Guiding an Awakening! (Japanese: クチナシの大試練！ルガルガン覚醒！！Kuchinashi's Grand Trial! Lugarugan Awakens!!) is the 77th episode of the Sun & Moon series, and the 1,016th episode of the Pokémon anime. It first aired in Japan on May 31, 2018, in New Zealand on September 28, 2018, in Canada on October 20, 2018, in Australia and the United Kingdom on October 30, 2018, and in the United States on November 3, 2018.
Ash’s grand trial on Ula’ula Island is in full swing, and the kahuna has lots of twists and turns in store for the battle!
Following Ash’s victory at the Abandoned Thrifty Megamart, Ula’ula Island Kahuna Nanu agrees to battle him in a grand trial! But there’s a catch—Ash must defeat three of Nanu’s Pokémon using only one of his.
He chooses Lycanroc, whose training has paid off, as it quickly defeats Nanu’s Krookodile. Next up is Sableye, and Lycanroc lands another win. But when Nanu sends out his Alolan Persian and begins taunting Ash, Lycanroc’s temper begins to flare—leading Ash to realize that Lycanroc is channeling that anger into power! Determined, Lycanroc learns the move Counter and defeats Persian. Ash wins a Lycanium Z and his third grand trial!
Acerola enters the empty Ruins of Abundance and leaves an offering of Berries. She soon meets up with Nanu who is somewhat smiling, though explains that he wants everything to be over as quickly as possible. Elsewhere, Ash places the Rockium Z into his Z-Ring, and braces his enthusiastic Pokémon for an upcoming victory in the Grand Trial.
At the battlefield, Acerola wishes Ash luck as she takes her position as referee. Nanu takes a moment to pray as a gesture of goodwill. In order for Ash to clear the Ula'ula Island Grand Trial he must defeat three of Nanu's Pokémon with only one of his. Ash and Rotom are startled by the three-to-one challenge, but Acerola explains that a Grand Trial needs to be difficult. Ash turns his attention to Lycanroc, who gladly accepts the battle conditions much to Nanu's dismay. Despite Nanu's scrutiny of his challenger, Ash claims that Lycanroc wants revenge and is motivated.
Nanu calls out his Krookodile, but Lycanroc remains unfazed by its opponent's Intimidate ability. Acerola calls for the match to begin. Nanu starts off with a Mud-Slap, which Lycanroc avoids only to fall into a Sand Tomb. Krookodile launches another Mud-Slap, and Lycanroc's eyes turn red after its fur is dirtied. Much to Ash's relief, his Pokémon simply jumps out of the Sand Tomb and its eyes return to normal. Lycanroc shakes off the mud as Ash boasts that they will win today. Nanu dares him to prove his words in battle. Ash goes to call for an Accelerock, but remembers Krookodile used Counter to defeat Lycanroc last time. He opts for a Rock Throw instead, which Krookodile destroys with its tail. Ash repeats the move, but Krookodile uses the same tactic to defend itself. Nanu realizes that Ash is attempting to avoid close-range combat and has Krookodile approach with Crunch. Lycanroc dodges and launches another Rock Throw, however the attack is again swatted away by Krookodile's tail. Nanu claims the battle is getting boring and calls Ash gutless for his fear of Krookodile's Counter. He reminds Ash that a Pokemon battle is meant to be an exchange of power. Lycanroc also shares these sentiments, so Ash calls for an Accelerock. Krookodile goes to use Counter, but is struck by Lycanroc's blinding speed before it has the chance, much to Nanu's surprise. Krookodile is overwhelmed by Lycanroc’s follow-up Rock Throw and is defeated. Ash thanks Nanu for his sharp words, which motivated him to want to fight. Nanu states that lying can be a good strategy and that he planned to lure Ash into a Counter situation. Ash is left disturbed by Nanu's admission as Acerola calls for her uncle's next Pokémon.
