Tag Archives: Pokemon

August Bonus Review: Pokemon Snap

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Pokemon Snap was first released in Japan in early ’99. A year and a half later, we got to play it. It’s been a fan favourite of the franchise since. Let’s take a look and see why.

Story:

You take on the role of a Pokemon photographer challenged with travelling through various locations to get wildlife shots of Pokemon. So, not a story driven game by any means.

Characters: 

There are two characters, the photographer who barely speaks and Professor Oak who looks through your pictures and measures them to make sure the Pokemon you photographed is in the exact centre. Honestly, Oak comes across as kind of an anal old shite in this. You can take a very nice sideways picture or action shot and have him complain because “the Pokemon wasn’t in the centre” or “Wasn’t facing the camera on account of being sideways.” I suspect he might not be much of an expert on photography.

Gameplay:

The game controls very simply. You’re on a rail, going at a consistent pace through various stages. As you progress you unlock items like apples, pester balls and the poke flute to make it possible to get better shots of certain Pokemon, unlock new paths and find secrets.

That’s one of the game’s strong points. There are a lot of secrets to uncover. And, to its credit, there aren’t any that are overly obtuse or finicky. About the most difficult they get is “use an apple to get Pikachu into position, play the poke flute, quickly photograph Zapdos.”

There are, however, enough to make the six main stages highly replayable. Yeah, I know there are technically seven stages. But the last one is just a stretch where you’re getting photos of Mew so I’m not counting it here. You also want to go through stages multiple times to get shots of specific Pokemon since you only have sixty possible pictures per stage and there’s always a certain window you have to get shots of any given Pokemon or special event. Some of which you can’t get in the same run. For instance, if you’re really going for pictures of the Charmander horde at the Volcano, you probably won’t get pictures of Moltres. Or if you’re going for the Arcanine pictures at the end of that stage you won’t get the Charizard pictures.

It really is impressive how much content they crammed into those six main stages.

About the worst thing I can say for the gameplay is that Oak’s ratings can be a bit stupid at times. He basically looks for a few things, the size of the picture, whether the Pokemon is facing you, whether it’s in the centre of the picture and if there are other Pokemon of the same type in the shot. Which can mean some nice looking shots get low ratings.

But it is a very consistent rating system, so you shouldn’t have trouble taking pictures he approves of. And there is the option of saving pictures even if you’re not using them for his Pokemon Report. So, you can keep the nice shots that he isn’t going to like.

Art: 

For the Nintendo 64, this was some very nice artwork. By modern 3DS/ Switch standards, it can look a bit polygonal but for back then, this looked fantastic. For comparison’s sake, when this came out Generation 2 hadn’t been released and the 3D models we were used to for the franchise were from Pokemon Stadium. Which came out shortly before this and looked nowhere near as good.

Sound:

The music is nice and fun. The Pokemon make noises both when they move around and when they cry out. They pretty much nailed the sound design. One interesting aspect is that the poke flute actually plays different melodies at different points. Which is a nice bit of variety.

Final Thoughts:

Pokemon Snap is a fantastic game. The photography element is pretty unique and the exploration is surprisingly deep given the limited stages. I’d give it a 9/10. That being said, I’m sure you all noticed the lack of “Areas of Improvement.” That’s not because the game has none and there’s a reason I’ve been wanting to discuss this game in particular.

In early July, an interview with Game Freak director Masuda Junichi resulted in him basically saying there wasn’t a sequel to this game in the works, because they can’t think of something very unique to do with it. After all, they can’t make the same thing again.

Now, putting aside how absurd that is when the Pokemon franchise itself is built on very small, incremental changes from generation to generation and the most unique they’ve gotten was trading gyms for trials that are basically like gyms only with fewer trainer battles.

