Just forget the words and sing along

Saturday, March 06, 2004

So, I'm continuing the Pokemon obsession that began when I bought movie #5 the other day, and it's just continuing now that I've seen the first episode of season 6, Pokemon Advance. I was geeking out over the whole thing. It was weird seeing the opening credits sequence that I was so familiar with in Japan, now re-edited and with an English theme song. But, it was great seeing how things all began for Ash in the Hoenn region! And I do so love to share.

Let's Get the Show on the Road - The episode opens with our introduction to May, Ash's new female companion. She's riding her bike down the road, and in an aside, she tells us her story. It's her 10th birthday, meaning she is now of legal age to go on a Pokemon journey. So, she's off to see Professor Birch and get her first pokemon. At this point, she's spooked by a ghost pokemon and runs into a tree. Now, she tells us the truth. She doesn't really like pokemon. She's young and consumed with wanderlust, and she figures that a pokemon journey is the perfect excuse to get out and travel the world. She stops on a hilltop and watches a cruise ship pull into the docks at Littleroot Town.

On that crusie ship is our hero, Ash Ketchum, and he's very worried. Pikachu is deathly ill after last week's battle with Team Rocket, so Ash is desperate for the ship to get to Littleroot Town so he can take Pikachu to the Pokemon Center. Also on the ship are Team Rocket, but Jessie is in the throws of an existential quandry. "We've followed that twerp and tried to catch Pikachu for so long now," she says to James. "Is this all there is to life? We've now followed that kid halfway across the world! Why? Why do we do this?" James just kind of says, "Because we do."

The ship docks in Littleroot Town, and Ash is horrified to discover that the town doesn't have a Pokemon Centre. Knowing he needs help, Ash calls up Professor Oak's colleage in the Hoenn Region, Professor Birch. Ash calls Birch's lab and talks to Joshua, Brich's assistant. Joshua tells Ash to sit tight and he'll send Professor Birch down right away. Ash gets comfy. Pikcahu sleeps a restless sleep in Ash's arms. Then, a jeep comes tearing down the streets! It stops and out steps a big, bearded man. It's Professor Birch! Ash and Pikachu get into the jeep and the go flying back to Birch's lab. Along the way, Birch asks Ash if Pikachu had come into contact with any large magnetic fields lately. Ash says yeah, in last week's episode, Team Rocket's latest Pikachu-catcher used a giant electromagnet to restrain Pikachu. Birch says that's the problem. The electomagnet threw off Pikachu's ability to safely discharge his electricity. Now, it's all building up inside Pikachu. They have to drain off Pikachu's excess power. At this point, Pikachu begins struggling in Ash's arm. Pikachu's illness is making him delusional.

They arrive at Birch's lab and Joshua has the equipment ready. They lay Pikachu on the exam table and hook-up the electrodes. They throw the switch and begin draining Pikachu's power. But, Pikachu has too much power! The machine can't take it all! The machine explodes and, in his sick, delusional state, Pikcahu jumps out the window and makes a run for it. Ash goes after, but tells Birch that he's got no Pokemon to help bring in Pikachu. Birch grabs the pokemon he was saving for May to choose from and goes after Ash. Birch goes after Ash and tells the news. The build-up of electricity is worse than he thought. If they're not very gentle in capturing Pikachu, Pikachu will explode.

At this point, May shows up at Birch's lab, and Joshua tells her the situation. May goes off to help.

Ash and Birch split up to cover more ground. Birch slips and tumbles over a ledge, where he disturbs an angry pack of Poocheynas. (Wolf pokemon.) Birch climbs a tree for safety and is stuck. At this point, May shows up. Birch tells May to choose a pokemon from his bag (which he dropped when he fell over the ledge) and use a pokemon to fight off the Poocheynas. May selects a Mudkip, but her disinterest in pokemon shows when she accidentally unleashes Mudkip's attacks on herself. Birch manages to escape from the tree and uses Mudkip himself.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the forest, Ash finds Pikachu. But, in his delusional state (I love saying "Pikachu's delusional state), Pikachu sees Ash as being a monster, and unleashes a massive Thuderbolt on Ash. Birch and May spot this and go running over. Birch and May show up to find both Ash and Pikachu unconscious. Birch cautiously approaches Pikachu but Pikachu wakes up! Still delusional, Pikachu leaps off a cliff! Ash wakes up and jumps after!

After commercial, Ash catches Pikachu and grabs onto a branch hanging from the side of the cliff. Birch and May throw down a rope and Ash starts climbing up. But, Pikachu wakes up! The delusional Pikachu begins fighing Ash, even biting Ash! Ash starts speaking very calmly to Pikachu. Thanks to Ash's reassuring voice, Pikachu awakens from his delusional state. Ash and Pikachu make it to the top, and now, Pikachu is ready to go back to Birch's lab and get healed.

But, Team Rocket shows up with their latest Pikachu catching machine! But what's the point, Jessie muses. They'll just screw it up and go blasting off again. Meowth figures this time they've got it in the bag. They easily catch the weakend Pikachu and throw on their machine. This is an energy-draining machine! It'll drain off Pikachu's electricity and make Pikachu more managable. They begin draining the energy, but there's soooo much! It starts overloading the machinery! And soon, it's not long before Pikachu's energy levels are back to normal! Jessie is amazed at how much energy Pikachu had stored and is reminded. THIS is why it's so important to catch Pikachu! With this power on their side.... Yes! Now back to normal, Pikachu throws off a Thundershock and sends Team Rocket blasting off again. The Thundershock also destroys May's bike, much to May's dismay. Pikachu collapses, completely drained.

Back in the lab, Professor Birch gives the prognosis. Team Rocket's energy-draining machine was just what Pikachu needed! After a good night's sleep, Pikachu should be back to normal. Now, with this done, Birch and May can ge down to the task of selecting May's first pokemon. Ash figures he's got to be a part of this so he can glimpse some Hoenn region pokemon. First, May looks over a Treeko; a grass pokemon. "Too icky," she declares. Then, she looks at the Mudkip; the same one that accidentally attacked her before. Too many bad memories there. The last one is a fire-type; the chicken-esque Torchick. Torchick takes an instant liking to May, and the feelings mutual. She utters those magic words, "Torchick, I choose you!" (But under her breath, she mutters that she'd gladly give up all the pokemon in the world.)

The next morning, May starts gearing herself up. She's pissed over how her bike got destroyed by Pikachu, so she's going to ream out Ash and Pikachu. But once she sees the not-quite recovered Pikachu in bed, and Ash, who was by Pikachu's bedside all night, she figures now's not really the best time to tear a strip off them. She goes outside at gets to know Torchick a little better. Soon, Ash and Pikachu come out, and Pikachu and Torchick become fast friends. Ash says that Pikachu's made his first friend in the Hoenn region. May looks at how well Pikachu is getting along with Torchick, then looks at the charred remains of her bike. Under her breath, she mutters, "Meh, it's just a bike. Who cares?"

After breakfast, Ash and May are ready to set out on their journey. Birch suggests they go to the closest Pokemon Center in Oldale Town, so they can register in Hoenn League. May, reluctant to go alone because her bike was destroyed, suggests that she and Ash should make the trip together. Ash agrees, and they set out for Oldale Town! To be continued....

And thus begins Pokemon Advance!

And since I'm so obsessed right now, I had to do some research online, and was delighted to find, coming to Japanese theaters on July 17...Pokemon 7.

Next Issue...Delusional Pikachu

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