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Recap / Pokémon S1E20 "Ghost of Maiden's Peak"

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She's the most beautiful rock I've ever seen.
My love...I'm waiting for you.
The ghost of the maiden

Japanese Title: The Ghost Pokémon and the Summer Festival

Original Airdate: August 12, 1997

US Airdate: October 2, 1998

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Ash and company arrive at a small port town celebrating a summer festival. Brock mourns the end of summer, wishing he had more time to meet cute girls wearing swimsuits. Team Rocket, meanwhile, show up with the ingenious criminal plot of...scrounging the ground for dropped change. Both Brock and James are warned about a mysterious girl making trouble for them in the future. Exactly as stated they both get drawn in by the beautiful ghost of maiden's peak. While Jesse attacks the ghost by firing a rocket launcher at it, Ash's Pokedex reports that the ghost is actually the Ghost-type Pokemon Gastly. Gastly is unusually strong and smart for a wild Pokemon and capable of shape-shifting to scare every Pokemon sent to attack it. They struggle until the sun rises and Gastly vanishes.

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Tropes

  • Anti-Villain: Gastly just wants to make sure no one ever forgets the Maiden's legend, and he promises the actual Ghost that he'll keep a lookout for the spirit of her dead lover when he leaves Maiden's Peak.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Most of the illusions the Gastly conjures for the other Pokémon are terrifying from their perspectives, such as a fire extinguisher chasing Ash's Charmander around. (The canon in this era dictates that Charmanders perish if their tail-flames go out.) When faced with Meowth, Gastly's voice is ominous; but he simply distracts Meowth with a toy ball for kittens. Meowth delightedly takes the bait.
  • Cast as a Mask: Ghastly, the Maiden and the old lady all have different voices.
  • Cultural Translation: Refreshingly averted in the English dub considering how much Japanese culture is illustrated in this episode. The holiday being celebrated is Obon, a Buddhist Japanese celebration for the purpose of honoring one's ancestors. The dub doesn't mention the Japanese terms for the celebration and the other cultural items present (i.e. ofuda), but it does touch on their true significance and doesn't attempt to disguise them as something Western.
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  • Dance Party Ending: In the form of a traditional Japanese bon odori. Even Officer Jenny and Nurse Joy participate, and Team Rocket provides the musical accompaniment, but it's all sans a heartbroken Brock.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: The Maiden uses Gastly's powers to hypnotize young men until they eventually become her husbands in the afterlife. While it's hard to imagine...er, coitus with a ghost, and especially premarital acts given the generally traditionalist culture in Asia, the Maiden leading the bewitched James and Brock into her house (technically) over a night still comes off as creepy. Plus, she continues dragging James to her even when he's clearly shouting at a later point that he doesn't want to join her in the afterlife.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: During the fight, Gastly transforms into a mongoose. This is one of the most noticeable occurrences of real non-Pokemon animals in the first season (granted, it's an illusion), something they stopped doing entirely later on. Even stranger in retrospect since a mongoose-like Pokemon is introduced much later.
    • The episode itself is one of the regular bizarre ones from early on in the show's run: Gastly is practically an early Darkrai, with his fear-illusions and unexplained ability to speak human language.
  • Enemy Mine: Ash and his friends are forced to fight alongside Team Rocket against Gastly.
  • Eye Catch: The "Who's that Pokemon" was Gastly, naturally.
  • Freak Out: Brock has one when he first meets the old lady.
  • Fusion Dance: Blastoise + Venusaur = Venustoise. Although this is all an illusion, Pokemon cannot combine like that (yet).
  • Jump Scare: In the Cold Open, when Ghastly's face suddenly appears before the Maiden's face, bellowing "I'm waiting for you!"
  • Larynx Dissonance: the old lady is voiced by Jimmy Zoppi.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: Both James and Brock do foolish things under the Maiden's spell. What's surprising is how relatively sane Brock, the resident Casanova Wannabe who's by no means a stranger to this trope, sounds in comparison with the usually money-obsessed James.
    Brock: So that's Maiden Rock. It's the most beautiful rock I've ever seen!
    James: I don't care if she's made of stone! I'm still in love with her!
    Brock: If she were my girlfriend, I'd make sure she was never out of my sight!
    James: No one would ever steal her from me, NOT EVEN TEAM ROCKET! I'LL FIGHT THEM TO KEEP HER SAFE!
  • Master of Illusion: Gastly. He can fool people up close into thinking he is human, can imitate a human ghost, and can frighten other pokemon out of even trying to fight him.
  • Only in It for the Money: Downplayed. Gastly is motivated by genuine kindness, but certainly doesn't mind making a couple of bucks in the process.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: After episode-minutes of seeing Brock and James in uncharacteristic agreement, Ash comes to this conclusion: "THEY'RE POSSESSED!"
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Misty invokes this to troll Gastly, pulling out a cross, a stake, a hammer, and garlic as her suggestion for defeating him.
  • Reality Warper: Gastly. See Master of Illusion above.
  • Ship Tease: At the very end of the episode when Ash first sees Misty in her yukata he does a definite double-take. This is probably the most overt interest Ash ever shows in her.
  • Shout-Out: Gastly's speech it which it runs down the forms it took previously in the episode before revealing its true identity mirrors Cutey Honey's In the Name of the Moon speech in which she did the same.
  • Unfinished Business: It appears as though the ghost of the maiden cannot leave until her beloved comes back. Gastly's apparent goal of making sure no one forgets about her is unexplained. The Japanese version has the Ghastly explained as a friend of the Maiden's ghost who keeps her memory alive in the hopes of the ghost of her beloved finding out and coming to see her. Ghastly also mentions he himself keeps a lookout for the guy during his travels since he can leave the peak but the Maiden cannot, which is where he's going at the end of the episode.
  • Unsettling Gender Reveal: The Maiden's ghost possessing Brock and James turns out to really be a clearly male Gastly.
  • Weakened by the Light: Gastly says that he hates sunlight, and vanishes when the sun comes up.
  • Your Worst Nightmare: Gastly bases some of his illusions on its opponents' fears.
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