Pokemon Sun and Moon – Episode 13

Well folks, the people have spoken, and they demand more Sun and Moon. As your humble entertainer, my hands are bound by the will of my readers – fortunately, there is almost nothing I’d rather do than return to the shores of Alola myself, and see what our trainers-in-training are up to this time. Sun and Moon’s last episode might have been my favorite episode so far, as Team Rocket got to take center stage like never before, and make delightful fools of themselves in the context of the actual team’s beach trip. Combining slice of life relaxation with lots of great comedy beats and terrific animation flourishes, episode twelve was a Sun and Moon highlight, and also one of Team Rocket’s most successful gambits across their long and less-than-illustrious career. I expect they’ll need some time to recuperate from their last battle, so let’s see what the rest of the cast are up to in another episode of Sun and Moon!

Episode 13

The school president is offering the Pokemon question this week, meaning I’m guessing we’re getting another ensemble episode. I can’t imagine this show would dedicate an entire episode to Ash gaining an appreciation for this guy’s terrible puns

“Predict which pokemon will win the Pokemon Pancake Race in today’s episode.” POKEMON PANCAKE RACE EPISODE. HELL FUCKING YES

Wait, what’s a pancake race?

Mallow is teaching her tiny pokemon companion to carry a stack of pancakes on its head, and I am curled in a ball on the floor, sobbing at the beauty of the world

Mallow’s Bounsweet is adorable. I’ll be a little sad when it turns into a dominatrix pokemon

Mallow keeps selling this Pokemon Pancake Race, but I was absolutely on board at the title. You don’t have to convince me Mallow, I understand pokemon and pancakes were meant to be together

It seems like the race’s mascot is a Raichu. That makes sense in terms of advertisement; one of the Sun and Moon games’ big pitches was “Raichu can learn surf in this world, don’t you want to see a surfing Raichu?” So of course the anime was to have a surfing Raichu, and of course we’re all very impressed, because goddamnit, Surfing Raichu

We meet Noa, last year’s champion, as well as her heroic surfing Raichu

I mean c’mon, it surfs through the air on its own tail. How could anyone say no to such a creature

This Raichu seems exceedingly proud of itself, but to be fair, he is an extremely good boy

Excellent expression work for Pikachu and Raichu commencing their fated rivalry

Oh my god, Pikachu getting fed pancakes is just too much. This episode has been weapons grade adorable from moment one, and I can’t imagine it’ll stop any time soon

NOW ROCKRUFF’S DOING IT TOO I CAN’T TAKE IT

Aw, Pikachu’s struggling to keep up with Raichu. This fight isn’t fair, Raichu can just float with his psychic powers!

Team Rocket are lazing around and enjoying a day at the beach. I really appreciate Wobuffett’s Jimmy Buffett outfi… wait a second, is that actually an intentional pun? Jimmy Wobufett? This show is too powerful

Pikachu’s mood-sensitive ears remain a source of incredible joy. What am I even supposed to say about this episode? It’s just one extended cuteness overload, centered on a conceit so silly and charming it threatens to overload my senses entirely

Noa says that if Pikachu keeps practicing, he “might even aim for one of the top positions.” Save your pity, Noa. Pikachu will crush your Raichu into the dirt

Jessie loves her goddamn pancakes. She demands Team Rocket enter, complete with plenty of the comic exaggeration that clearly indicates her as the animators’ favorite character

Though I suppose Team Rocket’s mixture of passionate ferocity, ineptitude, and inevitable failure naturally sends them through a bevvy of situations that lend themselves to comic emotional exaggeration. Ash is mostly just having a good time, but Team Rocket are experiencing Shakespearian tragedies over here

Interesting. So Ash will actually have to carry the pancakes himself for the first part of the race. A smart way to keep the trainers involved in the drama; the Litten episode was able to tell a whole story from a pokemon’s point of view, but that required some tonal shifts and narrative simplification that isn’t really universally applicable. It’s hard to convey “strategy” from the perspective of a non-verbal character, or any narrative involving contrasting perspectives that aren’t directly supportive or antagonistic – though it is possible to do it, often by leaning on how certain visual touchstones imply more narrative than they depict (like how the Litten episode was able to draw on the kung fu movie template)

This race is offering some nice new views of the Alolan countryside, as well as a welcome glimpse of its culture and citizens beyond the inhabitants of the Pokemon School

AND SOPHOCLES IS OUR FIRST CASUALTY

As if this situation weren’t already adorable enough, now the pokemon get to carry the pancakes while they’re being carried in little red wagons. This episode has discovered cuteness levels previously thought unreachable, or perhaps too dangerous to attempt

Kinda wonder what Kaki’s doing, though. His pokemon is massive

Team Rocket continue to be the most relatable members of this cast. Perpetually overworked, doing their best to live their lives in the margins of their assignments, and motivated not by “let’s have fun with our friends,” but “holy shit, free food”

Jessie doing her best to contain Mimikyu’s murderous bloodlust

The president is relying on a pokemon who is perpetually asleep, as if he were mocking the sanctity of this hallowed competition

Yeah, Kaki’s having some trouble

And he collapses. ANOTHER CONTENDER HAS FALLEN

Oh my god, Togedemaru worriedly looking around for Sophocles at the part two starting line is breaking my heart. You’re doing wonderfully Togedemaru, don’t worry about it

Ahaha, Togedemaru actually beats him up for losing. It’s always nice to see moments like these, that emphasize how pokemon aren’t actually just their trainers’ pets – they are partners, and they have as much right to be disappointed in their trainers as anyone

With a tumble by Bounsweet taking out both Mimikyu and Popplio, the race has been cut down to Pikachu, Raichu, the sleepy koala, and Meowth’s terrifying Robo-Bewear

Jessie and James seem more passionate about this race than they ever have about catching pokemon

Pikachu’s doing a goddamn amazing job against a pokemon that can literally levitate

Truly stunned by this koala’s ability to roll sideways at high speeds while asleep and also balancing a stack of pancakes

I’m still kinda failing to see why Meowth standing on Wobuffett’s shoulders inside a Bewear suit is any more effective than, say, Meowth just carrying the pancakes himself

Ah, the suit has turbojets. Of course

The real Bewear shows up, and our electric rats are so stunned that the friggin’ koala wins

The principal turning his face into a Goldeen for a pun is genuinely nightmarish

Lots of charming background beats here of various trainers consoling their pokemon

And Lilly’s adorable Alolan Vulpix finally hatches!

And Done

Heck yeah, pancake races! It seems we’ve arrived at what may end up being the most fun stretch of Pokemon Sun and Moon, with character introductions concluded and any sort of clear narrative momentum far in the future. Here, in these summery middle days, we get to simply enjoy the daily pleasures of life in Alola, like this episode’s terrific pancake race. I frankly think Pikachu earned that win, but I can’t complain about an episode featuring a mecha-Bewear and also Pikachu savoring the taste of a good pancake. This show is extremely good food.

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