It's Christmas, and so I'm restarting these reviews; really is a lot of fun to do these. Since my last review at the end of the summer, the next region has gotten underway (about 12 episodes in), and it's been...well, too early to say where it's going. The most interesting thing, I think, that's happened over the past few months is the last dp episode, where an indication was given, for what I feel is the first time, that the writers truly have an ending in store for Ash. However, there has been very little continuity for Ash in the new region (the shift to this region was very abrupt), although, with the news we got yesterday about a special that should fill in the story for Dawn and Brock since they parted ways with Ash at the end of Sinnoh, maybe more continuity is coming, for him, and, hopefully TR (who have changed drastically). Hope they go that route, so that these Sinnoh episodes might actually be a pt of reference, then.
On to this review. At the end of the episode, the narrator comments that whenever Ash and the group seem to get involved in a conflict, everyone ends up happy. That's this episode in a nutshell, and you'd probably think then that this one is going to be boring...but it surprisingly isn't. Not even close. In fact, the episode feels pretty long (which is definitely not a bad thing), since so many quality moments are shown. Almost all of Ash's, Dawn's, and Brock's pokemon come out to do something in this one, and TR even blasts off twice. I have to admit, that if an episode like this appeared in the new region right now, I would probably give it a low score, b/c I think an episode like this works only later in a region, after enough plot has been established, we are familiar with the characters, and a slight side story is needed to change the mood. And one of the big strengths of Sinnoh, I think, is that it has quite a few quality side episodes, often in a row, that are fun to watch and lightens the mood for the more serious episodes, which are themselves pretty good story-wise as well.
Let's see. Depending on how you look at it, the part of the episode where Ash and company try to get past the Psyduck using almost all of their pokemon can be either irritating/eye-roll worthy, or it's funny. And I think the latter feeling is what wins out, because the writers make it clear that the way the twerps are struggling with the Psyduck is not to be taken seriously-Happiny's scene really makes that clear, for me, especially in the way it loses its temper with the Psyduck to grab a rock, only to nearly crush our heroes as it loses its balance. This is meant to be a fun episode, and not one to criticize how weak our heroes seem. Although, funny enough, our heroes have a really easy time defeating the Muk at the end of the episode, and so, logic dictates the Psyduck should never have lost out to the Muk in the first place. Maybe it's the space thing. Ash and company are forced to attack the Psyduck head on because of the narrow pass, while against the Muk, there's much more room to maneuver. I hate to hold that against the writers, b/c overall, I think a great deal of thought went into this episode, making scenes for many of the pokemon that showcase them in character. Gliscor and Croagunk have the best scenes, I think, with Gliscor still struggling to fly (and yes, there's a whole episode later on where this addressed!) accurately, and Croagunk beating TR's newest machine thing where Staravia fails (and this feels okay-Croagunk is that cool; now I really wonder who would have that match-up at the Tag Team Battle if Paul's Torterra hadn't intervened-Ash would have, of course!).
Two more comments. First, one subtle trend, I think, in Sinnoh is how Dawn is the one who really gets riled up by TR; I get the feeling that at this pt, Ash is so used to them, that he hardly even blinks. Brock is that way as well. Dawn, though, really wisecracks with Jessie, and whenever there's a COTD around, it's Dawn who normally is the one telling that character how terrible TR really is. I think that may be one of the reasons for why TR has such a drastic personality change in the next region-Dawn was the one who really made "loser" routine of theirs work in Sinnoh. And of course, there's also the contest rivalry as well with Jessie, so it's pretty interesting. I think this is my main goal to look at in the rest of the reviews I do this Christmas. Second, is Brock's dance routine that showed up all the time in Hoenn (right?). I've read quite a few times that the next region is so cool b/c it's "fresh," and by being "fresh," this was meant to mean that it's repeating some defining early events for Ash from the Kanto days. But Sinnoh did that as well; the big difference, and one that I prefer, is that Sinnoh mostly acknowledged it was repeating, and decided to go the route that Ash is so experienced, that he remembers these events that have happened before. It was a "flashback," and Sinnoh acknowledged it from the start. In the new region, though, the repeated events are made to seem like this is the first time they've happened, and so Ash has come off looking stupid a few times in the beginning (though that's probably going to go away the more episodes that come along). I prefer the way Sinnoh handles this plot device alot better.