Author Topic: Pokemon Adventures  (Read 281 times)

LumRanmaYasha

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Pokemon Adventures
« on: June 19, 2016, 02:50:46 AM »
After years of only having read the Red and Yellow arcs, I finally went through and read the entirety of Pokemon Adventures. I regret not doing so earlier, because this manga has everything a Pokemon fan could ever possibly want in a story. For those unfamiliar with the series, Pokemon Adventures is one of the longest running Pokemon manga currently running, having been serialized for about as long as the more well known Pokemon anime has been on air. It is also by far the best story and non-gaming piece of entertainment to ever come out of the franchise by far and puts the anime to shame in every way conceivable.

The story of Pokemon Adventures is structured much like JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: it's a long-running story divided into multiple parts, each based around one of the main series games, and with each new part comes a new setting, protagonist, and style of storytelling.  Like JoJo's, what makes Pokemon Adventures so great and consistently entertaining is how creatively it frames it's story and battles and changes it's style of storytelling as it goes along. No part feels like a retread of another, and they all build on top of each other to create a flowing and ever-evolving narrative in a large colorful universe. Being based on the games, the series incorporates it's mechanics into it's universe in interesting ways the anime never bothered, and incorporates believable strategy and it's environments in smart ways to keep it's battles fresh. That said, there's much more inter-connectivity between the parts in Pokemon Adventures compared to JoJo's, with protagonists from previous parts being referenced and appearing in subsequent ones. Unlike the anime, where Satoshi/Ash has been 10 years old and hasn't learned a thing after 20 years, characters in Pokemon Adventures receive meaningful character development that sticks, growing up and maturing as people as time passes. The 10 year old kids at the beginning of the Red, Green, & Blue arc mature into young adults by the end of the FireRed & LeafGreen arc, and by the time the OmegaRuby & AlphaSapphire arc rolls around they've become respected professionals and mentor figures in their early twenties.

And that ultimately brings me to the most simple reason for why people should read Pokemon Adventures: it's incredibly well-written. It's not a flawless narrative, but each arc is tightly paced with nary a wasted chapter or character, with multiple plot threads all culminating in a satisfying payoff by the end. The series mostly keeps getting better and better as it goes along, evolving in the complexity of it's themes and characters as it progresses: it's a manga that grows up with the audience reading it. I could only imagine how gratifying it would've been to follow the series along consistently from the very beginning as a kid to the point it is now, but even getting into it as an adult it's such an incredibly entertaining and emotionally satisfying experience.

Admittedly, your mileage with the series will depend on how invested in the Pokemon franchise you are. For me, there are few things that have been as omnipresent and influential in my life as Pokemon. It was the first franchise I truly love and obsessed about. I would get up in the wee hours of the morning to watch the anime, record episodes every day after school, and it was the first show I hunted for subs to watch more. I read all the Pokemon comics that had ever been legally translated and published in english back in the day. I bought toys and plushies and would play with them every day, making up my own fantasy stories. I bought and listened to those cheesy soundtracks 4kids made and would listen to them every night before I went to sleep. I collected the trading cards and played the card game. I would scour Bulbapedia, Serebii, and Dogasu every day to read up on the latest news and any information I could learn about the series. I would think up my own original pokemon, write fan-fiction, and draw fan-comics. And of course, I played the games religiously. I still do. Pokemon games are pretty much the only games I've ever replayed. They're pretty much the only games I still play. The only reason I got a 3DS was to play Pokemon X and to this day the only other game I own for the system is AlphaSapphire. Literally the only video games demoed at E3 I see myself playing in the near future are Sun & Moon and Pokemon Go. And beyond the games, I still visit Bulbapedia, Serebii, and Dogasu every day. I still check up and watch the anime, now matter how disappointed I get with it, every now and again. I listen to my favorite music from the games and anime every now and again, even the cheesy 4kids stuff. I subscribe to youtube channels devoted exclusively to talking about the franchise, and still check in on Nuzlocke Comics every now and again in the hopes there'll be an update. And I'd been re-reading the Red & Yellow arcs every year for the past 10 years, each time planning to finally move on to Gold, Silver, & Crystal and beyond, but just stopping short because of a lack of time or other priorities. That is until Pokemania finally swept through me again this year in the wake of the franchise's 20th anniversary and I finally took the long overdue plunge.

