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Giovanni (Japanese: サカキ Sakaki) is the head of Team Rocket, and formerly served as the Gym Leader of Viridian City's Gym, known officially as the Viridian Gym.
While Giovanni very rarely takes the role of antagonist, his agents often have him in mind during missions due to the chance of power, be it through promotion or other means. This gave him a unique series of appearances, mainly during the Hoenn saga, where Meowth often saw how the Pokémon in each episode could be used to help Giovanni and win the trio promotions. These boss fantasies never show his actual personality and occasionally even show Giovanni in chibi form.
His first appearance was in the episode Battle Aboard the St. Anne, choosing a Persian as his "top cat" over Meowth, and talking to Jessie, James, and Meowth through a TV screen. His face always remained hidden in the shadows, usually with only his mouth visible. In Island of the Giant Pokémon, it is revealed that he owns the theme park, Pokémon Land, and the giant mechanical Pokémon in it, and was not happy to hear that it had been destroyed.
Up until his appearance in the episode The Battle of the Badge, his voice was altered with a vocoder effect, masking his identity. It can be inferred that they were trying to imitate the games, as in Generation I it is not outright revealed that Giovanni, the Team Rocket boss, is the Viridian Gym Leader. As this episode corresponds to the point at which players of the games would discover that the two were the same, Giovanni finally steps out of the shadows, revealing his face in a battle against Gary Oak, and defeating him utterly using his Mewtwo.
Unrevealed events in the episode (other than the events in question necessitated the use of Mewtwo) caused Giovanni to abdicate his position as the Viridian Gym Leader, handing the Earth Badge to the Team Rocket trio that constantly follows Ash (although his orders implied that he wanted the trio to defend the Gym from a possible attack). Through a combination of their own incompetence and Ash's willpower to win the Earth Badge, the Viridian Gym was destroyed at the end of the episode. Due to this, and perhaps other circumstances, Giovanni permanently resigned as Viridian's Gym Leader, as Agatha of the Kanto Elite Four has taken over the Gym temporarily when Ash next returns to Viridian City after his journey in Hoenn.
Giovanni appears not to care for his Pokémon aside from Persian, as they are all locked away in cages when not used for a Gym battle.
, and the Rocket grunts
In the episode Showdown at the Po-ké Corral, Giovanni's building was blown up by Mewtwo. He and his Persian survived the explosion and angrily told Jessie, James, and Meowth to do their job (ironically they were about to quit).
Giovanni also appeared near the beginning of the movie, Mewtwo Strikes Back, as he was the one who had Dr. Fuji clone Mewtwo for him. After Mewtwo destroyed the lab, Giovanni told Mewtwo that he saw him as a valuable partner, putting armor on Mewtwo and using him to defeat Trainers in gym battles (including Gary's Nidoking and Arcanine, as seen in the anime) and help Team Rocket in their attempts to steal Pokémon. Eventually Mewtwo confronts Giovanni about his treatment and Giovanni admits that he doesn't consider Mewtwo a partner but a servant. This enrages Mewtwo and it is this incident which drives it to destroy Giovanni's base allowing it to escape.
Giovanni is the main antagonist in the movie Mewtwo Returns, seeking out Mewtwo, who by this time is living in peace with the cloned Pokémon at Mt. Quena. Once Giovanni discovered it, he tried to recapture it by threatening to use the captured cloned Pokémon in their experiments, experiments that he also claimed would certainly result in their death. He used two machines to try to make Mewtwo submit to his will, but though Mewtwo stepped into the orb, it was still unwilling to serve Giovanni, threatening to destroy his body first. Ash and the others were able to stop the machines, and it was around this time that they faced off against Giovanni and several Team Rocket soldiers. Their Pokémon fought as a distraction so Ash could get Mewtwo into the spring. Once Mewtwo was healed from its injuries, it moved the spring under the mountain to protect it, and then erased the memories of Giovanni and the other Team Rocket soldiers (excluding Jessie, James, and Meowth) of it, making him forget entirely about Mewtwo. Standing next to Domino and Persian wondering what they were doing, he gets the strange feeling as though he has been utterly defeated.
