Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Team Rocket (ロケット団 Roketto Dan in Japanese) is an evil organization in the fictional world of Pokémon which exploits Pokémon for profit and is headed by a man named Giovanni. However, the term Team Rocket generally refers to three members that represent the organization in the animated series: Jessie1 (Musashi), James (Kojirō), and Meowth.
James' and Jessie's voices were portrayed by Shinichirou Miki and Megumi Hayashibara in the Japanese version of the Pokémon anime, and by Eric Stuart and Rachael Lillis in the English version. Team Rocket also appears in the Pokémon manga series (Dengeki Pikachu/Electric Tale of Pikachu) and the Ash & Pikachu manga.
In many episodes of the animated series, the trio attempts to steal Ash Ketchum's Pikachu or a Pokémon introduced in the episode. To do this, they employ various machines and contraptions, including rubber or otherwise shock-proof equipment. Each attempt ends in failure, either through the actions of Ash and his friends, whom the trio refer to as "the twerps," the Pokémon introduced in the episode, or mechanical failure of their devices, often a combination of the above. Because of this, the trio has fallen out of favor with Giovanni, and is usually strapped for cash, working other jobs to raise the money to buy such devices. The pejorative "twerp" is an English translation of the Japanese word jari, which roughly translated means "ill-mannered", "brat", or "rude person".
The nature of the villianous trio (a strong willed, confident woman, and two loyal though not generally bright henchmen) is a common staple in anime, although due to the popularity of Pokémon in the US Team Rocket is sometimes applied as an affectionate nickname by fans to any such group in a series. (See Grandis, Sanson, Hanson in Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water.)
The trio are complimented as the characters who ironically are the most psychologically complex and show the most personality development over the course of the series, and are well liked by fans (and even non-fans of the series) due to the group's dogged (albeit ulitmately futile) attempts at success. More opportunistic antagonists than real villians, even their attempts at legitimate work are usually disasters.
The trio also has a penchant for using amusingly bad puns during conversations. In the English version, Team Rocket are the only characters in the TV show that "know" that they are in a TV show, and occasionally make remarks that show it. For example, James asked why they didn't just use Plan B in the first place, since it was better than Plan A. Jessie then replies, "We had to fill a half hour!" All the other characters are unaware of the Fourth wall.
Jessie and James
Jessie and James wear white uniforms, while most other Team Rocket members wear black uniforms. While they are still of the grunt status, they designed their own uniforms. The white tone is perhaps alluding that they, unlike the rest of the Team Rocket organization, are not truly bad people. Their goal in the Pokemon series is to capture and present to their boss Ash's Pikachu.
Jessie (abbreviated from Jessica) is the leader of the Team Rocket pair that appears the most in the animated series. Known in the original Japanese version as Musashi, she is named after Miyamoto Musashi, a famous samurai. Jessie is intelligent and sociable, but very headstrong and dislikes being criticized. Jessie was poor as a child, living in near-poverty conditions. Her mother, named Miyamoto in the original, was trapped in an avalanche when Jessie was very young. Jessie later entered Team Rocket after failing to become a nurse.
James is the handsome male half of the team; some anime fans call him "bishōnen". Known in the original Japanese version as Kojirō, he is named after Sasaki Kojirō, a famous samurai known for his very long sword. James has a beloved bottlecap collection and had quite wealthy parents, but left home after their attempts to goad him into an engagement, ironically with Jessebelle (Rumika), a person with similar appearance to Jessie, differing only in hairstyle. Prior to leaving home, James knew very little about the world outside his home, where he was spoiled rich. His disliked of the many upper-class rules led him to believe that living a life struggling on the streets was better than a life where everything was given, which eventually led him to Team Rocket.
Although the team often appears in disguise, a common source of fan humor is James' habit of crossdressing or wearing women's clothes (to contrast with Jessie, even if she is also dressed as a woman), makeup, and a history with violent, domineering women. This is rumored to have been played up slightly by the dub actors, although even the most teasing barbs generally assume James is, at most extreme, merely heterosexual with a penchant for crossdressing. It was this that also lead to the initial banning (the episode has aired after being severely edited) of one episode (called Holiday at Alcupoco) that had James wearing fake breasts in order to win a beauty competition. Ironically one Episode had Jesse's voluminous cleavage on display during a magic show, a scam to take Ash Ketchum's Pikachu.
The episode where James returns home has a scene where he goes to a cellar, only to be met by Jessiebelle dressed as a dominatrix much to James's terror. The cellar is equipped as a full S&M dungeon which Meowth refers to as "weird Gym Equipment".
If one puts the English names "Jessie" and "James", together, we can see that they were named after Jesse James, a famous American outlaw. Because of this, many fans often misspell "Jessie" as "Jesse" (without the i).
