While searching for firewood in the foggy woods, Ash and Pikachu discover a bunch of prep-school kids bullying a classmate named Joe. They're all students at Pokémon Technical Institute, which offers classes that allow trainers to enter the Pokémon League without getting badges.
But Joe says the rough treatment is necessary so he'll be strong enough to graduate. Still, Ash doesn't like the idea, and demands to meet the person responsible for this "tutoring" program.
We soon meet this leader, a conceited girl named Giselle. Brock and Ash are smitten by her looks, but Misty wants to battle. To Misty's surprise, Giselle's Rock-type Graveler defeats her Water-type Starmie, proving that matching up types is only one of several factors that determine victory. As Giselle gloats, Ash challengers her, and Pikachu faces her Cubone.
But Cubone is unaffected by Electric-type attacks—how can Pikachu win? What's the real deal with this school? And why does the school seem so familiar to Jessie and James?