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With the exception of Ash Ketchum himself, undoubtedly the permanent characters of the Pokémon anime are the Team Rocket trio of Jessie, James, and Meowth.
Pokémon: Team Rocket
The villains are introduced back in the second episode of Pokémon and have appeared regularly since then, as some of the main characters have been around for years. On the contrary, the characters of Jessie and James, Cassidy and Butch, were actually not entirely in the anime for more than a decade.
Like good characters like Jessie and James, it’s no secret that they are far from what Pokémon fans of video games think when they hear “Team Rocket.” In the first games, Team Rocket was introduced as a serious criminal gang that the people of Kanto feared officially. Jessie and James, on the other hand, were often portrayed as ignorant – even though they were joking – the masks that Ash and his friends would be humiliating every week.
However, Pokémon’s 57th episode, “The Secret of Reproductive Center,” revealed that the anime version of Team Rocket may have been a superpower and that Jessie and James may have come out on top. The episode introduced Cassidy and Butch, two other members of Team Rocket who are Jessie and James’ talented partners.
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It is clear from the outset that Cassidy and Butch’s basic concept was, “What if Jessie and James were able to do their job well?” Not only that, but while Jessie and James tried and failed every week to steal Ash’s Pikachu, Cassidy and Butch were shown to have successfully conquered many Pokémon in their time.
The two teams in Team Rocket also have similar designs, not to mention the same naming convention. The words of Jessie and James clearly point to the famous law, Jesse James. Meanwhile, the names Cassidy and Butch honor another famous western lawmaker, Butch Cassidy.
Their bitter feud continued, and Jessie and Cassidy looked down on each other. In fact, Cassidy used to spread rumors that James Jessie and Meowth were unpopular with Team Rocket leader Giovanni and that the three were waiting to be fired.
You know, while Cassidy and Butch were more talented than Jessie and James, they were not intended to be 100 percent serious. After all, the thing they probably remember most is the running joke where Butch can get angry at people who don’t pronounce his name correctly. Also, while their capers were more successful than Jessie and James ’, Cassidy and Butch could rock as rivals at times.
However, until the color of their uniforms, Cassidy and Butch were always very much in line with what the fans of the game were expecting from Team Rocket. It wasn’t just characters that were made once, either. After their first episode, these actors continued to appear in other episodes of the first Pokémon anime, with subsequent series such as Pokémon the Series: Ruby and Sapphire and the Pokémon Chronicles anthology.
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Cassidy and Butch’s last appearance so far has been “Sleight of Sand!” – episode 65 of Pokémon the Series: Diamond and Pearl and episode 531 of Pokémon in general – aired in 2008 (January in Japan, July in the United States). There has been no mention of them since then. But while Cassidy and Butch were written off the show thoughtlessly, their removal makes sense when you think about what really happened behind Diamond and Pearl.
In the Pokémon Series: Black & White, the first trio of Jessie, James, and Meowth turned a new leaf. Often referred to as a series in which Team Rocket got “seriously,” Black & White saw that the baddies of comedy began to be as honest as the official villains. During this time, their plans were well thought out, carefully crafted, and most importantly, more effective than ever. Jessie and James have even been given as many black video uniforms as Cassidy and Butch used to wear.
Simply put, now that Jessie and James had done well in their careers, there was nothing for Cassidy and Butch to play with. At one point, Giovanni even called Jessie and James his top executives, not to mention that Cassidy and Butch had forgotten about them. In the end, Jessie and James succeeded.
However, the newly acquired talent did not last long. By the time the Pokémon Series: XY arrived, Jessie, James, and Meowth were back to their old ways. However, Cassidy and Butch have yet to reappear – and it remains to be seen whether we will ever see these screen players again.