Putting nostalgia aside, I think the reason this season is one of the more popular ones is because its main focus was on the world of Pokémon and the adventures Ash and his friends go through. Like people have said, this is the season that started it all. Obviously at this point, the writers had a lot of ideas on the table. Things felt original, they felt fresh and the unique plots they came up with were very good. It was almost like you didn't care that Gary was underused, that Team Rocket outside of the TRio wasn't used to their full potential and that many of the battles weren't as good as they would later become. Each episode felt like an experience. The characters were very likeable. It was a fun ride to go on and because of it being a fun ride and the fact that it was the first season, I think a lot of people can forgive the fact that maybe it did have some flaws.
my grandma bough this on dvd, and i started watching it a while ago.
it was the only seasoni watched all the way through and i think it is the best season of pokemon.
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Honestly, it's a bad season because it was rather badly written. It might be because it's pretty much advertising the games and thus there wasn't enough time to produce a proper plot, 4KIDS refused to remain true to the script at times (though they made the Team Rocket trio one of the best characters in the show, I'll give them that), jelly-filled doughnuts, Pikachu the horn, Ash didn't really win all of his badges properly, Brock's mother is "dead", the infamous Porygon episode, there's a lot.
However, even with the bad writing and plotholes, and the blinding nostalgia, I do have a soft spot for it. If anything, I like it for the lulz, and also to see just how much has changed since the beginning. I won't watch it all the time, but if I buy the first season boxset, it'll be for my own kids to watch.
I'd go with "campy," instead of "bad." The original writers were trying to be silly and funny. In a comedy, Plot, continuity, logic, and the rest can be easily dropped to maintain the proper mood, to be funny. 4Kids changed things, but that's why they were hired. 4Kids had never re-dubbed anime, but they had marketed products in the U.S. successfully. Nintendo hired them for that. If Nintendo had wanted an accurate translation, they would've gone with a company experienced with re-dubbing.
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If this was the first series you watched then it would surely be your favourite. It was so good to watch as a kid and a great way to start of the dynasty I suppose. Anyways I have a question in episodes 65 and 66 Ash's Charizard has somehow turned into Charmander again. Does anyone know the reason for this? Because the episodes are holiday ones (Holiday high-Jynx and Snow way out) I was thinking that originally they had the episodes planned for before but wanted to use this for Christmas but surely they could of done something better. Just want that to be cleared up.
Indigo league ... this is the season that started it all. There are some memorable episodes like 'Pokemon I Choose you','Snow way out',' Bye bye Butterfree' and there are also some controversial episodes like 'Holiday-hi Jynx',' the Legend of Dratini'. Overall this season is great in my opinion, because it introduced many anime fans to Pokemon.
Kalos, Where Dreams and Adventures Begin!
Originally Posted by DaDonYordel
Are we not just silly people writing silly complaints on this message board?
Ah, this seried brings back so many fond memories and is definitely one of my favourites.
The best bits:
> The dynamic of the first trio was perhaps the best. Who didn't love Ash and Misty bickering about whether they should go left or right while behind them Brock sighs, pulls out a map and tells them that they should instead go straight forwards?
> Pikachu, Bulbasaur, Charmander and Squirtle. For anyone who ever watched the original series, this group of four will always hold a special place in their hearts and memories, particularly the bromance between Bulbasaur and Squirtle, and the foursome's interactions with each other and Team Rocket's pokemon when lost on the island of giant pokemon.
> Pidgeotto/Pidgeot. I'll admit, at first I often forgot about Pidgeotto. Then it took on Giovanni's Rhydon with a fantastic Double-Edge attack, turning the tide of the last Gym Battle in Ash's favour. And then it evolved to take on Fearow. Okay, so maybe Staraptor, Swellow and maybe even Noctowl (during the Sinnoh league at least) have gone on to become better than Pidgeot, Pidgeot was still pretty awesome, way outclassing Unfezant imo, and I'd love to see Ash keep his promise and go back for it.
> Episodes that made you cry (almost!) Maybe its because I'm older now, but pokemon doesn't make me tear up anymore. Bye-bye Butterfree! is probably the first time that anyone was moved to tears by pokemon, and Pikachu's Goodbye certainly did well in getting close to the same, but I don't think that we ever truely get episodes like this (though the episode where Misty leaves at the end of Johto came close, especially if you were a pokeshipper!)
