Tuesday, April 17, 2012

"The Rocket Gang VS The Plasma Gang!"

I assume you all know this story. Last year, the episodes of "Pokemon: Best Wishes" titled "The Rocket Gang vs The Plasma Gang!" were set to be aired in March. It would be a two-part event that would tell the conclusion of the story arc that had been building since the first episode of the Unova saga series (the Meteonite arc) and would thus be the first season climax/finale. Since this was a long awaited thing, it was hyped through trailers, magazine scans, and episode previews. However, as bad luck would have it, the day after the episode directly leading into these ones aired was 3/11/2011, the day where an earthquake hit all of Japan, destroyed a nuclear radiation plant called Fukushima, and caused a tsunami that wiped out a large portion of the Japanese population and wrecked many of its' towns. Due to the eerie similarities between this horrific disaster and the devastating destruction that would occur in these episodes, TV Tokyo had the episodes pulled and cancelled from being aired the next week, seeing as they were "too soon." The following episode that aired instead, the Castelia Gym match episode, began with a big disclaimer stating that the two-parter had been "postponed indefinitely" but would "air on a later date." I, like so many others, was disappointed, but I understood the logic behind this move and accepted to wait for them to air. 

Flashforward to today, and TV Tokyo STILL has not aired the damn thing! This pisses me off, because the longer they hold off on airing this story, the deeper and darker the stain on "Best Wishes"' running history and legacy gets. That we were so close to seeing it before a disaster that took the lives of many hit and caused it to be pulled is a tragedy on every level. And I really, really want to see this thing considering that it's the conclusion to one of the greatest Team Rocket stories ever told. Judging from all the previews, it would deliver a true, fulfilling epic from beginning to end, unlike the bomb that was the three-part Team Galactic finale. But no, TV Tokyo decided that since they had to abort the conclusion from the airwaves, they might as well keep it off the air until the last possible ideal moment. Why do they torture me so? Thus, all I can do is look at the previews and speculate about what we could have gotten last year, and should be getting some time in the future! And through the various sources of info we have (such as the "next year" teaser from 2010, the event trailer shown in February 2011, the episode 23 preview, Oak's Livecast on Krokorok, and a monthly magazine scan),  I've made the best possible summary of the story told in these episodes.

But before I explain the story here, I have to talk about what came before. At the start of the new "Best Wishes" series, Giovanni had made himself over to look like a militant dictator and has set his sights on taking over the Unova region. He was also aware that a secret organization was operating 
in Unova, and he's hoping that Jessie, James, and Meowth can lure them out. Jessie, James, and Meowth came fresh out of being promoted and being put through some sort of intense Rocket Boot Camp training. And they were awesome. No longer the one-dimensional comic relief tools they were in Hoenn and Sinnoh, Jessie and James were dressed in black versions of their signature uniforms, and the trio was now not only taking direct orders from the boss again, but were taking a serious, professional approach to their missions: acting cold, collected, self confident, devious, sinister, smooth, badass, lethal, and COMPETENT! They can't carry their old Pokemon, their gear has been upgraded tremendously, they're now able to escape by themselves rather than be sent "blasting off again", and yet they still have a flare for ridiculous overdramatics when it comes to making their entrances and exits. For the first time since "Indigo League", they were truly awesome villains.

Once in Unova, Giovanni sent them on a big mission that would determine Team Rocket's future. The first assignment was investigating the Dream Yard at Striaton City and stealing some of its' mystical Dream Energy, which they succeeded at. This in turn got the attention of that secret organization, who supposedly came out of hiding as a result. (At this point in the show, Team Rocket officially became a subplot that didn't even cross paths with Ash and the gangs' adventures at all!) Then the trio got a secret message from an informant that led them to a bridge, where they picked up an important briefcase from another undercover agent. This briefcase contained new tools and info needed for the coming mission. Giovanni explained to them about "the Meteonite", an energy-infused stone that crashed into Unova's Desert Resort years ago and has stayed underground there except for a few shards that were found. This is what Team Rocket was looking for, for it has the power to alter the energy balance of the world through the weather, putting masses of Pokemon under it's control, which Team Rocket could exploit to take over the entire Unova region! The trio was then assigned to meet with a fellow operative named Pierce, who told them that they need to break into the Antamony research lab where all information data related to the Meteonite was stored. Team Rocket successfully broke in, got past security, and hacked the data, then bringing it back to Pierce before being told to go back on standby. At the subway station to Nacrene City, they met with another undercover agent who swapped briefcases with them. Once in Nacrene City (and after pointlessly scanning the area), Pierce told them that the case contains a "dummy Meteonite rock" that they have to swap out with the real Meteonite rock that's kept in the Nacrene Museum. So James hacked the defenses and Jessie and Meowth successfully broke in, made the switch, and left under two minutes! After receiving the meeting coordinates from Pierce, they went to the top of a building to be picked up by Team Rocket's "mobile research lab" helicopter, which belongs to the esteemed old Rocket scientist, Dr. Zager. Zager scanned the Nacrene Meteonite using the stolen Dream Energy, and got a glowing reaction from the rock as a result. Clearly the Meteonite is not of this world! Zager, along with Pierce and the trio, then flew off to Desert Resort to do further analysis. And this is where they are when the Meteonite arc reaches its' turning point, building up to it's climax. So with all that having been said, I shall now summarize the story of this season's grand finale.....

