EP008 : The Path to the Pokémon League
Original series
EP010 : Bulbasaur and the Hidden Village
The School of Hard Knocks
Pokémon Victory Manual
First broadcast
Japan May 27, 1997
United States September 18, 1998
English themes
Opening Pokémon Theme
Japanese themes
Opening めざせポケモンマスター
Ending ひゃくごじゅういち
Animation Team Ota
Screenplay 首藤剛志 Takeshi Shudō
Storyboard 浅田裕二 Yūji Asada
Assistant director 浅田裕二 Yūji Asada
Animation director 玉川明洋 Akihiro Tamagawa
Additional credits

The School of Hard Knocks (Japanese: ポケモンひっしょうマニュアル Pokémon Victory Manual) is the ninth episode of the Pokémon anime. It was first broadcast in Japan on May 27, 1997, and in the United States on September 18, 1998.

Spoiler warning: this article may contain major plot or ending details.


While searching for firewood in the foggy woods, Ash and Pikachu discover a bunch of prep-school kids bullying a classmate named Joe. They're all students at Pokémon Technical Institute, which offers classes that allow trainers to enter the Pokémon League without getting badges.

But Joe says the rough treatment is necessary so he'll be strong enough to graduate. Still, Ash doesn't like the idea, and demands to meet the person responsible for this "tutoring" program.

We soon meet this leader, a conceited girl named Giselle. Brock and Ash are smitten by her looks, but Misty wants to battle. To Misty's surprise, Giselle's Rock-type Graveler defeats her Water-type Starmie, proving that matching up types is only one of several factors that determine victory. As Giselle gloats, Ash challengers her, and Pikachu faces her Cubone.

But Cubone is unaffected by Electric-type attacks—how can Pikachu win? What's the real deal with this school? And why does the school seem so familiar to Jessie and James?


When Misty and Ash fight about the former's broken bike again, Brock pulls a table and some chairs out of his backpack, with all of the necessities to set it for a cup of tea. Brock sends Ash to collect firewood to make tea and crepes. As Ash and Pikachu wander around the forest, they encounter a group of boys in suits. One of them is running on a treadmill, while the rest are gathered around, quizzing him about various Pokémon. He misses a question and is rejected by the other boys, and Ash jumps in to defend him. The boys reveal that they are students of Pokémon Technical Institute, a boarding school which educates Pokémon Trainers. They leave, stating they don't want to fight. As Brock reads from the school's brochure, Pikachu started the treadmill and tries to keep up. The school trains its students without sending them to collect Badges, and guarantees entry into the Pokémon League upon graduation. Brock leans on the treadmill, speeding it up, which sends Pikachu flying. The school is expensive, and therefore populated with rich kids.

The student who was being bullied, Joe, defends his so-called friends, who were trying to help him. He explains that he sometimes pretends to know less than he really does because the questions get so much harder. Ash is very upset at this brutal "tutoring" system, and demands to meet the student in charge, with plans to stop it. The head student of the beginner class is a girl; Brock and Ash drool over her photo, which makes Misty angry. Ash insults Misty's looks, which makes her even angrier. Team Rocket reveals that they both flunked out of the Pokémon Tech entry exam, achieving the worst score in its history. Being led there by Ash has brought back some bad memories for Jessie and James, but Meowth cheers them up.

Joe leads Ash and his friends to the head student Giselle's study area. He says it's overall skill as a Trainer, not any one battle, that determines success at Pokémon Tech. He says that even though he is the weakest student in his class, he is still better than someone with two Badges. Misty takes offense, and Joe reveals that he is familiar with her Gym; he usually beats her preferred Water Pokémon on the simulator. Misty demands a real battle, but Joe is doubtful of her ability to beat him. Misty calls her Starmie, though Joe calls on Weepinbell, a Grass-type Pokémon, and has the type advantage. Nevertheless, Starmie beats Weepinbell with a single Water Gun, shocking Joe. Giselle walks in and chastises Joe for not realizing that Starmie's real battle experience would give it an advantage. She calls him an embarrassment to the school. Giselle continues to upbraid Joe, and threatens to withdraw the help of the other students.

