|To Thine Own Pokémon Be True!
To Thine Own Pokémon Be True! (Japanese: ポケモンピンポン大会！エテボースがんばる！！ Pokémon Ping Pong Tournament! Eteboth Does Her Best!!) is the 124th episode of Pokémon the Series: Diamond and Pearl, and the 590th episode of the Pokémon anime. It first aired in Japan on April 23, 2009 and in the United States on September 12, 2009.
Ash, Dawn, and Ash’s rival Barry are all competitors in Sandalstraw Town’s Pokémon ping-pong tournament, where Trainers form doubles teams with their Pokémon. Ash and Dawn warm up with a practice match, but Dawn’s partner Ambipom smashes the ball so hard, it nearly hits a passing ping-pong player. As Barry later explains, that player is none other than O, the defending tournament champion! When practice is over and the tournament begins, Jessie and Meowth are among the competitors. But when Meowth gets carried away and uses a Pokémon move to slice the ball into bits, they’re disqualified!
Ash and Pikachu are taken out by an experienced player and his Farfetch’d, but Dawn and Ambipom beat a Trainer and Alakazam to advance to the second round. Agile Ambipom can use its tails to return just about any shot, and as O watches from the sidelines, he can hardly believe Ambipom is new to the sport! Dawn and Ambipom defeat their next opponent, and now it’s Barry’s turn to take on O. O and Shiftry make short work of Barry and Empoleon—that means O is Dawn’s next opponent.
Though O quickly takes the lead against Dawn and Ambipom, Dawn is determined to fight back. But when she tries to return Shiftry’s shot, it smashes her paddle into pieces! As Dawn helplessly watches, Ambipom takes over, using its tails to play O and Shiftry at the same time. Ambipom wins the second of their three matches and Dawn gets a replacement paddle for the third match, but O still wins and moves on to win the entire tournament. However, he’s so impressed by Ambipom that he offers to take it on as a student.
Dawn doesn’t know what to do, but she sees how much Ambipom enjoys ping-pong. So she leaves the decision to Ambipom: pursue Pokémon ping-pong, or stay with Dawn and her Contests? Ambipom wants to play ping-pong, so it joins O and heads to O’s training center in Kanto. Our heroes say a fond farewell to their old friend, who surely has a bright future in Pokémon sports!
Ash and Barry burst out of the Pokémon Center, practicing their swings for the upcoming Pokémon Ping Pong Tournament. When Dawn asks about the rules, Barry explains that Pokémon Ping Pong is where a Trainer and one of their Pokémon compete as a team. The Trainer is the only one allowed to have a paddle, while the Pokémon is allowed to use a part of their body instead. The Trainer always serves, and the first team with 11 points wins a game; the first to win three games wins the match. As a result, Dawn decides to enter the tournament as well.
Outside of the Ping Pong Tournament hall, Ash and Dawn fill out their paperwork to register. Ash chooses Pikachu as his partner, while Dawn picks Ambipom due to her earlier performance in the Sandalstraw Contest. Meanwhile, Brock and Piplup watch in the stands. Upon arriving, the group notices the practice tables, and Ash and Dawn decide to use them. As the match commences, a young man walks by noticing the match. Ambipom returns the ball with tremendous force, but it flies out of bounds past Ash, engulfed in flames, and towards the young man. He effortlessly catches it and is impressed by Ambipom's skill. He assumes Ambipom has been training daily, but is surprised to learn that Dawn and Ambipom have only begun practicing. He gives them some pointers and wishes them luck before continuing on his way. Brock notices the man is on a magazine he has and brings attention to it.
Later in the tournament hall, the teams gather in preparation for the tournament. Noticing the lineups, Ash and Dawn are excited to play against each other if they each clear the first round. Barry, however, boast that they would need to reach the semi-finals to go up against him. Dawn accepts his challenge to meet him in the semi-finals, and then notices the young man from earlier. She calls attention to his picture on the lineup board, where he is placed separately from everyone else and bypassing the first round. Barry is shocked when Dawn refers to him as "that guy from before" and tells the group that young man's true identity is last year's winner and global advocate for Pokémon Ping Pong, O.
