Sunday, July 1, 2012

Team Rocket's Big Comeback

This has been a big thing going on in the Pokemon franchise over in Japan for awhile, so I felt now that I had to make an entry about it.  Back in May, during the time the show had reached Iccirus City, sight of Ash's seventh Unova gym battle, info about the "Best Wishes" series' "second act" was released.  It promised us the return of Giovanni, who's been absent from the show since the lost episodes, and a new Team Rocket plot he'd be personally leading that was being called "the biggest operation in the history of Team Rocket."  That right there was enough to peak my interest what was coming in the summer, but I didn't realize how far they'd go in hyping it up.  Then on the first day of June, a mysterious account was opened on Twitter, with this silhouetted image attached:  


The account belonged to Giovanni. Giovanni had broken through the fourth wall and was starting his own Twitter account!  It was incredible, but for what purpose did he do this?  His first tweet said it all: "I am Team Rocket's boss, Giovanni. Using this twitter, we set out to widely recruit members and become a worldwide organization. So gather under the name of Team Rocket! The catchphrase is "“Pokemon Radio show! It's Team Rocket's Secret Empire!". So he was advertising a Team Rocket radio show that would be premiering in Japan this summer (and did premiere just today!). But not just that: he was accepting all who followed his accounts as "members of Team Rocket" so that they could assist the gang on their "mission for total world domination!" This made me think back to what was said about Giovanni and Team Rocket's coming role in the anime. So this radio show, in which Team Rocket's voice actors would be on, was a promotional tool for the anime, and this Twitter account was used as a promotional tool for the promotional tool for the anime! Team Rocket's never received this sort of marketing before, not even when they were seeking the Meteonite! Soon, the silhouette on the image was cleared and we saw palette-swapped versions of Jessie and James' "Best Wishes" character models from Season 1.


This confirmed that, yes they would still be dressing like that in the show, for the time being at least. Still, I thought about this: if Giovanni, who was supposed to be last seen in the first season finale and conclusion to the Meteonite arc, was coming back to the anime, was to be directing Team Rocket in their biggest mission since said Meteonite arc, and Team Rocket was getting so heavily promoted now...I had to wonder: would we soon be seeing the lost episodes aired at last? I mean, there will have to be reference to what happened there that made Giovanni so busy for the longest time. The mere sight of Giovanni leading Team Rocket again would cause all fans overseas to remember the last time he was on the show and what we were supposed to get out of it. And it would make perfect sense to air a Team-Rocket heavy special in the midst of all this Rocket hype! All evidence was pointing to the time where the lost episodes could potentially air not being too far off....


Then one day, Giovanni made a surprise tweet. After tweet upon tweet telling people to spread the word about this account and its' importance in Team Rocket's mission for world domination, he posted one where he was talking to his Persian about the grand mission's eventual completion when suddenly..."What the? What's going on?  It's THEM. Those blasted....ah, it's no cause for concern. We shall just have to wait and see what transpires." Oh...my...god. Could the "THEM?" he was referring to be....Team Plasma? The language he used in regards to them and his insistence that they wait to see what transpires matches how he spoke of that other secret organization back in the Meteonite arc. What he said (making a speech about Team Rocket's triumph before getting cut off) was even reminiscent of what was to happen at the start of "The Rocket Gang vs The Plasma Gang: Part Two." And if this wasn't strange enough, Giovanni's next tweet had him expressing surprise over something that happened to Team Rocket's Sinnoh branch, and then telling all Team Rocket recruits to not worry but he will be going away for a while. The Hell, Giovanni???


The next few tweets on the account were posted by Giovanni's Persian, and then the tweets started coming from....Meowth! Meowth was continuously talking about getting more followers, pleasing his beloved boos, and taking shots at Persian. The tone for most of his tweets was hilarious. For as much as I love the darker new Team Rocket, I do often miss this sort of silly side from Meowth in particular. He didn't really reveal much on the account aside from confirmation about the radio show.


Then when it was time to officially premiere "Best Wishes 2", Jessie, James, and Meowth unexpectedly hijacked Oak's Livecaster at the end of the show and stated that they were taking over for a while. In the scene that played out, Team Rocket smooth talked the audience, gave jeering applause in celebration, and even fought with each other in a cartoonish comedic brawl. They also advertised marketing for the coming 15th Pokemon movie, as well as announcing that they're running some sort of phone number contest, which is actually a way to promote the radio show.
I love how laid back and humorous they are here, 'cause it shows great contrast to how they are on their evil missions (especially seeing as this plays after the episodes where we see them on said missions are done), and actually humanizes them beyond just being the two-dimensional villains they usually are. They're good at villainy, but villainy is still only their job. When they're off the clock, they can be their regular, more whimsical selves. Certainly better than being the brainless clowns they were for over eight years! But what's really impressive is that they're really playing up this Rocket booyah. Team Rocket's presence is being made known because they're building to something big in the story. Seeing as they only appeared one week in January and two in April this year before now, this is immensely satisfying to see. I wondered where they'd take this next?


