Hello everyone, and welcome back to Wrong Every Time! This is my first episodic article written after winter break, so I’m planning on easing back into the rhythm of work with some lighthearted Sun and Moon. When last we left … Continue reading →
Hello everyone, and welcome back to Wrong Every Time! This is my first episodic article written after winter break, so I’m planning on easing back into the rhythm of work with some lighthearted Sun and Moon. When last we left off, Kaki had joined Lana in ascending to a new power level, having rescued his home island’s ceremonial crown, and even scoring himself a powerful Marowak in the bargain. With two of Ash’s companions having essentially conducted their mid-journey evolutions, I’m guessing it’s now time for Mallow or Sophocles to earn a similar boost – or else we could just frolic on Akala for a while, and maybe check out the local beaches. Look, when you format your anime as a perpetual vacation, you end up with a lot of options for showing the audience a good time. Let’s not waste a moment then, and see what awaits us back in Alola!
We open with Ash already attempting his Grand Island Trial! Exciting news, though it feels a little strange at this particular moment, given Ash hasn’t really gotten an Akalan focus episode. Not that a show like this would be particularly precious about that sort of pacing though, given it’s explicitly designed to be enjoyable even if you’re just catching scattered episodes
Ahaha, it’s actually just a “got to class without pants on”-style nightmare. Nice to see Ash expressing some fear and vulnerability here; we see plenty of him reacting to the struggles of others, but rarely facing anxieties of his own. Even an aspirational protagonist has to be relatable!
Love this shot of them all in the cabin, with their pokemon lounging all around their beds. Obviously having their pokemon out all the time isn’t feasible, because you can’t animate a crowd shot for every shot, but I always like seeing casual depictions of pokemon-infused daily life. Twilight Wings excels at that
Oh my gosh, Pikachu’s smile at getting his head scritched is perfect
I appreciate that Marowak is maintaining his rivalry with Turtonator
Also very on brand of Ash to try and skip ahead to the Grand Trial
Instead, we’re making Akala Curry. Clearly it’s time for Mallow’s power-up episode, then
“Putting a croquette between two slices of bread isn’t cooking.” Feeling extremely called out by this show’s anti-sandwich stance
Nice flourishes of personality as the cast react to this challenge; Lillie is of course preoccupied with measurements and following directions, while Kaki is confident he can just play it by ear
Once again, Sun and Moon chooses to gamify cooking by setting its cast to work hunting down a rare ingredient. It makes sense; pokemon is most fundamentally about rummaging around in the wilderness and looking for treasure, so if you can turn some other activity into a version of that, you probably will
The team break up into duos for the scavenger hunt, an easy way to center us on Mallow and Ash specifically
We’re getting a bunch of lovely new backgrounds this episode, appropriate for one about exploring the whole of the Akalan landscape. I like the composition and energy of this panning shot as our pair set off
And it just keeps going! Lots of alluring low-angle shots that emphasize the rolling hills of Akala, as if inviting the audience to explore them as well. And even though we’re out in open fields, the shots are arranged to also include prominent foreground obstructions, further establishing a sense of depth in the frame. A bunch of smart choices all adding up to beautiful shots that strongly emphasize the episode’s sense of exploration and adventure
They come across a flock of Fomantis just vibing in the grass
Half-asleep Rowlett taking directions from Ash is wonderful
This episode is basically a series of obstacle course challenges, which actually lets the character chemistry shine; with little overt plot to power through, they’re mostly just riffing off each other’s personality quirks
They’re so good together! Mallow and Ash make for a great comedy pair, partly because Mallow’s personality makes her work as a natural “straight man” to Ash’s clownish behavior
Pikachu’s so proud of himself for finding the revival herbs. Great going, Pikachu
They enter a cave with many branching paths, which serve as a perfect opportunity for Ash to demonstrate his vast stores of unearned confidence
Nice to see Rockruff getting something to do. There’s sort of a natural tension in making your character’s “level-ups” actual pets they acquire, as you can only share the spotlight between so many characters. Acquiring Nyabby naturally means we see a bit less of Rockruff
Oh wow. The jungle on the other side of this cave is beautiful. I like the distinct focus on different kinds of mushrooms
A Lurantis appears, a pokemon I’ve never seen before. I really like its design – it’s clearly a late-era, more humanoid-looking pokemon, but its almost sentai-like armor actually looks very elegant. It’s been interesting watching pokemon designs evolve over the years, as they’ve shifted from mostly “pets and monsters” to humanoids you would almost expect can talk
The canopy overhead makes for dynamic backgrounds and compositions, with tiny beacons of light perforating an ominous darkness
For once, Ash actually makes an intelligent tactical decision, and chooses a fire type to battle with this grass type. Between that and using Rockruff’s nose to find the seed, he’s doing a fine job of passing Olivia’s secret evaluation
“So much power!” “Doesn’t matter. We’ll be fine if we don’t get hit!” Yeah, Ash is really kicking ass this episode, and it’s nice to see. This is the good kind of confidence – he’s been in this sort of battle before, and he’s not going to let it rattle him. And of course, it makes sense that Ash would be used to fights where speed is your best weapon against power – after all, his signature pokemon is Pikachu
“Incredible! It summoned a companion!” A mechanic so incredible they walked it back one generation after Sun and Moon. I can still vividly remember the annoyance of Sun and Moon enemies perpetually summoning buddies to waste my time
Sunny Day is up, making Solar Blade far more effective. I’m delighted to see this fight getting into some genuine pokemon battle tactics, and can only hope that’s a sign of things to come. I joke about Ash being terrible at battles, but perhaps that’s just the natural arc of pokemon seasons – Ash always starts the season as a relative newbie, but gains experience and becomes a better tactician over time. If that’s the case, I’m eager to see what he gets up to in the season’s back half!
Oh my gosh, Nyabby basically did the “blowing the smoke off my gun barrel” pose. What a cool cat
Ash once again makes a smart choice, knocking out the utility pokemon first, rather than focusing on the main target. Always target the healer first!
Love the smears and motion blur for Nyabby’s Z-move, as well as the dynamic camera movement
Also some wonderful character acting as the pokemon receive their revival herbs. Nyabby doesn’t like bitter stuff!
Olivia finally jumps out of the bushes with hugs and kisses for everyone. She is exactly that kind of mom-like figure who’s just so proud of everybody for doing their best
Oh my god, Charjabug’s trying to eat the curry, but his face just keeps pushing the food bowl away from him. Someone help this useless bug
Wow, we’re really moving along now! I’d figured we’d be highlighting Mallow or Sophocles before heading to the Grand Trial, but while this technically was somewhat of a “Mallow episode,” Ash’s journey was undeniably the focus. That sort of fits Mallow’s personality, though; she’s rarely one to outshine others, and seems most comfortable acting as the responsible older sister of the party. With her serving as chaperone, Ash demonstrated he’s actually become a pretty formidable trainer, and set us on a course for the Grand Trial itself. We’ve surely got some glorious animation ahead of us!
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