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Review JN137: Winds of Beginning! The Endless Road!!

Warning: long post incoming.

Originally I didn´t want to watch this new «series», because I knew they would do emotional manipulation with long time fans and, although they did just that, I´m glad to have actually watch it.

This may sound cringe and pathetic, but I literaly cried during the episode. Not because it was emotional but because it reminded me of what I love about this series: Team Rocket. This episode felt like the production used a time machine and took it directly from the pre-SM days. Since the end of XY, TR have taken a backseat. Many people online disliked the scheme of the week formula. I always loved it. The formula that worked for so many years and, as proven today, would still work until they decided to get drunk with Yokai-Watch popularity and changed the anime´s structure forever. A short lived popularity they tried to copy by losing a big part of their soul. A decision I never understood and most definetly will never understand, but that´s a topic for another time. Suffice to say, I was taken back in time, to a more simple and happy time, when I waited impatiently each week for the new episode each thursday to see in wich kinda of ways TR would make me laugh, Oh, the sweet memories. Even now I have tears as I write this.

Although I loved the episode, there were things that I disliked. The opening, for instance, is just embarasing. Not the vocals, but the animation. A clip show for the grand finale? Really? They care so little about us old viewers that they cound´t even bother to try making it something special like, for example, actually reanimating the original OP. Another thing I despised was that Professor Oak scene emulating the respective scene from movie 2000. It was blatant emotional maniplation. Many people say it was a love letter to the old fans, but in my heart I didn´t feel that way. To me it was a «We reworked this scene from a beloved movie. Now be gratefull and move along to give way for the next generation that will buy our products. You are old and you are finished. You can continue to savour your memories of this franchise, but we don´t have a place or purpose for you anymore. Go cry your nostalgia tears elsewhere with your outdated characters. Oh, but first buy our memorial products one last time!» This is obviously overdramatic but is what I genuily felt. Some fans talk about a bittersweet feeling. I only feel the bitter, because I keep thinking about what was and could continue to be, but won´t because «new things and shacking the formula are always good».

The TR paldean expedition segment was a nice surprise, but once again makes me question if people in charge of the anime have any idea of what they are doing. It appears they are so desperate to promote the SV games that they need this segments to showcase the new pokemon that won´t be appearing in the series proper during this final stretch of episodes. If so, why will the next series continue the world tour format? Nonsensical, in my opinion.

Even if I loved this episode, I still don´t have high expectations about this «series» and still believe it is a slap in the face to old fans. Only 11 episodes to say goodbye to such beloved characters (and my friends, as ridiculous as that may sound to some)? Preposterous. I only pray Team Rocket will be given the love thay deserve and get to appear in every episode. No, the expedition segments don´t count. I know many don´t want that, but I think we, TR fans, deserve atleast this much episodes to enjoy after how horribly misteated they were during Journeys (and, in my opinion, SM, but I know a lot of TR fans liked that series so I wont say more on the matter). Like it or not, after Ash and Pikachu, the most important characters from the anime who made people laugh, cry and even get through hard times during 25 years weren´t Misty or Brock or Dawn or Serena. It was Team Rocket, my dear friends.

I know a lot of what I write sounds dramatic but is how I feel deep down. I am passing hard times in real life and the anime (especially Team Rocket), were my anchor, my safe harbour. That friend I thought would stay with me forever. Obviously that´s not the case and this posts help me vent some of the sadness. They are terepeutical, in a way.

For those who read this essay, thank you and I hope you enjoy the episodes!
 
Honestly, 11 episodes seems like good enough time to pack things up if they play their cards right, IMO. Most series get a half assed special in these scenarios.

Anyway, this was a fun lighthearted episode that went back to this show’s favorite location: generic nameless forest! (No srsly, I lowkey missed it)

The pokemon reintroductions were a lovely surprise for me and even though there was a lot of awkwardly standing around by their part (come on Noivern, you can FLY! Chase after the goddamn balloon!) I’m happy they got to stick around and give us a taste of what’s to come. Plus this Latias is an interesting omen.
 
I'm impressed.

We finally got an episode of Pokemon that felt like an episode of Pokemon.

It was fun. It was funny. Pokemon got to do things, and be characters, rather than tools. Why did it take Ash leaving for the writers to remember what Pokemon was about?
 
I'm impressed.

We finally got an episode of Pokemon that felt like an episode of Pokemon.

It was fun. It was funny. Pokemon got to do things, and be characters, rather than tools. Why did it take Ash leaving for the writers to remember what Pokemon was about?
Monkey’s paw at its finest.
 
I'm impressed.

We finally got an episode of Pokemon that felt like an episode of Pokemon.

It was fun. It was funny. Pokemon got to do things, and be characters, rather than tools. Why did it take Ash leaving for the writers to remember what Pokemon was about?

I would say because we know one writer who is very experienced with Pokemon since episode 3 of the Kanto saga, towards now. But due to these 11 episodes not entirely written by him, from researching the upcoming episodes, I'm bracing myself for the worst.

Regarding the 4 Pokemon shown with Ash and Pikachu in this episode, will they just shuffle different Pokemon in the team for each episode?
 
I really enjoyed this episode! The Rocket trio were a big highlight of the episode, and I loved that they had a new motto sequence. Seeing it in full action makes me even more convinced we'll get new sequences each time they perform it this series. While I'm disappointed they didn't use a classic music track, I much prefer the piece they used over their dumb PM19 motto theme.

Really hoping some Miyazaki music starts popping up soon...
 
