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| The Ultimate Test
Pokémon Certification Test!?
|| July 30, 1998
| United States
|| April 24, 1999
|| Team Ota
|| 冨岡淳広 Atsuhiro Tomioka
|| 井上修 Osamu Inoue
| Assistant director
|| 井上修 Osamu Inoue
| Animation director
|| 平岡正幸 Masayuki Hiraoka
| Additional credits
The Ultimate Test (Japanese: ポケモンけんていしけん！？ Pokémon Certification Test!?) is the 56th episode of the Pokémon anime. It first aired in Japan on July 30, 1998 and in the United States on April 24, 1999.
Ash signs up to take an exam to be admitted to the Pokémon League. But judging by his awful score on the multiple-choice quiz, it may be a trivial pursuit. He enters the battling portion of the test hoping to raise his score. Also taking the test are Jessie and James, disguised as nerdy students. But the dastardly duo won't stand for doing anything the honest way, and they each get expelled from the test. Ash battles the instructor with a set of three Pokémon randomly assigned for the test. They turn out to be an Arbok, a Weezing, and a Meowth. What were the chances? Ash knows the Poison-type Pokémon's attacks pretty well from being on the receiving end of them so often. He fights a good match, but loses in the end. Just then, Team Rocket bursts in with the Pokémon James was given for the test. These powerful Pokémon will help Team Rocket nab all the Pokémon at the testing facility—or so it thinks. The Pokémon are obedient to the instructor who trained them, and they turn on Team Rocket. With a little help from Ash, Team Rocket is sent blasting off again. The testing instructor offers to let Ash take the test again—he's sure Ash can pass this time—but Ash would rather enter the League his own way, by traveling, collecting badges, and seeing all the world of Pokémon has to offer.
As Ash, Misty, Brock, Todd, Pikachu, and Togepi are enjoying a nice lunch, Misty points out that Ash has not won a Gym Badge in a while. Ash claims he wins all of his battles with skill, and then challenges Misty to one. Todd steps in and tells Ash that he should take the Pokémon League Admissions Exam.
The group arrives at the Pokémon League Admissions Center, so Ash signs up and gets the testing number 7. Nearby, Jessie, disguised as a schoolgirl, complains that she didn't get number 7, causing Ash to briefly suspect her. Then, Nurse Joy enters and Brock follows her. Ash is then told by the head instructor to leave all his Poké Balls at the counter, as well as temporarily leave Pikachu in Misty's care. Shortly, Nurse Joy tells Ash, Misty and Brock that she signed up for the exam because it was a convenient way for her to become a Pokémon Master.
Soon after, James walks in, disguised as a schoolboy with glasses, but quickly heads for the counter once Ash sees him. When the head instructor reads James's registration form and calls out his name, James tells him to keep quiet. Unfortunately, Jessie hears this, takes James outside, and asks what he is doing there. James confidently says that he too wants to become a Pokémon Master, then asks Jessie what she is doing here. Jessie explains that she wants to add another talent to her collection, just as Meowth shows up and scratches both their faces. James quickly throws Meowth a ball of yarn, then runs off with Jessie back inside for the exam.
The first exam tests a person's knowledge of Pokémon, where they answer true or false questions. Ash does his best to answer each of the questions correctly. At the Magikarp question, James is reminded of the time he had a Magikarp, causing him to briefly shake in anger. He then notices Jessie giving each question a "true" answer, hoping that she gets half of them right.
The second exam tests a person's ability to recognize Pokémon. The Pokémon to recognize on the screen looks like a ball; Ash thinks it is a Voltorb, James thinks it is a Poké Ball, and Jessie thinks it is an Electrode. The head instructor that it is a Jigglypuff seen from above. The next Pokémon to recognize looks like a swirl; Ash guesses it is a Poliwhirl, James believes it is an Omanyte, and Jessie guesses it is an Arbok when it was all coiled up. However, the correct answer is a Poliwag. The next Pokémon for the students to guess has a fiery tail, and Ash guesses it is a Charmander, but the right answer was Ponyta. A furious Jessie demands that she be asked easier questions, and the head instructor expels her. Once outside, Jessie wakes up Meowth and says that they are going to get revenge.
