It’s time for another Pokemon story. This one was pretty ironic right from the start. Remember how in the last book Tracy joined up since Brock left and they were about to have some fun adventures? Well, since this is a few volumes later, it starts off with the aftermath of Tracy leaving and Brock suddenly returning. It’s all pretty surreal and would have been really funny if these volumes were actually back to back. It just ended up being pretty funny because of the circumstances.
Ash and friends are trying to have a good time when they see a bully picking on a girl whose balloon was shot down. It turns out that Team Rocket are the ones who actually sabotaged her, but it matters not at the moment. Ash challenges the bully, but gets steamrolled by his impressive Fearow. Ash’s friends quickly insult him for this and Ash almost cries so they decide to take revenge by entering the balloon challenge and helping the girl overcome the bully. It’ll be tough, but Ash knows that he can pull through in the end.
The whole book is basically the race. It’s a pretty short chapter book like the others so you’ll be able to read through it right away. Because of this, the book wastes no time in getting straight to the action. The actual race is pretty rigged though and I feel bad for most of the contestants because they just go down so easily. Team Rocket actually looks competent for once as they technically eliminate almost all of the teams. Nobody seems to care much either as Ash and friends think about what is happening but none of the other teams ever do anything about it. They’ve all accepted their fates which is actually rather tragic if you overthink the whole situation. Why didn’t they put up more of an effort to fight back? They all have Pokemon so that shouldn’t be too hard. Maybe they figured a ref was watching them so they couldn’t make a move. It makes sense then why only the bully and Team Rocket were doing anything, they called the tournament’s bluff and that proved to be successful. I’m not sure about giving away Pokemon as a prize though, but that’s a topic for another day. For now I’ll assume that Dratini was a pretty chill Pokemon who just went with the wind.
Ash had a bit of a confidence issue in this book, but at least he gained it all back by the end. I also like how he pointed out that he never lost his confidence and it was just hanging around the entire time. That’s why Ash is a pro, he rolls with the punches and even has a few good bluffs to help himself out. I do wish he could have beaten the bully though as that would have just been a lot more satisfying than the result we got. Bullies should never have the last laugh. Sure, he didn’t win the race but he will still go on thinking that he is one tough customer.
This book had more action than the last one and felt more like a classic Kanto adventure. I’d definitely say that it has aged well and was probably a pretty fun episode back in the day. I can’t really say that I remember it all that well at this point, but it certainly has been a while since I watched the original episodes back in the day. I’d definitely recommend checking it out whether you’re a Pokemon fan or not. It’s a solid book for all ages and since you can read it in under 30 minutes it’s not a big time investment either. We’ll see if the next Pokemon book can keep up the positive trend that we have so far of getting better and better. Also, this book confirmed that Ash can understand Pokemon speech.