Everyone loves a good ghost story, or even a legend, and it's really no exception in anime. It's done quite a bit in anime because it's part of the Japanese culture with ghosts and demons—otherwise known as yōkai, though I think in this particular episode, it's obake. But since it dealt with a ghost, universally, this can translate fine into any language even though 4KIDS had to cut a couple of corners because of the amount of oriental culture involved—which is mostly untouched except for some instances here and there (the five-yen coin was edited into a penny on its close-up, the charms are stickers, nearly all kanji removed).
Thought I should briefly mention that I actually felt the statue of Maiden's Peak was vaguely familiar, and Bulbapedia states the statue is familiar to an early plot device in Slayers (the maiden looked like a character from the show, honestly). But I haven't seen the anime yet so I was second-guessing myself. Still, interesting.
So we begin with the opening shot of Maiden's Peak and get a (cheesy, almost laughable) jump scare of the spirit of the lady becoming a Ghastly that laughs in your face. Already, the mystery is spoiled. (Or is it? *DUN DUN DUN*) A bit of a shame this wasn't a Halloween episode, but it aired in the beginning of October anyway, so whatever. So Ash and company arrive on the ship to a small town, and Brock's so depressed because it means summer is over and thus no more women are wearing bikinis. Aww, here's someone to play the world's smallest violin for you, Brock-o. This is about the first episode where Brock shows how much of a hormonal teenager he is, but he hasn't gone up to any woman yet to flirt and thus on the long road of overdone gags. But at that moment off the ship, he sees the maiden and falls in love with her. And he gets trampled for it. Okay then. In the meantime James sees the maiden and falls in love with her as well (and his reaction is hilarious, he really hams up his infatuation for this lady).
As it so happened, it's the Summer's End Festival to celebrate the legend of Maiden's Peak. The legend of the maiden in itself is cliché due to how pretty tragic it is (two lovers, one goes off to war, the other waits for eternity for his return which never happens, something happens to the girl, bam legend). But I personally love it too much to care, especially since Brock and James are just so stricken. Probably because the song “Prayer” is used, even though it's done quite a lot in this episode. However, it's probably because it has that blend of tragic mysticism that emphasizes on the sad tale. (James is never going to let Team Rocket steal her away xD, and he dreams about her, too.) The old lady's funny even though she shows up only a few times. “Scrawny blabbermouth.” Oooooooooh XD! Misty's just getting told off for her vain attitude this season, ain't she?
So during the night, Brock and James are basically “spirited away” by the ghost when in reality, they're just locked up in the shrine (I think that's a shrine). Jessie doing the motto with herself a minute prior is great, and it makes it funnier when James replies back in a muffled, rather doozy tone. But so much for Brock and James “snapping out of it”.
Remember the Rocketshipping moment in episode 16? Well, most Rocketshippers tend to look at this episode as one of the hints because of a specific scene. Basically, Jessie shoots the bazooka at the ghost to break James out of his trance (though he was pretty much already out of it as he was whimpering how he doesn't want to go), and when he crawls back up the cliff, cries over how she saved him. It's her reaction that makes some of them say she's “denying” it, since she's explaining she doesn't like women who wait on men and cry at the thought of losing them because there's plenty of other men out there. (Though we eventually learn of her having a couple of boyfriends who weren't great to her, so perhaps that's why her behavior is the way it is? Kinda almost feels a bit hypocritical, but if she's been through it before and hated it, that could explain quite a bit.)
Those skull apparitions were frightening, not going to lie. Really is a shame this wasn't close to Halloween... And Ghastly was the old woman too? Completely forgot all about that xD. But I have to wonder why the Ghastly can speak, it was never explained why, especially since this is the only Ghatly (that I'm aware of) who talks. Oh well, at least the illusions were great. The mongoose one was nice (even though it's an example of a real-life animal so that makes things slightly confusing these days, sort of), as well as the fire extinguisher—unless it's the puns that make them work. And then we have the Blastoise and Venasaur doing the Fusion Dance to become Venustoise. Unless this is a bit of a callback to episode 17? Or foreshadowing to Bulbasaur's behavior towards Venasaur?
“What do I look like, a vampire or something?” XD Well, he sounds kinda like one, though how convenient that the sun was coming up right then and there. I don't think they were up that late... And actually, I kinda have to question why it is Ghastly as the old woman was helping them out. Then I remember that the charms were fake (not because they were being cheap even if it's funny for James to call them out of it), and that he tends to make money off people. Odd, but okay. Whatever floats his boat.
see what I did there?, the lantern boats are nice, especially when Ghastly rests on one and talks to the maiden's spirit—in which we learn that, yes, she really does exist, it's just that everything he does is because he's able to make money off of it. Swindling behavior aside, it's really sweet when he makes that promise to her. It would've been great if it turned out the Ghastly was her long-lost love, but oh well. The two seem to get along nicely despite only seeing each other maybe once a year, if not more.
(Pfft, Team Rocket's puns. I so cheesy, but I love them.)
Not a bad episode, in all honesty, but it wasn't that great. It went by a bit too quickly and the mystery wasn't that great of a mystery (could you even call it a mystery?), but it led to some entertaining moments, and a nice way to show off a Ghost Pokémon. Considering there were only three Ghost types at the time, it did help add on to the mystery especially since no one had any Pokémon that could stand up against it. Well, technically they did, but it's almost as if the anime really wanted to show that Ghost Pokémon are difficult to fight against if only because of their mischievous and unpredictable behavior—and that it's also because they're ghosts, they don't necessarily have a solid body.
So, that's the last filler episode for a bit. Now we're getting to some of the good stuff. Like a love story, since this one was just so tragic.
Yes, Elephant in the Room?
...wait, what do you mean the next isn't a love story? Of course it is, Butterfree falls in love with a pink Butterfree and—why is everybody crying? Oh come on, it can't be that sad, we only ever saw Butterfree a few times. Isn't it about time he got the spotlight?
...no one asked you, Elephant in the Room...