When the scoreboard comes down, Ash realizes his score is one of the lowest. Meanwhile, James stands alone in a corner, vowing that he will try extra hard for Jessie.
The third exam involves Pokémon battles, as Nurse Joy uses a Squirtle against a fellow instructor's Charmander. Next, the head instructor tells Ash and James that they each have to select a belt of three Poké Balls, even though they don't know what Pokémon are inside them. They choose their belts, and James is up first against the head instructor. The first Pokémon James sends out is a Pikachu, much to his delight. James believes that he cannot lose with Pikachu and claims that he has been destroyed by Pikachu's attacks so many times that he knew them all by heart. The head instructor then sends out a Graveler. James immediately commands Pikachu to use Thunderbolt, but the attack doesn't work on Graveler. Then, Graveler sends Pikachu flying with a Tackle. Angry at this, James then sends out an Ivysaur and a Charizard at the same time. Unfortunately, the head instructor expels James for bringing out two Pokémon at once.
It is Ash's turn to face the head instructor, who sends out a Flareon. Ash pulls out his first Poké Ball, which reveals a Weezing, much to Ash's shock and displeasure. The instructor has Flareon use Flamethrower, which Weezing proceeds to dodge. Coming up with an idea, Ash tells Weezing to counter with Smog, which explodes upon being hit by the Flamethrower, throwing Flareon backwards. Flareon then uses Leer, but Ash has Weezing use Smokescreen to hide, then follow up with a Tackle, knocking Flareon out. As Misty comments on Ash being good at battling after all, Brock comments that even Team Rocket could win if they battled like that. Meanwhile, Team Rocket is taking notes of Ash's fighting strategy. Next, the head instructor sends out a Jolteon, and Ash sends out an Arbok. Jolteon uses Agility, but Arbok stops it with Glare. Then, Arbok uses Wrap but gets hurt by Jolteon's spikes. At this point, while Arbok is wincing in pain, Jolteon shakes off the Glare attack and finishes it off with Thunder.
For the final round, Ash opens his last Poké Ball to reveal a Meowth, while the head instructor sends out a Vaporeon. Meowth tries to use Fury Swipes, but gets frozen in its tracks when Vaporeon uses Ice Beam, giving the victory to the head instructor. Team Rocket's Meowth scratches Ash's face and frees his fellow Meowth. The head instructor is impressed by the talking Meowth, so he goes to capture him. However, Team Rocket returns with James's Pikachu, Ivysaur, and Charizard. When the head instructor demands that they return those Pokémon immediately, Jessie and James say their motto and remove their disguises. Then, Team Rocket orders Ivysaur to use Vine Whip, Charizard to use Flamethrower, and Pikachu to use Thunder. Before the Pokémon attack, the head instructor quickly orders them to turn around, causing Pikachu, Ivysaur, and Charizard to attack Team Rocket. Ash realizes that those Pokémon listened to the head instructor because he raised them. Then, Ash orders his Meowth, Weezing, and Arbok to also stop Team Rocket. Weezing uses Explosion, sending Team Rocket blasting off again.
Back inside the building, the head instructor tells the whole class that due to Team Rocket's interference, they have to do the entire exam all over again. The head instructor then offers Ash another chance to pass the test, but Ash refuses, saying that he was better off winning Gym Badges from Gym Leaders. A short time later, Ash, Misty, and Brock say goodbye to the head instructor and Nurse Joy before heading off for Cinnabar Island. Todd comes up to Nurse Joy with one of the two Meowth that got hurt in the Explosion. The Meowth then talks, revealing that it is Team Rocket's Meowth, and jumps out of the exam instructor's hands to go after Jessie and James. Meanwhile, as Jessie and James vow revenge on Ash and his friends, they quickly discover that they ended up with the wrong Meowth.
- For a list of all major events in the anime, please see the timeline of events.
Who's That Pokémon?: Vulpix (U.S. and international), Jigglypuff (seen from above) (Japan)
- The Pokémon Ash uses in the exam are the same species as those that Team Rocket uses to battle him on an everyday basis: Arbok, Weezing, and Meowth. James does almost the same, in reverse: he gets a Pikachu, Ivysaur, and Charizard to use; it would have been an exact correlation had Ash's Bulbasaur not refused to evolve five episodes prior.
