At first I thought that this episode was implying that Pika & Piplup were homosexuals which would've been progressive but the true culprit of their attraction was kind of lame.
I wouldn't have said it's progressive at all. In fact it's borderline homophobic. The episode uses Pikachu and Piplups brief infatuation to generate humour implying that it's somehow funny, weird or unusual for a boy to be attracted to, display affection for or love another boy. This is compounded by the fact it was involuntary infatuation created by a machine. That, unconsciously perhaps, reinforces notions of Heterosexism, suggesting that the only valid forms of attraction and desire are between people (or Pokémon) of the opposite sex and that everyone else should be treated as a joke.
That being said I'm not totally opposed to this idea behind this episode. The affinity enabler is a interesting device and plot line involving it could work under different circumstances. Certainly it would not come across is such a problematic manner if the anime actually made a fair attempt at LGBTQIA+ representation, though sadly it does not.
Also, everything reeked of wasted opportunities to spice up the craziness even more. Buizel somehow getting involved and throwing itself at Pikachu as well, creating an awkward triangle; war ensues. Buneary appearing and being mortified at the indecent display of a not-so-endearing Pikachu.
It certainly could have been funnier and part of me would desperately have like to see Buizel being influenced by the affinity enabler to. But I still have to ask the question as to who the joke would be on. Having three males fight over each other while an appalled Buneary watches on would only further have cemented the idea that same sex attractions and relationships are somehow improper or lesser compared with heterosexual ones and therefore to be treated like a joke.
Personally instead of being a wasted opportunity, I'd say this episode is an opportunity that never should have been taken. The question really is, not how can we make a group of male Pokémon hugging each other funny, but should we.
Anyway, as a result, everything and everyone in this episode was way too matter-of-fact and insistent on giving explanations. Who on earth cares about the why? This is crack. Crack doesn't need justifications. Crack should plow its way through the plot with its buddies, screwball comedy and meaningless hurly-burly, without giving a damn about boring things like reason.
I see what your saying but I disagree. Crack as a concept seems to be something more reserved to Fanfiction. Most episodes of the anime don't leave unexpected events unanswered so giving technical explanations was appropriate. The writers could probably have added more comedic elements such as Buizel getting mixed in the fray and still arrived at the same ending. In any case, resigning the anime's only same sex relationship(ish) to being 'crack' only furthers the problem I raised in the first place.