> Ash's Charizard battling Blaine's Magmar is still, to me at least, one of the most fun-to-watch battles in the entire series. What could be more entertaining than watching two powerful fire types sparring above an active volcano? Very little, that's what!
> Despite the bad way it ended, the league wasn't all that bad. Not only did we get excellent performances from Pikachu, Bulbasaur and Squirtle, we also got to see just what Krabby/Kingler and Muk were made of, and the result was not too shabby!
> Ekans/Arbok and Koffing/Weezing. Before they became as tired characters as their owners, these two pokemon were a fun addition to the series. They are the quintessential pokemon for Jessie and James, and far more memorably than anything that the dimwitted duo have caught since.
> Decent fillers. Okay, maybe the problem with more recent filler episodes is that they can feel like re-hashes of old ones, but I still feel that some of the ones from the Kanto series were the most memorable. There were decent side adventures that our heroes went on, such as their trip on the St Anne, is subsequent sinking, their escape and their being marooned on the island of Giant Pokemon. The P1 Grand Prix was their first attempt at producing a side tournament for Ash to compete in and the results were good, even though it all happened in one race. And episodes like the Flame Pokemon-athlon, The Song of Jigglypuff, Clefairy and the Moon Stone, and Attack of the Prehistoric pokemon were just outright enjoyable. Not only that, but a fair few Characters of the Day were memorably - A.J. Samurai, Giselle, Joe, Damian, Suzy, and the Eevee Brothers stand out as vividly in my memory as the main cast from this series.
However, my mind isn't entirely clouded by nostolgia, and I do recall the bad bits as well!
> Charizard not listening to Ash went on for a bit too long in my opinion. Don't get me wrong, the episode in the Orange Islands series where Ash finally gets though to Charizard is one of my favourites from that saga, as well as the series as a whole, but it should have come a lot sooner. The battle of Blaine's Magmar was the time to do this. Afterwards, any time that Charizard disobeyed, I just wanted Ash to send it to Oak's lab and bring in Krabby, Muk or Tauros, just so he's have something half decent to back up Pikachu, Pidgeotto, Bulbasaur and Squirtle.
> Lack of development for Misty. Yes, she caught several pokemon, but nothing all that spectacular, with Horsea, Goldeen and Starmie spending about 90% of all episodes locked in their pokeballs whilst Staryu did all the work, Togepi looked cute and Psyduck did his running gag. I awlays thought it a shame that Misty did not get more to do, and that she should have only had her Staryu, allowing it to evolve into Starmie when it was good and ready.
> Pity badges. Everyone has differing opinions on which ones were pity badges and which ones were proper wins, but whatever your take on them, there is no denying that there were several instances where Ash got his badge out of pity.
> Lack of Gary. This guy was meant to be Ash's rival, but he was barely seen. Ok, so some instances like the taunt Gary left for Ash on the sign at the foot of Mt Moon were fun, but I always wanted to see more from this guy and never got it in this series.
> Lousy final league battle. As noted above, Charizard's behaviour got old, and there was no better example that this battle. It's a shame really, as I would have liked to have seen Ash go out with more of a bang!
> Leaving Pokemon behind. Ok, so Bye-bye Butterfree was one of the more tear-inducing episodes ever, but it still stands that Ash left four rather good pokemon behind him in this series. Butterfree, Pidgeot, Primeape and Haunter (whether Ash technically caught you or not), I miss you all, would have loved to see more of you, and sincerely hope that one day you will come back!
> Bulbasaur didn't evolve. As much as I love Bulbasaur, I always felt a little sad that it didn't evolve. After the disasterous result of Charmander evolving into Charmeleon and then Charizard, Ash could really have used the confidence boost that would have come had Bulbasaur evolved into Ivysaur and still obeyed him. It's not a massive issue, but I've always felt that Ivysaur has been an overlooked pokemon as far as the anime goes.
> We didn't get to see the other Pallet Town Trainers. I think that it was later mentioned that they gave up training, but I would have really loved seeing both of them.
