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REVIEW: SS018: Satoshi Participates! The Pokémon World Championships!!

Watching over Ori and Ku
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Re-watching the episode with subtitles helped me understand a lot and made my opinion of the episode even better.

Pros:
  • I started to watch this episode with a lot of doubt and skepticism, preparing myself for a snoozefest with a lot of nostalgia baiting and only a small flashback involving passing mention of continuity elements. I was really wrong and what we got was far more than I hoped for, since this episode was chock full of continuity that was naturally embedded in the episode's events and did not feel like fan service at all (contrary to some people's claims), nor did it contradict Ash or the Vermillion Gym staff's past, characterization or development. Not only did Ash remember Surge and their battle clearly, but the staff at the Vermillion Gym did as well and recounted that initial battle hence making Ash quite popular at the place. Surge ended up being inspired by Ash and is absent because of his own training (I doubt he was training all this time since then but whatever, I guess he's like Fantina then). Not just Ash himself, but the strategy that Ash used seems quite notorious as well with the assistants making comments about it. Hopefully, the comment about Visquez reporting to Surge about her match against Ash as well passing on the message about Ash wanting a battle means we'll see the Lieutenant in person soon. Speaking of rematches, I hope we get to see some of the other Gym Leaders against whom Ash never won a proper match against so that he can do so properly this time, and that includes Giovanni as well. Though it might be awkward with Giovanni after what happened in Unova. At the end of the day, I guess I'm not bothered by Surge's absence much given the reason and the fact that Ash hinted at wanting a match with him.
  • The actual battle itself was spectacular (easily the best battle of this series for now) and one thing about it that I liked a lot was the fact that every single match-up happened (4 for 2v2s) and was given appropriate screen time, what a pleasure since battles rarely happened this way. It's great to see other people who know Ash end up adopting his strategy, Surge's defeat by Ash inspiring him and his colleagues to not just go for brute power but also speed and unorthodox methods. Pikachu vs. Raichu was pretty much reminiscent of the original battle between the two with the infamous tail grounding strategy being used, nice to see Pikachu overwhelmed by Raichu's change in strategy and tactics like usage of its tail and Reflect, instead of just muscling it through like last time. Glad that it didn't end up like how the original battle went and Pikachu was substituted instead. The next matchup was brutal yet satisfying at the same time and reminded me of how Sabrina's Kadabra manhandled Pikachu, only this time Ash and Gengar are the ones dishing out punishment. Gengar vs. Electrode was a bit strange because of how Gengar wasn't able to immaterialize itself but I assume it's because of how it was caught off guard by Electrode. Speaking of which, this ties back into Visquez learning lessons from Surge about Ash and using unpredictable tactics. And finally, the last match-up with Pikachu against Electrode. It started out a bit stale with Pikachu being pummeled by Rollout but quickly changed with the PokeSnap easter egg strategy to slow Electrode followed by using it's own move against it. Electroweb shield was a bit eye roll worthy but I guess I can't complain with how it's been established as a defensive tool (and the fact that it felt quite solid when Ash was using it as a trampoline without getting tangled up in the gaps). Nice touch with showing us what happens in between battles with the assistants cleaning up and all, I wonder who pays for all that property damage though.
  • So, seems like the World Championships has a concept of 'seasons' and puts everyone on an equal footing, regardless of prior achievements or placements, by making them start out in the Normal Class. I guess that makes sense as well, since the Gym Leader + E4 + Champion system felt like a closed/tight hierachy. Besides, the equal footing won't matter since better trainers will automatically manage to climb the rankings in the end. Ash's victory here leading him to jumping straight to rank #3763 was a decent start that didn't place him too high or too low, I just hope they won't start skipping him too fast and it'll instead be a slow progression that's worth it in the end. Poor Visquez though, wonder how far down she dropped. Speaking of Visquez, it's great to see other PWC contenders doing their own thing or carrying on with their lives instead of just waiting for their interaction with Ash with nothing else to do. I hate her plug shaped ponytail though, that's a bit of an unnecessary addition to her design, she would have looked better without it.
Cons:
  • Although it didn't harm the episode's quality in any way, Gou's capture of Spearow was very random, unnecessary and just pointless in general that does nothing to help him progress, it's just something arbitrary that they just had to shove in for some reason. Also, how many times are they going to repeat the scenes where Ash and Gou's goals get told on-screen? Those segments waste a lot of precious screen time as it is. Like seriously, we get it that these two have distinct goals that they're aiming for but we don't have to see it over and over and over, it's exhausting. Repeating these scenes is pretty much them considering the audience to be dumb (which isn't the case at all, irrelevant management assumptions aside) as well as using up screen time that could be allocated to something better and meaningful even if it's in minor quantity.
Additional thoughts:
  • So, I guess Raboot has officially entered the teenage Kuudere phase of its life. Gotta wonder where Raboot's blatant interest in battling will lead. I highly doubt Gou will be participating in any long term battling related goal mostly because he'll be absolutely erased for being a newbie, but also because it doesn't suit him and it's redundant with Ash around even if it's a regular regional League. So I guess that leaves three additional options to satisfy Raboot's battling itch. First, it'll participate much more actively against Pokemon Gou is trying to capture and Gou might do a few battles like how Dawn did in DP and BW, though this all depends on how battle hungry Raboot actually is or becomes. Second, Raboot forces Ash to let it battle with him or is just lent to the boy in general, so that it can participate in the PWC. This seems like a probable outcome though one has to question the legality of using another person's Pokemon, and if this is the outcome planned then hopefully it's not executed in a poor manner like Mr. Mime just to avoid bringing back reserves. Third and finally, Raboot gets traded to Ash but the fact that it's supposed to be Gou's main Pokemon makes this outcome very much nil. I guess the management initially thought that Scorbunny could be used as a Gen mascot and kept unevolved but they ended up making it quite competitive and evolve and now they're confused themselves.
  • That English accented drone made me a bit uncomfortable, I guess it's just my problem because I always find it weird when someone speaks a local language in a foreign accent. Speaking of Rotoms, we have Rotom Phones, Dexes and Drones so I hope they'll introduce more Rotom forms in the games that can be used in battles.

