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Review JN131: The Finals III: "The Strongest"

It seens ash is going to lose despite being given a clear advantage of being allowed to use 3 gimmicks. My prediction is a pikachu tie with charizard , but Leon will win because he still has cinderace.

The best way of taking Charizard down is to grab its horns and stick on its back while using thunderbolts Pikachu did it with both Drake´s dragonite and and Tobias´ latios . If they are going to make ash win, this strategy could make Leon call Charizard back and use cinderace . Pikachu defeats cindarace and lands a final thunderbolt on Charizard. It would feel forced, but pikachu was able to take crazy damage in other battles. So far, he took 1 scorching sands from cinderace, 1 max wyrmwind from charizard and 1 explosion from gmax wildfire and z move .

If ash loses, he will go back to the school in paldea, maybe trying the world championship again, while doing treasure hunt . The paldea champion might be Ash´s rival, trying to beat Leon , or maybe Leon will just retire from his title , because its boring if he always win.
 
The Rillaboom fights were okay. They had decent animation and the defeats made sense. I wish they had used Dracovish's dragon power to trap it and defeat it, but a super effective move is fine too. They finally untapped some of Sirfetch'd's potential as a Pokemon who's always using two items, who knows when we'll see it again...

Charizard & Cinderace...Well, I can understand why some expected more, since they were mostly brute force and both Libero and Charizard's new moves didn't amount to much. I also expected more from the Z move vs Max move clash, the preparation was a bit too slow-paced and we didn't got to see much of the aftermath because suddenly the focus was all on Eternatus. Neither Pikachu or Charizard look visibly hurted by it, If I wrote the episode not only it would have left them visibly tired but also it would have burnt and destroyed Ash's hat (as Pikachu was wearing it) to show how serious things had gotten. And then in the next episode Misty and Brock would arrive and give him his OS hat!

Rewrites aside, a decent continuation of the battle even if some parts were a letdown, it's definitely better than VS Cynthia parts 2 & 3.
 
I didn't comment on the last preview thread, but I wanted to say I'm still enjoying Ash Vs. Leon overall. It's probably my favorite Full Battle as of now. I also find Leon's voice actor incredibly fitting - I think he adds a very grandiose charm to Leon that I didn't think too much of in prior episodes where he wasn't battling.

Anyway, this episode lacked the nuisances of the previous two, but I didn't mind at all because the animation and battling was fast-paced and incredibly thrilling; it's a shame that Toy Around will be the only part of the battle to not be at this level of animation or higher. At some point in a battle like this one, in my opinion, there's going to be a portion where it's a matter of retaliating attacks in hopes of a KO. Regarding this episode's match-ups:
  • Dragonite Vs. Rillaboom. Despite Dragonite getting thrashed, I loved the animation here - everything looked gorgeous, with my favorite part being Dragonite charging back in through the clouds because by Arceus Rillaboom was going to be hit come hell or high water (it didn't happen, but I loved her determination regardless). Drum Attack being used to repel Hurricane and Draco Meteor, as well as a constriction tool in manner to Vine Whip or Ramos' Grass Knot, was great to see as well. Especially since Grass-type Pokémon don't get to shine all that much in the series in comparison to other types; recently, anyway. I do wish Dragonite got in one hit effective hit, though; yes, her initial Hurricane caused some damage, but it lacked the "oomph" that Rillaboom's moves had when they connected on her. I also was surprised Ash didn't call for some Dragon Dances when it was clear Dragonite was getting outmatched (and her Speed dropping) - I think a single use, at least, would help with the concern I've read about this episode lacking strategy. That aside, at least the Dragon Pokémon is ending her Journeys career with a Dragpult KO. Better than Goodra...
  • Sirfetch'd Vs. Rillaboom. Brief, but effective. Our white-clad duck got to show off two new uses for its shield, being able to glide on it and use it akin to a sled/snowboard - which I found pretty creative. Again, Ash forgoing a status move (Detect) which could have helped by catching Rillaboom off-guard and giving an opening to attack was a bit disappointing to see. Nevertheless, I still liked what we saw. We also got a remix of a...Kalos track, I think? Which I enjoyed.
  • Dracovish Vs. Rillaboom. Finally, Rillaboom goes down! Twice it tried to outmatch Ash's Pokémon in a head-to-head collision and twice it failed - you'd think Leon would have wised up after Sirfetch'd's Meteor Assault. One thing I found interesting was the insinuation that Rillaboom felt pain when its vines were destroyed - the writers, nor the characters, drew any attention to that sadly, but I think it would have been neat to see Ash realize the weakness and exploit it, to make his victory over Rillaboom less controversial.
  • Dracovish Vs. Cinderace. My absolute favorite part of the episode. I won't lie - I wasn't even paying attention to Dracovish because I was just focused on Cinderace; it was a clean KO where it was in control the entire time. It's my favorite Galarian Starter and we finally get to see it in an actual, complete battle. With a knockout. They incorporated all of the main football elements (head, feet, kicking the ball) within the battle and it looked gorgeous at all points; I really liked and appreciated how they kept it pacing back and forth in nearly every idle scene it had - it just added so much more character to the species. So much so, that my brother actually changed his opinion on it just from this episode alone! I've said before and I will say it - that were deprived of more animated battles for the Galarian Starters because someone thought it wise to give them to a non-battling character is one of the stupidest decisions made in the animated series.
  • Pikachu Vs. Charizard. I've never been a fan of the anime's Dynamax battles, so I'm glad we got this out of the way and can move on to more dynamic combat in Charizard's base form. Tellingly, Pikachu felt kind of lethargic throughout the whole event; it just taking Max Wyrmwind without so much as a Thunderbolt counter or dodge felt a bit lazy in my opinion as a writing decision. And Ash using...Iron Tail? On Charizard?
And then there's Eternatus. You'd think there'd be a bit more security for an Eldritch Abomination that nearly threatened to destroy the world 100 episodes ago, but I guess not... I mean, at least under Go's care, there's no threat of it escaping to do Arceus-knows-what-whenever-it-wants. Still, I'm assuming that Eternatus will come and absorb all the energy generated due to Mega Evolution, Dynamax, and a Z-Move being used consecutively within the same area - basically doing one last hurrah to end its anime presence in a positive light.