After much scanning and analysis in the Desert Resort, the true Meteonite was found!

From the desert, the Meteonite's energy flowed all over Unova, hitting Castelia City the closest.

Upon receiving word of the discovery, Giovanni eagerly headed on his way to Unova.

Ash, Iris, and Cilan join Professor Juniper in flying a helicopter to Desert Resort to uncover what's been disturbing the Pokemon, mainly swarms of Venipede, in Castelia City.

Unfortunately for them, Giovanni's jet plane is faster and arrives there first.

*FANGASM* OMG, it's Giovanni! Out and about! For the first time since "Mewtwo Returns!"

The entire Team Rocket unit posted in Unova gathers to greet their boss as he descends.

Giovanni walks out of the plane and does a slow, dramatic march towards his troops.

The main Rocket gang, Jessie, James, Meowth, Dr. Zager, and Pierce, is all here.

"Have you finished the preparations?" Giovanni asks. "Yes sir!" replies Meowth.

Giovanni's looking stern. Come on, man, you were enjoying yourself earlier. Loosen up!

Meanwhile, the twerps get their first look at Desert Resort when....

.....BAM!!! Their chopper is shot out of the sky!

To quote Team Rocket themselves: this feels bad!

And who shot it down? These three mysterious cloaked figures, whom I shall call "the Triad."

"This power belongs in the hands of the hero!" one of them says, throwing back his cloak to reveal...

OH CRAP! It's the secret organization, Team Plasma! Almost forgot about them, didn't you?

Team Rocket goes to Relic Castle, where they'll be able to uncover the Meteonite from underground.

 Once inside, Giovanni is getting excited again as he orders his gang to make their move.

James uses his decoder rings in order to access a code of some sort from the stolen lab info.

Pierce then tells Jessie to step up with their new weapon, which she gladly does.

It appears to be a gun manufactured in Dr. Zager's lab, with both the Nacrene City Meteonite shard and the Striaton City Dream Energy loaded up inside it.

"Begin illumination!" Jessie cries.

And BAM! The gun goes off!

The bottom floor opens up and a burst of energy comes out!

The burst of energy creates a bunch of seismic waves that causes the entire desert to quake!

"What the heck? Whooooooah!"

Our heroes can feel the waves and tremors from where their helicopter has crashed.

Back in the Meteonite Chamber, TR completes their ritual.

Blue energy illuminates on the circular floor.

Following this, a large spiral stairway rises from the ground and lights up.

And on top of it on a pedestal rises...the Meteonite!

Obviously, the sight of the rocks' glowing splendor pleases Giovanni greatly.

The rest of the Rocket gang can only stare in awe at what they are beholding.

"Yes...in our hands, we shall hold the power of the sun!"

As they wrap everything up, Zager says "And so the age of the ancients is alive again." 

Now our heroes know that some bad stuff is going on!

So they trek through the desert but Pikachu runs into...guess who?

Back on the grown-ups side of things, Interpol Detective Looker arrives on the scene.

He carries a badge with ID and everything! And he's on the trail of Team Plasma!

By afternoon, Juniper and Jenny are still with Looker, who is driving like crazy!

They're in pursuit of Team Rocket, who is also being pursued by Team Plasma!

Somehow, this just takes everyone all the way back to Castelia City when night fallsGiovanni has seized a building where he plans to showcase the Meteonite's power. Team Rocket is preparing to take over the Unova region, but Team Plasma still wants to take the Meteonite for themselves.

Supposedly the ancient people of the Unova Desert used the Meteonite core as an artificial sun when volcanic smoke darkened the sky, meaning that it can shine brightly even when it's dark. It can also alter the energy flow of the world through the weather and put masses of Pokemon under it's control!

Inside the building is a party for the upper class of Unova that Team Rocket has crashed. Team Plasma and the heroes have also infiltrated it, preparing to counter Team Rocket's scheme.

Giovanni has put the Meteonite on display for his captive audience.

He then declares that Team Rocket will be extorting total control of Unova....

...and that's when the power gets cut."Damn, has the power bill not been payed for this place?"

Pikachu cut the building's power, but the encounter with Krokorok has left it in a bad state, 
and now thanks to the active Meteonite, it's uncontrollably overexerting its' electric power.

Pikachu is falling ill from this, and Ash is worried.  If this scenario sounds familiar, it's because 
this exact same thing happened before back in the first episode of "Best Wishes"

Meaning that this somehow ties back into Zekrom's judgement of Pikachu from way back then.

