Pokémon is a show that I remember fondly from my childhood. I remember the first time I watched it I was hooked from the get go. I was a little old for the show being 15 when it first aired, but I still loved it. So when I was looking for a project for my blog, and YouTube channel I thought it would be cool to go through the old episodes and review them and see what will stand the test of time and what will not. For every episode I will do a shorter video review and then a longer written total recap of the episode and pointing out things that stood out to me when watching it. In these reviews, I have a special Poké-Scale to rate each episode. In this rating, I will be looking at story, pacing, artistry and emotional content. I know it’s an old kids show, and I should not expect too much but I will take that into account when I rate them.
Here is the Poké-Scale:
1 – Magikarp
Episodes that get this rating are just like the Magikarp; they are useless and do nothing. They are the worst that the show has to offer and should be kicked into the sea until they can evolve.
2 – Psyduck
Episodes that get a rating of Psyduck give you a headache but parts of the episode keep it from being totally worthless. You may not like Psyduck, but you can’t argue that sometimes it can surprise you.
3 – Pikachu
Episodes that get a rating of Pikachu are just ok; they are cute and somewhat endearing but are small and lacking in substance. Like Pikachu, this rating is not the best, but still you can’t help but like it a little bit.
4 – Primeape
Episodes that get this rating are tough; they have something to prove and have a lot of meat to them. They may be a little small and maybe not the best looking, but they are much stronger than most.
5 – Charizard
Episodes that get this rating are huge; they have all the heart and power that you could hope for. They are rare but when you see one, you jump on and hold on for the ride of your life.
Episode 1: Pokémon! I Choose You
The first episode of Pokémon aired September 8, 1998; I did not know until I looked it up, but it’s part of the Indigo League story arc. I will say this once because I could say it at the beginning of every post, the Pokémon theme is one of the best theme’s ever written, and I smile every time I hear it.
The first episode is called “Pokémon! I Choose You” and introduces you to the world and to the main character Ash Ketchum. He is a ten-year-old boy who is obsessed with Pokémon; keep that point in mind I will circle back to it later.
Apparently, when you turn ten you are allowed to get a “Pokémon Trainer’s license” and also leave home. Who lets a ten-year old kid randomly wander the world alone?
Ash is excited and gets all dressed up and ready to start is insane journey to become a Pokémon master. Is this normal for this world or does his mom just wants him out of the house?. His mom tells him to go to sleep and when he protests she turns the TV to a local access show of professor Oak the resident Pokémon expert explaining the choices for the beginning trainer. Anyone who has played the original games knows the stress of that first Pokémon choice.
In his dream, he throws a Pokéball that in real life is his alarm clock. Without his alarm clock, he experiences everyone’s worst nightmare, waking up late for the thing you have been waiting so long for. In classic comedic style, he runs down to Professor Oaks Lab in his PJ’s to get his Pokémon.
When he arrives, we meet Gary Oak, he is also a ten-year-old who got his license and is off to train as a Pokémon trainer… What’s wrong with these parents? Everything about Gary is annoying; he is clearly the person the show wants you to hate, and honestly, I do. Gary is the typical “popular kid” he thinks he is all that, and everyone loves him even though he is a jerk.
When Ash gets inside he finds that all three of the Pokémon talked about on the TV show the previous night were gone. He is told there is one Pokémon left that he did not advertise on his show; it’s more temperamental then the others. I wonder how small pallet town is that they only have four Pokémon available.
When the Pokéball opens the loveable and very marketable Pikachu appears, he looks all cute but packs quite a punch. When Ash picks him up he gets electrocuted, Ash should be dead that much electricity would kill an elephant.
Ash returns home to the warm welcome of his friends and family all who are totally ok sending a ten-year old kid out on his own. Ash’s mom gives him everything he needs to start out on his own, at least she does that much. Pikachu then proceeds to shock Ash’s whole family, if this show was in any way realistic Pikachu would have killed Ash’s entire family.
It’s fair to say that Pikachu does not like Ash to start out with, and I understand that. Ash falls into the category of heroes who have a huge ego that is not backed up by any kind of skill. Also I get the impression that Pikachu has a bigger personality than most Pokémon and that becomes even more apparent as the show goes on.
Ash runs into a new Pokémon, he sees a bird type Pokémon called a Pidgey and needs to use his Pokédex to tell him what it is. And here is where I get a little confused; this is the point I said I would return to in the beginning. From the looks of Ash’s room, he is obsessed with Pokémon and yet he knows almost nothing about them. He barely recognizes any of the Pokémon he comes across, how to train them or how to raise them.
