Pokemon Sun and Moon – Episode 39

4 months ago 60

Hello everyone, and welcome back to Wrong Every Time. You all ready for a dash of Sun and Moon? I’ve got Pokemon on the brain at the moment, as The Pokemon Company just announced their slate of 2021/22 Pokeproperties. I never played Diamond and Pearl, but I’m hyped as hell for a Breath of the Wild-inspired open world Pokemon game. Frankly, that’s the Pokemon I’ve been hoping for ever since Nintendo started developing 3D consoles; I wish it hadn’t taken us a quarter of a century to get here, but I’m still alive, and I’m still pumped for open world Pokemon. And it’s also just nice to see Breath of the Wild inspiring more designs; I genuinely think that game “solved” open world design in a way that had never been done before, and I’m looking forward to seeing even more “post-BotW” games in the future!

Anyway, right, Sun and Moon. When last we left off, Jessie and Mimikyu were having a lovely outing at a local mall, only to be rudely interrupted by some shitty birds. That was more or less the literal plot of last episode, and it was delightful, so I hope you’ll understand when I say this show’s narrative choices are a little beyond my predictive abilities. I just know we’re undoubtedly in for a good time, so let’s not waste a moment, and dive right into Pokemon Sun and Moon!

Episode 39

Nurse Joy is offering the pokeproblem this week, which is a little disquieting. Though it seems we’ve actually got a Mallow episode coming

Literally the first few cuts of the episode give away the answer to Joy’s pokeproblem. Look Joy, I know this isn’t normally one of your duties, but you can’t just phone in the pokeproblem

Also, it seems like we might be getting another horror-tinged episode, judging by the shading, creature-concealing cinematography, ominous sound design, and basically every other aspect of these opening cuts

Mallow’s family restaurant is going to be featured on a local cooking program, so she’s leaving class early

This Trumpweasel outside can somehow use its paws to open a bottle of milk. Not super comfortable with these creatures learning to mitigate their lack of opposable thumbs

Very nice hearing Nurse Joy and Officer Jenny actually shoot the shit as friends, as each of them pretend they’re not trying to get caught on television. Obviously a show like this rarely has much reason to center on only adult characters (outside of the ambiguously “adult” Team Rocket), but this sequence offers a convincing balance of confident maturity and childlike motivation

Mallow and Steenee have matching aprons and it is perfect

Team Rocket have now rebranded themselves as a Bewear-themed donut truck. This crew puts so much energy into their terrible schemes; if they just opened an actual, legitimate donut truck, they’d probably find great success. But I suppose that sort of “why aren’t you applying yourself” paternalism might have partially inspired their decision to become saturday morning cartoon villains

Oh wait, I’m not even sure this is a scheme. This might just be an actual part-time job, considering Jessie spent all their money last episode

Incredible expression work and character acting for Jessie, as expected. They lean into the show’s angular designs to exaggerate her resigned pose, offering a mix of realistic lazy posturing, and dynamic facial reactions

Also some excellent, almost My Neighbors the Yamadas-style visual shifts as Team Rocket are abandoned by the news crew

Mallow’s dad is killing it. A born TV personality

But he’s not helping with the actual cooking at all, leaving Mallow to run the entire kitchen

And so Mallow eventually runs off, with Steenee in tow. This all feels a little abrupt, but it seems like the show is kinda trying to fast-forward us to the forest segment, and so had to shortchange Mallow’s growing frustrations somewhat

Jessie making more wonderful ogre faces, as she drives their van right the fuck into the forest

“Why do I have to do everything?” I suppose this conflict does play into Mallow’s general role within the group. Even among the Pokemon School team, she always assumes the role of the responsible one, often chaperoning the others or cleaning up after their messes. But having her own father rely on her that way, while he himself childishly basks in the attention of this TV crew, was a bridge too far

I actually hope that’s what we’re exploring here! The last “Mallow episode” wasn’t actually a Mallow episode, as it involved her doing precisely what she usually does: working as the teacher’s assistant in order to support Ash’s island trials. This one seems far more interested in exploring her own feelings about her self-image and role in the group. Already, we’re getting some indication of why she is the way she is: her dad’s kind of unreliable, but they run a family restaurant, and so she’s had to learn to manage a great deal of responsibility from a very young age

She runs into an Oranguru, the aptly named psychic orangutan

Lana immediately suggests that Mallow ran away to the forest. The kids certainly know each other well

Damn, this Oranguru has a whole Donkey Kong-style treehouse setup. It’s already clear that pokemon are sentient, but some of them come almost uncomfortably close to human-level intelligence, Meowth aside

These cuts of Mallow waking are very carefully animated, with intimate camerawork and unusually careful shading. The overall effect creates a sense of vulnerability, situating the audience directly alongside Mallow as she wakes up in an ominous, unfamiliar place

He’s got a little bar setup! He puts a little straw in her drink and everything! I like this strange monkey man

Steenee’s humanoid face and body structure allows for a great deal of emotionally parsable character acting, as she panics in her search for Mallow

Oh my god, now Mallow’s essentially getting drunk, and laying all her frustrations on her Oranguru bartender. Like all bartenders, Oranguru is an extremely good listener

Incredible pissed-off drunk face for Mallow, which matches perfectly with this carefully animated finger roll. I’m very glad to see this episode going where I was hoping, and letting Mallow unload some of the stress of always having to be the mature one

“The truth is, I just want some appreciation. An occasional ‘good job’…” Mallow actually enjoys and takes pride in being so put together, but it hurts to feel that others are taking advantage of her willingness to support them

This episode is overstuffed with great Mallow cuts. Even her leap down to confront Team Rocket has so much personality in it, as she jumps from too high and almost stumbles before correcting herself

Mallow has no other pokemon to fight for Steenee with, but Oranguru steps up. All the best bartenders defend their loyal patrons, too

Ooh, I like this panning patterned background for Oranguru’s attack

Mallow even strikes a goddamn JoJo pose for their counterattack. This is absolutely the episode she deserved

Aha, apparently this is another episode where Masaaki Iwane served as animation director. He’s one of the franchise’s greatest weapons, and frequently serves as AD for crucial episodes (Lana’s lake battle, Nyabby’s story, etc)

Bewear shows up, but of course, Bewear is actually both a supplier and patron of Oranguru’s bar

Excellent Mallow pout as her father arrives. Iwane episodes are just too generous

Somehow I can totally hear “don’t you have something to say to your daughter” in this Oranguru’s grunting noises

And Done

What a terrific episode! Not only did we finally receive the much-needed Mallow focus episode, but it turned out to be an animation highlight as well, with bountiful character acting, fluid action sequences, and a plethora of excellent expressions. Also, this episode introduced the idea of a forest bar run by an orangutan, where both local humans and pokemon unload their daily worries. It was nice just to see Mallow’s friends and family recognize her efforts, but even nicer to see her frustrations illustrated with so much animated personality. “Mallow gets drunk and rambles to an orangutan” is an image that will stick with me for quite some time.

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