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Pokémon: The Best (Animal) Show You're Not Watching...

Page 1 - Human-Pokémon Bond

Unown Or rather, they're not watching, meaning any of those groups who fancy themselves as activists, advocates, or any kind of supporter of animal issues. But in a society where fans have always had to defend Pokémon from being labeled as just the opposite (as mentioned previously regarding battles, catching, etc.), for Pokémon to be regarded as a pro-animal series is probably asking too much of some people. However, as seasons pass and the stories change, one theme has been prominent throughout the Pokémon television series, and that is the bond between humans and Pokémon whether it be trainers/coordinators and their Pokémon like our hero Ash and his beloved Pikachu, rescuing wild injured Pokémon, or preserving and protecting the various species and habitats. And while PETA latches on to every big budget, over-hyped, celeb-saturated CGI flick with even the most remote reference to an animal-related issue, and hands out Genesis Awards¹ to random TV episodes whose series otherwise have little to do with the subject, the self-proclaimed 'leaders' in humane education have overlooked some of the most heartfelt, eye-opening, and consistent stories that have inspired animal lovers like me for years, and have instead chosen to condemn Pokémon.

Pokéball Related episode(s):
Personal favorite! "Ash Catches a Pokémon" (Japanese ['I Got a Pokémon'!] preferred; Pokémon [first season])
-Ash experiences the joy of catching and bonding with his first Pokémon, but Caterpie is hurt because Misty is so terrified of it
Personal favorite! "Snow Way Out!" (Pokémon [first season])
-Trapped in an avalanche, Ash's Pokémon refuse to return to their Pokéballs, risking the freezing cold so they can keep him warm
Personal favorite! "The Pi-Kahuna!" (Pokémon [early second season])
-Tale of a 20-year friendship between a discouraged surfer and the Pikachu that helped him rediscover his love of surfing
"Tracey Gets Bugged" (Pokémon [Orange Islands; second season])
-Tracey helps an aging Scyther forced out if its swarm to regain its pride; Scyther then becomes Tracey's new partner
"Fly Me to the Moon" (Pokémon Master Quest [fifth season])
-With encouragement, a determined Pidgey flies higher than any Pidgey in history
"A Tyrogue Full of Trouble" (alt. title "Fit to Be Tyrouged") (Pokémon Master Quest [fifth season])
-An out-of-control Tyrogue is tempered by a tough but caring new trainer
Personal favorite! "As Cold as Pryce" (Mahogany Gym, part one) (Pokémon Master Quest [fifth season])
Personal favorite! "Nice Pryce, Baby!" (I hate the 90s) (Mahogany Gym, part two) (Pokémon Master Quest [fifth season])
-A cynical gym leader regains his love for his Pokémon when his lost Piloswine is finally found
Personal favorite! "A Corphish Out of Water" (Japanese ['Run, Satoshi! Cross the River of the Kibanha!'] preferred², Pokémon Advanced [sixth season])
-Ash must carry his Corphish across a Carvanha-infested river to the Pokémon Center when it swallows a piece of rope
Personal favorite! "Grass Hysteria!" (Pokémon Advanced Challenge [seventh season])
-After befriending May, a protected Bulbasaur learns to trust the world outside its preserve
Personal favorite! "Where's Armaldo?" (Pokémon Advanced Battle [eighth season])
-A frightened Armaldo returns home because of its trust in the scientist who revived it
"Showdown at Linoone" (Pokémon Advanced Battle [eighth season])
-A boy realizes that despite his Zigzagoon's evolution, Token, now a Linoone, is still his same beloved pet
"Cerulean Blues" (Japanese ['Revenge Match at Hanada Gym!'] preferred; Pokémon Chronicles)
-As gym leader, Misty must overcome her childhood fear and bond with a newly-evolved Gyarados while the gym is under inspection
"Journey to the Starting Line" (Pokémon Chronicles)
-A new trainer only interested in strong Pokémon learns the value of training a timid starter
"Cutting the Ties that Bind" (Pokémon Battle Frontier [ninth season])
-When his newly-evolved but heartbroken Sceptile can't use any moves, Ash must protect it when they're lost and attacked by Beedrill
Personal favorite! "All the Glitters is Not Golden!" (Pokémon Battle Frontier [ninth season])
-When a Sudowoodo runs away following an unintentionally cruel experiment, its trainer tries desperately to rescue it
Personal favorite! "Twice Smitten, Once Shy" (Pokémon Diamond & Pearl [tenth season])
-When Dawn gives up too quickly on her newly-caught Pachirisu, her friends remind her that good relationships take time
Personal favorite! "Tanks For the Memories" (Pokémon DP Battle Dimension [eleventh season])
-Brock teaches an inexperienced Miltank trainer how to understand and bond with her Pokémon
Personal favorite! "Fighting Fear with Fear!" (Pokémon DP Battle Dimension [eleventh season])
-Ash helps his Gligar overcome its fears while battling, to gain the confidence it needs before evolving
