EP264 : Mother of All Battles
Original series
EP266 : A Claim to Flame!
Pop Goes The Sneasel
Nyula and the Sacred Flame!
First broadcast
Japan September 12, 2002
United States September 16, 2003
English themes
Opening Believe in Me
Japanese themes
Opening Ready Go!
Ending ポケッターリ・モンスターリ
Animation Team Ota
Screenplay 大橋志吉 Yukiyoshi Ōhashi
Storyboard 木村竜二 Ryūji Kimura
Assistant director 大町繁 Shigeru Ōmachi
Animation director たけだゆうさく Yūsaku Takeda
No additional credits are available at this time.

Pop Goes The Sneasel (Japanese: ニューラとせいなるほのお! Nyula and the Sacred Flame!) is the 265th episode of the Pokémon anime. It was first broadcast in Japan on September 12, 2002, and in the United States on September 16, 2003.

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


With Larvitar returned to its rightful home, Ash and company make their way to Silver Town for the Silver Conference Tournament. On the way, they find a group of people lined up by the Ho-Oh Shrine, where the Silver Conference Torch is ready to be carried!

The torch runner appears to be late, and when an attendant goes to tell them the news, Togepi and Pikachu run inside. Ash and the others catch them, but not before they see two trainers leaving in a huff, afraid for their Pokémon's safety. The attendant is saddened that two more trainers have fled the Shrine, and turns to Silver Conference entry Ash Ketchum for help! Before Ash can answer, Harrison, a trainer from Hoenn, appears to help them out.

The attendant tells the tale of the shrine and why it is here; a Ho-Oh put a stop to a battle by spreading its flame throughout the area. All weapons burned, and the land was left uninhabitable, until one day, plant and animal life returned. One flame remains, which has been preserved as The Sacred Flame at the Ho-Oh Shrine. At the top of the steps is a Sneasel, which is intent on stopping anyone from approaching the Shrine. Without being able to get close, they will be unable to use the Ho-Oh's flame to light the torch!

Ash and crew approach the Secret Flame, just as Team Rocket get approached by the Sneasel, and its Machop and Machoke friends, for invading their space. Sneasel's Faint Attack sweeps Team Rocket into a frenzy and blast off before long. Ash makes his way to the shrine while Misty and Harrison deal with Machop and Machoke, but Sneasel shows up toss top Ash before he can take the flame. Totodile tries to stop the Sneasel, but gets taken out of the match before long by Sneasel's Shadow Ball. Ash and Totodile crash into a tree, but Ash refuses to give up.

In the forest, Team Rocket talk about replacing Meowth with Sneasel, believing that Meowth is keeping them down, while Sneasel could help them start winning some battles. Meowth overhears the conversation, and puts a plan into motion to stop them from getting the Sneasel. Ash and Harrison are still trying to stop Machoke and Machoke, and use Phanpy and Houndoom to get the job done. Before Harrison can catch Sneasel, team Rocket come around in a Sneasel shaped balloon!

Meowth, dressed in a Sneasel outfit, approaches the wild Sneasel with a smoke bomb, but clues Sneasel in on the trick before it can go off. The bomb goes off anyway, but Team Rocket grab Meowth by accident, who goes and pops the balloon, blasting them off for a while longer. Harrison calls out his Blaziken, a Pokémon Ash's Pokédex has no data on, as it is native to the Hoenn region. Blaziken's Fire Punch manages to knock down Sneasel, long enough for Harrison to catch it!

Machop and Machoke are hired to guard the shrine for good, as the torch is lit and carried off to Silver Town. Harrison announces that he too is entered in the Tournament, and cannot wait to meet Ash in the stadium!


The group continues towards Silver Town, and along the way, they notice a bunch of people gathered at a large closed gate. When they get there, Ash asks a pair of bystanders what's going on. The men explain that everyone is waiting at the Ho-Oh Shrine to see the official Johto League Silver Conference torch. Ash and his friends decide to wait with the growing crowd. A shrine attendant finally opens the gate and explains that the torch runner is currently delayed. While this is happening, Togepi runs through the gate, and Pikachu follows after it. The attendant notices the two rush inside and cuts them off in time. The group enters the area to collect Togepi and Pikachu before apologizing to the attendant.