Jessie and James appear in Pokémon Yellow as in-game bosses, although the game doesn't reveal their names.
Fans who believe that Jessie and James are either currently in or will eventually be in a romantic relationship are referred to as "Rocketshippers," a blanket term encompassing several other, more specific terms (Queershippers, etc.).
Main article: Meowth (anime character)
Meowth (Nyarth (ニャース Nyāsu) in the original Japanese) is a Pokémon of the Meowth variety; notable for being, with the exception of certain psychic and legendary Pokémon, the only Pokémon that can speak in the human language. Although some Pokémon are said to be quite intelligent, they do not speak, and although we see Meowth teaching himself to talk and read to impress a rich, snooty female Meowth, it is never explained how he is able to or exactly how many Pokémon have this potential. (Cats actually do have the vocal structure for speech, which is why their purrs often sound like words, but unlike Meowth aren't intelligent enough to make good use of it.) One apparent consequence is that Meowth seemed unable to learn standard Pokémon attacks. Meowth is more overtly sarcastic than his teammates but can be easily distracted by his feline instinct. He only wishes success to engrain himself back into the good graces of his former owner, Giovanni, which has taken to a Persian instead.
In Pokémon Yellow, Meowth is one of the Pokémon that you must defeat when fighting Jessie and James.
History of Jessie, James, and Meowth
Being the most developed characters in the series, Jessie, James, and Meowth have regrettably had their past histories altered several times over the course of the series. However, it is possible to link the inconsistencies into one coherent timeline. What follows is not an official timeline, but fan-interpreted using canon events.
The first history, which was outlined during the Kanto series, stated that Jessie and James had been friends since they were Ash's age. After leaving their respective homes, they tried to enroll in a Pokemon trainers' school, Pokemon Tech, but since they partied too hard the night before the entrance exam, they failed. After this failure, they joined a bicycle gang (charinko bousouzoku) in Sunnytown. They were popular in this bike gang, earning the names of Chainer Jess (she swung a chain around while she rode her bike) and Trainer Jim (he was the only gang member to use training wheels).
In Johto, it was revealed that while Jessie was a teenager, she enrolled in a school to become a Pokemon nurse. Unfortunately, this was literally a school for Pokemon nurses, and she flunked out. James was nowhere to be seen during this time. Fans assumed that they had split up for a short time before again rejoining to enter either the bike gang or Team Rocket.
Meowth's pre-Team Rocket history did not change, but his original role within the organization did. During the first several series, Meowth was described as being Giovanni's former "top cat." During an early Kanto episode, he learned his role had been usurped by a Persian.
After these events, things get fuzzy. Up until the Hoenn series, it was assumed that Jessie and James joined Team Rocket together after leaving the bike gang. However, an episode of Pokemon Housōkyoku appeared to change preexisting canon by devoting an entire episode to "The Origin of Love and Youth." In this episode, it was implied that Jessie and James joined Team Rocket separately and perhaps had never even met before being paired up. However, Jessie's initial remark to James is ambiguous ("I know you..."), and their instant hostility towards each other could be interpreted as an implication that they had indeed been associates in the past but had broken up on bad terms and joined Team Rocket separately. In addition, Meowth's role was changed, as he became a sort of servant to Giovanni upon joining, before screwing up orders and ultimately being assigned to the team of Jessie and James. Also, in Kanto, it was established that while Jessie and Cassidy had previously known each other, James and Meowth had not known her nor Butch (nor their Raticate). In "The Origin of Love and Youth," the two teams competed against each other, meaning James and Meowth would have had to have known the other trio.
What remained intact, for the most part, were the childhood histories of Jessie and James. While Jessie's poor background is rarely mentioned in the Houen series, James' rich upbringing has been referenced several times. Also, within the first few episodes of the Hoenn series, Jessie made references to having a past history in the Hoenn region. So far, this is being considered a dropped plot point, as it hasn't been explored further than those early references (and her sporadic contest participation).
The Team Rocket Motto is a staple of the trio's more or less formulaic appearances in each episode and might even be regarded as a very long catchphrase. It is usually recited by Team Rocket as they make their presence known to the good guys and accompanied by many flamboyant special effects and poses, as well a specific piece of theme music. The motto's words, which are a sort of Team Rocket's mission statement, may vary slightly on some episodes depending on the plot. However, the "original" words are:
Jessie: Prepare for trouble!
James: (And) Make it double!
Jessie: To protect the world from devastation!
James: To unite all peoples within our nation!
Jessie: To denounce the evils of truth and love!
James: To extend our reach to the stars above!
(At this point both Jessie and James usually strike a pose, frequently around a large letter "R")
Jessie: Team Rocket, blast off at the speed of light!
Jessie: Surrender now or prepare to fight(-fight-fight)!
(At this point, Meowth usually appears)
Meowth: (Meowth,) That's right!