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Probably my 3rd favorite series. It gives me nostalgic vibes and it was pretty interesting and entertaining. Misty and Brock were at their best in this series imo, the battle's weren't that great though, with a few exceptions. The fillers were also interesting and sometimes kinda weird. I give this series an 8/10
Originally Posted by Canada
Biggest Fan of the Diamond and Pearl Series: Dawn+Serena Fan
A few here may have seen my reviews for the first 32 episodes, and perhaps one or two of those few are probably wondering why I never did the rest. Next to real life kicking me in the shins, it's because the reviews had slowed me down from watching the episodes. I had started rewatching it from the beginning back in October of last year, and I thought it was ridiculous how I only watched 32 episodes within several months, mainly because I knew that I was going to write out a review over it because I wanted to—or so I thought. So, instead of playing “catch up” on reviews, I figured I might as well gather my total thoughts of the Indigo Plateau season here. Probably should've done that from the start. The post I made here in the past is old shame, and I'm here to rectify that because my “views” then don't match my views now.
Nostalgia and memory are like comparing apples and oranges. They seem to work hand-in-hand, but in reality, the two are different, as one is more of a manifestation and the other is a sensation, if that makes sense. Memories have happened, but they're no longer occurring presently, they're just like pulling up a PDF file on your computer, or using the Internet Wayback Machine to view old websites. Nostalgia is upon thinking back to it sometime later down the road, and you feel like you remember how it felt, and long for it to happen again. In the meantime, as memories start to fade or lose information, nostalgia is there to fill in gaps, because that's what you want to remember the most. You want to remember how it felt to have been there, and that is what sticks with you longer.
Pokémon is like that for me, personally, as I'm sure it is with other people. I remember when it first came on, and I had felt intrigued by it. I remember waking up in the mornings to watch it on Kids WB before school, and I remember running back home from the bus stop to watch it—at least for the weekdays, waking up early on Saturdays by then was second nature. (Quick note: I wanted to make sure I was correct in the timing, so a quick Google search pulled up an actual schedule for Kids WB. Strangely enough, it says Pokémon aired on Kids WB in 1999, but Bulbapedia says 1998. Hmm...) I bring this up because that was how I felt as a kid, and I remember some good chunks of my childhood. However, I didn't always remember the shows I watched in great detail, and Pokémon wasn't entirely exempt from that.
But I digress. Because of the repeats, prior to the rewatch I did remember many, if not all, of the episodes of the original series up to some of Johto. What the episodes were about, I had forgotten parts of over time, but I never forgot that feeling of enjoying each episode. So as I revisited the Indigo Plateau after all these years, memories came back (sometimes verbatim), but it also felt new to me, somewhat. I was able to catch on to dialogue and the writing—which was something I never fully took heed of as a child even though I caught on to the comedy—admire the background artwork, and now that I know more of the Japanese culture, the more I was able to see it in the episodes. 4KIDS never did take all of the Japanese culture out of the show. It's one of their bigger notorieties, but there were scenes that were still left untouched, believe it or not, usually in the background. My guess is it's because they're not explained/nothing to explain, there wasn't anything questionable involved, or they just weren't translatable, but they just couldn't edit it if they wanted to. Who knows at this point. Funnily enough, rice balls were correctly brought up by name in “Pokémon Paparazzi” despite originally being called doughnuts in episode 25, so I guess they just were lenient some times than others, or they couldn't get away with it because Brock was making them on-screen. Or maybe the decisions were all on the episode director. Again, who knows.
Regardless of what I bring up here, I will always praise the first episode for being a wonderful introduction to Pokémon. It sets everything up nicely, and it shows us what Ash's journey, and ultimately the franchise, is all about. It also captures a childhood dream of adventure and wonder, thus why many children were able to jump in so easily and why adults were so easily confused. It wasn't anything new, per se, but it was indeed different from what we mostly saw on television. Not saying it was something every kid was looking for in a cartoon, but it sparked something deep inside us that allowed us to latch onto it at the time, and thus why it became such a world-wide phenomenon—something that not many franchises out there can vouch for, even if they're similar.
If someone were to ask me about some of my favorite moments from the Indigo League, I probably could make a top ten or even fifteen favorite moments list. But I'm not going to do that, because that's too tedious, and my memory is not that strong. So instead, I'll have a list of five aspects I did enjoy from the original series that I bothered to remember, in no particular order.
Spoiler:- the good:
- The gym battles. Battles have importance in the franchise, and have both positive and negative moments. They can add to character development, move the plot along, entertain the audience with their creativity, or just pad out the episode and do nothing in the long run. They're not entirely the heart, though—they're the meat and potatoes, sure (and I would say they go back-and-forth as such in some episodes), but because of how spread out they are, while they're a main goal of Ash's, they're not the main focus when compared to the other battles of the show, even though they're preparations. But gym battles are the bigger highlights of such battles, they were like the boss battles, and they were serious business (to the plot).