A whistle blows, calling attention to the announcer who informs the contestants it's time to begin. Meanwhile, in the stands, a disguised James meets up with Brock. James initially panics, though Brock cannot see through the disguise and they start up a conversation. Down on the tournament floor, the teams are gathered before the announcer who reveals that the winners of the competition will win solid gold ping pong balls while runner-up will win a year supply of special Pokémon food. Enviously eyeing the prizes, Meowth speaks about having gold fever. Jessie, disguised as Jessilynlyn, quickly pins Meowth down to stifle him, telling him he'll blow their cover if he's heard talking. The announcer tells the teams to get to their tables, and the tournaments begins. At their tables, the opponents size each other up and show their determination. Despite being nervous himself, Ash tells Dawn that they're there for fun. Dawn informs Ash that he's holding a fan instead of a paddle, and with his knees shaking Dawn tries to calm his nerves.
Meanwhile, Jessilynlyn and Meowth are set to face off against Halverson and his Marowak. The referee calls attention to Meowth holding a paddle, and reminds him that the rules prohibit it. Jessie tries to argue that Marowak has a bone, but is told that according to the rules this is allowed. Jessie claims the rules are unfair attempting to argue with the referee, Meowth quickly pulls her into line. The referee uses Coin Flip on his Pokétch, and Halverson wins first serve. He serves the ball, and Jessie tells Meowth to "slice and dice," which he responds to by using Fury Swipes on the ball slicing it into thirds. Since Meowth has used a move, he and Jessie are instantly disqualified much to James' churning.
Elsewhere Ash and Pikachu face Wilkinson and his Farfetch'd. Ash serves, starting off a consistent round of exchanges which grow heated. Wilkinson hits the ball pass Ash's head, and Pikachu saves with his tail. However Farfetch'd manages to hit the ball, and it bounces off the table and into Ash's jaw earning Team Wilkinson first point. Pikachu asks Ash if he's alright, and Ash reassures Pikachu he's fine. At Dawn's table the match between her, Ambipom and Team Scientist is well underway. Dawn and Ambipom are caught in a similar cycle to Ash’s match. She plays hard as the ball is hit to Alakazam. Desperate to determine where the ball will come from, Dawn tries to read Alakazam's movement. She sees it lift its left hand, and tells Ambipom to go to the left. However Alakazam hits the ball to the right, soaring past Dawn and earning Team Scientist a point. Dawn learns from her mistake, and serves the ball. The ball goes towards Alakazam again, and it hits it with its right hand sending the ball past Dawn. Though Ambipom saves by using her tails, giving Dawn an idea of how to win. The ball goes toward Scientist who flinches, and the ball blunts off his paddle and to Ambipom. Ambipom hits the ball with similar force from earlier, setting it on fire and roaring pass Team Scientist earning a point. The matches continue with Ash having lost to Wilkinson, and Dawn prevailing over Scientist.
Backstage, Jessie scolds Meowth for costing them the match. She demands he build a robot to steal the golden ping pong balls by force. Though Meowth admits that their bank account is empty and he can't do it. Aggravated Jessie storms off to join James in the stands, with Meowth following behind. Ash, depressed that he lost, joins Brock and Piplup to watch as Dawn takes on Halverson in the third round. With the third round underway and ten points, Dawn and Ambipom fiercely go against Halverson and Marowak. O watches from the sidelines, still amazed at Dawn and Ambipom's skill given they are only beginners. The ball goes pass Dawn, and Ambipom saves before she hits the ground. Ambipom hits the ball with tremendous force, sending it towards Marowak. Marowak tries to use its bone to hit the ball back, but the force is too much for Marowak. The ball knocks the bone out of Marowak's hand, hitting out of bounds earning Dawn and Ambipom the winning point. Dawn’s friends notice Dawn and Ambipom are increasingly becoming better with each match. Jessie is still sulking over her lost and humiliation, reminisces on how she should have made Ambipom hers during the festival Contest.
