Earlier reports only credited Kunihiko Natsume as animation director.
Coming Full-Festival Circle! (Japanese: セミファイナル！決勝へ進むのは！？The Semi-Finals! Who is Heading to the Finals!?) is the 176th episode of Pokémon the Series: Diamond and Pearl, and the 642nd episode of the Pokémon anime. It first aired in Japan on May 13, 2010 and in the United States on October 2, 2010.
Coming down to the wire at the Pokémon Contest Grand Festival, our four semifinalists are Nando, Zoey, Jessilina, and Dawn. First up is Zoey versus Nando, and both Coordinators and their Pokémon put on a spectacular performance. As Zoey begins to take control by using Nando's attacks against him, the five-minute time limit expires, leaving Zoey as the victor!
Next up, it's Dawn versus Jessilina. It becomes clear early on that Dawn has grown a lot as a Coordinator since her journey began. She is decisive, determined, and confident, and her crisp commands propel her Buneary and Cyndaquil to new heights! And when the time runs out, much to Jessilina's dismay, Dawn is declared the winner!
So it's Dawn and Zoey in the finals, just as they hoped... And next time, the girls will face off for the title of Top Coordinator!
That night, Dawn and her Piplup take a moment to clear their heads on the balcony. Luckily Ash and Brock give her a confidence boost. The group then hears the music of a harp and go downstairs to investigate, where they find Nando playing for dozens of wild Pokémon in the forest. Noticing them, Nando pauses his rendition and reveals that he id feeling nervous having made it so far in the Grand Festival. Zoey soon joins them, and promises Nando a good battle. Since everyone is out, Brock wonders what Jessilina is doing and it is shown that Jessie are in a warehouse with James and Meowth. Before them are piles of boxes containing Jessilina memorabilia. While James and Meowth are sure that the memorabilia will earn them lots of money, Jessie daydreams about the rich lifestyle she will earn when she becomes Top Coordinator.
The next day, the semifinals have officially started and it's Zoey versus Nando first. Zoey sends out her Mismagius and Leafeon while Nando calls out his Kricketune and new Lopunny. Mismagius and Leafeon come out in a shower of Star Seals while Kricketune and Lopunny are released in a shower of Song Seals. Unfazed, Zoey tells Leafeon to use Energy Ball and Mismagius to use Shock Wave. The Shock Wave fuses with the Energy Ball to create an electrifying meteorite, and the combination costs Nando some early points. Nando has Lopunny use Jump Kick to knock Zoey's combination away while Kricketune uses Bug Buzz to immobilize Leafeon. Lopunny meanwhile dances around and wraps the streamers created by Bug Buzz around itself to create an elegant effect and also take away a portion of Zoey's points. Suddenly, the Energy fusion Ball that Lopunny had kicked away returns, shooting straight down. Kricketune then blasts away the fusion ball to create a shower of rainbow sparks, which is used to further emphasize Lopunny's elegance, again costing Zoey points. Recovering, Zoey orders Leafeon and Mismagius use Double Team, surrounding Nando's pair in alternating duplicates. The two Pokémon alternate between each other with their Double Teams as they surround Nando's Pokémon. Nando is amazed by the stunning contrast of the double Double Team. He orders Lopunny use Blizzard, but he ends up losing points as the light from the disappearing doubles only makes Leafeon and Mismagius shine all the more.
Angered, Nando tells Kricketune to use Sing, which causes Zoey to lose some points. However, Zoey had been expecting Sing and tells Mismagius to use Lucky Chant; a move that prevents critical hits. The gems on Mismagius's body glows as Mismagius soars into the air. Purple tendrils then appear out of the gems and knock away the music notes created by Sing and Nando loses points as a result. Leafeon follows on with a Leaf Blade, slashing through Lopunny's counter Focus Blast, and landing a hit on its opponent. Kricketune tries an X-Scissor against Leafeon, but Mismagius diswades it with a Psywave. Startled, Nando has Lopunny leap in and carry Kricketune out of the harms way. Zoey tells Leafeon to use Leaf Blade again to take up the X-Scissor. Kricketune and Leafeon then collide several times with neither of them giving an inch, with both sides still at a tie even at the thirty second mark.
