Pokemon: Indigo League Retro Review S1 E1-5

pokemon-indigo-league

If you know anything about me and my writing in general then you probably know that not only do I write about a variety of subjects, I also enjoy writing semi-nostalgically about how old television shows hold up by my current standards as well. I’ve written about episodes of The X-Files before here as well as Season One of The Clone Wars, which I plan to continue at some point in the future but can also currently be found here.

Chances are, if you watched Pokemon: Indigo League in your youth or adolescence then you’ve grown up with and are pretty familiar with Ask Ketchum and the rest of the interchangeable crew of trainers (most notably Brock and Misty, I would venture to say). You undoubtedly remember the shenanigans Team Rocket would pull off- or rather the shenanigans they would hilariously fail to pull off. Chances are, you may even remember many of the episodes and their morals themselves fairly clearly. Regardless of your circumstances or what you may or may not have retained, I’ve taken the liberty of rewatching the entire season and breaking it down into bite-sized portions for individual episode reviews (in several batches).

Without further ado, let’s get to talking about Pokemon: Indigo League’s first five episodes- from “Pokemon- I Choose You!” to “Showdown in Pewter City.”

♦♦♦

Ep. 1: Pokemon- I Choose You! | 22m

For a series starter and the premier episode of a lengthy saga- that being Pokemon in general and regardless of what subtitle may accompany each season, the first episode of Indigo League does a really good job of cementing a lasting resentment of the entitled Ash Ketchum and ironically making viewers (at least of my age and right now) immediately dislike the young boy. That having been said, it also manages to bring him in a circular and redemptive arc by the end of the episode and beginning of the second- showing that there are at least two sides to every character and that maybe he’s not quite so bad as he seems. What initially makes you disdain the entitled lad will inevitably morph into recognition that yes, he has his flaws but he will do anything and everything for his friends and companions. As such, this premier episode is a perfect beginning to the season and the fifty-one episodes that will follow. Grade: A

Ep. 2: Pokemon Emergency | 22m

The second episode of the season follows directly on the heels of the previous one and essentially serves as part two of a two-part episode. Ash and his newfound friends- both Pokemon and human alike, head to Viridian City and encounter the dastardly doofuses of Team Rocket. Despite the dire situation that they initially find themselves in and the demeaning words of Team Rocket and a scheme that will leave the local Poke-Center devoid of its main constituents, Ash and his crew of course manage to one-up the morons and send them packing in style. Although it helps to bring viewer favor more in line with actually liking Ash and in finding hilarity in each and every Team Rocket encounter from here on out, the episode has its strongest moments in the first half rather than in the next. Grade: B-

Ep. 3: Ash Catches a Pokemon | 22m

This episode carefully balances the morals and themes representative of the previous two and seems to pull it off a lot better- rather than being too heavy handed with either comedy or tragedy, it walks a thin line down the middle. Truthfully, there are few genuine tragic moments in Pokemon as it is ultimately catered towards children and young adults, however some moments are sad and that’s something that permeates even the happier episodes when issues like friendship and treatment come up. After Ash catches a Caterpie and realizes that Misty is deathly afraid of all bug-life, he of course can’t help but terrorize her while all Caterpie wants is to be recognized as a friend and companion by the two of them. It’s heartbreaking in a way if only for the short period of time before Ash actually appreciates the Pokemon more fully and before Misty manages to overlook her fear in favor of being more open and less resentful. Grade: B+

Ep. 4: Challenge of the Samurai | 22m

Not only is it the first episode to not feature the prominent pocket monsters in the title itself as a shameless plug, but “Challenge of the Samurai” also features a fast-paced and pretty exciting plot as well when compared to the last few episodes. Caterpie has quickly evolved from his initial form into Metapod- the cocoon-like second evolution that looks pretty good but pretty much operates as a more functional land-Magikarp for all its knowledge of combat. When the group encounters a trainer in the woods who dresses as a samurai and vows to face each new trainer in battle, Ash wastes no time in challenging the trainer and basically being as arrogant as he possibly can be. Thankfully the two trainers are basically mirror images or each other and essentially their battle devolves into a stalemate between their Metapods until it is rudely interrupted by an angry swarm of Beedrill. As one might expect, this leads to Ash abandoning Metapod and later returning to witness its evolution and subsequent decimation of the swarm. Grade: B

Ep. 5: Showdown in Pewter City | 22m

Here we finally get to see the introduction of another key cast member in Ash Ketchum’s interesting and often varied ensemble- Brock (the Rock?). After dealing with some collective Team Rocket (and Meowth) shenanigans which I’ll essentially avoid for now considering their plans usually retain the same one-dimensional purpose of stealing other people’s Pokemon, Ash makes his way to his first gym battle. As he faces off with a pretty desensitized Brock (because dramatic and tragic backstory!), he realizes that he isn’t strong enough to win the battle quite yet and not nearly as ruthless as Brock seems to be. Flash forward to Ash being tutored by a mystery merchant on the outskirts of town and you get a little more backstory about the hardness that Brock showcases as well as his motives. Predictably, in their second face-off Ash eventually gets the better of Brock only because the two otherwise evenly matched opponents realize that they should better care for their Pokemon and their families and futures. Oh, and the mystery merchant turns out to be Brock’s estranged father who has finally returned and the rest is history. Grade: A-

♦♦♦

So there you have it, the first segment of Indigo League’s episodes and subsequent reviews and grades. Feel free to comment with your own nostalgic or opinionated thoughts as well as gripes, concerns, or any feedback at all really. I look forward to providing you all with some more fresh content in the future as well as the next post regarding Pokemon: Indigo League.

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