Personal favorite! "Doc Brock!" (Pokémon DP Battle Dimension [eleventh season])
-When Brock is out, Dawn and Ash find themselves unprepared when Pachirisu comes down with a fever
"A Trainer and Child Reunion" (Pokémon DP Battle Dimension [eleventh season])
-After admitting his childhood mistake of driving his Wurple away, Aaron of the Elite Four gets a second chance when his beloved Pokémon, now a Beautifly, returns
Personal favorite! "Aiding the Enemy" (Pokémon DP Battle Dimension [eleventh season])
-Following his Turtwig's evolution, Ash is unsure how to compensate for the changes; criticised by Paul, Grotle receives some unexpected help from Paul's Torterra
Personal favorite! "Battling a Cute Drama" (Pokémon DP Galactic Battles [twelfth season])
-Brock shows a trainer who only bases a Pokémon's value on its appearance that the bond between trainer and Pokémon is what matters most
Personal favorite! "Historical Mystery Tour" (Pokémon DP Galactic Battles [twelfth season])
-Xatu and Natu transport Barry, Ash, and Dawn into a bizarre world where they relive larger-than-life versions of their earliest Pokémon memories
"A Marathon Rivalry!" (Pokémon DP Galactic Battles [thirteenth season])
-Ash competes with a trainer in the Pokéathalon who believes the bond between trainer and Pokémon can only be proven through science, rather than the heart
Personal favorite! "A Connoisseur's Revenge!" (Pokémon Black & White [fourteenth season])
-When a Pokémon connoisseur decides that Ash and his Pokémon are incompatible, Cilan reminds her of her bitter gym battle loss and own sobering evaluation, meanwhile teaching her the responsibility that comes with judging others' relationships
Personal favorite! "The Lost World of Gothitelle!" (Pokémon Black & White [fourteenth season])
-A wild Gothitelle uses people to relive its memories of helping a little girl on her father's water taxi years after she grew up and left home; Gothitelle finally finds peace when Sally, now an adult, assures the Pokémon that she cherishes those memories just as much
Personal favorite! "A UFO for Elgyem!" (Pokémon Black & White [fourteenth season])
-Secret friendship between an astrophysicist and alien-like Pokémon Elgyem while conducting controversial research on the link between dark matter and UFOs
"Dazzling the Nimbasa Gym!" (Pokémon BW Rival Destinies [fifteenth season])
-Against gym leader Elesa, Ash plans a strategy based solely on his Palpitoad's type advantage, only to win by remembering that his best strategy has always centered on the bond between him and his Pokémon
Personal favorite! "Ash Versus the Champion!" (Pokémon BW Rival Destinies [fifteenth season])
-Meeting Unova Champion Alder again, Trip is disappointed by his casual attitude toward growing stronger; Alder then calms a rampaging Gigalith, explaining to Ash that what he finds most important is the bond between people and Pokémon
"Unrest at the Nursery" (Pokémon BW Rival Destinies [fifteenth season])
-A Rufflet and a Vullaby compete for their caregiver's affections only to learn that she loves them both equally
Personal favorite! "A Village Homecoming" (Pokémon BW Adventures in Unova [sixteenth season])
-Returning home, Iris unexpectantly demonstrates her ability to communicate with Dragon-types when she risks her own safety to calm her friend's newly-evolved Hydreigon, frightened by its own power
Personal favorite! "The Island of Illusions" (Pokémon BW Adventures in Unova & Beyond [sixteenth season])
-A closed Pokémon Center is the site of a reunion between an elder Nurse Joy and the Zoura she treated and befriended years ago; now a Zoroark, it cares for the island's wild Pokémon, inspiring Joy to reopen the center
Personal favorite! "Giving Chase at the Rhyhorn Race" (Pokémon The Series XY [seventeenth season])
-While helping Ash train for a Rhyhorn race, Serena realizes she may have given up the sport too quickly when his enthusiasm brings out her knowledge of racing and the fun of interacting with Rhyhorn
"Grooming Furfrou" (Pokémon The Series XY [seventeenth season])
-A Pokémon groomer and her Furfrou start to bond after observing Pikachu's absolute trust in Ash in battle
"Kindergarten Chaos!" (Pokémon The Series XY [seventeenth season])
-Ash and Froakie help a young boy overcome his fear of Pokémon by helping him rescue his teacher's beloved Sylveon
Personal favorite! "Seeking Shelter From the Storm" (Pokémon The Series XY [seventeenth season])
-An Espurr who had befriended an old woman returns to her home to return the woman's favorite pendant, only to learn that she has passed away
Personal favorite! "A Conspiracy to Conquer" (Pokémon The Series XY [seventeenth season])
-Ash's bond with Pikachu is tested when a woman partnered with a Malamar takes control of Pikachu's mind; as a demonstration of their power, Ash endures a series of relentless attacks from his own Pokémon, determined to reach his beloved Pikachu.

