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Ash and Pikachu froakie fletchling Serena Clemont Bonnie
1720 Breaking Titles at the Chateau

June 7, 2014

819 挑戦バトルシャトー!ビオラVSザクロ!! Battle Chateau Challenge! Viola VS Zakuro!!

March 20, 2014

Wherein Ash joins the French nobility and Viola catches jungle fever.

grant onix viola surskit

Today's episode begins with our heroes located at a Pokemon Center somewhere in France the Kalos Region. serena tabletSerena, Ash's French stalker/travel companion, points out to him on her fancy Kalos travel tablet app (gee we have come a long way from the days of Brock's guidebooks and fold-out maps haven't we?) brock guide bookthat they are presently situated nearby the famous Battle Chateau – a location known for its chivalrous brand of Pokemon battling.

Now that she knows Ash well enough to be acquainted with his one and only interest (Pokemon cockfighting), Serena reasons that he will just love the Battle Chateau (and by extension, the person who introduced it to him). After all, Serena is basically the Pokemon equivalent of "Overly Attached Girlfriend."overly attached serena

The group subsequently tries to guess what it is that can be won at the Battle Chateau. Bonnie hopes it is cake, while Ash guesses that maybe it might be some kind of badge? Badges are, after all, the only thing worth striving for, apart from free food of course. Thankfully a group of French yo-boys arrives to clear up any confusion.battle chateau yo boysYes, it appears wigger culture has made its way to the Continent, as evidenced by the two rapping (and bizarrely-bandaged) brothers who inform Ash and Co. that "titles of nobility, yo" are what are up for grabs at the Battle Chateau. nico chester freezeAsh is unfazed by the cadence and flow of the rapping yo-boys (Nico and Chester), having familiarized himself with Afro-Japanese culture during his travels with the overly-tanned Brock and the actually-black Iris. Serena, however, proves not to be as culturally accepting as Ash (perhaps she is more German than French?) and proceeds to literally freeze Nico and Chester with her ice-cold dissing of their rhyming.

Serena manages to momentarily repress her Aryan misgivings about the two race traitors, and follows along as Nico and Chester lead the group to the Battle Chateau complex. No sooner have they arrived at the gate when Ash forgets where they are going and what it is they have been talking about for the entire episode and asks Clemont what the Battle Chateau entrance sign says.battle chateau arch "Battle Chateau," responds the French John Denver lookalike. Some might argue that Ash doesn't speak French or Pokemon-ese, or whatever the gibberish on signs and buildings is now that the animators have stopped writing in Japanese and paintshopping English on top. I personally think Ash simply can't read, period.

Inside the Battle Chateau proper, the group meets a French maid and her mustachioed monocled employer and learn that Nico is already a member of the nobility, albeit with the lowest title (we should have recognized earlier that his cross-cultural dabbling was simply a product of his natural aristocratic eccentricity). And just as it seemed the day was finally improving for Serena Braun, who do we meet but...

black spidermanBlack Spider-Man!

Yes, Pokemon is a franchise that has historically had trouble with the disconnect between how race is depicted in largely homogenous Japan and how it is perceived in the rest of the world, particularly in the United States. This has sometimes led to awkward situations: brock jinx1brock jynx2But it seems that (mammy Lenora aside) the franchise is finally ready for black characters that aren't designed around racial stereotypes (unless there is some deeper symbolism behind Grant's ice cream swirl (complete with candy toppings!) hair-do).

Anyway... back at the Battle Chateau our heroes learn more and more about the mechanics of how Pokemon battles work here. Apparently regular battles are too plebeian for the tastes of the Battle Chateau clientele.battle chateau titles So they devised a system that honored the nobility and chivalry of everyone involved...blah blah blah. The basic difference is at the Battle Chateau everyone wears color-coded capes and you can only battle against your social equals – as God intended. Chester explains that there are six titles of nobility at the Battle Chateau: Baron, Viscount, Earl, Marquis, Duke, and Grand Duke (he left out King, Holy Emperor, Pope, and God, but those are probably all titles exclusive to Gary Oak).

Ash isn't distracted by the inner-workings of the European feudal system, he just wants to get to the cockfighting, dammit! grant loves wallsAnd once Grant returns and finishes inexplicably rhapsodizing about his love of walls, Ash finally gets his chance in a battle against Chester in their mutual Battle Chateau debut.

Ash and Chester touch balls (pokeballs fortunately) in a ritualized display, and Chester sends out his Fletchling, leading everyone (or maybe just me) to believe that Ash is about to send out his Fletchling too. Except...

ash psychPsych!

Apparently the pokeball Ash chose was actually Pikachu's pokeball (last seen circa Episode freakin' 1), who knew he still had it? So Ash proceeds to blast the living crap out of Chester's Fletchling with his level-one-billion Pikachu – thereby earning himself a Battle Chateau victory, a fancy cape, the title of baron, and a guillotine with his name on it in the streets of 18th-century Paris.

But it turns out that Ash opening a can of noble whoop-ass on Chester was actually just the opening act for the title match between Grant and Santalune Gym Leader Viola – who had been romantically sharing cups of coffee while commentating on the previous battle. grant's crotchGrant turns the heat up by beginning to disrobe (dropping a white glove on Viola's shoulder), as the animators give us a revealing shot of Viola smirking in the foreground while Grant's voluminous crotch fills up the rest of the screen. Yes, it appears that Viola is suffering from a bad case of jungle fever (undoubtedly much to Serena's horror), and she just can't wait to get it on publicly with Grant – it being a Battle Chateau match (foreplay?).

Grant wastes no time with subtleties, unleashing the phallic rock-snake Pokemon which was formerly the trademark of Pokemon's resident horny virgin, Brock. grant's onixExcept that, in this case, it appears that Grant's Onix is, how shall I say, much more ample than Brock's. "Wow, it's huge!" gushes Bonnie. Haha, from the mouths of babes, eh? Viola's attraction to Grant despite his weird fascination with walls is starting to make a lot more sense.

Viola sends out her Surskit, which proves no match for Grant's massive Onix (proving once and for all that size does matter). Grant thus ascends to the title of Grand Duke, leaving Ash in awe of the number of Battle Chateau wins he will need to rack up before he will have the opportunity to battle Grant. Except that

Surprise! Apparently Grant was the Cyllage City Gym Leader the whole time! This was actually news to me too, I hadn't played the games yet at the time of my first viewing. Unfortunately for the pretentious folks at the Battle Chateau, the stupid socialist Kalos government doesn't believe in class-exclusive battling, and as the state-appointed gym leader, Grant is required to battle every penniless inbred ragamuffin commoner that walks through his door (Ash included).

Nevertheless, as the episode ends Ash now finds himself in exclusive company as a member of the French second estate. He just better hope he shifts his ass into gear and gets the hell out of Kalos before Bastille Day rolls around.

4 Staryu