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So, Ash and friends are finally on the boat to Sootopolis City, home of the last Gym before the Hoenn League. As the boat speeds toward the entrance, Ash and Pikachu are psyched for the upcoming battle. As they emerge from the short tunnel, they catch their first view of Sootopolis. The city is built on the side of a curved cliff with ridges, and the cliff continues around a small body of water that serves as a sort of natural harbor. The whole thing looks like a giant amphitheater. As the group lands, Ash’s friends comment on how excited he is for this battle, but then they notice what look like firecrackers going off in the distance. May and Max run off, anxious to see where they’re coming from, and Brock and Ash hesitantly join them.
Their destination is an amphitheater with a moat that separates the stage and the stands, where a performance is about to start. The mayor of Sootopolis comes onto the stage and introduces the performer as the Sootopolis Gym Leader, Mr. Juan, the Water Artist. Juan makes his entrance, to much cheering from the crowd. As Ash and friends look on, Juan waves his arms dramatically, and from several points around the moat, jets of water come out, all meeting at the same point above the stage. The water jets even create a rainbow. The water subsides, and Juan takes a bow, as the crowd cheers some more. Juan says that it’s now time for the crowd to meet the Pokemon that were behind the display they just saw, and waves his arms again. One by one, from apparently the same spots in the moat from which the water jets had come, several Water Pokemon (and one Azurill) leap up onto platforms on the stage surrounding Juan. We see a Gorebyss, Seadra, Azurill, Luvdisc, Goldeen, Wailmer, and finally a Milotic. Ash and friends comment with awe on how cool those Water Pokemon are, especially the beautiful Milotic. At a command from Juan, the six Pokemon (all except Milotic) fire Water Guns into the air, meeting at three points above him. Juan directs with his arms some more, as if he was an orchestra conductor, and we see a Corsola, Barboach, and Chinchou emerge from the water and add their Bubblebeam and Water Gun attacks to the mix. From the air, a Wingull and Pelipper add their Water Guns while a Masquerain uses Bubblebeam. Water sprinklers in strategically placed parts of the city can also be seen going off to add to the effect. Some Staryu and Tentacruel join the show as well, the Staryu using a spinning Water Gun, and the Tentacruel spinning their tentacles around. It seems that the entire city is bathed in a sparkling water orchestra. As the mayor returns to the stage, a Chimecho can suddenly be heard in the distance! Confused, the mayor and Juan look around, and then see Team Rocket in their balloon, descending in front of them! Juan asks if they are fellow artists, and Team Rocket says their motto. Ash and friends run down as close to the stage as they can, calling out warnings to Juan about Team Rocket. Before Juan can do anything, Meowth pushes a button that releases a net from their balloon, which spreads over all the Water Pokemon in the moat! Another button push sends a surge of electricity down to weaken them all. Jessie gloats that the best way to catch Water Pokemon is with electricity. Ash is about to go into battle, but Juan says it’s ok, his Pokemon can handle it. We then see their various ways of dealing with electricity. The Barboach is using Mud Sport, Tentacruel is using Mirror Coat, Milotic is using Safeguard, and it looks like things aren’t as bad as they seemed. Juan calls for his Milotic to use Iron Tail, which cuts the net open. It then blasts Team Rocket off with a Twister attack.
Now that Team Rocket is out of the way, Juan approaches the group. Ash wastes no time in introducing himself and challenging Juan to a Gym Battle, which Juan accepts. A quick scene change shows the group with Juan in his boat, heading for his Gym. Inside the boat, May compliments Juan on his show, and Juan reveals that he used to be a Pokemon Coordinator. He had even collected all five ribbons and won the Grand Festival, much to May’s awe. The group comments on how his experience as a Coordinator must have prepared him well for being a Gym Leader. Juan goes on to explain that he chose to specialize in Water Pokemon for their beauty and elegance, and also because of the challenge of their being weak to Electric attacks. He had realized that his best contest battles were ones in which he was constantly in danger, where one wrong move would result in serious damage. For example, when faced with attacks he was weak against, in the perfect timing and coordination required to not just defend, but defend by attacking, trainer and Pokemon can become one. That state is the one in which he feels his artistic ideals are best expressed. Juan seems like a tough opponent, and Max is worried if Ash will be ok in this battle. Ash reassures Max that he and Pikachu are up to the challenge.
Soon, they reach Juan’s mansion, and he introduces them to his butler, Sebastian. They head for the battlefield, and see that it’s a pool! Two platforms for the trainers are on each end where the diving boards normally are, and another platform for the judge is off to the side. Several smaller platforms are scattered throughout the water as well for the Pokemon to use. Ash and Juan take their positions, and Sebastian announces the rules. The battle will be 5-vs-5, separated into two stages. The first stage will be a double battle, which ends whenever two Pokemon from one side are unable to battle. Ash is surprised at this; he didn’t know Juan’s Gym used double battles. Any remaining Pokemon may be used in the second stage, which is a standard 3-vs-3 battle. Ash’s friends are also surprised at this unique setup, and Juan says that he intentionally set his Gym up to be very tough, since it’s the last one before the Hoenn League. He starts by sending out his Sealeo (which Ash checks in his Pokedex), and his Seaking (which May checks in hers). Ash sends out Pikachu and Snorunt, and the battle begins! Pikachu starts off by sending a Thunderbolt at Seaking, but Seaking repels it with Horn Drill! Seaking then sends the Electric attack right back, striking Snorunt for good damage. This catches Ash off guard, and he asks if Snorunt is okay. It is, so Ash tries to figure out what to do now. In the stands, his friends realize that this defense must be something Juan came up with for his old contest battles. Ash decides to up the ante, so he tells Pikachu to attack Seaking with Thunder this time. Seaking repels it again in the same way, but this time Pikachu jumps in front of Snorunt to protect it. The countered Thunder is pushing the two Pokemon towards the edge of the platform they’re on, but it fizzles out just as they reach the edge. Pikachu is panting now.
