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Review JN032: Celebi: A Timeless Promise

What a fantastic episode. Definitely one of my absolute favorites.

Goh and Tokio only knew each other for a day but their friendship feels very real and you can tell how much they needed each other. They started off teasing each other over their respective goals because they know that to anyone else they sound crazy, but they can relate to each other when they can’t relate to anyone else. They thought they were one of a kind in a world where people didn’t understand them, but they finally found someone who did.

Goh hesitates to accept Tokio as his friend but he takes the risk anyway. We can see that Goh still doesn’t really know how to interact with friends, as his first instinct is to try and impress Tokio with his Pokémon knowledge and trying to seem cooler than he actually is, even when it’s on a topic he doesn’t know anything about, like Celebi.

Goh provides the ambition that Tokio needed to actually try and actively search for Celebi in a way he had never tried before. They spend the whole day together, looking for Celebi, and when it seems like Tokio is ready to give up, Goh keeps going, trying to get deeper and deeper in Ilex Forest. When they keep failing, Goh just changes his strategy and decides to go borrow Sunflora. In this moment, we also see how Tokio also feels about promises and it’s a bitter moment because we know that Tokio would end up breaking it.

Once the sun goes down they’re able to finally take everything in, and they talk about how vast the universe is. The talk about the many Pokémon thought to have come from space, like Clefairy and Rayquaza. They can share their love of Pokémon together in a way they never thought possible.

We see Goh wake up early and rushes out of the cabin, full of excitement, ready to start another day-long search with his new friend... and Tokio doesn’t show up. And yet Goh waits. He holds out hope that Tokio wouldn’t abandon him. Until he can’t wait any longer and believes that Tokio abandoned him. He laments, saying how he even went to the effort of bringing hot cocoa and stew with star-shaped carrots, something we know that Goh loves, and he wanted to share that with Tokio! Goh fell face-first into a friendship for possibly the first time in years and he feels like an idiot for believing that he could make a friend. To Goh, Tokio has made a fool out of him, he feels like he was just played a cruel joke.

Goh in the present is still dealing with these issues, now more than ever as he’s confronted by the very place that all of this stuff happens. He tries to ignore the memories, he’s got his Pokémon by his side, after all! He brings out Scyther and Farfetch’d, because they’ll never let him down like Tokio did!

Then he encounters Ariados and Pineco, both causing him to remember even more, these thoughts of Tokio and his apparent betrayal are too much to handle. Goh tries even HARDER to ignore his thoughts, he can’t handle them. He catches Ariados and Pineco, because catching Pokémon makes him feel good! Except it doesn’t make him feel any better.

He finally comes across the shrine he had been searching for all those years ago. There’s a note wedged in the wood. It’s an apology from someone he had thought betrayed him. Hearing about how Tokio got sick and tried his hardest to meet up with Goh again causes him to almost break down, he had convinced himself that Tokio must’ve hated him, or he must’ve done something horribly wrong.

Then Goh finally sees Tokio again, and Tokio is happy to see him! All of Goh’s memories and thoughts of being betrayed are washed away as he reunites with a true friend. The fact they left it open and Goh smiling as they walked forward was beautiful.

Extra: Goh learning his “I can hold the future in the palm of hand” phrase from a song he heard, very funny.
I feel a little sad that this episode is being overshadowed by the new OP (which is great and I absolutely love). But this was fantastic.
Celebi will never appear in 2020. (Also the spoilers are for The Owl House episode 16)

The plusle:

• I like that they foreshadowed Tokio getting sick

• That backstory was wholesome

• I liked that reference to his grandma and the karaoke thing.

• We know from where that catchphrase “GO!!”- No the other one"I grasp the future in the palm of my hand” came, a song his father used to listen to.

• A Gou episode without captures (at least, not annoying ones) is good, I liked the reference to using cut on the grass, but I wished that he would battle.

• The irony.

• Their interactions were sweet, I enjoyed seeing them nerd out about pokemon.

• It was nice to learn where that confidence he was talking about when meeting Tokio went.

The minun:

• The animation and music for the first part were…below average

• The backstory wasn't even a tenth sad as I expected, the only sad parts were the “star-shaped carrots and hot cocoa",yes children disappointed this way are what's sad to me, that clichéd rain(which *slightly* triggered my it's-something-remotely-sad-time-to-laugh-it-off-for-how-badly-executed-it-is reaction,also they explained the last vacation being cancelled so that's a plus) can go the way of the dodo. The music was also not sad enough.

•The other sad part was the letter, it was more wholesome than emotional, I think I'd have enjoyed it a bit more if it wasn't for Hopper's “death” letter, the creepy letters Luz's mom is getting, me questionning how it stayed there for 3 years, and it just didn't make me “feel” if you were worried I'll struggle even more with explaining

• I hope Tokio will start reappearing, this episode didn’t show “enough” of him, also why did he look for celebi?

