Pidgeotto got screentime! Believe it! Pidgeotto got knocked out in seconds! That's cheap!
(No, I'm not going to bring up Bulbasaur's “Whirlwind” since it was brought up. I don't even see how Bulbasaur can just blow the spores away as such besides the fact that Grass/Poison don't get affected by the spores very well in-game. It's a little silly.)
Personally, I find this to be an odd episode, and I don't really know why. I will say that I found myself liking how they portrayed Koga's gym in the anime, adding more tricks and turns to it than in the games, but it's a bit... weird. I guess it all stems back to him being a ninja from the décor to the traps, I just can't really swallow all of it. It could be because of my lack of knowledge with traditional Japanese culture, but you know... this is a gym. Regular Pokémon trainers are going to walk in to want to challenge the gym leader, not to train to be a ninja. How many trainers have you injured, Koga, because they were completely unprepared for what they were getting into? Why exactly did you trick out the gym as such? What is the point of all of that? I'm confused.
Wait, Aya is Koga's sister? That's... I thought she was his daughter this whole time. I mean... who else was Janine based off of, I thought? And Koga looks old...? But considering she doesn't really have a personality that I can pin-point, I guess it was inevitable I had forgotten about her role for all these years. I had never remembered her name anyway, so there was no way I would have recalled who she was. They never really gave her much to go with outside of being Koga's sister and I guess his pupil. I'm not complaining, but her Venonat did more and had a better personality than she. All I know about Aya outside of her relation to Koga is that she didn't like Brock's advances.
In the meantime, Koga has his own Venonat, but then it went and evolved. Really? It kept in all of that energy for that long just to evolve right before the battle starts? That honestly makes no sense to me. At least with Sabrina's Abra, we saw it for a little bit, and it even moved before it evolved. We never got to see what Koga's Venonat was capable of doing in its first stage prior to evolution. Are we to just assume it's exactly like Aya's Venonat, and it just suddenly got stronger, more skilled as a Venomoth? Speaking of, Venomoth's cry in the anime gives me the heebie-jeebies. Like good Lord, it's like they took an actual buzz of a fly (or a gnat) in an echo chamber and increased the volume on it in post.
Now was the resuming of the battle an extension of the first match, or did they count it as a separate battle, and thus a rematch? It wasn't really said, and Venomoth was never defeated, so wouldn't that suggest that this was a tie and not a victory? This is like the third gym battle this has happened. But Psyduck saving his Voltorb should not be a reason for why Ash got his Soul Badge—especially since Psyduck's not his. And why in the world were both Koga and Aya so impressed with Misty's Psyduck? Was it really just because of how the headaches cause the powers? I find that odd, especially since I don't really believe Psyduck would've been a great addition to Koga's team of Venonat, Voltorb, and a Golbat. Unless it was to just throw visitors off because Koga comes off as that kind of person to me, but... eh...
Speaking of, this is the first of Psyduck's jumping out of his PokéBall gag. It has been a while since we saw him, so it's not a bad idea to have him around for a bit for an episode. I love how embarrassed he was with Tail Whip, and just how awkward he is overall. It's just that, sadly, it got me to think as a kid that Psyduck was a worthless Pokémon for a while, and I would see him as a joke for a long time. His Disable and Confusion were a pleasant surprise, however, though it got me to think Psyduck was half-Psychic for a while. I honestly have always hated how misleading that was in that because I didn't have any of the games until I was eight that following year, I thought certain Pokémon were partially a type they never were. It honestly stinks that Psyduck/Golduck are not part-Psychic because they are capable of Psychic moves, but I suppose that just adds to their uniqueness in the end. Misty's Psyduck had always been hinted at as being a bit unusual for his species, so I imagine that no two Psyduck have the same headaches.
Not going to lie, Maddie Blaustein sounds so odd as Meowth here. It's a bit obvious she's not making the attempt to sound like Nathan Price's performance, but it just stands out—at least at first. She starts to get comfortable with Meowth very quickly, thankfully, and we get to hear what and how he will talk for the rest of her performance as Meowth, but she sounds slightly robotic at times here. The Jersey dialect is slightly present, but it's not quite kicked in yet. I imagine it takes a couple more episodes before she really settles in, but either way, I do look forward to hearing Meowth's voice evolve over time.
You know, I don't think Team Rocket's entrance translated too well. They were trying so hard to match the lip-flaps, so the performance sounds awkward. Doesn't help that many Westerners don't know the traditional dance they were performing, which is called kabuki, so it comes off as odd in the dub. I had to look this up a bit to see what it exactly was, and according to what I found, singing is involved, though perhaps it's more of a poetic, rhythmic sense than as singing, almost like chants. I don't have access to the sub for this episode, but judging from the lip flaps, it looks like in the original they were holding out notes in such a way. This would suggest the odd use of pauses in the dialogue for this scene, because they weren't making the attempt to sing the motto. Which if they did, it honestly would've been much more odd, but perhaps it could've been pulled off since it was still the motto. They would have a singing entrance in a later episode, but that wouldn't be the motto, it's their own written version of Rocketto-Dan yo Eien ni, since I'm certain the translation of the song wouldn't have fit anyway.
And now we come to the large gap in between gym battles, all 27 episodes of it. In the U.S., it took almost an entire year to get to it (even with the hiatus thanks to the Porygon episode, it still took less time in Japan to get to). I remember as a kid getting a bit frustrated Ash had of yet to receive his seventh gym badge, and apparently there were repeats, if I remembered correctly. It was around that time that Kids WB moved Pokémon to the Saturday line-up, as Pokémon used to air during the weekdays here, and so new episodes were weekly. I was not a patient kid, then, no siree.
At least these fillers (well... some of them probably weren't) are still enjoyable, and memorable. Have to give Pokémon credit in that department, especially when compared to most shounen anime.