Nando orders Kricketune use Silver Wind while Lopunny uses Blizzard by spinning around Kricketune. The Blizzard and the Silver Wind combine to form snowflakes that float gently down to the ground while Lopunny continues to show off its elegant dance moves. Zoey has Leafeon use Aerial Ace while Mismagius unleashes a Psywave. The resulting combination gives Leafeon beautiful bluish-white wings, and the leaf on Leafeon's head glows white in preparation for a blade attack. Nando prepares his counter by having Lopunny intercept Leafeon. However, Mismagius intercepts with a Shock Wave. Lopunny's kick collides with Mismagius's shield of thunder and an explosion occurs that knocks both Pokémon back. Kricketune then uses X-Scissor to counter Leafeon's fusion. The two collide and orange sparks fly off. The orange sparks cause Leafeon's psychic wings to disappear while neither Kricketune nor Leafeon budge. The power level reaches its max and an explosion occurs that leaves the stadium dark as bright sparkles fall to the ground. The lights are returned as Zoey and Nando grin at each other. Time is up, and with the most points remaining Zoey wins the round and will be advancing to the finals. Nando congratulates Zoey on her win and wishes her good luck in the finals. Absolutely stunned by the beautiful performance, Fantina appears out of the blue and raises both Nando and Zoey's arms up in victory.
Next up is Dawn against Jessilina. Dawn runs down the halls to enter the stadium but stops when she sees Zoey returning. Both grin at each other and Dawn tells Zoey to wait for her at the finals. While Jessilina blows heart-filled kisses to the crowd, Dawn takes a deep breath and tells herself that she just needs to believe in her Pokémon. Johanna anxiously watches from the television as battle starts and Dawn sends out her Buneary and her Cyndaquil in a shower of Star Seals. Jessilina meanwhile selects Seviper and Carnivine. They enter using their unique "Rocket Start" before Buneary counters with Dizzy Punch and Cyndaquil with SmokeScreen. Next, Buneary spins around as she uses Ice Beam to freeze Seviper solid and Cyndaquil knocks Carnivine over with a Flame Wheel. Cyndaquil then uses Swift while Buneary uses Bounce to spin around the golden stars. Carnivine retaliates with Vine Whip while Seviper prepares to lash Buneary with its signature Poison Tail. However, Buneary jumps out of the way and, as a result, Seviper gets hit with the Swift attack. Carnivine then tries to get Buneary once more with Vine Whip but Buneary again bounces out of the way and sends Carnivine crashing into Seviper. Seviper quickly recovers and traps Cyndaquil in its Wrap attack while Cyndaquil's Swift collides with Carnivine. Dawn then uses another combination of Ice Beam and Swift while Jessilina counters with Seviper's Haze and Carnivine's Bullet Seed. The battle soon ends as the time is called. Dawn is shown to lead by a huge amount of points, thus earning herself a place in the finals. Meanwhile, Jessilina realizes that her dreams of stardom and fame have been destroyed and approaches Dawn angrily. Everyone else is confused while James and Meowth are well-are of Jessie's temper tantrums. However, Jessilina wasn't looking to pick a fight with Dawn. Instead, she pinches both of Dawn's cheeks and tells her to win the Grand Festival or else. She then walks off while Dawn thanks her.
The following day arrives, and Marian welcomes everyone to the much anticipated finals match. Lit by bright spotlights, Zoey and Dawn stare at each other intently as the five minute countdown begins.
This episode marks the first time in the anime that a main character has made it to the finals of a major tournament. Before this, the furthest Ash had ever advanced in a tournament was when he made it to the Top 8 of the Silver Conference and the Ever Grande Conference, while the furthest May had ever advanced to was when she made it to the Top 4 of the Kanto Grand Festival.
The episode's English dub title comes from the idiom "to come full circle".
The same Trainer appearing in the A block and losing to Jessilina
The Trainer that Jessilina defeats at the start of the episode had been previously revealed to be in the A block with Dawn in Opposites Interact!, which Jessie was not in. No other similar Trainers appeared in the group of 32 Trainers revealed to have qualified for the second round in Last Call — First Round!.
When Jessilina is shown cheering because she won her battle, there are five judge stands behind her when there should be four.
When Nando is outside singing to all the Pokémon, two Cherrim appear in their Sunshine Form despite the fact it is dark outside.
During the montage of battles leading up to the semifinals, Zoey's Gastrodon's head is colored fully pink.
Despite having being shown next to Marian mere seconds before, the Ribbon Cup was missing from the final shot of the episode.