Other stuff:

• That ending made me laugh the hell out, for a moment I thought they were about to kiss
• We got dex completionists representation, time for tall grass!
• Why did Tokio choose the inferior starter?

And this episode gets.....*drumroll*

3 feebas and a half out of the non-existent previous episode review.
My tier list that no one asked for of all the episodes so far, it's important to note that many of these are affected by episodes that come after them, and even in the tiers they are in order by favorite to least

Shit I think I have some Koharu bias-


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Very good emotional episode, reminding me that I do actually like Go as a character even though I don't like how they've handled his goal so far. I hope they follow up on this storyline - Celebi being in the OP despite barely being in the episode makes me think they will, though I guess that could be movie hype - Go did first bring up his fear of friends abandoning him in a conversation with Ash, after all. Treating that as fully resolved from an episode that Ash didn't even appear in just wouldn't be right. They might tie it in with Ash's upcoming depression streak, and/or with Ash's old friends coming back.

I hope we get to see more of Tokio too.

@Eclipsical and @Eeveely already mentioned it but Go getting his catch phrase from a song his dad likes is solid gold.
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As for the new intro: I'd say the "new" sound something you still have to get used to. Sound a bit shrill and off if you ask me.

As for the episode itself: A really nice episode for a filler!
It seems to me that episodes focusing on Go are better whenever he's not just Ash's sidekick throwing Pokeballs at randomly appearing Pokemon. I also liked very much how the plot concentrated on the obviously awesome adventure the boys had.

Is it just me or did you also find it kind of refreshing Go and Tokio didn't end up exchanging telephone numbers, email addresses or Facebook contact information at the end of the first day to stay in contact? Would have been the easiest solution but I guess we wouldn't want to see it here. Relying on a simple, yet powerful promise is a nice alternative to a fast, yet superficial world where everybody tends to rely on modern technology instead of real human contact.
I'd say it was a nice reminder of the "back to the roots" idea.

The only thing I wished the episodes had put more focus on was Celebi. I expected to see more of it and not just one short scene at the end.

All in all, an entertaining episode and a mature plot.
Go's parents passing out in the couch as soon as they arrived to the cottage is the most realistic portrait of parents during a trip.

And of course their kid wanting to explore the place ASAP. The only difference is that most people won’t allow a 7 or 10 year old to go around by their own.

Also, I like how Celebi didn’t solve Tokio's problems when he asked it to. So he had to come up with a solution.
You know how less interest this episode generated when there have only been ~25 replies even after a day since airing, and when most of the interest has been towards the new opening and the implication/teases for future episodes (revealed or otherwise). Compare this to last week’s episode which had far more replies around the same time from airing despite being a filler.

  • The episode was quite straightforward with the usual backstory plot of meeting a person who influenced someone’s future whenever it comes to Celebi episodes with one big difference, Celebi itself is not even involved with the usual time travel shenanigans (and is blatant M23 promotion only) outside of being an ‘adventure motivator(this is actually strangely pleasing, otherwise it would have been even more cliche). All the lore dump about various Pokemon is consistent with what we’ve seen in the past; like Celebi living around and healing beautiful natural locations/forests, Sunflora being dependent on the Sun for activity, Jirachi waking up once in a millennia for just a week, Clefairy being an alien from the Moon etc.
  • Thankfully, they also kept Goh’s personality and traits consistent from JN001 and JN015 in terms of his bragging and know-it-all (which is funny when he gets confronted about something he doesn’t know about), and socially awkward nature. Nice little touch with Goh picking up his non-annoying second catchphrase from a song that his father sang. The episode also does a nice job of highlighting another flaw in Goh that is being worked on in the present day, where he’s dependent on technology and theoretical aspects rather than experience and practical ones. I don’t believe this episode really answers Goh’s “you’re one of those guys” line from JN003 though, since it came after Ash said “I don’t need you to be my friend” and made it seem like Goh had been bullied or made an outcast by other children of his age whereas in this episode Tokio outright accepted Goh as a friend and never shunned him even once. Those two scenarios don’t seem to be related in any way in terms of context, and there's the fact that Goh misunderstood the situation with Tokio (It was raining heavily there after all, really think a parent would let their children run out in that weather? Goh's own parents came to look for him and take him back inside). Speaking of Goh's parents, I like how they as well as Koharu's family, are more relatively grounded in an otherwise exuberant world filled with Pokemon... there's also the matter that this makes Ash and Delia's on screen relation somewhat awkward and distant.
  • BAD WORLD BUILDING. How are we supposed to know that’s Azalea Town? It could be any generic lake town/village near the Ilex Forest area. Won’t elaborate any further on this, done it several times already, becoming a major issue already.
  • The entire thing with Goh's anger/revenge/frustration capturing made it seem like he hasn’t changed much in the present day when it comes to his method. Here he pulls out two of his more permanent party members whom they could have had Goh bond with because of his loneliness issue in context with the episode (he even says “you guys help me, too” and “I knew I could count on my Pokemon”), and use them to battle his captures. But instead, they resort to only having 2 of the Pokemon… cut tall grass followed up by the usual one-ball nonsense that made all 4 of his Pokemon completely useless. This made the particular segment very jarring to watch and makes the disconnect between words and actions more apparent.
  • The middle portion of the episode also felt like it dragged on a bit too long with all the gag related chase sequences. All of that screen time could have been utilized better for structuring a proper meeting and conversation between Goh and Tokio in the present day and what either character has been up to, instead of just ending the episode with a coincidental letter (that wasn’t needed in the end and that somehow survived the years despite being exposed to all manner of elements) followed by an awkward cliffhanger (that I’m sure there are already sappy fanfictions being written about because :wynaut:).
  • I don’t believe Tokio will have any more of a role to play in the anime anymore despite what some people want, he was a run-of-the-mill CotD and that lame formula is back for some unknown reason when SM had done away with it in a beautiful way in favor of recurring characters for the most part. That thought hampered my attachment to this episode, can’t really come to care about development on a CotD’s side. Tokio’s role is fulfilled as of this episode, it’s now Ash, Koharu and returning friends of Ash’s that’ll play that role henceforth.
  • Goh said this line.
    *Laughs in Ash Ketchum*