My personal favorite gym battle of the season will have to be Blaine's gym battle, particularly the rematch with just Charizard and Magmar. Lt. Surge's rematch is a close second mainly because of how it strengthened the bond between Ash and Pikachu, and also because it was his wake-up call. In both fights, there is a lot of tension, though when it came to Blaine's rematch, the field was unique. The fight on top of the volcano was like the pinnacle of it all, the high point, it just felt so right. The battle inside the volcano was similar, but it's more awesome when a disobedient Pokémon does his thing and chucks a Pokémon from up-high into the volcano.
Big special mention really has to go to the climax of the Indigo saga, the Pokémon League itself. This was what the series built up to for 70 episodes, and it does deliver. It's stated that the 80 or less episodes were supposed to be all that was for Pokémon, but its popularity brought them to decide to let it continue longer, and it does show at times. Who knows if the end result of the Indigo League had already been planned from the start—honestly, I think it makes more sense that Ash lost at some point in the League considering this was his first year, and that he really didn't train. He has the ability to be a great Pokémon trainer, there's no doubt about it, but that talent was just budding. Dumb luck can only get someone so far. But it doesn't make the battles any less entertaining and exciting.
I'm sure a lot of kids were excited to see him get through as far as he did, and I'm sure those same kids were crushed when he lost to Ritchie. It goes to show that Ash has grown as a character, and we could see it. In comparing him from the first episode and how he is in episode 82, he has grown. He still has a lot to learn, and he still gets a big head, but he has every right to be proud of himself for getting as far as he did. Not too many people do make it to the League, from what I can gather. Four trainers left Pallet Town, but only two of them made it to the League—that's literally half, and that's just from Pallet Town of that year. We get implications over the course of the series that Pokémon training is not for everyone, and some trainers do give up. Pokémon training is more difficult than it sounds, and we do see it with Ash and his Pokémon, but the reward is just as great.
Another special mention goes to Gary's gym battle against Giovanni, because it's not often we get to see another character's gym battles. This one I feel is a key point to his character development, even if it takes a few seasons for it to come to a head. His arrogance may have caused his downfall, but even if it wasn't, there was no way he would've won against Giovanni, the magnificent cheating bastard. The end result we got was more crushing, however, but it possibly humbled him a bit. So it's really no surprise he ended up losing in the fourth round of the Pokémon League, even though the rivalry between him and Ash had been building and we were looking forward to their battle.
- Team Rocket. From the start of their introduction in episode two, they have had amazing chemistry. Who knows how long they've been a team together, but it's not too long before we see how well they click, and by golly do they click. Do they have squabbles? Yes, quite often. Are they selfish? Most definitely. Do they look out for one-another? They're not that selfish, they're all they got. Are Jessie and James really in love? Well... for the anime, who knows. Are they a trio of goofballs? Definitely. As an antagonistic force, they do move episodes along and keep things interesting, though when it falls victim to the formula, it does feel forced at times, and after a while, they are more like loser villains than anything. They can be threatening, there's proof of it, but as time went on, that threat started to undulate, though it won't be long before it settles to their goofy states.
I'm sure many of us will agree that Team Rocket became more interesting when we got actual backstories from them. Learning about who they are on the inside and as they were growing up made them that much more human, and they became likeable villains. “Go West, Young Meowth” is the most well-known, and possibly the most fleshed out of the trio. Meowth is just that unique, so though it kind of plays out like a filler episode, the fact he got an episode (almost) all to himself is probably one of the best things about the season. He's a great memorable character on his own, but this backstory really cements it and sets him apart from Jessie and James. His start of darkness is a bit cliché, but the twist is he's a Pokémon, that there's an explanation as to why he's the way he is. It had been lampshaded throughout the series, so to get a backstory to it just goes to show that there was thought put into such villainous, but silly characters to give them life.
And considering that Takeshi Shudo's favorite characters to write about were the Team Rocket trio, it clearly shows someone had cared about them and wanted them to stand out on their own. And it worked—if only for a while.
