The first Gym leader ever to be seen by fans of both the Pokémon video games and anime was Brock. In Pokémon Red & Blue, he is the leader of the Pewter City Gym, and he specialises in Rock-type Pokémon. Depending on which starter you picked, Brock was either very easy, or so hard that you were forced to use something other than your starter Pokémon. In the anime, he made his first appearance in the fifth episode of the show, called "Showdown In Pewter City". Ash earns a badge from the Gym, despite not actually beating Brock in a match. Brock left the Gym when his father returned to take it over, and he would join Ash on his adventure as one of his most faithful companions.
Along with Misty, Brock is the most well-known of all of the Pokémon Gym leaders, and he is one of the most recognizable characters in the whole franchise. He has appeared in almost every generation of the games, and has starred in many different adaptations of the franchise.
It has been a long time since Brock has been a major character in Pokémon, and many fans may not be aware of the interesting history that this character holds. We are here today to lay bare the secrets of Brock. From accusations of racism (by his own creator), to the mystery of his eyes. Here are the Fifteen Things You Didn't Know About Brock.
Pokémon was never envisioned as being a long-running franchise. The video games were originally going to end with Pokémon Gold & Silver, and the anime was going to end with the first movie. The surprising success of the games and the anime led to its extension, and it continues on to this very day.
Due to the troubled development of Pokémon Gold & Silver, the creators of the anime were forced to come up with a filler season in order to create material after the end of the Indigo League. After Ash & Gary lose in their first Pokémon tournament, Professor Oak sends Ash off to pick up a mysterious item known as the GS Ball. Ash travels to the Orange Islands, where he would go on to win his first tournament.
During their adventures in the Orange Islands, Brock left the cast in order to stay with Professor Ivy. He was replaced by the likeable but bland Tracey Sketchit. The reason for this change was because of the growing popularity of Pokémon worldwide. The creators of the show felt that Brock's design might be perceived as racist outside of Japan, so they replaced him with a more obviously white character. This change ended up having the opposite effect, as fans were furious that the beloved Brock was dropped from the show. Brock would return to the main cast in time for Pokémon: The Johto Journeys, and Tracey was relegated to cleaning Professor Oak's lab... where he belongs.
Pokémon equals The Simpsons when it comes to songs performed by the cast. Songs like the original theme of the show, and the Pokérap have made their way onto Pokémon compilation records. The anime and movies alone have led to the creation of six different albums.
One of the ending themes played during the Johto season of the anime was called "Two Perfect Girls". It was a shortened version of a longer track that was released on the Totally Pokémon, and Pokémon 3: The Ultimate Soundtrack CDs. The song is a love ballad, performed by Brock's voice actor, Eric Stuart. Brock sings about how he struggles to choose between Officer Jenny and Nurse Joy. True to his nature, he ends the song by chasing a completely different girl.
"Two Perfect Girls" is intended to be a funny song, but some of the lyrics are kind of telling as to Brock's attitude towards women. Lyrics like "Jenny, if loving you's a crime, Then sentence me now and I'll do the time" are just begging for a restraining order. Hopefully Brock can take Pokémon Breeding classes in jail.
Last names aren't that important for characters in fiction. In Pokémon alone you have Misty, Jessie, James, May, and Serena, to name just a few. Ash's surname is an invention of the English dub, as he is just referred to as Satoshi in the original Japanese version of the show.
Despite coming from a big family, Brock's surname has never been brought up on the show. Then again, neither has Misty's (and we see several members of her family also). Ash travelled with both of these people for years, and never once asked for their full names. The alternative solution is that a lot of the characters in Pokémon just have stage names, like Sting or Shakira. This actually makes more sense, as it's a massive coincidence that the Rock-type trainer is called Brock. It explains why lots of characters have pun names in Pokémon, and everybody is probably called something like John Smith (or its Japanese equivalent), until they pick a Pokémon type.
