Hold it! Is that sign in Japanese? You missed one, 4Kids. Anyway, with the flashback safely over, we can begin the episode. Title card, please.
Ash and Brock are taking a leisurely stroll toward Cerulean City, the place where Ash is determined to attain his next gym badge. Ash enjoys the nice, clean, fresh air now that they're finally out of the cave. It took them over a year to get out.
Brock makes an observation that while Ash is relaxing and taking it easy, Gary Oak is probably catching more Pokémon.
Misty, who is tailing behind, runs up to Brock and Ash, yelling "Where do you think you're going?"
Hasn't she read the title of the episode? Ash and Brock are going to Cerulean City, and for some reason, Misty doesn't want to go back there. This is because she has a connection to Cerulean City, and one that the cartoon has yet again managed to botch up from the game.
Misty keeps attempting to make up excuses as to why the group shouldn't go to Cerulean City. Ultimately though, she fails to convince them otherwise, as Ash and Brock wander off anyway. She even tries the excuse that Cerulean City is full of Ghost Pokémon, that look like this--!
"Haw haw haw haw, nice face Misty!"
"I never wanted to wind up back here."
But for what reason? We all know, well, I'm assuming we all know that in Pokémon Red and Blue, Gold, Silver, Yellow and Crystal, and Fire Red and Leaf Green, and Heart Gold and Soul Silver, that Misty is the gym leader of Cerulean City. In the animated series, she cannot possibly be as she has been travelling with Ash since the end of the second episode.
In Japan, the animated series was produced after the first two games, Pocket Monsters Midori and Pocket Monsters Reddo, had been released. Therefore, the majority of viewers already knew that Misty was the gym leader of Cerulean City in those games. However, outside of Japan, the cartoon was the first Pokémon related thing to exist.
The cartoon gave birth to the games, effectively. As without the success of the cartoon, Nintendo would not have been able to launch the games outside of Japan. So for viewers of the 4Kids translation when it first aired, no-body knew who Misty actually was. So this whole situation where she doesn't want to go to Cerulean City was much more of a mystery back then.
During the time it took to deliver this tangent, it has turned to night. Team Rocket are performing a robbery while cloaked in the obscuring velvet of darkness. What are they stealing?
It looks like some kind of machine. This could be their most devious and well thought out plan yet. It's nice to see Team Rocket treated with a bit more respect this time, even if only for a short moment. I think a show where Jessie and James of Team Rocket are the main protagonists would make excellent television.
It's now daytime, again. Or something. How much time really passed? Come on! Anyway, Brock and Ash are in Cerulean City. Ash acknowledges that Misty seems to have disappeared. Brock comments on Misty's obvious reluctance to come to Cerulean City, but doesn't put two and two together.
There's been a robbery at the Machine Shop. What a great name for a shop. I wonder what it sells. Machines, perchance? A crowd has gathered to see what's going on, because that's what crowds tend to do when there's a bunch of police cars and flashing lights and loud sirens. If they didn't want a crowd to gather, maybe they wouldn't have the sirens going or the lights flashing to draw the attention of onlookers.
Ash and Brock do what any morally upstanding morbidly fascinated citizens would do. They budge to the front of the crowd and ask someone what happened. The guy in the blue shirt mentions that he thinks the store was robbed. Ash repeats this out loud, which grabs the attention of Officer Jenny.
"You two look very suspicious to me!"
And thus resumes the Pokémon animated series' poking fun at the police, which is something you never want to do. Especially not after some of the most recent changes in UK law. Oh boy. The following scene, which is far too lengthy to describe in anything other than skim detail, is a chicken and egg situation where Ash and Brock have to prove they're not robbers.
"Or maybe you're a burglar who broke out of jail!"
The only saving grace of this scene are two interactions between Officer Jenny and Brock. The first, Jenny makes a joke about how her sister-in-law, Viridian City Officer Jenny, has a poor taste in friends after Ash mentions that he has met her before.
