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As the episode starts, the gang are on a boat again, heading for Pacifidlog Town. Admiring his full collection of badges, Ash can’t wait to get into the Hoenn League. May is excited as well about her upcoming Contest in Pacifidlog. The ship docks at an island, and Ash calls Professor Oak from the Pokemon Center. Ash says he plans to do some serious training before the League. Oak says he and Delia will be there to cheer him on. Outside, at their campsite, Ash is anxious to do some training, and runs off with Pikachu. May gets excited again about her contest, saying that if she wins, she’ll qualify for the Grand Festival. She begins to polish her Pokeballs in preparation. Meanwhile, we see something watching from the bushes. Once she has her Pokeballs all polished up nicely, she puts them back into her bag, one by one. She takes Combusken’s and Skitty’s balls, but when she looks up, the balls containing Bulbasaur and Beautifly are gone! May freaks out and frantically looks around for them. Brock and Max ask what’s wrong, and she explains. Max instantly says it must have been Team Rocket. Unknown to them, TR is actually relaxing nearby, behind the bushes, and are startled by this. Watching May continue to freak out, it’s not too hard for them to figure out the reason for the commotion. Suddenly, Max notices some tracks around the table May had been using. The three of them conclude that whatever made the tracks must have taken the Pokeballs, and decide to follow them.
Ahead, Ash is about to send out a Pokemon to start training, but is suddenly hit from behind by a charging Linoone! Ash and Pikachu go flying, and upon landing, Ash checks out Linoone in the Pokedex. Linoone runs off, breaking the trail’s handrail in the process. The next thing Ash knows, a foot lands on his back! May, who accidentally stepped on him in her hurry, turns around in surprise. Max and Brock show up as well, and Max asks if Ash just saw a Pokemon run by. Ash says he indeed saw a Linoone. May says that Linoone must be what they’re looking for. Ash asks if it had puffy cheeks, and imitates the face of the Linoone that hit him. May angrily confirms it. Ash asks what’s going on, and Brock fills him in. The four join up now to find Linoone and get May’s Pokemon back. Linoone’s trail leads them to a house, and they discuss this, since it seems the Linoone has a trainer.
Inside, a young boy sadly throws an empty battered Pokeball across an empty room. Ash and friends appear at the entrance and Ash asks if he’s seen a Linoone. May explains that it stole two of her Pokeballs. The boy is quite upset by this, and apologizes profusely. It seems that his “Tokin-chan” (his nickname for his Linoone) has been giving him some trouble. An adult couple appear now and greet Ash and friends, asking if they can help with something. Ash explains, and the boy confirms that Tokin is at it again. The adults now introduce themselves as the Shougi family. The father is Kakubei, the mother is Hishako, and the boy is their son Keima. Ash and friends introduce themselves as well. Keima now takes Ash and friends to a shed which contains an abundance of various round objects. Ash and friends are surprised at the collection, and Keima sheepishly explains that this is all Tokin’s doing. Max is surprised, and Keima goes on to explain in a flashback that back when Tokin was a Zigzagoon, Keima often played fetch with it using its Pokeball. Tokin loved this game, but took things too far. Even now that it’s a Linoone, it’s been habitually bringing back any round object it can find, and storing them at home. Keima says that he tried to explain that he only wanted the ball he actually threw brought back, but Linoone didn’t understand. Ash says that this reminds him of how his Charizard used to misbehave, but confidently says that Charizard is over that now. Keima asks how he did it, and Ash says it was persistence.
While all this has been going on, May has been searching through the piles of balls and other round objects, but has been unable to find her two missing Pokeballs, and cries because of it. Keima says that Linoone sometimes hides things in a clearing near their home, so everyone heads out there. Ash and friends are surprised at the size of the place. Kakubei comforts May by saying that they’ll all help her search, and May thanks him. The gang begins searching in bushes, in holes in trees, and so on. Hishako spots something shining inside a crack in a tree stump, and pulls out a ring. She and her husband are both delighted at the recovery of this ring which obviously has a lot of sentimental value, and they promptly start dancing, probably reliving some memory or other. Meanwhile, Pikachu peers into a hole in another tree stump, and cheers when it finds something. May runs over, thinking Pikachu found her Pokeballs, but instead, Pikachu places a bone in her hand! May freaks out and juggles it like a hot potato. Ash and Brock come over to find out what’s wrong, and Ash takes the bone. Max comes over and recognizes it as coming from a Cubone. Pikachu points at the stump’s hole again and says something, indicating there’s more to be found. Ash reaches in and pulls out a little bell that Max identifies as a Soothe Bell. Brock finds a Dragon Fang, but May is disappointed because her Pokeballs aren’t among the items. Brock now explains to the group about Linoone’s Pickup ability, and observes that this particular Linoone seems to be quite good at finding valuable things. As he talks, we get a view of the items in the stump. We see a King’s Rock, another bone, a Blue Shard, a Stick, a Fluffy Tail, a Deepseascale, two Deepseateeth, and a few other things.
