Annotated Episodes: 10-19

1.10- “Bulbasaur and the Secret Village”

  • Bulbasaur has floral and faunal characteristics—“researchers are unsure whether to classify bulbasaur as a plant or animal.”
  • “Bulbasaur are “difficult to capture in the wild.” Does that mean Oak’s bulbasaur was bred in captivity, or is it just that as a prof he was able to capture it? Ep. 1 says bulbasaurs are supposedly easy to raise. Difficult to capture but easy to raise—maybe because they’re more loyal when they do allow themselves to be caught???
  • Melanie sets traps to protect a village for injured and abandoned pokémon, wants them to return to the wild after she’s healed them. She’s an eco-extremist wildlife rehabilitator.
  • Misty: “Only bad guys try to capture sick pokémon!”—why?
  • —Team Rocket put balloons on a stadium and try to suck pokémon into it.
  • Bulbasaur leaves with Ash, which Melanie encourages because the village is “too safe” and the pokémon don’t want to go back to where they came from. (What about the ones who were released and abandoned?)

1.11- “Charmander- The Stray Pokémon”

  • Charmander is a “stray” pokémon, meaning it was caught but, like the squirtles in 1.12, has been abandoned. Ash tries to catch it and the pokéball works, but it breaks free.
  • This dialogue—
    Brock: Looks like this charmander has a lot of spunk!
    Ash: Too much, if you ask me.
    Misty: I think this charmander has an attitude problem.
  • Pikachu mime-translates charizard’s story to the humans
  • They don’t immediately take care of charmander because “it’s probably best if its own trainer takes care of it.” Brock says it like it’s a socially awkward situation. There’s an ambiguity here that makes the situation hard to read, maybe because pokémon that aren’t either “wild” or “owned” are hard to talk about/think about.
  • The Pokémon Center is hella classy like a ski lodge.
  • The charmander’s trainer has abandoned it because it’s weak. Brock says that “if it’s trainer works hard it can become strong!”
  • Brock gets super angry. “If it’s tail flame goes out, it’ll die!” They’re all really against Damien; Misty says “you’re disgusting!” Abandoning pokémon is a big deal in this world.
  • Nurse Joy: You know the rules— pokémon are never to be used in personal fights. It’s disrespectful to the pokémon and their trainers!
  • Pikachu is chased by a rubber balloon thing. It’s very The Prisoner. [Videoc] Gif
  • Damien is fireblasted and zapped at the same time, somehow survives.

1.12- “Here Comes the Squirtle Squad!”

  • An Officer Jenny shows up, mentions “one of the other Jennies. My cousin.”
  • Jenny and Joy all have the same name, are related— similar to how pokémon all share a species name that becomes their individual name?
  • The squirtle squad, a gang— all have been deserted by their trainers, “so they just run wild and play tricks on the whole town. . . . If they had somebody to care about them, they woudln’t have turned out to be as bad as they are.”
  • These terrible puns— Jesse: Those aren’t squirtles— they’re piggles!
    Meowth: You’re not gonna squirtle outta this one! (haha, wat?)
  • Meowth pretends to be in charge of Team Rocket— Meowth: Squirtle, both of these humans belong to Meowth. . . . I train them, but they’re pretty stupid.
  • Another collapsing rope bridge. — the infrastructure is pretty terrible in spots. Part of the experience?
  • We get a glimpse of Gary
  • Super potion is applied topically. Pain killer? A stimulant absorbed through the skin ( similar to injecting adrenaline?); does it heal or simply revive and give a hurt pokémon energy?
  • The squirtles get a certificate and get “appointed town firefighters.” They have a weird status— feral but not wild, then “officially appointed.”

1.13- “Mystery at the Lighthouse

  • Bill: There’s no way I could ignore a request from the great professor Oak.
  • Ash doesn’t trust Oak because he’s unpredictable and maybe unempathetic. Ash: So Krabby’s with professor Oak, huh? Now I’m doubly worried about it!
  • Mewtwo on the door
  • Bill is wearing a kabuto outfit doing research, trying to see what a pokémon might think & experience.
  • Bill says that trainers help researchers— presumably by encountering and collecting data on wild pokémon. Ash’s success is “as vital to me as it is to you,” says Bill
  • Bill: You’re a pokémon trainer, I’m a pokémon researcher. . . Even if our paths are different, I think our goals are the same.
  • Bill is trying to contact a huge, unseen pokémon— never named but obviously a huge dragonite.