(In later episodes, Wobbuffet usually jumps in at the point)
The motto seems to be a brainchild of Jessie, James and Meowth, rather than the official motto of Team Rocket the organisation, since the former accuse fellow Team Rocket members Butch and Cassidy of plagiarising the motto. The official motto goes like this:
Prepare for trouble and make it double!
To infect the world with devastation!
To blight all people within every nation!
To denounce the goodness of truth and love!
To extend our wrath to the stars above!
Team Rocket, circling Earth all day and night!
Surrender to us now or you'll surely lose the fight!
The Fate of Team Rocket
While Jessie, James, and Meowth have not yet exited the Pokemon anime series, their manga counterparts saw a happy ending. At the end of the Electric Tale of Pikachu (Dengeki Pikachu) series, Jessie and James were married and soon to have a child. They (with Meowth) appeared in the epilogue to deliver a letter from Ash to his mother in Pallet Town.
Team Rocket as an organization has not yet been abolished in the anime, but it met its demise the video games. In Red, Blue, Green, Yellow, Fire Red, and Leaf Green, the protagonist's temporarily disables the organization, and in Gold, Silver, and Crystal, permanently abolishes it. In the Hoenn region (Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald), the antagonists are Team Aqua and Team Magma, who have no relation to Team Rocket; this is kept intact in the anime, as Jessie, James, and Meowth are the only Team Rocket members to be active in Hoenn.
Pokémon of Team Rocket
Over the course of the series, the trio has employed many Pokémon, none of which were obtained by illicit means.
- Ekans — Ekans (Arbo) is Jessie's first Pokémon.
- Arbok — Evolved from Ekans, Arbok is Jessie's most loyal Pokémon. When the trio tries to recover a band of Ekans from a Pokémon hunter, Arbok was forced to leave Jessie behind in order to lead the Ekans away to safety.
- Lickitung — While shopping in a big city, Lickitung (Beroringa) ate the food Jessie had bought, and Jessie caught the Pokémon. Its tongue could be used to restrain or knock out many of its opponents. In a scheme involving a false Pokémon trading machine, the ball containing Lickitung accidentally fell into a real machine, and consequently, Lickitung was traded for Wobbuffet.
- Shellder — Contrary to the video games, in the animated series, the evolution of Slowpoke to Slowbro was through the union of a Slowpoke to a Shellder, with Shellder biting on the tail of the Slowpoke to form Slowbro. To this end, Jessie captured one and sent it at a Slowpoke, hoping that the Slowbro that resulted would be obedient to her, only for the Slowbro that resulted to send them flying.
- Wobbuffet — After the accidental trade involving Lickitung, Jessie acquired Wobbuffet (Sonans). Wobbuffet often appears as comedy relief (somewhat similar to Misty's Psyduck), always suddenly popping out of its Poké Ball to confirm what someone has just said (this being a play on words from its name in Japan). In many cases, Jessie finds herself recalling Wobbuffet. Because of its frequent appearance, Wobbuffet is frequently seen as the "fourth member" of Team Rocket. The only reason why Jessie doesn't disown it is because its ability to counter attacks is sometimes useful.
- Seviper — Before it was caught by Jessie, Seviper (Habunake) terrorized many Pokémon and stole their food. When Seviper accidentally bit part of Jessie's hair off, Jessie got mad and physically abused the Pokémon, and later caught it.
- Wurmple — After seeing a Beautifly perform at a Pokémon Contest, Jessie sought out to capture a Wurmple (Kemusso). Although her first attempt was unsuccessful (which May would later capture), Jessie found another one on the end of a branch and caught it. Unlike May, Jessie thought of Wurmple as a baby, and generally refused to battle with it.
- Cascoon — When Jessie's and May's Wurmple both evolved simultaneously, May's evolved into a Silcoon, which prompted Jessie to believe that her Wurmple had similarly evolved. The nature of why one evolved into Silcoon and one to Cascoon (Chrysalis) was not explained, but readily apparent given how Jessie and May treated their respective Wurmples. Because of this, Jessie always believed that she had a Silcoon, not believing others when they try to correct her.
- Dustox — After May's Silcoon evolved, Jessie insisted on having her "Silcoon" evolve as well. As the Pokémon that Jessie (under various monikers) uses for Pokémon Contests, Dustox (Dokukeil) typically only appears in episodes where they take place, or where May's Beautifly is a central character.
- Growlithe — Nicknamed "Growlie" ("Gā-chan"), Growlithe (Gardie) was James's pet Pokémon, whose doghouse was larger than most mansions. However, when James left, James instructed Growlie to stay behind and look after his parents.
- Koffing — (Dogas). James's first Pokémon.
- Magikarp — Sold to him by a dishonest Magikarp (Koiking) salesman, Magikarp was completely useless, and thus James disowned it. Soon after, it evolved into Gyarados. James had tried to assert its control, but failed. For many episodes, James had often demanded his money be returned.
- Weezing — Evolved from Koffing, James and Weezing (Matadogas) were, as asserted by James himself, "brothers". When the trio tried to recover a band of Koffing from a Pokémon hunter, Weezing was forced to leave James behind in order to lead the Koffing away to safety.
- Weepinbell — James had possession of two Weepinbell (Utsudon) at different times. The first Weepinbell was never shown being caught (except in a vague flashback), and was sent to a Pokémon Breeding Center that was actually a scheme of other Team Rocket members, where it evolved into Victreebel. The second Weepinbell was obtained by trading with the Magikarp salesman, as a resolution to the incident involving Magikarp.
- Victreebel — James had possession of two Victreebel (Utsubot) at different times. The first Victreebel, when summoned, often tried to eat James, despite James' care for it. He was forced to trade this Victreebel to the Magikarp salesman by Jessie and Meowth in order to obtain a Weepinbell, which soon evolved. This Victreebel, when summoned, tried to eat Jessie, which prompted Jessie to force James into disowning it. The two Victreebel would soon meet (the first being disowned by the Magikarp salesman after it had tried to eat him) and fall in love.
- Cacnea — While the trio was plotting to recover the Ekans and Koffing from the Pokémon hunter, James befriends a Cacnea (Sabonea), who defends the trio from a group of Beedrill who were pursuing them. With Weezing's departure, Cacnea travelled with James. Cacnea often shows its affection to James by hugging him, and because of Cacnea's sharp needles, James often winds up in pain.
- Chimecho — While attending a fair in Fortree City, James tells Jessie and Meowth that he has wanted a Chimecho (Chiriin) since he saw one in a fair when he was a boy. In the fair in Fortree City, James buys one from the same salesman that sold him Magikarp from the SS Anne. He later discovers it's a disguised Hoppip and releases it. Shortly afterwards, a real Chimecho approaches him and agrees to become his Pokémon. If Wobbuffett is the "fourth member" of Team Rocket, then Chimecho is the "fifth." Since its capture, it enters the motto right after Wobbuffett. James adores Chimecho, and does not allow it to battle because he does not want it to become injured.
Jessie and James occasionally give orders to each other's Pokemon or use them in contests or battles. During Houen, James used Dustox in a Pokeringer competition, and Jessie used Chimecho in a Pokemon Contest.
From time to time, other members of Team Rocket appear. These members are generally much more menacing and unfriendly compared to the trio, and wear black Team Rocket costumes, consistent with the video games while contrasting those of Jessie and James (hence, the Black Squad). In many of these episodes where other members appear, the trio, despite their reputation for failure, often finds a way to assist these villains, but somehow, through their incompetence, are the villain's undoing.
Most worth mentioning is Team Rocket's leader, Giovanni (Sakaki). He was also the Viridian City Gym Leader at one time, but hasn't been seen often in person in the anime. A running gag in Advanced Generation is Meowth's fantasies of Giovanni receiving the day's featured Pokemon, finding said Pokemon extremely useful and being grateful to Meowth and his friends for giving it to him.
Two of the most notable members are Butch (Kosaburo) and Cassidy (Yamato), named after Butch Cassidy, who share an unfriendly rivalry with Jessie and James. One running gag in the animated series is how Butch is often referred to as "Botch" ("Kosanji"). Meowth's counterpart in that trio differs each time they appear. During the Advanced Generation series of episodes, Kosaburo and Yamato served as the main antagonists in Shūkan Pokemon Hōsōkyoku, often being defeated by Kenji (Tracey), Kasumi (Misty), Hiroshi (Richie), or Satoshi's Pokémon.
Another member worth mentioning is known as Mondo. This particular member is never seen in the anime, but he does appear in a CD drama released only in Japan. Mondo serves as a apprentice to Meowth (to whom he is loyal), Jessie (whom he has a crush on) and James, and often helps them out of the predicaments they always end up in. He has a Tauros and a Ditto, which he once traded for Meowth.
Other notable members of Team Rocket to appear include Domino in the movie/special Mewtwo Returns, the Iron Masked Marauder/Vicious in Celebi: A Timeless Adventure (Pokemon 4Ever), and Bashou and Buson from the Japan-only Pokémon Crystal special.
- Team Rocket's failed large-scale in-game plans
- Team Rocket Video: Includes Video Clips and Pictures of Team Rocket
1Jessie is sometimes also misspelled as Jesse, probably due to her relation with Jesse James's name. However, Pokémon.com insists on spelling it as Jessie. In the English anime, Jessie is a nickname for Jessica.
Team Rocket also refers to a team made in one episode of Rocket Power, a separate television show.
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