Pokemon has had quite a few mini series so far. They all tend to be pretty solid. Some are more action based while others follow the story more. They’re always a glimpse at some fun concepts for an ongoing story but at the end of the day they can sometimes just make you wish that it was a title that you could pick up and watch for 20+ episodes. Well, Evolutions is the strongest show to date. It may also make you wish that they could just adapt all of the games like this already but each episode does still manage to have a complete story within so it doesn’t feel like you’re missing everything. There are 8 episodes contained within and each region gets an episode. I’ll break them all down below.
The first episode is almost a somber one to an extent as the champion Leon recalls the big battle against Chairman Rose’s legendary monster. Even Leon’s Charizard wasn’t quite a match for this powerful Pokemon. They got to show their strong bond here though as Charizard never gave up and Leon gets his swagger back by the end of the episode. Leon’s always been a fun character since his whole thing is that he is incredibly powerful. While I wouldn’t say he is the strongest Pokemon Trainer out there, he has earned a very solid reputation for himself. If we get to see him take on some more powerful trainers and continue to win in the main anime that could change things. Either way this was a good episode to start things off with. It’s not one of the most intense ones but with the action scene we did get and the solid animation, it was a good omen of things to come.
Episode 2 brings in the Sun and Moon cast as Necrozma shows up and starts dishing out the damage. Lunala has to fight against him and it’s nice to actually see Lunala fighting with great animation like this. Lunala has rarely gotten the spotlight compared to some of the other legendaries so this was a good chance to change things. That being said, Necrozma is not a Pokemon that goes down easily and is even one of the stronger Pokemon legendaries I would say. This one really ends with a lot of momentum on the villain’s side. The fight is one of the best in the series and you can feel the tension. It was an excellent way to continue on from the first episode.
In the third episode we get Lysandre making his speech about why he’s actually the good guy. We see his past and also how he originally had good intentions that just started getting more and more extreme until he was completely the villain. It’s a much weaker episode than the first two. Not a bad one but I think the issue is that he just isn’t a very convincing villain. See, someone like N I could understand. I think you can make some valid points for why Pokemon should not be fighting and he just made sense. There’s just no part during Lysandre’s pitch where you actually think he’s in the right, especially not when he’s strapped to a giant machine and fighting off the other Pokemon. A villain with a strong goal is always at least interesting though so while this episode couldn’t compete with the first two, it still kept a high amount of energy.
Following up that episode has N appear which is quite fitting since he was a good comparison in the last one. It’s from Ghetis’ point of view for the most part though as we see how he orchestrated all of these events. He was at the front of the situation from the very beginning and it turns out that he really was a tactical genius. I was never a big Ghetis fan but his plan was sound. N is really the one doing all the work though as we see him take down the Champion and get ready to fight the main character. It’s another reason why I always found N so fascinating. Defeating a champion is pretty much unheard of except for the main character and rival. A villain taking down the champion has never really happened before. This episode didn’t have any really long action scenes but it was really hype throughout.
Episode 5 is certainly more of an upbeat one. We get a glimpse into Barry’s life as he lost to Team Galactic initially and then pressed forward until he gained the skills needed to stand up to them. It’s one of the more emotional episodes. He may not be as strong as the main character yet, but he’s giving it his best effort. I always like how stoic the main character of the relevant Pokemon game is in these episodes but more on that later. It was a bit more low key than the last episode but still a fun adventure and it ended up covering quite a lot.
Episode 6 is my favorite episode in the series. We get to see the ceremony with Zinnia as she explains the prophecy of her people to Ruby. They climb up the tower as May tries to get the stone back before they make it to the top where the summoning begins. This was a really powerful moment in the manga with how Zinnia lived her whole life for this moment only to find out that she wasn’t the right person. It’s definitely tough because she did everything that she possibly could and yet it was not enough. That’s the kind of thing that’s hard to really get any silver lining out of. Still, she makes the hero call and lets May be the one to summon Rayquaza and save the world. She at least gets to have her fight at the end though. It’s a dynamite episode from start to finish, Zinnie continues to show why she is one of the best Pokemon characters and we still do get some action in this episode even if that isn’t the main focus this time around.
