Pokemon Sun and Moon: Battle for the Z Ring Review

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It’s time to look at the next installment in the Pokémon Sun and Moon season. The first one was a reasonable start to the quasi reboot and this one is actually an improvement as we get our first serious island challenge which is basically just a gym battle. It’s not exactly Kanto just yet but it still makes for a decent volume nonetheless. Hopefully the series can keep up the momentum.

Ash wants to obtain a new Z crystal since his last one broke when he fought the island guardian. The local professor tells him how he can get another one and the answer is that he must beat the human guardian. Ash goes over there to fight but the guardian tells him that he has to solve the island’s rat problem first. A bunch of Pokémon are blocking the way and making a nuisance of themselves so Ash has to go to a cave and defeat some powerful Pokémon so he can team up with them and save the day. Can Ash win all of his matches in this volume?

The local head tries to tell Ash that battling isn’t always the answer and that’s the point of the trial. However, combat was the answer to winning and saving the island so I found that whole part ironic. Perhaps it was intentional but it’s hard to say. What makes this volume better than the last one is definitely all of the battles. Ash has to face off against at least 3 different opponents and he does a good job against all of them. Ash actually uses some strategy and while he seems to be a newbie at life (Forgetting basic Pokémon) at least he is quickly becoming a better trainer. Seeing him defeat the leader and use Pikachu’s new attack was definitely great. The series seems to be hinting that Ash will get a new attack for each type which will be pretty interesting. He will probably pick the thunder move but I personally found this one to be a lot more impressive. It’s essentially quick attack but even faster which will be great for overwhelming opponents. Maybe Ash will choose this one though, that’d be cool. It was also nostalgic seeing Hariyama again since that Pokémon is pretty cool. I love the design and he always struck me as one of the stringer fighting types. I think I’ll always have a lot of nostalgia for the first 3 generations.

Ash is surprisingly on his own for most of the volume as the friends just don’t get much screen time. They appear for a brief instant to remind Ash that he’s being petty about the cat stealing his food and also give him an idea about saving the island. I suppose their role was important after all even if it was so small. Aside from the big battle plot, the first few chapters were about Ash and Litikitty. That was definitely the weaker part of the volume. It wasn’t bad or anything but it definitely wasn’t as exciting as the action part.

Pikachu looks really good which is always a plus in my book. I’ve said this a million times over the years but at this point he should easily be level 100 so I don’t want to see him losing against anyone. Pikachu should be able to claim victory no matter the opponent. That’s just how it should be. Ash will need more Pokémon though as Rowlett just isn’t an amazing backup. He’s not really much of a fighter and constantly falling asleep isn’t doing him any favors either. Once Ash has a team of 6 then he will really be set.

Overall, I’d say that the books are doing a good job of adapting the episodes. The book is quite small so the author does a good job of not overdoing it with the details so we can still cover a lot of ground. These little books are always a good format for such adaptions and while you know that it’s definitely not going to make it all the way, hopefully we get a lot of volumes before it finishes. That’s the dream at any rate. I wonder when the next big Totem Battle (I think that’s the correct term) will be. I stopped following the anime early on so I can’t say that I know much of the specifics aside from big moments like Brock and Misty showing up. As long as we get battles like this every volume, the series should continue to go smoothly.

Overall 7/10

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Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness Stats and Records

Stats time!

Play Time 13h 21m
Shadow Pokemon 32
Purified Pokemon 7
Poke Dollars 109521
Poke Coupons 1100

Pokemon Levels
Ampharos 53
Espeon 52
Starmie 41
Lapras 44
Marowak 44
Solrock 41
Mawile 22
Makuhita 18
Duskull 19
Delcatty 18
Voltorb 19
Snorunt 20
Pineco 20
Roselia 22
Meowth 22
Baltoy 17
Raticate 34
Lunatone 25
Aron 19
Teddiursa 20
Hondour 20
Seel 23
Zangoose 28
Snorlax 43
Poliwrath 42
Dugtrio 40
Kangaskhan 35
Farfetch’D 36
Lugia 50
Moltres 50
Carvanha 15
Spinarak 14
Schroomish 17
Numel 14

Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness Review

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There are a few games that you see as a kid but simply weren’t able to get because they were too pricey or simply lost out to other games at the moment. This is one of them and I decided that it had simply been enough time of not owning the game. It’s a solid Pokémon adventure but one that keeps the negatives of Colosseum without embracing its positives making this a rather lackluster title compared to the others in the franchise. It’s a relatively weak Pokémon installment but certainly still a solid entry overall.

