Pokemon: Race to Danger Review

It’s time for another Pokemon story. This one was pretty ironic right from the start. Remember how in the last book Tracy joined up since Brock left and they were about to have some fun adventures? Well, since this is a few volumes later, it starts off with the aftermath of Tracy leaving and Brock suddenly returning. It’s all pretty surreal and would have been really funny if these volumes were actually back to back. It just ended up being pretty funny because of the circumstances.

Ash and friends are trying to have a good time when they see a bully picking on a girl whose balloon was shot down. It turns out that Team Rocket are the ones who actually sabotaged her, but it matters not at the moment. Ash challenges the bully, but gets steamrolled by his impressive Fearow. Ash’s friends quickly insult him for this and Ash almost cries so they decide to take revenge by entering the balloon challenge and helping the girl overcome the bully. It’ll be tough, but Ash knows that he can pull through in the end.

The whole book is basically the race. It’s a pretty short chapter book like the others so you’ll be able to read through it right away. Because of this, the book wastes no time in getting straight to the action. The actual race is pretty rigged though and I feel bad for most of the contestants because they just go down so easily. Team Rocket actually looks competent for once as they technically eliminate almost all of the teams. Nobody seems to care much either as Ash and friends think about what is happening but none of the other teams ever do anything about it. They’ve all accepted their fates which is actually rather tragic if you overthink the whole situation. Why didn’t they put up more of an effort to fight back? They all have Pokemon so that shouldn’t be too hard. Maybe they figured a ref was watching them so they couldn’t make a move. It makes sense then why only the bully and Team Rocket were doing anything, they called the tournament’s bluff and that proved to be successful. I’m not sure about giving away Pokemon as a prize though, but that’s a topic for another day. For now I’ll assume that Dratini was a pretty chill Pokemon who just went with the wind.

Ash had a bit of a confidence issue in this book, but at least he gained it all back by the end. I also like how he pointed out that he never lost his confidence and it was just hanging around the entire time. That’s why Ash is a pro, he rolls with the punches and even has a few good bluffs to help himself out. I do wish he could have beaten the bully though as that would have just been a lot more satisfying than the result we got. Bullies should never have the last laugh. Sure, he didn’t win the race but he will still go on thinking that he is one tough customer.

This book had more action than the last one and felt more like a classic Kanto adventure. I’d definitely say that it has aged well and was probably a pretty fun episode back in the day. I can’t really say that I remember it all that well at this point, but it certainly has been a while since I watched the original episodes back in the day. I’d definitely recommend checking it out whether you’re a Pokemon fan or not. It’s a solid book for all ages and since you can read it in under 30 minutes it’s not a big time investment either. We’ll see if the next Pokemon book can keep up the positive trend that we have so far of getting better and better. Also, this book confirmed that Ash can understand Pokemon speech.

Overall 7/10

Pokemon Sun and Moon: The Pokemon Training School Challenge Review

I read the first volume in the Pokemon chapter book series for the recent Sun and Moon adventures. I was debating on whether to review this book or just wait until the series ends, but the latter could certainly end up taking a while. Ultimately I may start reviewing the individual books for some titles with no foreseeable end while for others a series review still makes sense. It’s tricky, but especially since this book is so small it seems reasonable. It covers around 2 episodes of the anime give or take. The series had a lot of controversy surrounding it when it first came out and it’s easy to see why. Pokemon went from being a really serious action show to a comedy. It’s not the Pokemon that I grew up with, but it works out well enough.

The series starts with Ash being on summer vacation. He sees a lot of cool new Pokemon while at the new region and asks his Mom if he can stay. She allows it and he quickly joins the school so he can learn how to be a Pokemon Trainer. I can understand why he would want this knowledge since he’s been training for over 10 years with nothing to show for it. He hasn’t even aged a day for some reason. So, Ash sticks around and everyone starts to teach him the ropes. However, the island’s sacred guardian has taken an interest in the kid and challenges him to a fight. Can Ash really win this battle?

Ash has definitely lost most of his character development from the old days so part of the plot in the series will likely be him gaining it back. He learns something new in every episode so in about 100 or so episodes he should be a good strategist once again. It’s a long while to wait, but what else can we do right? It’s just the way it has to be I guess. Pikachu has also gotten quite a bit weaker so it’s rough for the pair. They used to be one of the strongest duos and now they’re getting kicked around left and right. It feels bad when you really think about it. They are still good leads though. They mean well and are always up for a challenge. The series works much better when you just think of this as a prequel. Imagine that it takes place immediately after episode 1 of the original series and you’ll be set.

I think one of the parts where a book can adapt this better than an episode is that the comedy gags don’t stand out as much. Ash getting pinched and saved from random disasters doesn’t seem as bad when you’re reading about it compared to actually seeing it on the big screen. He keeps a little more of his dignity this way, at least that’s how I see it. For example, I can’t stand the living Pokedex in the anime. That may be a bit strong, but at least in AMVs and such he just gets in the way. In the book he barely talks at all so he’s not as annoying.

