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The episode starts with the gang on a ship again, heading for Izabe Island for May’s contest. On deck, May and Bulbasaur are practicing their appeals. May has Bulbasaur start off with Razor Leaf, then it uses Vine Whip to whack each leaf. Bulbasaur pulls it off perfectly, and May congratulates it while the others comment on their progress. Ahead, on the island, we see Team Rocket pulling/pushing a large cart full of Berries up a steep hill. Jessie wants to make Pokeblocks from the Berries and sell them to the coordinators at the Izabe Contest. However, they stop the cart when Meowth says that they can’t make Pokeblocks from these particular Berries. Jessie gasps, but since Meowth and James have let go of the heavy cart, its weight is too much for her, and she is comically dragged back down the hill, while Meowth and James watch helplessly.
Back on the boat, a guy in a Cacturne-themed outfit, accompanied by his Cacturne, approaches May. He introduces himself as Harley, a fellow coordinator. May checks out his Cacturne in the Pokedex, and Harley seems offended that she has never even seen such a magnificent Pokemon before. After hearing the Pokedex entry, May seems to think Cacturne is a cool Pokemon, but innocently says it looks kind of scary, which offends Harley even more. Still, Harley offers May some of his homemade cookies. May eats a few and compliments them, but this ALSO offends Harley, as he expected a higher compliment. Looks like Bulbasaur wants to try one, so May looks up to ask Harley for another cookie, but he’s gone! We see him hiding behind a corner nearby, where he secretly uses an instant camera to take a picture of May, then posts it in some sort of scrapbook. Then, he draws a skull and crossbones above the picture! He can’t believe the nerve of this little girl—calling his precious Cacturne scary, thinking his cookies were good instead of awesome, etc.—so he decides to teach her a lesson.
That night, TR has recovered their Berries and are trying to make some Pokeblocks. James has a Wobbuffet-shaped Berry Crusher, but the Pokeblocks that pop out…well, they aren’t exactly perfect cubes, or even the same size. James and Meowth give up, saying that what they’re doing is impossible, but Jessie yells at them that they don’t have much time before the Contest starts.
The next morning, the Izabe Island Contest is about to begin. As Vivian makes her usual introduction, May and the others are backstage, wondering where Max is. Max and Harley then come running down the hall, as Harley apologizes. May is about to berate Max, but Harley says it’s not his fault, Harley was just listening to some stories from Max. May decides not to be angry, just as her turn comes up. Vivian introduces May, and May calls out Bulbasaur. Bulbasaur does the same appeal it practiced on the boat. It starts off with Razor Leaf, then uses Vine Whip to whack the spinning leaves, stopping each of them in midair. We don’t get to see May’s score, but the judges are quite impressed. The appeals continue, and we see brief ones from an Azurill, a Camerupt, a Tentacruel, and a Surskit. The last appeal is by Harley and Cacturne. The two strike identical poses, and Max echoes May’s sentiments about Cacturne being scary-looking. The rest of the audience seems to agree as well, as they sit in silence. Harley ignores their stunned gasps and tells Cacturne to use Bullet Seed. Cacturne begins running around, using Bullet Seed on the ground, as the judges comment on its speed. After doing this for a bit, it stops, and the audience above can see that it was using the attack to draw a giant skull and crossbones on the stage! The judges are impressed, but backstage, May seems intimidated. She nervously awaits the announcement of the four finalists, who turn out to be her, Harley, Kent (the Surskit trainer), and the Azurill trainer. In the stands, Brock seems worried, since he perceives Harley as a tough opponent. A short cutscene backstage again shows that Harley seems a little upset that May made it to the top four.
The semifinals are now underway, and the first battle pits Harley and Cacturne against the Azurill and its nameless trainer. Azurill starts with Bubble, then hops from bubble to bubble toward Cacturne. May comments on how cute it is, but Harley isn’t impressed. A Poison Sting from Cacturne destroys the bubbles and hits Azurill, then Cacturne finishes it off with Bullet Seed. Harley and Cacturne can now advance to the final stage. Next comes May’s battle, and we see her talking to herself backstage. Harley approaches, and May congratulates him on his win. He thanks her, but leaves her with some advice on her upcoming opponent, Kent: his Surskit is very slow, so she should take advantage of its lack of speed. May thanks him and heads off, but then we see Harley giggle to himself and stick out his tongue. We know what THAT means…
The battle has now started. Surskit starts off with Double Team, then follows up with Quick Attack. May tells Bulbasaur to stand its ground, remembering Harley’s advice, but Surskit strikes much sooner than May had anticipated. Surskit then uses Water Pulse to create a wall of water to hide behind, then strikes from behind it with Quick Attack. This too surprises and confuses May, but when Vivian comments on Surskit’s impressive speed, May realizes that Harley had lied. Surskit charges at Bulbasaur yet again, and Ash yells from the stands for May to do something. May snaps out of it and has Bulbasaur counter with Razor Leaf, but Surskit uses Double Team to dodge. Bulbasaur tries a Vine Whip, which Surskit also dodges. May’s score is lowering quickly. Surskit uses another Water Pulse/Quick Attack combo, but this time Bulbasaur is able to slap Surskit off course with Vine Whip. It then follows up with Petal Dance, scoring a powerful hit and impressing the judges. Surskit gets back up, but the timer has expired. May has a better score, so she is declared the winner! Backstage, Harley is upset at May’s win, but this also gives him the chance to get some personal revenge.
