Part 77: Factory Head NolandSince we kind of blitzed through the Emerald manga, how about taking some quick tour through the anime's rendition of the Battle Frontier?
The Hoenn League wrapped up in June 2005, but DP was still in the works so it decided to take advantage of FRLG & Emerald coming out in the same year. Rather than head to a dedicated island for the Frontier, Scott built facilities all across...Kanto. Now Ash & friends can journey all around Kanto, name drop a bunch of old cities, visit a few old friends, see more Kanto pokemon and then tackle the Facilities. Kill 2 birds at once. Unfortunately the Kanto half of this equation is pretty lame and aside from Brock, Misty and a few other more minor things this could have been set anywhere.
In general, each facility is pared down to basically being gym battles that may/may not have a gimmick to them. Challengers don't battle any other trainers, just going straight to the Brain. In Ash's case there is usually an unrelated misadventure prior to that, as anime does. I'd say this is probably for the best, but it is a shame they didn't do more to make them stand out.
The first facility Ash challenges happens to be the same as Crosspeice: Battle Factory and Nolan. He's also probably the most boring.
Nolan in the anime is a fun loving inventor type, making things like automated tanks and biplanes. The factory in the anime is also shown to be a more literal industrial factory though you only ever see Nolan & his assistant in it. Aaaaand beyond one other thing we'll get to in a moment that's about it. Dude had 2 episodes to himself but was just kind of there.
So they do actually set up The Factory's gimmick of rental pokemon. Nolan keeps a bunch of pokemon and asks Ash to choose whoever he wants to fight any of the random pokemon Nolan will choose. Could be fun to see Ash adapt to Pokemon he's never seen before; there was a filler early in the series of Ash being forced to use rentals in a pokemon exam and it was great. But, instead Ash insists he uses...
This random wild Articuno that Nolan healed from a wing injury & befriended. I suspect this is meant to mirror how he could use any Pokemon, including non-banned legendaries but it's weird he's not even using a Pokemon he owns for the challenge.
More frustrating is Ash isn't using any rental Pokemon, he's using
His charizard. Which Nolan agrees to anyway, despite it not being part of the facility. Also Ash called in this Charizard without telling anyone so this is might presumptuous of you.
The battle is 1 on 1 and it's okay, but why even bother with the set up if you're just going to do your own thing? Later battles are a bit more interesting in its battles and characters, so at least it's generally up from here.
Oh and Scott's a consistent recurring character in all this and is what kickstarted Ash doing this challenge. He's a cool dude with a cool car that he drives