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Raichu Must Destroy Pikachu.
Matt - 12/27/00

As some of you whom have tried so hard to ignore it know, I'm a big fan of Pokemon.  When this little obsession started, I downplayed it as much as I could, but now, looking at the 50,000 Pokemon figures cluttering my computer desk and considering how a Poke-DVD is now my surrogate bedtime story, I just can't have any misgivings about it.  I'm all for the Pocket Monsters.

One of the blessings of this site has always been that the readers as well as the writers both share the same fucked up circuitry that would usually tell us: 'you're too old for that.'  Fact is, watching today's cartoons is no different from watching an old Transformers tape.  Hey, that goes for a lot of doesn't make a difference that people use a NES emulator and play Ikari Warriors on their desktops as a 'time waster''re still playing video games!  People who had to have the red crayon in kindergarten had to have the red car as while times and tastes change, there's certainly no crime in liking the same dumb shit you did when you were 10 years old.

Now, if you think this article is setting itself up to be a sermon about staying true to yourself and using Pokemon as an example, you're wrong.  I'm only getting mildly philosophical because I currently have the flu, and this fever is just too much of a problem for me to be able to go with today's intended post topic: an evaluation of that Giant Cheetor figure sweeping toy stores across the nation.  If I had to try transforming that thing in this weakened state, I'd probably die.  So, Pokemon it is!

Today's Glorious Goal: to show the world why Pokemon just ain't that bad.  I've watched this arcane show half asleep, fully awake, alone, with friends, drunk, stoned, and sober...but no matter which way I view it, I can't help but like it.  Its just too insane and crazy to ignore.  The nonbelievers tend to think its all about cute little animals who suck each others feet.  Nonbelievers, I was one of you once.  I too cringed at the very mention of an electric mouse who could only say its name...again, and again, and again.  Then, on a whim, I picked up the Pokemon movie DVD after my new comp surprised me by being DVD-enabled.  It was a toss up between Pokemon and Pi...Pokemon was sort of a wildcard, but I used to get pretty grossed out when that guy mushes that extra brain in Pi.  My internal judges weighed the options, and here we are.

For the audience that's really too old for Pokemon, like myself, the series has two very positive things going for it.  First and foremost - you can view the entire show as a comedic masterpiece with your friends and laugh hysterically as you realize the point of the show: little animals who kick the shit out of each other.  But, secondly and on the flipside, its a well-written ongoing saga with one of the biggest emphasis on continuity that I've ever seen in an animated series.

Of course, I'm betting that most of you would be willing to watch Pokemon if you could laugh at how asinine it is, so that's the angle we're gonna take today in this review.  And, oh yeah, my temperature is currently at 101 and my throat appears to be changing colors to give it that 'marbleized' look.  I only say this to beg forgiveness for any typos that might be in this article.  In most cases I'm just typing out my least this time, I actually have an excuse.

So yeah, Pokemon.  My video collection for this show is, by my own admission, quite sad and depressing.  Why?  Because I own at least 25 videos and DVDs from a show meant to make 5 year old kids buy a Game Boy.  There's a sad commentary in there somewhere, but I take salvage in the fact that the only episode of 90210 I ever taped was the one where Donna gets thrown down the stairs.  I've not completely degenerated into a little flower girl, you see.

Anyway, I believe I've found the perfect episode to devirginize you all to the series.  Its got all the necessary elements: animals attempting to murder each other, humans cheering about their animals attempting to murder each other, and a few scenes with Pokemon in intensive care at a hospital.  Rated G!!!!  The episode's titled Thunder Shock, and it far exceeds the normal quota for injured Pokemon!  Let's get down to business...

Ash and his friends have just weathered the long trek and have finally reached Vermilion City. In each town, there's a new gym leader Ash and his Pokemon must defeat to gain a new badge. After he gets eight badges, Ash will be allowed to subject his Pokemon to the terrors of the Pokemon League. The Pokemon already get their asses kicked, but the league offers far more creative ways to get it done. While its true that most Pokemon can punch and kick...others can defeat you by setting you on fire or electrocuting you.

