Pokémon Journeys has been a number of story changes, but the changes to Team Rocket may not be the best.
Team Rocket has come a long way in the vast history of Pokemon anime. A far cry from previous one-sided villains, they have developed a romantic relationship with their Pokémon, and Jessie even discovered a fascination with Pokémon Contests. Unfortunately, after the Pokémon Journeys reboot, all of this character development was undone and the nefarious trilogy became a real problem for the series.
Pokemon Journeys has seen Team Rocket fall back a lot in terms of how relevant the team is to the plot. Starting at Hoenn and continuing through Kalos, Team Rocket finally has something to do other than annoy Ash as Jessie begins competing in Pokémon Contests. In the end, interested in something other than a life of crime, her moderate success in these Contests, with wholehearted support from James and Meowth, is a great way to keep the quest going. stealing their Pikachu doesn’t get too old.
James and Meowth’s sincere support for Jessie makes it clear that these scammers have become a makeshift family. This new drive makes them so sympathetic that they can be trusted that they will seek Ash’s help from time to time – and that he will actually give it to them. Ash’s habit of lending a hand to Team Rocket is especially notable when he once tried to push them into the sea thinking they were dead.
Over the years, Pokémon has spent entire episodes telling about Jessie and James’ relationship with the Pokémon they catch on their journey – and like Ash, they either shed tears or give away. their Pokémon when they feel it is in their Pokémon’s best interest. The way trainers treat their Pokémon is possibly the most personable or human trait in the series, and Team Rocket definitely loves their Pokémon.
Today, however, in Pokémon Journeys, all of these storytelling tools to create sympathy for the characters in Team Rocket have been stripped away. Jessie, James, and Meowth have reverted to their Season 1 characters, which means they exist solely to cause trouble for Ash. They don’t even have their own Pokemon anymore; instead, in each episode, a Pelipper falls from the sky and drops several Team Rocket Poké Balls with random Pokémon in them for Jessie and James to fight before sending them back to headquarters after they were killed. fly again.
Gone are the days when Team Rocket faced a rival criminal organization or got into such trouble that they needed Ash’s help. They aren’t even as competent as criminals like in Ash’s Unova campaign when they let Meowth join Ash and the gang as part of a long-running scam. Pokémon Journeys made the trilogy a no-nonsense antagonist and sometimes comic relief, and while some of it was genuinely funny, it just helped them feel like they fit in with the franchise.
Without their own Pokémon or anything else to make on their own, Team Rocket has become a conduit for conspiracy and an annoying device at that. Their antics have reached the point where their appearances are more than just an attempt to padded the runtimes of the episodes. With no indication of a potential character arc for the criminal trio, their 25-year quest to steal Pikachu is getting a bit exhausting. It looks like the anime itself already has enough Team Rocket, but removing them altogether would be too bold for a popular series that avoids taking any narrative risks.
Pokémon Journeys doesn’t seem to know what to do with Team Rocket and may not really care. This is not a pretty look for the series, and it actively harms the episodes where Team Rocket appears. Hopefully the day will come when Jessie, James, and Meowth can be the right and empathetic characters again because as it is now, the series would be better without them.