Brock's surname was finally revealed by his voice actor, Eric Stuart, back in 2006. During an interview with K-Zone Magazine, Stuart revealed that Brock's surname is Harrison. This information was corroborated by hints in the anime.
As a franchise, Pokémon has always had established plot goals. Ash wants to be the best, like no one ever was. This means becoming a Pokémon Master. What being a Master actually entails is not exactly clear. Do you have to catch them all? Do you have to win a league? Do you have to beat the Elite Four and the Champion as well?
Ash's pursuit of these nebulous goals has given Pokémon a tight formula. This means that the show rarely deals with real life issues, like some kid shows do. While a lot of people called Digimon a Pokémon knock-off - Digimon was more grounded in reality, and dealt with issues like parental abandonment alongside all of the monster fighting.
The character with the darkest backstory in the entire series has to be Brock. His parents left him to look after his numerous siblings while left on their own journeys. He also had to be a full-time Gym leader at the age of 15. It took the return of his father to free up Brock, so he could go on his journey with Ash. His mother later returned, and changed the Pewter City Gym into a Water-type Gym. Brock's brother, Forrest, eventually became the Pewter City Gym leader (with Brock's help), and the poor kids don't need their neglectful parents around anymore.
Censorship was common in the early days of the Pokémon franchise. This is not due to the creators being purposely insensitive. The show was a surprise success on every front, and it was never originally planned for a Western release. The show already had a few controversies under its belt before it left Japan, like the Porygon episode that caused seizures. This meant that the series was already under tough scrutiny before it came to America.
Some of the changes made to the show are easy to explain, things like cutting episodes that showed guns. Some scenes of excessive violence and sexuality were toned down, or removed completely. Overt references to Japanese language and culture were also changed to be more understandable to foreign audiences.
The most peculiar change came with the food. Ash and his friends are commonly seen eating Japanese dishes on their journey. One of the most common food items on the show is onigiri, which are rice balls wrapped in seaweed. The characters on the show would often refer to them as different things in the English dub.
Poor Brock was given the worst food cover-up name of all time. He had to refer to some onigiri as a delicious "jelly-filled doughnut".
When playing the original Pokémon games, your choice of starter Pokémon can determine how difficult the Brock battle is. If you chose Bulbasaur or Squirtle, then he should pose no trouble. Just level your starter up enough so that they have learnt Leech Seed/Bubble, and steamroll everyone in the Pewter City Gym.
If you chose Charmander, or you are playing Pokémon Yellow and have Pikachu, then the battle becomes trickier. This is due to the limited amount of Pokémon available for you to catch before this point. Your best bet is catching a Caterpie, and evolving it into Butterfree (so it can use Confusion), or levelling up one of the Nidorans, so they can use Double Kick.
Brock has a terrible secret in the early games - the fact that he is a dirty cheater! Brock's Onix knows Bide, despite the fact that it cannot learn the move until level 15 (his one is either level 12 or 14, depending on the game). When you battle him in Heart Gold & Soul Silver, his Rhyhorn has the Sturdy ability, despite Rhyhorn not being able to possess Sturdy.
The original Game Boy was not exactly a powerhouse in terms of hardware. This is evident in the early Pokémon games, as they were ugly, glitch-filled messes. That is why it took six games before you could play as a girl, and why everything was so unbalanced among the Pokémon types. As fans, we generally don't fault the first generation of games for this. We tend to look at them through a nostalgia filter, and at the very least, we appreciate them for laying down the framework for what was to come.
It is due to the Game Boy's tiny screen, and weak graphical hardware, that some of the original Pokémon's designs looked weird. Some of the sprites just looked really ugly, and out of place, like Machoke or Golbat.
These weird designs also applied to some of the human characters. Brock's original sprite made him look he was wasn't wearing a shirt. While it is debatable if this is really the case (it is hard to tell, due to the odd angle), some other forms of Pokémon media ran with it. During his initial battle against Red and Blue in the Pokémon Adventures manga, Brock fought while topless.