Verdict: This episode improved my outlook on the series and made me hopeful of future episodes by Tomioka. There was a lot of continuity and an amazing battle to cap it off so it's a 10/10 from me. This episode proves that embracing and naturally integrating continuity and past stuff only serves to improve the episode's/series'/anime's quality, and hopefully it'll quieten every continuity hater or people making poor excuses for not including continuity.

Jeez, another long post...

I am so glad they finally acknowledge something outright from the past series instead of slight hints, especially one of the best battles from there. That was the first time when Ash getting a badge felt truly earned (even though he was totally winning against Misty).
I still feel it's stupid that Misty snarked about Ash on how her badge was a pity badge when Ash was clearly winning their initial battle. No matter, she did get trounced thoroughly shortly after that.
 
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My Blue Sweetheart
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Episode gets an automatic 10/10 for the shadow of Misty (just kidding...kind of.)

In all seriousness, this episode was outstanding. Easily the best one so far. Everything was on point here: the art, the animation, the story, the battle...there was pretty much nothing in this episode that I didn't like.

For starters, I so appreciate them expanding upon how the World Championships actually work. The ranking system is so much clearer now (gym leaders and regular trainers all starting off in the same class, past career accomplishments not helping them out, the speed at which you move up in the rankings depending on who you beat, etc). I feel like now I have a better idea of what to expect out of future episodes.

Now, the big thing: I'll gladly admit I was very skeptical and downright unhappy that they replaced Lt. Surge with a random, anime exclusive character (who, for the sake of my review, I'll just call Bisces based on the subs). After watching the episode, I'm much more okay with it. While it still doesn't make total sense to me, I am more than satisfied that they A) actually mentioned and showed Lt. Surge, B) had the other trainers (including Bisces) know about Ash's past battle with Lt. Surge (that one was unexpected but very welcome!), and C) even brought up the possibility of Ash re-challenging Lt. Surge in the future. And actually, I found it kind of interesting to see what happens when a gym leader takes an extended leave of absence from their gym! Much better than in the past where Ash would try to challenge a gym and it was just...closed. This seems much more practical! I also, as weird as it sounds, love that they showed the gym getting cleaned up after the first battle! Come on, haven't we all wondered what happens after Ash totally destroys one of those buildings during a heated battle? The realism here was awesome.

The battle itself was excellent, and that's saying something coming from me! I didn't get bored for a single second. Even Pikachu vs. Raichu, which I thought would be a rehash, was pretty excellent and didn't take up too much time. I absolutely love it when they show Ash having an excellent strategy and battling smart. This one was the textbook definition of that.

Gou making a capture offscreen? Fine! I'd love it if they did that more often! See, he was able to catch a new Pokemon without taking any of the focus away from Ash. I'm more than okay with that. Does that make Spearrow memorable? Absolutely not, but at least we didn't waste precious screentime on it!

I will also be curious to see what comes up with Raboot. It's pretty clearly interested in battling, even if it doesn't want to show it. Perhaps this will push Gou more into battling (although personally, I don't want to see him enter the World Championships. I'd rather that be Ash's own thing. Maybe Gou could go out for some gym badges instead!