It’s fitting that episode 7 is my least favorite for the ultimate whiplash. Episode 7 has a few girls telling a story about Ho-Oh and Lugia. If it sounds familiar it’s because we also got a story for the Johto portion in one of the previous Pokemon miniseries when we learn how the dog trio were created. Is Johto just not good enough to get the big action treatment like the others? I guess the most interesting thing here is seeing how the Pokemon contribute to the show. It’s like real life special effects in this verse but at the same time there was just no big hook and to me that’s what held this episode back. The whole time you’re waiting for some kind of fight or something but it never comes. The artistic style here was a big step down from the other episodes as well. Ultimately it was just not a very engaging episode.
Finally we end with Kanto so you know things are going to get hype. Green is searching for the final Pokemon in the Pokedex: Mewtwo. Unfortunately another trainer is already in the cave so now it’s a race to the finish. That said, both trainers have a good amount of chivalry so there isn’t any cheating or things like that. They both want to win in a clean fashion. At first I didn’t recognize Green since it appears more like her new design. I actually thought that it was the Let’s Go main characters at first and then Red and the others would get their cameos. Red and Blue do get a quick cameo at the end but this was in fact Green. (Don’t know the names of the Let’s Go crew assuming that they have new names) This was a great way to end the series though. It doesn’t quite defeat the Zinnia episode, however it had the longest action scenes. Not necessarily in a fighting context but with all the acrobatics and running around in the cave. We also got to see a fun look at how some of the gameplay mechanics would work out like how a fight is initiated when two characters meet each other’s gaze. Of course the guy chickened out the first time though.
There you have it, those are the 8 episodes of Pokemon Evolutions. The animation throughout the series is really solid. The battles are on point and the character designs are smooth. I dare say that the animation here could hold up with the main series and the battles in particular probably beat some of the main title fights as well. Of course I imagine it’s easier to make the fights look spectacular when it isn’t weekly 20+ minute episodes. The soundtrack also deserves a lot of respect here with how many solid tunes and remixes we get.
Pokemon Evolutions succeeds in all areas and just makes for a really fun experience. As mentioned, it feels more self contained and complete compared to the other Pokemon titles. I would say this is the best one. Yes, the episodes still tend to have cliffhangers but we got to see the fights before that happened as opposed to the battles being left to your imagination. That’s a big difference. Also, this series covered more of the big events. You’ll likely remember all of these scenes from when you played through the video games and that’s a lot of fun since now you get to see it happen in real time.
Additionally, the video game main characters all look really hype. You have Ruby who gets to prove that she is the chosen one to go and fight with Rayquaza. Then you have the main character of the Diamond and Pearl games who is holding his own against Jupiter and the others. Green gets to show her persistence in combat and Red/Blue appear to be pros as always. The fact that they are all silent for the most part just increases their mysterious aura. Not all of them are silent though like Green has a lot to say but for the most part they silently dare their opponent to make a move. Their unlimited confidence makes it easy to see how they would end up becoming the champions.
Now that we’ve gotten to explore all of the regions a bit, I’d really like to have a crossover at some point. Pokemon Adventures did this so why not a show right? Red interacting with Black or Green meeting up with Platinum would be a lot of fun. If they can keep this big animation budget as well then you could also splurge on some really big fights. Of course the best way would be to have a full TV show for this but even if the episodes were shorts, you could still do a lot. Maybe go back to the series’ roots and make it a big tournament anime. The possibilities are really endless although my money would be on Red to go all the way of course. You couldn’t rule any of the other characters out though as they all became champions by the end of their journies.
Overall, Pokemon Evolutions is a really solid title. It’s a short one so you’ll definitely be done with it in a blast but it should help to inspire you to go back to the games or read some of the manga. If you’re a Pokemon fan then you will definitely have a major blast with this one and even if you don’t know Pokemon (Somehow) you should still be able to enjoy the quality writing and pacing of the episodes. Given that you can easily complete the whole series in less time than it takes to watch a movie, there’s no reason not to watch this one. Hopefully at some point this leads to a full movie or show but in the meantime I’ll be satisfied with getting another mini series as well.