Nanu sends out his Sableye and starts the match off with a Shadow Ball. Lycanroc's Rock Throw cancels out the attack. Sableye follows up with a Shadow Sneak which inflicts some damage on Lycanroc. Ash calls for a Bite, however it collides with Sableye's Shadow Claw. Before Lycanroc can attack, Sableye freezes it in place with Mean Look. Ash calls for an attack, but Lycanroc is unable to move. Its Bite is just out of reach while Sableye dishes out several Shadow Claws. After a Shadow Sneak hits, Lycanroc returns to its red-eyed form and goes onto evade another onslaught of Shadow Claws. Nanu takes a moment to inform Ash that Lycanroc seems much stronger when angry, but Ash fears his Pokémon will not listen to his instructions. The aside causes Ash to think, so he has Lycanroc unleash a Stone Edge which defeats Sableye. Nanu recalls his Pokémon, and is a little surprised by Lycanroc's new move. Amongst the congratulations, Ash notices that Lycanroc is panting heavily from exhaustion. Tapu Bulu flies overhead and delivers a much needed Sitrus Berry. Acerola asks if the item can be used and Nanu replies that he cannot argue with the Island Guardian. Lycanroc chews the berry and is ready for the third and final round of the Grand Trial.
Nanu's AlolanPersian is sent out. Its Power Gem strikes Lycanroc down, but Persian takes a hit from Lycanroc's Stone Edge. Nanu takes another swipe at Ash, noting that Lycanroc could perform better without its Trainer. While Ash is angered by Nanu's inflammatory comments, Persian lands a Dark Pulse on Lycanroc. The attacks hits its mark, and Rotom quickly realizes that this is another distraction tactic. Lycanroc shakes off the attack, but after another two Dark Pulses it again enters its red eyed state. Nanu admits he is trying to make Lycanroc lose control and earn himself the victory. Ash calls for Lycanroc to calm down, while Nanu continues to call Ash a worthless Trainer. Nanu sees another opportunity as Ash is again enraged, and Persian strikes Lycanroc with a Night Slash. Nanu argues that he is a Dark-type specialist and defends his so-called unfair tactics. As Persian is about to finish Lycanroc off, Ash call for his Pokémon to calm down. Lycanroc suddenly turns on Ash and knocks him to the ground.
Ash gazes into Lycanroc's red eyes and realizes that it is a sign that it grew in power, and was not blinded by rage. He apologizes for not noticing Lycanroc's control over its power and for becoming distracted by Nanu's comments. Lycanroc nudges Ash and accepts the apology, which allows the match to resume. Lycanroc dodges several Night Slashes and responds with a new move, Counter. Nanu is amused by the development and resorts to using his Z-Crystal. He activates its power and has Persian perform Black Hole Eclipse. However, Ash replies with a Z-Move of his own and has Lycanroc unleash a Continental Crush. The large mound of rock is consumed by the black hole, and the two attacks cancel each other out. Lycanroc follows up with Accelrock, and Persian is defeated. Acerola officially calls the match, with Ash winning the Grand Trial.
Nanu congratulates his opponent and pulls out a Darkinium Z. Though he quickly retracts his offering, and notes that Ash isn't the type of guy that would use it. Instead he gives Ash a different Z-Crystal, a Lycanium Z. Ash is amazed as Nanu explains that the Z-Crystal is exclusive to Lycanroc. A sudden ring of a cow bell causes the group to look up, and it is Tapu Bulu who drops another Sitrus Berry to Lycanroc.
Later, Ash and his Pokémon leave Ula'ula Island, with Acerola waving him off and wishing for his return someday soon. Ash waves goodbye to her, and invites her to visit the Pokémon School one day. As the ship sails into the distance, Nanu watches on and admits Ash is an interesting guy. Acerola points out that he could have said goodbye to Ash, but Nanu shrugs off the idea. Acerola still feels that Nanu enjoyed the battle, though Nanu notes that he couldn't afford to slack off and did his best. As they sail into the sunset, Ash readies his Pokémon and hopes to clear the next Grand Trial.
Ash holding the Lycanium Z
Ash's Lycanroc is revealed to have gained control of its red-eyed state, allowing it to be used as a temporary power boost.
With only three, this episode would features the smallest amount of human characters of any episode in the anime, surpassing the previous record of four shared by a total of eight previous episodes, with the record originally being set by Ash Catches a Pokémon and seven Best Wishes series episodes later matching it. This record would later go to SM126, 49 episodes later, only featuring two characters (one outside of flashbacks).