- Ash Ketchum. As the protagonist, of course he had to be likeable, but he also had to be relatable, or at least someone we can get behind. While he is a determinator, he can get a big head easily, and it happens often. But most important to remember is that he's a kid, and that's what kids are like. Kid protagonists are nothing new, and he didn't necessarily bring something completely new to the table, but there was still something to him that to this day, he's still the main character, and people who don't watch the show still remember him. He and his companions held the show together, for without them, Pokémon would be more generic than it already is. Yes, Pokémon is like every other shounen series out there, but it does stand out in some areas more than other shows, and it still has its own identity to this day despite being stuck in the same formulaic loop.
Back to Ash, why do I like him, at least right here? Because he's my childhood idol. Sakura from Cardcaptor Sakura is another childhood hero, but more on the girly side despite her tomboyish nature in the Nelvana dub; Ash Ketchum was my hero for everything else (and not just because I grew up around boys). He's energetic, he's positive, he has a goal, he never gives up, he learns quickly—yeah, he's indeed like most other heroes out there, but he's a kid. He's a kid who's on an adventure away from home who, while he has people to support him, is independent and knows what he wants to be. He hasn't strayed from it to this day, he wants to be a Pokémon Master, he wants to be the very best like no one ever was. That's a big dream, and it's a long, arduous journey to accomplish that dream; and even then, someone's going to best him. I think he knows this, but it doesn't sway him one bit. He's not afraid of the obstacles he's going to face, in fact, I think he looks forward to them because he knows there'll be a way to get over it. He's going to experience failure over and over again, but he's not going to give up.
And that's admirable.
As for why he releases/gives away his Pokémon, he does it for their benefit. Butterfree in the end chose to leave with his mate, and he hasn't returned since, and I don't think he will. Primeape may not have made the choice, but it came to respect Ash, and has been training with Anthony since to be a better fighter because Ash feels he can't bring out Primeape's potential. Haunter had not been officially caught in a Poké Ball, its job was done when Ash got his Marsh Badge. Those were the only Pokémon he released or gave away in the first season. Though yes, he almost released Pikachu because he felt Pikachu would be happier with his own kind, even though it tore him apart inside. However, the fandom has not let it down that he releases his Pokémon, and I feel that is unfair to call him out on such a thing when he doesn't do it often to begin with.
- The fact many of the characters, including many of the CotDs, are still remembered to this day. Admit it, outside of the main cast of characters, you remember more characters from Kanto than you probably do in the other sagas (if not equal). Maybe you don't remember their names, but you remember their faces, or remember their role(s) in their episode. As a whole, the entire cast of Pokémon probably rivals The Simpsons. Maybe the characters aren't as unique, but many of them have a personality of sorts. Sure, because they're just the character-of-the-day, we don't get to spend enough time with them to learn more and watch them grow, but that hasn't stopped anyone from liking them. There's quite a number of fan fiction/head canons and fan theories surrounding some of these one-shot characters, and many of them we haven't seen in years. And you know what, that's impressive.
- The build up to the first movie. Everyone who knows me is aware of the fact that the first movie is my favorite Pokémon movie, and it's not just because Mewtwo is my favorite Pokémon of all time, or that it's one of the more mature Pokémon movies (when judging the original). I won't go into detail here, that's all in the movie thread. They may play a factor in all of that, but it's factual that this movie is canon. The other movies arguably are also canon, but for certain, the first one definitely is, and not just because it can be easily put on a timeline. As much as they were kind of near the end of the season's run, there were events in the series that were leading up to the movie, which would've probably been the finale of Pokémon had its popularity not skyrocketed. It shows that the movie is one big climax to the TV series (technically before the actual climax), and it shows just how much deeper and even darker the world is.
But at the same time, it also shows how much Ash has grown as a character. I feel he comes full circle in the first movie's climax in that instead of trying to protect his only Pokémon at the risk of his own life, he does give his life for all the Pokémon that were there. By this point, the bond between him and Pikachu has become unbreakable, so as much as we all like to make fun of it, Pikachu bursting into tears is a legitimately sad moment, because he believed his best friend was gone. And because we as kids have watched Ash grow to a character we came to like, we cried alongside Pikachu believing he was gone as well. Yeah, he came back from the “dead”, but it's honestly not that often characters die in children's shows. And considering this is Pokémon we're talking about, while it was a “false alarm”, I kind of have to give them credit for at least doing that. But hey, the scientists were killed at the beginning of the movie, so I'd say that evens it out.
