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The School of Hard Knocks

This episode raised another one of the longtime questions of the anime: the trio have encountered several schools so far, but what do they themselves do for education? Theories vary, but it's just another one of those things that keeps the interest going I guess.  The introductory scene with Brock planning what to cook and sending Ash out for firewood was funny. They then came across Joe, who was being interrogated by other students with questions about the Pidgey family. When Joe explained about the way beginner students were "helped," I liked Ash's disgusted reaction. Joe showed them a picture of the student who was in charge of that beginner help system. I like how BOTH Ash and Brock were attracted to Giselle in the picture, with Brock's classic line: "She can violate my rights anytime."
The next lines were funny too. When Misty asked why Joe carried a picture of Giselle when she treated beginners so badly, he said: "I hate the way she treats us, but I like the way she looks." Then Ash said something about how that's better than certain people who treat you badly and look even worse, earning Misty's wrath again. ^_^
Misty's jealousy of Giselle during this episode was hilarious too, I like how she stomped off to find Giselle, leaving Ash and Brock behind.
I like how Misty taught Joe a lesson about Pokemon, with her Starmie beating Joe's Weepinbell. But I don't like how most of the battles in this episode were very light on specific, called-out attacks. With a few exceptions, the trainers mostly encouraged them to keep going and stuff, but instructions weren't as specific as later in the anime, or even in previous episodes. You would've expected more of battles that took place in a Pokemon school.
Then Giselle came along, and I like how Misty was totally astonished when Giselle's Graveller not only beat Starmie, but knocked it out the window and into the pool. Giselle explained that level, or battle experience, is also a consideration, not just the type advantage. Then it was Ash's turn, out by the pool. After Giselle insulted Ash's intelligence a few times, the match began, Pikachu vs Cubone. Pikachu's come-from-behind victory was kinda cool, at least this time it wasn't by shocking the Ground-type Cubone. It backed up Ash's claims too, that there's more to battles than level and type, and Giselle seemed to get the message.
Team Rocket showed up, but they were easily chased away since the students knew about their having achieved the lowest test scores in the history of Pokemon Tech. James complained because the rules only allowed 1-on-1 battles, then Giselle said, "Bad guys never play by the rules." I liked that little twist of fate, since that was TR's usual line of reasoning.
So Giselle and Joe patched things up at the end, that was nice. Ash asked Misty why they couldn't be like Giselle and Joe, and Misty reminded him of the bike again. Some people think Ash's line here might be a Pokeshipping hint, but probably not. Ash probably was just talking about ending the arguments between them. The battles left a little to be desired, but all in all this was a very good episode, and it's become one of the more talked-about early Kanto episodes in the Pokemon community.

Geodude's rating: 9 out of 10