We’ll ignore all that and focus on ways they could change up the Snap formula to make it more unique. Now, if anyone from Game Freak happens to see this, these ideas are free. Use all or some of them to your heart’s content. Which is why this time around I’m trading the usual “Areas of Improvement” segment for

Sequel Ideas:

  1. Add in various filters. Here’s the thing, I hate all those stupid filters you can put over your photos on your phone or when uploading them. However, a lot of people absolutely love them and I could see people sharing their in game photographs online using the in game filters and just having a grand time.
  2. Have various Pokemon in stages that you can feed to befriend. At this point, they can follow you around throughout the stage and do various special things. Imagine having a Growlithe following you, doing backflips and other various cute things you could snap pictures of.
  3. Have actual branching paths. I know, the N64 hardware wasn’t really at the level where you could do this. But on the Switch, you could absolutely have points in a stage where you could go down different routes for pictures.
  4. Give the photographer a partner Pokemon. I’m not going to say that this should be transferable to other games, but if you had a partner Pokemon they could help open various paths, be sent out to interact with wild Pokemon. Hell, you could even let players dress it up in little outfits. Eevee would be good for that. So would Vulpix.
  5. Have a Transforming pod. Here’s what I’m thinking. Give players a ride pod similar to the one you’re in in the first game, but this one can transform into a submarine for underwater stages/ stage segments or into a zeppelin for aerial parts.
  6. A proper zoom lens. The first game pretty much has no options for sizing pictures. In this one, let players zoom in a fair amount. This could be used to get some nicer close ups or get good aerial shots of Pokemon on the ground.

So, there you go. Any two of these ideas will give you more of a difference between Snap & Snap 2 than most main franchise Pokemon games have from their closest sequel. You’re welcome.

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Pokemon XY: Remember when Megas weren’t a source of shame?

Yes, we’re back to talking about Pokemon, a franchise so long running that there are adults who weren’t born yet when it started. I was, but I’m old and crabby. Any way, I was asked to review this particular part of the anime. So, all of you get to read me ranting about all the aspects of this anime franchise that get on my nerves. Besides, with Sword and Shield coming out soon and eliminating the Megas, it seems a good time to talk about when Game Freak was super proud of that element.

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Story:

We open with Satoshi travelling over to the Kalos region leaving Unova and all the Pokemon he “befriended” there behind. He meets the siblings, Citron & Eureka, and begins his journey to beat all the Kalos gyms while catching new Pokemon he’ll inevitably leave behind when he moves on to Alola. Unfortunately for him, Musashi, Kojirou & Meowth are still following him to steal his Pikachu.

I should note, the anime does not follow the game’s mechanics as much as it makes nods to them. Which I can’t really complain about. It would be even more boring if Pikachu had to dodge every attack because any hit would smash its frail defences and knock it the fuck out.

The biggest problem with the series is just that it’s all very repetitive and formulaic. You can pretty much tell exactly what’s going to happen in an episode the moment the scenario is introduced. Satoshi will even say he hasn’t decided which gym to go to next after every gym match, even against the 7th gym when there’s literally one option left.

In all fairness, the series can have a real sense of fun to it. And Team Rocket’s goofy schemes can be entertaining even if we know every one is going to end with them getting blasted into the air and saying “this feels bad.”

Characters:

This is where the big problem in the series lies. The main characters are dull. Really, excruciatingly dull. Satoshi has no personality whatsoever. He’s just vaguely amicable. Which is part of the problem with the franchise keeping the same protagonist from region to region. The dude can’t learn any lessons without repeating old territory. He also can’t develop as a character because every writer who works on the anime has a cemented image of him and what he’s supposed to be. And it is hard to see him as having a real connection with his pokemon when he has a long history of saying goodbye to them at the slightest provocation.

Then there are his companions. Citron is a boring sciencey boy who makes machines that blow up and is vaguely nice. Eureka is an excitable child who thinks every Pokemon ever is cute. Even the shite ice cream cone no one likes. And tries to get her brother a bride whenever she thinks a woman is pretty. Serena is a girly girl with a crush on Satoshi because they met once in camp when they were all of eight.

The best characters are Musashi, Kojirou & Meowth. Just because they’re allowed to be bad and revel in that but there’s also a real attempt at making them sympathetic. Every member of the group gets some episode or other that showcases the better part of their nature. This also serves to make them more enjoyable than the main cast as well as more complex.

