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| The Flame Pokémon-athon!
The Great Fire Pokémon Race!
|| November 11, 1997
| United States
|| October 21, 1998
|| Team Ota
|| 冨岡淳広 Atsuhiro Tomioka
|| 浅田裕二 Yūji Asada
| Assistant director
|| 浅田裕二 Yūji Asada
| Animation director
|| 玉川明洋 Akihiro Tamagawa
| Additional credits
The Flame Pokémon-athon! (Japanese: ほのおのポケモンだいレース！ The Great Fire Pokémon Race!) is the 33rd episode of the Pokémon anime. It was first broadcast in Japan on November 11, 1997 and in the United States on October 21, 1998.
Our heroes come to a prairie where the Laramies, a family of Pokémon Ranchers live. They learn from a daughter of the Laramie family that a race is held at the ranch once a year to measure the growth of everyone's Pokémon. Team Rocket, however, attacks her, the race's top contender. Injured, the daughter of the Laramie family decides to give up on the race, but entrusts her hopes of victory to Ash. Who will be the winner in a race between Ash, Brock, Misty, and Team Rocket?
Ash and his friends arrive in Safari Land, near the Safari Zone, where they come across a Tauros ranch. Wanting to catch one, believing they are now in the Safari Zone, Ash tries to have Pikachu face down the stampede, but Pikachu refuses because he is massively outnumbered. When Ash sends out Charmander, it is immediately pinned by a Growlithe. After a brief trade of Flamethrowers by the two Fire-type Pokémon, Ash and friends are introduced to Lara Laramie, of the Laramie Big P Ranch, who a ranch that preserves and raises wild Pokémon. Brock immediately recognizes the name, as it is said that Pokémon bred by the Laramie clan are of superior standard. After Ash realizes that they are not in the Safari Zone, Lara invites them to the Big P Pokémon Race that will be held the next day. Lara intends to race with her Ponyta, a Pokémon whose mane will burn anyone it does not trust. When Ash tries to touch Ponyta, his hand is burned, and he has Squirtle put out the flames. Lara's main opposition is Dario, a Dodrio Trainer. Lara explains that the winning team of Pokémon and Trainer will be named as an honorary member of the Laramie clan.
At the festival in Laramie Village, while many are cheering Lara on, Dario arrives to tell Lara that her Tauros have suddenly begun attacking each other over a bout of confusion. After they arrive on the scene, Lara tells Growlithe to tame the Tauros, but during all this Ponyta is spooked, causing Lara to be thrown off, injuring her arm. As Ash tries to rein in Ponyta, it is revealed that Team Rocket spooked the Tauros that led to Lara's incapacitated state, at the request of Dario. Dario intends to win the competition by any means necessary, while Team Rocket seeks to make money from the Laramie fortune.
Back at the Laramie household, with her injured arm, Lara would not be able to ride Ponyta, but after seeing Ash try to rein in Ponyta, she tries to convince Ash to take her place. At first, Ponyta is reluctant and burns Ash again, but Lara insists that both stand to gain from winning, with Ash improving his Trainer skills and Ponyta from its upbringing. Ash and Ponyta use the entire night to prepare for the race.
At the race, many pairs have entered the race, among them Dario and Dodrio, Ash and Ponyta, Brock and Onix, Misty and Starmie, as well as the all-Pokémon team of Pikachu and Squirtle representing Ash's entry. When the race starts, Dario and Dodrio quickly take the lead, while Pikachu and Squirtle quickly fall to the back of the pack , though they do eventually catch up. At the same time, Team Rocket make two well-aimed slingshots that spook a Tauros, and he runs into a Nidorina, and they take their frustrations out on each other. After a sprint comes a steep uphill portion, where Pikachu is forced to push Squirtle up the hill, putting them far behind once again. Then, the racers come upon a downhill section where another violent accident occurs: an Electrode and its Trainer roll down the hill uncontrollably, and a pitfall trap dug up by Team Rocket manages to take it out. This gives Dario a significant lead, while Electrode's Explosion attack manages to incapacitate a Sandslash, Raticate, but most importantly Ash and Ponyta. Ash and Ponyta, however, are able to continue, thanks to Pikachu's Thunder Shock and the fact that the other two Pokémon were still lagging far behind.
Farther up ahead is a stepping-stone portion, which Dario and Dodrio cross with ease. However, another two chasers are forced out of the competition, with Brock's Onix being fearful of water and a farmhand with his Rhyhorn attempting to cross a stone that sank. This leaves only four teams still racing. While Ash and Ponyta navigate the stones, Starmie and Squirtle swim across the water easily. At the next portion, teams must make a stop and allow their Pokémon to eat an entire plate of Pokémon food before sprinting to the finish. Dario and Dodrio are the first to arrive, but the other racers catch up whilst Dodrio's three heads fight over who gets to eat first.