The game takes place 5 years after Colosseum. Terry has seemingly retired or something as he is nowhere to be found. However a new protagonist has arrived, Terry. I’ll put the older version in bold to differentiate them. Terry is a nice kid who helps out a professor when performing his crazy experiments. This Professor has hit the jackpot though as he has figured out a way to purify Pokémon through your PC. It takes a little longer but this way you don’t have to personally fight alongside each Shadow Pokémon for a while. Of course, buying Perfume is still the easiest way to go about it but it’s only viable if you have a lot of money. The villains over at Cipher hear about this and steal the device. The organization had seemingly been destroyed in the last game but they have regrouped and are stronger than ever. They now want to make the ultimate Shadow Pokémon who cannot be purified. Terry decides to stop them but as the professionals would say, “What can some kid do!”

Terry is a good main character. He gets the job done and is always ready for a fight. Unfortunately he also doesn’t have a shred of character personality. I’m serious here, he doesn’t do anything. He saves the day and beats all of his opponents but he doesn’t really have any expressions beyond his neutral face so it’s hard to know what he’s thinking. Ah well, he’s still a good lead who doesn’t mess around so I’ll roll with it. You just can’t compare him to Terry as that guy really stole the show with his cool motorcycle and trench coat. The character was more of a rebel and was always making the tough calls.

The blame may also lie in part with how low key this story is compared to the last one. It’s fairly short as it ends in only 13 hours so you feel like they could have done more with it. It’s mostly just a matter of showing up to each location and winning. Their big plan of creating a bunch of Shadow Pokémon to take over the world is solid I suppose. It just never felt like as big of an adventure as it really should have. More like a sequel dlc than anything else. It’s not as if it’s a slice of life adventure or anything as it’s still about action but it just doesn’t come across as all that dramatic.

Further supporting this is the fact that the game feels rather low budget. Almost all of the stages in the game are taken straight from Colosseum. I somehow doubt that they were rebuilt from the ground up either. The budget just begins to show itself. Just about every character has the same fall animation and even the length is artificial. If you didn’t have to fight the same minions over and over again in battles that are basically 10 minutes long each time, it would be a lot shorter. Honestly if we just look at the plot moments then the game would probably be half its length.

Now Colosseum has this problem as well so it’s not XD exclusive but the long loading times for each battle need to be mentioned as it’s an issue that has plagued the home console Pokémon games for a long time. Even Battle Revolution has this to an extent and Yugioh is another offender. On the portable consoles the battles go by very quickly which is why they’re fun. On the big consoles I guess they want to show off the graphics as every Pokémon gets a big animation for attacking and getting hit. There is no way to turn this off which is why every battle takes forever. I actually ended up marathoning Detective Conan while playing this game. Just pick the two attacks you want to use and read in the meantime. You’ll be surprised (Or not really) at how many chapters you are able to read while waiting.

As a result, I knew from the start that leveling all of my 6 Pokemon was not going to be a good idea. Instead what I did was I just picked two of them and focused on them exclusively. I basically didn’t even use the other Pokemon and if my main 2 died I just knew that it was game over. It was a risky strategy sure, but it saved me a lot of time. I’m definitely glad that I started out with Espeon as well since Psychic attacks are good against just about everyone and Espeon even knows Bite so he can shut down other Psychic types. It’s the perfect starter and I highly recommend using that strategy if you ever play this game.

The soundtrack is decent. A lot of classic themes are in here so those are nostalgic, but not much in the way of new ones. I believe the final boss theme may have been new but since it appears whenever the trio of villains shows up it may have been in the first game as well. Hard to say, but if so then it loses some points for originality. The graphics are pretty good. They haven’t really changed at all since the first one, but I guess in this case you don’t really need to change things up. As long as it looks clear enough where I can tell what I’m doing and enjoy the backgrounds, then it’s all good. The game definitely gets a passing score there.

As far as replay value goes, there is certainly a lot of it. The main game is around 13 hours so that’s already a good length and throwing in all of the Shadow Pokemon that you can catch just makes it all the more impressive. You could stick with this game for a Very long time and still have more to do. With how long the Pokemon battles take I wonder how long it would be to complete the Tower of 100 Pokemon battles. I think the most devastating part would be making it into the 90s and then losing though. Now that would just be tragic and I don’t plan on tackling that challenge. After all, I’d have to level up all 6 of my Pokemon to stand a chance and we know that would take a while. Still, for those who really enjoy this game there’s definitely a bunch to do.