Unfortunately, Ash was so preoccupied with making his voice sound Americanized that he didn't notice Pikachu was dying. Nobody's too concerned...this isn't the first time Pika's been sick. The other two times consisted of Pikachu having an apple stuck in its throat, and a second time where Pikachu had stored up too much magnetic energy, causing magnet Pokemon Magnemite to fall in love with it. I told you, Pokemon's insane.

But, since Ash needs to do battle here in Vermilion, its time to take Pikachu to the Pokemon Center.

Nurse Joy, in typical anime hotness, gleefully explains the situation: Pokemon all over town are getting their asses kicked by the gym leader! This spells trouble for Ash...if he wants that elusive Thunder Badge, he needs to defeat Lt. Surge! We get some shot of the 'center', which is actually more of an emergency room full of Pokemon with problems. Ash weighs the options for a few minutes before remembering that he's not the one who'll actually get hurt in battle...just his Pokemon! Whew, that was a close one.

Pikachu revives from its illness, as evidenced by the cheerful way he states and restates his name 16 times. Ash explains the situation to his favorite Pokemon: if they don't defeat Lt. Surge, Ash will never reach his dream of becoming a Pokemon Master. Hey Ash, if Pika agrees to this bullshit, I think you've already won that title. Poor Pika doesn't know any better, partly because its naive but mainly because its already been knocked on the head so many times, it just doesn't have a fucking clue what's going on.

Our heroes enter the gym, not quite sure what to expect. Well, they know what to expect, but nobody wants to admit that a Pokemon's gonna die today. So they continue forward and put on the best game faces they can, while silence comes from their moving lips as we wonder if its fear or a screwup in the dubbing department.

Ash is surprised to find out that Guile quit street fighting to train Pokemon, but the prime objective remains: Pikachu has to defeat Surge Guile's Pokemon so Ash can do that spindance routine and show off his new badge. The only question that still remains...which Pokemon will Lt. Surge use? Maybe Ash and Pika would get lucky...maybe he'd use Metapod, the cocoon Pokemon who can't move. Maybe he'd use Jynx, an apparent transvestite Pokemon who kisses people. Or maybe, if luck was really on their side, Salt n' Pepa would walk out into the stadium, start singing about that Giant Cheetor figure, and the match would get postponed.

Hey, I said I was too sick to write about Cheetor. I didn't say anything about sticking him with Spinderella and da crew.

Unfortunately, the forgotten sisters of rap aren't here to save Pikachu. He's going to fight, whether he likes it or not. Even if he wanted to protest to Ash, all he can say is his name...and since Ash doesn't speak Pika, its just gonna be one of those deals where he hears what he wants to hear. Pikachu could be begging for mercy and Ash'll tell Misty that Pikachu wants her candy bar.

Uh oh... Pikachu doesn't have any ordinary opponent. Looks like he'll be facing the evolved and more powerful version of his species...the royal rat himself...RAICHU!

Raichu's official Pokemon description: Raichu is more powerful than Pikachu. It has such great electrical potential, it must use its tail as a ground to avoid shocking itself!

It doesn't get more clear than that. Pikachu would need a gun to win this battle. You know he's in for a rough time when Raichu's officially biggest selling point is that he's 'more powerful than Pikachu'. If that's all he has to be proud of, you can bet that he'll do everything he can to uphold his amazing ability.

Haha! What'd I tell you? Call me Creskin! Raichu pummels Pikachu within an inch of its miserable rodent life, all the while smiling like its just found the cure for cancer. For a species that's nigh-human in intelligence, these Pokemon are pretty sadistic. What does a Pokemon do when it doesn't want to grow up to beat up other Pokemon? Well, they've got that covered too! Here's what a Pokemon does when it don't want to murder someone...

