This has been a long time coming. I think? My blog is pretty random and no one follows me but I decided that today I want to talk about the Pokemon episode that ended an era. Episode 275 of the Original Series is titled Gotta Catch Ya Later and it features Ash, Misty, and Brock parting ways for the last time. It ended childhoods, it started predictable series patterns, and a lot of people don’t seem to realize that it tied up an entire subplot in one of the most beautiful ways I’ve ever seen Pokemon handle a mature subject.
Question Bot: “Frisk! Why are you talking about this NOW!? Don’t you know that the XY&Z series just ended? You aren’t trying to upstage the last big Pokemon arc with nostalgia are you!?”
No. I’m not. I love the XY&Z team! I’m not gonna lie though. It’s no coincidence that this analysis is being written right on the heels of XY&Z’s final episode. If you haven’t heard because you live under a rock or something XY&Z ended its run on October 27, 2016. It was a good run! But Serena’s final scene in the show caused a lot of controversy in the fandom. This post will probably already be too long, so I don’t have time to discuss everything about the XY&Z ending here, but you can check out a calming post I made about it for the community at this link if you want.
Anyway this post isn’t about XY&Z or its ending and I’m going to do my best to make sure it doesn’t end up in any of those tags. This post is in response to a complaint I have been hearing some people make recently about Misty’s goodbye. At this point in time, some fans have been saying that Misty got shortchanged on her final episode and didn’t get proper closure. It’s a little weird that I never heard this complaint before right now, and it probably has to do with the fact that the same people are saying Serena’s closure ended her shipping arc very well. I think that these recent complaints about Misty’s closure need to be addressed, and there’s no better way to do that then looking back at her final episode and trying to figure out what it all meant. So let’s do it!
In the opening paragraph I said that this episode tied up a mature subplot in a very beautiful way. What subplot was I talking about? Why, Pokeshipping, of course! The romantic relationship between Ash and Misty!
Question Bot: “Um, Frisk! Do you really think it’s fair to call Pokeshipping a subplot? The 4Kids dub practically invented that ship and there wasn’t any real evidence of it in the original Japanese!”
Sorry, Question Bot but that’s just not true. Different language dubs did add some Pokeshipping hints in a few places, but the romantic part of Ash and Misty’s relationship was definitely a real thing in the original Japanese show too. In fact the Ash/Misty pairing is special because it is one of the very few Pokemon ships that had evidence irrefutably written into the story from both characters! Yes, so much so that it unquestionably counted as a subplot for the show! Pokeshipping was never a matter of interpretation. Ash and Misty were undeniably written with crushes on each other! But don’t take my word for it. I could just be some delusional Pokeshipping fanatic for all you know. Check out some of the episodes below for definite proof that Ash and Misty had crushes on each other. (I only included evidence that doesn’t rely on language. That way you don’t even have to quarrel about translations if you don’t want to.)
OS93. Navel Maneuvers- Misty becomes enamored with a trainer the trio meets. Ash is very obviously jealous and tries to prove himself better than the trainer to impress Misty.
OS103. Misty Meets Her Match- Another gym leader tries to romance Misty. Ash gets jealous over and over again. Misty decides not to stay with the gym leader and pursues Ash instead.
M2. Pokemon 2000- An entire subplot of this movie is dedicated to Misty trying to accept the fact she has fallen for Ash. She becomes obviously jealous over Melody flirting with him several times.
OS267. Love, Pokemon Style- A girl trainer falls in love with Ash and Misty becomes obviously jealous, trying to keep her away from Ash and staring her down a few times.
And many more! But I don’t have time to type all of them out. These four should be more than enough to make my point if you take time to watch them. What I’m trying to get across is this. The set-up for Gotta Catch Ya Later was that Ash and Misty both had romantic feelings for each other, but it was time for them to part ways. The anime had been showing us that they had crushes on each other for a long time now and it was all about to end. How would it be resolved? They couldn’t just split the two up without closing this subplot they’d been using for 5 years, could they?
Of course they couldn’t! And that’s why half of the episode is about Ash and Misty’s relationship! If you don’t remember it right away let me give you a refresher.
