Hello everyone, and welcome back to Wrong Every Time. It’s friday for me right now, and though the particular conditions of my employment mean I don’t have a “work week” so much as an unending stream of content production responsibilities, it still feels nice to end the theoretical week with something lighthearted and fun. And I’m guessing you all know what that means: we’re heading back to the Alolan islands, back to the Pokemon school, and back to the adventures of Ash and his exuberantly animated friends. Last episode finally introduced Gladio into the show’s lineup, progressing the show’s actual, overarching narrative enough to clearly earn a retreat back into goofy episodic shenanigans. But whether this episode offers comfort or continuity, I’m confident we’ll all have a resoundingly pleasant time. Let’s get back to Sun and Moon!
Kukui’s on PokeProblem duty, asking us… what’s the sport that’s played in the supplementary class taking place in today’s episode!?! BASEBALL EPISODE TIME. Smash the glass and hit the button, it’s a goddamn baseball episode
Baseball episodes are one of my favorite goofy anime traditions; they offer a natural opportunity for shows to get a little sillier for a while, with characters committing their all to ultimately low-stakes conflicts, and exploring new sides of their relationships with their friends along the way. I think The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya featured my own first baseball episode, and they’re at this point such an established institution that even anime-derivative properties like Steven Universe have started embracing them
Oh my god, they call it “Pokebase,” the pokemon are definitely going to be participating
Wonderful use of almost chalk-like smeared lines, along with generally thick, aggressive linework, for conveying this pokepitcher throwing the ball
And of course Gyarados wallops the shit out of the ball with his tail, puncturing a massive hole in the stands. This is so stupid, I love it so much
Basically any sport would be improved via the introduction of Gyarados, I think
They wisely reuse those excellent pitching cuts for the next at-bat
And of course they have an exeggutor in the outfield. This show is a miracle
Ash is brought to tears by the beauty of Pokebase, as any right-thinking individual would be
This show’s offhand smears are so plentiful and pretty. Love Ash morphing into a ball to leap over his desk here
Ash just babbles about the theater of baseball, while Kaki breaks down the genuinely decisive plays of the game. I’m definitely picking Kaki first for my team
Lana eagerly asks Mamane to explain all the baseball data he possesses, which is perhaps the first time in history someone has actively asked this question, rather than having this data forced upon them
“For today’s class, we’re playing Pokebase!” I’m appreciative that their class activities mostly involve playing games or futzing with their pokemon, but I deeply fear for a society built on this sort of education system
Kukui gets star player ‘Olu’olu himself to show up for their training. Apparently their school has some pretty famous alums
I changed my mind, I’m picking ‘Olu’olu first
We wisely skip right through explanations and team-picking, facilitated by Rotom’s enthusiastic narration. Rotom being a know-it-all who loves to make speeches has been a handy narrative device for Sun and Moon, making a lot of expository sequences feel perfectly natural
Kaki is the pitcher, of course. Love these dramatic title cards for all the players
I love Lillie, but I seriously doubt she’s going to do much good as at outfielder
Wait, the other outfielder is SNOWBALL!? HE CAN’T EVEN THROW THE BALL
Both Kukui and the principal are in the commentary booth, because no one ever does any actual work at this goddamn school
Olu’olu manages to grow four extra heads in order to imitate an exeggutor, a highly advanced variation on the principal’s puns
Ash’s team includes Lana and Sophocles, and is the greatest baseball team of all time
Nyabby is of course napping through the game. The only thing that would make this more convincingly cat-like would be if Nyabby were napping in the opposite direction, faced turned to the wall seemingly just to avoid the appearance of paying attention
Ahaha, Kaki and Ash ignite with burning passion the moment the game begins. More of that loose linework and soft focus effect, coupled with dramatic blue and red flames
Incredible cut for Kaki’s throw, leaning into further abstraction with its rough shading, extremely thick linework, and exaggerated, angular poses. It’s like he’s summoning the visual energy of a Go Nagai character to infuse this attack with power
And Ash’s counter is just as strong, leaning into dramatic pose-to-pose movement like something out of an Imaishi show. A perfect compliment to the natural dramatic bombast of a great baseball episode
Perfectly executed anticlimax here too, as we jump back to the show’s conventional animation style for Ash totally whiffing his swing
Also excellent expression work from his disappointed teammates. Disappointed Pikachu is very good
Scyther’s name is actually “Strike” in Japan, so how could he not be the umpire?
