One of the most fascinating aspects of Pokémon’s localization history is what gets changed when the series is brought to North America. From Brock’s infamous “jelly doughnuts” to whole episodes being cut due to content restrictions, these alterations provide a unique glimpse into the cultures of both countries. However, one Pokémon episode stands out as it includes a reference that American viewers wouldn’t have understood at the time — but would now. And it’s also one of the series’ best episodes.
Episode 69 of Pokémon Master Journeys: The Series is called “Errand Endurance” Shown in the US in January 2022, the story sees Goh and Chloe arguing about their Grookey and Eevee. Both trainers believe the other’s Pokémon to be irresponsible. Keen to end the argument, Ash suggests that they let Grookey and Eevee complete an errand alone. Thus, the two Pokémon are tasked with delivering supplements to the Cerise Laboratory.
However, as the two Pokémon head off on their errand, Ash tells Goh and Chloe they should secretly follow them to make sure nothing goes wrong and help out should any issues arise. So, the group secretly follows and tries to keep Grookey and Eevee on track. At the same time, Team Rocket is attempting something similar with their Pelipper, and chaos soon ensues.
Episode 69 of Master Journeys is actually a parody of the reality show Hajimete no Otsukai, a detail made clearer by the epiosde’s Japanese title: “Hajimete no Otsukai Mimamoritai!” This show, which has been running on Japanese TV since 1991, features young children tasked with completing an errand alone while a camera crew secretly films the results. Despite its popularity in Japan, American audiences would have been unfamiliar with the show until April 2022, when Netflix localized it as Old Enough! and spawned a mainstream viral phenomenon in the process.
While “Errand Endurance” is a filler episode, it is among the series’ most charming stories. The plot gives Grookey and Eevee a chance to shine while fleshing out their characterization, and also gives viewers a glimpse into the regular Pokémon world outside the battles and high-level tournaments Ash often finds himself in. This helps make Ash and co.’s world feel more alive and makes each Pokémon feel more fully developed.
The concept has plenty of potential opportunities for drama and comedy, so it would be nice to see Pokémon return to it in the future. It would be a great way to show off different Pokémon and showcase their personalities, especially as there are now over 900 creatures within the Pokémon universe. It would also give viewers a chance to see more of the everyday parts of the world, showing how Pokémon are used outside of battles and contests while giving fans greater context for Ash and his friends’ experiences and adventures.
“Errand Endurance!” is a charming Pokémon episode that, despite being filler, remains well worth watching. It is amusing that when it first aired in early 2022, American viewers would have totally missed the reference — but within a few short months would become aware it was a parody and understand what the story was riffing on. Hopefully Pokémon returns to this concept one day, and fans are treated to more charming episodes where their favorite Pokémon go on hilarious errands.