Two Trainers suddenly rush down from the shrine. They tell the guard they cannot train at the shrine and rush off to the Pokémon Center to treat their injured Pokémon. The attendant is deflated, admitting that all the Trainers so far have been running away in fear. As he goes to ask Ash for a favor, another Trainer with his Houndoom steps forward and offers his assistance. He introduces himself as Harrison from Littleroot Town in the Hoenn region. Brock believes he has heard of Hoenn and suggests it's somewhere on the other side of the ocean. With Harrison now on board, he and the group follow the attendant to the shrine building. The attendant explains that the torch runners are all ready to go, but they cannot reach the flame. He details that the Ho-Oh Shrine was where a terrible war was fought. People ravaged the place so badly that the Pokémon suffered because of it and the vegetation was wiped out. Ho-Oh appeared after a battle and unleashed a rose-colored flame that set the area alight and destroyed the weapons of war. From the ashes came new life and the area was restored to nature. But a bit of a tree was left burning for the longest of times. And they placed the fire in a shrine declaring it the Sacred Flame that is now housed in the Ho-Oh Shrine.

The attendant adds that recently there have been reports of a Sneasel, a Machop, and a Machoke preventing people from getting near the Sacred Flame. Every Trainer who volunteered to try to stop the offending Pokémon ended up coming back with hurt Pokémon, broken bones, and other serious injuries. The attendant is really worried, because, without the Sacred Flame, the ceremony for the Silver Tournament can't start, and thus, no tournament this year. Ash says he'll make sure he can get the Sacred Flame secure from the Sneasel, mainly because he wants to go compete. Harrison, on the other hand, wants the Sneasel and will help Ash out if he can get his hands on it. Ash asks where the shrine is and the attendant points the way up to a fleet of stone steps. Everyone soon goes up the stairs.

Somewhere else in the forest, Team Rocket are searching for the Sacred Flame. They plan to steal it and sell it off. They finally find the shrine, but as they run towards it, Jessie and James get hit in the head by a Machoke. Sneasel and Machop soon appear. Meowth translates Sneasel’s speech, and Jessie is only infuriated by its tough talk. Jessie sends out Arbok to try to take care of Sneasel. She commands Arbok to use Headbutt, but Sneasel simply jumps out of the way and lashes at Arbok with Fury Swipes. Jessie is immediately impressed by Sneasel’s prowess. Meowth retorts that he has seen better moves from a baby Weedle, leading Jessie to throw him into the battle to prove himself. Meowth tries to use Fury Swipes on Sneasel, but it dodges the attack and gives Meowth a Slash, which sends him crashing into Jessie and James. Sneasel orders its minions to attack, and they strike Arbok into the rest of Team Rocket and send them all clear across the path.

The group is almost at the shrine, so Ash runs ahead. However, he almost gets battered by Machoke's arm, but he leans back to avoid it. Brock and the others support Ash in time to avoid a calamitous fall down the stairs. When everyone reaches the top, they spot the Machop and the Machoke that the attendant was talking about. Misty hands Togepi over to Brock before calling out her Corsola. Harrison has his Houndoom use Flamethrower on Machop. With the Fighting duo occupied, Harrison, orders Ash to enter the shrine. He opens the doors and gazes at the magnificent Sacred Flame for a moment before Sneasel tries to take a swipe at him. Ash sends out Totodile for a Water Gun attack, but Sneasel leaps and avoids it. Sneasel strikes back with Slash and knocks Totodile down, but not out. Corsola and Houndoom finally knock out Machoke and Machop with a Tackle attack and Flamethrower, respectively. The trio now runs over to Ash. Totodile tries another Water Gun blast, but Sneasel dodges it again. Finally, the Sneasel gives Totodile a Shadow Ball that throws Totodile right into Ash. Both get sent right back down the hill, and their descent ends when they collide into a tree. Harrison and the others rush to Ash's side. Ash picks himself up and declares that Sneasel is more powerful than he expected.

Team Rocket are considering their options, but are still wounded by their swift defeat. Meowth is more optimistic and suggests that he could evolve into a Sneasel, but James corrects him and states that Meowth can only evolve into a Persian. Jessie adds, that even as a Persian, Meowth would still struggle to defeat Sneasel. Jessie suddenly pulls James over for a private talk. Jessie says that they should get the Sneasel, since it's more powerful than Meowth but no less different, as it's still a cat. Meowth eavesdrops on the conversation and is irritated to learn that his teammates plan on ditching him for the Sneasel. James is a little hesitant since he can't picture someone replacing Meowth. Meowth hurries back before they're finished and soon Jessie and James return. Jessie tries to cover up their plot with some excuse and Meowth pretends to be happy about it. James, on the other hand, remains a little hesitant.

