Team Rocket’s Jessie and James have clashed with Ash in the Pokémon anime for decades. But are team Rocket bad? Or is there more to them?
Here’s three reasons why we think Team Rocket might not be as bad as you think.
Ash Ketchum has faced many enemies throughout the Pokémon anime, but none are quite so familiar as the Team Rocket trio: Jessie, James and Meowth.
Yet, despite Team Rocket’s persistence, they’ve gained a reputation of being fairly unsuccessful bad guys. Is this purely for comedic effect? Are Team Rocket actually bad? Or is there more to this bumbling trio?
Here are 3 reasons why we think Team Rocket may not be the villains they’re made out to be:
3. They never ever mistreat Pokémon
One of the biggest characteristics of a villain is their total lack of empathy. But despite being portrayed as the bad guys, Team Rocket have this quality in spades.
One thing Jessie and James never do is mistreat their Pokémon. On the contrary, they always try to act in their best interests.
Think back to when James leaves his Chimecho with relatives who end up caring for the sick Pokémon, or when Jessie forcibly releases her Dustox – all so it wouldn’t make the same mistake of missing out on love, like she had.
Plus, back in Season 6 when they encounter poachers keeping a heavily injured Ekans caged, they are appalled – branding it “sickening”.
Jessie, James and Meowth all risk their necks to see off the poachers and free the injured Pokémon. But that’s not all. Not only do they set it free, but they also order their own Arbok and Weezing to lead it to safety: releasing their own Pokémon to help the injured Arbok survive.
And this isn’t just a one-way street. In Pokémon XY: Kalos Quest’s “Facing the Grand Design!”, after James and his Inkay actually help to stop the planet from becoming a hugely uninhabitable wasteland, James once again displays the unselfish love he has for his Pokémon. He offers to release Inkay so it can stay with the good Malamar of the forest (who clearly like it). But Inkay flatly refuses, showing that this love was clearly reciprocated; definitely something you wouldn’t see if a trainer was inherently evil.
2. They help save Ash – and the world – from destruction
Another point to contemplate when considering the question “are Team Rocket actually bad?” is their habit of saving the planet – not just once, but several times.
One of these instances was in Pokémon The Movie 2000: The Power of One. Team Rocket leave their villainous tendencies behind to actually help Ash and save the world.
The movie centres around an ancient prophecy that the world will be destroyed – and Team Rocket can’t help but stay true to their motto and “protect the world from devastation.”
When Articuno, Zapdos and Moltres’ battle makes it impossible for Ash to get to the final orb he needs to set the world right, Team Rocket uses their mech skills to jerry-rig a lifeboat into an airboat by attaching a broken helicopter propeller.
Couple this with them helping free the legendary birds earlier in the movie (and their sacrifice when they let go of Lugia so that they wouldn’t slow it down) and it’s easy to see how Team Rocket were not the villains here: they were the heroes.
But you may think: this is all well and good but, saving the world benefits them too, so it doesn’t really prove that they’re actually good. Yet it’s not the just planet they’ve saved – they’ve also saved Ash’s life too.
In Pokémon 3: The Movie – Spell Of The Unown, Ash almost falls to his death when Entei’s attack sends Charizard hurtling towards him. Fortunately though, Brock, Misty, Pikachu and Team Rocket have time to jump in and pull Ash back from the brink.
Are Team Rocket actually bad? This uncharacteristically good act suggests otherwise.
1. Their shared trauma forges an unparalleled loyalty
Jessie and James both had a difficult start in life. Jessie’s mother went missing when she was a child, leaving her in a foster home to grow up in poverty. On the other hand, despite James being born into wealth, he grew up feeling restricted and miserable.
They both joined Pokémon’s Team Rocket in an attempt to prove themselves, and they constantly battle for the approval of Team Rocket’s leader, Giovanni. Their goal is to gain his praise and acceptance – likely as a result of them feeling inadequate to their caregivers.
But this difficult start in life has also created a deep sense of loyalty. Not only do Jessie and James show loyalty to Team Rocket, but also to one another and their Pokémon.