So, Pokemon means a lot to me: it's literally an everyday part of my life. But my love for Pokemon Adventures transcends nostalgia. I might have nostalgia for the Pokemon anime, but I would never call it particularly well-written. What I love about Pokemon Adventures is that there is thought and care put into how the story is told and characters are developed. Things built up at the beginning of an arc often pay off in surprising and satisfying ways by the end, and as I said before, there's meaningful character development throughout each protagonist's journey. This is simply what I love in a good story, and Pokemon Adventures is by far the best constructed story to ever be associated with the franchise, and it transcends being enjoyed just as a piece of Pokemon media but as it's own thing. Admittedly, if you don't care about Pokemon very much, it probably won't resonate with you as it would someone like me. But I do think that you can enjoy the series even if you only have a cursory knowledge or interest in the franchise because it's simply so well-written. As for me, as someone who loves Pokemon with every fiber of his being, Pokemon Adventures is just about everything I'd wanted in a Pokemon story and more, and reading through it has cemented it a place among my all time favorite manga. If you are or were ever a Pokemon fan, it's an absolute must-read. Few manga can elicit such a childlike sense of enthusiasm and excitement in me as Pokemon Adventures so often does. I'll elaborate my thoughts and each arc and protagonist and how I'd rank them in a future post. Though suffice to say, I probably won't ever run out of things to say about anything Pokemon.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2016, 12:07:40 PM by LumRanmaYasha »

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Re: Pokemon Adventures
« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2016, 03:30:25 PM »
Sounds interesting. What you described about this manga having different parts with different protagonists but still maintaining inter-connectivity between each series within its Universe really reminds me that I wanted to see something similar for the Digimon franchise. It did seem to be following this logic until the writers of Adventure 02 utterly screwed it up by effectively making any future stories in that Universe flat-out impossible given the ending and the atrocious epilogue. After that we got Tamers, which was in its own separate continuity and which was arguably the best iteration in the entire franchise, but that was largely thanks to Chiaki J. Konaka's writing, guidance, and vision to tell a mature kids story with nuanced characters and fully developed arcs. After that I just couldn't get into any future installments of the franchise because it lacked a lot of the heart of the earlier parts, and the protagonists just felt like generic shonen leads rather than actual real kids like the characters form the first three seasons were.

Not to get too off-topic, though, it always bothered me how the Pokemon anime tended to ignore the logic of the games when it came to strategy, and many battles ended up becoming boring because the writers just made-up rules about how attacks work as things went along. It's much more creative to establish a grounded set of rules and then have your characters overcome tough odds by cleverly working around those rules while never actually breaking any of them. Thats's what creates a real element of strategy in battles, and makes them interesting to watch. I'm also not a fan of shows that don't every really age their characters jut to appeal to fans. I love it when manga like Dragon Ball and JoJo's Bizarre Adventure shows us older and more mature versions of characters that we've gotten to know over a long time. It gives off a real sense of progression and makes it feel rewarding to have stuck with the series for so long, so hearing that Pokemon Adventures does that really pleases me.

I will definitely check it out. To be honest I'm working my way through too many manga at the moment, but I'm planning to drop Blue Exorcist (which I've tried to get into but really isn't my thing) and Yamada-Kun and the Seven Witches (which really lost its appeal for me after the arc with first batch of witches ended, which IMO should have been the end of the series), so I can definitely make room for it. However, I'm still playing catch up with The Seven Deadly Sins, and I do want to finish off Parts 5 and 6 of JoJo's before taking a break fro the series, so I may hold off on starting up a new long-running manga until I at least get those out of the way as well. I've kind of been through a phase where I was starting a whole bunch of new series at once to see what stuck, but when I try to juggle too many series I can easily lose focus and then get burned out on reading manga and watching anime altogether, so I'm going back to just sticking to four or five different series at a time rather than going through dozens of them at once. That sort of style of keeping up with titles just doesn't suit me, personally.

LumRanmaYasha

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Re: Pokemon Adventures
« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2016, 06:58:41 PM »
The Pokemon anime has always been really bad when it comes to having Satoshi/Ash win battles without any regards to logic of how things work. That bullshit volt armor thing that his Pikachu and Swellow did in the battle with Tate & Liza still pisses me off whenever I think about it. Though, I tend to get more upset when they have him lose because he forgets basic stuff he should know like type advantage or when the opponent is just somehow ridiculously better than him for no good reason, like the guy who somehow owned both Darkrai and Latios during the Sinnoh League. Not to mention the show how often repeats the same story arcs/scenarios as it's goes along, which has made a lot of the battles in later seasons feel rather homogeneous. Pokemon Adventures is more clever and creative with it's battles, and they always make sense in execution and aren't randomly thrown out there one-off concepts introduced for the sake of one battle and forgotten for the rest of the series, and the story never re-treads itself, which is remarkable considering that the basic structure of the Pokemon games have inherently been the same thing over and over again since the very beginning.

Sorry to hear you couldn't get into Blue Exorcist and Yamada-kun. I enjoy those series quite a bit and think they're both in a great place right now, though I do agree with you that the high point of Yamada-kun was the first witch hunt and that would've been a satisfying place to end it.