Desperate to eliminate the other three teams, Dario is forced to use Team Rocket's assistance once more; from which Ash and Misty learn of Dario's alliance with Team Rocket. Ash tells Pikachu and Squirtle, who had both been scarfing down Pokémon food during Team Rocket's motto, to take care of Team Rocket, but Arbok's Glare paralyzes them, while Starmie is blinded by Weezing's Sludge. This allows Dario enough time to take off towards the finish. Misty decides to handle Team Rocket and implores Ash and Ponyta to keep going. Team Rocket causes Ponyta to literally get fired up, shocking Arbok. Weezing tries to attack Ponyta despite James telling it not to use gas, but Ponyta's flames ignite Weezing's Smog, and it explodes, sending Team Rocket flying.
Now desperate to make up ground, Ash and Ponyta race towards the finish line. When Ash and Ponyta catch up, Dario then orders one of Dodrio's heads to Peck Ponyta, slowing it down. Dario then speeds off, taking the lead, Everyone is then startled when Ponyta evolves through sheer will to win into the much-faster Rapidash. Ash and Rapidash catch up to Dario and by a nostril manage to overtake him to claim the victory in a photo finish. Believing that he had been cheated, Dario orders Dodrio to attack Rapidash, but is sent flying by a kick from its powerful hooves. Lara proudly holds the winner's flag and Rapidash nuzzles Ash.
As the festivities wrap up, Ash and his friends bid farewell to the Laramie Ranch, and continue on their way to the Safari Zone. Meanwhile, Dario, who blames Team Rocket for his loss, has tied them to a tree to scold them. His Dodrio delivers its own revenge, pecking the trio mercilessly after Meowth insults it.
- For a list of all major events in the anime, please see the timeline of events.
Who's That Pokémon?: Ponyta
Squirtle's missing belly lines
- Despite Ponyta's height being 3'03" (probably measured like regular horses are, at the shoulder) in the games, the one featured in this episode appears much taller. This was likely done to make it appear large enough to be ridden by a person.
- The Laramie family's name may be a reference to Fort Laramie. The name is unchanged from the Japanese version of the episode.
- It is shown that Ponyta can control their flames and will only burn riders they do not trust.
- Pokémon Ondo is heard as background music in this episode during the festival scene, also in the dub.
- The race's rules state that a Pokémon must be used to compete. While not exactly the same, this ruling is similar to the bike race featured in the Pokémon Adventures chapter, Wake Up—You're Snorlax!, in which Pokémon can also be used.
- This episode is featured on the Volume 2: Fire copy of Pokémon Elements.
- When Team Rocket talk to Dario, dollar ($), cifrão, and Japanese yen (¥) signs appear behind James instead of the Pokémon Dollar () signs used in the localized games.
- At the end of the episode, Meowth cries out, "James! Stop this crazy thing!" This is a reference to the American cartoon The Jetsons, where George Jetson screams "Jane! Stop this crazy thing!" during the opening credits.
- At the beginning and the end of the episode, the narrator states that the group is in the Safari Zone. However, they are on the Laramie Ranch, part of the Pokémon Reserve. This is probably because the actual Safari Zone episode, EP035, was skipped in the dub.
- A Trainer is shown in the starting line riding a Nidorino, but after Tauros is hit by Team Rocket with a slingshot, the same Trainer appears riding a Nidorina before being hit by the Tauros.
- After Electrode explodes in the English dub, Squirtle says "Zeni Zeni!" as it runs up to Ash with Pikachu, a line that went mistakenly undubbed. Also, right before Weezing uses its Smog attack on Ponyta, its Japanese voice can be heard.
- When Misty tells Ash to continue on with the race, the lines on Squirtle's stomach are missing.
- As Ponyta begins to evolve, Ash begins glowing as well and isn't visible until the Pokémon finishes evolving into Rapidash.
- The finish line's banner reads "GOOL", likely a misspelling of "GOAL".
- After Lara calls Ash a great Pokémon Trainer, he has no shoes while the camera zooms out.
- As Ash is eating the chocolate fish, the "z's" on his cheeks disappear one frame to the next.
- When Ponyta stops for Pokémon food, Ash's hat is uncolored for a few frames.
- PokéRap: Day 3
- Dario calls Team Rocket by their names in the English dub while he calls them sensei in the Japanese version.
- The scene in which Lara breaks her arm is longer in the Japanese version. When she falls off of Ponyta and her arm hits the ground, the impact animation lasts for 1 second, or 30 frames. That impact animation in the English dub lasts for 1/10 of a second, or 3 frames.
- On a related note, Lara's arm was only said to be hurt in the Japanese version, not necessarily broken.
- This is actually not a dub edit, but caused by the fact that the version used for the dub came from pre-EP038 source material. However the rest of the episode was from post-EP038 source material.
- In the Japanese version, Lara never states that she is related to the Laramie family.
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