Also, just on a personal note, I was laughing when they showed Brock as one of the gym leaders. I'm assuming they were just pulling from Ash's own memories/the games, but all I could think was "please just let this poor guy study to be a Pokemon doctor" :LOL:

I will be ecstatic if the other World Championship episodes are in the same vein as this one. This is exactly what I wanted to see out of this series and where I truly think it can shine.
 
At least you tried...
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I still feel it's stupid that Misty snarked about Ash on how her badge was a pity badge when Ash was clearly winning their initial battle. No matter, she did get trounced thoroughly shortly after that.
She retconned that in her mind pretty early, since she made a comment about it in Mystery At The Lighthouse (and I think Ash's Pokémon nodded along with her? Early Kanto had a rather unique thing where Ash's Pokémon liked but didn't respect him, while his later parties pretty much all adore him).
 
ლ(ಠ益ಠლ)
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Well, that was good. Animation and music was on point, and Tomioka really did a solid job with the script, both with all the continuity nods as well as the unique battle tactics. Seeing Magnet Rise used that way was great and innovative. And of course the way that Gengar MURDERED that Raichu whilst its 'own' theme was playing - wow, that was some hype stuff. I have to say, Gengar's battle style is really entertaining, it has a solid and fun move-set and is also great at showing off the unique movements characteristics of Ghost types - including being able to phase in and out like it did to avoid Raichu's tail. Gengar not being able to phase against Electrode bothered me a bit as well, but I'll buy into that headcanon that Gengar has to see the opponent coming clearly to be able to do that.

My only complaint is that the battle was short, as it started when half the episode was already half over. I'll let it slide this one time as it was the first WC match, but I hope in the future matches the writers do what they usually do with most gym battles: one episode to introduce the opponent, and one directly following it where the battle starts immediately and lasts almost the entire episode (even if it might clash a bit against the "episodic" theme of the series - the end result is well worth it, as the battles are fleshed out way more).
 
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She retconned that in her mind pretty early, since she made a comment about it in Mystery At The Lighthouse (and I think Ash's Pokémon nodded along with her? Early Kanto had a rather unique thing where Ash's Pokémon liked but didn't respect him, while his later parties pretty much all adore him).
Even as a child I was annoyed by this scene. Especialy when Misty said all of his Pokémon just followed him (I don't know if this is only a dub thing) and Pokémon like Butterfree, Pidgeotto and Bulbasaur were just nodding. Even Pikachu shouldn't have nodded. He was given to Ash, but he surely didn't just follow him. But hey, at least this comment led Ash into catching Krabby. And his Kingler is a beast. I hope there will come a day Kingler will shine again. But I'm afraid if Ash's old Pokémon return, Kingler will not be on the top of the list of the writers.
 
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Also, how many times are they going to repeat the scenes where Ash and Gou's goals get told on-screen? Those segments waste a lot of precious screen time as it is. Like seriously, we get it that these two have distinct goals that they're aiming for but we don't have to see it over and over and over, it's exhausting. Repeating these scenes is pretty much them considering the audience to be dumb (which isn't the case at all, irrelevant management assumptions aside) as well as using up screen time that could be allocated to something better and meaningful even if it's in minor quantity.
This seems to be a pretty common thing among long-running shows (eg. One Piece), whereby they brief the viewers on the shows's main premise and/or the main characters' goals at the start of each episode. I'm guessing it's there so that new viewers can just hop in and watch an episode even if they're not familiar with the series.

I think it's unnecessary too, but expect it to stay for the rest of the series.
 
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Oh please this goes beyond a simple art style change. This is full blown 'whitewashed Bea in Twilight Wings'. I could maybe tolerate Surge's new facial features even if it makes him look like he had a dozen plastic surgeries since the last time we saw him because Ash's face has also had some modifications, but Ash's skin color has remained intact for the most part. Meanwhile Surge - who had the same skin tone as Brock back in OS - is now glistening like white marble. It'd be like if Brock had returned in SuMo looking as pale as Misty. So please don't try to tell me that's normal even for this show...

Maybe it's because I'm a person of color and still traumatized from that time when people on Tumblr made whitewashed fan art of Nessa, but I'm a little offended that the official anime would actually whitewash Lt. Surge to this degree.
You're clearly overreacting and clearly blinded by SJW bullshit accusing the show of "racism" and "whitewashing" what the fuck. I'm a mixed latino and afro guy and didn't feel offended at all, Pokémon is a japanese show first AND Surge was never a "black" guy, it's clear he was tanned just like bodybuilders that get a extreme tan, Marlon the gym leader from Unova is another example of tanned characters, I'm glad they used his canon design.