As they’re introduced for the battle, May asks Harley why he lied. Harley said it was to teach her a lesson and mockingly said that if she studied her opponents instead of relying on advice, she would have known better. May angrily responds that she’ll show him what she’s capable of, and the battle starts. Cacturne starts off with Poison Sting, but Bulbasaur deflects it with Vine Whip. Bulbasaur then uses Razor Leaf, but Cacturne deflects THAT with Bullet Seed. May and Harley’s scores are both lowering, but they’re still tied. Bulbasaur now strikes with Vine Whip, then rushes in for a Tackle, using its vines to push itself off the ground for the impact. Cacturne is knocked flat, and Harley cries out for it. His score lowers, so he decides to deploy his secret weapon, pushing a button on a small remote in his pocket. Suddenly, we hear Max’s voice over the sound system, as Ash and friends look around in confusion, and we see that it’s coming from a tape recorder hidden somewhere. May is frozen in surprise as Max’s voice begins to tell an embarrassing story from May’s past. Ash asks Max what’s going on, and Max says that this was what he was telling Harley before the contest. May stands frozen, blushing in embarrassment as the story continues. From a flashback, we see a younger May playing in the water one day. Two Tentacool approach, so she swims over to pet them, but suddenly notices that she’s surrounded by a whole school of them! Scared, she cries for her parents, who are relaxing on the beach. Caroline produces a Pokeball, and the flashback ends there, but the recording continues to say that in Caroline’s attempt to get May out of there, she got confused, mistook May for one of the Tentacool (with her swimwear and floatation device, she vaguely looked like one), and tried to capture her in a Pokeball! May cries for it to stop, but the audience laughs at the story. She cries in total embarrassment, then screams Max’s name. Max puts up his hands defensively, quietly begging May not to get mad because he didn’t realize Harley’s intentions. Harley laughs and calls May “Meno-chan” (basically, “L’il Tenta” or “Tenta-girl” or something), and May is extremely upset over this whole thing. The audience continues to laugh, and Harley continues to taunt her. This distraction allows Cacturne to sneak up behind Bulbasaur and use what’s apparently Faint Attack!
May refocuses on the battle now and calls for a Razor Leaf. Cacturne dodges and strikes with Poison Sting. Bulbasaur uses Vine Whip, but Cacturne dodges again. On an all-out offensive now, May follows up by calling for a Petal Dance, which Cacturne ALSO dodges. Bulbasaur is now visibly tiring. Harley simply laughs and taunts May again, with his nickname which I’ll dub as Tenta-girl. In the stands, May’s friends are alarmed that she might lose, so Ash shouts the exact same advice to May that Drake of the Elite Four gave him recently. May hears him and is able to focus. Harley orders another Faint Attack, and Cacturne rushes in, but Bulbasaur is able to stop it by catching its leg in a Vine Whip! It then tosses Cacturne into the air, and follows with Razor Leaf, then Petal Dance. Cacturne is immobilized as it’s trapped in the vortex, and Vivian comments on how beautiful the combination attack looks. May’s friends cheer her on from the stands, and the judges seem impressed. The attack ends, and Cacturne falls to the ground, out cold, meaning May wins! May is stunned for a moment, then celebrates with Bulbasaur as her friends support her from the stands. Harley wordlessly recalls his Cacturne and walks off, with no more than a “hmph”.
Ash and the others now join May on stage as she is presented with the Izabe Island Contest Ribbon, with a ribbon also on Bulbasaur. May strikes a celebratory pose, similar to Ash’s famous badge pose, with Bulbasaur joining in. Elsewhere, Harley says to himself that he wants to face his little Tenta-girl again someday. Outside the contest hall, Max apologizes to May for telling Harley that story. May decides she isn’t mad, to Max’s relief, and she then wonders what they should do next. The others decide to explore Izabe Island a bit longer, since it’s a big place, so they head off, as the narrator talks about how May is now one step closer to entering the Grand Festival.
So, how did Team Rocket make out? Well, we now see them running a giant Pokeblock shop with dozens of customers at once. Jessie laughs as she imagines all the money they’ll make, but it all turns out to be a dream, as we see TR lying asleep next to their berries and Wobbuffet-shaped crusher from before. Oh well, maybe they’ll do better next time.
Thanks To Geodude For Writing this for us
380: A Cacturne for the Worse
380: Izabe Island Pokémon Contest! Beware the Rival!
May wins the Izabe Island Contest