The other interaction is even better, as Brock tries to chat up Officer Jenny.
"Seeing as I'm new in town, maybe you could show me around town..."
"Well, I'm not off duty until past your bed-time."
Ash asks what the burglars stole. Officer Jenny explains that the burglars stole a massive vacuum and a giant hose, and comments on how odd it was that no money was taken. We now know that Team Rocket stole a massive vacuum and a giant hose, and they're going to use it to steal Pokémon. This really could be their smartest scheme yet.
Officer Jenny breaks up the crowd. Brock and Ash find a bench to sit down on and have a little chat. Brock asks Ash if he should be looking for Cerulean Gym. Ash asks Brock is he knows any information about the Cerulean City Gym Leader, and Brock says that he knows his special move, but telling Ash would be against the rules.
I've put his under emphasis here because if you've not seen this episode before, Brock's made a mistake there. Anyway, Brock leaves because he has stuff to do. When Ash asks him what stuff, Brock says, "Just... stuff." Ash doesn't press him any further on it, but I always found it weird. I wonder where Brock's off to?
I reckon he's actually scored a date with Officer Jenny after all, the suave gentleman. Ash heads off to Cerulean Gym. Another gym that doesn't even remotely compare to how it looks in the game. Artistic license, I'm sure a small square building with the word GYM on one side would be a pretty boring place to draw.
Cerulean City Gym is not a gym at all, but actually an aquarium with a center pool. Three luscious ladettes are putting on a synchronized swimming performance. And Brock is missing it! He'd have a field day for sure.
Ash, entirely perplexed, goes to the underground aquarium looking for any sign that this gym is actually a Pokémon Gym. ...Wait. Wait a second. Are those... real fish!?
Much to my chagrin, these appear to be real fish. I cannot even begin to count the ways in which what we are presented with here is 100% Grade-A Chicken-Steak Bona-fide Bon-Appetit Bull-Shit. We've always been lead to believe, in the games (minus the Pokédex, I'll get to that) and in the animated and written material that Pokémon are the animals of the Pokémon world, well, effectively.
For real fish to exist in the Pokémon world, we have to start believing in the existence of real dogs, real cats, real birds, real dugongs...
Actually, didn't Ash dress up as a cow a few episodes back?
This opens up an interesting side discussion - all the times that real animals have appeared in Pokémon material. A lot of Pokédex entries actually refer to Pokémon's speed in horsepower, or how strong Pokémon can bring down 'Indian Elephants'. I do, however, take the Pokédex entries to be non canon.
The way I see Pokédex entries is that they are present in the game to provide the player with information, not the main character. That would explain why a lot of Pokédex descriptions do not match up with the Pokémon's in-game behaviour.
But it's just a theory. A Game Theory.
Ash has been waiting patiently, staring intently at those fish, waiting for me to finish blabbing. The three ladies from the show walk by and Ash demands answers!
It turns at that these three voluptuous vixens, Daisy, Violet and Lily, the Sensational Sisters, are the Gym Leaders of Cerulean City Gym.
And they'd be willing to battle Ash, if they actually had any usable Pokémon. They offer Ash the Cascadebadge without a battle, because all their Pokémon had been trounced three times in a row by "kids from this nowhere place called Pallet Town".
They claim that they have no usable Pokémon, but Seel isn't a Pokémon to be scoffed at. Water and Ice, double as nice.
I guess Seel's stomach is one good place to hide a badge. I certainly wouldn't look there.
Daisy insists that Ash takes the Cascadebadge, but he refuses. The more they insist, the more he finds himself veering towards taking it. At that moment precisely, a familiar voice interrupts the Sensational Sisters. It's Misty!
"Hold it right there!If you don't want to battle him, Daisy, then I will!"
Shocking! It seems that Misty knows the Sensational Sisters, how will this riveting plot devel--
WHO'S THAT POKéMON!?
I'll give you three guesses. Get it wrong and we're no longer friends.