1.14, “Electric Shock Showdown!”

  • They finally arrive at Vermilion and “haven’t eaten anything decent for three days now.”
  • Joy: My first cousin works in Pewter City, and my second cousin works in Veridion City!
  • Misty: We gave you badges! How do you think we’ll look if you get crushed by Surge? (Ash becomes an extension of Misty and Brock’s reputation.)
  • Joy hints that Ash and Misty might “really care about each other” because they fight so much. (And the shippers did rejoice.)
  • Raichu apparently has enough power to knock out a dragonite.
  • Ash learns a lot through negative examples/defining himself against other trainers.
  • Forced evolution is framed as a form of violation.
  • James breaks the fourth wall(ish): Drat! We wasted this episode cheering the good guys!

1.15, “Battle Aboard the St. Anne”

  • We see TR talk to Gionvanni through video chat.
  • The ship is a “party for pokémon trainers only.” It looks kind of like a con, with merch and fancy outfits. Ash even says “It’s like a giant pokémon convention.”
  • Pokémon trainers show off the condition of their pokémon; it ranges from a friendly sharing to basically pissing contests.
  • We find out that pokémon trading is a thing, with a special machine and process that transfers the ‘mon between the dif. Pokéballs. (Is there a transfer of pokémon registration? Some official log of the pokémon changing hands? Why else would they need that device?)
  • Trading supposedly fosters friendships, with pokémon serving as social links between humans.
  • Ash is pressured into trading Butterfree by a top-hatted old guy who talks like colonel Sanders. Ash regrets it, reverses the trade.
  • There’s a magikarp pyramid scheme. James falls for it. (Of course.)
  • What really brings the trainers (and the pokémon) together is the way pokémon of the same species team up to fight against Team Rocket.

1.16, “Pokémon Shipwreck!”

  • TR and the gang work together for the first time to escape the sunken ship.
  • Ash He uses Pikachu as a weird, on the spot Electroshock therapy to give his brain a “jumpstart.”
  • Brock references Noah, which… ohmygod, are there Judeo-Christian religions in the pokéverse?!
  • That really disturbing part where they think Team Rocket is dead and, after a brief prayer, the starts to push their “corpses” off the raft and into the sea.
  • They fantasize about and try to eat magikarp.
  • Magikarp evolves, calls of gyaradoses, attack the humans.

1.17, “The Island of the Giant Pokemon”

  • There’s a lot pokémon language in this one. The pokémon get separated from the humans, talk to each other with subtitles. Pokémon have sophisticated linguistic abilities and are obviously persons with complex subjectivities.
  • Team Rocket’s pokémon speak in language coded as less intelligent (don’t use pronouns, consistent verbs)
  • Several of the pokémon have a fear of abandonment (bulbasaur, charmander), are very cynical.
  • The island is a theme park with giant animatronic pokémon, some of whom can fly and are replicas of legendary pokémon—incredibly sophisticated technology is happening here.


1.19, “Tentacool and Tentacruel”

  • Misty catches an injured horsea in order to get it medical attention (and also because it’s cute)— completely contradicts my earlier theory about not catching sick pokémon.
  • Horsea tries to warn the gang by drawing a picture of a tentacool and tentacruel using its ink. Non-verbal, pictorial communication.
  • Nastina is a total neoliberal capitalism, wants to exterminate the tentacool. Nastina: I don’t know why such despicable creatures exist. . . . You can’t even eat them! They’re disgusting and they’re hurting my profits!
  • Puns— James: It’s a tentacruel world
  • The swarm uses Meowth as a psychic puppet, intends to wipe out humanity for its ecological degradation because letting humanity continue would “only allow humans to be more cruel and inconsiderate in the future.”
  • Pikachu and horsea advocate for humanity.
  • Nastina has an identical “cousin”— a clone?

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