Chapter 9: I’m Your Venusaur
I’m fairly certain that most of you have at least passing familiarity with the Pikachu shorts that air before the first six Pokémon movies (and now the Meloetta short attacked to the Keldeo movie.) I’ve only seen one of them recently enough to talk about, and it’s “Pikachu and Pichu,” from “Spell of the Unown.” It’s not exactly something that I would tell all my friends to watch, but you know what? It’s a damn fun short film, with a lot of heart. I always enjoy watching it, mostly because it’s got this air of childhood innocence that makes it impossible to hate.
“I’m Your Venusaur” does not.
Whether it’s due to Mr. Ono still getting used to the thirty-page format, or some error with the translation, or even due to it simply being an off week when Mr. Ono wrote it, this… is really not good. This was the only tankobon I had for some time, and it was gathering dust in a box in the basement for many years. I’m lucky that I didn’t come in with my critic’s goggles on when I pulled it out to read again, otherwise I may not have bothered to find the first two.
The story starts with Ash, Misty, and Brock stopping in a small town to do odd jobs to fill their wallets out a bit. Pikachu and Bulbasaur are off on a walk when they run into an Ivysaur that the comic describes as “one of Bulbasaur’s friends.” The odds of this meeting seem rather unrealistic, given that it seems like the group only just arrived.
Their conversations are again dubbed into English, and the Ivysaur tells a story about the massive tree that the town seems to be built around. Apparently, a Venusaur Lord (as the translation says) protected the townspeople, and the tree grew out of its body. The Venusaur then moved to the top of the tree, and became a guardian spirit. Bulbasaur tells him that he’s full of crap, and the two argue. Ivysaur attempts to produce witnesses, but none of them are credible.
Cut to Team Rocket, who have also been told of the existence of the Guardian Venusaur. They touch down in a hovercraft, but the branch it’s on flips it away the moment they’re no longer inside to weigh it down.
The next morning, Bulbasaur and Ivysaur still haven’t finished their argument, so Pikachu suggests that they just go and have a look for themselves. Okay, good so far, but what I don’t get is how Pikachu acts surprised when they take him seriously. Pikachu’s delivery of his line doesn’t seem sarcastic to me, but maybe I’m reading it wrong?
Anyway, Bulbasaur and Ivysaur begin to head up the tree. After three pages of climbing, banter, climbing, Pikachu deciding that he wants to watch, climbing, old Venusaurs telling them that they should come back down before they hurt themselves, climbing, climbing, and more climbing, they finally reach the top of the tree. They search around for the guardian spirit for some time, but come up empty-handed. At least, until Ivyasur randomly comes across a large wooden Venusaur in the tree. The sight strikes me as kind of ridiculous, and apparently the ‘saurs agree with me, as they instantly dissolve into laughter. Bulbasaur mentions that he ought to ask it for a wish- in the instant before Team Rocket shows up again.
The battle is disappointingly short. Weezing tries to eat Pikachu, Pikachu’s electricity ignites the gas within it, explosion, blast-off. Yawn.
The resulting explosion also sends our heroes flying, though. Pidgeotto saves Pikachu, but it can’t grab the ‘saurs. As he falls, Bulbasaur makes that wish he mentioned earlier- for help. A spontaneous flower bloom (and I do mean spontaneous- as in, there weren’t even buds there before) saves them.
That’s it. That’s “I’m Your Venusaur.”
I understand the appeal of Pokémon-centric adventures. It gives the franchise a chance to be more light-hearted, to take a break from the typical “to be a master”-type plotline, and just to relax after a multitude of battle episodes. However, this isn’t how you do it. This is a chapter about tree-climbing.
Let’s look at incredibly truncated summaries of some of the Pikachu shorts for why this is a problem. Pikachu and Pichu- Pikachu encounters some Pichu who get him in potential trouble, hijinks ensue, happy ending. Pikachu’s Rescue Adventure- Togepi gets lost, hijinks ensue, new Pokémon are revealed, happy ending. Santa’s Little Helpers- It’s Christmas, one of Santa’s Stantler is sick, hijinks ensue, happy ending. Pikachu’s Vacation…
…Hijinks and shenanigans all around.
Sadly, the heart and soul of the Pikachu Shorts (the hijinks) is not present here. There are no surprises, the comic chooses to focus on the one of Ash’s Pokémon that isn’t really that funny by himself, and the entire thing feels really, really awkward as a result.
I don’t often say this, but skip this chapter. It’s honestly the least interesting chapter that I’ve read in this series.
You know? This was a really, really short review. And furthermore, it was really, unbelievably negative. Seriously, fifteen paragraphs, and eight of them are complaints! You guys deserve better. So, you know what? It may be a better idea to just continue to the next chapter. And as long as I’m doing this here…
How do you guys feel about comic-related reviews covering two chapters each? Soundtrack reviews are going to cover four tracks per update, and the anime is going to be reviewed in three-episode updates. It’s really not that much more work for me, so I may end up doing that.