That being said, learning all of the names is going to take some time. The new rival is a guy who’s named something close to Kiwi. He talks a good game and has a Charizard so I’m expecting him to fight quite a bit, but he gets on my nerves. He seems to think of himself as a big shot. The other friends are nice enough but they start to blend into each other since their personalities are virtually the same. The teachers try a little too hard to all be suave and cool around Ash, but it just doesn’t really work. Once they fight and prove themselves, then things could be different.

Team Rocket doesn’t get to do a whole lot here either. Nobody really fears them and while they may be more of a threat in this region than the others since Ash has forgotten how to deal with them, they aren’t very interesting. The only part that will make their plot fun is Mimikyu once he’s a main character. I had fun watching his fights in the anime and he’s probably the best part in the whole region. He looked quite good in the book as he was beating Pikachu with ease, but had to leave since Team Rocket was getting wrecked. Why do they manage to snag really cool Pokemon like that one?

Finally, Tapu Koko is a pretty cool Pokemon. He easily has one of the best designs in the entire region which may not be saying all that much but I’m certainly a big fan. He lives up to the hype and really manages to be a thorn in Ash’s side. He’ll make for a good rival as I’m sure he isn’t quite done with Ash and friends yet. His appearance also resulted in an action scene so I’m all for that.

Overall, This chapter book is quite short of course so you’ll read through it right away. It still does a good job of covering quite a bit though. This region certainly is my least favorite because the animation is the worst and there’s less action than usual, but the former doesn’t apply to the book and the latter isn’t noticeable yet. If I didn’t know any better, I’d actually consider this to be a pretty promising start to the region. If you’re a Pokemon fan then you’ll certainly enjoy this and it’s a reasonable way to jump into the franchise. It certainly is new reader friendly. We’ll see if the next book adaption can be quite as good. Moreover, I’m ready for Ash to finally win a fight!

Overall 7/10

Batman Attack of the Man-Bat Review

It’s been a while since I read a book that wasn’t an anime based (Well, novels came first, but I watched the anime before reading the novels) or was about comic book characters. I should probably get back to regular novels soon, but that’s in the distant future since it would just be too overwhelming at the moment. Not to fear though, these DC books have the action that you’re looking for and working with an established franchise has its perks. The book is very short and you can read it cover to cover in a very short amount of time. As a result, it makes this a fairly short review to write.

Some citizens have been concerned about a mysterious bat monster that has kidnapped many people and seems to get a new victim each night. Batman hears about this and looks into the matter, only to find out that it’s his old enemy, Man Bat. Man Bat is a very tricky foe so Batman can’t afford to pull his punches and he’ll have to outsmart him. Unfortunately, someone was also poisoned during this crisis so Batman has to enlist Poison Ivy’s help in order to cure him. Poison Ivy has never been a big fan of humanity so Batman knows that it is a risk to ask for her help, but he’s Batman so he can take care of himself.

It’s a quick story and it’s always interesting to read a book as opposed to a comic since extra details are given. Books have to spend time describing the scenery and telling us what the characters are doing since we can’t see it for ourselves. That being said, the book does have about a dozen or so pages to illustrate some of the events that are happening, but the point remains. It’s a fun thing about books while not necessarily being much of a positive or a negative. It’s there and it has to be there, but it’s an aspect that does take up a lot of time and makes the actual adventure feel a lot shorter.

Poison Ivy gets a solid role here as she helps out in a critical moment and shows that some villains can still do good deeds once in a while. I’d actually argue that she would have been out of character if Ivy had not helped out in the end since this does help to further her own goals. It would have been counter productive not to have helped. Unfortunately, Man Bat is not a very interesting villain so I would have preferred for the big antagonist to have been someone else. There’s just nothing interesting about Man Bat. He’s a guy who can turn into a bat…that’s about as unoriginal as you can get where villains are concerned. I just don’t fullllly understand the reasoning behind making the character so important in the Batman franchise, but that’s neither here nor there.

The writing in the book is good and the font is in a nice size which makes for easy reading. It’s been a while since I read the other Batman and Superman books, but this one can reasonably hold its own against them. It lacks the same amount of action that some of the others had, but it’s interesting enough compared to the average book that I can give it a solid seven. There are no real negatives to be had here and the book even deals with helping the environment, which is always a nice plus. As everyone in New York can testify, the weather has been very wonky as of late and climate change seems to be speeding up. Wayne Industries is helping out and others can now join in so that the DC universe is protected from this. I wonder if Stark Industries can say the same.

Overall, This is a fun Batman book. It would have been neat if we had gotten some more villains and heroes into the story, but then the actual book would have certainly needed to be extended a little. The short length of the book likely limited its options, which is why you have to consider the trade off between size and content. You can easily read this on a rainy day and I can’t speak for the going rate of this book as I read it via the library, but I’m sure that the price is reasonable, although you should check if your local library has it just in case.

Overall 7/10