| Beauty is Skin Deep
Ibuki and Miniryu!
|| June 6, 2002
| United States
|| May 31, 2003
|| Team Ota
|| 藤田伸三 Shinzō Fujita
|| 秦義人 Yoshito Hata
| Assistant director
|| 秦義人 Yoshito Hata
| Animation director
|| 福本勝 Masaru Fukumoto
| Additional credits
Beauty is Skin Deep (Japanese: イブキとミニリュウ！ Ibuki and Miniryu!) is the 251st episode of the Pokémon anime. It was first broadcast in Japan on June 6, 2002 and in the United States on May 31, 2003.
Finally reaching the outskirts of Blackthorn City, Ash pushes to quickly seek out the gym where he hopes to earn his final Johto badge. Before he has the opportunity, he chances into a Dratini and learns that its eager trainer, Clair, is in fact the Blackthorn Gym leader. Ash's attempt to challenge her to a duel—and Brock's attempts at getting her phone number—are both cut short when Team Rocket arrives, intent on stealing the Gym Leader's Dratini right out from under her. After dispatching with these hapless villains, Ash secures Clair's promise to face him in her gym. Cheerfully Ash and friends march the last few miles into the city.
Having nearly arrived at Blackthorn City, Ash and his friends find a Dratini lying on the ground. However, when they try to get a closer look, a Gyarados appears and keeps them at bay using a Hydro Pump. A mysterious woman appears, threatening them if they try to harm the Dratini. After the confusion is sorted, the woman introduces herself as Clair, and that her Gyarados was simply trying to protect her Dratini. However, when Dratini leaves, Clair and Gyarados leaves in pursuit. Ash then runs into her elderly assistant, Kaburagi, who reveals to them that Clair is the Blackthorn Gym Leader, and must perform a ritual with the Dragon Fang. As they slowly follow Clair and her Dratini upstream, Kaburagi reveals the local history: an unidentified dragon Pokémon had terrorized local residents, until it was defeated by the first Blackthorn Gym Leader, who took one of its fangs as a sign of victory. Since then, the Dragon Fang has been handed down through generations, and today is the day that they must perform a purification ritual.
Meanwhile, Team Rocket, further upstream, is relaxing when Dratini passes by. Jessie is enamored by the Dratini, hoping to catch one for her own. As James sends out Weezing, they are suddenly washed in Gyarados' Hydro Pump, and meet face to face with Clair. When Team Rocket try to threaten her, she sends them flying by using another one of Gyarados' Hydro Pump attacks. Meanwhile, Ash and company, with Kaburagi, manage to make up their ground with Clair. Kaburagi implores Clair to return in time for the ritual, but Clair objects, seeing as Dratini is preparing to shed its skin - a point in which Dratini are the most vulnerable. When Dratini leaves, Clair and Gyarados follow, and Ash and company have no choice but to follow them, and let Dratini shed its skin before preparing for the ritual. Team Rocket, intending on stealing Dratini, is also in pursuit - though James contends that Dratini would fetch a high price either on the open market or as a gift to Giovanni, Jessie is adamant that she keep Dratini for herself, thinking that it is cute.
Knowing that pursuing Dratini may take the entire day, Clair takes a break for lunch. This gives an opportunity for Ash to challenge Clair, which Clair accepts. Kaburagi, noticing that Ash had won the Badge from Mahogany Town, asks them whether the rumors of a Red Gyarados rampaging near town were true. Ash and company proceed to tell them the whole story, including how they had met Lance, and how they were in the middle of the entire situation. Clair and her assistant is surprised at the fact that Lance is a Pokémon G-Man, which surprises Ash (not knowing that they, too, are acquainted with Lance). Clair reveals that the two are both Dragon-type Trainers who had trained with each other. Knowing this, Ash and Clair are both excited for their upcoming battle. Their lunch is disrupted by an elderly couple, who wants to take pictures with Dratini. Though Clair is reluctant, she allows the couple to go near Dratini, only for the couple to trap Dratini in a net. The couple reveal themselves as Jessie and James, while Meowth covers their escape using a smoke bomb.
While Clair is in hot pursuit of Team Rocket's balloon, Dratini tries desperately to break free by rocking the balloon. When the balloon crashes, it makes a desperate attempt into the water, which Jessie quickly stops. This allows Clair to catch up. Trying to defend themselves, James sends out Weezing, but is dispatched easily by Gyarados. Pikachu tries to Thunderbolt Team Rocket to send them flying, but Wobbuffet's Counter deflects the attack in all directions - hitting Ash, Pikachu, Team Rocket, and nearly hitting Misty, Brock, and Kaburagi. When an errant Thunderbolt is about to hit Dratini, Clair dives to protect it. Just at that moment, Dratini evolves into Dragonair, much to Jessie's dismay (who contends that it was cuter as a Dratini). As Dragonair is far more rare, Team Rocket presses on their attack, but thanks to Gyarados' Hyper Beam and Dragonair's Twister, they are sent flying.
Just as they celebrate their victory, Dragonair leaves, with everyone in pursuit. They are led to Riverhead Falls, the source of the water that leads into Blackthorn City, and the perfect place for the ritual. Ash and company are witnesses to the purification ritual, in which Clair says a prayer and proceeds to drench the Dragon Fang in the lake water. The Dragon Fang reacts, and sends a dragon-shaped beam of light into the sky. Kaburagi explains that after a dragon Pokémon dies, its body becomes a star in the sky.
The next day, Ash and his friends finally make it to the city gates of Blackthorn City, as the Blackthorn Gym awaits.
- For a list of all major events in the anime, please see the timeline of events.
- This episode begins the five part Blackthorn City arc.
- The English title of this episode is based on the saying Beauty is only skin deep.
- Music from Mewtwo Strikes Back and The Power of One can be heard in the background.
- Near the end of the episode, Kaburagi says, "Yes, once a dragon Pokemon becomes a star, it watches over all dragon Pokémon. At least, that's what the popular legends tell us happens". This may be a reference to the movie Dragonheart, which also tells that in their legends, when a dragon dies, it becomes a star in the sky where it watches over us from.
- Due to the banning of EP035, this episode marks the first in-the-flesh appearance of a Dratini in the dub, effectively making it the final Generation I Pokémon to debut in the dub.
- The beams connecting the basket to the Meowth head on Team Rocket's balloon appear to be entirely green for a second.
- Clair's Dratini's eyes are all black at the beginning of the episode, but the rest of the time there is red on the bottoms of its eyes.
- Wobbuffet uses Counter against Pikachu's Thunderbolt, when it should have been Mirror Coat.
- When James sends out his Weezing, it's facing the opposite direction.
- When Ash was showing his badges to Clair, it is seen that he stands up. However in the next scene, he is sitting down even though it never showed him sitting down.
- Clair refers to her rice balls as sandwiches.
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