Pokemon Sun and Moon – Episode 38

2 months ago 34

Hello all, and welcome back to Wrong Every Time. Today we’ll be journeying back to the islands of Alola, as Ash and company continue their island pilgrimage. It hasn’t really felt like much of an island pilgrimage until recently – for the first thirty episodes or so, Ash was mostly just hanging around and making friends, with an occasional pokemon battle tossed in for spice. But since the team journeyed to Akala, things have really picked up speed – Lana’s gained a Z-crystal, Kaki’s caught a Marowak, and Ash has gained a Z-crystal, conquered an island trial, and evolved his Rockruff into a Ultra Rare Limited Edition Dusk Lycanroc.

I keep assuming the next episode is going to cool things down, and I keep being emphatically proven wrong in that assumption, so I’m gonna stop letting Sun and Moon own me and just say I’m happy to be here. Sun and Moon is delightful, both its action-packed and carefree episodes are a treasure, and I’m perpetually thankful that my work allows me to be your tour guide through this wonderful show. Let’s see what’s waiting on the islands of Alola!

Episode 38

We open on what sounds like a new song, led by an energetic spanish guitar melody. This show’s opening sequences always feel like perfect saturday morning cartoon material – a song like this, accompanied by Ash’s familiar run to the pokemon school, invites you to rise up and greet the day

I’ll be interested in seeing how Lycanroc fits into the group dynamic now. Evolution is somewhat treated as pokemon “growing up,” but it also changes their personalities to an extent, and Lycanroc is simply a lot more menacing-looking than Rockruff. A great deal of this show’s appeal is “look at these adorable baby animals palling around,” so I’m thinking evolutions might be used to facilitate a general move towards more focused, battle-based drama

Suddenly, Pikachu is captured in a glass bubble! Cancel your plans fuckers, it’s a Team Rocket episode

See, personally I’d have just directed the pika-copter to fly away to a secret rendezvous location, rather than leap out from behind the nearest boulder and announce that I’m the one who stole him. But I guess that’s why Team Rocket are the professionals

James looking up Lycanroc in their guidebook is a nice gag

Lycanroc fails to finish the Z-Move!

God, I love Team Rocket. After they get blasted off by Kaki, they’re all just lounging in midair, lamenting the fact that it’s been so long since their last appearance, and then wondering why Bewear is so late

For once, we actually get to see what happens after they get blasted off – they mostly just scatter across the town as debris, like in the first Nichijou episode

Oh my god, Mimikyu’s almost had his fake head ripped off

“Mimikyu’s Disguise.” So is this episode just going to involve them finding different bags to put over Mimikyu’s horrible body?

It looks like we’re actually just following Mimikyu and Jessie by themselves, which is giving the animators plenty of room to make absurd Jessie faces, and Megumi Hayashibara plenty of chances to flex her signature snarl

The conflict for this episode is “Jessie and Meowth must stop Jessie from buying Mimikyu outfits before they run out of money.” Sun and Moon is a work of unimpeachable genius

Jessie’s trying not to splurge, but the shopkeepers know a mark when they see one

Oh my god, Mimikyu’s even getting the classic makeover montage sequence in the dressing room. I’d been seriously missing Team Rocket, but I couldn’t have expected an episode as generously ludicrous as this

Mimikyu doesn’t really say his name; he mostly just makes these one-syllable barking noises. Perhaps they figured if he said his name, he’d seem more relatable, and less unknowably animal-like, which is important for a creature like Mimikyu

Oh right, this show isn’t actually about Team Rocket. I don’t care about Lycanroc’s training, bring us back to the shopping trip!

Lillie says “the presence of a trusting relationship between pokemon and trainer is crucial for a Z-move.” As always, Pokemon preaches kindness and building trust over personal excellence

Kukui explains the issue might be that Lycanroc can’t yet control its evolved power. There’s almost no conflict in this B-plot, which is intentional: this is clearly a Team Rocket episode, so Ash’s narrative is designed to take up as little screentime as possible

Oh, and if you haven’t heard the terms “A-plot” and “B-plot” before, they’re generally used to designate the distinct narrative lines in an episodic show, most frequently a sitcom. Frequently, a show will split its cast into groups, each with their own conflicts. The reasons for this are numerous: it allows more characters to feel significant within an ensemble drama, it illustrates or furthers the unique relationships between specific members of the group, it allows for more consistent drama and tension, it lets you play one conflict against another, etc etc etc. In such situations, the most dominant narrative is referred to as the “A-plot,” while the less prioritized one is the “B-plot,” and so on

If you start thinking of sitcoms in these terms, you’ll be amazed to see how efficiently these narrative threads can be constructed. It’s possible to only afford a C-plot maybe three minutes of screentime, while still having it feel like a cohesive part of the episode. You just have to know how to seamlessly integrate its beats into the overall episode structure – like here, where Ash’s two appearances have Set Up A Problem and then Demonstrated Effort in the quickest manner possible

Man, Jessie really does look great in that sundress and hat. The clerks may have been incentivized, but they weren’t lying

The wonderful expressions continue, as Jessie pulls a JoJoface in response to the contents of her wallet

At last, Jessie seems to acknowledge that Mimikyu really wants to look like Pikachu specifically. The creature is such a sad invention! It knows it looks horrifying, and simply longs for the love and affection that Pikachu seems to earn so effortlessly. Someone at the Pokemon Company must have been having a really bad day when they designed Mimikyu

Unsurprisingly, the show reuses that terrific “Lana joyfully calls out a pokemon attack” cut of animation. As I’ve said before, the repetitive nature of pokemon battles allows this show to establish a fair amount of useful bank footage

With a massive scarline around its neck, Mimikyu’s Pikachu bag now looks even more horrifying than before

I like that this episode’s “villain” is just some shitty birds that keep stealing their food

Jessie actually climbs a tree and leaps onto the rooftop to chase the shitty birds. I don’t think this is a sign of her conviction, I think she’s just a total lunatic. God I love her

Jessie gets the Pikachu bag, and even destroys the giant Pikachu in the process. What a success for Mimikyu

Once again, Meowth sees Mimikyu and friggin’ dies. Poor guy

And yet, Ash still beats the united front of Jessie and Mimikyu, even after all that bonding and effort. Goddamn that boy!

And Done

This is bullshit! Ash barely did any training at all, and Jessie worked so hard for Mimikyu! Sure Team Rocket might be petty and stupid and selfish, but they certainly do care about each other, and this episode was a fine celebration of that. Jessie has simply always been one of the pokemon anime’s strongest assets; she’s a hilarious character who seems equally fun to write and to animate, and letting her run rampage over an entire episode was a terrific choice. Team Rocket, as always, it’s a pleasure to have you here.

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