After finally escaping the deserted island, our heroes arrive in Acapulco, the world's greatest resort. They begin their vacation on endless beautiful beaches lined with palm trees. Ash, Misty and Brock go joyriding in a cruiser belonging to an old man and, inadvertently, break it. Our heroes and their Pokémon work temporarily for the old man to pay off their debt. Business is booming, creating resentment from his main competitor. As a result, Team Rocket is employed to interfere. Ash and friends only see this as a temporary set back, and come up with a plan that will blow the old man’s competitor and her co-conspirators, Team Rocket, out of the water. During all of this commotion, Professor Oak and Ash's mother unexpectedly show up to witness Ash defeat his competitors and prove himself to be one step closer to becoming a Pokémon Master.
Ash and his friends arrive in Porta Vista, a beachside tourist town. Wasting no time, Ash, Brock, and Pikachu change into swimsuits and jump into the ocean. Meanwhile, Team Rocket, still using their Gyarados submarine, spies on beach-goers from their vantage point underwater. They decide to steal the money of the wealthy tourists. Suddenly, Jessie notices a speedboat heading in their direction. The boat is piloted by Ash, who thought Brock borrowed it because Pikachu was on the boat. The boat collides with the sub and eventually crashes into a dock. Moe, the owner of the boat, comes out to survey the damage. Ash, Brock, and Misty volunteer to work to help pay the cost of repairing the boat and the dock, and Moe agrees to this.
Meanwhile, Team Rocket's submarine has washed up onto a private beach and they are greeted by a woman named Brutella. James asks if they can work for her restaurant to help pay for repairs to their sub, and she agrees. Later, it is revealed that both Moe and Brutella are restaurateurs and rivals. For a while, Brutella's restaurant has more customers and Team Rocket taunts Ash and his friends over this. Ash decides to have his Pokémon help out as well. Squirtle and Pikachu are told to hand out fliers advertising Moe's; Pidgeotto and Charmander are to help keep the grill going in the kitchen, and Bulbasaur is assigned to help Misty do her waitress duties. However, Meowth sabotages everything, sending fliers flying, spraying oil on the stove, and throwing banana peels on the floor to trip up Misty and Bulbasaur. This causes the crowd to leave Moe's restaurant for Brutella's, and Ash apologizes.
Brutella arrives with Team Rocket a few minutes later and tells Moe that he needs to pay off his debts by the next day, otherwise she will take his boat as payment. Moe is despondent, as he does not think he will have the money by then. He explains that he had planned to take a world cruise in his boat. Ash then fervently encourages him not to give up on his dream. They then encounter Professor Oak and Ash's mother Delia. Professor Oak explains that the Beach Beauty and Pokémon Costume Contest is set to start shortly, and he suggests handing out fliers to the audience. He also recommends that Misty enter to win some prize money that can be used to help out Moe. Ash sends out Pidgeotto, who blankets the beach and town with fliers. Soon, Moe's restaurant is full again, much to Brutella's dismay.
As the contest begins, Moe sits with Delia and Professor Oak. He explains how Ash encouraged him not to give up on his dream. Delia says that she and the professor are in town with the Pallet Town Volunteer Patrol. The contest begins, with Brock as the announcer. Misty is the first contestant, and she uses her Starmie and Ash's Squirtle to form a UFO. Team Rocket's Ekans and Koffing are next, and they're costumed as an Omastar. They are kicked off of the stage by Gary Oak and his cheerleaders, who are apparently the next contestants. Gary grabs the microphone from Brock and insults Ash, who jumps out of his seat and heads for the stage. Meanwhile, Brutella tells Jessie and James that she knows they are Team Rocket members and that she has fixed their submarine. She blackmails them into stopping the contest and destroying Moe's restaurant so that the audience will come to her restaurant instead. Jessie tells Brutella that they can destroy things without even trying.
Back onstage, Ash challenges the always-cocky Gary to a battle, but Gary refuses, stating that he does not want to battle an amateur Trainer. Brock steps between the two rivals before Ash's anger gets the best of him. Just then, the Gyarados submarine emerges from the water, causing panic. People run away, thinking that it is a real Gyarados on a rampage. Ash grabs the microphone and tells the frightened audience members that it is a mecha, not a Pokémon. Team Rocket then fires a heat-seeking missile from the sub. Under Gary's skeptical eye, Ash sends out Pidgeotto and Charmander. Charmander's Flamethrower attack hits the missile, which turns and changes course: straight for the submarine! Team Rocket pedal furiously to get away, but they crash into Brutella's restaurant, which is then destroyed by the missile.
Ash and his friends say farewell to Moe, who is heading off on his long-awaited cruise. Ash also says goodbye to Professor Oak and his mother, who is holding a trophy inscribed with the words: "First Place in Our Hearts: Ash Ketchum."
Of the five banned episodes that have aired on Japanese television, this is the first one that was banned in all countries outside of Asia.
The reason why the episode is "banned" is because there is a scene halfway in when Jamescross-dressed and wears inflatable breasts for a beauty contest. Although intended for comic effect, the nature of the scene caused so much controversy that the whole episode was banned for almost three years, until it was aired as a heavily cut version that was only 18 minutes long. This edited version was titled "The Lost Episode" when it aired in 2000. The ending of this episode was shown as a flashback in the dub of Hypno's Naptime, indicating that they had access to the raw of this episode while dubbing the first season.