Barry has done equally well, and is due to face O his Shiftry next. Barry's match with O begins, and Barry serves. O hits the ball to Barry's Empoleon who returns it above O's head. O ducks his head as Shiftry comes in for the save, and Shiftry sends the ball flying pass Barry and Empoleon. As Dawn sits in astonishment at Shiftry's technique, Ambipom shadow boxes in preparation for the next round. The match doesn't go much better for Barry and he is swiftly beaten by O. Barry doesn't take the defeat well and leaves the group almost immediately afterward.
Next, Dawn's match with O begins and she and Ambipom give it their all, however their teamwork is slipping against someone who has a lot more experience with Pokémon Ping Pong. This is indicated when Shiftry hits the ball, and Dawn and Ambipom collide trying to hit it back. O and Shiftry win the game 11 to 6, and Ash and Brock converse on Dawn and Ambipom's declining performance. Ash calls to Dawn to relax as the next game starts. Dawn finds herself intimidated by O and Shiftry. As she tries calm herself down, Ambipom places her hand on Dawn's shoulder and reassures her with a motivational shadow boxing display. Dawn's confidence raises, and she is ready to continue the match. O serves, and the ball goes past Dawn. Luckily Ambipom saves, and the ball goes towards Shiftry who hits it to back to Dawn. Dawn swings and returns, but the force of the impact breaks her paddle. Taking advantage of the situation, O hits the ball, but Ambipom manages to hit it back. Ambipom faces off against both O and Shiftry using her two tails, and holds her own very impressively. Ambipom evens the score up, gaining her and Dawn point after point. With tears in her eyes Dawn yells her support to spur Ambipom onto victory. Ambipom hits the ball pass O and Shiftry, gaining the eleventh point and winning them the game. Dawn picks up another paddle and joins Ambipom again, filled with confidence and pride from Ambipom's efforts. O announces that he's going to win, and serves the ball.
Later, Dawn sits anxiously outside the Pokémon Center's treatment room. She listens to the TV overhead, as it is announced that O and Shiftry won their second consecutive title after beating Theodore and his Gliscor. A melody plays as the treatment sign dims, and Nurse Joy exits with Chansey. Nurse Joy informs Dawn that Ambipom was exhausted from the intensive match, and that she has no real injuries reassuring Dawn there is nothing to worry about. Ambipom happily steps out of the room to greet Dawn, who immediately apologizes for placing so much responsibility on her while she did nothing, and Ambipom forgives her. O walks into the room and offers to train what could be one of the most powerful Pokémon Ping Pong players yet. Mistaken he means her, Dawn tells him that she appreciates his offer but her focus is Pokémon Contests. O clarifies that he was actually hoping to train Ambipom. Ambipom jumps around swinging her tails in joy, as O tells Dawn he hopes she thinks about his offer. O leaves, and Dawn is left with a very tough decision.
Later that night, Dawn bursts into Ash and Brock's bedroom in a panic. Ash asks her what is the matter, and she tells them that she can't find Ambipom. They rush outside to begin searching, when a peculiar sound coming from behind the Center catches their attention. They investigate to find Ambipom playing with a ping pong ball against the wall. Relieved Dawn watches on and confesses that she is still unsure of what to do, and tells the others about O's offer. Dawn turns to Ash for advice. He reminisces about his time as Ambipom’s Trainer, back when she was just an Aipom before trading her to Dawn. Ash, having faced a similar choice more than once, tells Dawn that in the end it's what Ambipom wants to do that's important, and Brock remind her that this is part of a Trainer's responsibility. She thanks Brock, and knows what she has to do.