Verdict: I’ll give it a 7.5/10 (would have been higher if not for the listed Cons, especially the second one). While I liked the episode, I’d have preferred it to have happen a lot earlier, an ideal placement being between the Ivysaur and first Galar episodes since thematically it would have made a lot of sense (Goh and his friendship issues at the time followed by the 2-parter leading to his first partner’s capture followed by his forays into the world of Pokemon). Instead, it sits between 2 filler episodes that have nothing to do with it and which results in a serious disconnect when it comes to story flow (and showcases how bad this self-contained format is).
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Pretty great episode, in fact one of the best episodes of this whole franchise.

* An episode without Pikachu and Satoshi? Colour me surprised!
* I like how the parents in this series stand out despite of limited screentime.
* I always find it weird how ignorant the kids in pokêmon world about the different kinds of pokémon, even the ones from their own region. So, it's a nice change.
* I just noticed that Rayquaza is based on milky way, who's symbolized as snake.
* Nice use of Celebi's time travel ability.

He meant an entire episode dedicated to Ash's childhood, not small flashbacks or snippets
Yes, I can read.
Ash-Delia onscreen interactions which have admittedly been lacking especially when compared to other child-parent relationships in the anime (Ash-Burnet especially)
Ash and Burnet had almost zero interaction till the goodbye scene.
thoughts while watching

- Sobble on top of the car seat next to Go with his little usual sad face was really cute!
- Seeing all those wild Pokémon (especially those that can poison like Spinarak and land really painful hits like Sudowoodo) kinda reaffirms that under normal circumstances letting a 7 year-old wander around the forest alone wouldn't be a good idea, but I understand it's more normal in Japan to let young children out on their own and Pokémon is Pokémon haha
- young Go being embarrassed by how nerdy he is (but still being unable to control himself when it comes to babbling about all the Pokémon things he knows) is so pure
- Tokio is such a gentle and sweet boy ;_;
- bellossom's angry face lol
- Go saying "Never give up" in English was cute
- The sunset scene was beautiful!
- Go carrying Sunflora (8.5kg/19lbs) on his back like that is more accurate than Ash having Pikachu (6kg/13lbs) ride on his shoulder or head
- Go's sad face in the rain when Tokio didn't show up.... awwww
- I probably have the hospitalized children (mostly John) from Twilight Wings in my head, but I was kinda worried that Tokio's reason for not showing up would have been worse than just getting a fever. Glad that wasn't the case for my own sake since I'd have felt sad, but from a storytelling standpoint something a bit more emotional may have worked better
- yess they reunited!! and he has a Chikorita!! good taste in starters I see

For the first episode with no Ash at all and how much controversy was surrounding it, the episode was honestly really, really good. I'll probably put this in my top 5 Journeys episodes. Call me easy to please, but imo it's a 9/10 (y)
The parts in the past were amazing. I loved seeing two Poke-nerds bonding with each other and talking about the ways they loved Pokemon, and sorting out different ways of exploring the forest, using Pokémon as tools sometimes. They had good chemistry with each other. While the forest looked generic in the previews I totally felt immersed in it. I can relate to Go with the way exploring locations gives him nostalgia and a feeling of "What If".