Iris volunteers to take Pikachu to get some healing, so she swings from a cable off the building....

...and takes Pikachu away for recovery while Ash keeps watch for any Meteonite activity.

Unfortunately, the Meteonite's full solar power has been unlocked and lights up the place!

And this power pleases the Plasma Triad - it will be their's soon enough!

What's going to happen next? TO BE CONTINUED... End Part 1.

The room goes dark, the guests at the masquerade wonder what the hell is going on.....

...and then the lights go on when Team Plasma's helicopter appears outside the window!

"ARGH! We're going to go blind!"

"IT'S THEM!" shouts Looker.
(Goddamnit, why's this the only shot of Juniper in that sexy dress and mask we got? MOAR!)

Time to literally crash this party! The Plasma Grunt orders his Liepard to attack the building, and....


This is the Plasma Triad's cue to knock Giovanni over and seize the Meteonite!

Using a claw device in their helicopter, Team Plasma takes the Meteonite and goes!

Sometime later, the Plasma troops fly their helicopter back to Desert Resort with the Meteonite.  
They want to exploit it's power to control Pokemon into "liberating themselves" from trainers.

And here we see the Plasma Grunt Captain, gazing at the distant Meteonite.

But look! Up in the sky!

Here comes Team Rocket! That means introductions are in order...

"What are we doing is the question indeed!"
"The answer to come as we feel the need!"


"Bringing the blinding white light of evil into the future!"

"Thrusting the hammer of justice onto the black darkness of the universe!"

"And carvin' our names in the rock of eternity!"

"The fiery destroyer, I'm Jessie!"

"And with thunderous emotion, I'm James!"

"Wisest of the wise, I'm Meowth!"


"Aw, they're gonna ruin everything! Get 'em! GET 'EM!"

Lipeard comes out and attacks with Hyper Beam!

Jessie orders Woobat to counterattack with Air Slash!

As it does, the Meteonite, now suspended in mid-air as an artificial sun, boosts it's power.

Dodge it, Liepard!!!

And then they FIGHT!!!

The Meteonite, still in mid-air, is going out of whack as its' Dream Energy starts to spark...


"Oh crap! The episode's officially gone all Michael Bay on us!"

Our heroes ride back to Desert Resort in hopes of stopping this urgent crisis!

Supposedly, the power of the unstable Meteonite could create a disaster through the weather.

Meanwhile, it's James' turn to use the Dream Gun on the Meteonite! "Action!" he cries.

BAM! The gun goes off, and...and....

...oh sweet Jesus, LOOK OUT, CASTELIA CITY!


Yyyeah, this part just might be censored when this airs. The Japanese are in no mood!

Infused with Zekrom's power, Pikachu makes a daring charge towards the Meteonite!

"Dat PIKACHU! Don't let it through!"

"That Pikachu! It's incredible! What is this chakra?"

Team Plasma's Liepard fires at Pikachu....

...Pikachu evaded the attack!

Team Rocket's Woobat fires at it as well....

...but Pikachu evaded that one too!

Evading all attacks, Pikachu sees the Meteonite Sun and makes a jump for it!



KABOOM! The Meteonite is obliterated in a cosmic explosion of AWESOME!

Giovanni has lost the key to his master plan. "We are so cancelled!"

It's time, then, for Team Rocket to fall back. RETREAT!

Team Plasma also falls back, fleeing into the wilderness of the Desert Resort. 

A new day dawns over Castelia City as Looker goes off to continue his pursuit of Team Plasma, Juniper takes leave back to her lab in Nuvema Town, and Ash prepares for his next Gym battle.

The next day, the TRio is shocked to learn that not only have they been momentarily released from the boss' service, but that this two-part epic has been postponed indefinitely. "WHAAAAAT?"

And that's it. After this, the TRio self-demoted themselves, brought back their white uniforms, began taking things a tiny bit less dark and seriously, and started working under Dr. Zager in hopes of accomplishing Unova takeover missions for the boss. And that's the position they are currently in. 
In this position, they have made some filler Pokemon theft attempts, ran a brilliantly competent operation from Nimbasa City to Anville Town using its' subway trains and tracks, drew out the Kami Trio in an ultimately futile attempt to capture them on Milos Island, stole special evolution-based electric rocks from Chargestone Cave, and are currently trying to revive a fossil using that energy 
so that they can unlock the key to time travel into the ancient world...somehow. They've still been thoroughly awesome, thank heavens, but we've still yet to see their last stand of their first mission. 

UPDATE (2016) : This story described in this post has been updated accordingly as, almost half a decade later, a full synopsis of the events of these episodes has finally surfaced online. In addition, I have helped make an abridged, symphonic reconstruction of the episodes' story as a result, which you can view below. There is no telling how and when TV Tokyo intends on releasing the full versions, but for now this hopefully provides satisfaction and closure to everyone who waited it out for this long.

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