The next morning, O prepares to leave and initially assumes that Dawn has turned down his offer until she approaches him. She tells him that she thought a lot about what he asked her, and she has decided the best thing to do is to let Ambipom decide what she wants to do. Dawn looks at Ambipom intently. She then holds out Ambipom's Poké Ball in a Ball Capsule and a ping pong ball in either hand asking her to choose. Ambipom grabs the ping pong ball, which makes Dawn a little sad. However, Ambipom then grabs the Poké Ball, and then Dawn's hat and finally Ash's and begins juggling them joyfully as she considers her options. With Dawn's support, Ambipom hands her back the Poké Ball. Knowing she wants to play Pokémon Ping Pong, Dawn asks O to take good care of Ambipom. O promises and Ambipom joins O at his side. Pikachu and Piplup wish their friend goodbye, and Ambipom gives them a thumbs up with her tail. O tells Dawn that his Pokémon Ping Pong training center is located in Vermilion City in Kanto, meaning they can visit anytime. Dawn tells Ambipom to stay well and get strong, and Ash wishes his former Pokémon good luck. Soon, O and Ambipom hit the road. Ash, Dawn and the others wave Ambipom goodbye and she waves back as she leaves for her new future as a Pokémon Ping Pong Champion.
- Ash, Dawn, Barry, and Jessie all enter the Pokémon Ping Pong Tournament, but they end up being defeated.
- Barry leaves the group.
- Dawn's Ambipom leaves with O for training to become a Ping Pong champion.
- For a list of all major events in the anime, please see the timeline.
- Max (flashback)
- Nurse Joy
- Pikachu (Ash's)
- Meowth (Team Rocket)
- Piplup (Dawn's)
- Wobbuffet (Jessie's; flashback)
- Aipom (Ash's; flashback)
- Ambipom (Dawn's; given to O for training)
- Empoleon (Barry's)
- Shiftry (O's)
- Chansey (Nurse Joy's)
- Marowak (Halverson's)
- Farfetch'd (Wilkinson's)
- Gliscor (Theodore's)
- Alakazam (Scientist's)
- Chikorita (participant's)
- Hitmontop (participant's)
- Grovyle (participant's)
- Machamp (participant's)
- Hariyama (participant's)
- Aipom (multiple; flashback)
- Professor Oak's Big Pokémon Examination: Happiny
- An instrumental version of A Small Thing is used as background music.
- The ending animation receives a minor change in this episode, as the Pikachu-colored Pichu is now surrounded by sparkles when it first appears, similar to how a Shiny Pokémon enters a battle in the games.
- The episode's English dub title is based on a well-known quote To Thine Own Self Be True, from William Shakespeare's Hamlet.
- As Dawn is waiting in the hall of the Pokémon Center, the Generation I healing music is heard before Nurse Joy exits the operation room.
- This episode aired in Japan in April 2009, which was the same time that Yokohama, Japan was hosting the World Table Tennis Championships.
- Furthermore, O's Pokémon Ping-Pong school is located in Vermilion City, the city that is modeled after Yokohama.
- During the match between Dawn and Halverson, the end of Marowak's bone is colored brown instead of white.
- During the match between Dawn and Halverson, the score board states Halverson is winning the games 10-9 over Dawn. However, Dawn wins just one rally. She also wins the game, which is impossible due to a person only scoring one point at a time.
- In O's match against Dawn, in one scene, O was winning 11-6, but when Dawn breaks her paddle, O was winning 9-7.
- In the Polish dub, "Orania" is called by its English name.
In other languages
|Czech||Buď upřímný ke svému Pokémonovi|
|Danish||Vær tro mod din Pokémon!|
|Dutch||Wees eerlijk tegen je eigen Pokémon!|
|Finnish||Pokémonisi oman tiensä löytäköön!|
|European French||Le tournoi de ping-pong Pokémon !|
|Italian||Un talento innato!|
|Korean||겟핸보숭! 새로운 길로 떠나다|
|Norwegian||Vær tro mot dine Pokémon!|
|Portuguese||Brazil||A Escolha Certa!|
|Portugal||Sejam Fiéis aos Vossos Pokémon!|
|Romanian||O Prietenie Adevărată|
|Spanish||Latin America||¡Sé Honesto Con Tu Pokémon!|
|Spain||¡Sé Fiel a tu Propio Pokémon!|
|Swedish||Var trogen din egen Pokémon!|
|This episode article is part of Project Anime, a Bulbapedia project that covers all aspects of the Pokémon anime.|