You thought the Pokémon Sun Moon was all silliness and sunshine? Wrong! Yesterday’s episode was a real tearjerker.
Warning: Spoilers ahead!
This week was an hour special with back-to-back episodes. The second episode, number 21, was a doozy. Sun Moon continues to surprise, because this isn’t the only weighty episode of this season. (That Mimikyu episode was something else!)
In episode 21, we see Stoutland suffering from a hacking cough. This old Big-Hearted Pokémon spends his days under a bridge, curled up on a sofa and comforted by Litten.
During a confrontation with Team Rocket, a frantic Litten suddenly appears, begging Ash for help.
Ash, Pikachu, and Litten go to Stoutland’s sofa. Things do not look good, so Ash picks up the 61-kilogram Stoutland and takes it to the Pokémon Center.
Stoutland is given an IV and put on a heart monitor.
Nurse Joy says Stoutland isn’t injured and doesn’t have a serious illness.
Then, Nurse Joy says, “Stoutland, Stoutland is...” The door is shut, and we cannot hear what’s said next.
As Litten licks Stoutland’s face, we hear Ash saying, “I wonder if Litten knows.” Nurse Joy replies, “I think it does.”
Throughout this episode, leaves keep falling from a single tree, giving the episode poignancy and urgency.
Stoutland goes back to its sofa under the bridge, and continues to have problems breathing. That night, Litten snuggles up with Stoutland and has a dream as another leaf falls.
In the dream, Litten sees the Big-Hearted Pokémon and runs towards its friend. But Stoutland fades away.
When Litten wakes up, the sofa is empty, and the Fire Cat searches for its friend.
Thunder rumbles in the background, the sofa collapses, and the last leaf falls off the tree.
As rain pours, Litten cries out in saddness.
“Where is Stoutland?” asks Rotom Pokédex.
“Don’t ask that.” Professor Kukui replies.
Suffering from grief, Litten spends its time refusing to eat and sleeping in Stoutland’s sofa with that last fallen leaf. Ash and other Pocket Monsters come and to try to cheer the cat up.
A gust of wind blows the leaf away, and Litten chases after it, seeing a rainbow in the sky.
The clouds, Litten notices, look like Stoutland.
And Litten appears to be moved by seeing its departed friend.
The remaining minutes show Litten joining Ash’s crew, and the episode returns to the pacing and feeling of your typical Sun Moon episode.
All that came before it, which subtly and artfully dealt with death and grief, were anything but.
Kotaku East is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.