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The Path to the Pokemon League


This was yet another well-done Kanto episode. At the beginning, much to the dismay of Misty and Brock, Ash was getting a little too cocky over his two badges. Then when they found A.J.'s unofficial gym with 98 straight wins, Ash even thought he could win there. A.J.'s Jeff Foxworthy-type accent was a nice change. I like how Misty and Brock changed their attitudes about the badges when A.J. unwittingly insulted their hometown Gyms. ^_^ Misty's the one we're used to seeing with the flaming background behind her, an anime sign of anger, but this is one of the rare episodes where the usually calm (except around girls) Brock was shown in that same way, in this case with both of them "burning up". I thought that was funny.
AJ's Sandshrew was cool, and it totally owned Ash's Butterfree and Pidgeotto. Sandshrew was true to its Pokedex entry too, curling up and rolling around a lot in battle. It could even launch itself through the air while curled up to hit Flying types. (Maybe this was what gave Game Freak the idea to introduce the Rollout attack in Gold/Silver, who knows?)
Ash's initial reaction when he found out A.J.'s training methods was understandable, while Misty and Brock seemed to want to hang back and find out a bit more first. It was funny how Ash ended up tackling A.J. into the pool not once, but twice. But it was gradually revealed that although A.J. was very tough on his Pokemon, he really cared about them, and they loved him back. I like how he got into a conversation with Brock about the kind of Pokemon food he used. A.J.'s relationship with his Pokemon became evident when Team Rocket, whose ponderings over a change in motto were kinda funny too, stole Sandshrew, who they thought was Pikachu. Sandshrew found its way back, with an unconscious Meowth on its tail (literally), and TR showed up to do the job right. Sandshrew was great again when A.J. battled TR, and its Fissure looked cool.
So this episode had a good plot, a bit of character development for Ash, and an interesting one-shot character in A.J. I don't like how Brock called him "a new rival" at the end though, since he never showed up in the anime again, which is too bad. I think most of us would've liked to have seen if he kept his winning streak alive, or possibly better yet, how he dealt with his first loss(es).

Geodude's rating: 8.5 out of 10

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