Pokémon Recaps Through Adult Goggles: Episode 4 – Challenge of the Samurai
After watching a VHS tape designed to brainwash kids into loving Pokémon, I felt inclined to revisit the beloved anime series from my childhood. Pokémon: Indigo League, season one of the long running series, is the only one I finished, mostly because Brock left early in season two and the promo talking about it will forever haunt my dreams. I’ll be going through each episode in detail, so if you’ve never seen a solitary minute of this show or you’ve watched ’em all, I invite you to join my Pokémon Journey through yesteryear. Let the recaps begin!
Episode 4: Challenge of the Samurai
When we last left Ash, his Caterpie had evolved into a Metapod. Misty begins the episode by yelling about bugs and Ash makes a “Cowderpie” joke and dresses as a cow. It doesn’t make sense. A wild Weedle appears and Misty runs away because of course she does. Ash sends out Pidgeotto to attack and, using the same recycled animations we’ve seen multiple times now, it does just that.
Elsewhere, Misty is attacked by a child with a sword. He jumps from the bushes, calls her “Shrieking Maiden” and asks if she is from Pallet. After finding out she is not, he departs. He finds Ash fifteen seconds later, in the middle of trying to catch the Weedle. He again produces his sword and swings it directly at Ash’s face. He then says this:
“I am Samurai. I am also shrewd, fearless, and completely invincible in combat. I have been searching the forest for you.”
Let’s just take a step back here. One, I am Samurai? This is apparently his name. His parents named him after a Japanese military nobility. Sure, fuck it. Second, everything he says afterwards is completely false. He literally undoes his entire intro later in the episode, but we’ll get to that. They battle. Samurai uses a Pinsir while Ash sends out an already tired Pidgeotto, which is trounced in one hit. Ash then sends Metapod into battle. He uses Harden, once, and Pinser’s claws break IMMEDIATELY upon trying to CRUSH THE BUG TO DEATH. It’s an odd moment, because Ash even envisions his Metapod being split in fucking half. Does that happen!? Do Pokémon sometimes just get murdered during fights? This is another one of those topics for a more adult-themed show, along with Pokémon Police.
Anyway, Samurai throws out his own Metapod, and then they both just use Harden a lot. It’s a weird scene with lines such as “Harden, like his!” and “Maximum hardness Metapod!” and “Harder!” During the fight, Jessie, James, and Meowth are walking around the forest in a box that they call a tank, apparently to avoid getting stung by Beedrill. It’s dumb and is thankfully over in twenty seconds.
Back at the match, a swarm of Beedrill approach their location. Ash wastes valuable running time by listening to his Pokédex tell him about the new Pokémon. One Beedrill swoops in and steals Ash’s Metapod as the rest of the swarm chase the group away. They turn a very wide corner and because it’s a cartoon, the Beedrill don’t notice and continue flying. Fortunately, the corner they turned is exactly where Metapod is! Also a huge hive of Kakuna.
Also they all hatch at that exact moment. Again, they evolve in a way that is never shown again in the show: like real insects. It’s pretty neat, coupled with gross bug noises. The NEW swarm chase our heroes, they say the plural form of a Pokémon wrong for the fifth time this episode, and then hide in Samurai’s cabin as a Beedrill STABS THE DOOR with its stinger. It’s violent as hell and the whole “ten year olds goin’ on an fun and safe adventure!” shit continues to makes less and less sense.
Samurai berates Ash for being a shitty trainer and leaving his Metapod behind. He also blames him for the whole mess because he didn’t catch the Weedle, but really, Samurai kinda interrupted that and caused the Weedle to get away. Plus his name is Samurai so whatever he says should be ignored anyway. He then explains how the other three trainers from Pallet are better than Ash because he lost to all three, which negates the “completely invincible in combat” part of his mantra. He insults Ash some more and then they sleep. Ash stares at the ceiling and says “Metapod” once.
The next morning, Ash goes out to try and his Pokémon back. Before he reaches the tree, Meowth scratches his fucking face and says, “Do you know what Meowth’s favorite game is? Scratch and sniffle!”
Goddamn Team Rocket appears and yells their stupid motto, which Ash admirably tries to stop, but they continue anyway and end it with a giant explosion from nowhere, which of course wakes up the Beedrill. Ash runs past them to grab Metapod and the swarm chases Team Rocket away. Lots of Beedrill chasing people way in this episode, Jesus. Ash runs away from a recycled animation of Beedrill and tries to explain to Metapod why he sucks so much, can’t, then trips and drops the Pokémon. He finally owns up to being a shitlord and Metapod tears up a little.
Seconds later, ANOTHER BEEDRILL ATTACKS HIM OH MY GOD! Metapod uses Tackle, meaning he definitely should have used it during the sexual tension fight with Samurai earlier, and breaks the Beedrill’s stinger and also his own shell. Light explodes from the shell and a Butterfree emerges! It makes some kinda dumb noises and the Pokédex says that one week after Caterpie evolves into Metapod, it evolves into Butterfree. This also means they were walking around the forest for a goddamn ENTIRE WEEK between episode 3 and 4 doing, presumably, nothing. Ash is an idiot.
The Beedrill return and Butterfree somehow knocks all of them out with a little bit of sleep powder. Ash actually says, “Yay! You put all of them to sleep!” and doesn’t immediately regret it or question why it happened. Samurai, now fully complimenting Ash because he issued one attack order correctly, leads them out of the forest and on their way to Pewter City. They say they’ll meet again, but of course they don’t.
Team Rocket, now dressed in Kakuna outfits, maybe, dangle from the tree with all the sleeping Beedrill. They yell at each other about not having good ideas, but there is no context at all. Are they there by choice? Did the Beedrill put them there? Why the fuck is this scene happening? They get stung a lot to uproarious laughter and the episode ends.
Join us next time for Brock’s debut and a battle that breaks all the rules!