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Talent Showdown by Tracey West is the fourteenth book in the adaption of the Pokémon anime and is 88 pages in length. It is one of two Pokémon books in this series that is not based on any anime episode, the other being Race to Danger.
It's Total Request Pokémon!
The stage is set for and explosive Pokémon Talent Showdown. There's a juggling Exeggutor, a singing Charmander - even a dancing Farfetch'd. Ash wants to beat Gary but he doesn't have an act. And that's not all he has to worry about. Team Rocket's grand finale has the audience glued to their seats and all the Pokémon under their spell! It's curtains for the Pokémon - unless Ash can steal the show.
The book starts with Ash, Misty and Brock walking into a town in search of food and a place to sleep, confused as to why the town is so crowded. Both Ash and Brock agree to find out what all the commotion is for. Ash approaches a nearby trainer and asks if there is some kind of Pokémon competition occurring. In reply, the trainer points to a large building down the street and says there is something like that going on. Excited, Ash charges down the street while Misty sighs. A sign above the building reads REHEARSAL HALL, and Ash notes that is an unusual place for a Pokémon battle. Stepping inside, he finds trainers and their Pokémon singing, dancing and performing tricks. Soon, Gary along with a group of cheerleaders greets Ash and asks whether Ash was entering the Pokémon Talent Show, sneering that Ash should enter the Talentless Show. Ash frowns, and asks why Gary was still treating him hard despite beating him at the Pokémon League Tournament. Laughing, Gary says that Ash is still a loser since he didn’t win the tournament. Ash begins to flush with anger, and so Misty jumps in and asks Gary what the talent show is about. Gary responds by saying that both trainer and Pokémon take part in an act and proudly boasts that his is the most spectacular, with him singing ‘Gary is the Greatest.’ Gary then sneers at Ash and asks what his act is going to be. Boiling with anger, Ash rashly remarks that he had an act that surpasses that of Gary’s. Gary said he’ll believe it when he sees it and walks away. Misty shakes her head saying that Ash hasn’t even got an act!
Ash starts to worry as he looks around at the talented trainers nearby. He asks Pikachu if it can sing, dance or juggle, but Pikachu shakes its head to all three. Ash says that Pikachu must have some talent, and in reply, Pikachu shoots sparks at Ash. Both Misty and Brock laugh, and Ash dejectedly walks away. Stopping at the edge of a pool, Ash holds his face in his hands and tries thinking of a way to beat Gary. But he is immediately interrupted by a girl who accuses Ash of stealing her Seel. The girl, named Sally, challenges Ash to a battle and throws out a Persian, and in response, Ash sends out Squirtle. Sally orders Persian to use Growl causing Squirtle to covers its ears and lose its balance. Persian then follows with Bite, causing Squirtle to fall to the ground. As Persian springs into the air, Ash commands Squirtle to use Water Gun. Just in time, Squirtle uses Water Gun to push Persian back. Misty, Brock and Pikachu catch up with Ash as he returns Squirtle to its Poké Ball. Ash turns to Pikachu and Pikachu hurls a Thunderbolt at the soggy Persian. Persian faints and Ash tells Sally that he didn’t take her Seel. Sally apologises, saying she had gotten really upset since Seel was her first Pokémon. Understanding her feelings, Ash asks Sally to tell them exactly what had happened. Smiling weakly, Sally says that she had gone for a drink of water only to find Seel missing. Brock then asks if she’d seen anything unusual. Sally’s eyes light up as she states that she heard some strange, creepy music playing. Determined, Sally stands up and says she will find her Seel, and Brock exclaims that they will all too. Ash says that he still has an act to think of, but Misty shakes her head saying Ash to give up. Gary then passes and taunts Ash that he will lose to him anyway. Angry, Ash thrusts his fist in the air and exclaims that he will win the contest.
Outside the rehearsal hall, Jessie, James and Team Rocket are excited at their boss’s new invention having successfully captured a Seel. Shoving Seel into a sack, they hurry off to their hideout in a music store. Inside, Jessie reveals that she will enter the talent show with the new flute so that all the Pokémon would leave their trainers. Jessie also chooses her Lickitung to be part of the act. At that moment, Seel glares at Team Rocket, having woken up from the flute’s spell. Sliding towards them, Seel picks up James on its nose, tosses James and flees. Meowth starts to chase Seel, but Jessie stops Meowth saying that they’ll get it again tomorrow.
