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Review JN131: The Finals III: "The Strongest"

Okay not gonna lie… with how creative and strategic the battle was thus far, this episode was a real let down. All of Ash’s pokemon, sans Pikachu, have gone back to just banging their heads on a brick wall until either cracks. Seriously, Dragonite and Dracovish were getting tossed around like ragdolls and Ash couldn’t be assed to give them blocking commands? No Dragon Claw on the Drum Beating roots? No last second Fishious Rend to intercept that High Jump Kick?

Come on, we were going so well…
I really hate when they do this. Also I'm kinda annoyed it was Dracovish to take down the broken ape. Dracovish hasn't ever been the fall guy. Sirfetch'd or Dragonite should have been the one to do it.
 
Okay not gonna lie… with how creative and strategic the battle was thus far, this episode was a real let down. All of Ash’s pokemon, sans Pikachu, have gone back to just banging their heads on a brick wall until either cracks. Seriously, Dragonite and Dracovish were getting tossed around like ragdolls and Ash couldn’t be assed to give them blocking commands? No Dragon Claw on the Drum Beating roots? No last second Fishious Rend to intercept that High Jump Kick?
Dragonite was shown dodging Rillaboom's attacks consistently besides the vines eventually bringing it down. Ash's strategy was great here, Sirfetch'd was zooming on its shield and scored a direct hit on Rillaboom nearly KOing it that the referee even had to come down an check. Dracovish has always been a straight attacker, as it was able to freeze the vines and whatever that red claw move from its stomach is, impaled Rillaboom.

Iwane's animation here also made the battle flow nicely too. I like how every member of Ash's team contributed to the battle, and Sirfetch'd caused massive damage to both Mr. RIME and Rillaboom.
 
I knew Rillaboom was going to be a problem, but didn't think it'd be THIS big a problem. 2 pokemon out by it. Not only that Cinderace ended up taking out the last of Ash's mons and still has him in pocket. Which is a great concern to me.
 
Dracovish hasn't ever been the fall guy.
Eh? That's exactly what it was in thee Steven match.

Still I agree with your sentiments, I felt like Sirfetch'd or Dragonite could've used the win more. At least they both contributed to damaging it before going down I guess. I like that Rillaboom didn't go down too easily though, definitely was build up of too much of a threat and people would have cried nerfed/ plot armor if it did any less.

Echoing people who mentioned that after all the strategies in the last 2 episodes this felt fairly meh. Back to just exchanging moves and waiting for the opponent to connect.
 
Def less strategic this episode but the animation was also nicer than last episode and on par with episode 1s. I think Ash went for a direct hit because his attempts to be cute with Dragonite didn't work. Draco Meteor and Hurricane were both being countered by the vines so he went for a straight up boxing fight. With Sirfetch'd, that little guy was able to do some nifty stuff and score a nice hit even if he ended up going down.

Even if Sirfetch'd is the only one in this match to end up with no wins, I'm not disappointed considering how great he was overall in this tournament. Took down Milotic and actually made Garchomp stumble to the point where that's probably why Lucario was able to win. Also even though he got no wins in the Finals, he did damage to both Mr. Rime and Rillaboom allowing for Lucario and Dracovish to clean them up.

It's def become one of my favorite Pokemon Ash has ever had after this tournament. Just a cool, tough guy that keeps fighting as long as possible and refuses to back down
 
What i like is how all of Leon's pokemon do look genuinely strong showing why he's the world champ, but Ash also isn't taking them down easy either. It took Ash 3 pokemon to take down Rillaboom (Dragonite, Sirfetch'd and Dracovish), and Gengar just barely beat Inteleon, and it was a team effort to take down Mr. Rime and Dragapult.

Even though Sirfetch'd didn't get a KO, it cause major damage to Mr. Rime last week and Rillaboom today allowing Dracovish to finish it off. Also Rillaboom is a monster here. It's probably the least popular Galar starter but Leon's made it into a powerhouse, used in the Alan and Diantha battles sweeping teams and Ash needing 3 pokemon to take it down. It's definitely Leon's second strongest after his Gmax Charizard.