I understand the convention of having a character that is clueless, and the writers use them to inform the audience about the world, but it’s hard when you start out with only one character that is obsessed with a subject and yet knows virtually nothing about it. It’s like saying you are obsessed with cars, but you have no idea how to drive one or how they work.
Ash fails at capturing the Pidgey like you would expect and Pikachu laughs at him from a tree. From his pocket, his little Pokédex tells him that he needs to weaken the Pokémon with his own first. His backpack is ransacked by a Rat like Pokémon called a Rattata, and his Pokédex says that Rattata steal from stupid people who leave their bag lying around. I love how Ash’s Pokédex openly insults him, what a great self-esteem builder for a ten-year-old.
Ash then sees an outline of a bird and throws a rock; this was a very bad move. The rock hits its mark, but it was not a harmless Pidgey but a very violent Pokémon called a Sparrow. The Sparrow attacks and we get a very nice black-and-white view of the world through the eyes of the Sparrow. It starts attacking Pikachu because according to the mouthy Pokédex wild Pokémon are jealous of trained Pokémon.
Pikachu toasts the bird with a nice thunderbolt that should kill it, but it just falls to the ground and calls to its nearby friends. Now Ash and Pikachu need to run from a whole flock of angry Sparrow’s. Ash realizes it’s time to run, and Pikachu has the same idea. Ash pledges to protect Pikachu but Pikachu is like “later” and runs ahead. Pikachu gets attacked and falls; Ash fends off the birds, picks him up and runs until he finds a waterfall and makes the very stupid decision to jump.
Once they make it to the shore we get to see Misty the hermione Granger of Pokémon. She seems to have all the answers and is a total know it all, and a huge nag. She sees a boy at death’s door and does not care but when she sees a Pokémon nearly dead, she finally gives a crap, such nice morals in this world. Misty tells Ash that he should be ashamed of how he treated his Pokémon and he should take it to the Pokémon hospital in the nearby city.
The Sparrow’s reappear, and Ash does the stupidest thing ever; he takes Misty’s bike assuring she will follow him to the ends of the earth wanting repayment. Ash pedals hard with Pikachu in the basket trying to get away from the flock of angry birds and trying to get to the hospital.
In shows like this, things always go from bad to worse; a storm comes out of nowhere and the Sparrow catch up with them. The pecking and clawing of the flock of nasty Sparrow makes Ash lose control of the bike and both him and Pikachu spill across the ground. I will say that the voice behind Pikachu really elicits sympathy.
Ash tells Pikachu that he would be safe inside the Pokéball but he won’t go, apparently this Pikachu hates being inside a Pokéball. He won’t go inside, although they are both in danger. It is nice to see that the decision to let a ten-year old kid out into the world alone was a good one… not.
Ash stands up to the flock alone and proclaims that he will be a great Pokémon master someday, and he holds out his arms as if that would somehow protect Pikachu from them. The music in this part is very dramatic, and I love the frame by frame scenes that are almost whited out by lightning.
At the last minute, Pikachu jumps off Ash’s shoulder and unleashes an amazingly huge attack for such a small creature. This pillar of light would have been seen from miles around and would have left a huge crater in the ground. This attack also somehow instantly dispels the storm and leaves Ash and Pikachu alive and not even a body of a single Sparrow is seen, they must have been vaporized.
Ash then sees a rainbow and an unknown Pokémon flying over the rainbow, the Pokédex chimes in again to tell Ash that the Pokémon not in its database finally gives Ash an excuse not to know a Pokémon.
The episode ends as the narrator says that this is just the beginning of Ashes Journey and that many adventures await him. Pikachu licks Ash’s face showing that they are friends now, and the screen fades out to Ash walking towards the city, yes walking and not running seeing as how his only Pokémon is near death.
So that’s the first episode, and what did I think? Not too bad actually. It sets up the world as odd as it is, and it lets us see the start of a strong bond between man and Pokémon.
It’s fitting that this episode gets a rating of Pikachu; it’s not a bad episode but was not the best either. This episode had its flaws and odd logic; Pikachu changed his mind about Ash rather quickly, and the whole episode felt rushed. I bet Ash being so unprepared and unknowledgeable will be a recurring theme through the rest of the show. A lot of my issues are with how odd it seems of letting a ten year old kid travel the world like and adult. But i understand that it’s a kids show and that the main character needs to be a kid and needs to have adventures. I think it also feeds in to kids desire to get away from there parents, at that young age parents look like little more than rule makers. I did like a lot of the shots and music, I even laughed here and there.
Well thank you for watching and reading, please leave comments I love hearing from you! Please like my YouTube video and consider subscribing to my channel.
Until next time!
The Fedora Nerd – Ben Crawford