Pokemon anime: Team Rocket finally makes to a Pokemon League tournament


Note there are some spoilers for the current Pokemon League arc of the Pokemon anime Sun and Moon season, specifically who has already advanced in the conference.

Fans know that Team Rocket’s Jessie, James and Meowth has been a thorn in the side of Ash Ketchum in the gang since the first season of the Pokemon anime. The team has interfered in different steps in Ash’s journey with various schemes, most notably attempting to catch his Pikachu. When each anime season has reached the Pokemon portion of its arc, Team Rocket tends to take a backseat to the competition.

The group does engage in different scams, yet for the most part they will be selling condiments or watching Ash in the tournament.

As the Sun and Moon anime moves into the Manalo Conference, writers actually had Jessie and James actually entered the competition with the other 151 trainers. After the preliminary rounds, both Team Rocket members ended up in the sweet 16 and learned they will face each other.

The results of their battle – the episode featuring the Team Rocket clash is set to air in Japan this weekend – but just the idea that Jessie and James are competing in a Pokemon League Conference tournament is a nice change to what the anime has done in the past.

I don’t think Jessie, or James have actually competed in a league conference since their debut in the anime. Jessie has taken part in Pokemon festivals and showcases, but the Manalo Conference is the first time either trainer has made it far in a Pokemon Conference tournament – and they get to compete as themselves. Neither Rocket member is assuming an alias or disguise in order to throw off tournament officials, they get to be Jessie and James.

Some folks could say their inclusion in the Manalo Conference could have been foreshadowed early in the Sun and Moon anime when they defeated Ash and his Pokemon team for the first time.

The match sets up a potential rematch down the line in the tournament, possibly the quarterfinals since Ash has already won his first-round tournament match.

While the results of their battle have not been released, my guess is Jessie will defeat James and advance in the tournament – setting up another showdown between her Mimikyu and Ash’s Pikachu. The two Pokemon have battled each other throughout the Sun and Moon anime and their final match in the conference tournament could make for a great, final showdown.

I’m not the biggest Team Rocket fan, but I understand the levity they bring to the show and their growing fanbase. However, as someone who has watched the team blunder their way from Pokemon anime season to season, it’s great that Jessie and James are getting a fair shot at becoming a serious hurdle for Ash to overcome, rather than just comic relief.

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If Team Rocket has an impressive showing in the Manalo Conference, or their inclusion in the tournament receives a positive reception from fans, writers may give Team Rocket a similar role when the anime moves into the Galar region. Jessie and James can continue their schemes to capture Pikachu, but that doesn’t mean they cannot be formidable opponents for Ash and his companions in their Galar journey.