Art: 

The artwork is fine. There are some pretty cool battles. The characters look fine. And the Pokemon look like their game counterparts. I don’t really care for most of the 6th generation Pokemon personally, but that may be because I’m old and grumpy. You damn kids and your cotton candy pokemon and your slime dragons and your key rings and your pogs and your street sharks.

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Sound: 

The acting is fine. Everyone is perfectly competent but most of the characters are so boring they don’t have much in terms of complexity to convey. Which is why our best performances come from Hayashibara Megumi, Miki Shinichiro & Inuyama Inuko. The music is decent enough too. Not great but functional enough.

Ho-yay:

There are some moments with Serena and Sana. Eureka’s obsession with pretty women also seems to be a strong indication that she won’t be dating men when she gets older.

Areas of Improvement:

  1. Ditch Satoshi as the main protagonist. Honestly, I think the Pokemon anime franchise would be a lot better if each region featured a new protagonist. You could get more complexity for the character without having to undermine their bond with their pokemon to show off the new region’s creatures.
  2. Have some surprises. I get it, this is a children’s anime and they can’t get too complex with it. But at least have some events that are mildly against the grain or that subvert expectations. Maybe even let the villains win in some minor way that isn’t too bad for the heroes.
  3. More personality for the protagonists. A big part of the issue with them is that the writers try to make them too squeaky clean good. Give them some real flaws to overcome that can lead to some interesting interactions. It would make the series a lot more interesting.

Final Thoughts:

Pokemon XY isn’t a bad series. However, it’s not a good one either. It’s like that last Pokemon film I reviewed. It’s a mediocre series that’s probably enjoyable enough for the target audience, but doesn’t provide much for anyone older. Even slightly older like teenagers. I’ll give it a 5/10.

Pokemon: Maboroshi no Pokemon Lugia Bakutan- The Time Team Rocket Saved The World From Devastation

For those of you who weren’t around in ’00, or were too young to remember, Pokemon was still at an early point. Before there were a billion games including spin-offs and enough merchandise to bankrupt an entire nation. And we were all eagerly anticipating Silver & Gold in 2001. What’s that? You got those games considerably earlier? Well, in the EU we got them in early 2001. In any case, we were all gathering every scrap of information we could and this film promised us a first look at Lugia, even though the games were already out elsewhere and we’d seen her image on the Internet. Regardless, a lot of people were excited to see this film in theatres. I wasn’t allowed to because we were poor and theatre tickets for me and all three of my siblings were pricey. But I do remember what a big deal this was for a lot of people my age. I’m still not going easy on it.

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Story:

We open with a collector, we’ll call him Kivas Fajo, in his advanced aircraft base. He’s after the legendary birds, Moltres, Articuno and Zapdos. He hopes to acquire them and draw out Lugia so he can capture it as well. Then he’ll make them all wear their outfits, sit in their chairs and entertain his guests. Little does Kivas realise that capturing the birds will throw the planet out of balance causing upheavals and, possibly, the end of the world. It’s naturally up to Satoshi and his companions to deal with the situation.

Now, I’m not going to worry about spoilers too much since the Pokemon anime is kind of predictable and formulaic. Plus this film is around twenty years old if we’re going by the original Japanese release. So, moving on to the first problem with the narrative. Kivas suffers from a serious case of “dumb villain.” This dude accidentally brings Satoshi and his group aboard his airship, then he leaves them alone so they can easily interfere with his operation and foil his plans. Another problem is that the film has a lot of pointless moments. All the Pokemon converging on the islands for the confrontation and then doing fuck all, the scenes with Professor Ookido & Satoshi’s mum, they just don’t seem to contribute anything.

You might argue that the Pokemon converging is to illustrate the importance of taking action even when things look bleak, but they actually do nothing so it doesn’t really work.

The best thing I can say for the narrative is that it has some pretty neat action moments. The whole fight sequence with the birds is pretty amazing. The Lugia reveal is also nicely done. The film shows a lot of bubbling underwater and uses a bunch of other tricks to obfuscate Lugia’s appearance before finally bringing it out at the climax in a massive jet of water. It’s a strong, well-paced reveal.