I can't imagine trying to catch up on or binge read over a dozen series at once. I don't have that kind of time anymore. Nowadays I'm only able to read one or two at a time and only once I've finished a series that I've been reading can I move on to something else.

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Re: Pokemon Adventures
« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2016, 07:33:34 PM »
I remember that even as a kid, I wondered why Ash would constantly (and I mean almost every other episode), ignore the fundamentals of type advantage when selecting a Pokémon to battle with. I believe I physically groaned way back in the 90's when Ash decided to use Pikachu against a Sandshrew. I was thinking: WHO THE HELL USES AN ELECTRIC POKÉMON AGAINST A GROUND TYPE!? THEY ARE COMPLETELY IMMUNE TO ELECTRICITY YOU IDIOT!? :D

I could kind of forgive him for making that mistake against Brock's Onyx since he hadn't dealt with that issue by that point in the series (even if it was utterly obvious) and because he had so few other options by that point anyways, but he had no excuse to make the same mistake again....and again....and again....

I'm now starting to realize why hundreds of episodes later, Ash is still no closer to becoming a Pokémon Master. :thinkin:

I actually really liked the first arc of Yamada-kun. I found it to be legitimately funny and also heartfelt at the right moments. I still enjoyed it for a time after that, but after a while the whole shenanigans of Yamada-kun serving in the student counsel didn't gel with me quite as much. While I didn't outright dislike anything in the series by that point, I found that a lot of the humor rarely landed for me anymore, and some of the heart that the series had in the first arc was noticeably missing, IMO.

As for Blue Exorcist, it's mainly the characters that I have a hard time getting invested in. I'm ok with Rin being a generic hot-headed shonen protagonist if the other characters are interesting, but most of them just feel like archetypes, and then there's Yukio. There was potential with this character, and I figured that his animosity toward his brother would lead to an interesting conflict and character arc between these characters. Maybe it does, but after 38 chapters (which is where I stopped), I just found his attitude to be obnoxious and even if his bickering about Rin's reckless nature is warranted, he somehow came off as the more unlikeable character to me in these instances.

LumRanmaYasha

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Re: Pokemon Adventures
« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2016, 09:04:47 PM »
Satoshi/Ash making type advantage mistakes was forgivable when he was a novice, but it's infuriating that he still makes those almost 20 years and 900+ episodes later. I think the worst part about the Pokemon anime is how he keeps making the same mistakes again and again because the writers are too lazy to think up new ways to create conflict and develop his character. It also makes me mad when they have him literally forget things in order to make the story work, especially when he doesn't recognize a pokemon he's already met several times before like Politoad or Koffing. The anime would have been better served if it allowed Satoshi/Ash to finally achieve his dream and then switched focus to  a new protagonist or the next generation like Pokemon Adventures or the Yu-Gi-Oh! anime franchise does.

I do think the more episodic stuff that begins the second witch hunt isn't as interesting as the first witch hunt, but once the Shogi club and Takuma start making their move against the Student Council the plot really picks up and it becomes really engaging again. The relationship and rivalry between Yamada and Ushio is particularly well-developed and compelling throughout the arc and has a great resolution, and I really like the ways the relationship between Yamada and Shiraishi is tested throughout the arc, especially when Himekawa is introduced, as well as the character development Noa, Tamaki, and Odagiri receive. It's not as strong as the first arc, but I still found it very enjoyable and well put together overall. While I'm not particularly fond of how some characters like Tsubaki and Ito have ended up falling by the wayside, I still find the series very enjoyable to keep up with. Though, I do really think it ought to end after resolving all the remaining loose ends with the current arc, since there isn't a whole lot of stuff I see Yoshikawa really being able to do to keep the characters and story fresh without introducing yet another group of witches or having characters loose their memories again and re-treading stuff the series has already done.

Yukio's turbulent relationship with Rin continues being developed throughout the series and had a very satisfying payoff in the most recent arc. In general, I think the series develops it's characters very well as it goes along, but I also already liked most of them by the chapter you stopped reading, so if you haven't gotten into them already then I'm not sure if you'd enjoy the later material any better.


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Re: Pokemon Adventures
« Reply #5 on: June 30, 2016, 11:41:19 PM »
That certainly got my interest.
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LumRanmaYasha

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Re: Pokemon Adventures
« Reply #6 on: October 08, 2016, 11:34:07 AM »
Viz is releasing a special artbook next year! When they say it'll include "never before seen manga," I'm wondering if they mean the Mt. Silver special chapters, or material truly never-before-seen entirely. Either way, I'm looking forward to it. I love the convention-exclusive artbook I picked up at Comic Con. So many cool line drawings and finished color pieces in there.