Now nearing the end of the day, Ash and his friends find a campsite in the town park and Ash, still trying to think of an act, tries to sing. Misty cries out for Ash to stop his terrible singing. After finishing food, Brock volunteers to clean the dishes and begins singing. As Ash hears a beautiful melody filling the air, Ash jumps to his feet and asks Brock to enter the contest instead. Misty begins to become excited saying she could put together an act since she used to perform with her sisters at the Cerulean City Gym. Brock hesitantly agrees and Misty speeds off down the street. Half an hour later, Misty returns with instruments which she had rented from a music store. She reveals that she will play guitar, Brock will sing, Geodude will beat the drums, Pikachu and Togepi will dance, while Horsea will play the chimes. Ash picks up the cymbals and asks what he is supposed to do. Misty says that he should bang them at the end of the song adding that it is an important grand finale. For the show, they choose the Pokémon Trainer’s song and start to rehearse.
After finishing the rehearsal, a strange melody fills the night air. Brock says it sounds like a Poké Flute but adds that he’d never heard this one before and soon they discover Pikachu and Togepi walking towards the sound. Ash then sends out Bulbasaur in an attempt to bring Pikachu back with Vine Whip. However, Bulbasaur fails to listen and instead begins to walk off as well. Thinking quickly, Ash sings as loud as he can, which drowns out the sound of the flute. Bulbasaur moans and Pikachu holds its ears and both return to Ash once the flute music stops. Misty then reminds them of Sally who said that she heard strange music before Seel had disappeared. They decide to rest for now and figure it out tomorrow morning.
Outside the park, Team Rocket fume saying that if it wasn’t for Ash’s terrible singing they would have had Pikachu by now. Jessie brightens saying they’ll get Pikachu tomorrow, but James asks if Ash and his friends would spoil their fun. Jessie grins saying she has a plan.
The next morning, Ash and his friends head to the rehearsal hall where they meet Sally and her Seel which had returned the night before. A man in a tuxedo then introduces himself as Mr. Sullivan, the emcee and manager of the show, and begins the dress rehearsal. The act with a singing Charmander and Pikachu ends, and then it is Ash and his friends’ turn with an act named ‘Brock’s Rockin’ Band’. However, as they begin, Brock, too nervous, fails to start the song. Trying not to panic, Ash runs out and asks a girl in the audience if he could borrow her top hat. Coming back with the hat, he gets Horsea to fill it with water and handing it over to Brock, Brock begins to sing as if he was washing the dishes. The audience goes wild and applauds throughout the whole song. But as the act finishes, Ash hears a sound and looks up to see a heavy stage light swinging dangerously above Brock’s head. Ash tries to warn Brock, but Brock fails to hear due to all the girls wanting his attention. Having also seen the danger, Misty runs towards Brock. Ash then sends out his Pidgeot in hope of blowing Brock away from danger, but at the moment, the light becomes loose. Togepi waves its arms back and forth and suddenly Brock and Misty disappear to the other side of the room. Misty exclaims saying she was sure Togepi had saved them, and Ash remembers something similar had occurred back in the Orange Islands. Studying the ceiling, Brock says it must have been an accident, but Ash accuses Gary. Gary argues back by saying he was outside practicing and would never sabotage such a lousy act.