Characters:

The characters are kind of under-written and not very interesting. Satoshi does whine too much for my taste. One thing worth mentioning, however, is that Satoshi’s companions are basically useless while Team Rocket acts heroically. Which is a weird decision. You wouldn’t expect a children’s work to give the spotlight to the petty villains.

But it does. Kasumi & Kenji help pull Satoshi out of the water once and that’s basically it. Aside from that they stand around picking particles out of their anuses. And Pikachu was already working on getting Satoshi to shore. So, if Pikachu had thought to grab Lapras’ pokeball from Satoshi’s bag, they would have been completely pointless. They don’t even bring out their Pokemon to try to free Zapdos & Moltres from their cages. Musashi and Kojirou bring out Arbok and Weezing. They also go to Satoshi’s rescue when he comes to an impasse and things look hopeless. Then they dodge attacks from legendary birds to get him to the artefact he needs to save the world. And they very nearly sacrifice themselves so the world can be saved.

Art:

The artwork looks fine. Kivas’ airship looks a bit out of place when compared to the rest of the art. There’s also a fail with Doctor Uchikido’s completely ambivalent facial expression while she talks about the potential end of the world. The action sequence with the birds is the highlight in terms of art. And seeing Lugia use Aeroblast is really cool. The whole sequence with Musashi and Kojirou taking an inflatable raft up through a bunch of caverns looks cool even if it does not follow proper laws of physics. The sequence with a speed boat going up stairs is the same way, except not nearly as cool looking.

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Sound: 

The acting is pretty good, actually. Hayashibara Megumi is always great. Miki Shinichiro does a good job. Hiramatsu Akiko & Matsumoto Rica are both good. If there’s a weakness it’s Kaga Takeshi as Kivas. And that’s not so much his fault as it is a natural result of him getting a boring character who isn’t very expressive. The music works decently enough.

Ho-yay:

There isn’t any. It’s not like the Pokemon franchise is going to toss in an Utena reference or something.

Areas of Improvement:

  1. Make the villain basically competent. If our heroes had to actually sneak aboard and make their way to his collection, it would make for a more interesting sequence than him just letting them loose without watching them. You could even have Kasumi & Kenji create a distraction so they can actually do something of value.
  2. Either have all those Pokemon try to interfere with the battle or leave them out. Like I said, the sequences with all of them converging just end up being pointless since they just watch and lick their own genitals.
  3. Have Doctor Uchikido show some emotion. If the world is ending, you aren’t going to look vaguely bored like it’s a situation you get every Thursday. There’s a difference between composure and just not giving a shit and her reaction is very much not giving a shit.

Final Thoughts:

If I were watching this as a youngster back when it first came out, I’d probably enjoy it in the moment and quickly forget all the details. Watching it now, however, it does not hold up very well. While it has some good moments and the basic artwork and acting generally work well, the antagonist is forgettable and overly stupid. There are too many “plot points” that do nothing and too many characters who sit around scratching their asses. Ultimately, I’ll give it a 5/10. It’s one of those mundane children’s films that has quite a few obvious issues because the writing staff didn’t really care or think kids would really notice.

Pokemon: Mewtwo no Gyakushuu: Send in the Clones

If you’re part of my generation, or younger, chances are Pokemon was part of your childhood. I’ve reviewed one anime based off of it, the relatively short Pokemon the Origin but there have been a bunch of series for it, many of them going well over a hundred episodes. Today, we’re looking at Pokemon: Mewtwo no Gyakushuu, a film based off of the main anime line. Now, the general consensus among older fans of the Pokemon franchise is that the games are still fun and various improvements like reusable TMs, more trainer customization & the elimination of HMs in favour of ride Pokemon are touted as proof that they’re getting better. The opposite is true for the main anime. Most older fans say it was fine when they were kids but totally doesn’t hold up, often citing the overly repetitive formula & Satoshi being a toolbox. But let’s look at the film and make our own judgements.

