So, with Pokémon Best Wishes Season 2: Da! just beginning in Japan, I thought I'd take this chance to have a look back at the Orange Islands arc of the Pokémon anime considering the fact the arc has a lot in common with this latest arc of Pokémon Best Wishes. If you wish to know more, then read on!
The Orange Islands arc of the Pokémon anime series was introduced to bridge the gap between Ash's adventures in Kanto and his adventures in Johto. The arc first started airing in Japan on the 4th of February 1999 with an episode titled "Blimp Accident?!", which saw Ash, Brock and Misty travelling by blimp to get to the Orange Islands. The first episode of the Orange Islands didn't air in the US for almost a year later with the episode airing on the 8th of January 2000. In Japan the second generation of Pokémon games, Pokémon Gold and Pokémon Silver, weren't due to be released until the November, meaning the Orange Islands arc had to continue for quite some time before the writers could send Ash to Johto. They finally did so in an episode which aired in Japan on the 14th of October 1999. Despite the fact that this arc of the anime would only run for 35 episodes, a lot actually happened during these episodes. They even fit in the time to have four Gyms and a League of its own for the Islands. The arc is also notable for the fact Brock was left behind quite soon after Ash and co. got to the islands, with new character, Tracey, being introduced to fill Brock's spot and travel around with Ash and Misty until Brock re-joined the team for Ash's adventures in Johto.
Much like the Da! Islands from the up-coming Best Wishes arc, the Orange Islands have never been featured in a Pokémon game so far and have only been seen outside of the anime in the Electric Tales of Pikachu manga series. Despite the fact that the Orange Islands haven't been featured in any games, they still had four Gyms of their own and their own Pokémon League, which has gone on to become one of the most memorable Pokémon Leagues for viewers. The Gyms in the Orange Islands ended up being quite interesting, setting Ash tasks to show off his Pokémon's skills rather than their strength, which hasn't really been shown in Gym battles since.
The first Gym was on Mikan Island and saw Ash face off against Gym Leader Cissy in a Water Gun challenge, where a water type Pokémon must use Water Gun to hit a number of different targets. Ash used his trusty Squirtle against Cissey's Seadra for the challenge which ended in a tie. Ash then went on to face Cissy in a Pokémon Wave Ride challenge where the two had to ride one of their Pokémon across the waves to a flag and back. Ash won after choosing Lapras as his Pokémon and freezing the ice so that he could slide his way back to the beach and claim victory to earn the Coral-Eye Badge.
The second of the Orange Islands Gyms was on Navel Island. This Gym was likely the toughest of the lot with challengers having to first climb a mountain before they even qualified for the Gym's challenge. The challenge was made harder by the fact Pokémon trainers weren't allowed to use their Pokémon to help them reach their goal, something Ash almost does but manages to stop himself from doing at the last minute. Once Ash reached the top of the mountain the challenge really began with Gym Leader Danny revealing that he and Ash would be having a toboggan race to the bottom of the mountain. Whoever reached the bottom first would of course be the winner. However there was a slight twist, in that the trainer and Gym Leader must create their toboggans themselves by first freezing a geyser and then carving the ice. Each step was counted as part of the challenge and thus the challenger and Gym Leader raced both to freeze the geyser and carve their toboggan. If the challenger was slower in both tests then they would automatically lose. Ash loses the race to freeze the geyser but manages to carve his toboggan faster after some last minute help from Charizard. When it comes to the race back down the mountain Ash ultimately wins this challenge too, after a somewhat annoying interruption from Team Rocket, and earns himself the Sea Ruby Badge.
The third Gym of the Orange Islands can be found on Trovita Island and is home to Gym Leader Rudy. When Ash reaches the island to challenge Rudy to a battle, he is told that he must first pass a small test by taking part in a race to destroy a number of different targets. In the end Ash claims an easy victory and goes on to face Rudy in the real challenge of the Trovita Gym, which involves the Gym Leader and challenger battling it out in a best of three battle. The catch is that they both have to use Pokémon of the same type. The first round saw Ash choosing his trusty Pikachu to face off against Rudy's Electabuzz, however Pikachu proves to be no match for the powerful Electabuzz and is quickly defeated. For the second round Ash used his Bulbasaur while Rudy went with his Exeggutor. Ultimately this match ended in Ash's favour making him and Rudy even in scores. The final round saw Ash's Squirtle face off against Rudy's Starmie, who were both fairly evenly matched, however in the end Squirtle won the match and earned Ash the Spike Shell Badge.
The fourth and final Gym of the Orange Islands can be found on Kumquat Island, and while the challenge Ash faced here didn't seem all that tough when compared to some of the others, it did introduce us to quite an interesting way of battling. The rule of the Kumquat Gym is that challengers must use two Pokémon at once in a Double Battle and the first side to have either of their Pokémon knocked out is the loser. This idea is interesting because, after all, Double Battles are a type of battle that wouldn't be introduced into the Pokémon games until the third generation came around in 2002, yet here we were with the Orange Islands showcasing this type of battling before even the second generation had seen its release. It certainly made for an impressive episode, even more so for the fact Ash chose to use Pikachu and Charizard, who were of course fan favourites by this point in the series. After some disagreements from Pikachu and Charizard, the two eventually teamed up to win the match and earn Ash his Jade Star Badge, which was his fourth and final badge of the Orange Islands.