Gotta Catch Ya Later starts off with Ash, Misty, and Brock returning to Viridian City, the place Ash and Misty first officially met. Yes, they first ran into each other at a river when Misty fished Ash out of the water, but this was the city where they met. This is where Ash and Misty learned each other’s names. This is where they had their first battle together. This is where they first bonded. This is where their journey started. After their encounter in this city they have traveled with each other ever since. They destroyed the roof of the local Pokemon Center the last time they were here, but now that they were returning, they noticed the roof had been fixed. Things had changed. Time had passed. It’s all really symbolic in my eyes.
And when they get to the Pokemon Center Misty gets a call from her sisters who tell her it’s time to come home. They are leaving on a trip and need someone to watch the gym! Wow! What a bombshell! That came out of nowhere! The Viridian City Nurse Joy even comes into the lobby with Misty’s old bike totally fixed! Apparently she repaired it. But Misty is very hesitant. She couldn’t be expected to go home right now, could she? After everything she had been through with Ash and Brock how could she be expected to just leave all the sudden? She had built a life with these two. They were a family.
That’s when Ash decides to make everything worse by being Ash. He’s excited for Misty! He mentions now that she has her bike back she’s free to go home! After all that’s the whole reason she was traveling with Ash in the first place, right? To get her bike back? Misty is completely heartbroken by Ash’s words. Even after all this time he still didn’t get it. So she runs out the door about to cry and leaves Ash and Brock behind.
This is where the Pokeshipping subplot comes in. On the surface this story is very simple. Even if this is the first episode of Pokemon you’ve ever seen, you can get the story. Misty is upset because Ash suggesting she was only in it for the bike belittles their relationship. But if you’ve been watching the anime consistently and know that she has a hidden crush on Ash, this episode develops a whole new dimension. She is devastated because she likes Ash but has never had the courage to tell him! She’s been standing on the sidelines trying to figure out if he likes her back. When he suggested that their entire relationship was dependent on that bike, it gave her an answer. Ash never liked her the way she liked him.
By the way, I really enjoy that about Pokeshipping! Pokeshipping was never written to be extremely prominent. It was something that existed but was almost never spelled out for the audience. There was always enough evidence to prove its existence but it wasn’t something the show focused on very often. I feel like it gave extra substance to the characters. Ash and Misty weren’t written as crushes. They were written as best friends who happened to have crushes on each other. You could watch the Original Series casually and understand all the simple plots just fine, but if you watched it closely and invested yourself in the characters, the plots had a deeper side to them!
And this is the deeper side to this plot. The entire event is Misty trying to cope with apparent rejection from Ash. She ran away from home, got caught up in an adventure with this boy, saw all kinds of wondrous things, had all kinds of fun, made all kinds of memories, and enjoyed every moment of it with Ash. She fell in love and never wanted it to end. Now it WAS ending. It was ending in more ways than one.
Anyway Misty’s feels trip is interrupted by these three doofuses. They call themselves the Invincible Pokemon Brothers. They’re supposedly Viridian City’s top trainers and they start harassing an already emotional Misty, which leads to her challenging them to a Pokemon battle. Because of course it does. Misty chooses Politoed, and they try to cheat by sending three Pokemon up against it at once, but Misty is saved when Ash and Brock show up and join her side to make things fair. Of course, Ash, Misty, and Brock wreck the three dorks, and then Team Rocket shows up to reveal this was all part of their master plan or whatever. Ash, Misty, and Brock wreck them too, and their final battle together ends in a super fitting trio attack from Ash’s Pikachu, Misty’s Politoed, and Brock’s Forretres all at once! They send Team Rocket blasting off one final time, and Misty’s spirits seem a little lifted. Why? Because she knows Ash and Brock will always be there for her, no matter what. Even when she runs off by herself in a fit of tears and heartache, the bond they share is inseparable. Moments like this prove that. They really made something together. They watch out for each other. They care for each other. They are a team. A family.
But that doesn’t mean everything is all better. It’s still time for this little family to split up, and Misty’s mind is obviously racing with final thoughts, memories, and regrets as they travel down their final road together. A road that will eventually split. Misty has to take one path. Ash and Brock will take another. I’m not being dramatic by the way. This is all completely literal. They are literally on their last road together, it will literally split away from itself, and Misty is literally voicing her final pieces of advice and memories as they walk. It’s all definitely symbolic. And Misty’s spirits might have been lifted from that last match, but she’s still definitely on a low.