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Story:

We open with a group of scientists entering the jungle to investigate reports of Mew sightings. I remember when Mew was supposedly around that bloody truck but that was all lies and the hours we spent trying to make her appear were all in vain. In any case, they don’t find Mew but they do find one of her fossilised eyelashes. Which is weird because good luck seeing any eyelashes on Mew. But whatever, they take the eyelash back to their laboratory and decide to use it to clone a stronger version of Mew. Unlike the rest of their clones, they manage to make him stable but they have to sedate him due to the trauma he experiences after mind melding with the other clones. He wakes up and loses control, killing everybody and destroying the lab. He’s picked up by Sakaki who puts him to work, but makes the mistake of telling Mewtwo that he will serve humans. At which point Mewtwo tells him to suck a shiny lime green fart and destroys his headquarters. He returns to the island and swears revenge on humanity for trying to use him and thus begins our story proper and we get to see our main protagonists after a good twenty minutes of set up.

The biggest narrative issue is one that’s pretty common to kid’s films. It has one of those situations where something terrible happens to one of the main characters and, just when it looks to be over for them, the power of love and friendship comes to their rescue. It doesn’t really make sense for Mewtwo to grab Blastoise, Charizard and Venusaur when he already has clones of them. The ending twist with the lesson being lost for most is a bit bullshit too. It also is a pretty predictable film in a lot of ways but it is a kid’s film and they aren’t as good at recognising the usual media patterns so, it’s fair enough.

One interesting thing is that there is some pretty dark stuff. Mewtwo kills a lot of people, one of the researchers wants to clone his dead daughter, there’s a Fearow trainer who tries to fly to Mewtwo’s island through the great storm and is never seen again. Guess that guy doesn’t get a happy ending. On the plus side, the trainer who fishes up his corpse while looking to catch a Staryu will get some free Pokemon from his bag. She’ll have to release the Jynx with the racist nickname, though. Since you can’t rename Pokemon you get from other trainers.

That being said, I do like the set up stuff at the start. It actually explains quite a few things, like why Mewtwo has deep-rooted issues with the humans and why Charizard Blastoise & Venusaur look strangely contrasted to their originals compared to the other clones. It also sets up the main moral of the story which is all about the circumstances of our birth being irrelevant because “we’re all living beings.” It has some funny moments too. Mew trolling the rockets is pretty good. I also kind of like Meowth not fighting with his clone because the claws look like they hurt. And the Pokemon brawling without restraint or even using their special attacks because they aren’t under any kind of control is kind of a nice touch to illustrate just how worked up they all are. And I do appreciate that the film puts some effort into explaining away some regular shounen tropes. Why does Charizard fare better in the initial fight against the clones than the other starters? It’s not that he’s the protagonist’s Pokemon, it’s because the opposing Charizard uses Seismic Toss, which is a fixed damage move.

Characters:

This is undoubtedly one of the big areas where the main anime doesn’t hold up. The characters are just very bog standard and dull. The only character who kind of veers away from that a bit is Mewtwo and even he’s ultimately a pretty standard misunderstood antagonist. He just wants to find a place for himself in the world.

Art:

The artwork looks pretty good. They put in quite a bit of detail. I rather like the chibi Mewtwo we see at the beginning. The action is pretty good and there are some nice background details. About the worst I can say s that some of the slower scenes also involve some stilted, slow animation.

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Sound:

The actors do a fine job. There are some really good ones including Hayashibara Megumi as Musashi & Ichimura Masachika as Mewtwo. You won’t find anyone’s greatest performance here, but they’re capable enough. The soundtrack is made up of “that song.” You know the one, “that sad song,” “that rising action song,” “that intense song.” It’s largely standard, is what I’m saying.

Ho-yay:

Really isn’t any romance just in general. Ho-yay or otherwise.

Final Thoughts:

Mewtwo no Gyakushu is a decent film. It has its strong moments and some solid action but, in general, it’s just too predictable and generic to be of particular interest for adults. If there’s a child in your life who you want to watch a film with, this one would make a pretty good choice, provided the kid likes Pokemon. Since it won’t make you want to shoot down a Fearow trainer or anything. My rating for it is going to be a 6/10. Next week, Elf wo Karu Mono-tachi. Because I’ve been too positive as of late.

