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The Dark Reason Meowth Can Talk In Pokemon

It's a truth universally acknowledged that Pokémon say their names. Pikachu will communicate with everything from "pika" to "chu" in a given episode. Sure, the pocket monsters also growl or vocalize in ways that deviate from this standard, but few can speak human languages. That special ability is mainly reserved for Legendary Pokémon and a handful of special cases, like the highly intelligent Slowking or those capable of telepathic communication. Then there's Meowth.

It's not just any Meowth, the Pokémon that's nearly indistinguishable from a cat except for the gold gem on its forehead, but specifically Team Rocket's Meowth (Madeleine Blaustein). He's the third member of the comically bad antagonist group that's been around since the beginning of the anime and he has the inexplicable ability to speak with humans. His signature line comes at the end of Jessie (Rachael Lillis) and James' (Eric Stuart) dramatic introduction, when he pops in to say: "Meowth, that's right!" Crucially, though, Meowth can also understand other Pokémon and often acts as a translator between the two. However, he's far from the most powerful of Pokémon, and he's unique for his species, so why can he talk?

About 70 episodes into the anime series, the writers finally explain why Meowth is able to speak his mind. It's a bit of a sad story, really.

Meowth's story is one of love and rejection

In the "Pokémon" episode "Go West Young Meowth," the gang packs up and takes a trip to Hollywood, which apparently exists within the "Pokémon" world — still in California, though, which is an unknown distance from the Kanto region. But never mind the confusing geographical leaps that conjures, the important part is that Meowth is not distracted by the lights of Hollywood or the fault in his expectations. No, he's in full jaded, reminiscing mode.

With flashback scenes and Meowth's narration, the episode reveals that when he was very young, he was alone, hungry, and struggling to survive. After being tied up by some humans, he watched a movie and decided Hollywood was a one-way ticket to a decadent bounty of food. However, once he got there, he didn't find fame and ice cream but rather more struggle. Luckily, a gang of street Meowths led by a Persian, the evolved form of Meowth, welcomed him in. Still, though, he was looking for love.

Enter Meowzie, a cute, female Meowth owned by a rich woman with a diamond-encrusted pokéball. Meowzie disregarded Meowth because he couldn't provide for her the way a human can. So, to win her heart, Meowth set out to become a human. Or, at least, human-like.

Meowth worked hard for a big break in Hollywood

Hidden in the rafters above a ballet class, Meowth learned to walk on two feet and taught himself to speak human by listening to the people below and from reading alphabet books. "Rocket" was the first word he understood, creating a sentimental link to his future family, Team Rocket. However, when he returned to Meowzie, walking and talking like a human, she rejected him for having no money and called him a freak. Meowth took this hard but only became motivated to become rich and powerful, so she'd come begging for his love. This, as a note, seems to be the turning point for Meowth in which he goes from a sad little kitty to a burgeoning villain. He's bitter, entitled, and hurt.

Evidently, this event is what motivated him to join Team Rocket and begin the decadeslong mission to capture Pikachu. However, when he returns to Hollywood in the present, he finds Meowzie in an unexpected place: She's been thrown out on the street by her owner and joined up with Meowth's old gang. He fights them for her, but she still has no interest in him and instead sticks with the Persian. Ultimately, though, he doesn't need her love, because he's found it with Jessie and James.

The startling part of this story is that by Meowth logic, any Pokémon sufficiently motivated can learn to talk. Alright, maybe not the likes of, say, Metapod. But it's still a huge revelation that has far-reaching implications. Perhaps if more Pokémon were taught human speech, they could properly weigh in on whether or not they like brawling for people's entertainment all the time.