Echoing people who mentioned that after all the strategies in the last 2 episodes this felt fairly meh. Back to just exchanging moves and waiting for the opponent to connect.
I'm honestly confused about this "exchange of moves" people keep saying. The whole episode had Ash reacting to Rillabooms attacks, using Dragonite's Draco Meteor and flying in the air to avoid the vines, then trying to zoom in for close quarter Dragon Claws. Sirfetch'd was flying on its shield Winter Soldier style, was able to strike it in the chest, etc. Dracovish was used well as I said above. No pokemon stood still, everything was a counter play to what the opponent was doing.
 
Loved seeing that when everybody was covering themselves during that G-max vs Z-move clash, Morpeko was the only one unaffected by all that power, and just kept eating while looking at them.
James's Morpeko > Leon's Charizard and Ash's Pikachu
 
I don't mind this episode being a bit less strategic and going for more direct attacks, when you consider the battle as a whole that's bound to happen at some point, especially here where the main occurrence was Leon finishing Ash's already-tired Pokémon. But yeah it turned out a bit less interesting script-wise, though the better animation and choreography made it more visually appealing IMO.

Leon still having Cinderace makes things pretty interesting because you'd think Charizard would be his last-standing Pokémon. He could eventually recall him but they made it pretty clear he's trying to finish the thing right there. I like that unpredictability factor.
 
It's kind of entertaining how people start whining as soon as poor Ash is being treated unfairly by some moves or Pokemon (Rillaboom in that case) or by bad writing in general.
As far as I'm concerned, I don't care because that's what happened to Cynthia before, so it doesn't hurt at all if Ash is getting the same treatment now. :p

As for the battle itself: It was quite ok.
What I don't get is how helpless they made Dragonite appear against Rillaboom, although there would have been a pretty obvious solution:
Simply fly up high where the roots from Drum Attack can't reach you. Attack with "normal" Draco Meteor (not the Dragonite version of it) from above and while Rillaboom is busy defending against the meteor shower, close it and land a powerful hit with Dragon Claw. If Draco Meteor hits, it would have been even easier! And even if Rillaboom managed to catch Dragonite with one of the roots (which would be pretty difficult while you're busy fending off all the meteorites), Dragonite could very easily break free by using Dragon Claw against the root. This is a technique that was shown to work many times in the past.
Was that so hard to come up with, writers ?

What I enjoyed most, however, is seeing that Leon doesn't seem to be that spectacular after all. They once wanted us to believe and kept shoving the message down out throats that Leon allegedly is "the invincible, unrivaled super duper greatest" champion of the world. He sure is a strong opponent and champion, not doubt about that, but he certainly is not that "out of this world"-character, but just as strong as the other champions, nothing more. Now this makes me want to see Cynthia battle and defeat him some day even more! :notworthy:
 
Anyone else think it’s weird that Clemont and Bonnie are watching the PWC from their gym, when Alain, Sycamore, and Mairin are literally across the street watching it at Sycamore’s lab? You would think Clemont and Bonnie would want to meet up with them maybe, especially considering that Hoenn cameo from the Steven episode, where a bunch of characters met up at the Ever Grande Pokémon Center to watch together. Just a random shower thought I had.
 
Anyone else think it’s weird that Clemont and Bonnie are watching the PWC from their gym, when Alain, Sycamore, and Mairin are literally across the street watching it at Sycamore’s lab? You would think Clemont and Bonnie would want to meet up with them maybe, especially considering that Hoenn cameo from the Steven episode, where a bunch of characters met up at the Ever Grande Pokémon Center to watch together. Just a random shower thought I had.

Yes and i also find it weird Meyer and Alexa aren't watching.
 
I must say, JN is the first series that has actually made "Ash being pushed into a corner" actually feel compelling during a battle, creating a grim atmosphere.
 
Anyone else think it’s weird that Clemont and Bonnie are watching the PWC from their gym, when Alain, Sycamore, and Mairin are literally across the street watching it at Sycamore’s lab? You would think Clemont and Bonnie would want to meet up with them maybe, especially considering that Hoenn cameo from the Steven episode, where a bunch of characters met up at the Ever Grande Pokémon Center to watch together. Just a random shower thought I had.
I think it was better. I don't like when a bunch of character met. They look like a fanservice box. Expecially Hoenn cameo. Drew, Harley, Solidad, Tyson and Prof. Birch were watching Ash vs Steven together. OK but why are they in the same place? Moreover where is May? Is she in Galar? No.
May's rival were there for a contest but May isn't. They met Prof. Birch because he wanted to watch the contest too and Tyson? Coincidence?
Paul's and Clemont&Bonnie's cameo were better and make more sense.
 