The Pokémon franchise was created in Japan, back in 1995. This means that Pokémon is now over twenty years old, and still going strong.
While the games came first in Japan, Pokémon was introduced to America with the animated series. The show has been running ever since, and Ash has kept on trucking, despite not progressing much as a character.
Throughout the show's run, Ash has had many different companions. He had Misty, Brock, and Tracey with him during the first three seasons. Since then, Ash has had a rotating list of companions who generally leave him when he goes to a new region. He had May and Max in Hoenn, Dawn in Sinnoh, Iris and Cilian in Unova, and Clemont, Bonnie, and Serena in Kalos.
Of all of the male companions, Brock has been the longest running one so far. He journeyed with Ash through most of Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, Kanto again, and Sinnoh. He is also one of the characters who has made the most appearances. The only ones who have more are Ash, Pikachu, and Team Rocket.
Pokémon Emerald introduced a new post-game area into the series, known as the Battle Frontier. The Battle Frontier would later show up in different games, like Pokémon Platinum, and Pokémon Heart Gold & Soul Silver. The Battle Frontier is essentially a huge theme park for Pokémon trainers who love to battle. It is split up into different facilities, like the Battle Tower, and Battle Pyramid. Each facility has different rules, like your team having to battle while being controlled by the computer, or you can only use other people's Pokémon.
The Battle Frontier made its way into the Pokémon anime. Ash and his Hoenn companions (Brock, Max, and May) travelled across Kanto, and battled the powerful Frontier Brains - the leader of each facility.
One of the Frontier Brains left an impression on the fans. Pike Queen Lucy is the Frontier Brain of the Battle Pike, a huge facility in the shape of a Seviper. In the games, Pike Queen Lucy is just another boss battle for the player. In the anime, Pike Queen Lucy is one of only a handful of women who shares a mutual attraction with Brock.
It isn't until we see Pike Queen Lucy's team of Pokémon that we find out the reason that she likes Brock. All of her Pokémon that she keeps at home have their eyes constantly closed... like Brock does. She keeps a Snorlax, Abra, Swinub, Skitty, Makuhita, and a Cyndaquil in her home. It's clear that she digs this look.
Poor Brock, he spends his life chasing after Office Jenny and Nurse Joy, but he left his real perfect girl back in Kanto.
The Kanto Safari Zone is a controversial subject when it comes to the anime. The only episode that focused on it completely was "The Legend of Dratini"... an episode that was never dubbed into English. The reason for this is simple, the episode has several instances where a character pulls out, and uses a revolver. You cannot show realistic guns in kids shows in America. 4Kids never even attempted to dub this episode, and shifted its one major event (Ash and his Tauros) into other episodes.
It was during the events of "The Legend of Dratini" that Ash caught thirty Tauros. The ease at which a loser like Ash can catch so many Tauros is believed to be an in-joke for the fans. In Pokémon Red & Blue, the chances of encountering a Tauros in the Safari Zone are very low, and they tended to run away before you had a chance to entice/catch one.
One of Ash's Tauros proved to be a very powerful Pokémon, and would help him greatly during the Orange Islands. Not all of the Tauros were actually caught by Ash, however. Brock caught one of the Tauros for him, using Ash's Safari Balls. Even though it was Brock who did the catching, the Pokémon still belonged to Ash.
The original English voice cast of the Pokémon anime were part of the show since its original broadcast in 1998. In 2006, there were rumours online that they were all going to be replaced.
From 1998 to 2006, Pokémon was dubbed into English and edited for broadcast by 4Kids Entertainment. As the show was waning in popularity in America, Pokémon USA began looking for a cheaper distributor. They eventually went with TAJ Productions, who chose to use a new cast of sound-a-likes for the Pokémon characters.
Some of the original voice actors appealed to the fans for help, like Maddie Blaustein, the original voice of Meowth. These efforts were in vain, however, and the show lost its original cast.