Take what happened in the Pokémon Chronicles episode, “We’re No Angels!” when Team Rocket blast off and land in a small village. Unexpectedly, they’re immediately lauded as heroes (much to their dismay) and even (accidentally) save the town from a rampaging robot whilst trying to prove their villainy.
Whilst trying to think of ways to exploit the unfamiliar ‘hero’ status they’ve been bestowed with, one of their new-found fans – Kate – swiftly develops feelings for James; feelings which he clearly reciprocates.
Ever loyal, Jessie and Meowth are willing to stay – and even change their villainous tendencies at James’ request – until an accidental button press sends them flying back to Ash.
And it’s these displays of unselfish loyalty that really throw doubt to the question of ‘are Team Rocket actually bad?’
You see, Jessie and James weren’t born into a family: they made their own. And although they’ve each had their own separate chances to leave the world of villainy behind, they never do. Because they’re evil? Perhaps. But maybe also because neither of them wants to abandon the only true family they ever had.
So, are Pokémon’s Team Rocket actually bad? Or are they just misunderstood? Let us know what you think in the comments below.
Read about 7 Nintendo Switch games to be excited about, including Pokémon snap HERE.
9 Rarest And Most Valuable Pokémon Cards In Existence
If you’re one of the millions of people with a set of Pokémon cards stashed away somewhere, it might be time to dig-lett them out (sorry). Time to see if any of these babies are in your collection. Here’s our list of the top 9 rarest and most valuable Pokémon cards in existence.
Chances are you haven’t caught them all. But having even one of these could net you a large wad of cash.
Pokémon has been an on/off craze ever since it first started back in the mid-’90s. But despite releasing games, a cult anime series and several films, it’s those little cards that are making a profitable resurgence right now.
Even in just the last three years, rare Pokémon cards have been sold for thousands of dollars at auction. So now is definitely the time to check your collection. Time to see if you could be sitting on a small fortune.
9. 20th Anniversary 24-karat Gold Pikachu
Crafted in solid gold
Sold for 216,000 yen ($2,081) in October 2016.
You don’t get much more unique than a Pokémon card made from solid gold. Yep, you heard right. This insanely unique and incredibly rare Pokémon card was produced by Japanese jewellery maker, Ginza Tanaka. A limited number of solid gold cards were created as a replica of the original Japanese Pikachu card (affectionately nicknamed ‘Fat Pikachu’).
Made from 11 grams of pure 24-karat cold, the only way to get a copy of this ultra-rare Pokémon card was to enter a lottery held in 2016. If you won, you were given the chance to buy a copy of the limited-edition card for 216,000 yen (around $2,081/£1,700).
The solid gold card was shipped in its own unique box and housed in a plastic frame. And what makes this even more incredible is that, whilst most rare and unique Pokémon cards stem from early on in the game’s beginnings, this card appeared for the first time in just the last 5 years. Definitely one of the rarest (and coolest) Pokémon cards in existence.
8. Master’s Key
A more recent card – but no less rare
Sold for $21,000 in November 2019.
Like the 20th anniversary gold Pikachu, Master’s Key is another rare yet relatively new Pokémon card. It made its first appearance just over ten years ago when it was awarded to competitors in the 2010 Pokémon World Championships held in Hawaii.
Participants in both the TCG (Trading Card Game) and video game counterpart received a copy of Master’s Key. Only the trophy case differed depending on the category.
Only 36 copies of the card are estimated to exist – equal to the number of participants in all age divisions of the world championships. And to prove just how rare this Pokémon card is, one of them sold at auction in November 2019 for more than $21,000.
7. Espeon and Umbreon Gold Star POP Series 5
A pair of Gold Star Pokémon cards from one of the most valuable Pokémon sets of all time
Sold for $22,100 and $20,000 respectively between December 2020 and February 2021.
The Gold Star Pokémon cards are one of the most valuable Pokémon sets ever produced. At the time of writing, a near mint full set of 27 cards is for sale on eBay. The price tag? £35,000 ($49,717).