Chapter 10: Clefairy in Space
Everybody loves at least one movie that they will admit is bad, right? I mean, I enjoyed the Michael Bay Transformers movies. I know people who have watched Plan 9 From Outer Space and enjoyed it (the watching, I’m not sure about the movie.) So, with that out of the way, let’s talk about “Clefairy in Space,” which looks terrible on paper, but works thanks to rule of fun.
The story starts with a young girl watching a UFO crash. She chases it down, just in time to see a bunch of Clefairy hop out of the wreckage. Note the large Team Rocket R on the front- that’ll come back later. She remarks that the Clefairy coming from a flying saucer is “Just like in the movie!”
We then cut to Ash, Misty, and Brock watching the movie in question. Misty and Brock seem to have enjoyed it, but Ash hated it. Why? Well, he actually knows what Clefairy are like, and knows that the movie is a total load. Hey, continuity! I thought we’d lost you when Brock suddenly wasn’t embarrassed by his hormones! This isn’t an invention of the English version- we clearly see panels taken from Chapter 3 used as a reference.
Their conversation is incredibly well-timed, as out of nowhere, Oak shows up again! He’s in town for an interview. Immediately after Oak’s re-introduction, we’re introduced to Professor Orville, author of the book behind the Clefairy movie mentioned above. He presents evidence in favor of his theory that Clefairy are actually aliens. Oak seems disappointed with the interview, and invites Ash to dinner that evening before up and leaving. Brock appears to be having some kind of fangasm for Oak, only managing to muster up the courage to ask Oak to grade his Pokémon well after Oak leaves.
Oak meets Orville to discuss the latter’s outlandish theories. Oak offers perfectly reasonable rebuttals to all of Orville’s theories. Orville’s response? Provoking Oak to argue with a hurricane of truly awful puns.
Cut to the girl from the beginning of the chapter, who gets frightened by Team Rocket before the scene changes to later that evening, with Ash and company eating dinner. That is, until psychic energy starts moving the tables in the restaurant around. Oak begins to search for the responsible Clefairy, and whips out his Sandshrew to search for it. He manages to stun it, and has Pikachu attach a homing beacon to the Clefairy. They let it go, and realize that what just went down was the theft of food.
Once again, we join the girl from the beginning of the chapter, as she discovers a bunch of Clefairy in her kitchen raiding the fridge. We finally get to learn her name (sixteen pages into the chapter,) Mimi. She takes well to the Clefairy, and has a tea party with them.
Cut back to Ash and Oak, who are following the Clefairy’s signal. They stumble across an underground colony of
hobos Clefairy. They note the UFO, and theorize that the Clefairy somehow got it from Team Rocket.
Cut to Team Rocket, who break the fourth wall to confirm this theory. They just so happen to come across Mimi’s house. Inside, Mimi asks the clearly-baffled Clefairy if she can go to space with them, based on a poorly-chosen death euphemism her neglectful father dropped on her. Before she can even guess at their answer, Team Rocket begins prowling around her house.
Orville gets a call from her, and drags Ash and Oak along. It could just be me, but it seems that he’s more interested in the possibility of capturing a Clefairy than he is in helping the poor kid.
Meanwhile, Team Rocket breaks into her house, and captures all of the Clefairy. Mimi’s Jigglypuff provides a distraction, and she runs away with the Clefairy’s Poké Balls. James catches her, and grabs the Balls, not noticing when a single one drops out of his arms and pops open. He does notice, however, when the now-unleashed Clefairy drops a Metronome on him. Jessie and James are about to come up with another strategy, when Ash jumps through a nearby window like a ninja, somehow without injuring himself or anyone else in the area.
Mimi gets out, and Ash and Team Rocket throw down. A pity it’s not very effective, as Team Rocket ends up using the PokéSpe tactic of attacking the trainer. Mimi’s Jigglypuff pops in, and uses Sing, putting absolutely everyone to sleep, in what feels like a real cop-out- I mean, you have a small army of Metronome-capable fairies at your disposal! Why not use them?
Anyway, it seems that the Clefairy have all fled. Mimi is despondent, but Ash tells her that they’ll probably meet again.
I’m going to be completely honest with you, folks- this is probably the stupidest chapter I’ve read. But you know what? It’s oodles of fun. It’s like a Kanto-era filler that seems like it could never fly on paper, but unfurls its cartoonishly-oversized wings in practice. I really can’t say much more than reading this chapter made my evening.
Next time, at the bare minimum, we’ll have Pokémon’s equivalent of Chuck Norris dropped on us!