Misty challenges Giselle, saying that a true friend would not walk away from a friend in need of help, and that Giselle's beauty is only skin-deep. After accusing Misty of being jealous, Giselle summons a Graveler to challenge Misty's Starmie despite the double disadvantage that Rock- and Ground-type Pokémon have against Water Pokémon. Graveler's attack powers through Starmie's Water Gun with ease and sends Starmie flying through a window and into the school's pool, defeating it, much to Misty's humiliation. Everyone makes their way down to the pool. Giselle points out that weak Pokémon can still win if they are better trained. Ash jumps in, saying that there is more to training Pokémon than levels. He brags that he has two Badges, and Giselle insults him. When Ash reveals that he has been on his quest for two months, she is shocked that he has not yet trained his Pikachu to go into a Poké Ball, and snidely remarks his Pokémon may be training him instead.

Ash protests that his three Pokémon are his friends. Giselle notes most beginners have six Pokémon, and she attributes his two Badges to luck. She is also surprised that he chose Pikachu as his starting Pokémon, as they are known to be hard to handle. Her mockery and laughter angers Pikachu, and Ash demands a battle. In response, Giselle summons Cubone. Ash calls for a Thunder Shock attack, but Cubone deflects it, much to his dismay. Giselle orders Cubone to use a Leer attack, but Pikachu responds by making funny faces at Cubone. The two Pokémon get into a close-range staring contest, until Giselle calls for a Bone Club attack; the bonk on the head staggers Pikachu. She calls for a Bonemerang, which knocks Pikachu out cold. Ash complains that it was cheap for Giselle to have Cubone throw its bone at Pikachu, but Cubone goes ahead and lobs another Bonemerang knocking Pikachu back yet again. Giselle calls for another Bonemerang, but this time, reinvigorated by motivating words from Ash, Pikachu jumps over it and twists the skull on Cubone's head backwards, so it can no longer see. Pikachu bites and scratches Cubone before its own Bonemerang comes back and knocks it out. Giselle is taken aback by the loss and returns her crying Pokémon. She is amazed that Pikachu won without using electricity, as noted in textbooks. Misty reassures Joe, who is admiring the incredible battle, that the victory was a fluke.

Team Rocket takes advantage of everyone's distraction to appear with their motto. The Tech students, recognizing them as the ones who flunked the entrance exam, attack Team Rocket together by barraging them with Poké Balls. Team Rocket is outnumbered and decides to flee, though they are hit by the Poké Balls in the process. Giselle reflects on the day's events, noting that school cannot teach everything. Joe decides to leave Pokémon Tech and return home to start afresh like Ash did. Joe asks if he can keep Giselle's picture; she replies that she has one of him, because they are now friends and hope to meet again in the Pokémon League. Ash demands to know why he and Misty are not friends like Joe and Giselle are, and she snarks that it is because Joe doesn't owe Giselle a bike.

Major events

For a list of all major events in the anime, please see the history page.


Pokémon debuts



Dare da?


Who's That Pokémon?