But it’s the Espeon and Umbreon which are the real moneymakers. Perhaps the rarest cards in the set, these two alone sold for over $20,000 in just the last few months.
The cards are named after the gold star that appears next to the Pokémon’s name at the top of the card. It signifies that the card features alternative colour artwork which is different from the common version.
Only 27 Gold Star cards were released from 2004 to 2007. Making them some of the rarest Pokémon cards in existence.
Whilst the Japanese versions of the cards remain the most valuable due to their limited availability, the English versions of the Espeon and Umbreon Gold Star cards still command a high price. PSA (Professional Sports Authenticator – the prestigious organisation that grades the quality, condition and value of trading cards) values the two cards at $194,209 and $187,277 respectively. Easily making them two of the rarest and most valuable Pokémon cards around.
6. 1999 Pokémon Japanese Promo Tropical Mega Battle Tropical Wind
An ultra-rare promo card – one of only 12 ever made
Sold for $65,100 in October 2020.
When it comes to availability, you don’t get much rarer than the Tropical Wind card.
With just 12 being given to the top players at the 1999 Tropical Mega Battle tournament, the Japanese Tropical Wind promo card is extremely rare.
This inaugural tournament – a precursor to the Pokémon World Championships – took place in 1999 at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Honolulu, Hawaii. The event was invite-only and was a battle between the best 50 players from Canada, Latin America, Europe, the United States, and Japan. During the event, a handful of trophy cards could be obtained. One of these was this baby right here.
This particular Tropical Mega Battle promo card (the 1999 Japanese-language copy of Tropical Wind) has sold at auction for as much as $65,100 in PSA Gem Mint 10 condition, with the most recent sale taking place in October 2020. PSA estimates its value to be as high as $148,482. Making the ultra-rare card a contender for one of the most expensive and valuable Pokémon cards ever made.
5. No. 1 Trainer
Quite possibly the most unknown Pokémon card of all time
Sold for $90,000 in July 2020.
Most people won’t have ever heard of No. 1 Trainer, and it’s even more unlikely they’ll have seen a copy in person. When it comes to rare Pokémon cards, they don’t get much rarer than this.
With only seven copies believed to be in existence, No. 1 Trainer may well be the least known card in existence.
No.1 Trainer is a holographic promotional card awarded to finalists in the Secret Super Battle tournament held in Tokyo in 1999. To earn a place in the competition’s finals (which were held in a secret location) players had to first win a regional tournament. Their prize was the No. 1 Trainer card, which granted them access to the finals.
The text on the front of the card translates to: “The Pokémon Card Game Official Tournament’s champion is recognised here, and this honour is praised. By presenting this card, you may gain preferential entry into the Secret Super Battle.” It’s almost like a modern-day, real-life Golden Ticket to Willy Wonka’s factory.
As only seven regional tournaments were held, it’s believed that just seven copies of the No. 1 Trainer card were made – easily making it one of the rarest Pokémon cards in existence.
4. Pikachu Illustrator
Extremely expensive and extremely rare
Sold for $195,000 in October 2019.
The Pikachu Illustrator card is an incredibly rare Pokémon card. It still holds the Guinness World Record for the most expensive Pokémon trading card sold at auction (although, more about this later…).
Pikachu Illustrator was originally given to winners of promo contests held in 1997 and 1998 by Japanese magazine CoroCoro Comic. 39 copies were officially awarded to the winners. While two copies were reportedly later discovered by one of the creators of the card game, seemingly bringing the total number of Pikachu Illustrator copies to 41.
As well as being ridiculously rare, the card is unique in a number of ways. It’s the only Pokémon card to say “Illustrator” instead of “Trainer” at the top. And has a one-off pen icon in its bottom-right corner to acknowledge its creation for the design contest. The card’s artwork of Pikachu is by Atsuko Nishida, the original illustrator of the fan-favourite Pokémon.
Approximately 19 copies of the card are believed to still exist, with 10 having been certified by the PSA.