Definitely don’t get the wrong idea, Pokemon XD is a solid game. It may not fare well against the original in any category, but it’s a good game when standing on its own. The plot is decent, there are a variety of levels, and there are a bunch of fights. The gameplay is slow, but it’s smooth and it looks/sounds good as well. The game will breeze by as long as you have something to do during the fights, but that shouldn’t be too hard. Purifying a Shadow Pokemon may seem tedious at first, but once you buy perfume and unlock the second way to purify them then it gets very easy. I’m not sure about some of the extra features like leaving Pokemon some food to try and capture them since it adds luck to the equation and stretches the game out even further, but maybe it’s handy to have around. All I know is that I’m really glad I stopped to read the email and went back to the lab to grab my Master Ball. Without it the Lugia fight could have actually been difficult as opposed to just catching him on my first turn.

Overall, I have finally gotten to play the sequel to one of my favorite Pokemon games of all time. I definitely recommend the game. You’ll enjoy it a lot if you haven’t played Colosseum and if you played it when you were a kid then you’ll also enjoy this game for all of the nostalgia. Just don’t play both games back to back as that doesn’t seem like a good idea. Sequels can’t always beat the original and I’ll have to accept that, but this is one big game that I can check off my list. My Gamecube collection is one step closer to being completed as well as I have just about every interesting game for the console. More are still on the way for someday though, but the next game I review will be a newer title. It involves the iconic Pac-Man in one of his startling adventures!

Pokémon the Movie: I Choose You! Review

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Pokemon is definitely a big franchise that has had a lot of hype moments and hard landings throughout. On the whole it usually has many more successes than failures though and the anime is one that can be recommended to all. The Pokemon Go game is probably the title that I’ve played the most overall as well and there’s just a lot of variety. Partially to cash in on Pokemon Go and the nostalgia for the original episodes, this film was made instead of a Alola title. That sounded good to me, but now I wish they had gone the other route instead. Not all of the films have been amazing. They range from great to fairly mediocre. However, this one went to a new direction that I hadn’t even thought to be worried about, it decided to get rather dark. This is not the Pokemon film that we had been waiting for.

It’s a reimagining of Ash’s first days as a trainer so it starts with him being late to Professor Oak’s lab. He gets Pikachu and survives a Spearow attack. The first warning bells here is when we suddenly get a massive jump to Erica as Ash wins the gym badge in an instant. The majority of the fight was skipped and what about all of the fights before this one? Sure, they were never going to be able to adapt all of it but why skip that much? Well, Ash meets up with Sorrel and Verity who decide to tag along with him. He comes across an evil Pokemon named Marshadow who wants to corrupt him and plunge the world into darkness. Can Ash stop him and any chance at this adapting more Gym Battles or will he be forced to give up on his quest?

I made sure to sit down and read something before writing this review to calm down a bit first, but the film still didn’t sit any better with me. It’s clear from the get go that the writers had a very different idea on why People liked the original season than I did. I liked the original Pokemon season because of the cool gym battles and Pokemon action throughout. Ash was a great main character and Gary was a fun rival. It could get pretty serious, but was a light hearted adventure all around. The movie went through great pains to destroy every one of those concepts.

First lets talk about how they ruined Ash. He gets corrupted by Marshadow and starts acting mean to everyone. He bad mouths Charmander behind his back for losing and says that he would have won with Pikachu. He tells Pikachu that he wishes he got a different Pokemon and distances himself from everyone. This leads to a scene of him being in a normal school and finally making it back to the real world where he gets over it. Sure, Marshadow was manipulating him, but why is there even such a scene in the first place? If it had to happen, give it to one of Ash’s forgettable partners. Ash’s character shouldn’t be sacrificed for such a small plot that had no actual bearing on anything. Take away those couple of minutes and not a thing changes. Then it’s also annoying how Ash loses to Cross because he didn’t have any strategy. Telling Charmeleon to use the same attack multiple times when it was clearly not working was also very annoying. Then getting suckered by Cross into losing his feather by the end makes you shake your head. Ash just looked terrible at many points throughout this movie and is certainly nowhere near his TV show counterpart. He has his moments, but at the end of the day he’s not the great trainer that you’ll remember from the old days.

As the show is condensing a long season into a movie you at least want the big fights, but we don’t get very many action scenes in the film. Most of the ones that we do get are over in 1-2 hits as Pikachu zaps someone or tackles them away. It was clearly not a priority for the film. The fact that Sorrel never gets to fight at all aside from getting one shotted and likewise for Verity just shows how the fighting was pushed to the side. I wanted actual trainer fights and good battles against the Wild Pokemon. This just never happened and the action in this film is quite limited. It’s something that most of the other films did with a lot more success than this one.

