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Ash and Pikachu froakie Serena Clemont Bonnie
1734 The Forest Champion

834 森のチャンピオン!ルチャブル登場!! Champion of the Forest! Luchabull Appears!!

Wherein Ash encounters an illegal immigrant and patriotically captures him.

We rejoin Ash, Serena, Bonnie, and Clemont as they trek through the Kalos region – finally free from the clutches of Korrina and her boring Mega Lucario subplot. As they pass through a forest, we witness a scene lifted straight from Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, with all the woodland critters gayly cooperating and sharing their berries with one another. Our heroes take in this saccharine scene and prepare to quickly pass through the forest (rarely the setting of exciting episodes), but suddenly a frightening scream echoes off the trees and causes everyone to turn and run back. ursaring steals berriesA giant Ursaring is up to no good, as usual in the anime (they’re the Beedrill of the Johto region). The bully bear Pokemon with Giovanni’s face has taken a page from his human counterpart and gone into the “acquisitions” business, claiming the woodland critters’ berries in what can only be described as a “hostile takeover.” Ash and Bonnie charge forward to confront Ursaring, but something else beats them to it – hawlucha the forest champion

Hawlucha: the Mexican Wrestler Pokemon.

Hawlucha seems to be something like the Batman of the forest, and he moves in to confront the nefarious Ursaring. It kicks the living crap out of the Giovanni bear and leaves it laying on the forest floor. hawlucha kicks ursaringBut like any good showboating professional wrestler, Hawlucha is not satisfied with simply winning – it needs to embarrass its opponent in a flashy manner. Hawlucha attempts to perform a Mortal Kombat worthy finishing move, but it takes too long to prepare – climbing to the top of a tree and spreading its wings to their fullest extent – so that Ursaring has time to crawl to its feet and stomp away from the flying wrestler, who smashes into the ground. Nevertheless, Ash is suitably impressed, declaring “What an awesome Pokemon!” (Hey Ash, remember when you used to catch Pokemon that you thought were awesome? I mean your last name is Ketch-em for god’s sake…) Meanwhile, a creepy man with binoculars and a journalist’s vest named Keaton emerges from the woods (how does he see anything with his eyes closed like that? He must be a relative of Brock’s…) and tells the assembled children that Hawlucha’s finishing move always misses, but being a true artiste, it cannot help but perform it every battle.

However, while the happy little critters have their berries back, Ursaring is ready to solidify its heel status. It sneaks up behind Hawlucha holding a state-fair-champion watermelon sized rock over its head, ursaring is a heelbut Ash decides to intervene – ordering Pikachu to use Iron Tail, which splits the boulder clean in two and sends the bear into an early hibernation. (You knocked it out, why not catch the damn thing, Ash!) Our hero helps the Mexican Wrestler Pokemon to its feet and it flies off, with Ash’s Poke-crush very evident.

Everyone decamps to Keaton’s woodland cabin (Jeezy-petes! Didn’t your parents ever read you any fairy tales? This does not bode well…) The skullcap enthusiast and possible Hansel and Gretel villain explains to the assembled children that Hawlucha arrived in the forest from parts unknown (Mexico! He came from Mexico! Illegal immigrant! He’s come to steal the jobs of good, honest, Bible-thumping, gun-toting, Americans Kalosians) and soon defeated the gang of fighting type Pokemon that used to homoerotically work out together in the woods. homoerotic fighting pokemon work outIn the process, Hawlucha became the undisputed WWE champion of the forest. Unfortunately, he was never able to properly execute his flashy finishing move, with the target Pokemon always getting away in the knick of time. Ash is determined that he will be the one to teach Hawlucha the secrets of the art of Pokemon battling (the one thing that Ash knows anything about), and the gang takes off to find the Mexican wrestler, ruining Keaton’s dinner plans, which involved tricking the kids into climbing inside his oven.

