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EP007 : The Water Flowers of Cerulean City
Original series
EP009 : The School of Hard Knocks
The Path to the Pokémon League
The Road to the Pokémon League
First broadcast
Japan May 20, 1997
United States September 17, 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 冨岡淳広 Atsuhiro Tomioka
Storyboard 鈴木敏明 Toshiaki Suzuki
Assistant director 鈴木敏明 Toshiaki Suzuki
Animation director 志村隆行 Takayuki Shimura
Additional credits

The Path to the Pokémon League (Japanese: ポケモンリーグへのみち The Road to the Pokémon League) is the eighth episode of the Pokémon anime. It was first broadcast in Japan on May 20, 1997 and in USA on September 17, 1998.

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


Ash, Misty, and Brock are on their way to Vermilion City. Misty wants to see the luxury cruise ship docked there, and Ash plans to win his third Badge.

Ash's Pidgeotto defeats a Rattata, making Ash's 10th victory. The Trainer admires Ash's two Badges, leading Misty to muse that giving Ash the Badge may have been a mistake. The Trainer points Ash to A.J.'s unofficial Gym, where A.J. trains "savage Pokémon." A.J. has "never lost a single match," a challenge Ash cannot resist. Misty comments that he is getting a big head. Brock replies and says that his brain is still the same size. Pikachu nods his agreement.

The sign outside A.J.'s Gym indicates that he has a record of 98 wins to 0 losses, but that his Gym is not licensed by the Pokémon League. As Misty twits Ash over his swelled head, A.J. walks up and challenges Ash to a battle. A.J. snaps a whip, making Ash jump. He says that he plans to start competing for Badges after his 100th win. Ash smugly tells him that he has 10 wins and two Gym Badges, at which point his nose begins to grow, a Japanese sign for arrogance (this is a reference to a Japanese legend that arrogant people become long-nosed demons called Yamabushi Tengu after death). A.J. insults the Gyms, calling them "Failure City" and "Wimpsville," angering Misty and Brock.

A.J. summons his Sandshrew. Misty reminds Ash that Pikachu's electricity is useless against a Ground Pokémon, but Ash nastily rejects her advice. He summons Pidgeotto. Brock notes that a Flying Pokémon should have the advantage. However, Sandshrew rolls itself into a ball like an armadillo and hurls itself into the air, striking and eliminating Pidgeotto.

Ash calls out Butterfree. Ash orders a Stun Spore attack, but A.J. cracks his whip and Sandshrew digs underground, avoiding it. It bursts out of the ground, eliminating Butterfree.

Ash wants Pikachu to fight, but Pikachu grabs hold of the edge of the playing field and refuses to go. Pikachu ThunderShocks Ash to make him let go.

Team Rocket is spying on the match from a tree nearby. They decide they wanted to steal A.J.'s Sandshrew, then spend a moment critiquing his wardrobe. James clobbers Meowth when the Pokémon criticizes his style.

Ash accuses A.J. of cheating, as he obviously would have won in a fair fight. He demands that they have a rematch at another location, but A.J. tells him to quit whining.

Ash overhears A.J. training his Pokémon, yelling angrily and cracking his whip. Ash intervenes to stop A.J. from hurting the Pokémon, but A.J. tells him to mind his own business. His Sandshrew is wearing a "strength intensifier" invented by A.J. himself. It enables the Sandshrew to withstand the weakening effects of the water. A.J. says he's tougher on Sandshrew than his other Pokémon because it was his very first.

Ash asserts that a great Pokémon Trainer should make friends with his Pokémon. He asked Brock's input, who only wants to know what kind of food A.J. is using. A.J., like Brock, mixes his own food to a secret recipe. Pikachu attempts to pick up one of Sandshrew's dumbbells, but falls backward under the weight, while Sandshrew does rapid alternating curls.

Team Rocket is crouched behind A.J.'s tent, checking the equipment for their latest plan to catch Pikachu. They argue over rewriting their motto.

A.J.'s Pokémon are all exhausted. A.J. insults Pikachu, and Ash takes a swing at him, dumping them both into the pool. Pikachu tries on the strength intensifier, but it fits badly and pulls him into a ball. Sandshrew giggles at Pikachu and rolls itself into a ball as well.

