Pokémon Recaps Through Adult Goggles: Episode 1 – Pokémon, I Choose You!
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 1: Pokémon, I Choose You!
The episode, and series, opens the same way the original Gameboy games did: A Nidorino and Gengar battling on a screen. It transfers into a real battle between what we assume are expert trainers, mostly because the one we do see is silhouetted, has no shoes, no shirt, frayed pants, spiked arm bracelets, is ripped as hell, AND has green Poké Balls. The narrator informs us that Ash, the kid watching the battle unfold on TV, is ten years old.
He is a child.
However, in this fucked up universe, ten year olds are able to get their “Pokémon License”, which is never seen, and a beginner Pokémon from Pallet Town expert, Professor Oak. Ash’s mother comes in and yells at him for being awake at ELEVEN O’CLOCK. Does this kid not have school? He watches a training program that explains the three starter Pokémon: Bulbasaur, Charmander, and Squirtle. Ash passes out and talks in his sleep about which one to pick while his clock, shaped like the Pokémon Voltorb, falls into his hand and he throws it, I guess. Some loud ass Dodrio outside his house doesn’t wake him up and when he threw the clock it sort of broke.
So he’s super late now.
We arrive at Oak’s lab where an unreasonably large crowd has gathered to watch as the biggest ten year old asshole leaves for his journey: Gary Oak. He has three cheerleaders for Christ’s sake, complete with a “Gary, Gary, he’s our man! If he can’t do it, no one can!” theme. How is this possible? Continuing to make sense, somehow in this town of 22 people, Ash and Gary have never met. Ash runs into his would-be rival and the exchange is as follows:
Gary: Hey! Watch where you’re going! Well, you must be Ash. Better late than never I guess. At least you get the chance to meet me!
Gary: MR. Gary to you! Show some respect. Well Ash, you snooze you lose, and you’re way behind right from the start!
He then continues to call Ash a loser, sounds like every bully on the playground ever, and then pulls a Babe Ruth and proclaims he will be a Pokémon Master for the entire town of Pallet. Everyone yells a lot as he gets into a chauffeured car and drives away, talking more about how he’s the best. He offhandedly mentions that Oak is his grandfather and suddenly it appears as though he might have a hefty advantage over Ash. Oak appears, berates Ash for being in pajamas, and then they go and choose a Pokémon.
Except they don’t. Because there are no more left. Somehow, Oak only had one of each of the three starters. Why is he so unprepared? Didn’t he know how many trainers would be there? Why would you only have three when you absolutely knew Ash would be there, meaning you’d need four. After Ash begs for anything so he can start his journey, Oak says there’s one more but that “there is a problem with this last one.”
Why would you give a defective creature to a child? I guess in this world it already doesn’t make any sense, so fuck it. The Poké Ball has a lightning bolt on it, and that’s the last time we ever see it. Pikachu pops out and is instantly a hazard to everything in the room. He violently shocks Ash for simply hugging him and Oak makes really bad electricity puns. He also explains what Pikachu is, as though Ash has no idea. How much studying did he do beforehand? You’d assume kids getting ready to head out into the world would have at least taken some classes about Pokémon and know the different types and species, but it appears that’s not the case. Oak hands him Poké Balls and a Pokédex, neither of which are explained. The Pokédex also isn’t called Dexter like it was in the promotional VHS.
Outside the lab, the Bumpkin Brigade is there to see Ash off. It consists of Ash’s mom and maybe seven other people. There are actual clown horn noises and pots and pans being hit. Gary was right, what a fucking loser. His mom then drives the realization home by explaining to everyone what she packed for him because he is far too inept to pack things himself. Ash’s mom says Pikachu is “a little weird” and he sadistically shocks everyone in the crowd. No one sees the innate issues with Pokémon as a whole and the show continues.
Ash ties Pikachu to a rope and drags him down the road because he refuses to get inside his Poké Ball, teaching children the wonders of animal abuse. He actually asks “Is your name all you can say?” to the Pokémon, ensuring that Ash has absolutely no clue what he’s doing at all. Moments later, a wild Pidgey appears. Pikachu runs up a tree like a lazy asshole and doesn’t help. Ash decides he’ll just catch it on his own. He also yells “Enjoy your last moments of freedom Pidgey, cause you’re mine!” before throwing an enslaving Poké Ball at the poor creature, further causing you as a viewer to reevaluate the idea of pitting two animals against each other in a battle to the dea–uh, to the point of…fainting.
Anyway, he fails, because of course he does. This begins a long running trend with Ash throughout the show. His Pokédex actively criticizes him for being stupid when another Pokémon, Rattata, steals food from his backpack. Pikachu spends a considerable amount of screen time just laughing at Ash. Eventually, he throws a rock at a Spearow, a Pokémon known for its wild temper. It attacks them and Pikachu finally does something by shocking it half to dea–to fainting. It calls for backup, and an entire tree of Spearow give chase. Pikachu’s voice sharply changes for two lines, and it’s very odd.
The Spearow brigade decimate Pikachu in a matter of seconds. Ash, who as a reminder is ten years old and a goddamn child, jumps off a cliff into water with Pikachu. We cut over to a redhead girl fishing. She somehow manages to pull Ash from the water with a fishing rod and, after thinking she had a big catch on the line, simply says, “Nah, it’s just a kid.”
Nah, it’s just a kid.
Ash is again made fun of, to his face, and told to take Pikachu to a Pokémon Center, a hospital for injured Pokémon. The flock of extremely pissed off Spearow return, and Ash steals the girl’s bike, promising to return it one day. Of course, it starts to rain, and one of the most dramatic scenes in all anime plays out. The Spearow catch up to Ash and knock him from the bike. Desperate, Ash pleads with Pikachu to get inside the Poké Ball even though he hates it. The music swells as he then gives a rousing speech to a horde of wild animals:
“Spearows! Do you know who I am? I’m Ash from the town of Pallet. I’m destined to be the world’s number one Pokémon Master! I can’t be defeated by the likes of you. I’m going to capture and defeat you all! You hear me? Pikachu, go inside the Poké Ball, it’s the only way! Come and get me!”
Not only does he mispronounce the plural version of Spearow, he is, at ten years old, essentially signing his own death warrant. Had Pikachu not miraculously found a way to climb up his back and jump into the Spearow while using an insanely large lighting attack, Ash would have likely died. In fact, given the magnitude of the lighting produced, he should be dead anyway. However, they appear to only be slightly fatigued after the rain has settled. All of the Spearow are gone. Or dead. We don’t really know.
Sorry, fainted. They all fainted.
Ash sees a Pokémon flying through the sky that his Pokédex has no data on, which never reappears in this season and was mostly a way for Nintendo to set up a billion dollar franchise with no end in sight. The narrator talks up the show to be ten times better than it actually is and the episode ends with the signature Pokérap.
Tune in next time as Ash continues to be horribly unprepared for the adventures that await him!