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The School of Hard Knocks
Pokémon Victory Manual
First broadcast
Japan May 27, 1997
United States September 18, 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 首藤剛志 Takeshi Shudō
Storyboard 浅田裕二 Yūji Asada
Assistant director 浅田裕二 Yūji Asada
Animation director 玉川明洋 Akihiro Tamagawa
No additional credits are available at this time.

The School of Hard Knocks (Japanese: ポケモンひっしょうマニュアル Pokémon Victory Manual) is the ninth episode of the Pokémon anime. It was first broadcast in Japan on May 27, 1997 and in USA on September 18, 1998.

Ash and his friends stumble upon a school made for Pokémon trainers who would rather study than collect badges.

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


Misty and Ash are fighting about her broken bike again. In an effort to get them to cool off, Brock pulls a table and chairs out of his backpack, with all the necessities to set it for a nice afternoon cup of tea. Brock sends Ash to collect firewood to make tea and crepes.

As Ash and Pikachu wander around the forest, they encounter a group of boys in suits. One of them is running on a treadmill, while the rest gathered around quiz him about various Pokémon. He misses a question and is rejected by the other boys. Ash jumps in to defend him. The boys reveal that they are students of Pokémon Technical Institute, a boarding school which educates Pokémon trainers. They leave, stating they don't want to fight. As Brock reads from the school's brochure, Pikachu starts the treadmill and tries to keep up. The school trains its students without sending them to collect badges, and guarantees entry into the Pokémon League upon graduation. Brock leans on the treadmill, speeding it up, and sending Pikachu flying. The school is expensive, and therefore populated with rich kids.

The student who was being bullied, Joe, defends his "friends," who were trying to help him, he says. He says he sometimes pretends to know less than he really does because the questions get so much harder. Ash is very upset at this brutal "tutoring" system, and demands to meet the student in charge, with plans to stop it. The head student of the beginner class is a girl; Brock and Ash drool over her photo, which makes Misty even angrier.

Team Rocket reveals they both flunked out of Pokémon Tech. Being led there by Ash has brought back some bad memories for Jessie and James, but Meowth cheers them up.

Joe leads them to the head student Giselle's study area. He says it's overall skill as a trainer, not any one battle, that determines success at Pokémon Tech. He says even though he's the weakest student in his class, he's still better than someone with two badges. Misty takes offense, and Joe says he's familiar with her gym; he usually beats her preferred water Pokémon on the simulator. Misty demands a real battle, and Joe tells her, "You'll be sorry."

Misty calls her Starmie, while Joe calls a Weepinbell, a grass-type Pokémon which will have an advantage over Misty's water-type. Nevertheless, Starmie beats the Weepinbell. Giselle walks in and chastises Joe for not realizing that Starmie's real battle experience would give it an advantage. She calls him an embarrassment to the school. Brock and Ash swoon over the very pretty Giselle. Even James, looking on with Jessie from a tree outside, is taken with her. Giselle continues to upbraid Joe, and threatens to withdraw the help of the other students.

Misty challenges her, saying that a true friend wouldn't walk away from a friend in need of help, and that Giselle's beauty is only skin deep. Giselle accuses Misty of being jealous. Giselle summons a Graveler to challenge Misty's Starmie. Although rock Pokémon are weak against water Pokémon, Giselle says hers are so advanced they can win. The Graveler smashes into the Starmie, tossing it through a window and out into the pool.

Giselle says that a Pokémon is only as good as its trainer. A weak Pokémon can still win if it's better trained. Ash jumps in, saying there's more to training Pokémon than levels. He says he has two badges, and Giselle says he's still a beginner. When he reveals that he's been on his quest for 2 months, she is shocked that he has not yet trained his Pikachu into a Poké ball, and snidely remarks, "Maybe your Pokémon are training you!"

Ash says his three Pokémon are his friends. Giselle is surprised that he has only three; most beginners have six. She attributes his two badges to luck. She is surprised he chose Pikachu as his starting Pokémon, as they are known to be hard to handle. She is amazed at Ash having two badges, given how little he knows, and laughs at him. Pikachu is angry, too, and Ash demands a battle. Giselle summons Cubone. Ash calls for a shock attack, but Cubone deflects it, to his dismay. Giselle calls for a Leer attack, but Pikachu responds by making funny faces at Cubone. The two Pokémon get into a close-range staring contest, until Giselle calls for a Bone Club attack; the bonk on the head staggers Pikachu. She then calls for a Bonemerang, which knocks Pikachu out cold. He comes to, and the next time the Bonemerang is launched, Pikachu jumps over it, and twists the skull backwards on Cubone's head, so he can no longer see. Pikachu pummels the Cubone, then ducks away as the Bonemerang comes back to take out its master. Giselle is amazed that Pikachu has won without using electricity. She is stunned that she has lost.

Team Rocket takes advantage of everyone's distraction to appear with their motto. The Tech students, recognizing them as bad guys who flunked out, attack Team Rocket en masse, causing them to flee.

Joe decides to leave Pokémon Tech and return home to start over like Ash did. Joe asks if he can keep her picture; she says she has one of him, because they are now friends. Perhaps one day they'll meet in the Pokémon League.

Ash wants to know why he and Misty aren't friends like that; she says it's because Joe doesn't owe Giselle a bike!

Major events

  • Jessie and James relate how they flunked out of Pokémon Tech in the past.





Who's That Pokémon?: Cubone


  • This episode is the only time in which Brock falls for a girl that's younger than himself and Ash falls for a girl at all.
  • This is the one of the few episodes where Rachael Lillis provided the voice of Pikachu.


Dub edits

  • Right before the title screen appears, Misty hits Brock in the head with a log. This was cut from the dub.
  • This episode contains many paint edits:
    • When talking about tea, Brock pulls out a wooden cup that says "Rizaadon Haku Richuu". In the dub, it is a can with pictograms. Ash is later seen drinking from the cup unedited.
    • Similar to the above edit, Brock's bottle of "Mt. Moon Spring Water" had a picture of a mountain painted over the Japanese text.
    • Misty's note about the Pokémon Seminar was originally full of Japanese text. In the dub, it has a black-and-white picture of the school at the top of the paper and some blurred-out text on the bottom.
    • Joe's picture of Giselle had a note from her in the upper-right hand corner. This was erased in the dub.
    • The sign at the top of the door after the commercial break says "Training Room". The dub replaces the text with five Poké Balls which light up.
    • In the Japanese version, the simulation states the move used on the lower-left hand corner. (In this case, Razor Leaf.) The dub adds another health bar over it.
    • However, the kanji on one student's book is left unedited.

In other languages

  • French: L'école crève-coeur
  • Portuguese (Brazil): A Escola dos Golpes Duros
  • Spanish: La Escuela Difícil

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