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EP003 : Ash Catches a Pokémon
Original series
EP005 : Showdown in Pewter City
Challenge of the Samurai
Challenge of the Samurai Boy!
First broadcast
Japan April 22, 1997
United States September 11, 1998
English themes
Opening Pokémon Theme
Japanese themes
Opening めざせポケモンマスター
Ending ひゃくごじゅういち
Animation Team Ota
Screenplay 園田英樹 Hideki Sonoda
Storyboard 鈴木敏明 Toshiaki Suzuki
Assistant director 大原実 Minoru Ōhara
Animation director 平岡正幸 Masayuki Hiraoka
Additional credits

Challenge of the Samurai (Japanese: サムライしょうねんのちょうせん! Challenge of the Samurai Boy) is the fourth episode of the Pokémon anime. It was first broadcast in Japan on April 22, 1997 and in USA on September 11, 1998.

201 Spoiler warning: this article may contain major plot or ending details. 201


As Ash, Misty and Pikachu continue on their way through the Viridian Forest, a shrill scream disrupts the calm of the trees. Ash turns around, realizing that the sound came from his female companion. Suddenly, Ash spots a Weedle and decides to catch it. He tries to use Pikachu against it, but it is more interested in sleeping than battling, so he sends out his Pidgeotto. Pidgeotto manages to defeat Weedle but just when Ash is about to toss a Poké Ball to capture it, a boy dressed as a samurai arrives on the scene. The samurai asks Ash if he is from Pallet Town and when Ash replies that, yes, he is from Pallet Town, the samurai challenges Ash to a Pokémon battle. The wild Weedle escapes and the samurai rebukes Ash for allowing it to escape, but Ash insists that it is the samurai's fault that the Weedle escaped. The two then engage themselves in a Pokémon battle.

Ash uses his Pidgeotto and the samurai battles with his Pinsir. The two battle for some time and finally, Pinsir manages to defeat Pidgeotto. Ash then sends out his Metapod. Metapod breaks Pinsir's pincers with Harden and wins the round. The samurai then sends out his Metapod! The two Metapod continue to harden themselves, leaving Misty and Pikachu to wonder whether the match would ever finish. Suddenly, a swarm of angry Beedrill arrives and one Beedrill lifts Ash's Metapod away. The samurai takes Ash, Misty and their Pokémon to a safe place.

In the samurai's hiding place, the samurai furiously rebukes Ash for putting his Metapod in danger. Ash kept quiet and promised himself that he would find Metapod the next day and look after it from then on. During the night, he is unable to sleep and can only think about his Metapod.

The next day, the group starts their search for Metapod. They soon find it on a tree among many Kakuna. Ash joyously goes to Metapod to take him back in his team but upon seeing a look of sorrow in Metapod's eyes, Ash realizes that he has lost Metapod's trust. Ash attempts to explain what happened, saying that losing Metapod was all Samurai's fault. However, Ash suddenly realizes that he's lying to himself and to Metapod, and Ash comes to the realization that losing Metapod was all his fault and no-one else's. Ash is upset upon realizing that it was his carelessness that put his Pokémon's life in danger and tearfully apologizes to Metapod and sincerely promises to take better care of it, regaining its trust. With its faith restored, Metapod saves Ash from an attacking Beedrill, but Metapod's shell is torn by the Beedrill's needle-like arm. Ash picks up his injured Metapod and cradles it in his arms. Soon Metapod start to glow and it evolves into Butterfree. Ash gazes happily at his first fully-evolved Pokémon, and even Misty doesn't feel her normal fear of bugs, going so far as to call Ash's Butterfree beautiful.

Ash and the others are then once again attacked by the swarm of Beedrill, but this time, Ash is prepared for them. He orders his newly-evolved Butterfree to use Sleep Powder, which puts the bee-like Pokémon to sleep. They then escape from the area.

Samurai applauds Ash for being able to control his Butterfree so well and so soon after evolving. Samurai also tells Ash that he takes back the statements he made about Ash being a novice, and that, compared to Ash, Samurai is the novice.

Ash and Samurai part as friends, promising to battle again someday. Ash, Pikachu and Misty then go on and finally reach the end of the Viridian Forest. Ash runs at full speed towards Pewter City to earn his first Gym Badge, with Misty following close behind.

Major events

For a list of all major events in the anime, please see the timeline of events.


Pokémon debuts




Who's That Pokémon?: Metapod

*Unknown before The Ties that Bind.


  • This is the first episode in which Ash participates in a "fair" battle.
  • This is the first time the lines "Prepare for trouble! / And make it double!" are included in Team Rocket's motto.
  • The character Samurai is based on the Bug Catcher trainer class.
  • In this episode, Metapod's and Kakuna's evolutions are depicted as their shells cracking and their evolved forms emerging, leaving behind an empty carapace, similar to real life insects' emergence from pupation. In later episodes, however, Metapod and Kakuna are shown to evolve like any other Pokémon.
  • When Ash, Misty and Samurai are settled down for the night and Ash is shown to be awake and worrying about Metapod, "Satoshi" (Ash's Japanese name) is seen to be written on his sleeping bag.
  • Ash tries and fails to capture a Weedle; however, he would later succeed in capturing its final form only to give it away shortly thereafter.
    • In that episode Ash once again tries and fails to capture a Weedle.
  • This marks the first time that Ash has two Flying-types in his party at once.
  • This episode is banned in South Korea.


  • When Ash sets out the next morning to look for Metapod, Meowth kicks Ash in the head and scratches him. After he starts crying, Jessie and James are shown on top of the cliff above him. Ash runs off after they recited their motto, during this time Meowth was still next to him. When the camera cuts to Jessie and James jumping off the cliff and running after them, Meowth is shown jumping off with them.
  • In one scene, when Ash is arguing with Samurai, his gloves disappear.
  • Samurai's Pinsir used Tackle in this episode, a move it is normally incapable of learning.
  • During the Metapod vs. Metapod battle, each side used Harden in a futile attempt to defeat the other. However, Ash's Metapod should technically know Tackle as well, since it evolved from a Caterpie. (It does, in fact, use this move later to protect Ash from a Beedrill's Twineedle attack.)

Dub edits

  • Ash getting in a cow costume and suggesting that a bug is a "cowterpie" makes more sense in the Japanese pun: Misty says "Mushi! Mushi! Mushi! ...Mushi!" which means "Bug! Bug! Bug! ...Bug!". Ash then says "Ushi?", meaning "Cow?".
  • The word "Mika" on Jessie's Kakuna disguise is painted out in the dub.
  • Some of the characters improperly refer to Pokémon in plural form with an "s". For example, Misty refers to the Beedrill as "Beedrills".

In other languages

EP003 : Ash Catches a Pokémon
Original series
EP005 : Showdown in Pewter City
Project Anime logo.png This episode article is part of Project Anime, a Bulbapedia project that covers all aspects of the Pokémon anime.