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Flying Pikachu, Soaring High! - Pokemon Horizons Episode 18 Review - How it all started

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Friede and Captain Pikachu
I’m sorry Episode 16, you just got dethroned after two weeks of reign. Episode 18 is now the best episode of this anime by far. It’s just an origin story, but the animation and storytelling are so immaculate, it’s almost perfection in a way. It feels like a good closure to the first arc, and the beginning to the next possible arc in the Rising Volt Tacklers’ journey.

(Please note: This review contains spoilers. If you haven't watched the episode yet, read on at your own risk!)

Liko and Roy are curious about how Captain Pikachu is able to fly in the air, so they team up with Dot to ask Friede about Cap’s origins. He avoids the topic, but with the help of Orla's meddling, Friede finally reveals his past with Cap. Once a promising Professor, Friede starts his story jobless and listless. He had no motivation and no drive to do anything after quitting; he spends his days fishing with Ludlow, and that doesn't excite him either. One day, he gets a phone call from his old teacher, Lucca (that's Liko’s mother, in case you've forgotten), who he hasn’t seen since his student days in the Kanto region. Lucca moved to Paldea from Kanto after getting married to Alex. When she wonders why he quit his job at the lab, Friede says that he knows everything there is to know about Pokémon, but Lucca sees through Friede's front and points out that he's lost his drive. Lucca then invites him to meet up with her the next day at dawn, where she introduces Friede to the Pikachu that will one day become Captain Pikachu. At first, Friede didn’t want to bother with a Pikachu, but after seeing how Cap used Volt Tackle to make a vortex into the sky, he became interested in it. He spends his next days trying to observe and theorize Pikachu’s goals and actions. After befriending him, Friede and Pikachu become partners, and the Rising Volt Tacklers came to be.

First off, this backstory was amazing. It played out like a movie! I do like how Friede quitting his job and losing his drive is parallel to how a lot of adults today in the real world are trying to find their place in life. People say that Pokémon is childish or for a general children’s audience (which, to be fair, it is), but having Friede and the Rising Volt Tacklers be adults and have mature motives for their path in life shows that Pokémon isn’t afraid to include content and stories that can be appreciated by an older audience as well. It reminds me of Mollie’s backstory that was told in Episode 11, where she quit her job at the Pokémon Center because working there wasn’t fulfilling for her. Friede quit his job because it wasn’t fulfilling for him. I’m sure there are a lot of adults who relate to this; I know I do!

Friede & Charizard
I like how Pikachu was very hostile towards Friede in the beginning of their encounter, it shows off how much of a wild Pokémon he was back then. He was annoyed with Friede and kept tackling him. I think my favorite part of this episode was Pikachu gathering berries and then rushing off to eat them. I think this is one of the rare moments we see Pikachu behave very animal-like. We never saw Ash’s Pikachu as a wild Pokémon as much since most of his screen time was being a captured Pokémon and a pet of sorts. Seeing how Pikachu respected Friede towards the end of the flashback felt realistic, because Pikachu knew Friede was always there and it even saved him from falling. In turn, Friede finding drive in Pikachu was understandable. Life is always full of mysteries and finding that one fateful moment can lead to a myriad of opportunities. Pikachu was definitely Friede’s muse in a way.

The animation was very smooth. The scene where Friede and Charizard flew up to the skies next to Pikachu’s vortex flabbergasted me. I never knew OLM could animate this beautifully. This definitely looks like something shown in a Pokémon film or in a smaller mini-series like Twilight Wings. The way everything kept moving throughout the scene, taking a break when they looked beyond the horizon, and then moving again once Pikachu fell was breathtaking. I may not be an animator, but I can see good animation quality!

Friede reaching out to Captain Pikachu
I do like how Lucca was the reason why Pikachu and Friede got together. Lucca is also the reason why Liko met the Rising Volt Tacklers. The theme of connection is very prevalent for this anime as it is a bond that expands beyond horizons. I cooed over seeing baby Liko in the episode; she’s so cute. While it was never explicitly stated, I'd guess that the flashback might have occurred at least five or six years ago in-universe, since Liko is most likely ten or eleven at most in the anime currently. The fact that a mere glimpse of seeing Friede over a video call was the stepping stone of her current life is pretty fascinating in itself.

I also liked learning more about the Rising Volt Tacklers. It turns out that Ludlow and Friede were already acquainted with each other prior to the group forming. Orla and Friede are also childhood friends with them both being Kantonians but Orla having moved to Hoenn. The fact that Friede was requesting Orla to build an airship from Ludlow’s ship meant that he and Ludlow sailed all the way to the Hoenn region from Paldea. That’s determination right there. The fact that Friede, Cap, Orla and Ludlow were the starting members of the Rising Volt Tacklers seems meaningful now.

I also love the little cameo of Larry in the restaurant, a nod to the game canon of him being a regular at that restaurant. Since this was a few years back, I do wonder if Larry is still a Gym Leader five or six years later and still working overtime. Anyways, I do like that this episode had the opening song play towards the end, signifying the closure of one chapter and the start of a new one. There hasn’t been talks or announcements of a new opening or ending song, so I do wonder where the show will go from here. I think this episode was flawless, but what about you? What are your thoughts about this episode? Let us know in the comments below!


Bulbanews Writer
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