that he is to blame for this whole debacle, apologizing for leaving it there to die. These words sound more hollow than an empty Kakuna carapace, but they are enough to convince Metapod of his newfound loyalty. It gamely collides with an oncoming Beedrill to protect its master in a fantastic display of mobility. Misty, Samurai, and Pikachu arrive just in time to watch Metapod gain enough XP to evolve into the glorious Butterfree.

Butterfree in the Pokemon anime
Ash’s coverage against Rock-Types grows worse by the day. | Image Source: OLM via Netflix

“Free, free,” it shouts into the dewy morning air. If this was Michigan, about 20 people would frantically run over expecting to receive some free shit.

Ash inexplicably knows his new Pokemon’s entire moveset, so he commands it put the Beedrills down with a sprinkling of Sleep Powder. It’s a rousing success as it causes not only the aggressive bees to slumber, but Team Rocket as well. If “two birds, one stone” is good, “fifty bugs/one cat/two enterprising criminals, one powder” must be a landslide victory.

Samurai escorts Ash and Misty onto the trail leading to Pewter City, putting the deep dark woods behind them at last. He admits that, compared to Ash and his brilliant capability to chloroform an entire batch of bees, he is in fact the novice. This admission places him a rung below the guy who once sent a Caterpie out to throw down with a Pidgeotto, and for that reason, Samurai is now the one true uke in Pokemon lore.

We’re about to get into the thick of things! With their arrival at Pewter, Ash just might engage in his first battle against a Gym Leader. Do you remember that legendary moment when you faced off against Brock’s Onix and its insistence on spamming Bide? Me personally, I chose Bulbasaur so the whole thing was over in two attacks. Get wrecked, Charmander stans.

Anyway, next episode will definitely be one for the ages, because… The BROCK wants to fight! Smell ya later!

About the author

Tony Cocking

A miserable little pile of secrets. Unabashed Nintendo stan, Resident Evil fancier and obscure anime enthusiast who insists everything is funnier when the rule of three is applied. Oh, and once I saw a blimp!

Source link

You May Also Like…


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *