Fighting Flyer with Fire (キキョウジム！大空の戦い！！ Violet Gym! Sky Battle!!) is the 15th episode of Pokémon: The Johto Journeys.
The time has come for Ash to have his first Gym Battle in the Johto region, only to have it interrupted when Team Rocket steals Pikachu. Just then a trainer appears and steals Pikachu back and uses his Pidgeot to stop Team Rocket. Ash was impressed the way the trainer used his Pidgeot, reminding him of his own. The trainer introduces himself as Falkner, leader of the Violet City Gym. Ash may have been grateful to him for rescuing Pikachu, but that wouldn't mean he would go easy on him. Will Ash soar and win his first badge, or will he crash and burn?
The heroes came to the Gym of Violet City. The heroes are excited to meet the Gym Leader and are about to go in, but Team Rocket stop them (disguised) and want to ask them questions before going inside. They claim they are from an agency called Poké Buro. They take Pikachu and tell they need to confiscate it and run away. They appear in the balloon and take off their disguises. Pikachu uses ThunderShock, but the cage it is put in is electric proof. Ash sends Heracross to deal with them, but Meowth drops a jar, so Heracross licks the tree sap outside of it. Suddenly, the heroes see a man riding a glide, whose Hoothoot takes the cage from Jessie's hands. The heroes worry that man is a thief as well. Hoothoot returns to him and gives Pikachu, then goes to land down.
Jessie's Arbok uses Poison Sting to rip the glider. The man falls down, but sends a Pidgeot, who saves him. Pidgeot dodges Arbok's Poison Sting and pierces the balloon, causing an usual blast off of Team Rocket. The man comes down and gives Pikachu back to Ash, who thanks the former. Ash remembers that he had a Pidgeot and battled Fearow, knowing that he'll have to go see his friend someday. The man knows that feeling of battling with Pidgeot in the sky and knows Ash will find his Pidgeot someday. Misty notices the man likes Flying-type Pokémon and he confirms, wanting to fly through the sky. The man is angry at hearing statements that Electric-type Pokémon best Flying-type Pokémon, making Misty feel the same way about Water-type Pokémon. The heroes introduce themselves, while the man is Falkner, the Gym Leader of Violet City, making the heroes surprised at that last part.
Falkner sees it is strange to meet new friends before battling them, but knows he has to battle Ash any other way. The heroes came to the top of the building and see Falkner's team. Brock asks Ash if he is okay and he confirms, knowing he came to battle, not to be cheered for. Ash tells Falkner that he should give him the badge. Falkner responds that he is not sure about that, wanting to prove the strength of Flying-type Pokémon he sends Hoothoot. Ash sends Chikorita (who hugs him) and Falkner is disappointed, as Grass-type Pokémon are weak against Flying-type Pokémon, but Ash thought that type is not the only factor that counts. Chikorita starts with Vine Whip, though Hoothoot flies away. Hoothoot evades another Vine Whip and dives, hitting Chikorita, then Pecks her. Chikorita uses Razor Leaf, but Hoothoot dodges and use Tackle. Chikorita evades, but Hoothoot dives once more and hits Chikorita, avoiding her Vine Whip and defeating her. Ash calls Chikorita back, while Falkner tells him he warned him Grass-type Pokémon don't have much chance of defeating his Flying-type Pokémon.
Ash sends Pikachu, who is battle ready. Hoothoot goes to Tackle Pikachu, but Pikachu uses Agility. Hoothoot flies off, but gets electrocuted by Pikachu's Thunderbolt, then defeats it using Quick Attack. Falkner calls Hoothoot back, then sends a Dodrio in its place. Falkner announces that trainers have not defeated Dodrio. Ash tells it is no surprise that Dodrio cannot fly, but Falkner responds that he is mistaken. Pikachu uses Agility and Dodrio does so as well. Pikachu uses Thunderbolt, but Dodrio escapes by jumping (making Brock and Ash see that it jumps so high it seems as if it flies). Dodrio uses Fury Attack and Drill Peck, wounding Pikachu. Dodrio goes to use Tri Attack, but Pikachu jumps on it and hits it using Thunder. Dodrio stands up, but it falls down and got defeated. Ash cheers, while Falkner calls Dodrio back.
Falkner sends his ace, Pidgeot. Ash asks Pikachu if he wants to return back, but Pikachu does not want to and stays, despite getting exhausted. Pikachu uses Thunderbolt, but Pidgeot flies away, while Pikachu is too weak to reach Pidgeot. With a Whirlwind, Pikachu is defeated. Ash places Pikachu near himself and sends Charizard, making Falkner see it is going to get interesting. Charizard and Pidgeot fly away. Charizard uses Flamethrower, but misses Pidgeot. Charizard repeats its attack, but Pidgeot avoids using Agility. Falkner advises Ash to surrender, but Ash refuses. Charizard uses Flamethrower, but gets hit by its own attack, as it is repelled by Pidgeot's Whirlwind. Pidgeot uses Wing Attack and Charizard attempts to fly, but its wing is damaged, so it takes Pidgeot's attack. Charizard takes more hits, so Falkner tells Ash to forfeit, since it is a trainer's responsibility to know when the Pokémon cannot battle anymore, since Charizard cannot fly. Ash tells he and Charizard do not quit, so Falkner replies that maybe losing the battle will teach him a lesson.
Pidgeot goes to use Quick Attack, but Charizard manages to fly away. Pidgeot uses Agility, then uses Quick Attack to injure Charizard. Pidgeot continues this strategy. Ash sees they might have a chance if Pidgeot keeps using same moves. Charizard goes to Pidgeot, who uses Agility. However, Charizard turns around and prevents Pidgeot from using Quick Attack by engulfing it in flames via Fire Spin. Charizard takes Pidgeot into the sky and throws it to the ground via Seismic Toss, defeating it. Ash cheers for Charizard and his victory. Later, Falkner gives Ash the Zephyr Badge. Falkner admits that battling with him has gotten him more will to train and become the Number 1 Flying-type Pokémon trainer. Ash wishes luck to him and shakes hands, then departs away with Misty and Brock. Meanwhile, Team Rocket get pecked by Spearow, while Meowth sees this ending is for birds.
- "I thought it was you!" - Brock
- "Yeah, but now what do we do?" - Misty
- "ThunderShock 'em, Pikachu!" - Ash as he and his friends try to save Pikachu from Team Rocket in rhyme
- "Go ahead, shock around the clock if you like." - Jessie
- "That's because our insulated jelly jar puts Pikachu in a current jam." - James
- "We're smarter than we look!" - Meowth
- "They’re not as smart as they think they are." - Ash after Team Rocket brags about Pikachu being trapped
- "These are my friends, Misty and Brock, and I'm Ash." - Ash
- "And I'm Falkner, the Violet City Gym Leader, hi." - Falkner
- "Did you say Gym Leader?!" - Ash
- "That's what he said." - Misty
- "Yeah, maybe I should have mentioned that sooner." - Falkner
- "Charizard! Quick, turn around and use Fire Spin!" - Ash
- "It was really smart of you to use Pidgeot's speed to your advantage. That was a great strategy. You definitely earned the Zephyr Badge." - Falkner
- The English dub name is a reference to the idiom "fighting fire with fire".
- This was the final American episode of the 20th century despite being made in Japan the same year.
- This episode was the first where, and in every Gym Battle episode from this point on, there would be an official gym referee to judge the battles.
- This is one of the few episodes where both Ash and the Gym Leader's Pokémon have their original Japanese voices crossed over to the English-language dub.
- The Johto Champion theme is heard playing when Ash's Charizard and Falkner's Pidgeot begin fighting against each other.
- The "Who's that Pokémon?" in this episode is Marill.
During Ash's flashback, he says that the Fearow was attacking a group of Pidgeot. The Fearow was actually attacking a group of Pidgey and Pidgeotto.
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