Team Rocket rolls into the tent inside a rubber ball, but they grab Sandshrew by mistake. A.J. ends the rest break and realizes that Sandshrew is missing. He releases Pikachu from the harness, but Pikachu doesn't know where Sandshrew is, either. Ash suggests that he ran away, because he saw how much better Ash treated Pikachu. A.J. flips out, insisting Sandshrew would not have ran away after all they'd been through together. He sends his other Pokémon (three Rattata, a Butterfree and a Beedrill) to look for Sandshrew.

James and Jessie argue over who had to carry the bag, when Sandshrew bursts out, surprising them. Meowth grabs Sandshrew's tail in his teeth as he starts to dig.

Ash tries to convince A.J.'s Pokémon to leave with him, but they ignore him. Suddenly, Sandshrew bursts from the ground with a dazed Meowth still biting its tail. Watching A.J. and his Pokémon, Brock points out how deeply A.J. cares for them; this explains their loyalty to A.J. despite his tough training methods.

Ash wakes Meowth and gets a claw swiped across his face. Meowth realizes he is facing a lot of angry Pokémon and their Trainers. He is trying to figure a way out of the situation when James and Jessie began their standard litany. Jessie tells A.J. that taking his Sandshrew was a mistake; James calls it "second-rate," earning A.J's ire. He challenges them to a battle. As usual, Jessie summons her Ekans and James uses his Koffing. Sandshrew takes them both out, then takes out Meowth while the cat Pokémon tries to bite his armored skin. Team Rocket's three Pokémon concede when Sandshrew uses a Fissure attack.

As this is A.J.'s 100th win, he and his Pokémon now leave to begin earning Badges. Like Ash, he too wants to be "the world's greatest Pokémon Master." They part as rivals, agreeing to meet in the future at one of the League competitions.

Major events

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



Dare da?


Who's That Pokémon?

Who's That Pokémon?: Sandshrew


  • This is the first "filler" episode in the series.
  • This episode is the last in which Ted Lewis voices James, as well as Eric Stuart's first episode voicing James. He takes over the role when James summons Koffing in battle.
  • This is the first episode not explicitly set within a location from the games.
  • The English version of this episode is one of the few times a real animal is mentioned. Misty claims that A.J. controls Sandshrew with the crack of his whip just like a lion tamer. In the Japanese version, she simply remarks that it is amazing A.J. can control Sandshrew with the crack of his whip.
  • Early in the episode Team Rocket expresses an interest in Sandshrew. However later on they say they take no interest in A.J.'s "second rate" Sandshrew.
  • The "Strength Intensifier" appears to work similarly to the Macho Brace introduced in later generations.
  • This episode is the first one to feature a one-hit knockout move.


  • When Ash knocks out the young Trainer's Rattata at the start of the episode. In dismay, the Trainer calls its name out in concern, but accidentally calls it "Rattatak", its prototype name in Red and Green.
  • Sandshrew hits Butterfree with Dig, despite the fact that Butterfree, as a Flying-type is immune to a Ground-type move such as Dig.
  • In this episode, A.J.'s Sandshrew used Defense Curl. However, in the games Sandshrew couldn't learn Defense Curl until Generation II.

Dub edits

  • The sign over the Gym is heavily edited:
    • The text is translated.
    • The background changes from plain white to a gray that fades into white.
    • The numbers are made into a dot-matrix format. In the original, they were in a 7-segment LED format.
    • The number of losses (0) is added.
  • A sign inside the tent saying "Fight! Work Harder!" is changed to a picture of a Poké Ball being hit with a whip.
  • The scene where Pikachu's holding a pillow is different between the two versions, mostly due to the fact that it's an untranslatable pun. The original version had Ash telling A.J. that Sandshrew (known as Sand in the Japanese version) is not a sandbag, Pikachu mistook sandbag for pillow since zabuton (pillow) and the Japanese word for sandbag sound similar. Ash then shouts at Pikachu for not taking him seriously. In the dubbed version, however, it was rewritten to have Ash mishear A.J. thinking he said pacing, not passing, and thus get stammered with Pikachu's pillow.
  • Team Rocket experiment with a different motto:
    • Japanese:
      • Jessie: "We are the pretty thieves..."
      • James: "Target: Pikachu!"
    • Dub:
      • Jessie: "Team Rocket will do what it has to do..."
      • James: "To snatch that little Pikachu!"
  • At the end, a five second panning of the battle field is cut by three seconds and replaced by a three-second clip from earlier in the episode.

In other languages

EP007 : The Water Flowers of Cerulean City
Original series
EP009 : The School of Hard Knocks
Project Anime logo.png This episode article is part of Project Anime, a Bulbapedia project that covers all aspects of the Pokémon anime.