Eric Stuart was the voice of Brock for almost a decade. He also voiced other major characters on the show, like James, and Butch. He also appeared in other 4Kids dubbed shows. He played Seto Kaiba in Yu-Gi-Oh, and DikDik Van Dik in Ultimate Muscle. Eric Stuart does not do much voice acting anymore, as he mainly focuses on his music career.
Pokémon as a franchise has always been fine with characters cross-dressing. Team Rocket especially have had no problem with dressing as the other gender. This has always been depicted as being part of one of their infamous disguises, rather than having anything to do with gender identity. The most recent Pokémon games have even included a transgender character (albeit, one who was toned down slightly in the English language release).
It has been established in the anime that Brock is able to tell if a man is a cross-dressing as a women. This is due to his hormonal attraction to women. If that attraction isn't there, then he will know the truth. There is one big exception to this, however, and that is when Ash dresses like a girl.
Like Team Rocket, Ash has cross-dressed on several occasions. This incarnation of Ash is referred to as "Ashley" by the fans. He dressed like a French Maid in the episode "Tanks for the Memories", he wears a pretty blue dress in "Beauties Battling for Pride and Prestige!", and he dressed like a young blonde in "Pokémon Scent-sation!". It was during this episode that he dressed like a girl in order to enter the Celadon City Gym. This was when Brock was unable to tell that Ashley was actually Ash in disguise.
Brock has always been shown as being in love with every Officer Jenny and Nurse Joy that he meets (if the creepy "Two Perfect Girls" song hadn't alerted you to this already). This level of attraction grants Brock the ability to tell the different Jennys/Joys apart from each other.
While the Nurse Joys are all identical within a region, the Officer Jennys all have a clue as to their appointed city on their clothing. As kids, we never saw this obvious clue, and we all thought Brock was combining his perverted obsession with a Rain Man style memory.
The clue is on the hat. Each Officer Jenny wears a hat that carries the symbol of their chosen jurisdiction. Brock was able to determine their identity on sight, because he knew all of the symbols by heart. Brock likely doesn't realise that this kind of knowledge is just another piece of evidence for his inevitable restraining order.
When Brock first appeared in the anime, he was the Pewter City Gym leader. He quickly abandoned this position, as he wanted to travel the world, and learn the ways of a Pokémon Breeder. The problem with this goal is that breeding is tied to sexual activity, and even the Pokémon games ignore this. If you leave two Pokémon in the Daycare Centre, then an egg just shows up after you take a certain amount of steps, without any explanation as to how it got there. The makers of the game wisely left the dirtier stuff for the darker corners of the Internet, and just used the Dumbo answer for where Pokémon babies come from.
The details of Pokémon Breeding became more about feeding the Pokémon the correct foods, and giving them the right amount of care, in order to increase ensure that they are healthier. This tied into Brock's other function for the group, as he cooked the food for both Ash and Misty on their journey.
Before he left the show, Brock decided that he wanted to be a Pokémon Doctor instead. When Ash left to go to Unova, Brock decided to stay in Kanto, and train to become a doctor, while also helping his brother become the Pewter City Gym leader. In his few appearances since then, we see that Brock is still completing his medical training.
The most memorable part of Brock's design is the fact that he never opens his eyes. He travels around the world like Daredevil, and knows what's going on, despite the fact that his eyes are firmly shut. The Japanese staff of the anime believed that this design might be considered racist when the show reached a worldwide audience. No such controversy ever arose. As we saw with the racism accusations concerning Jynx, it's not as if the show was any stranger to controversy.
Brock's reputation as a person who never opens his eyes is misleading, however, as he has opened them on several occasions.
In the episode "A Crowning Achievement", Brock willingly opens his eyes for the first time, while horsing around with Larvitar. He also opened his eyes when being burnt by Charmander in the episode "The Ninja Poké-Showdown", and while being hit by Jessie's Arbok in "Who Gets to Keep Togepi?".