With the beginning of the Best Wishes series Giovanni has taken on a far more significant and antagonistic role than before. He is now in regular contact with Jessie, James and Meowth and assigns them on various missions throughout the Unova region. He is now often seen with a secretary, that helps him giving orders to Jessie, James and Meowth. Giovanni was also set to make an appearance in Unova in BW023 (unaired) and BW024 (unaired) after he arrived there in A Venipede Stampede!.
The only time Giovanni has been seen in battle was in The Battle of the Badge. He used powerful Pokémon against Gary but later left the Gym to deal with an unexplained emergency, leaving Ash to battle Jessie. By the time Ash returned from Hoenn, Agatha was in charge of the Gym until a new leader could be found. Giovanni's reasons for leaving it have not been explained.
Very little is known about his past in any timeline; he is generally shrouded in mystery. His mother was the head of Team Rocket before him. However, this is presumed to be canon in the anime timeline only, as the games have no precedent for this.
This listing is of Giovanni's known Pokémon in the Pokémon anime.
|| Kingler (×2)
| Giovanni used his Kingler in his Gym battle with Gary, sending it to battle against Gary's Nidoking. Gary, however, quickly withdraws his Pokémon and calls out Arcanine. Despite having a type advantage, Kingler proved to be no match for the Pokémon, and was finally taken out by Arcanine's Fire Blast.
Kingler was also later loaned to Jessie for Ash's Gym battle. She used it to battle against Ash's Bulbasaur, but lost, although not before dealing heavy damage to Bulbasaur with its bubble attack, and by consequence, Ash experienced its pain.
Giovanni also has a second Kingler, which was in its cage when Giovanni went to see Mewtwo.
One Kingler was seen again in a flashback in Bad to the Bone, where it was defeated in a Gym battle by Otoshi's Marowak.
The known moves of the Kingler Jessie used are Crabhammer, Harden, and Bubble. The second Kingler's moves are unknown.
|| The Battle of the Badge
| Voice actors
|| Rikako Aikawa
|| Rikako Aikawa
| There's nothing to be known about Giovanni's Cloyster, as it has only been briefly seen in a water tank in Viridian Gym's basement.
|| The Battle of the Badge
In the manga
In The Electric Tale of Pikachu manga
Giovanni in The Electric Tale of Pikachu manga
Giovanni makes a cameo appearance in The Electric Tale of Pikachu's Ash vs. Gary where it is revealed that the giant Slowpoke that Ash and Gary attempted to catch was in fact created by Team Rocket. He reveals that he intended to use its calming abilities to take over the world by having it make his enemies lose their will to fight. The plan instead backfired on him, the scientists who created the giant Slowpoke soon found themselves losing their will to dominate anything. As he bangs his head in anger over the fact that he defeated himself, he finds that recollecting about the giant Slowpoke caused his own anger to fade away.
- Main article: Giovanni's Persian
Persian was seen watching its owner as his anger fades away from remembering the giant Slowpoke that Team Rocket's scientists created.
|| Ash vs. Gary
- In Pokémon Live! it is stated that he dated Delia Ketchum, though this is both unmentioned and unconfirmed in the anime.
- In the English dub, Giovanni is the first character to regain his original voice actor following the voice actor switch.
- Both Pokémon that Giovanni has rejected in the anime have both evolved once after being reunited with their owners.
|| サカキ Sakaki
|| Sakaki (榊) is a sacred tree in Shinto which resembles the Earth Badge. Also from 坂/阪 saka, slope.
| English, French, German,
|| From Italian Giovanni, equivalent to John, gift from God; gio rhymes with geo, from Greek γῆ gē, earth.|
May also be a play on his resemblance to a Mafia boss in control of his mob.
|| 비주기 Bijugi
| Chinese (Mandarin)
|| 坂木 Bǎnmù*
| From 坂木/阪木 Sakaki, an alternative way of writing the name. 坂/阪 (slope) is also a homophone to 板 of 老板 lǎobǎn (boss). Also, 坂 contains the radical 土 tǔ (earth).
| Chinese (Cantonese)
|| 沙加 Sāgā
|| Transliteration of the Saka of Sakaki.