A lot of Pokémon fans have issues with the Black & White portion of the anime. One thing that might have alleviated this was better handling of its antagonists. This would have meant giving more to do to Team Rocket as well as the Unova region’s resident villainous gang Team Plasma.
In the anime fans were shown, Team Plasma didn’t get to be as big a deal as it could have been. They showed up as recurring antagonists in Black & White’s final season, but that’s nowhere near their full potential. If things had gone as originally planned, they could have shown up earlier, stayed longer, and elevated the series as a whole.
What Were Black & White Episodes 23 and 24 About?
Team Plasma was originally supposed to make their anime debut in Black & White Episodes 23 and 24 when Ash and Co. were still in Castelia City. This two-parter would have had Team Plasma get into a confrontation with Team Rocket’s main forces, including Giovanni. It was likely meant to be the first of many destructive altercations involving these two villainous teams.
The successful premiere of this special would have been beneficial for the stories of both Team Rocket and Team Plasma. For Team Rocket, it would have been the culmination of everything the Team Rocket trio had been working on since the start of the series; all the secret calls and meetups, all the masterful heists, and just about anything that didn’t directly involve stealing Ash’s Pokémon. It also might have meant not having the TRio’s go-between, Pierce, vanish into obscurity. If this storyline had gone on, fans might have gotten to see all sorts of machiavellian plots for taking over the Unova region.
More importantly, however, having Team Plasma show up early would have given them the time to be fleshed out. Their plans, their goals, and their ideals could all have been expanded upon throughout Black & White. This also would have meant expanding upon the characters associated with Team Plasma, including the Seven Sages, the Shadow Triad, and Anthea and Concordia. Of course, this might also mean that N would be made the leader of Team Plasma like he was in the games, so Ash would have to fight him rather than travel with him. If this was handled right, it might have reached the same levels of compelling storytelling as the games.
The Team Plasma story might have also had something to do with Zekrom. The Deep Black Pokémon also seemed to have its anime story cut tragically short. Had it remained, it might have been the Black & White equivalent to Ho-Oh or Tapu Koko.
Is There Any Way To Watch Black & White Episodes 23 and 24?
Unfortunately, the missing episodes never saw the light of day. They were postponed indefinitely due to the the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster that occurred in Japan around that time. With the premiere of Black & White Episode 112, “Team Plasma’s Pokémon Power Plot!,” the story of Episodes 23 and 24 was rendered non-canon.
Thus, fans were given what they got from Episode 112 onwards. Team Plasma had a few minor plans here and there for controlling Pokémon but never had any major confrontations with Team Rocket outside the main trio. N was made a travel companion for Ash who had long since cut ties with Team Plasma; this can at least be called an interesting twist on the game’s story. Finally, instead of trying to control Zekrom, Team Plasma instead put their efforts into controlling its counterpart Reshiram. Had this gang shown up earlier, this might have been one of their newer schemes rather than their only one.
However, not all hope is lost. Episodes 23 and 24’s scripts were leaked online recently in both Japanese and English. They give readers an idea of what the two-parter was about, who was in it, and even where it was going with the Team Plasma Arc. The accompanying animation, music, and voice-acting will likely never be seen, but for an episode thought to be lost to time, this is still a great find.
If these scripts are any indication of where the anime was going, then they prove how Team Plasma could have worked. It could have turned Black & White into a well-structured and elaborate narrative on the same level as the Diamond and Pearl anime. That potential may have been lost, but fans can at least look back on what should have been and imagine a better outcome for the anime.
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