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Review EP039: Forest of Pikachu

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EP039 - Bulbapedia, the community-driven Pokémon encyclopedia
This is the 5th episode of Pocket Monsters Anime Premier 10. It was chosen by Asuca Hayashi, singer of A Small Thing (M06's ending) and Oracion's Theme (M20's ending).

Animation:
Team Iguchi
Screenplay: Shinzō Fujita
Storyboard: Masamitsu Hidaka
Assistant director: Kiyotaka Isako
Animation director: Hiroshi Sakai


This episode is notable for being the first one to air after the four month-long hiatus caused by the Porygon incident. Rather fittingly, it's pretty laid back: there's little visual action and Pikachu only uses electricity once. It's also focused almost exclusively on Ash and Pikachu and only the main characters appear, so it serves as some sort of re-introduction to the core premise of the show. On top of that, it features a flashback sequence that could also double as a loose recap of previous episodes.

I can't find much to say about the episode other than I like it. For not having much stuff actually going on, the mere premise of Ash trying to release Pikachu is interesting enough by itself. It is slow-paced, but that's fitting for an episode like this. Team Rocket thank their "35 million fans acrross the country", which I'm sure it's a nice reference to the fans in Japan that were waiting for the show to return (not sure where that figure comes from, though).

What I do wonder about this episode though, is where the heck did it came from??
It wasn't in the schedule prior to the incident and I think there was no info available of it either. Was it written after the incident, with the total intent of using it as the show's comeback episode? Or maybe they had some early draft and they decided to use it?
Either way, how long does an episode take to be entirely made anyway? And did they stopped working on the show for a while until they were sure they would be back on air? Or perhaps they started working on this episode right after the incident? So many questions...
 
Prepare for over-used stock animation!
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Judging from the art alone it looks like it may have been hastily cobbled together for the show's return from hiatus. While not the worst art or animation in this series-- which is saying something-- it definitely looks off. And like you said, the premise works as an informal "re-introduction" to the series, which had it not been for the hiatus would be kind of weird this early on.
 
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Yeah, I believe that was made after the Porygon Shock in order to gently re-introduce the viewers to the World of Pokemon. It definitely stands out as an unusual episode... everything takes place in the same small area, only the main characters are featured and Pikachu and Nyarth are the only species of Pokemon to appear. If you're looking for a comeback episode, one that focuses exclusively on Satoshi and Pikachu's relationship is the way to go.

Personally, even years later I still really enjoy this episode. It shows, beyond any others in my opinon, that Satoshi and Pikachu really are the best of friends, are meant to be together and are willing to do whatever they need to for the other person which is never better displayed when Satoshi believes that leaving Pikachu behind is the thing to do. He's wrong, because Pikachu doesn't want to stay, but even though his logic is flawed it shows just how far he's willing to go. Pikachu, meanwhile, is offered this chance to live with his own kind but doesn't even think twice about it as he's already found his place by Satoshi's side. That, to me, is a pretty great story.

Don't get me wrong, the episode isn't perfect. The animation looks quickly thrown together as others have said and, dub-wise, The Time Has Come doesn't hold a candle to Goodnight, My Pikachu but they're minor niggles in an otherwise solid and enjoyable episode.
 
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"We'd like to thank all of our fans for their loyalty and support. This victory is for them."
 
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Such a notable episode mostly because we all thought Ash was gonna be getting rid of Pikachu for good. But eventually they got back together again and it shows they were just MADE for each other.

As for animation despite most of it being done by Sakai I think (or believe) the scene where Ash's Pikachu first meets the Pikachu's in the forest was done by Iwane since it does look like his style a bit.
 
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I always thought that this episode was supposed to be analogous to the real life events in a way; the show was almost canceled (just how first-time viewers were led to believe Pikachu would be leaving for good) but thanks to the determination and sympathy of the fans (i.e. the other Pikachu) led to a joyful comeback. That line from Team Rocket and the short message prior to the original Japanese airing of this episode more or less supports this.

Anyway, it's a simple premise, but effective enough to make me tear up every time. I know that sounds corny, but it's true.
 
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