Well, as of now, the show has entered an arc where Ash, Iris, and Cilan have been taken to Undella Town in East Unova by Sinnoh Champion Cynthia so that they can stay at her villa and prepare for a tournament she's organizing called the World Tournament Junior Cup. Y'know, it's a tie-in to the newest games. On the downside, Dawn was due for her cameo now so she's at the villa training for the Junior Cup too, and all the warts on her characterization are still present: from her design, Pokemon team, and personality, she hasn't changed in the slightest. And seeing as she and Piplup have a large fanbase in Japan, they'll be staying around for at least eight episodes or more before they're set to go once the Junior Cup is over. That's really aggravating, but there is one thing that makes sitting through these episodes worth it, and that's Team Rocket. Until now, they haven't been partaking in their usual episode-spanning mission subplots this year, but now they're finally back to doing that. This particular mission has them tracking the legendary Pokemon Meloetta, who is travelling with Ash and co., and have recorded it's mystical song to present to Dr Zager, who determines that it's the key to the current mission, one that Jessie calls "the biggest mission in Team Rocket history." And at around this time, wouldn't you know it: Giovanni returned to his Twitter account. On it, he spoke of this mission that hinges on Meloetta's capture: "Operation Tempest."


Here's where I make my wild mass guessing: we know that Team Rocket's current mission is to stalk Melloetta until the time is right to capture it. But when, how, and why will Giovanni himself step in to take charge? When he does, he'll have to have a damn good reason for why he's stepping in now when he was too busy to give orders to the Trio and Dr Zager and oversee the missions personally before. That also means the conclusion to the Meteonite arc will be brought up, which means it might have to air when (or before) Giovanni reappears. Also, consider this missions' name: Operation Tempest.  Tempest = Storm. And what pokemon are the embodiment of storms, weather, and natural disasters?  The Kami Trio! Thunderus of thunder storms, Tornadus of wind storms, and Landorus of earthquakes.  These three pokemon were the subject of the Milos island arc that aired at the end of last year.  In the new games, they were revealed to have new forms, which showed up on the poster for "Best Wishes 2", below some sort of strange evil looking cloud, and right beside Giovanni! This implies that Giovanni's plan requires that Team Rocket takes control of the Kami Trio and brings them into these new forms with new power.  I think that Meloetta's song might be the key to unlocking their new forms and hypnotizing them into falling under Giovanni's control.  Giovanni will then use the Kami Trio's power in combination with a new energy source, possibly just more Dream Energy in place of that Meteonite that they couldn't have, in order to wage war on Unova, throw it into a state of natural crisis, and at last alter the energy balance of the world so that they can achieve GLOBAL DOMINATION!  This means two good things: one being that Team Rocket's part in the Milos Island arc, which aside from instigating the conflict there seemed pointless when it came to their pitifully inept attempt at capturing the legends, will actually have had a deeper meaning all along.  Jessie DID swear that they'd be back and those pokemon would get caught, after all.  And two being that if this plan hinges on creating natural disasters, including fucking earthquakes, than Japan has no problem with showing Team Rocket wrecking shit now, and that raises the lost episodes' chances of airing.


Today, Team Rocket launched their radio show. Apparently, not only is it a promotional gimmick, but also a way for the Japanse VAs for TR (who are apparently bored with voicing serious versions of their characters) to be "wacky", which satisfies fans of the older TR, while the characters stay more serious than ever before in the current episodes, which satisfies fans of the new TR.  It's a fair compromise, and one that was apparently made last year due to a suggestion by Megumi Hayashibara.  That also makes me think that TV Tokyo really has been holding off on airing the lost episodes until the opportune moment, that moment being when Giovanni was slated to come back to the show and all this Team Rocket tie-in stuff could boost hype. Their radio show today wasn't the best, mainly because the VAs were blatantly writing the characters and using them as mouthpieces for their whiny views on how it's so hard to keep Team Rocket serious and not "fun". (Ugh.)  I just hope this whole thing doesn't become their soapbox for that kind of crap. But it really doesn't matter now. While I love "Best Wishes" Team Rocket, I did sort of think they peaked during their Nimbasa Subway mission last year.  Now they're back to top form and are going all out in being the awesome Pokemon bad guys that I love to hate. And Giovanni himself coming back only guarantees grand things to come in Team Rocket's future. The good times are coming back for the Rocket Gang!

EDIT: OH SNAP! 


This is advertised as being the "Farewell to Team Rocket". I'm pretty sure it's exactly what it sounds like. And supposedly, this big event is going to air in late September or into October. We're unsure whether or not it's to be a two or three part event, and all this teaser shows us is mostly from two parts (The TRio battling the twerps to abduct Meloetta, and the big epic Tempest showdown at the end). But because this is indeed happening as the finale for this East Unova detour arc as I knew 
it would, and it's story seems to be unfolding the way I knew it would, I'm getting more and more convinced that my theory is correct! Team Rocket is on their way out, which means Team Plasma will no doubt be taking over as the main villains for the last stretch of the Unova arc. What's funny is that there are eerie similarities between this upcoming arc and the lost episodes. Giovanni arriving to speak with the Rocket Gang, the spiral stairway pillar, Giovanni going mad with power, a big fight in which Pikachu is supercharged, and even this preview is presented in a similar fashion. Hmmmm.

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