Didn’t expect the start of the remaining episodes to be like this, but a decent beginning either way

Not too much to say about this TBH. Outside of the cute scenes with Ash/Pikachu in the first half of the episode, the rest of the plot was pretty standard and besides the POTD being Latias it felt like a standard filler. My feelings towards this episode amount mostly to whether or not they choose to take the Latias tease at the end anywhere later down the line

ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS:
  • Sick to see that the teams will be shuffled every episode, but it really does surprise me they opted to do this so late in the series
  • The final OP is… really underwhelming? I can understand them relying on older clips because of the production issues but I wish they chose to do more than Kanto for 90% of it
  • Rotom Dex lives on!
  • No recycled motto animation!

OVERALL SCORE:
6.5/10
 
Although the plot itself was quite standard, there's a lot of things that I enjoyed about this episode. There's that moment of playful bickering between Ash and Pikachu that I mentioned earlier, which showcases how close the bond between those two are. Meowth nonchalantly walking up to Ash and Pikachu was hilarious as well. The brief battle between the Rocket trio and Ash was also nice, since we got to see Wobbuffet fight for a bit, as well as Ash demonstrating his team consisting of a variety of Pokemon from all the adventures he's been through thus far.

With all that said, I think a small detail that I appreciated the most from this episode was seeing Sceptile and Noivern stand guard the whole night while everyone else was sleeping. These are two Pokemon that we've basically never seen interacting with each other before, so simply seeing them silently stand guard together says a lot about their character and how closely Ash's team members have bonded with each other during their time spent at Oak's lab. Plus, I don't think Ash is the type of person who'd explicitly order his Pokemon to keep watch while he goes to sleep, so I think it's likely that Sceptile and Noivern decided to do that on their own volition, which makes this moment feel so much cooler. I really hope we get more moments like this between Ash's team members throughout this mini-series.
 
They did something similar to The Distant Blue Sky special in writing a "standard" episode of sorts with something extra, to recapture the feeling of a quintissential Pokémon episode. It also has a bit more of that OS/SM-style slapstick we've been missing for a while. I like this direction to start things off (it could be setting up an ongoing plot with Latias? I'm not 100% convinced she was hurt that badly just by crashing into Team Rocket).

Something nice to see was Ash as an experienced traveller by now. He's always either with friends or in a stationary place, so a brief journey with just him and Pikachu is a refreshing change of pace. It's not just the medical skills he got from Brock but also vine swinging, which he couldn't do before meeting Iris. It's the little things like that honestly.

As for the Rocket side of things, they were slapsticky, they used Wobbuffet, and it looks like they'll be dropping the stock motto footage? We're getting good signs for how this arc is going to treat them, character-wise. That said, they have more pre-series backstory than Ash so I'm still a bit worried if they'll be able to give them proper closure.

A decent episode overall. By the way, I liked how they kept the setting pretty vague, I really thought Ash was just going to wander around in Kanto, picking up right from the previous episode. This and the Delia/Oak scene shows he's been travelling like this for a while.

As for the "packaging", I'm not a huge fan of the stock footage for the opening, let alone with that weird filter they're using and the awkward switches to 4:3. The ending on the other hand was a nice throwback and I'm okay with them using the same thing as-is. It's also serves as a nice homage to the late Unsho Ishizuka that will probably get better reception than what The Distant Blue Sky did (since I've learnt lots of people don't take it too kindly to using deceased people's voice-overs, despite songs being perfectly okay). I remember loving the next episode preview BGM from the original series so I got a huge rush of nostalgia from hearing it again after so long; I wasn't expecting that.
 
Honestly, 11 episodes seems like good enough time to pack things up if they play their cards right, IMO. Most series get a half assed special in these scenarios.

Anyway, this was a fun lighthearted episode that went back to this show’s favorite location: generic nameless forest! (No srsly, I lowkey missed it)

The pokemon reintroductions were a lovely surprise for me and even though there was a lot of awkwardly standing around by their part (come on Noivern, you can FLY! Chase after the goddamn balloon!) I’m happy they got to stick around and give us a taste of what’s to come. Plus this Latias is an interesting omen.
Most seasons of anime are around 12-14 episodes, I see no problem.

Also to each their own but this was a fun episode and I loved every second of it. Some of the comments in here sound really bitter, especially the ones claiming pikachu to be out of character when it was ash and pikachu just trolling each other. Like good friends do.

I also felt the opening was a good call back to the OG series, a reanimated version could have been nicer but I think they wanted to preserve that original 90s anime feel by using the footage from that anime.
 
Feeling the sudden urge that Satoshi decides to be the first Pokémon Veterinarian at the end of this series, not like Pokémon Doctors which is made up by Takeshi.
 
You know, I'm not really a huge fan of how fillerish this episode was. I hope the following 10 episodes have a bit more interesting content.

Additionally, Pikachu is being slightly OoC (at least compared to how it used to be in more recent generations). Also, did anybody really think Ash was going to catch a legendary literally just 10 episodes before he hands the MC reins to Riko and Roy? The time to do that would have been before the M8 fights, WAY before that.
To the contrary, I think this would be the best suited time for Ash to catch a (minor) legendary. He's unlikely to have any other catches in the series to distract from it interacting, there's no upcoming high-stakes competitions for it to feel unfair in and make his team feel lopsided in, and the fact that the series is ending means there's no need to consider how to treat it in the long term (since a lot of fans would hate seeing Ash send a legendary to Oak's lab or worse, release it). It would also show that even as the world champion, Ash is still evolving and doing new things as a trainer, giving a better outlook for when they inevitably end the series on a "and Ash's adventures continue" note.
 
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