Later, Harrison and the others return to the shrine, but Machoke and Machop have recovered. Ash sends out Phanpy and Harrison uses Houndoom. Phanpy takes Machop down with a Take Down attack and Houndoom hits Machoke with Headbutt. This knocks the fighters back, but Sneasel orders them forward again. Houndoom and Phanpy lift them up and throw them down the hill. The duo crashes through a tree and hits the ground hard, much to the surprise of the shrine attendant.

Harrison turns his attention to the Sneasel, but Team Rocket soars into view in their Sneasel balloon. They soon land and perform their motto, with Meowth emerging in a Sneasel costume. Ash is quick to point out that Meowth is just wearing a costume, though Jessie and James still go forward with their ploy. Meowth approaches Sneasel with an enticing present box, which contains a smoke bomb. Meowth is determined to preserve his place in Team Rocket, so he whispers the plan to Sneasel. The wild Pokémon reacts by slashing at Meowth, and as he flies backward the smoke bomb hits the ground and explodes. Jessie and James rush into the black smoke to collect Sneasel before lifting back up into the air. The pair happily declare that Meowth has officially been retired. As the pair laugh, Jessie is mortified to find that she actually grabbed Meowth. Out of revenge, Meowth gives both Jessie and James a good scratching to the face. Jessie attempts to throw Meowth away. However, he instead lands on the Sneasel balloon and bursts it with his sharp claws, sending Team Rocket blasting off.

The smoke clears and the group is surprised to see that Sneasel is still there. With no time to waste, Harrison takes the chance and initiates a battle. He sends out a new Pokémon this time: Blaziken. Ash tries to scan it on the Pokédex, but there's no data. Brock realizes that this must be a Pokémon from the Hoenn region. The first attack Blaziken uses is Quick Attack, which the Sneasel has no chance of dodging. The Sneasel tries to counter with a Shadow Ball, but Blaziken dodges and counters with Flamethrower. Blaziken gives Sneasel a Fire Punch, knocking it down. Harrison throws a Poké Ball at Sneasel and catches the Pokémon. Ash congratulates Harrison on his latest catch before turning his attention to the Sacred Flame.

With the obstacles now clear, the torch runners can finally begin the long-awaited relay to the Silver Conference stadium. The shrine attendant thanks everyone for their efforts and reveals that he has decided to hire Machoke and Machop to permanently protect the shrine. Harrison reveals that he'll be at the Tournament and he's looking forward to seeing Ash there. Ash, on the other hand, is left stunned but declares that he is confident that he's going to win.

Major events

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



Pokémon debuts

TV episode debuts



Pocket Monster TV


Who's That Pokémon?

Who's That Pokémon?: Elekid (US and international), Sneasel (Japan)



The flat, distorted Pikachu
  • During the intro, Ash and his friends walk down a slope that does not exist. The flat trail is drawn from a diagonal, overhead view, but the group walks as if it were a decline seen from the side.
  • When Ash introduces himself to Harrison, Pikachu appears distorted and flattened.
  • As the attendant explains the legend of the Sacred Flame, Brock's belt changes from black to green.
  • Pikachu is on Ash's shoulder when they go up the stairs to the shrine, but disappears in the shot of Ash about to fall after Machoke tries to Karate Chop him.
  • After Jessie and James realize they grabbed Meowth by mistake, one shot shows them without noses.
  • Ash's Pokédex doesn't recognize Blaziken because, as Brock claims, it belongs to Hoenn. However, the Pokédex was mentioned to be able to recognize Kecleon when it debuted 60 episodes earlier.
  • Jessie's Arbok has two tongues in the first scene it is called out.
  • In the Norwegian dub, the attendant mispronounces Ho-Oh as "Oh-ho".
    • Also in the Norwegian dub, James refers to Meowth's evolved form as perser, which is a domestic cat breed. This mistranslation is due to both the Pokémon Persian and the Persian cat having the exact same spelling in English. The same error was previously made in EP044.

Dub edits

In other languages

EP264 : Mother of All Battles
Original series
EP266 : A Claim to Flame!
  This episode article is part of Project Anime, a Bulbapedia project that covers all aspects of the Pokémon anime.