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The Confusion of JN068: Gou's Rival!? The Road to Mew!!

Craiden

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Before I start, many people did indeed enjoy the episode, many had some valid criticisms of the episode. Personally, I thought this was a great episode, that being said, it has also (granted, I have thought on this subject before) brought to my attention that people...didn't get the intent of this episode. For example, it's fine to not like that Ash's reserves didn't get much time, however, holding that against the episode, which was told to us was going to be about Project Mew...I think is fairly silly (and prominent episode reviewers/Twitter, which aren't the same thing...somehow going with this narrative has really bugged me, so I'm going to lay out what I think this episode wanted to do, and then evaluate it, and hopefully dispel some "myths" about connotations referring to this episode.

1. First and foremost, as stated above, this episode was meant to introduce the concept "Project Mew." In this episode, we learn that they are a team that's objective...is to search for Mew. Fairly basic, but now we know their purpose. We also learn, through Gary, and this episode, that they're recruiting (technically, Professor Oak tells us this, but it's shown to us via Gary). To join, apparently you have to go through/complete an unknown number of Trial Missions, and you get a "token" for completing said missions. Gary needed to acquire a feather from Moltres, so through various scientific methods/tools, made a prediction about where Moltres would be, that happened to be near Oak's Lab, where Ash and Gou were sent this episode to deliver documents. So, we know that one of these Trial Missions was to acquire a feather from a Legendary Pokemon, and based on the trailer we got earlier, Ash and Gou are going to battle a Regice, probably as part of a similar Trial Mission.

2. This episode was also to get Gou interested in Project Mew. People can fairly criticize how that was done, but Gou initially had no interest in being recruited, and if people want me to go into that, we can have that discussion. So, through Gary again, the episode has Gou evaluate Gary (while Gary also evaluated Gou) to get Gou to a point where he doesn't want to be "outdone" by Gary, so he decides at the end of the episode, despite not wanting to initially, that he was going to see about taking part. While I do not think people can criticize that this episode succeeded in establishing Project Mew (or Gary, for that matter) this is a fair point to debate, and I encourage that. For the most part, I thought this was good too. Also keep in mind, opinions are subjective, and while I say I don't think one can criticize the establishment of Project Mew, feel free to prove me wrong there too.

3. This episode also was set to give viewers (probably newer ones) a taste of Ash's past, through the scope of Gary (once again) but also the appearances of some of his old Pokemon. This is the big "sticking" point for those criticizing the episode, and I can get that to an extent, but this also was the "least important" focus of the episode. That being said, I thought this was done well too. We got to see far more Pokemon than in SM 42 (which didn't have these other objectives in mind, mind you) we get to see a brief history of Ash/Gary, and through Gary, we learn that Ash/Infernape took part in the Sinnoh League vs a Trainer (Paul) and his Electivire. For a while, people have been wanting to see Gou learn of Ash's past, and it has been done to some extent recently, with Iris, and now Gary. I thought people would at least nod at that, but that isn't even being mentioned now. That being said, I can get wanting to see more of Ash's other Pokemon (I appreciated the Muk gag, but didn't care for the Tauros gag this time) but at the same time, I can also argue that this was a secondary (if not lower) focus, and the main thing here was establishing the Ash/Gary dynamic (which I also thought was done well here).

So, I think I laid out the objectives of this episode fairly well (feel free to disagree/add on to something you think I missed) and by these accounts, I think it's only fair to say this episode was good. As I stated above, I can get holding the lack of Ash's Pokemon, perhaps the lack of a "Raid battle" against the episode, but if you're just looking at what this episode wanted to do, I don't think it's fair to call this a "bad" episode. People will also bemoan this not being a "2-parter" which I can also get. to some extent, but that shouldn't be held against the singular episode either. First and foremost, this was a Project Mew episode, and this episode served to establish them. It didn't even have to introduce Gary/Ash's Pokemon again at all, but the writers decided on an admittedly cool (imo) way to rev up some interest in this Project, even implying that Gary is going to show up again. And at the same time, while I don't know how SM 42 was received, many people are complaining that "this wouldn't happen in SM" but the SM "Oak episode" which didn't have purpose beyond the gang visiting Oak's Lab, showed off less of Ash's Pokemon. And Pokemon XY didn't bother with this type of thing to begin with, so we don't know how they would've handled this. I bring these up to bring to attention...that we haven't had this type of episode...well, at all, I don't think, but Ash reuniting with a good number of Pokemon like this...since the start of Battle Frontier (techinically Advanced Battle still). The Sinnoh episode gave us a fairly similar montage of Ash rotating Pokemon to get some training in before the League.

So, why make this thread? One, to try to bring attention to how this episode should be viewed, while allowing for valid criticisms to be had (both at the episode, and at me). Two, to bring to mind the fact...that this is probably the "best" Oak's Lab episode in 15 years, so I wanted to give credit for that. I think the Review thread is doing alright as far as looking at the episode, but there's a fair bit of discourse elsewhere about this episode being "bad" because Ash's Pokemon didn't appear for very long, and I wanted to underline why that isn't the "correct" (I was correctly warned that this probably isn't the right word, but I can't think of a better one currently) way to evaluate this episode. Also, if this should have a different title, feel free to tell me too, I didn't quite know how to title this.
 
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Craiden

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I think you need to be careful here. Because there really isn’t any “correct” way to evaluate an episode. I don’t think there is any one way to do this.
You're correct, of course, and after I posted this thread, I thought about deleting much of it for that reason, but I do think many people are confusing the..."intent" of this episode, and I largely made this thread because people have the idea that the reunion is the substance of the episode, where Project Mew was supposed to be (and is).
 

Z328

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So we can't criticize things that happened in the episode because they weren't the focus? What?
 

Craiden

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So we can't criticize things that happened in the episode because they weren't the focus? What?
No, again, feel free to criticize the episode for what it didn't do, what I was writing about was people calling this a bad episode for...largely doing what it was intended to do.
 

Beary

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It’s not a bad episode, but journeys just lacks two parters and this would have been an excellent two parter. Or even a whole mini arc like 5 episodes long. But nooooooooo we get to see morpeko and another filler before we continue this arc. Which literally makes no sense whatsoever
 

Craiden

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It’s not a bad episode, but journeys just lacks two parters and this would have been an excellent two parter. Or even a whole mini arc like 5 episodes long. But nooooooooo we get to see morpeko and another filler before we continue this arc. Which literally makes no sense whatsoever
Yeah, those complaints I absolutely get. Granted, I also think Ash will get his time with both new/old Pokemon in time, so I'm not as miffed as some people are, I just got (probably irrationally) annoyed at people labeling this episode "bad" for actually advancing a plot...which this series also gets fairly criticized for not doing, by also establishing an older character, who helped to inspire a protagonist.
 
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jbmasta

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Wouldn’t this be better for the actual episode discussion thread, seeing as it’s turning into a second one?
 

Craiden

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Wouldn’t this be better for the actual episode discussion thread, seeing as it’s turning into a second one?
Maybe, if a mod wants to take it down/have me take it down, I would get it, I just made this thread because of how "controversial" this episode became/is becoming over what I view as a "false narrative."
 
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