Ash and Gary then go outside to finish the argument. Gary sends out Arcanine while Ash sends out his Charizard. Ash then commands Charizard to show Gary what it can do, but Charizard just yawns. Laughing, Gary orders Arcanine to use Ember. Charizard flies up, dodging the attack, and Ash commands Charizard to use Flamethrower. Gary yells out at Arcanine to not give up, and Arcanine responds by showering Charizard with burning embers. This causes Charizard to become angry and let out a huge stream of fire. Before the flames engulf Arcanine, Gary calls it back into its Poké Ball and instead calls out Alakazam. Charizard lets out a blast of flame, but Alakazam uses Reflect to return it, hitting Charizard. Ash returns Charizard and sends in Pikachu instead, but before Pikachu attacks, Alakazam strikes using Psybeam and controls Pikachu with its psychic energy. Ash returns Pikachu, and instead turns to Misty and asks for her Psyduck. Hesitantly, Misty sends Psyduck out from its Poké Ball and Ash asks Pikachu to give Psyduck a little shock. As Pikachu shocks Psyduck, Psyduck begins to hold its head with a headache. Misty urges Ash to sing a song, which he does, causing Psyduck to sway and moan. Ash keeps singing until Psyduck unleashes Confusion at Alakazam. Gary orders Alakazam to also use Confusion as well. But before the battle could end, Mr. Sullivan interrupts saying that this show is a competition on talent, not battling and states that the show will start within a few hours. Gary heads back into the rehearsal hall as Brock states that it was probably not Gary who had tried to hurt Brock, but that it was linked to the strange music. Ash decides to investigate this and heads to the music store, to ask whether anyone had bought any flutes recently. In the store, a teenage boy and girl push Ash out saying that they are closed for the talent show. Suddenly, they take their disguises off to reveal a red letter “R” and Ash realises they are Team Rocket. They tie Ash and Pikachu up with thick rubber cords which even Pikachu cannot frazzle. Ash struggles to get free by yelling for help but Jessie turns on the radio so that no one can hear before leaving for the talent show.
With the show started, Ash fails to appear as Gary’s performance is under way along with his Rhydon, Exeggutor, Charizard, Blastoise and Venusaur. Brock and Misty become worried but are forced to go with the show without Ash. Once their act finishes, Misty recognises a girl with red hair with a Lickitung. Mr. Sullivan announces the next act as ‘Felicity and Her Fabulous Flute’, and both Brock and Misty stay to keep an eye out.
Back in the music store, Ash manages to reach his Poké Balls and sends out Pidgeot. Pidgeot uses its sharp beak to chew through the cords and frees Ash and Pikachu. Ash runs off and bursts in to the theatre to find all the Pokémon walking towards Team Rocket and falling into a trapdoor with all the audience glued to their seats. Misty shouts out at Ash to start singing, and Ash sees that Misty, Brock and the other performers are trapped in a cage. Ash starts to sing to drown out the flute but Jessie steps closer to the microphone, drowning out Ash’s voice. Ash then sends out Snorlax, and walking towards Team Rocket blocks the trapdoor. Agitated, Jessie stops playing and yells at James and Meowth to get Snorlax off the trap. Having an idea, Ash then orders Pikachu to use Agility and run circles around Jessie, making her lose her grip on the flute. But as Pikachu leaps to grab the flute, Lickitung shoots out its tongue and grabs the flute. Undeterred, Ash commands Pikachu to use Thunderbolt causing Lickitung to totter. James then calls out Victreebel, and after briefly eating up James, swallows the flute. Having another idea, Ash says James to call out Weezing as well for a Pokémon battle while Ash sends out Charizard. Weezing uses Smog causing everyone to cough including Victreebel. Hearing the flute clatter to the floor, Ash commands Charizard to flap its wings to remove the smog. Ash quickly picks up the flute and orders Charizard to melt it. Ash then returns Snorlax, leaving the trapdoor again open, and allowing the Pokémon to escape. At the same time, Misty and the others had escaped from the metal cage backstage, and before Team Rocket can exit, all the trainers give orders to their Pokémon to attack Team Rocket. Finally, Ash commands Pikachu and the Pikachu who had sung with Charmander for the final blast in one giant Thunder Blast, sending Team Rocket blasting off.
The audience cheers wildly and Gary walks up to Ash grudgingly thanking Ash for saving his Pokémon. Mr. Sullivan holding a silver trophy crowns Ash the winner of the competition saying Ash showed real talent in what he just did. Ash hands the trophy to Pikachu and exclaims that they should all get back on the road.
- This novel is notable for showing Gary owning a Blastoise, something which the anime itself wouldn't confirm until years later. However it also shows him owning a Venusaur and a Charizard (presumably due to Gary's starter not having being revealed at that point).
- Even though events in this book occurred during the Orange Islands arc, Ash is shown to still own a Pidgeot despite having released one earlier in EP081.