Pokéball Related game(s):
Personal favorite! Pokémon Diamond/Pearl/Platinum (Nintendo DS)
-Explore Sinnoh, a region created by legendary Pokémon and nurtured through the cooperation between people and Pokémon
Personal favorite! Pokémon Conquest (Pokémon+Nobunaga's Ambition [Nintendo DS])
-Unite the warring kingdoms of the Ransei region against the seemingly sinister ambition of Lord Nobunaga while discovering that the bond between warrior and Pokémon is the most important goal of all


Beloved Dustox
Unown Contrary to common accusations which infer that Pokémon are kept constantly inside their Pokéballs and controlled by their human trainers at all times, actual relationships between people and Pokémon are built on a trainer's responsibility to adapt to and nurture a Pokémon's individual needs and behavior, not the other way around. And often doing what's best for their Pokémon means allowing them to make their own choices when it comes to evolving (or not evolving), training, battling, and following their natural instincts...even if that means letting them go. And though it's never an easy decision - for either of them - the best trainers (including Team Rocket!) just want their Pokémon to be happy...even if it's not with them.

Pokéball Related episode(s):
"Bye Bye, Butterfree" (Pokémon [first season])
-Ash must release his beloved Butterfree - the first Pokémon he caught - during its mating season
Personal favorite! "Pikachu's Goodbye" (Japanese ["Pikachu's Woods"] preferred; Pokémon [first season])
-Encountering a group of wild Pikachu, Ash believes his Pikachu may be better off with its own kind, but Pikachu chooses to stay with Ash
"Charizard's Burning Ambition" (Pokémon: The Johto Journeys [third season])
-Charizard's ego is bruised when it's deemed too weak to train at the exclusive Charicific Valley, and works hard to prove itself, leaving Ash with the hard decision to allow Charizard stay and continue training
"Sweet Baby James" (Pokémon Battle Frontier [ninth season])
-James must leave his beloved Chimecho with relatives when it becomes too ill to travel
"Once There Were Greenfields" (Pokémon DP Battle Dimension [eleventh season])
-James gives up his beloved Cancea to gym leader Gardenia, knowing she can provide the necessary training that he cannot
"Throwing the Track Switch" (Pokémon DP Battle Dimension [eleventh season])
-Ash and Dawn trade their Aipom and Buizel so that Aipom can fully pursue its flair for contests with Dawn and Buizel can pursue its love of head-on battling with Ash
Personal favorite! "Crossing Paths" (Pokémon DP Battle Dimension [eleventh season]) Highly recommended!
-During its mating ritual, Jessie tearfully releases her Dustox, insisting that it finds the kind of love she once gave up
Personal favorite! "Pika and Goliath" (Pokémon DP Battle Dimension [eleventh season]) Highly recommended!
-Long after Ash decided not to evolve his Pikachu, a defeat from a powerful Raichu causes them both to reconsider
"Stopped in the Name of Love" (Pokémon DP Galactic Battles [twelfth season])
-Dawn's Piplup continuously tries to prevent its own evolution in order to preserve the memories of the time they met
Personal favorite! "To Thine Own Pokémon Be True" (Pokémon DP Galactic Battles [twelfth season])
-Dawn's Ambipom's talent for Pokémon ping-pong forces them both to make a difficult decision when Ambipom is offered a chance to train with a champion
Personal favorite! "Mastering Current Events" (Pokémon DP Galactic Battles [twelfth season])
-Ash says good-bye to Gliscor when his beloved Pokémon decides that training with an air master will help it become stronger
Personal favorite! "The Lonely Deino" (Pokémon BW Rival Destinies [fifteenth season]) Highly recommended!
-At a Pokémon daycare, Iris bonds with a Deino that deeply misses its trainer and won't eat; convinced its trainer may have abandoned Deino, Iris faces a difficult good-bye when he finally returns
Personal favorite! "Butterfree and Me" (Pokémon BW Adventures in Unova and Beyond [sixteenth season])
-Reminded of his own beloved Butterfree he released, Ash helps a lazy Caterpie evolve in time to join a group of migrating Butterfree, resulting in another emotional good-bye