Instead, the show focuses on the dark/somber plots from the anime. Butterfree leaving is one of the plots that they choose to keep. Now, it’s not a bad scene in the anime. Ash still got to spend a lot of time with him and we had about 20 happy episodes before and after it. The film is already short so why are we jumping to such a sad scene already? Keep in mind that the film also keeps in the dark Charmander plot where he is abandoned and nearly dies before Ash saves him. The film clearly wanted to be darker and sadder than Pokemon is supposed to be. Those two scenes were already enough, but then the movie really jumped the shark. This is the scene that really wrecked the film beyond repair and what makes it worse is that this scene was absolutely and completely 100% pointless.

Sorrel reminds the audience why he is such a terrible character as when he was a kid he snuck out in the cold. He then fainted so the family’s loyal dog Pokemon had to follow him. Instead of picking the kid up and going home, roaring so people could come help, zapping the kid awake, or making a fire, the Pokemon dies. It just dies for no reason and it’s a very sad moment for no reason at all. The film just wanted to get grim dark to establish Sorrel’s character, but what did it really establish? It didn’t change him in any real way. It’s just a passing line and then the film goes back to trying to be happy in the next scene. I can’t stress enough how pointless this scene was and just how terrible it was. With Pokemon Alola also apparently bumping off Pokemon, it’s just a sad state of affairs that the movie would pick this scene to include in the film. There was no way Sorrel could save himself from this scene of course. Moreover, he talks a good game about being friends with his Pokemon, but does nothing to try and stop Cross when he shows up. He does nothing throughout the film.

Verity at least has some more personality. I was a little annoyed that her fight with Ash was interupted since we could have had an actual battle Ash should have been able to win that one with the type advantage. Her sob story also doesn’t really have a point as she seemingly had some kind of fight with her Mom but then decides to go home and talk it out. More unnecessary drama, but at least it’s not randomly grim so I’ll take it. The film barely acknowledges it after that one scene so that’s for the best. I’m not the biggest fan of Brock and Misty, but I think I would have taken them over these two. At least I think they would have been more ready to help Ash while these two kids simply watched with astonished looks on their faces the entire movie.

Cross is the mean rival and the film does what it can to make the guy as mean as can be. He kicks Charmander and gets away wit it. He beats up Ash and beats up Charmeleon quite a bit and again gets away scot free. While it’s all build up for Ash eventually winning, even that feels negated as he still knocks Ash away and gets the feather. Then he actually turns good which is more of an insult to the cast than anything else. You can’t really convert a character like that in such a short amount of time. While Sorrel reminds Ash that t hey have to respect this guy’s power, they can also respect the fact that they can take him down and bring him over to the cops for Pokemon abuse. Again, I don’t know what the writers were thinking with this film.

As for some actual positives, the graphics are good. Everything looks pretty shiny and modern. This way you at least have something to look at the whole time. When the Pokemon fights happen they look pretty good. Take a shot of water every time a fight is interrupted or ends off screen though. It’ll be good for you. The character designs are on point except for an annoying old man who pops up out of nowhere to contribute nothing to the story. That guy just didn’t have a purpose in the film.

The soundtrack’s not bad. Most of it’s pretty generic and never comes close to the actual first season. The remix of the opening is pretty good. Not as good as the original of course, but it’s more a case of the singer than the remix. The remix sounded pretty identical to the original to be honest which was good. That’s always been the most iconic Pokemon song for a good reason. The new singer did a fine job as well and it was a good way to kick things off. I would have liked a battle theme to accompany it, but since we didn’t really get many of those, I guess that’s why they didn’t bother.

Marshadow is one of the new Pokemon to show up, but I didn’t like him. He was seemingly portrayed as a villain from the start so it was odd that he wasn’t treated like one from the beginning. Unless he wasn’t actually mind controlling Ash and Ash was actually just being super unlikable, but I’m going to just assume it’s the former. He doesn’t even seem that strong and wouldn’t last very long in a real fight. It was cool seeing all of the Legendary Pokemon show up. I was glad Entei basically wiped the floor with everyone although I think Pikachu could give him a good fight 1 on 1. Entei was just running around too much and Ash couldn’t dodge the fire well enough. If he could, Pikachu would eventually take Entei down for the count. Team Rocket is also in this film by the way but seeing as how they just keep getting blasted away over and over again adding nothing to the film, there’s no need to give them their own section. They’re literally just here as cameos for the fans so the writers didn’t really have to think too hard about how to handle them.