A near-flawless copy of the card graded at Mint 9 (one grade under perfect condition) sold at auction in 2019 for $195,000 and broke a Guinness World Record. But arguably, there are a couple of contenders to that crown.
3. Black Star Ishihara Signed GX Promo Card
A signed card to celebrate the Pokémon founder’s 60th birthday
Sold for $247,230 in April 2021.
Of all the cards featured on this list, this rare and incredibly valuable Pokémon card is definitely one-of-a-kind.
Just last month on April 26, 2021, a copy of the Black Star Ishihara Signed GX Promo Card made headlines when it sold for nearly a quarter of a million US dollars.
The card depicts the Pokémon company founder and current president, Tsunekazu Ishihara. It was given to staff as a celebration of his 60th birthday in 2017.
What makes this specific version even rarer is that Ishihara actually signed this near-mint card to boost its price even further.
The ability “Red Chanchanko” refers to the red vest which is traditionally worn on 60th birthdays in Japan and prevents the effect of any attack, ability or trainer card against Ishihara. Meanwhile, its GX move “60 Congratulations” tells you to flip 60 coins, and take a present for each one. A truly unique, legendary card.
2. Pokémon Blastoise #009/165R Commissioned Presentation Galaxy Star Hologram
Quite possibly the only card one in existence
Sold for $360,000 in January 2021.
This Blastoise card is probably the single rarest Pokémon card in existence. One of only two such Pokémon cards ever made, it sold for a whopping $360,000 (£266,000) in January 2021.
This Pokémon card was created in 1998 as a presentation piece by Magic: The Gathering maker Wizards of the Coast to convince Nintendo executives to allow it to handle the TCG’s English-language release. The game would eventually make its international debut one year later in 1999.
While two Blastoise ‘Presentation’ cards were produced, this is the only one that has been seen publicly. Even more impressively, it has been graded at a NM/Mint+ 8.5 level by certification website CGC, meaning that the 20-plus-year-old card is in near-perfect condition. The location and state of the other Presentation card remain unknown. This either means that this card is the sole one remaining, or someone somewhere is unknowingly sitting on a small fortune.
1. 1999 First Edition Shadowless Holographic Charizard #4
The card that every kid wanted
Sold for $369,000 in December 2020.
Charizard. The card that absolutely every kid (and adult too now, apparently) wanted. And while the shiny Charizard has always been a firm favourite, this particular variant is even rarer.
While a number of top quality, first-edition cards from the Pokémon TCG’s early days are worth some money, due to their limited availability and age, this specific version of the holographic Charizard absolutely stands out as one of the rarest and most valuable Pokémon cards ever released.
What sets the card apart is the lack of a shadow underneath the dragon graphic. This was a printing error which was corrected for most of the cards printed but the few that sneaked passed quality control are incredibly sought after.
According to auction house Iconic Auctions, the rare card is “the Holy Grail of Pokémon cards, the most iconic and important card to both the Pokémon franchise and its die-hard fans”.
A mint-condition first-edition shadowless holographic PSA 10 Charizard sold at auction in October 2020 for a staggering $220,574 to the retired rapper – and Pokémon fan – Logic. Then, just two months later in December, another one of the same quality sold for a mind-blowing £350,000.
But as if that wasn’t enough, just a few hours after that, yet another card broke all records, selling for a mind-numbing £369,000.
Although this hasn’t officially been recognised by Guinness World Records, this certainly knocks the Pikachu Illustrator off its perch, as well as the staggering sum held by the Blastoise Galaxy Star Hologram.
Either way, despite not being the rarest, this is definitely the most valuable Pokémon card sold to date. But with the desire for rare Pokémon cards showing no signs of slowing, the big question is: how much higher can their value go?
One thing’s for sure, if anyone out there truly has caught them all, that would make for one incredibly valuable collection.
And that’s our list of the 9 rarest and most valuable Pokémon cards in existence. Did you ever have any of these? Which is your favourite? Let us know in the comments below.
Are Team Rocket just misunderstood? Read our article HERE.
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