CGC Home Video Grades Pokémon VHS Collection, Ranks Top 5 Episodes

In celebration of Pokémon Day, here are — subjectively — the top five episodes from this group of CGC-certified videocassettes.

If you ask anyone — Pokémon fan or otherwise — to tell you the first Pokémon that comes to mind, many of them will answer the obvious: Pikachu! However, did you know that Pikachu’s popularity didn’t come from the original Red Version and Green Version games, which were released in Japan on February 27, 1996? Pikachu, instead, became popular because it was chosen as the mascot (and starter) for Ash Ketchum, the protagonist of the Pokémon anime.

While many Pokémon fans hold other parts of the multimedia franchise in high esteem — such as the video games or TCG — many others were introduced to the series through the anime, which was released in 1997. Ash and Pikachu captured the hearts of millions and sustained a 26-year-long adventure on screen, becoming one of the longest-running anime to air consecutively.

Although their journey ended in 2023, most of Ash and Pikachu’s adventures have been chronicled and released on various forms of home media, including VHS’s, DVDs and Blu-ray discs. Recently, CGC Home Video™ had the honor of certifying a 36-video collection of some of the earliest Pokémon episodes on VHS. Every videocassette is sealed and received grades of CGC 8.5 through CGC 9.6.

To celebrate Pokémon Day, here are some favorite episodes within the Indigo League Saga to share with everyone. Please enjoy!

Top Five Indigo League Pokemon Episodes

5. The Flame Pokémon-athon!

“The Flame Pokémon-athon!” sees Ash, Pikachu, Misty and Brock arriving in a Pokémon reserve, where catching any Pokémon is forbidden. During their visit, they meet Lara and her Ponyta, and learn of an upcoming Pokémon race being held in town, with Lara as their star rider. But when Lara breaks her arm the night before the race, it’s up to Ash to take her place!

While this episode is largely filler, “The Flame Pokémon-athon!” gave Ash a bit of character development by showing his ability to calm and bond with agitated Pokémon. In addition, the race is filled with thrilling twists and turns (and one of the greatest evolution sequences in the early episodes) that are sure to keep audiences on the edge of their seats.

4. Electric Shock Showdown

Ash had a somewhat easy time challenging Brock and Misty at their respective gyms. But the Vermillion City Gym is a different story. Pikachu doesn’t stand a chance in its first battle against Lieutenant Surge’s fierce Raichu and ends up hospitalized. To win this challenge, Ash and Pikachu will have to make some hard decisions…

This episode marks the first time that Ash and Pikachu lose a fight and have to face lasting consequences. It’s also the first episode to introduce the idea of Pikachu evolving into Raichu — a concept that would be revisited several times in the anime, usually because of a heart-wrenching loss.

3. Attack of the Prehistoric Pokémon

“Attack of the Prehistoric Pokémon” is a very layered episode that reveals much about the Pokémon world, including some of its past. Ash and Team Rocket become trapped in an ancient underground cave and accidentally awaken a horde of fossil Pokémon. It becomes a race to escape the cave alive!

Not only does this episode solidify Team Rocket as three-dimensional characters (who are just as fun as they are evil), it also introduces one of the most popular Pokémon in its anime debut: Charizard! Fans will never forget the first time Charizard roared onto the screen… and burned Ash to a crisp in the process.

2. Pikachu’s Goodbye

Deep in a forest, Ash and company discover a large herd of wild Pikachu. Ash’s Pikachu spends a fun-filled day with them, and Ash begins to wonder… would it be better if he left Pikachu with its own kind?

This episode was one of the first true tests of Ash and Pikachu’s bond. The entire 20-minute episode is filled with a sense of uncertainty and doubt as Ash repeatedly struggles with his thoughts on Pikachu’s happiness, while everyone else seems blissfully unaware of his internal battles (at least, at first). It also explores the concept of releasing Pokémon and brings forth the morals of parting with friends.

1. Pokémon, I Choose You!

This is the episode that started it all. The very first Pokémon episode introduces Ash Ketchum, a 10-year-old boy from Pallet Town with a big dream — to become the world’s greatest Pokémon Master! Unfortunately, he’s off to a rocky start — he’s late to Professor Oak’s lab, and all three starter Pokémon are gone! All the professor has left is an unruly Pikachu. How will Ash survive?

Pokémon, I Choose You does a wonderful job of introducing Ash and Pikachu’s characters to the audience, making them instantly relatable and interesting. It also immediately shows just how dangerous the Pokémon world can be, setting the stage for a thrilling and exciting adventure.

About CGC

Since revolutionizing comic book grading in 2000, CGC has grown to include certification services for a vast variety of pop culture collectibles. These divisions include CGC CardsCGC Video Games and CGC Home Video. CGC Cards provides expert card grading for TCGs, sports cards and non-sports cards. CGC Video Games is dedicated to video game grading for the most popular consoles, including Nintendo, Sega, Atari, PlayStation and more. The newest division of CGC, CGC Home Video, provides expert VHS grading in addition to other types of home media.

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