- James receives a team similar to the one that Pokémon Trainer has in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, except with a Pikachu instead of a Squirtle.
- This episode was parodied a few times in the US commercial for Pokémon that is aired on Kids WB!.
- The theory test of this episode seems to be a reference to the questionnaire on the games' Cinnabar Gym, which the player can use to bypass the Trainer battles up to Blaine, the Gym Leader. In the anime, Blaine just happens to be the Gym Leader who Ash is supposed to challenge next. However, unlike in the games, passing the tests results in instant qualification to the Pokémon League, bypassing the requirement of eight Gym Badges to enter.
- Jessie and James's exam numbers (634 and 546, respectively) are hidden references to their Japanese names. Using a type of Japanese wordplay called Goroawase, the individual numbers can be read as "mu-sa-shi" (Musashi) and "ko-ji-ro" (Kojiro), respectively.
- When Ash hands over his Poké Balls to the Pokémon League entrance exam instructor, there are five. When the instructor closes his hand, there are six.
- When James hands over the exam form, he doesn't have a number pin. When he turns to look at Jessie in the next shot, however, he is shown wearing a number pin.
- When Meowth scratches both Jessie and James, there are four lines of light. However, Jessie and James's faces have only three marks.
- In the English dub, the instructor shows an image of a Poliwrath and Poliwag but calls them Poliwhirl and Poliwag.
- The instructor says Electric-type moves do not work on Rock Pokémon, in reference to Pikachu's Thunderbolt failing to affect his Graveler. In reality, Electric-type moves don't work on Ground types, which Graveler is also, but have normal effectiveness on Rock types.
- In one scene where the gang talks to Nurse Joy and Todd takes pictures of Pokémon, there is a Trainer with a green-colored Weedle. Coincidentally, Weedle is green when Shiny in Gold and Silver, albeit a different shade.
- The computer's image of a Caterpie leaves a section of its body colored the purple on the screen.
- When Ash cheers for his victory over Jolteon with his Weezing, the number seven on his jacket disappears in one frame.
- When Ash is returning Arbok to its Poké Ball, the number seven seen on his jacket has vanished.
- After Ash answers the tail flame question, and the view reverts to the big screen, the picture on the screen shows a flame from Ponyta's mane, not tail, but before Ash is answering, it shows the correct flame.
- In the last scene, the Meowth that does not talk has scratching sounds similar to that of wiping a window.
- In the Polish dub, Misty asks Ash why she hasn't gotten any Badges in a while instead of Ash.
- Kanto Pokérap: Day 1 (Version 2)
- The excuses Jessie and James gave Meowth to go take the test were different:
- Jessie in the Japanese version was going to attend a relative's wedding, while in the dub, it was a visit to an uncle's deathbed;
- James in the Japanese version was going to attend a relative's funeral, while in the dub, it was a dentist appointment.
- Similarly, Jessie's resume listing that acted as her motive for taking the test was also different:
- In the Japanese version, she had tea-maker, flower arranger, kimono fitter, Sommelier, beautician, and shoe fitter;
- In the dub, she had hostess, florist, costume designer, beautician, and style consultant;
- Two of the slides were different in the original Japanese version. The question of Vulpix evolving into Ninetales via use of the Fire Stone was concocted by the 4Kids staff. The original question was whether the saying, "a Ninetales live for 1,000 years, a Wartortle live for 10,000 years" is correct or not. The Poliwag slide with Poliwrath on it originally had the correct Pokémon (Poliwhirl) next to Poliwag.
- Test 1: Second question
- Test 2: Poliwag slide
- When going over the results scores, the dub has Misty stating what occupations each column represents, while she was originally silent during this time. This was presumably to compensate for removing the headers during localization.
- Brock's photo request in the Japanese version specifically noted that it was a good time to photograph Nurse Joy due to her sweating.
- The Japanese version has Ash and his friends learning he prefers battling to taking tests, something that's not directly indicated in the dub.
- In the Japanese version, Todd mentions he had been blasted off alongside Team Rocket from Ash's Weezing's Explosion when bringing Team Rocket's Meowth to the instructor, thus explaining why he was covered with dirt and why he was separated from Ash and his friends. This was omitted from the dub.
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