Happy Miltank
Unown In fact, the kinder, gentler existence of the Pokémon world is an ideal view of the ways which we humans should live in peace with the animals we otherwise take for granted, with Pokémon working beside humans rather than beneath them, as people there have left that kind of exploitation centuries in the past, with the modern Pokémon world showing us humane interpretations of things we still have yet to leave behind or change. For example, fishing is a sport in which Pokéballs are used with lures and caught Pokémon are new friends. Some Pokémon such as Parasect and Shuckle use moves that secrete Stun Spore pollen or Berry Juice³ that are used in various medicines, while Croagunk's Poison Jab is good for backaches4. Clothing and other items are sometimes made from the wool of Mareep, who shed their wool and in a week it grows back5. In fact, in Pokémon Ranger: Guardian Signs, Ukulele Pichu became very upset upon hearing that an antique rug was made from Mareep wool, fearing that humans pulled their fur right off their bodies until the rug maker explained Mareep's unique shedding process! Pokémon also willingly assist humans in unique ways as well including nursing (Chansey/Blissey), electrical aid (Pikachu, Ampharos, etc), fighting fires (Squirtle/Wartortle/Blastoise, etc), locating and digging hot springs (Swinub), stone cutting and construction (Bibarel, Machoke/Machamp), etc... Even a dairy farm is a pleasant place for Pokémon and humans alike. Got Miltank? Although featured before the Goldenrod Gym episodes, Pikachu's 'Got Milk?' print ad6 actually turned out to be a hint toward Pokémon's expanding world, and an example to ours.

Promised Ralts
Diego and Baby Jaguar
Unown Mirror Move? Resemblances to (as opposed to the usual rip-offs of) Pokémon can better be seen on 'more obvious' animal shows if you look beyond the cards and battles, including the first two classic Lassie TV series (the bond between Ash and Pikachu are much like Timmy [or Jeff] and Lassie, and with many animal-based stories), and even moreso, Nickelodeon's Diego and his beloved Baby Jaguar; Go, Diego, Go! is an animal rescue series set in a wildlife rescue center (much like a Pokémon Center or Pokémon Ranger base) and Diego carries a very Pokédex-like electronic field journal!