Wasting no time, Juan calls for a Blizzard from Sealeo. Pikachu is cringing against the cold, and so are Ash’s friends, who notice that Snorunt doesn’t seem to mind it. In fact, it’s dancing, as if to say, “Bring it on!” Max realizes that of course an Ice-type wouldn’t mind Ice-type attacks. Ash seems to realize the same thing, so he calls for an Icy Wind. The two Ice attacks collide and create a giant ball of ice that falls into the water between the two sides. An Aurora Beam from Sealeo and a Hyper Beam from Seaking destroy the ball, breaking it into smaller pieces of ice. To the surprise of everyone except Ash (who called for it), Pikachu and Snorunt begin jumping across the pieces of ice towards their opponents! Ash calls for an Iron Tail from Pikachu and a Headbutt from Snorunt. Juan calmly calls for another Aurora Beam and Hyper Beam. Pikachu manages to dodge the Aurora Beam, but the Hyper Beam hits Snorunt squarely! It lands on a platform farther back, out cold. Juan comments on what Ash did wrong, and an abrupt scene change shows…another Juan? Nope, it’s James in disguise. Looks like Team Rocket is planning to take advantage of Juan’s popularity in Sootopolis, much like they did with Norman. Back to the battle, Ash sends out Corphish to replace Snorunt. Corphish starts off with a Bubblebeam, but Sealeo and Seaking dodge it by diving into the water. Juan calls for an Aurora Beam from Sealeo and a Peck from Seaking. Pikachu manages to jump off its platform just before the Aurora Beam hits, and Corphish stops Seaking’s Peck by grabbing its horn in a Vicegrip! Unfazed, Juan calls for a Horn Drill, so Seaking begins spinning its horn, carrying Corphish with it! Seaking then throws Corphish into the water. Ash calls for Pikachu to hit Seaking with Iron Tail, which catches Seaking unawares. Juan calls for Sealeo to come to its aid with Aurora Beam, but it’s too late. The Iron Tail strikes Seaking, sending it underwater. Pikachu barely dodges before the Aurora Beam strikes what’s left of the ball of ice from earlier, causing an explosion! When the mist clears, Seaking has fainted, but Pikachu and Corphish are nowhere to be seen!
Ash calls out for them, and suddenly, Pikachu emerges from the water, riding on Corphish! Juan calls for an Ice Ball, and Ash tells Corphish to use Harden. This Ice Ball is pretty small, and Corphish stops it easily, still advancing towards its opponents. Juan calls for another Ice Ball, this one a bit bigger, and Corphish blocks it again. Worried, Brock warns Ash that Ice Ball gets more powerful the more times in a row it’s used. Sealeo fires off a third Ice Ball, which Pikachu smashes with Iron Tail. A fourth Ice Ball comes, and Ash is starting to get wary. This time the Ice Ball hits! Pikachu and Corphish are sent flying. Pikachu lands on a large chunk of ice (still left over from earlier), and Corphish lands on one of the platforms. Things don’t look good for Ash now. Juan orders a fifth Ice Ball, and the biggest one yet comes flying towards the struggling Pokemon! Ash calls for a Thunder, so Pikachu leaps up and fires one. Juan doesn’t think this fifth Ice Ball can be stopped in any way, and so far it seems that all Pikachu can do is slow it down. Ash calls for Pikachu to put all its strength into it. Pikachu strains, and its Thunder finally smashes the ball into pieces. These pieces begin raining down on Sealeo. Corphish now uses Crabhammer, sending Sealeo flying into the wall. It then falls down, fainted. With Juan’s two Pokemon down, Ash wins the first stage of the battle! Ash and his Pokemon and friends celebrate, while Juan compliments him on the battle so far.
The battlefield’s water now drains out, and a new battlefield rises up to replace it. This one is a combination of land and water, with several ornaments and small structures scattered on the land. Ash and Juan switch sides for this round, and Ash chooses Grovyle to start off this time, while Juan counters with Luvdisc. May says it’s cute, and checks it in her Pokedex. Grovyle starts with Bullet Seed, but Luvdisc dodges with surprising agility and uses Water Pulse. Ash desperately calls for Grovyle to dodge. It jumps away, springs off two of the ornaments, then jumps high in the air. Juan comments on Grovyle’s speed, and Ash calls for a Leaf Blade. Grovyle powers up its arm leaves, then goes into a spin, diving towards Luvdisc. Luvdisc dodges just before Grovyle strikes, and counters with Sweet Kiss. It produces a heart which flies towards Grovyle and connects, sending Grovyle into confusion! Grovyle looks absolutely bewildered now, and the episode ends on that point, with the water thrashing around the two opponents while a surprised Ash gapes, and his friends worriedly comment on how tough this is going to be. The narrator ends by saying that although Ash won the first round, the second step towards the Rain Badge looks to be much tougher. We’ll see what happens in the next episode.
Thanks To Geodude For Writing this for us
387: The Great Eight Fate!
387: Sootopolis Gym! Juan, Artist of Water! (Part 1)!
Ash & Co. Arrive in Sootopolis
Ash challenges Juan to a 5 on 5 battle