Team Rocket, of course, has been listening from the bushes. They’re delighted upon hearing of Linoone’s ability to find valuable things, and James (yes, James, not Meowth) says they should steal it for the Boss. Meowth has a fantasy of Linoone repeatedly zipping by and dropping off presents galore for Giovanni, and TR does their usual cheer. Meanwhile, the search for the Pokeballs continues, while Keima’s parents are still distracted with their earlier discovery. On a cliff above, we see Tokin, still with the Pokeballs in its mouth, watch the group search. Keima spots Tokin, alerting the rest of the group. Keima calls to it, saying they need those Pokeballs back. Tokin shakes its head and turns around, but just then, it’s caught in a net! Everyone is startled, but of course, the net is coming from TR’s balloon. TR says their motto and starts to leave. Keima desperately climbs up after them, yelling for them to give back Tokin, but Jessie sends out Seviper to do a Haze, preventing Keima from going any further. He cringes and steps back, but loses his footing and falls! Ash calls out, and Linoone finally drops the Pokeballs in surprise. Keima lands, beaten, at the bottom, and his parents rush to his aid. May’s Pokeballs land next to her, and she happily picks them up. May and Ash now turn their attention to Team Rocket. Ash tells Pikachu to go rescue Tokin, so Pikachu begins running up the cliff. James will have none of this, so he sends out Cacnea, but it of course hugs him. Ash calls for Pikachu to use Iron Tail to cut the net. It does, and Linoone is sent falling! Keima starts to run towards it. Jessie calls for a Poison Tail, and Pikachu repeatedly jumps back to avoid the attack. It makes a final jump to land on Seviper’s head. Seviper tries to shake Pikachu off, but it hangs on. Meanwhile, Keima is able to revive Tokin, and they have a tearful reunion. Ash calls for a Thunderbolt, and the attack hits Seviper and sends it back at TR’s balloon. It appears to explode, and Ash and Pikachu cheer. But when the dust clears, TR is still there, except that the balloon looks like a Pokeball now instead of Meowth’s head. TR brags about their preparations, and Meowth hits a button that sends out another net, this time ensnaring Pikachu! Ash runs up the cliff after it, as TR cheers and Pikachu struggles in the net.
Everyone else catches up now, and Keima apologizes, blaming himself and Tokin for Pikachu’s capture. Ash says not to worry, he’s gotten Pikachu back from them before. Tokin now notices the Pokeball balloon and remembers the games of fetch it used to play with Keima. It suddenly runs off towards the balloon, jumping several gaps along the way. Brock realizes the Pokeball balloon reminds Tokin of its games with Keima, and concludes that Tokin wants to get this “ball” too. Keima sheepishly admits that he hadn’t been playing fetch with it nearly as often since it evolved into Linoone, and Brock realizes that Tokin kept going after round things because it was feeling neglected. Keima now realizes how much it loves him, and asks Ash if it’s ok if he and Linoone handle getting Pikachu back. Ash says to go for it, so Keima runs ahead and tells Tokin, who had been hesitating on the edge of the cliff, to “go get that ball”. Linoone happily nods, and with the added confidence, is able to steel itself and jump far enough to reach the balloon. When it lands on top of the balloon, Jessie and James are delighted, because they think it wants to go with them. But Meowth quickly explains that it’s actually trying to stop them. James orders a Needle Arm from Cacnea, but Meowth exclaims that that’s a bad idea. Tokin dodges, and the Needle Arm hits the balloon instead, puncturing it and sending it plummeting towards the ground. Tokin lands on the net and slashes it open just before they hit. The balloon crashes in the background, but Tokin and Pikachu are okay, since Tokin apparently jumped off just before impact. Ash and Keima run up and reunite with them, and Keima promises to play with Tokin more often from now on. Everyone else joins and looks on.
Suddenly, they hear a noise, and the dust from the landing clears to reveal Jessie and Meowth beating up on James because of his dumb move with Cacnea. Jessie notices the group, and calls for a Poison Tail from Seviper. James furiously calls for a Needle Arm from Cacnea. Keima calls for Tokin to use Water Pulse. Ash says it’s cool that Linoone can use a Water attack, and Keima says that Water Pulse can also confuse the opponent. Seviper and Cacnea are indeed confused, and begin attacking each other! Jessie asks what’s going on, and James explains about Water Pulse. Jessie yells at their Pokemon, who then turn on them. Cacnea launches a Pin Missile at J&J while Seviper uses Haze. Ash suggests that Pikachu and Tokin team up to finish them off, and Keima agrees. Pikachu and Tokin both use Thunderbolt, sending TR blasting off. Ash and Keima congratulate their Pokemon.
Later, it’s time for everyone to say goodbye. Keima says he plans to spend a lot more time with Linoone from now on, and his parents thank Ash & friends for everything. Keima pulls out a Pokeball and throws it, telling Linoone to go fetch. As everyone watches, the narrator ends by explaining what everyone has to look forward to. Keima and Tokin will be bonding, Ash has the Hoenn League, and May still has that contest coming up in Pacifidlog.
Thanks To Geodude For Writing this for us
389: Showdown At Linoone
389: Linoone! The Shape of Friendship!?!
Between Sootopolis & Pacifidlog
None of Consequence