The Indigo saga is not perfect, however. In fact, once you dig down into it, you're bound to find numerous flaws that kills the magic. Even on the surface, there are just as many problems as there is greatness that cannot be overlooked. This is more-or-less me beating a dead horse at this point, since chances are everything I'm listing has been brought up, but I can't leave this review unbalanced despite how biased I am towards this season, because yes, there were things that I didn't like.
Spoiler:- the bad:
- Some of the events/technical aspects would later be retconned/dropped. This is the least of its problems, honestly, since who 100% knew at the time Pokémon was going to be a huge franchise? Some of the technical aspects alluding to the games were mentioned in a few episodes throughout the entire season, but they wouldn't stick in the future. Then there's the whole “Pokémon come from space”. It's more laughable nowadays than it was back in the day, but the anime very rarely, if ever, brings this up in this present time. It had a couple of episodes in the first season about it, mostly touched upon, but it was never a big focus. Which is fine, but it gave the Pokémon world a sense of mystery. Considering the appearance Ho-oh in the first episode, and that Togepi would be added to the show at the halfway point, it was clear that Pokémon still had a lot of secrets to discover. Answering if they came from outer space could have ruined that mystery, but these days, it's for the best it's been dropped.
- The Jigglypuff gag. Don't get me wrong, I like Jigglypuff, “The Song of Jigglypuff” is one of my favorite episodes, and favorite childhood memory. She even had some good moments in the series, particularly in “Clefairy Tales”. However, the gags were too close together that it became annoying, and a bit contrived—and this was the first season. It would get more egregious overtime, and it wasn't always Jigglypuff that did this, but I've noticed some people seem to forget (or at least don't care anymore) that it was a problem when it was first implemented. “Beach Blank-Out Blastoise” is the worst of the gags, it was so forced that the episode suffered from it because that was the conflict. Okay, it was a filler episode, and not many people care too much for the fillers, as memorable as they were in this season, so it's more of a nitpick than anything. But how dull is it that the conflict was all because of Jigglypuff?
- The pacing in some episodes. In particular, I noticed this near the beginning after episode one, in some individual episodes throughout the middle, and well into the League episodes. This was more noticeable in the filler episodes, but even the non-filler episodes had pacing problems. I get that they have to cram as much episodic plot into twenty minutes, but it's still easy to half-ass. There's also the time consistency in the actual show. It has been stated that Ash traveled across Kanto in about a year, but he doesn't age. He grows as a character, just not in age. The counterargument used is that it's a cartoon, and thus time doesn't flow as consistently as it does in real life. Does it make sense that Ash has spent a year on a journey? I would say so, especially considering that they have gotten lost on several occasions. (And I like to joke that this is the season where Ash and friends starved the most, even though that was all based on poor memory and it wasn't necessarily true.) But ignoring the whole age debacle, did it feel like it had been a year since he was on his journey?
You know, when you take it into context in real-time as it aired, it's a possibility. Here in America, it wasn't always a daily thing. When it first aired, it was only on Saturdays, but it quickly became part of the weekday lineup, so we were getting new episodes pretty much every day. Sure, I remember it taking a while to get to Blaine, possibly because of repeats or whatnot, so it did take about a year, possibly less to get to Ash's eighth badge. But when one watches it on a regular basis from beginning to end, while the narrator and the characters may tell us a year has passed, the environment certainly doesn't show us that. There's weather, sure, and days and nights do pass, but there weren't seasons to really visually tell us that time has been passing. For all we know, Ash had been gone an entire month or two even though he walked on foot. But I will have to give them props for giving us the illusion that the region (we weren't told this was called Kanto at this point) was pretty big, so there were episodes where Ash and company didn't always find a town, and if they did reach a town, it didn't always have a gym.
- “Pity badges”. This is the biggest complaint by just about everyone, and there was no way I could ignore it, even though I suppose I won't go into detail. The gym battles may have been good, but the reward hardly was. Of the eight badges, three, possibly four badges were earned properly, the rest seem to be in a gray area of varying degrees, with the Cascade and Rainbow Badges battling to not be in last place. Yes, Ash challenges the gym leaders properly as he should, it's just that Team Rocket tends to keep intervening and throws everything off, and in those instances, Ash is tying the match, or he's losing. Ash gets props for at least questioning why he was being rewarded the badge, but the gym leaders tended to give excuses. Yes, I get that gym leaders are there to judge Trainers based on ability, and they do set the rules for their own gym, but saving a Gloom from a gym fire should not be the reason why a Trainer earns him or herself a badge. He at least tied the match, Erika, that's neither a win nor lose.