...About the episode well that was amazing, the best episode of Pocket Monsters (2019) so far! I liked the battles in PM012 and PM013 but since the ultimate Ash vs Kukui showdown this is the best one and the outcome was unexpected, I thought Pikachu was beating Raichu and Gengar winning over Electored and turned out Gengar beat Raichu and Pikachu defeated Electrode, nice! the flashbacks, the references, the continuity, I love it! I just wonder if Ash is going to face some Kanto gym leaders again or just a reference to his past?

Anyway, definitely a 10/10.
 
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Wow, the battles have been really great and a big improvement from Sun & Moon's average. They are really fast-paced, use moves in interesting ways and do a good job of showing Ash's creativity. I also loved the impact of the battle with Surge here, I bet that unlike the writers only 1-2 users from here re-watched that episode in preparation for this one. My only complaints would be that Gengar vs Raichu was too much of a curb stomp and that Fujisaku-like ending (Thankfully Pikachu didn't need it to win but it can be exploited in future battles).

I also liked the new info we got about the World Championships as I said in the other thread.
 
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This was a pretty good episode with a pretty good battle, although I wish it had been consistent in regard's to Gangar's intangibility... things either need to pass through it or not.

Also, the 'New Series' has finally given me a BGM track I like in regards to Gangar's theme. I love how intense it made the battle against Raichu.
 
Master of the Shadows
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In regards to the issue of Gengar’s intangibility, my guess is that it works on command and Gengar actually has to perceive the attack coming in time to activate it. Thus, Gengar could do it with Raichu, but not Electrode, as Electrode was too fast for it.
 
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In regards to the issue of Gengar’s intangibility, my guess is that it works on command and Gengar actually has to perceive the attack coming in time to activate it. Thus, Gengar could do it with Raichu, but not Electrode, as Electrode was too fast for it.
Which does make sense when you think about it, since Electrode has the highest base speed stat of all Electric-type Pokemon.
 
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In regards to the issue of Gengar’s intangibility, my guess is that it works on command and Gengar actually has to perceive the attack coming in time to activate it. Thus, Gengar could do it with Raichu, but not Electrode, as Electrode was too fast for it.
I much prefer it as something Gengar has to actively use, being automatically immune to anything solid would be too OP.
 
my opinions don't count
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I'm probably pretty late to this discussion, but here we go anyway.

Some notes I made during the episode:
  • The Opening remains unchanged even now Scorbunny has evolved into Raboot, strange.
  • Glad to see continuity and Ash acknowledging that he’s already won the Thunder Badge, I had honestly expected for the writers to wipe his memory and making him forget he ever fought Surge.
  • I can’t explain how happy I am that the gymleader knew about Ash and his battle from Surge.
  • The Rotom Drone accent was very uncomfortable.
  • Gou catching that Spearow was very pointless, why give spotlight to even more Kanto Pokémon, as if Ash’s team doesn’t consist of 100% Kanto Pokémon.
  • I was fully expecting Ash to lose the battle to be honest, but I’m pleasantly surprised that he won after all.
  • Can’t wait to see the Ash vs Surge rematch!
Overall this was a pretty good episode, not really anything special in my opinion, though. I generally like battle episodes less than the character episodes.

7.5/10
 
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Yeah, the inconsistencies regarding Gengar's incorporeality kinda bothered me a bit, too. Technically speaking, I don't see any real difference between Raichu attacking with its tail and Electrode ramming itself against Gengar, so it's a bit weird that the latter works while the former doesn't. My headcanon is that Gengar actually has to see the attack coming in order to phase through it, so Electrode's erratic movements prevented Gengar from easily predicting the direction of its attacks.
That's the thing with incoporealness: you don't need to see an attack coming to go ghosty - it's just there so gengar can job and Pikachu can clean up
Subs kinda confirm the Raichu is Surge's.
He trained it, but it's not the same one that Pikachu faced
The Opening remains unchanged even now Scorbunny has evolved into Raboot, strange.
Well, it'd be rather weird to have raboot standing in the corner sulking during the opening, so...
 
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The subtitles I'm familiar with just say "this Raichu is my comrade, trained by the Captain himself!", which is a little vague. But if you combine it with Pikachu and Raichu's lack of interaction, it's pretty obvious that it's a different Raichu. No way would Pikachu have agreed to retreat if it had been that Raichu.
 
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Yeah, the inconsistencies regarding Gengar's incorporeality kinda bothered me a bit, too. Technically speaking, I don't see any real difference between Raichu attacking with its tail and Electrode ramming itself against Gengar, so it's a bit weird that the latter works while the former doesn't. My headcanon is that Gengar actually has to see the attack coming in order to phase through it, so Electrode's erratic movements prevented Gengar from easily predicting the direction of its attacks.
It’s possible that Gengar wasn’t able to because of the incredible speed of that electrode
 
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