Meanwhile, Giovanni bear is apparently still smarting from his earlier smack down by Hawlucha, as he has teamed up with an equally evil-looking Conkeldurr. giovanni ursaring and xehanort conkeldurr(Which bears a resemblance to one of the villains from Kingdom Hearts) The two evil Pokemon have devised an evil plan that involves recruiting an absolutely ripped Machamp (Genwun represent!) to do their evil dirty work and beat the living crap out of Hawlucha.

Ash meets up with the Mexican wrestling bird as it trains in a waterfall (its always a waterfall…) and convinces it to practice its finishing move, on him! Hawlucha repeatedly dives off the top of the waterfall at Ash, who is standing behind a log, until it finally manages to attack with enough speed to hit the target before it moves out of the way. This breakthrough comes not a moment too soon because Ursaring and Conkeldurr show up with their ‘roid raging Machamp in tow. ursaring machamp conkeldurr the forest championKeaton mentions to the kids that he has “heard rumors” about this particular Machamp. (Heard rumors from who? You live alone in a cabin in the woods surrounded by Pokemon!) Apparently Machamp used to be the forest champion fighting Pokemon, until the illegal immigrant from south of the border showed up and stole its title belt. The evil Ursaring and Conkeldurr have apparently convinced Machamp to return for a rematch, and Hawlucha gladly acquiesces. The two fighting types go head-to-head, but Machamp seems to be content to just hold still and take it from Hawlucha. hawlucha vs machamp forest champion(Insert your own joke here) Eventually, once Hawlucha tires itself out with its continuous barrage of body blows to Machamp, duplicitous Ursaring and Conkeldurr move in and blindside Hawlucha with a surprise double team. The Mexican wrestler isn’t the only one surprised, however, as Machamp appears equally startled by the sudden turn of events. Giovanni bear and Conkel-douche grin as Ursaring holds up the limp Hawlucha and Conkeldurr motions for the four-armed fighting machine to finish it off. giovanni bear and conkel-doucheThis Machamp refuses to do, and instead it swiftly KO’s the two villains and carries them back into the forest under two of its arms, while looking back at Hawlucha and indicating that they will resume their battle some other time.

Now that Machamp, Ursaring, and Conkeldurr have weakened it for him, Ash decides the time has come to battle Hawlucha himself (CATCH IT!) “Wait a minute Pikachu,” Ash tells his little yellow rodent when it goes ahead and assumes that he will get top battle billing, like usual. Instead, Ash seems to have remembered he owns other Pokemon, and calls out Froakie to battle the Mexican wrestling bird. Ash’s little ninja frog uses a Double Team to confuse Hawlucha, but it sees through Froakie’s disguise, and Ash positively begs it to try out its finishing move. (Clearly Ash has little regard for Froakie) Ash orders his amphibian out of the way just as Hawlucha comes crashing down, and when the dust clears we see the result of the attack: double knockout. double knockout the forest champion(For god’s sake, CATCH IT, MAN!)

Instead of whipping out a Pokeball and being done with it, Ash decides he should ask Hawlucha whether or not it wants to come along on his Pokemon journey. (What kind of slaver are you Ash?! Isn’t your last name Ketch-um? Do you think Gary asks Pokemon permission before he captures them? Hell no!) Keaton chimes in and reassures Hawlucha that the forest will be safe under the watchful eye of Machamp (plus this sudden retirement allows Hawlucha to keep his forest title belt), and so it extends a claw and allows Ash’s Pokeball to suck it inside.

ash Hooray! Ash “caught” a Hawlucha!

ash primeape brockFinal thoughts: It sure took Ash long enough, but he finally caught his third Kalos Pokemon. Hawlucha looks to be a strong edition to the pantheon of full or partial fighting types that Ash has had throughout his career. Hopefully, Ash shows more regard for this fighter than he did for his P1 champion Primeape… In any event, it’s just nice to be done with Korrina’s mini-arc and on to the bread and butter of Pokemon: catching them all! This was a decent episode and I look forward to seeing where Ash, Serena, Clemont, and Bonnie (and not Korrina!) are headed next. Perhaps some more awkward AmourShipping is in our future? Only time will tell.

3 Staryu