However, it has 3 flaws, one subjective and two minor ones. The subjective thing is the open ending, if this was an OVA it could be ignored but in a serialized series the feeling that all of this will be forgotten as soon as the next episode starts ruins the experience. The minor ones is that the "reunion" felt very convenient and could had happened in a more unexpected manner, and that excluding one line Celebi could be replaced by literally anything, its role felt even smaller than last year's.

This episode had Pineco, Politoed, Teddiursa and Jirachi, and soon Marshtomp and Hitmontop will appear. All my babies are coming together! :bulbaLove:
So given that we got Pikachu’s origin story and now Go’s, what’re the odds that at some point that they give us an episode like that for Ash for whom we barely know anything about his life prior to his journey 22 years later?

If they want to bring back Gary I'd love to see a flashback episode with Ash and Gary being best friends but falling out at some point, as a parallel/contrast to this one.
This was definitely a good episode! It was by no means perfect, but it was quite enjoyable and served as a great introspective look on Goh as a character.

For starters, I honestly feel so terrible for him. He has no siblings and it's pretty clear he has very few friends (possibly none, outside of Chloe) so all he has are his parents, and they're always so busy working that he's constantly left to be on his own. This was already established in the first episode with his parents, but this instance broke my heart even more. I mean, they go on a family vacation, hype it up to the poor boy, and as soon as they get there, they fall asleep and leave him to his own devices. Not once, but twice. This alone makes me feel very sympathetic for him.

But then we get to the scene where he first meets Tokio, and I noticed something really interesting: when Tokio offers his hand to Goh upon first introducing himself, Goh looks unsure and visibly hesitates to take it. Before the episode aired, I kind of assumed Tokio breaking his promise is what made Goh so cagey around other people. But that interaction made it pretty clear that this was an issue before Tokio. I know that in the first episode, Chloe said something along the lines of "this is why you don't make friends" so I guess it's not a total surprise, but damn if my heart didn't break during that brief moment.

Truthfully, however, I feel like something was off with the time allotment between the flashback and the present day. I want to say they spent a little too long in the past and not quite enough time in the present. It was super cute to watch Goh and Tokio hang out, but it did start to drag after a little while, and at the same time, I would've liked to see a bit more out of the present aside from just Goh rage catching Ariados and Pineco (which I also really didn't like). Perhaps selfishly, I also would've liked to see more of present day Goh and Tokio meeting. I understand why they ended the episode the way they did, and I do think it worked very well, but it would've been cool to see more of how that first interaction after three years went.

Also, I understand why Ash wasn't a part of this episode, and I definitely don't think anything would've been gained by having him there, but the least they could've done was mentioned where he was. I mean, seriously, how does this "fellowship" work? Were they both on a break? Did Goh just leave for a couple of days for a family trip while Ash was back at the lab? It's such a weird arrangement. Say what you want about the school setup in SM, but at least they'd tell us when the school was closed, lol.

I really like that this series has given us looks into the characters' pasts. We've recently gotten two very interesting episodes about Chloe and Goh surrounding defining moments in their youth. I'm really hopeful that Ash will eventually get an episode like that as well, because I feel like these kinds of episodes have done a great job of fleshing out the characters and giving them a stronger backstory. I know Ash has been around much longer than Chloe and Goh, but there's still plenty about his past that we don't know either.
Mixed feelings on this one - stuff I loved intermingled with stuff which was very average, and ultimately the proof of the pudding will be if this episode has any lasting consequences...

What I liked was more exposition of Go's nature. He is actually a pretty grating character, and it's nice that they aren't very quickly trying to smooth that over NOR are they asking the audience to like him. In fact, Go himself seemed to have insight into the fact that he is not very likeable in the flashback when he initially met Tokio. What I want to make clear is that I'm not saying these things as a diss against the character: I was an only child for a long time, and a know-it-all and I really struggled to make friends as a young child, so for me Go is very relatable! His meeting another kid who is on the same plane as him was joyous to see and the disappointment at the friendship falling through was tangible.

However, the episode itself was actually kinda... boring? The interesting moments were interspersed with too much crap which didn't add value and it struggled to maintain my attention, except for that I wanted to know what happened back in the present. I will also add my voice to those disappointed with how generic the setting was - don't name a known town and then do everything to make the place indistinguishable from any other place, for the love of God!

Go's friendship with Tokio is more believable and compelling to me than with Satoshi and I would dearly like to see the character return, or have this episode be referenced in some major way down the line. If it isn't, the episode itself isn't strong enough IMO to then be worthy of remembrace.
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