Cynthia’s massages may be behind Garchomp’s power

The following contains minor spoilers for Pokémon Journeys Episode 122, “Overwhelming Victory”.

Cynthia and her Garchomp are one of the most iconic combinations of them all pokemon. The Sinnoh Champ is the most popular regional champion and one of the strongest in both the anime and the games. Cynthia’s Garchomp has been a destroyer of worlds since the anime’s introduction, where it beat up four of Paul’s Pokémon before giving up and forfeiting its entire combat challenge against Cynthia.

Since then, Garchomp has beaten every on-screen opponent he’s ever faced, with the exception of one fight where he was proved right thanks to the expiration of the time limit. It even withstood Landorus, Thundurus, and Tornadus during Cynthia’s time travel with Ash during the “Unova Saga”. Cynthia’s Garchomp is powerful, even for a pseudo-legendary — and pokemon travel may have subtly revealed how it came to be.

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Ash found Cynthia massaging Garchomp – which can arouse affection

As Ash and Cynthia separately prepared for their semifinal showdown in the Masters Eight of the World Coronation Series, Ash’s Dragonite tackled him through a bush where he happened to run into the Sinnoh Champion giving her Garchomp a massage. As pokemon gamers are well aware that massaging is a feature in almost every game in the main series as a way to make Pokémon friendlier towards their trainer – a suspiciously specific thing Cynthia did when Ash encountered her. Admittedly, massaging a Pokémon has no combat benefits in the games, but the anime has always been pretty liberal with game logic. It’s possible that massage can be used in the anime to increase a Pokémon’s affection, like stroking does in the later additions to the games, Pokémon-Amie and Pokémon Refresh.

Affection is a big deal in the main series games, as Pokémon that have maxed out their mind gain a whole host of OP abilities: higher critical hit ratios, greater dodge, survivor attacks they should have defeated, and even heal themselves from status conditions. In fact, Cynthia’s Garchomp is above others of its kind, and maximum affection would be a solid explanation for why it’s so strong.

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Considering that Cynthia massaged her Garchomp in Episode 122, as well as the Dragon/Ghost-type Dragapult who was defeated by a Hyper Beam, it’s not that the series is overly concerned about the game’s accuracy. So it’s certainly possible that massaging a Pokémon in the anime will evoke affection, even if it isn’t in the games – since affection and happiness aren’t the same things in the main series games.

Greater stamina would certainly help explain how Cynthia’s Garchomp won some of his battles. After all, it took a definite Dragon Pulse from Iris’ Haxorus, and most dragons become glass cannons when hit by another Dragon-type attack. It even withstood a Blizzard from Paul’s Weavile despite a double weakness to Ice-type moves. Granted, Cynthia’s Garchomp didn’t see it That plenty of screen time in a serious battle outside of the win over Haxorus and the dismantling of Paul’s team. However, to travel literally playing horror music during his entrance against Iris in the Masters Eight shows that Garchomp is Leon’s Pokémon equivalent – so powerful that it’s almost pointless to show his battles, because of course it will win.

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Pokémon Journeys Revealed Garchomp Was Cynthia’s First Pokémon

The bond between a Pokémon and its trainer has always played a big part in that Pokémon’s success; look no further than Ash and Pikachu for proof. In addition to the possibility that Cynthia may have increased Garchomp’s affection through massages that she believes are their pre-battle ritual, she also revealed that Garchomp was her very first Pokémon—which she hatched from an egg when she was a child.

As with Ash and his Lucario, there is a stronger bond when the trainer has taken care of their Pokémon’s egg. Cynthia has been partners with her Garchomp since it was a Gible, and she was younger than how old Ash is now. In fact, it can take decades for a Pokémon’s affections to be as high as her Garchomp’s, as Cynthia is probably older than people think and plans to retire soon.

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The power of Cynthia’s Garchomp would make a lot of sense if it actually spams critical hits and resists attacks it should have beaten due to the great affection for its trainer. Considering it’s a longstanding mechanic from the games, Cynthia massaging her Garchomp before every fight seems more meaningful than episode 122 of to travel never mind.

However, as Ash and Cynthia’s long-awaited battle draws closer and a showdown between Mega Garchomp and Mega Lucario seems likely, Garchomp’s unbeatable reputation is about to take a serious blow as Ash pursues his dream of battling Leon. The only benefit of Cynthia and Garchomp’s inevitable defeat is that it could inspire the Sinnoh champion to stay a little longer.

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