Hello, and welcome to another episode of Pokemon XY. Today begins with a personal message from Professor Sycamore: a man with the voracious sexual appetite of Professor Oak, but none of the academic bonafides. (He is basically the French anti-Professor Elm) Professor Sexymore wants to invite us to his summer camp for aspiring Pokemon trainers – wait, what?! Sycamore – a known sex addict – takes young children to a secluded seaside camp far away from adult supervision? …What could possibly go wrong?
It looks like we’re about to find out, because right on cue, Ash and friends arrive at Uncle Sycamore’s Holiday Camp – the Neverland Ranch of the Kalos Region. They find the salacious scholar waiting for them upon arrival, flanked by one of his lovely lady lab “assistants.”
But Sycamore isn’t the only person here with an unhealthy interest in children – Team Rocket is at the summer camp as well! Although in their defense, Jessie, James, and Meowth don’t want to violate Ash’s innocence; they merely want to rob him! The voluptuous villains have once again stooped to honest labor in order to front their latest nefarious scheme (which, surprise surprise, involves relieving the twerps of their Pokemon). Jessie is without her trademark red lipstick again after a lengthy period since an early Season One gaffe, while James’ afro and soul patch give him the appearance of a Harlem Globetrotters reject. (He’s really trying to butch it up) However, before Team Rocket can put their Pikachu-stealing plans into action, an older woman with ginormous boobs distracts their attention. While her ample bosom is attention worthy on its own, it seems that Madame Catherine is actually Team Rocket’s supervisor at Camp Sexymore, and it is her promise of a pay raise for a job well done that really diverts our favorite criminals from their typical shenanigans; after all, they’ve never been able to secure a raise from their actual boss.
Back with the show’s heroes, Ash is busy retelling their recent adventures with Korrina and her Mega Lucario – producing the awkward situation of Pallet Town’s village idiot effectively “explaining” mega evolution to its supposed expert, Professor Sycamore. “I wish I could have seen it too,” laments the creepy camp counselor, who will have to console himself with yet another sexual conquest instead. The kids check out their co-ed lodgings in Froakie Cabin (Bonnie claims the top bunk!), and Clemont asks if the camp setting has jogged any memories of the summer that Ash and Serena met. Surprisingly enough, Ash actually claims to remember this recently added bit of retconned backstory, but declares that things are bound to be different than “when we were kids.” (AmourShippers start your engines!)
The sound of Pokemon battling outside gets Ash to rush out to the beach (and by extension, his followers too). There they witness a Squirtle commanded by a fat tub of lard named Tierno who is wearing a Vanillite t-shirt. (Dear God – I hope he understands the distinction between Pokemon and food…) Tierno’s Squirtle is busy making a Conkeldurr look even sillier than it normally does by dancing around all of its attacks before knocking it out with a Skull Bash to the chest. (Float like a Butterfree, sting like a Beedrill!) Serena looks up Squirtle in her Pokedex, while Ash neglects to mention/forgets that he once owned a frat bro Squirtle of his own. I’d like to take a moment to point out that in the video games, Professor Sycamore gives the player a choice of a Kanto starter along with their corresponding mega evolution stone. Please, for the love of all that is good and decent, let this mean we are about to see a return of Ash’s Charizard (and/or Bulbasaur or Squirtle), with the promise of a Mega Charizard to come! With the battle over, Ash introduces himself to Tierno and everyone is surprised to learn that he already knows who Serena is – as does a buck-toothed girl named Shauna that he calls over. How is this possible, especially considering that Serena has never met them? Simple, they are huge fans of her internet video. (Tierno in particular makes a point of watching Serena’s video every night before he goes to sleep)
Internet statistics tell me this is one of the most popular images on my website…
Shauna takes Serena inside the Pokemon Center to substantiate her claims. They connect to the PokeVision servers and Serena discovers just how popular she has become among the lecherous perverts that frequent that website (as well as mine). Shauna is apparently something of a regular PokeVisioneer herself, and she plays a video of her frolicking with her Bulbasaur (albeit far less provocatively than Serena). Shauna takes the opportunity to introduce the Seed Pokemon to Serena and company – allowing for another Pokedex entry reading. (Squirtle, Bulbasaur, just one left… #bringbackCharizard) Ash, Serena, and Clemont release their Kalos starters from their Pokeballs to meet with their Kanto counterparts, and Pikachu. Serena feeds her special Poke Puffs to the assembled Pokemon; all except for Bulbasaur, who seems to be a bit of a recluse (much like Ash’s). Suddenly, a Pokemon appears out of the blue and justifiably steals the attention of the assembled children. “Wow! Charmander!” yells Ash. Indeed – those in the know say that’s the best way to go. The feisty little Lizard Pokemon runs around showing off its cute little fighting skills – even setting Chespin on fire at one point. Soon enough, Charmander’s trainer appears, and much like his Pokemon, Trevor appears to be a bit of a “flamer” himself. The soft-spoken Trevor is an ardent photographer and like his friends, he also declares admiration for Serena and her PokeVision video. (Although he probably likes it for different reasons than Tierno) Todd Snap’s androgynous little brother declares that his goal “is to meet every Pokemon listed in the Pokedex,” which sounds remarkably similar to a goal that Ash himself once had, until he was revealed to be woefully inadequate at collecting Pokemon compared to his nephew, Gary Oak. (Notice, however, that Trevor’s goal is less ambitious than the challenge that Professor Oak issued to Ash and Gary. They were supposed to catch every Pokemon in the world; Trevor merely wants to see them all. This is perhaps a reference to the shift in Generation IV onwards to completing the Pokedex through seeing Pokemon instead of actually catching them)
