Jessie and James before Team Rocket
Team Rocket is one of Pokemonmost memorable villains, with the Rocket trio being the most iconic member of the group. Together alongside Meowth, Jessie and James went on many adventures to capture Ash’s beloved Pikachu. To forever “take off again”, Team Rocket continually tries and fails to grab the elusive Electric-Type.
Team Rocket isn’t all there is to Jessie and James, they had other projects in their lives before joining forces. Before becoming a member of Team Rocket, Meowth came from a poor background and learned to speak like humans. So what were Jessie and James doing during this time?
Jessie’s Way Out of Poverty
Jessie describes her childhood as “miserable”. His mother Miyamoto was also a former member of Team Rocket. Miyamoto was the first person to record the voice of Mew, the world’s rarest Pokémon. She left Jessie in foster care while she and a team searched to find Mew. Jessie’s father is not mentioned in the anime.
Jessie recounts her mother’s “snowgasboard” meals as one of her few treasured memories. His mother made him a variety of his favorite foods from snow because they had to make do with what was available to them, which is proof of his family’s struggle with poverty. Making lemons out of lemonade, a teary-eyed young Jessie exclaims “this is the best snowboarding a mom has ever made”.
A little older now, Jessie has decided to become a pop star with two of her friends. She also met Astin around this time, a boy who asked her to leave town with him to become a Pokémon Coordinator. Jessie declined the offer, as she chose to pursue her singing dreams with her friends. All three auditioned, but only Jessie was unsuccessful. This understandably left Jessie feeling completely crushed and wondering how her life would have ended if she had left town with Astin.
Her next goal was to become a Pokémon nurse. She was told that it would be extremely difficult for her to do so and so she was rejected by the school to which she applied. She noticed a flyer for a Pokemon nursing school for Chanseys and decided to train there as a nurse, despite being the only human there. Although she did well, for the most part, the school was designed for the Chanseys and their unique abilities. For example, Jessie cannot sing in the special way Chanseys does to put the patient to sleep. Unfortunately, Jessie failed to get her nursing degree. She managed to make a friend at school with another Chansey student, whom she is later reunited with as an adult.
It’s also been hinted that Jessie tried her hand at many things before ending up on Team Rocket. She was a ninja, a meteorologist, and even a model at one point.
James’ escape from high society
Unlike Jessie, James was raised in absolute luxury. His childhood home is an entire estate with lavish mansions, beautiful gardens, and more. Her family has a tradition that they must marry to continue the family line.
When he was a young boy, James’ parents arranged for him to marry a girl named Jessebelle, who is humbly a look-alike of Jessie. He names Jessebelle as the reason he ran away. She would chase him around and try to turn him into the perfect husband (at least, by her standards). Nothing he did was refined enough for her. He hated how upper class society had rules for everything and didn’t want to be a part of it anymore. Growlithe, his favorite Pokémon, was his only friend as a child.
James quickly ran away from home with Growlie, leaving his parents heartbroken. As they wandered around town in a hungry and cold snowstorm, he ended up being unconscious and freezing. He even remembers seeing angels, thinking he wasn’t going to survive. He also briefly mentioned that he quit Pokemon Tech and joined a bike gang at some point in his new runaway life.
At the current time of the anime, James’ parents faked their deaths and pretended to bequeath their entire estate to him on the condition that he marry Jessebelle. It was all a ruse to make sure he would marry her. After arguing with his parents and Jessebelle (literally), he decided to leave his old life behind for good. He has always felt at home in this environment and values his own freedom astronomically.
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