Her eyes are glimmering as they walk. The sun is setting. The atmosphere is perfectly bittersweet. Misty is obviously having a hard time letting go. Remember, she’s leaving her family. With what we know about her relationships at home, these are probably the closest people to her in the world. The closest people she’s ever known! She has to let them go, and she’s still coming off of her crush’s rejection. The cinematic focus is all on Misty. Everything is from Misty’s perspective. She tells Ash to promise he’ll always give his best… without her.
Then something extraordinary happens.
The flashbacks roll through. Misty remembers all the good times she’s had traveling with Ash, Brock, Tracey, Pikachu, and Togepi. During this final curtain call she offhandedly mentions that they found Togepi’s egg by accident. She mentions that she found Ash by accident too. And that’s where everything turns around.
Ash interrupts her. Ash tells her that there’s no way they met by accident. He believes something brought them together. You can call it whatever you want. Destiny, story, the universe, God, but Ash believes they were meant to meet. And as soon as he says this, everything about the episode changes.
Misty’s bittersweet attitude becomes clearly happy. She’s smiling and savoring every moment. The perspective switches from Misty to Ash and Misty. They are both holding the focus right now, and they discuss destiny together for a little longer until they reach the fork in the road. Ash promises her that they’ll meet again against a sunset.
And this is where I bring your attention back to the subplot. The romance story that has been tucked away underneath the main anime from episode to episode. It resolves here. You want Misty’s closure? This was her closure. The episode started with her believing that her longtime crush and the most important person in her world STILL thought she was following him for a bike. It ends with her discovering that he knows it was never about the bike. He thinks they were drawn to each other by destiny. He thinks destiny will bring them together again one day. And for Ash Ketchum, that’s just about the most romantic thing you can say.
Of course, their painfully obvious romance scene is cut short by Brock interrupting and announcing he has to go home too, but this entire episode so far has been a story about Pokeshipping. And Pokeshipping is now over. The cinematic perspective goes from Misty to Ash and Misty and finally leaves to focus solely on Ash. Because Misty’s problem has been resolved. Her character arc is over. Ash has confirmed her importance to him. She has decided to trust in Ash and his belief that destiny will bring them together in the end.
Some people see this final scene as Ash rejecting Misty a second time, and that’s fine. We all know that the writers won’t ever actually show us an ending, so you’re entitled to your interpretation. But I personally think that the story is very clearly ending on a hopeful note with positive foreshadowing for Ash and Misty’s future together. This was a Pokeshipping episode, after all. The entire story was about their relationship. I could point out a lot of different things that hint toward this interpretation. I could show you later episodes that heavily imply Misty is not dating anyone while at the gym because she’s patiently waiting for destiny to bring Ash back to her again. I could draw your attention to episodes that obviously show Ash does like her back, meaning a rejection would make no sense. I could show you evidence that Ash still keeps in touch with her and probably still has feelings for her. I could point out Brock’s near complete lack of relevance in this episode. But do I really need to? This is the ending. And as Misty rode her bike off, away from the sunset, her final words in the Original Series were a cheerful “Ash Ketchum, finally I know how you feel about me!” And I think there is a very good reason that she is the only one smiling in the end.
I keep rewatching that Supergirl sneak peek because it’s just so nice to see Alex come out in such a casual way to a bunch of supportive friends who are perfectly chill about her dating a girl and everyone is there including James who finally exists again thank god and J'onn being a proud dad and Winn being all excited and I even actually liked Mon-El’s role in this but istg Kara better stop staring at him like that because there’s no way I’m going to believe she’s actually interested in him when everyone knows she’s still in love with James and Lena I mean it’s just not realistic
Oh no! plz dont delete I’m gonna miss you! In the end its your choice so I can’t stop you but I really hope you don’t I love our threads and our chats in the tags even if we only just started. I’m sorry your going through this but I’m always here for ya friendo and I’m sure there are others that are here for you as well. Whatever you decide tho we will respect it just know that you are very much loved <3