Pokéball Related episode(s): (Helping wild Pokémon)
"The Joy of Pokémon" (Pokémon [Orange Islands; second season])
-A very dedicated Nurse Joy travels to small islands to treat Pokémon including a Magikarp she's known since childhood
"The Little Big Horn" (Pokémon: The Johto Journeys [third season])
-Brock sees through an injured baby Stantler's fears to heal it and brings it home to its mother
Personal favorite! "A Bite to Remember" (Pokémon Advanced [sixth season])
-At a Pokémon preserve, Max encourages a feisty Poochyena to learn the skills needed to evolve
"A Mudkip Mission" (Pokémon Advanced [sixth season])
-Brock befriends a wild Mudkip and together they help rescue a group of hand-raised baby Mudkip from a dangerous waterfall
Personal favorite! "True Blue Swablu" (Pokémon Advanced Challenge [seventh season])
-May bonds with an injured Swablu before returning it to the wild
Personal favorite! "Do I Hear a Ralts?" (Pokémon Advanced Battle [eighth season]) Highly recommended!
-Max takes full responsibility for an ailing Ralts; his first experience caring for a Pokémon on his own
Personal favorite! "Mass Hip-po-sis" (Pokémon Diamond & Pearl [tenth season])
-Ash and friends rescue a lost Hippopotas and bring it home to its herd
Personal favorite! "Leading a Stray!" (Pokémon DP Galactic Battles [twelfth season])
-Ash helps a lost Wailmer find its way out of the sewer and back to its Wailord friends
Personal favorite! "A Sandile Gusher of Change!" (Pokémon Black & White [fourteenth season])
-A Sandile seems to be causing trouble for a resort until Ash & friends discover Sandile is trying to protect wild Pokémon from impending geyser eruptions
"A Home for Dwebble" (Pokémon Black & White [fourteenth season])
-Ash, Iris, and Cilan help a Dwebble who is bullied by three larger Dwebble to reclaim its stolen rock home; later, Dwebble decides to travel with Cilan
Personal favorite! "Cottonee in Love!" (Pokémon Black & White [fourteenth season])
-Ash helps train a male Cottonee to become strong in battle to impress a female Cottonee during mating season
"A Restoration Confrontation" parts 1 & 2 (Pokémon BW Rival Destinies [fifteenth season])
-Ash & friends help an archeologist who, during his childhood discovery of an ancient world befriended a Tirtouga, stop Team Rocket from exploiting now-extinct Pokémon by using Tirtouga's fossil to access that world
Personal favorite! "All For the Love of Meloetta" (Pokémon BW Rival Destinies [fifteenth season])
-With Cynthia's help, Ash cares for an injured Meloetta, hurt while escaping Team Rocket, which later bonds the grateful Pokémon to him
"A Pokémon of a Different Color" (Pokémon BW Adventures in Unova and Beyond [sixteenth season])
-Gym leader Clair attempts to calm and befriend a Druddigon angered after a Team Rocket attack, reminding Iris of her own experience helping an injured Druddigon and overcoming her fear of Dragon-types

Pokéball Related movie(s):
Personal favorite! "Kyurem vs. The Sword of Justice" (Movie 15)
-Overanxious, Sword of Justice-in-training Keldeo challenges the legendary dragon Kyurem to a battle, but is injured and must rely on Ash, Iris, and Cilan to help free its Pokémon mentors trapped while interfering in the test



"All Pokémon adore a kind trainer."
-Pokémon Breeder Pamala (Pokémon Emerald)



¹An annual awards program spotlighting animal awareness in major media, including both children's and animated programming
²In the original Japanese version, Ash [Satoshi] is hit in the back three times by the Carvanha, as opposed to only two in the 4Kids English dub; the more Ash is attacked, the greater his determination must be to save his Pokémon
³From the episodes "The Problem with Paras" (Pokémon [first season]) and A Better Pill to Swallow (Pokémon Johto League Champions [fourth season])
4Pokédex (HeartGold) entry: CROAGUNK (Toxic Mouth Pokémon) "Fluid squeezed from its finger, albeit poisonous, is a significant ingredient in remedies for lower-back pain."
5Pokédex (Silver) entry: MAREEP (Wool Pokémon) "Its fleece grows continually. In the summer, the fleece is fully shed, but it grows back in a week."
6The "Got Milk?" magazine ad featuring Pikachu (2000) was published in the U.S. prior the introduction of the bovine Pokémon Miltank (notably raised in open pastures and milked using gentle machinery) in Pokémon Gold & Silver games and significantly before the Pokémon Johto League Champions [fourth season] episodes "A Goldenrod Opportunity" and "A Dairy Tale Ending" (September 2001). Before then, the source of milk produced for human (and Pokémon) consumption was not yet defined in the Pokémon world.



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