Pokémon Scent-sation – The Ninja Poké-Showdown
Last anime review for a few weeks so we can look at something else, so let’s make it a good cut-off point: Ash’s next two Gym battles, against Erika of the Celadon Gym and Koga of the Fuchsia Gym. Can he defeat these fearsome foes? Don’t be silly; of course he can. He’s the main character.
When the gang arrives in Celadon City, Misty immediately drags them into a perfume shop to do girl things while Brock ogles the shop assistants. Ash scoffs, declares to everyone in earshot that perfume is foul-smelling, overpriced garbage that “turns guys into zombies,” and is thrown out of the store by the bitterly offended manager. He doesn’t care, because he’s only interested in getting to the Celadon Gym anyway. Unfortunately, it turns out that the Gym manufactures perfume, and the trainers there are none too pleased with him. They refuse him entry and he wanders off, dejected, until serendipity strikes. Jessie, James and Meowth have been trying to infiltrate Celadon Gym to steal their secret perfume recipe – unsuccessfully; they ran into the Leader’s Gloom, whose stench was bad enough to overpower even Koffing. They concoct a cunning plan to get both Ash and themselves inside. Because they are Team Rocket, this plan involves cross-dressing. They disguise themselves as parents wanting to enrol their ‘daughter’ – Ash in a dress and a blonde wig – in a Pokémon training class at the Gym, so they can slip inside too. Ash is permitted to enter the Gym’s inner rooms, where he finds not only that the Gym Leader, Erika, is the manager he insulted in the perfume store, but also that Misty, Brock and Pikachu are there already, participating in one of Erika’s classes. Misty asks why Erika’s Gloom doesn’t stink, and she responds by telling the story of how Gloom saved her from a wild Grimer when she was a child, and explains that Gloom’s stench is purely defensive and won’t trigger if Gloom feels safe. Ash can’t maintain his disguise for long once Misty and Pikachu start talking to him, so he drops the act and challenges Erika. Bulbasaur is unable to defeat Erika’s Tangela, but her next Pokémon, Weepinbell, quickly loses to Charmander. Erika grudgingly acknowledges Ash’s skill, but declares that “there’s one thing you don’t have – empathy for your Pokémon!” Erika’s… kinda full of it; Ash has many shortcomings as a trainer but empathy is probably his greatest strength. Anyway, she calls out Gloom and Charmander passes out within seconds. Pikachu volunteers to step into the ring, but the battle is interrupted by Team Rocket appearing and blowing themselves up by mistake (although they do escape with a vial which, sadly, turns out to be only one ingredient of Erika’s perfume – “essence of Gloom”). The Gym is now on fire. The trainers rush around frantically to evacuate the Grass Pokémon, and once they’re all outside Squirtle and Misty try to put out the blaze. In the chaos, however, Erika… somehow left behind her Gloom. Y’know, her partner Pokémon, her dearest friend. Ash charges back into the burning building, finds Gloom, manages to calm her down enough to get her to stop filling the area with noxious fumes, and carries her out. Erika is sufficiently impressed by all this to concede that Ash really does possess true empathy, and decides to write off their battle and award Ash a Rainbow Badge for going beyond the call of duty (for those counting, that’s 1/5 badges so far that he’s earned by winning a legitimate Gym battle).