It seems that Tierno, Shauna, and Trevor are all childhood friends and rookie trainers who were given their first Pokemon by Professor Sycamore. (Although why he didn’t give them the proper Kalos starters is a mystery. Perhaps he is so lazy at actually doing any professorial work that he couldn’t be bothered to round up any starter Pokemon and had to ask Professor Oak ship him some from Kanto? No complaints here – I’m pretty sure you all can guess which set of starter Pokemon I’d rather choose from…) However, it does come as a surprise to Ash’s disciples why these three chose to all go on their journeys separately, instead of blindly following someone around and living vicariously through him like they all did. As a matter of fact, Serena understands – perhaps for the first time – that she has no dreams of her own; her face falls as she comes to the same realization as disillusioned housewives everywhere: her entire life revolves around the needs and desires of her man. (Cue up the Simon and Garfunkel) But Serena manages to shelf her brief moment of clarity and restores her facade of happiness to join the rest of her friends on the beach, where Professor Sycamore is conducting a camp meeting.
The French pansexual introduces his entirely female staff to the assembled children (well, all except for James and Meowth; but the former is gay and the latter has shown his attraction towards humans on more than one occasion), reinforcing the point that there is literally no one at Camp Sexymore that the perverted professor won’t have intercourse with. Next, he announces that like any good summer camp, there will be an ongoing competition between the rival cabins. Ash, Serena, Clemont, and Bonnie make up Team Froakie, while Trevor, Tierno, and Shauna are in Team Squirtle. (There are also a bunch of other nameless trainers in various teams, but they clearly won’t be relevant) The introduction of a fraternity style competition once again begs for the inclusion of one of Ash’s old Pokemon, in this case Squirtle (the John Belushi of Pokemon) of Squirtle House. Madame Catherine also mentions that current regional champion, regional movie star, and possible regional dictator Diantha was once a camper here herself. This news serves to excite the brainwashed Kalosian masses, who worship Diantha with the kind of unthinking total reverence typical of cults of personality. I, for one, found this bit of information to be incredibly disconcerting; does this mean that Professor Sycamore began his relationship with Diantha when she was a child at his camp? I started this whole “Sycamore is a pedophile” joke with my tongue firmly pressed against my cheek, but now I’m really starting to get worried about the state of mind of the show’s writers…
Sycamore initiates the camp activities with a round of tune-up Pokemon battles on the beach. Ash chooses to take on Tierno and his Squirtle, while Clemont’s Chespin will have to brave the fire and the flames of Trevor’s Charmander again, and Serena gets to make her Pokemon battling debut against Shauna and her Bulbasaur. Tierno has Squirtle start the battle by break dancing, which transitions into a Rapid Spin attack. Ash orders a Water Pulse, but Squirtle gets in close and tags Froakie, causing the judge to call the battle in Tierno’s favor? (Certainly I appreciate the Kanto > Kalos message, but in what world does that constitute a victory for Squirtle? Ash was robbed and is too stupid to realize it)
After the battle, everyone moves inside for dinner in the mess hall. Clemont shows off some of his inventions, like his mechanical Aipom arm, and then proceeds to talk up Ash’s unpredictable battle style, declaring “you never know what he’s going to do next.” (Clemont isn’t the first person to confuse Ash’s mental illness for genius) Meanwhile, in the kitchen, Madame Catherine once again gets Team Rocket excited with the promise of money. It is Serena, however, that is given the rare last word in today’s episode. She is sitting on the dock of the bay, Otis Redding style, brushing her Fennekin and contemplating the meaning of her one-dimensional existence. She notes that every one of her friends has some kind of dream they are trying to achieve, which gives their lives direction; but she has nothing like that. And it is on this surprisingly cold and somber note that we put yet another episode of Pokemon behind us.
Final thoughts: Wow, what a remarkably adult episode. Not so much for my frequent drafts from the “Sycamore is a pedophile” well, but for the undeniable maturation of Serena’s character. When the series began, Serena was as one-dimensional (and frankly uninteresting) as Misty became by the end of the Original Series. However, today she seemed genuinely depressed by the thought that her life has little to no meaning outside of whatever Ash is doing (why is she the first main character to realize this?), and if followed, this storyline has the promise of real character growth. Could Serena pull a reverse Misty and actually become a more well-rounded and compelling character as time goes on? Hopefully the summer camp mini-arc will provide some positive answers. Also, #bringbackCharizard! Please?