Other thoughts:
  • I don't know what the purpose of Dracovish's spikes were. Maybe a shoutout to Hawlucha's red energy from the Kalos final? That aside, it certainly made use of them, but I still feel weird about this anime adaption and narrative choice. A bit too convenient.
  • Shoutout to Cynthia and Diantha for being the only Champions to stay and watch the entire event.
  • Lucario definitely put in effort with its KO, but I feel like its defeat was a bit unceremonious, given what we just saw with Cynthia. It's Lycanroc all over again.
  • So, I guess Serena isn't coming after all. Nor are any of Ash's other friends. It also seems that only those who cameoed in Journeys get another cameo regardless. Which makes things like not including Cilan completely outrageous given his best friends entered the world's televised tournament to find the strongest Trainer. It also makes the whole thing feel kind of spotty - what exactly were Misty, Brock, May, Max, Cilan, and Serena doing in-universe that they couldn't even be given a silent cameo to show support? We do still have another episode left, but I'm not very hopeful for such scenes in the slightest.
 
I thought the same. The ace fell down like after his last huge impact.. so Pikachu will be the main case once again.
  • Lucario definitely put in effort with its KO, but I feel like its defeat was a bit unceremonious, given what we just saw with Cynthia. It's Lycanroc all over again.
 
Which music was it in the showdown between Gigantamax Charizard and Pikachu's Z-move? Is it from an earlier series or this and if earlier, which? I like it.
 
The mighty Rillaboom strikes again. It was such a beast in this ep and I love getting to see it in action. Honestly it’s performance here almost makes it sweeping Diantha believable. It’s somehow powerful, bulky and nimble all at once. Drum beating is an incredible ranged attack that gives it full control of the battlefield, acrobatics is good for dodging and attacking simultaneously, high horsepower lets it power through most attacks/pokemon and knock off is a defensive tool that is better for handling projectiles compared to drum beating (which seems better for spread moves like hurricane). The fact it took a super effective hurricane and meteor assault just goes to show how impressive it is. Although it’s a shame how Grooky was handled this series, Leon’s Rillaboom gave it more than enough good rep for this line imo

The Cinderace battle was a bit lackluster though. I would’ve liked more strategy from Ash, especially with him trying to counter Libero. It’s also annoying that Cinderace took 0 damage against Dracovish which makes its defeat from Pikachu look worse later. It was still well animated but felt like a step down from all the strats we’ve been getting so far. Pikachu vs Gmax Charizard was sick tho, loved the move collision by the end

Ranking each part I’d say 4 > 2 > 3 > 1, all were great but the first one ofc had less battling so it’s my lowest
 
Ranking each part I’d say 4 > 2 > 3 > 1, all were great but the first one ofc had less battling so it’s my lowest
Ironically enough I personally would swap 1 and 3. I had less battling, but what it had was one of the best strategic displays. It sets up Leon as a formidable threat with Libero, shows it isn’t going to be easy for Ash as he has to use up Gigantamax with his literal second Pokémon (and Leon is powerful enough to end it prematurely), and reinforces Ash’s position in the Masters 8 via the creative use of Max Ooze and G-Max Terror. They actually show that the anime is no longer shying away from competitive game strats, even Ash who usually stays away from it with him actually using a trapping move of all things.

With the emotional weight of Episode 4, my ranking would be 4 > 2 > 1 > 3, but based purely on battle strategy it’s going to be 2 > 1 > 3 > 4.

Episode 4 in itself wasn’t huge on battle, it was mostly emotions and flash to drive forward the narrative (which isn’t a bad thing in itself), but oh my god the other episodes are so much better at choreographing battles.
Ash vs. Cynthia episode 1 and Ash vs Leon part 2 have set one of the most gloomy atmospheres with Ash with regards to battling- for the first time ever they ACTUALLY depict a sense of tension and “Ash is in trouble” and keep the weight instead of it being a throwaway line.
 
Ironically enough I personally would swap 1 and 3. I had less battling, but what it had was one of the best strategic displays. It sets up Leon as a formidable threat with Libero, shows it isn’t going to be easy for Ash as he has to use up Gigantamax with his literal second Pokémon (and Leon is powerful enough to end it prematurely), and reinforces Ash’s position in the Masters 8 via the creative use of Max Ooze and G-Max Terror. They actually show that the anime is no longer shying away from competitive game strats, even Ash who usually stays away from it with him actually using a trapping move of all things.

With the emotional weight of Episode 4, my ranking would be 4 > 2 > 1 > 3, but based purely on battle strategy it’s going to be 2 > 1 > 3 > 4.

Episode 4 in itself wasn’t huge on battle, it was mostly emotions and flash to drive forward the narrative (which isn’t a bad thing in itself), but oh my god the other episodes are so much better at choreographing battles.
Ash vs. Cynthia episode 1 and Ash vs Leon part 2 have set one of the most gloomy atmospheres with Ash with regards to battling- for the first time ever they ACTUALLY depict a sense of tension and “Ash is in trouble” and keep the weight instead of it being a throwaway line.
I’ll agree that Gengar vs Inteleon was the best battle across those 2 eps, but I’ll see how I go on rewatch before switching them
 
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