Combining games for fun and profit

Lately, we’ve seen quite a few games released that combine the mechanics of two different games. Dynasty Warriors with both Zelda & Dragon Quest. Etrian Odyssey with Mystery Dungeon & Persona. Tekken with Pokémon. And that’s just to name a few. On one hand, it’s easy to understand why this happens. It’s an easy way to do something new with a franchise while also using game mechanics that are tried and true, even if they are such for a completely different game franchise. It’s also undoubtedly true that some of these combination games have been really good, melding elements of the two games for something that manages to be, strangely enough, unique.

Yeah, I’m not going to slag off the practice itself. Instead, I’m going to give you a list of five game combinations I’d like to see. Sorted by the one I’d like to see the least to the one I’d like the most.

5. Pokémon & Endless Ocean.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Endless Ocean, the idea is that you’re a diver mucking about underwater in various areas, interacting with marine life to learn about them including feeding and petting them. You even get dolphin friends to swim around with you. It’s a very relaxing game. Imagine how perfect that format would be for a game where you take the role of a Pokémon professor. You could explore various environments, not just the ocean but the forest, mountains and such, while studying wild Pokémon and gaining information for your Pokédex in the most world-building Pokémon game to date with an emphasis on exploration and environment rather than on battling. It wouldn’t be for every Pokémon fan but I’d certainly buy and sink hours of time into it.

4. Metroid & Borderlands

It’s no secret that I love most of the Metroid franchise, except that one game that basically nobody liked where Samus had Daddy issues for some reason. The games are about exploration and making your way through hostile worlds. However, one thing they haven’t really taken advantage of is the fact that Samus is a bounty hunter. Which is why I think it could benefit from taking some cues from Borderlands. Giving us a Metroid game with city hubs and quests. They could even adapt the gold rewards system to have Samus unlock armour, missile and weapon upgrades instead of just having her lose her power-ups and have to relocate them, usually attached to random statues.

3. Dragon Quest & Dissidia

Having a Final Fantasy based fighting game, that isn’t Ehrgeiz or anything like Ehrgeiz, was a brilliant move on Square-Enix’s part. And I’d love to see the same kind of treatment given to their other big RPG franchise, Dragon Quest. just tweak the mechanics a bit to be more suitable for the franchise and you’d almost certainly have a hit.

2. Persona & X-men Legends

The great thing about this combination is that it would work either way. You could have a more action-oriented Persona game where you can switch between characters readily and summon your personae for special attacks or a more traditional X-men RPG with an emphasis on the character dynamics. Which would also have the benefit of letting characters who don’t really work with the Legends style of gameplay, characters like Shadowcat, Mirage & Karma, take active roles in the party.

1. Fire Emblem & Neptunia

I know, I’m weird. That being said, I would love to see a more action-RPG style Fire Emblem game  where enemy soldiers are scattered throughout a map and you can avoid or engage them while making your way through the map. Where scavenging for materials is a big deal. With a female cast and where the Support conversation system is combined with Neptunia’s Lily rank system for a bit more of an involved dynamic when your ladies reach C, B, A or S-rank. Honestly, it could easily replace Blazing Sword as my favourite Fire Emblem title if it had characters and a narrative on par with it. Even if it couldn’t really include perma-death with a more Neptunia style battle system.

There you have it, some game combinations I, in all my eccentricity, would personally like to see. Feel free to leave your own ideas for cool combinations that haven’t been done yet in the comments.

Pokemon: The Origin: Catching them all edition

Pokemon, or Pocket Monsters was a part of my generation’s childhood and every subsequent generation given that the series has continued with a new version being released every couple of years and that isn’t even including the spinoff games like Snap, Conquest, or Ranger. The original pair of games, Red and Green, was released in Japan during February of 96. (Blue didn’t come until later. We didn’t get them until 99 and we didn’t get Green at all. The games quickly grew into a major franchise with an anime that started broadcasting in 97 and has never stopped, getting new series added with every new game release. In addition to that it has a trading card game, a manga and a whole lot of merchandise. October of 2013 was pretty big for the series. Not only were the newest titles, X & Y released but so was a special hearkening back to the games that started it all. That being Pokemon: The Origin, a four episode piece. Brought to us by OLM, the same studio behind the rest of the anime, Production IG and Xebec. So, is this worth looking into?

