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Recap / Pokémon S1E3 "Ash Catches a Pokémon"

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"All's fair in love, war, and Pokémon battles."

Japanese Title: I Caught A Pokémon!

Original Airdate: April 15, 1997

US Airdate: September 10, 1998
I just want her to like me, is that so much to ask?

Continuing from last episode, Ash immediately catches a Caterpie by throwing a Poké Ball at it. Once caught he takes it out to get a look at it and finds out that Misty is disgusted by Bug Pokémon. Despite this, Caterpie tries hard to win Misty over.

Later Ash finds a Pidgeotto and after some trial-and-error manages to capture it as well. Unfortunately Team Rocket show up to steal his Pikachu away from him. They disable Pikachu immediately and Ash struggles to fight both Koffing and Ekans at once. Despite being ridiculed by Team Rocket, Caterpie defeats them in the end. While being congratulated for his victory, Caterpie evolves into a Metapod.


This episode contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Defeat Equals Friendship: Unlike many other Pokémon in the anime, both Caterpie and Pidgeotto are succinctly loyal to Ash after being caught.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Played with. After Caterpie stops Team Rocket. Misty admits to misjudging it. She's still unwilling to show the affection up close however, since her phobia of bugs still remains. Still she did try.
  • Dub-Induced Plot Hole:
    • The original Japanese had Ash saying that Caterpie is walking with him and Misty shivers in fear as she realizes that Caterpie is coming out of the Poké Ball. The English dub, however, doesn't indicate that Ash is going to call out Caterpie immediately, making Misty a bit overreactive since Caterpie is going to stay with the group regardless.
    • Like in the previous episode, Meowth's mentioning of the boss is reinterpreted as him being the leader of the trio by 4Kids. In this case, when Jessie and James pummel Meowth's big mouth, Meowth proclaims he's charge here in the English dub as opposed to him saying that he's going to tell the boss on them in the Japanese version.
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • In its very first scene, Pidgeotto was obviously feasting on a worm. And it looks nothing like any actual worm species in later generations.
    • Caterpie evolves by bathing itself in its String Shot and molting its skin, very similar to a real-life caterpillar going into pupation.
    • Misty reads the title card instead of Ash. While later generations would occasionally have a few episodes where the title card is read by someone other than Ash, this remains one of two episodes of the Indigo saga where it's done so (the other being Holiday Hi-Jynx).
  • After Meowth gets string shot by Caterpie, only Jessie says, "It's time Team Rocket blasted off." It wouldn't be a few more episodes until the entire team begin blasting off AGAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIINNNNN!, with the obligatory A Twinkle in the Sky.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Despite her vocal contempt for Caterpie and Bug-type Pokémon as a whole, Misty was quite outraged that Ash obliviously risked its life by pitting it against a Flying-type.
    Misty: You should try to learn something about Pokémon first. With Pokémon you've got to use strategy. Pidgeotto is a bird. Caterpie is a worm. Birds eat worms, "Mr. Pokémon Master"!
  • Eye Catch: The featured Who's That Pokémon? this episode is Caterpie.
  • Eyelid Pull Taunt: Ash does this to Misty.
  • Goldfish Poop Gang: Team Rocket show up specifically to pester Ash for the first time this episode, telling him that they want to steal his Pikachu and laying the groundwork for many encounters to come.
  • Honor Before Reason: Even though both Jessie and James attack Ash with both of their Pokémon at once and Misty suggests making it fair by fighting as well, Ash insists on fighting alone because he does not want to break official Pokémon League rules. Counts as Early Installment Weirdness since not only do the heroes often team attack, and sometimes even outnumber Team Rocket themselves in later episodes, but the later games actually allow team battles.
    Misty: Well, if they're gonna use two Pokémon, I don't see why we can't use two Pokémon.
    Ash: The Pokémon League rules say only one at a time.
    Misty: Ash, if you follow the rules, you're going to lose all your Pokémon!
  • Idiot Hero: This episode presents Ash as being extremely ignorant of how catching and battling Pokémon is done, most likely to provide an excuse to explain these things to the viewers. Among other things Ash has to be told that not all Pokémon can be caught by just throwing a Poké Ball at themnote  and that Bug-type Pokémon are weak against Flying-type Pokémon.
  • Immediate Sequel
  • Jerkass: Misty is this to Caterpie who is just trying to be nice to her and she constantly picks on him. She's also pretty high-and-mighty toward Ash throughout the episode.
  • Motormouth: As Misty is backing away from Caterpie on her hands.
  • Non-Indicative Title: Ash actually catches two Pokémon in this episode.
  • Oh, Crap!: Misty is utterly shocked whenever she sees Caterpie near her.
  • Pokémon Speak: Pikachu and Caterpie have an entire conversation in this. We obviously don't understand it, but their gestures can give us the basic gist of it (Caterpie shows admiration for the moon and fantasizes about becoming a Butterfree, Pikachu acts rather excitable in response). It's also really really adorable.
  • Precision F-Strike: This exchange in the Japanese version, translated thus:
    Ash: With my first Pokémon, I feel I'm in Heaven!
    Misty: With your first Pokémon, I feel I'm in Hell!
  • Repeat Cut: Caterpie's capture gets a triple take.
  • Typical Cartoon Animal Colors: Caterpie are designed after caterpillars, a group of animals that come in a wide variety of colors in real life but are most often depicted as green. Naturally Caterpie is also green.
    • Caterpie's design is based off a stylized version of certain Swallowtail caterpillars with its osmeterium always visible (a special organ on Swallowtail caterpillars that releases a stink to protect itself, just as Caterpie's feeler does). The real-life caterpillars that bear the closest resemblance to Caterpie would have to include the Spicebush Swallowtail and the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, but largely in their later instars (in their first few instars, they are brown, but indeed turn green as they get bigger.)
  • Villain Decay: Though they are still threatening and battle as competently as in their last appearance, Team Rocket's comedic side is more prevalent here than before. Their retreat after Caterpie's String Shot immobilized their Pokémon would subtly suggest that Team Rocket's defeat in the last episode was not a mere fluke.
  • Villain: Exit, Stage Left: Team Rocket furiously scamper off after being defeated in this episode instead of their usual "blasting off" Running Gag.
    • In Japanese, it's one of the scant few times they don't say "This feels bad!" Interestingly enough, in the dub, it's the first time they say they're "blasting off".
  • V-Sign: Ash gives one after catching both Caterpie and Pidgeotto. In both cases Pikachu replicates. The Pidgeotto capture is the first time Pikachu mimics "Getto da ze" in his Pokémon Speak (though it's dubbed over in the English dub).
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Misty explodes at Ash for endangering Caterpie by sending him against a bird that could eat it.note  Ash himself had called her out for hurting Caterpie's feelings by spurning it constantly, and after stopping Team Rocket's face-off, goads her into showing her gratitude personally.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: This episode introduces Misty's fear of bugs and Bug-type Pokémon note . Much of the episode revolves around Caterpie trying to get Misty's acceptance and approval.
  • The Worf Effect: Both Pikachu and Pidgeotto are rather easily beaten down by Team Rocket to force Caterpie into battle.
  • Worf Had the Flu: In Pidgeotto's defense, it lasted well for a two on one assault. It's not Pidgeotto's fault its trainer decided to follow the rules instead of defending against Team Rocket in kind.

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