Cataloging the most ecocritically relevant, interesting, important aspects of each episode! Have a suggestion? Let me know!
Ep. 1, “Pokémon, I Choose You!”
- Pikachu rejects the Pokéball. Straight up just whacks it back
- Ash throws himself into harm’s way, beginning to develop his heavily involved, transgressive style of training.
- Pokédex says that wild ‘mon are “jealous” of trained ‘mon.
Ep. 2, “Pokémon Emergency!”
- Meowth: “I’m the top cat!” Meowth established as the gang’s mastermind/leader.
- Pikachu at the Pokémon Centre are kept to generate electricity.
- We first learn that pokéballs can be transported/teleported to other Pokémon Centres.
- Giant balloon with Meowth’s face introduced.
- The first battle in which Ash and Pikachu fight together. Pikachu gives the orders to Ash, who generates electricity using Misty’s bike which Pikachu then uses to explode absolutely everything. (Some ‘mon just want to watch the world burn.)
- A rivalry is set up between Pikachu and Meowth; “A cat defeated by a mouse!”
- Team Rocket’s obsession with Pikachu begins.
- Sass between Nurse Joy and officer Jenny; this moment is the best moment above all other moments. The passive aggressive tone of their relationship is my favorite thing about this episode, hands down.
Ep. 3, “Ash Catches a Pokémon”
- Spoiler–it’s not the caterpie he gets like, two minutes in!
- Ash catches a pidgeotto!
- Pikachu loves Misty and it’s adorable.
Ep. 4, “Challenge of the Samurai”
- Ash is visibly better at pokémon than we’ve yet seen. A week has passed since the last episode, so presumably he’s been studying up. (Using the Pokédex? Battling?)
- Pikachu refuses to battle a weedle because he’s sleepy (he’s more cooperative but still pretty assertive).
- The beedrills are obviously aggressive against people, similar to bees.
- Still, the beedrill attack Ash’s metapod first, carrying it away to stash near their tree. (The samurai kid says “your metapod will pay for your mistakes,” which is super ominous. Do beedril hunt like those wasps that paralyze caterpillars to feed their larval young?!)
- The samurai says that Pincer is going to crack Metapod in half. Hyperbole? He seems young and excessively strange, so maybe he’s just kind of unstable?
Ep. 5, “Showdown in Pewter City”
- Nurse Joy in Pewter calls the Nurse Joy in Viridian “her little sister” and she’s already heard of Ash–health care and surveillance clones?
- Ash shocks Pikachu to make it more powerful, acting not just on Pikachu’s body with strength training but also within Pikachu’s body as he alters the way its electrical weaponry works.
- Brock–not white. Racial diversity is a thing in Kanto, so that’s cool.
- Brock wants to become the world’s best breeder–first indication that there are Pokemon occupations other than trainer or researcher, also still expressed in the paradigm of competition.
- This episode also makes it clear that pokémon are suffering in battles. There’s actual pain involved.
- Ash gets his first badge, attained in an unconventional way
- Brock wants to travel to learn about pokémon—traveling is a big form of learning in this show.
Ep. 6, “Clefairy and the Moonstone”
- Brock catches a zubat… offscreen? It’s a weird choice, why not show it?
- Misty battles, is amazing, no one except Seymour is around to see it.
- Seymour cares about the ecosystem, gently stops Ash from catching a clefairy, seems to own no pokémon, stays on Mt. Moon with the clefairy. Seymour is the closest thing to an anti-battling activist/environmentalist we’ve seen.
- The ecosystem of Mt. Moon is briefly explored when we see how Team Rocket’s electric lights are confusing the pokémon and disturbing their rhythms.
- Moon stones might be able to power-up pokémon? Team Rocket thinks they can, anyway. ???
- Fun fact: Clefairy was originally going to be the mascot of the franchise, but Pikachu’s popularity made him the better choice.
- Clefairy probably aren’t from space.
Ep. 7, “The Waterflowers of Cerulean City”
- Pikachu misses Misty, is really happy to see her, refuses to battle against her, and I love that he loves her so much.
- Officer Jenny calls the other one her “sister-in-law.” Jenny has not heard of Ash and is pretty incompetent, but also hilarious. When Brock asks Jenny out, she says, “I’m not off duty til past your bedtime.” BURN. Another good one–Ash: What would anybody want that stuff for? Jenny: I sure don’t know young man but I do know I don’t have time to play guessing games with you. BURN AGAIN
- Ash quotes a wise aphorism and says, “I learned that one from Dexter.”
- Brock arrives in Cerulean with Ash, asks out Officer Jenny (she shoots him down hilariously; see above), and later leaves Ash, saying he needs to “check out some stuff.” When pressed, Brock brushes it off evasively with “just. . . stuff.” This isn’t addressed again. After his immediately previous attempt to ask out Jenny, did Brock go seek womanly company in a seedier district of Cerulean? Like, why the weird evasion? Maybe he’s just sick of Ash? (Which I would understand, but come up with a better excuse than “just… stuff.”)
- Ash almost accepts a Cascade Badge without a battle; Misty jumps in, demands that he earn it. He still doesn’t earn it through the usual way.
- People make the core of staryus into jewelry.
- Ash is
kind ofa complete sexist.
- James’s rose is blue to match the water gym theme. Man knows how to accessorize.
Episode 8, “The Path to the Pokémon League”
- “AJ trains savage pokémon.” Ash calls him “the wild pokémon trainer.” Does that mean he doesn’t catch them with pokéballs?
- A.J.’s U.S. southern accent is an “othering” technique.
- A.J.’s gym is “unsanctioned by the Pokémon League.” His pokémon are exhausted, all wearing restraint devices to increase their strength training. He makes Sandshrew dive into water, yells at them, says, “we live by the rule ‘no pain, no gain’!”; justifies it by saying “I ask no more of Sandshrew than I do of myself—the very best.”
- Pikachu completely refuses to battle, electrocuting Ash when he tries to drag Pikachu into the ring.
- A.J.’s sandshrew knows fissure, an extremely powerful move.
- A.J. is a parallel to Ash. His sandshrew travels by his side.
Ep. 9, “The School of Hard Knocks”
- Brock makes “100% Cerulean coffee” and also has “Mt. Moon spring water.” Brock also has his “official pokémon tea set.” So does that mean that some merchandise is licensed by the League and therefore “official?”
- Pokémon Technical is an “infamous” rural boarding school, with “all students guaranteed to enter the … League upon graduation” without needing to collect badges. The brochure notes that “Entrance fees and tuition are in keeping with the high standards”—rich school jargon. It’s a privilege mill.
- The fog in which Ash and co. are lost clears just as a loud speaker announces that fog battle techniques class is over. They manufactured the fog.
- We learn that levels are a thing even in the show.
- Students basically have a video game battle simulator for practice and courses.
- Brock and Ash are gross about Giselle’s hotness. (Brock: “She can violate my rights if she [interrupted].”)
- Jesse and James were in Pokémon Tech, but they flunked out.
- Pikachu wins against cubone by improvised attacks, using cubone’s bonemarang to win the battle.
- The moral is: experience is the most authentic way to learn. As Misty says, “A simulation’s one thing, but this is real life.”