Chansey, a friendly Pokemon who carries an egg around, serves as the Pokemon nurse throughout most of the Pokemon Centers across the globe. Of course, the point of having a different job was to get away from all the fighting, a point sort of negated when we realize that Chansey's job is to take care of the Pokemon who just got their asses kicked. Oh well, at least she's not the one taking Gyrados' hyper beam. Smart, weird looking chick.

Anyway, Pikachu's been soundly defeated by Raichu. Time to pay the hospital another visit!

Ash displays some concern over Pikachu's critical condition, but he's way more worried about not getting a Thunder Badge. These poor Pokemon! But it would be kinda cool if we could go to the zoo, steal a monkey, and force it to battle with eagles and giant rhinos. Pokemon is the child equivalent of illegal cockfights. Worst part is, they don't even get to take credit for beating on each other. Their trainers sit on the sidelines and scream 'hit him!', and lo and behold, its their victory! The only time the Pokemon is responsible for the battle's outcome is when it loses, something Pikachu's finding out the hard way. Luckily, Nurse Joy has a solution.

THE MYSTERIOUS THUNDER STONE. In Pokemon lore, some species can only evolve if they rub their secret parts against ominous gemstones. In this case, a Pikachu can only turn into a Raichu if it makes out with a rare Thunder Stone, which by some convenience, Nurse Joy just happens to have an extra.

Ash has a tough decision to make. He's known Pikachu for a long time. If he evolves him, his personality will change, he'll be a little taller, probably get interested in girls...the whole friendship could go on shaky ground. On the other hand, he really wants that Thunder Badge. Meanwhile, poor Pikachu gasps for air from the hospital bed. Ultimately, Ash decides that while he's cruel enough to force little mice to get the shit kicked out of them, he just can't force Pikachu to evolve if it doesn't want to. So he leaves it up to him...

No! Pikachu denies the Thunder Stone! Pikachu BLOCKS! As it turns out, the electric mouse is insulted that Ash didn't think he could get the job done without putting on 30 pounds and changing its name. Pika explains, in Pika-talk, that it wants to defeat Raichu as itself. While the rest of Ash's friends share a silent giggle over Pikachu's unfounded self-confidence, Ash agrees to give Pika one more chance. But if Pikachu fails this time - its time for a little of the ol' STONE treatment.

Great, now not only is Pikachu fighting for its health, its fighting for its very right to exist! This makes kicking a dog who pissed on the rug seem absolutely heartwarming.

Perhaps it was a newlyfound courage. Maybe it was the fact that Pika's very life was at stake. But whatever the reason, Pikachu returns to the gym and soundly hands Lt. Surge Raichu's ass on a platter. The moral? Beats me...I think they were trying to say something about skill over brawn, but lessons get lost when mice are zapping each other with lightning bolts. If your biology teacher tried to teach you about geodes by breaking a boulder over your classmate's head and showing you the crystals inside, chances are good you won't remember too much about the actual geode. Likewise, the virtues of Pokemon are lost in a sea of animal warfare and Nurse Joy's miniskirt.

Everyone's very proud of Pikachu for winning the battle, and finally, Ash has his Thunder Badge. Later in the series, Pikachu will have to fight everything from a 8' tall dragon who spits fire to a pink glob who can morph itself to look like Pika. Invariably, Pikachu's life isn't one of adventure. This show obviously inspired Gladiator. Now, reviewing...

* Pokemon exist solely to kick the shit out of each other.
* Pokemon can only say their name, leaving whatever they speak up to dubious interpretation.
* When Pokemon go to hospitals, they really look like crap.
* The best Pokemon are the ones who broke the most Pokespines.

Ha, and you're telling me this stuff's for kids. This is like watching Melrose Place and pro-wrestling all tied into one. After all, its not every kids show that has its lead male villain get breast implants in order to disguise himself...

Yes, James grows boobs.

- Matt
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