- Lack of Team Rocket. After the St. Anne episode, you rarely saw the organization. It can be hand-waved that since the anime does not equal the games, obviously we shouldn't have to focus on the actual Team Rocket. But obviously Team Rocket has a presence, and we're not just counting Jessie and James here even if they're the only ones we ever see. Team Rocket has always been a threat based on what little we have seen, and what characters have been telling us. We got Butch and Cassidy for the first time in “The Breeding Center Secret”, but that was the only time we saw them in the Indigo saga. They gave us a glimpse as to what Team Rocket was, but they mostly felt like the “evil” twins of Jessie and James. The Grunts in “Battle Aboard the St. Anne” didn't really do much once they got out of their disguises. Two of them were stupid enough to walk up to Ash and demand he hand over his Pokémon, which suggests to me that these thugs typically don't have brains.
At least the build up to Giovanni was good, if only because he wasn't treated as a joke. Showing him in shadow and manipulating his voice made him intimidating, and his presence is felt the most, if only because Jessie and James typically bring him up in conversation. Once he finally had a proper role in the show, we got to see there was more to him than what we were let on, and that he really was not a patient man they looked up to so much. Why he kept them around so much, who's to say. He got a bigger role in the first movie, which you know, good for him, but that sadly was only for the beginning, but what he did in the first movie showed how much of a cunning, manipulative boss he was. And he actually got away with it, somewhat; losing his headquarters is an annoyance at best when his key to world domination escapes his grasp.
So Pokémon is a show for kids, and I can see why adults never really got the appeal of it. But ignoring the fact it's still on-going to this day, why is it so memorable after all these years, mainly the early seasons? It's a colorful show, the characters are easy to remember and have good chemistry, the humor's not too far out there (it's a bit down to earth at times), the music is wonderful—the theme song in particular is just so iconic that you can belt it in the middle of a crowded building or street and someone will sing along with you—the nostalgia is clearly strong here. While the show has problems, it's not harmful in what it teaches to children (all claims of it being pro-cock fighting/animal abuse is a steaming heap of Tauros-crap, every sane person knows this), it does keep their attention, and there are instances of parental bonuses strewn about. For a company that liked to edit things out to make the shows more “kid-friendly”, they sure liked to insert things into the dialogue. Not that things still weren't in the original to begin with, but it's just all over the place in the dub.
So why did it get as popular with the kids as it did? My guess is with all of these elements combined, it's something that children have dreamed about. Some kids like to say they're going to run away from home and do things their way (if not joining the circus), that's just who kids are. But how cool is it to leave home as a kid, but be able to have a buddy or two be with you? Companions who will be at your side to keep you company, protect you with all their wellbeing, and just love you for being you? Oh, and these companions have these awesome powers that can be of wind, water, fire, electricity, grass, psychic, steel, rock, earth, anything you can think of, and when they grow, they grow into something more awesome and powerful. And you and your companions can travel through many towns and cities across the country, or even across the globe just looking for a good challenge. And along the way, you can meet other kids or people just like you with their own special companions. If you're lucky, you and your companions may end up taking down an evil organization single-handedly or even saving the world. And you can walk into other people's homes without repercussions.
Okay, that last one probably won't do you any good, but for everything else, that sense of adventure just hypes you up. That kind of imagination is ideal, and is something that will never happen outside of that make-believe world without reality delivering a Mega Punch directly to your face. But if it was something that existed, who of us wouldn't want to take on that challenge? Apparently we do, because why else do we keep coming back to Pokémon, whether it's with the games, the manga, or the anime? It may have faltered in grace over the years, and it's just like every other kids' show out there, but even with all the problems, there's a special charm to the first season in particular, and it could be the amount of care that went into it. Yes, the Pokémon anime is nothing more than one big commercial for the games, but was it really at first? The fact that many kids in America never really knew of Pokémon prior to being exposed to the anime says to me that enough care went into the Pokémon anime that it can stand on its own without the games, which I feel helped contribute to its world-wide success.
And I'm glad that it did.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. I look forward to the Orange Islands, because I'm hoping that the season really wasn't as bad as I had been led to believe over the years. And something tells me it's better than I remember.