Story:

The narrative opens at the same place as the original games, Professor Oak introduces himself and the world of Pokemon, although he doesn’t ask if you’re a boy or girl. It also shows the brief snippet of Gengar and Nidorino fighting that played before the title screen. Enter our hero, Red. He’s summoned to Oak’s lab along with his rival, Green. The two are given pokedexes and their first pokemon. Red chooses Charmander because of the connection to his name. Green calls that a girly reason and picks Squirtle, because being a dick is the manly thing to do. Red decides to focus on completing his pokedex while Green makes an effort to become the world’s greatest trainer. After losing horribly against Green, Red realises that he’s going to have to become a stronger trainer if he’s going to have a chance to complete his pokedex and he decides to take the gym challenge. From there, it follows the same narrative as the games with the gym battles and encounters with Team Rocket.

Now, there are quite a few things in the story that I do like. One of the big things is the way they show the gym leaders pick which pokemon to use. They only show two gym fights, the first being against Takeshi and the other against Sakaki. Takeshi asks Red how many badges he has and decides which Pokemon to use based on it, which implies that Gym leaders base their pokemon on their challenger’s progress. Which is an interesting addition to the universe and I’d really like to see it used in an actual game. It wouldn’t be difficult, they’d just have to give you a more open world where you could challenge the gyms in any order and have the pokemon used by the gym leaders be dependent on when you fight them. They skip over a lot out of necessity, but the moments they do hit on are handled pretty well and get some good dramatic tension. I also like the usage of game imagery throughout the special and I do appreciate that Pikachu barely appears. I don’t hate Pikachu, but it’s so over-used in most Pokemon media.

Now, there are flaws too. They use montages to explain everything they’ve skipped and these are entirely pointless. They show you the loading screen at the beginning of each episode, which tells you how many badges Red has and how many pokemon he’s caught. They rarely show the scenes of him catching pokemon so why do they need to explicate on how he beat gyms and got badges? It just takes time away from the moments they’re actually focusing on. They could have spent more time on Sakaki’s story arc so it didn’t feel so rushed. That’s another problem, Sakaki’s story arc is taken care of over the course of a single battle. It lasts for maybe five minutes and the result feels forced as a consequence.

Characters:

Red is a great lead character, unlike certain other Pokemon protagonists who are incompetent and have trouble with the basic idea of actually catching pokemon. Red grows as a character in a way that makes sense and seems realistic for what he’s going through. Green is overconfident and arrogant, but he’s not a bad character either. He seems like a brash and abrasive teenager. I also like the bond between Red and his starter. Unlike some incompetent twits who can’t even keep their pokemon from attacking them, (okay that’s the last swing I take at Satoshi), Red develops a strong camaraderie with his Charizard over the course of the series which culminates in a very strong scene when they face their greatest challenge. The biggest weakness in terms of major characters is Sakaki, who undergoes a radical change for flimsy reasons.

Art:

This special looks great. The character designs are nicely detailed while staying fairly faithful to the source material. The pokemon battles can get surprisingly brutal and they just look awesome. At least what they show of them. The battles are another area where a lot of stuff gets skipped over.

Sound:

The voice acting is pretty good. Red is voiced by Takeuchi Junko, who played Dieter in Monster. She gives a strong performance. Green is voiced bu Eguchi Takuya, who gave a decent performance in Chokotan as Arima and gives an even better one here. The music and sound are frequently reminiscent of the soundtrack from Red and Green which is really cool.

Ho-yay:

There’s no romance at all, homo-erotic or otherwise. 1/10.

Final Thoughts:

This special is actually really good. They do skip a lot of material, but it’s understandable and necessary given the length of the special. Red is a great protagonist and they manage some really good send ups to the original game. There’s a lot to like about it, especially if you were or still are a fan of the Pokemon games. It’s not a perfect series, but it is a great one. My final rating is going to be an 8/10. Next week, another anime based on a Nintendo property. This one involving blades and sorcery. That’s right, Fire Emblem had an OVA.