Hello everyone, and welcome back to Wrong Every Time. Today we’re going to be taking it easy for a little while, by returning to the proudly low-stakes drama of Pokemon Sun and Moon. In spite of Lusamine’s best efforts to introduce some genuine narrative momentum to this production, last episode mostly just involved Starcloud teleporting the crew to a bevy of island hot spots (some more literal than others), along with the requisite dollop of Team Rocket trying hard and failing spectacularly. Ash promised to raise this little eldritch beast, but it’s clear that not even Starcloud can control Starcloud’s powers, and thus the potential for disaster remains high.
That’s all fine by me! I’m down for adventure and also down for relaxation, so whichever way the wind blows, I’ll be sure to adjust my beach chair and continue enjoying the Alolan summer. Good company can make any activity a treat, and Sun and Moon’s crew is about the best company we could hope for. Let’s all lean back and enjoy another lazy afternoon beneath the Alolan sun!
Kaki’s on PokeProblem today, but with Starcloud in the mix, I’m guessing that doesn’t mean much. We’ll likely be in Starcloud episodes for a little while yet, but considering he can only make indistinct gurgling noises, the rest of the cast are kindly assisting him with PokeProblem duties
Now I kinda wish they did let Starcloud or Pikachu introduce one of these problems. Just a lot of energetic noises and waving at four inexplicable answer choices
It appears that Lillie’s Diary Corner will also be a continuing episode feature, serving the requisite expository role now that we’ve moved into episodes with some meaningful narrative continuity
The show picks up speed immediately after the recap, by taking the rare step of placing us down in medias res, with the gang already shipboard and bound for adventure. An effective way to counterbalance the slowness of opening with a recap
Oh damn, the gang’s actually visiting Aether Paradise! Lusamine’s research base was a key battleground in the game, but I’m mostly looking forward to Lusamine embarrassing her daughter again
Wicke and Elton John greet the gang as they arrive
Interesting style of shading they use for Elton’s eyes. The thick, receding lines on each side of his eyes give the impression of eyeballs that are somewhat sunken into his face, which in turn evokes a variety of emotional inferences: exhaustion, a certain nervousness or cowardice, and a vague sense of untrustworthiness. Obviously any character design can be applied to any type of character personality, but leaning into the natural resonances of certain design choices makes it much easier for the audience to get an immediate impression of what you’re going for. Even your style of linework matters – thin, angular lines create a sense of tension or aggression, while loose, rounded lines evoke the abiding passivity of flowing water
Elton just straight-up flings Rowlett away when he realizes it’s not Starcloud. We might have a genuine villain on our hands!
Jessie and James have somehow snuck into Aether uniforms, and are doing their best not to look like Jessie and James in the background
Are you kidding me, even Meowth has a uniform. Who is your hiring director, who the fuck hired a cat to guard a research facility
Say what you will about their efficacy in stealing pokemon, but Team Rocket must be absolutely dynamite in job interviews. They pick up new jobs practically every week
“C’mon, Search for the Transformed Ditto!” I believe I’ve solved the pokeproblem
Ah, I see. They actually explain this one as resulting from Elton’s interest in their talking Meowth
Bless Team Rocket. Rather than being worried by the appearance of the boy who’s defeated them several thousand times, they’re just excited to get another chance to steal Pikachu. I admire their eternal, entirely senseless optimism
Lana calls Lusamine “Lilliemama,” because she is the best
The mansion is an interesting mixture of stony futurism and traditional Victorian decor. Basically just an easy shorthand for science plus aristocratic wealth
And now Team Rocket are stuck serving the gang drinks. A devastating low point for the team
Lusamine is too busy to really guide them, so Lillie decides to give them a tour herself. Lusamine can get under her skin like no one else; it’s fun seeing her demonstrate more dynamic emotions like this
They meet up with Professor Burnet at the conservation hall. Quite the heavy load of new backgrounds for this episode
At least on the surface, this is apparently Aether Paradise’s primary purpose: to act as a conservation center for pokemon, taking in wounded or stranded pokemon and then helping them recover and reintegrate into the wild
Oh my god they’ve got a little Ditto playroom this is too cute
Their goofy blank expressions as the gang is holding them. Ditto I love you
As foretold, one Ditto breaks free from Sophocles (thanks for fucking up again, Sophocles), and is now springboarding all around the conservation area
They actually pull a very cute trick with the “Who’s That Pokemon” this time, offering the silhouette of a Pikachu, but then having it transform into a Ditto
Continuing in their misguided belief that Starcloud is some kind of mini-Koffing, Team Rocket have now dragged a massive bag of garbage into the middle of the conservation area
Lillie, why the heck are you apologizing for losing the Ditto. Sophocles is probably getting held back a year either way, you don’t need to fall on a sword for him
The gang engage in a grand game of Spot the Difference, as Ditto makes a general nuisance of himself imitating a variety of pokemon
Ooh, great Ash reaction as the gang realize Quagmires basically already look like their own Ditto forms. They turn him greyscale, which naturally evokes a sensation of “turned to stone by shock,” but also plays into the sharper-angled, more manga-reminiscent form he switches to. And as usual, great use of variable line weight, with the thicker lines on his hair-tufts and the tops of his eyes creating a sense of energy moving outwards from the center of him, like he’s exploding with shock
I’m always pleased to see shows that care so much about how line art directs energy in a composition. For as much as I’m not really a fan of Imaishi’s narrative preoccupations, I immensely respect his lines and layouts
Ditto is safely returned to his Ditto Box
Lillie briefly acknowledges a begrudging respect for her mother’s work, prompting Lusamine to immediately pop in and start squishing her lil’ baby cheeks
This episode has been like thirty percent ominous pans to Elton
“Her somehow remembering what happened back then would be… quite problematic.” Ooh, some intrigue
Team Rocket accidentally stumbles into Elton John’s nefarious experiments. Please oh please let them be heroes for this arc!
At last, a genuine antagonist is revealed! I was still curious as to how they’d reformat Sun and Moon’s conflict for the show, given they’ve turned Lusamine into an adorable dork, and it turns out they’ve just dumped all her villainy into the arms of poor Elton. This episode had a heck of a lot of worldbuilding to get through, so there wasn’t too much time for goofy shenanigans, but basically every moment of material with the Ditto crew was golden. Dittos are one of those pokemon who are so divorced from any real-world animal that it’s hard to imagine how they’d physically behave. This episode provided a hilarious answer to that question, portraying a heartwarming array of weird little wriggling movements and chirping noises. All that, plus it’s looking like Team Rocket might actually play a key and possibly even heroic role in the drama to come. We’ve got some exciting episodes ahead of us!
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