Who's That Pokémon?: Cubone


  • Rachael Lillis provided the voice of Pikachu for all but one of his lines.
  • This is Eric Stuart's first full episode voicing James. He had previously taken over for Ted Lewis towards the end of the previous episode.
  • This is the first episode in the anime to break the fourth wall. At the beginning of the episode, Brock breaks up an argument between Ash and Misty by commenting that they're running late and have to start the show.
  • This is one of the few episodes that mention a real-life place; in this episode, Brock talks about French crepes in a French accent, causing Misty go into a romantic daydream of her sitting in France.
  • This episode's English dub title is a reference to the saying "School of Hard Knocks".
    • This is also the first episode to have the title be a play on or a reference to something.
  • The types of weather mentioned by the announcer in this episode were both later introduced in the games: fog and snow.
  • This episode is the only time to date in which Brock falls for a girl who is visibly younger than himself and Ash explicitly falls for a girl at all.
  • This is one of the very few episodes in the anime where the fact that Pokémon learn certain moves or evolve at certain levels is mentioned.
  • This is the first episode since its debut where Ash's Pidgeotto doesn't appear.
  • This episode marks the only time Misty's Starmie has won a battle on-screen.
  • The scenes where Pikachu battles Cubone are used in the first Pokémon opening in South Korea.
  • Ash's Pikachu using "Leer" is the first time an improvised move was used.
  • Giselle's snide remark of Ash not training his Pikachu to go into its ball becomes ironic as the concept of Pokémon travelling outside their ball becomes more common. This occurs as early as the original series where Misty's Togepi travels outside of a Poké Ball.


  • In some scenes during the opening, Ash and Misty's bags are missing.
  • Right before Meowth blasts off, James's glove is pitch black.
  • When Giselle is telling Ash how Pikachu should be kept in a Poké Ball, there is a close up of Pikachu; during this, Pikachu says his name, but his mouth does not move.
  • When Giselle is laughing after telling Ash about Pikachu, Pikachu jumps between Ash and Misty and Starmie's leg from the star on its back is missing.
  • When battling Cubone, Ash calls out "Shock Attack" when he means Thunder Shock.
  • In the German dub, some Pokémon are called by the name of their evolutionary relatives. Starmie was accidentally called by Staryu's German name and Weepinbell was called Victreebel's German name.
  • In the Brazilian Portuguese and Dutch dubs, Pidgeot is referred to as Pidgeotto when Joe is describing Pidgey's evolutions.
  • In the Italian redub, Cubone is called by its beta name, Orphon.
  • In the Russian dub, after Brock asks Ash to find firewood, there is the moment where Pikachu's dialogue is translated as "Where you can find firewood?" with Ash's voice being used for Pikachu's line. It is possible this error occurred because the Russian dub had a Polish script as the main source for the translation at the time.

Dub edits

The deleted shot
  • Kanto Pokérap: Day 4
  • In the original Brock says about a photo of a preteen girl "I'll look forward to her in eight years" while in the dub he says "She can violate my rights any time".
    • Brock saying "She can violate my rights any time!" was cut out of the Kids' WB! airing.
  • Right before the title card appears, Misty hits Brock in the head with a log. This was cut from the dub because of the direct violence controversy that started with EP001.
    • Also in that same scene, Brock mistakenly said "To be continued" instead of saying to see the episode. This is the reason why Misty hit Brock with a log later.
  • This episode contains many paint edits:
    • When talking about tea, Brock pulls out a wooden cup that has some Pokémon names written (Lizardon, Hakuryu, Kentauros, and Dodo). In the dub, it is a can with pictograms. Ash is later seen drinking from the cup unedited.
    • Similar to the above edit, Brock's bottle of "Mt. Moon Spring Water" had a picture of a mountain painted over the Japanese text.
    • Misty's note about the Pokémon Seminar was originally full of Japanese text. In the dub, it has a black-and-white picture of the school at the top of the paper and some blurred-out Latin text on the bottom.
    • Joe's picture of Giselle had a note from her in the upper-right hand corner. This was erased in the dub.
    • The sign at the top of the door after the commercial break says "Training Room". The dub replaces the text with five Poké Balls which light up.
    • In the Japanese version, the simulation states the move used on the lower-left hand corner. In this case it was Razor Leaf. The dub adds another health bar over it.
    • However, the kanji on one student's book is left unedited.
  • Computer effects were added in the dubbed version, specifically into the scene where Joe was showing them the virtual training center.

In other languages

EP008 : The Path to the Pokémon League
Original series
EP010 : Bulbasaur and the Hidden Village
  This episode article is part of Project Anime, a Bulbapedia project that covers all aspects of the Pokémon anime.