Also I'm kinda annoyed it was Dracovish to take down the broken ape. Dracovish hasn't ever been the fall guy. Sirfetch'd or Dragonite should have been the one to do it.
Taking down Rillaboom was a combined effort of 3 pokemon (Dragonite, Sirfetch'd and Dracovish), it took Ash 3 pokemon to take down a Pokemon that Alan defeated with 2 and took out half of Diantha's team. But to be fair now that we know about the Dragapult dragon tail strategy, it now seems obvious Leon used Dragapult to bring out each of Diantha's Pokemon and then Rillaboom finished it off. It actually now justifies how Diantha lost.

Retroactively I think it makes the Leon vs Alan battle better too. It not only had the best animation of the first round, but Alan was able to take out Rillaboom with his Charizard X showing how strong it was, and Chesnaught vs Gmax Rillaboom was a nice opening battle. Somehow the Alan fight does not look as bad in retrospect, Alan actually showed how strong he was despite being a quick battle.
 
I don't get this dormant power thing and hope they clarify it next week. Right now, it feels like an excuse for Dracovish to hold onto Dragapult without needing to magically sprout arms.
OK, plot convenience it is! Honestly, they could've easily explained this as the result of fighting two Dragon Trainers, but I guess "Dracovish ate a baby" is good enough. I'd even accept it being a reference to the move swallowing technique (that I never really liked) from DP, but neither Ash nor Dawn brought it up. Also, thank you writers for finally showing that soccer can be played with your head as well. I found it odd we've never seen a Cinderace use a non-kicking move until now.
 
This was disappointing. The weakest of the Leon episodes so far, despite having the best animation. I think it mostly boils down to it just not being fun to watch one side being so overly dominant over the other for the entirety of the episode (sans that brief Dracovish moment).

The Z-move vs Giga Zard moment was also about as underwhelming as it gets. Was it really too much to ask for to just have a straight forward intense clash of tremendously powered up moves, coupled with some really cool background music? Even if the true finale is in next episode, we should've gotten something truly epic already in this one. Instead we got a very weirdly paced clash that got interruped half-way through with music that in my opinion did not fit well at all, and that also fizzled out completely as we got to the most intense part of the struggle, killing all excitement. Just... horrible.

They handled the same thing much better in the Kukui fight where the first round of Z-moves between the two cats were able to go off completely uninterrupted, with a great soundtrack and with a subsequent result. Then they went and did the plot thing with the Tapu's recharging the Z-crystals in the next episode instead. Why couldn't they have paced it the same here? Sigh.
 
I think it mostly boils down to it just not being fun to watch one side being so overly dominant over the other for the entirety of the episode (sans that brief Dracovish moment).
Rillaboom is likely Leon's second strongest pokemon, if Ash took it down easily it would have been worse writing. There's nothing wrong with showing Ash had a wall to climb over. Also looking over at posts in the Cynthia review thread it seems no matter what the writers do you have issues if Ash can't battle with Dragonite sleeping or if Ash has to go up against a strong Pokemon. I really don't know what people want at this point, if Ash takes down a pokemon quick then people complain Ash has it too easy, if Ash has to struggle against a Pokemon to bring it down than that's bad too? You can't have it both ways.
 
I guess it could be the worst of the three Ash vs Leon episodes so far. But the two main factors surrounding it are the pacing and some underwhelming move choices from Ash in Dragonite vs Rillaboom. The pacing somehow made it feel like the entire episode was just a bunch of KOs and Charizard's G-Max felt… immature? For the lack of a better word? It happened too quickly..
But overall it didn’t impact my enjoyment of the three parter so far heavily, and being the worst episode in the best choreographed battle of the series mostly is no small feat, it’s just that the other two episodes were REALLY good, not to mention Ash being put in a corner like that really brought on a wave of dread. Journey's writing team has mastered those tense moments finally. In the other sagas it never really felt like Ash was truly struggling with someone too powerful for him, but now with Cynthia and Leon, I'm happy how they actually have these characters be aggressive in how they battle and yet be true to character while borderline playing with Ash with their tactics.

TLDR: I wish the entirety of Journeys had been like the past two battles.
 
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