"Don't just wear it. Become what you wear."
Okay, those are not really the exact words. But this saying has, in some other form or another, already made its way into every literary scene where someone has to focus even more on becoming something else. At a level where you could actually taste and feel how your combat partner moves and attacks.
Yep, it's the legendary Pokémon kigurumi expert again. And this time, he and our adventuring protagonists will be dragged into a sworn rivalry they would never forget.
"Hey yo bro, I understand you want some plot, but I've been looking for you all over."
Ash and gang were treading the forested path towards the next town, when a Zangoose appeared in front of them. Even more surprising, was that another Zangoose came near it, asking if its okay in human language.
"Actually May, that's a human."
"What? But it's been more than 43 episodes since we last saw one!"
While May was still startled by this unusual sight, by this point Brock and others kind of already knew the gig and supposedly already have a mental picture of who it was. And sure enough, the familiar face of Nicholai greeted them as it looked back.
"Been doing my own brand of character development while you guys were away."
"You mean while YOU didn't have screen time."
We have already explained before his occupation as a Pokémon naturalist, and how this ties to his attempt to "become one" with his battle buddies by wearing matching Pokémon kigurumi. This time, though, we see a bit of an evolution to his hobbies (habits?), as he showcases even more kigurumi for us to behold.
First is the Zangoose kigurumi. Not to be verbally confused with the Zigzagoon kigurumi, the Zangoose kigurumi is the main star of this episode. It predictably has more or less the same anatomical properties as his previous Gligar and Aipom kigurumi, though this time focusing more on leg usage transitions.
Second is the Marshtomp kigurumi. This one in fact is a literal evolution from his last Mudkip kigurumi, in accordance to how his Mudkip eventually evolved into Marshtomp. Oh, but wait a minute. You mean, not only does he prepare separate kigurumi for each of his Pokémon, but he also makes one for each of their evolution forms?
That's dedication right there.
"Does that mean, you proved me wrong way back last episode 5?"
"Nope. Got my ass completely kicked."
In any case, it seemed that Nicholai did follow up on his previous plan on challenging May and Max's Dad, the Petalburg City gym leader. He got his ass beat, but admitted that the battle was a very good experience, and is now back to training for a future rematch.
"Dude, my Marshtomp literally cries in pain when whacked with banana leaves!"
Ash suggested to do a sparring match, to which he agreed. This is where we see his "evolved" Marshtomp kigurumi, and the first signs of his constant trouble before Ash and gang bumped into him. Namely, that his Zangoose just kept doing its own thing somehow.
"Aaaand off it goes again. How does it even escape story battles anyway?"
"Oh, another story battle. Now I get it."
Even during an officially agreed Pokémon battle, Zangoose immediately wandered off as soon as it sensed something else. And by "something else", we mean a Seviper, to be specific Jessie's Seviper, who was within close proximity as they are only hiding beyond sight near the bushes where Ash and Nicholai are supposed to battle.
"Woah, woah! Do you two really need to be THAT biologically accurate?"
At first glance, the battle seemed evenly matched, fully representative of the real-life animals they are meant to portray (well, vipers are not cobras, but they are sworn rivals according to Gen III Pokémon lore). However, Seviper immediately got the upper hand, even inflicting serious damage on Zangoose as it was unable to even do basic moves while being swept away by the river's current.
"Didn't expect that to be a water fight but, man Zangoose really got beat up."
"Nicholai, I think I have an idea..."
Nicholai did manage to get Seviper off of Zangoose, but by then almost all of its strength has wasted away. Ash, seemingly having fought Seviper several times before, offered a suggestion of doing a mock Pokémon battle with Nicholai to learn how to defeat it.
"Don't just wear it. Become what you wear!"
"...I'm starting to think that spreading the good word about that is a bad idea."
And yes, he fully meant doing a mock battle while wearing kigurumi.
Not sure how we could even rate Ash's Seviper kigurumi with that design. But, we can all agree that the bigger question here is how in the world do they even have one. Did they borrow from Nicholai's portable collection or something?
"Guys, could you not do Pokémon speak with that session?"
Anyhow, the "battle" turned out to be just as super lame as you have expected. We probably played "pretend Pokémon" even better than these two as kids. That being said, Ash did impart a few important strategic tidbits, such as Seviper's tail attack and bite timings.
"Hmm, not sure how I'd design my kigurumi if I ever decided to catch a Skitty."
May's uncontrollable Skitty also unintentionally contributed, albeit the formulated "zigzagging" strategy based on its movement didn't really sound as reassuring. (or as doable even)
"Hang on in there Zangoose, the episode still got 4 minutes and 54 seconds!"
"Oh yeah. We'd better do something drastic soon too, Meowth!"
So, still donning that Zangoose kigurumi, Nicholai came back to Team Rocket. However, with Zangoose still not at "full HP", all that it could was to continue dodging Seviper's assaults. There was the usual snatchy-snatchy scuffle between Pikachu, leaving only the two rival Pokémon and their respective trainers to duke it out.
In the end, Zangoose successfully used Skitty's dodgy (pun intended) skills to prevent further damage on itself, while finishing the battle with its signature Crush Claw. Team Rocket promptly blasted off again, and another rematch between Ash and Nicholai is soon to unfold.
In those last moments, we see the ever-familiar Zigzagoon kigurumi, opening the battle to what perhaps would be an epic clash between the knickerbocker dude and the trouser boy...
Nah, we're pretty sure Nicholai just got "creamed" again.
Thanks for all the kigurumi, Pokémon the Series: Ruby and Sapphire. Looking forward to see the wider world of Pokémon to even more of them in the future!