According to Diana Pérez, the voice actress for Jessie in Latin America, this episode was dubbed into Latin American Spanish. She additionally commented that when dubbing anime, the dub staff usually receives the uncensored versions instead of the already-cut 4Kids-edited version. This could mean that the episode was translated by Western dubbers, since these are all based on the US version, but it was still never aired for those regions.
After premiering on June 24, 2000, this episode was rerun only on August 18, 2000 and then never shown again in the United States.
Even though the English dub removed James's inflatable breasts, this episode is not featured on streaming services and home video releases. Furthermore, this episode was only aired twice when the show aired on Kids' WB!, and was never given a rerun on Cartoon Network, Boomerang and Disney XD.
The Japanese Netflix lists an English blurb for the episode. "Ash accidentally destroys an old man's ship when he and his friends visit the resort town of Porta Vista, a beachside tourist destination."
This episode was not dubbed when Nathan Price was voicing Meowth, so it is chronologically the first episode in which Maddie Blaustein portrays Meowth.
This episode is the one where Misty and Brock chronologically meet Delia for the first time, and also Professor Oak in person. They previously met Professor Oak via video call in Mystery at the Lighthouse.
Contrary to popular belief, Delia does not win the Beauty contest in either version, as she never entered. The winner of the contest is actually unknown and unspecified.
Of all banned episodes, this is the only one that was intended to be skipped completely by 4Kids, and ironically, was the only one that eventually made it to the air.
It is also the episode which has the longest time between its original Japanese airing and its first dub airing, at nearly three years.
This frame depicting Misty posing in a bikini and Pikachu holding a paper fan and a sign reading "日本一" (Japan's #1 best) was removed following EP038
In the first airing of the Japanese version a subliminal frame is shown in the middle of the impact animation when Misty throws the beach ball at Ash. This frame depicts Misty posing in a bikini and Pikachu holding a paper fan and a sign reading "日本一" (Japan's #1 best). The frame was removed following EP038.
This is one of the few occasions where the Japanese writing on signs and fliers is not painted out in the American version.
In the Japanese version of EP040, Jessie refers to Misty as being a "flat-brat girl", a reference to Jessie and James beating Misty in the swimsuit competition.
Meowth's paw is seen with pads when talking to Jessie about fixing the Gyarados Submarine. Meowth in general are not usually seen as having this body feature.
When Ash calls out Pidgeotto and Charmander, Charmander's tail-flame is in front of Pidgeotto's foot, even though Charmander is behind Pidgeotto.
When Ash calls out all of his Pokémon, Butterfree is strangely absent, even though he said, "I choose everybody!"
When Meowth is seen using the fan to blow the flyers away, the lines on his charm are missing.
After Ash says goodbye to Delia and Professor Oak, the colors of the label and stripe on his backpack are swapped.
English title card
Trophy in the Japanese original
Trophy in the dub
The font of this episode's English title card is set in the Gadget font, unlike all the other title cards of the season.
In the English version, Moe tells Misty that she reminds him of his granddaughter, whereas in the Japanese version, he says he's looking forward to eight years later.
Ash and Brock were inviting everyone to have peculiar dishes such as French-fried flounder, seven-layered crab cakes, squid on a stick, and clam-juice snow-cones in the dubbed version. In the original, they only invited everyone to have ramen and shaved-ice and to take a break from the sun.
The Japanese text on the trophy is replaced by English text.
The term "Oil" on the oil barrel that Meowth is pumping into the restaurant is edited out.
Unusually, most of the Japanese texts in the episode were not edited out.
Brock's mention of the "$1,000 prize for the winner of each category" is dub added.
James was wearing an inflatable bikini. This scene, which caused the episode to be banned for almost three years for being unable to get past the censors, was cut completely from the dub.
In one of the cut-out scenes, James says to Misty, "When you're older, you'll have a chest like this".
After Misty finishes her turn at the contest, the next footage shows James showing off his inflatable bikini. Then, their Pokémon posing as an Omastar come on stage. Only the Pokémon were seen in the dub.
After Brock comments about Gary's cheerleaders, Jessie and James, with the bikini still on are seen fuming before being pulled aside by Brutella. In the dub, this scene skips and goes straight to their conversation with Brutella.
During the part where fliers for the contest were shown, Pokémon World was played in the background, but the episode used Pokémon Theme as the intro.
James's response to Brutella's command to destroy Moe's restaurant is different between the two versions. Originally, James says "We'll go through the fire and through the water!", which is also the first line in Aim to Be a Pokémon Master. In the dub, he says "You can count on us! Destroying things is our specialty!"
In the original scene where Jessie retakes command of the Gyarados submarine, she uses the "-baba" suffix, a normal trademark of the hag, by accident. Because Brutella doesn't use that term in the dub, the scene is rewritten to simply have Brutella's raspy voice rubbing off on Jessie instead.
In the Japanese version, no winner is specified, and it's implied that Delia was only holding on to it for the winner. In the dub, Ash is the winner, being awarded for saving the contest from Team Rocket and Brutella.