The Little Big Horn (オドシシ！まぼろしのもり！？ Stantler! Forest of Illusion!?) is the 9th episode of Pokémon: The Johto Journeys.
While heading to Violet City Ash and friends encounter a baby Stantler, who got separated from its herd. Brock manages to take care of the Stantler but the herd appears and attacks Ash and Co. Turns out that Stantler have been terrorizing the town, but it was an illusion created by the baby to protect itself. Later, the baby appears and takes a liking to Brock. What will Brock do when the baby's real mother appears?
The heroes wander a beautiful park to the center of town. Pikachu notices something in the bushes and a pair of eyes come out. Brock tells Ash and Misty to look closer, as they are not eyes. Ash does not believe him, but those are horns of a Pokémon. The heroes see it is a Stantler, but Misty wonders why is it in the city instead of the woods. Brock notices it is young and comes to the ground, telling Misty and Ash they need to act as a Stantler to get its loyalty. Brock sees its leg is hurt. He offers it some food and hugs it. Stantler emits a smell, affecting the gang. Ash and Misty warn Brock to look behind him. He turns around and sees a herd of Stantler. Brock tries to be clam, but then runs away with Misty and Ash.
As they get chased, Stantler goes away. The heroes stop and see the Stantler do not chase them anymore. Brock wonders what happened to Stantler, since they were behind them a second ago. Brock hopes that the baby Stantler will find its mother to have its leg treated properly. Suddenly, they notice something in the bushes. Officer Jenny comes and tells them to come to her station to fill in a report, but Brock mistakes it to be a date. Jenny tells them the Stantler have been scaring the people away, but knows Stantler live in mountains. Brock wonders if the herd they were being chased from was not there. Ash tells it is a crazy idea, but Brock asks them how can he explain the fact the herd disappeared out of nowhere.
The gang hears Team Rocket, who tell they were to catch Stantler (since they heard there was a herd of them), but then got chased away from that herd. They turn back and see the Stantler are gone. A horn appears and everyone gets affected by the smell. Suddenly, the Stantler appear and Team Rocket get away, while Jenny, Ash and Misty enter the station. Brock observes the herd and sees some of them are passing through a lamp post and window. Brock stays and gets hit by Stantler, but it is actually an illusion, as Brock sees the injured baby Stantler passing by. Ash, Jenny and Misty see Brock is unhurt, who comforts the baby Stantler, telling they want to be its friends.
Brock bandages Stantler's leg, who gets patted upon. Ash asks what happened of the other Stantler. Brock clarifies those were illusions caused by the baby Stantler, who Brock deduces must have been afraid that people might hurt it and used the scent to trick them. Jenny asks how he'd knew that, so Brock responds he saw Stantler passing through the buildings and posts, using the illusions to protect itself. Jenny sees he knows a lot about Pokémon, so Ash fills in Brock wants to be the world's best Pokémon Breeder. Brock admits he saw fear in Stantler's eyes, with being so far from its home and family. Brock feels that a good Breeder should know what the Pokémon feels by looking into its eyes. Jenny admits Brock looks as if he can sense feelings from a Pokémon's heart. Brock thinks that might be true, but wishes if she can see his feelings (as he grabs her hands). For this, Misty grabs his ear and drags him away.
Meowth heard what happened and tells Jessie and James the herd was an illusion but one of them is real. Jessie feels that they need to catch the one for the boss. James has the idea - he bought an anti-Stantler device from the money they had, angering Meowth and Jessie about that last part. James explains they won't live very long if they do not bring the boss a rare Pokémon. At the night, the heroes see Stantler sleeping, thinking it is tired from making illusions and wandering around. Brock believes they can let it go tomorrow after its leg is healed. Ash and Misty think he should keep it, but Brock knows it shows affection, though wants to be with its mother. Next day, Brock releases it, but Stantler wants to be with him. Brock tells it is for its own good to go, acting rough and succeeds, though Stantler sadly wanders away. Ash asks Brock if he is okay and Brock confirms.
Team Rocket see the baby Stantler and go get it, with Brock witnessing that. James presses a button, showing the Anti-Stantler #7. Jessie asks what happened to the first six. James replies they had glitches, so Meowth is surprised, as he had their bank accounts exterminated. James tells it is for the best to catch Stantler. Stantler uses the smell to conjure the herd illusion, but the machine is not affected and releases a net, capturing it. Jessie and Meowth are relieved, but are not pleased as they have to get down and get it. Brock runs, so Ash and Misty tell him to hurry up as they got his back. Meowth thinks they should give it to its mother, since it misses her, but James replies that they are villains. Brock appears, but James presses a button, capturing the twerp among the spears.
Team Rocket depart, though Meowth is angered since they will left the machine instead of recycling it. Brock sends Onix, who tackles the machine, then binds it, crashing it. Brock calls Onix back and chases the balloon. Pikachu uses Thunderbolt, but Team Rocket are out of reach. Brock goes to get Stantler, but another Stantler appears, cutting the balloon in half. Stantler falls down, so Ash sends Bulbasaur to use Vine Whip to get it, but Stantler continues to fall down. Fortunately, Brock gets it before it is dropped. Team Rocket see the herd of Stantler and think it is an illusion. James throws his remote to one of them, but the illusion does not disappear. That is because Stantler are real, as real as Team Rocket blasting off. Later, Brock tells Stantler to be with its family. Stantler goes with them, so the heroes know it is back where it belongs to.
- Brock reveals that he played Little League-baseball as a kid.
- Although the title refers to the baby Stantler's Pokémon species, The Little Big Horn is a river in the mid-west USA, which was the site of a famous battle between General Custer of the US Army and several Native American tribes led by Sitting Bull in 1876.
- The "Who's that Pokémon?" in this episode is Totodile.
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