1001 Animations: Fly Me to the Moon Picture

Show: Pokemon
Episode: 213
Year: 2001/2002

Writer(s): Takeshi Shudo (Screenplay)
Director(s): Hiroshi Haraguchi (Storyboard Assisstant), Katsumi Hashimoto (Animation)

I think many of us will agree that the Johto seasons of Pokemon are nowhere near as strong as the Indigo or Orange Island seasons, at least in part due to all the padding and filler. However a lot of the episodes were still very interesting especially in Master Quest. The episodes Takeshi Shudo managed to write in full for the anime are high concept and have more emotion to them than others, even if it's some thing relatively simple like achieving a record. This episode was the fourth part of a seventeen part "Whirl Islands mini-arc" before Ash battled Jasmine in Olivine City. As such if you watched it by itself you may slightly get confused as to why Ash and his friends are on the Whirl Islands to begin with.

This episode was actually one of the earliest to dabble with a Pokemon form difference other than shiny variations, long before things like Gender differences or forme changes existed. The Pidgey of Pudgy Pidgey Isle are as the name implies very very fat and flightless. Professor Oak brings up that scientists are unaware whether this is caused by a mutant form of evolution, devolution or a mutant strand exclusive to the island itself. I think they're supposed to be a reference to the Dodo bird, an avian that developed an overweight and flightless body due to its native home lacking any predators. It may also reference when Charles Darwin visited the Galápagos Islands and noted the various species of finches there sighting them as a huge step in his theory of evolution.

Our focus though is on the one Pidgey that can actually still fly and isn't overweight; his name is Orville and he's had a dream ever since he was a baby. His owner Wilbur (get the joke?) explains that there once was a legend of a Pidgey who once flew higher than any Pokemon ever flew before, to the stars, to the sun and to the moon alluding to the mythology of Icarus mayhaps? He's longed to fly higher than any Pokemon has ever flown before (keep in mind this was made not long before Rayquaza was even a concept) up to the outer atmosphere of the Earth. I've actually heard of humans attempting this without rockets, sad to say not all of them lived to tell of what they saw, but this is indeed a very noble and exceedingly cool goal. Even Team Rocket gets moved by this declaration, but not enough to keep them from trying to steal it and Pikachu though; still at least Meowth is on Orville's side all the way. Not only is Orville extremely endurable, it's very fast for a Pidgey; able to outfly a flock of Spearow at 10,000 meters at least.

This episode is quite honestly very intense for your run of the mill filler episode. There was actually a very realistic chance Ash and the group could've died at that altitude, as they were quickly running out of oxygen. But the worst of the pain was with poor Orville. He just never stopped flying, even as ice began to form on his wings and his body became completely numb he never gave up! This episode also alludes to the struggles Meowth went though to learn to become more humanlike in "Go West Young Meowth" another Takeshi Shudo episode which I'll review in the future. It's this connection that allows Meowth to relate to an sympathize with Orville's goal and help bolster his confidence and ultimately, Orville succeeds and Meowth translates it's thoughts on what it sees:

"I've flown so far Meowth; my wings can almost touch the stars. I can see the moon before me. I've never been happier, I feel so close to the sun right now. It's just how I dreamed it would be, everything is so beautiful up here. I will come back to tell you and everyone else on Pudgy Pidgey Isle all about the amazing world I've seen. I'm comin' home!"

Simply beautiful. Granted even they obviously weren't gonna let something die on this show, the emotions were still very much there. Even the Pudgy Pidgey themselves assist in saving our heroes from plummeting to their doom, proving that they really can fly after all thanks to Orville's motivation. Two miracles have been had today that's for sure. Hell Team Rocket ACTUALLY blast off ON a rocket for once! The final moment with Meowth and Orville observing the full moon realy helps tie the epsiode together perfectly.

Despite my feeling they hogged way too much of the screen time, I truly believe Team Rocket could've been developed much better as this episode shows very well. Considering they were Takeshi Shudo's favorite characters and he adapted them himself it makes sense episodes he wrote would have them at their very best. He was given more freedom with the trio even in episodes he didn't write for that very reason in fact. And despite me bashing Dig those Diglett I do see where they were coming from, villain decay notwithstanding. If Takeshi were alive to see Team Rocket today in XY I think he'd be happy to see his creations finally get the dignity they deserve. Hell he might've even liked Best Wishes for their depictions as more dedicated to their work. Regardless I am truly happy with his contributions to a great anime and may he rest in peace.

Pokemon is owned by Nintendo and The Pokemon Company.

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