With all four badges of the Oranges Islands earned, Ash heads off towards Pummelo Island. There the Pummelo Stadium stands waiting for challenges to come and challenge Drake, the current Orange Islands champion, to a six on six battle to claim the Winner's Trophy and become the new champion. Ash's battle vs. Drake is easily the most memorable of the Orange Islands arc, and possibly for the whole of the anime. The battle was split over two episodes with the first showcasing Ash taking down Drake's Ditto with Pikachu, Drake's Onix with Squirtle, and his Gengar with Lapras. The second episode saw Ash take down Drake's Venusaur with Tauros and his Electabuzz with Charizard, leaving just one Pokémon left, the mighty Dragonite. While all of the battles against Drake's Pokémon were impressive, Ash taking on Dragonite was easily the best of the lot with Ash losing all of his Pokémon one by one to the thing until only Pikachu was left as his last hope of defeating Dragonite and taking the champion title. After a tough fight Pikachu takes down Dragonite with a Thunder attack and earns Ash the Winner’s Trophy, which also earned Ash the right to be featured in the Orange League Hall of Fame with his Pokémon.
Of course, while the Gym Battles and Orange League were exciting, the Orange Islands arc of the anime also had a lot of fun episodes and Ash even added a few new Pokémon to his team. While in the Orange Islands Ash befriended Lapras and caught Snorlax, and although he let Lapras go before travelling to Johto Ash still has Snorlax at Professor Oak’s lab. This arc of the anime is also when Ash's Charizard finally started listening to him. Another point of interest featured within the Orange Islands was the heavy emphasis on alternately coloured Pokémon. Due to the islands' tropical climates many of the Pokémon were differently coloured to how we'd normally see them. However, the most notably different coloured Pokémon in the Orange Islands were those living on Pinkan Island, who have all turned Pink due to a diet of Pinkan berries.
Despite the Orange Islands arc of the anime not being all that long, the second Pokémon movie featuring Lugia and the three legendary birds from Kanto was set sometime during the arc. Like the arc itself the second Pokémon movie still stands as one of the most memorable within the series' history. The movie was also the only one up until the fifth generation movies where Brock wasn't one of the main characters; he is only featured briefly with Professor Ivy.
That concludes our look back at the Orange Island arc of the anime but check out the next page to learn more about the Dekorora Islands arc of the anime and view the first trailers for it.
The first episode of the Dekorora Islands arc was aired in Japan on the 25th of April, and thanks to CoroCoro and a few other news sources we have an idea of what a few of the up-coming episodes will be like. The March CoroCoro leaks confirmed that one of the first episodes will be featuring Ash and co. visiting Hotach Island where a large number of the Unova water-type starter, Oshawott, live. It's said that on this island Ash's Oshawott will be troubled and seemingly stays behind to train with the Oshawott living on the island because Ash’s Oshawott wants to become stronger.
The arc is set to feature quite a collection of rare Pokémon too, with one episode taking place on Mutoro Island and featuring Professor Oak facing off against the rare Pokémon Rotom. This apparently results in the Pokémon professor catching it. The episode will mark the second time that we’ve seen Rotom in the Pokémon TV series but only the first time during Ash’s Adventures in Unova. We also know that during an episode that takes place on Ookina Island we’ll be seeing the first appearance of Jirachi in the TV series, although what the little Pokémon is up to is currently unknown. A clip shown at the end of a recent edition of Japanese TV show Pokémon Smash showed Iris riding on the rare Dragon Pokémon, Zekrom, meaning the chances are this Pokémon will finally be getting its long awaited appearance in the TV series. The animated OP for this arc also shows off Mewtwo, but it so far hasn’t been stated if the Pokémon will be playing any major role - if any - in the story.
We also know that there will be an episode aired during the summer which is set around Yashi Island, where Eevee and his Eeveelution friends live. The episode will air around the time of the 16th movie’s release, so the two should tie together nicely. While we know Professor Oak will be playing a part in one of the up-coming episodes, it was also revealed recently that Johto Gym Leader Clair will be playing a role in the series at some point too. Interestingly enough she will also have a Shiny Druddigon on her team.
So far that’s all we know about this arc of the anime, aside from the fact that it will run until at least July. It’s unclear if the arc will feature a set of Gyms and a League like the Orange Islands did but chances are that it won’t. Either way it should be very interesting considering that the Dekorora Islands, like the Orange Islands, are a place unique to the anime. With nothing solid in terms of a region or story from the main series games to fall back on, this arc should end up being something quite fun for fans of the Pokémon series and well worth keeping an eye on. The first trailer for the arc can be seen right here.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our look back at the Orange Islands and our look forward to Ash’s adventures on the Dekorora Islands!