Oh my god, Pikachu is the pitcher now, and he keeps making those serious little “nah, gimme another one” headshakes to the catcher. This episode is a gift from the heavens
Pikachu forces an ugly sky ball, and Sophocles catches it in spite of himself. Nice work, Pikachu!
I’m pretty sure Steenee just spinning in circles as fast as possible isn’t actually a legal swinging method, but I’m not going to enforce baseball regulations on a tiny plant person holding a bat, that’s adorable
Episodes like this offer such a fun, unique opportunity for characters to energetically express themselves. Lillie is very enthusiastic about trying her best, but having a baseball land on you is scary, so Snowball pops in for the combo save
And of course, the game comes down to Lana on the plate versus Kaki on the pitcher’s mound. Lana summons all of the wisdom of the seas to guide her bat, and the strength of its mighty waves to grant her victory
Lana just absolutely obliterates it, earning one of the best cuts of the entire episode. Not only does this cut embrace the dramatic foreshortening, linework, and pose-to-pose dynamism of this episode’s other highlights, it combines that with an absurd degree of fluidity and weight in Lana’s movements, along with some fantastic impact frames. Just a top shelf cut by any standard – as always, this show’s Lana bias is both obvious and appreciated
Apparently that cut’s by Aito Ohashi, one of Sun and Moon’s secret weapons, who also handled some of those energetic cuts from when Ash visited Sophocles’ house
Kaki is in shambles. This show gets a lot of mileage out of Kaki’s expressions of despair
Jessie is interested in Olu’olu because he’s hot, but has no idea what Pokebase is. Queen
Oh my god, is the second half of this episode going to feature Team Rocket as their baseball challengers? Could such a joyous thing truly exist in this world?
Hah, they even modified their intro to make it more baseball-relevant. These villains understand the important things
Apparently this episode’s inherent baseball episode-ness is also rubbing off on Jessie, as she’s embracing more absurd cartoon expressions than ever as she chases Olu’olu’s autograph
Jessie’s understandable but deeply misguided plan is to hit the ball towards the seemingly oblivious Snorlax
Her strategy seems to work, but unfortunately she has no idea what you do in baseball, and just starts celebrating on home plate
Mimikyu has been a terrific addition to Team Rocket’s lineup. His obvious bloodlust prompts a pitching lineup shift
Jessie demonstrating some surprising fluency as she picks up a grounder and fires it off to James. She learns fast!
So what, is Snorlax just a designated hitter or something?
Nope, he just bunts it, and doesn’t even actually move the bat. Meowth’s pitching skills seem to have been heavily exaggerated
Pretty sure you’re not supposed to body slam the catcher, but Pokebase doesn’t actually seem to have any rules at all, so I’ll allow it
Actually laughed out loud at everyone just silently staring after Team Rocket’s Bewear exit
HELL YEAH! Aaaahh, that was amazing. I feel like Pokemon Sun and Moon is already sort of like the Baseball Episode Series of the pokemon franchise, an entry that’s uniquely dedicated to slice of life endearment and creatively animated comedy sequences. Double stacking those inherent qualities with an actual baseball episode resulted in an incredible feast of all of Sun and Moon’s finest qualities, from its endearing character bonds to its exceptional faces and extraordinary individual cuts. This cast just have so much fun together, and through cuts like Lana’s and Kaki’s, it’s clear that the animators are having just as much fun. Just a delightful show, and a top-tier baseball episode all around.