So, as far as Pokemon films go this is definitely one of the weakest. I was hoping that a call back to the original Pokemon films would result in this being one of the better ones, but I suppose that just made the flaws more evident. I don’t often like Elseworld stories so I suppose that overrode the nostalgia. The whole thing just didn’t feel right and honestly it just should have had a completely different cast if the plot was going to be so different otherwise. Rename the main character as Stephen or something and then it’s less annoying. I don’t think the score would be any better since it still has the Pokemon death which is effectively an animal death, but it would certainly be less personal. At any rate, I hope this one doesn’t get a sequel and we just go back to the main Pokemon movies.

For an actual list, from what I remember of each film here is how it all ends up. 1. Genesect, 2. Pokemon Destiny Deoxys, 3. Mewtwo, 4. Entei, 5. 2000, 6. Giratina, 7. Heroes, 8. Darkrai, 9. Kyurem, 10. Black n White, 11. Lucario, 12. Hoopa, 13. Arceus, 14. 4 Ever, 15. Volcanion, 16. Zoroark, 17. Jirachi, 18. Diancie, 19. Ranger, 20. I Choose You. The list is a little rough towards the middle. My recollections of 4Ever, Lucario, Darkrai, Jirachi, and Ranger are spotty at best. The Top 5 are pretty well set by this point and will be rather tough to surpass, but not impossible. It’s probably fitting that Sun and Moon, the weakest season in all of Pokemon contains the weakest Pokemon film. If you count it as an Alola film at all, but it’s in that era at any rate.

I can also see why People didn’t like the climax to this film. It just feels all over the place and not really focused. Mind controlling all of the Pokemon and starting a big fight could be good..if the fight actually happened and we weren’t in the final minutes of the film. Ripping off Ash’s famous statue scene from the first movie is also rather shameless and it’s not even handled all that well. After all, this character hasn’t even been through much at all so it’s not as big a moment as it could have been. You can’t do a scene like that so early. The first movie’s scene was also epic as well as sad while this one is just adding yet another sad scene into the mix.

To save this film, it should have just been an adaption of season 1. Why even give Gary a cameo if he isn’t going to do anything? I was expecting him to show up, but it simply never happened. Why give us the Erika fight and mention the Pokemon League if it’s never going to happen either? I suppose these teases are supposed to be fun as you decide to watch the show again, but it just makes you wish for those moments instead of what you’re actually watching. Following the show and having a bunch of Gym Battles would have been a blast. I’d love to see a Pokemon Kai of sorts that does the first season all over again with new animation and I wouldn’t mind if they cut out the filler episodes so it focuses on the main plot. It could have been a blast. Then we would also get a bunch of cool action scenes as well.

Well, aside from the animation and soundtrack, a positive for the film would be that Pikachu looks good. While he did leave Ash pretty quickly once Ash entered into dark mode, he looked good in all of his fights. You never enter a fight thinking Pikachu will lose since he looks so impressive here. His speed is on point and he definitely is one of my favorite Pokemon at this point. Top 5 for sure and since there are over 700 Pokemon that is definitely an impressive feat. It would have been nice to have seen more of Ash’s Pokemon, but Pikachu is always the really important one anyway. I like to think he really gave Ho-Oh a great fight as well.

Overall, This Pokemon film just didn’t feel like Pokemon. That’s the biggest problem with it. It’s very sad and dramatic throughout. What the writers didn’t understand was that it’s okay, or at least not terrible to have sad and grim scenes in a show because you can have dozens of happy episodes between them. You can have a grim plot if handled right as well. However, in a movie, you have a limited amount of time so adding in even just a few sad scenes can change the tone of the entire movie. By having a very cruel rival, death, and permanent farewells in one movie, there’s no chance for a happy moment. The happy scenes in the film instead feel rather hollow, especially as Ash is sharing them with complete strangers who aren’t even that likable. Verity isn’t a bad character, but not a particularly great one either and Sorrel is just bad. you want a Pokemon film to be a fun one, especially if it’s an anniversary film. Instead, you’ll walk away from this film being pretty upset and I’m sure the feeling would have been even worse if you had seen it in the theater. Take my advice and skip this film, it’s just not worth it. I’ll still look forward to the next film though as I’m sure it’ll catch itself and start climbing up again.

Overall 5/10

Pokémon + Nobunaga no Yabou ~Ranse Iroemaki Review

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It’s time for a rather odd Pokemon adventure. Do you guys remember Pokemon Conquest? It came out quite a while ago and it was always an interesting concept. The game didn’t really look like it was my style but who’d have thought that the Pokemon characters would go back to retro China. (Or Japan, one of those) Well, it got a one shot manga to bring in the hype. Unfortunately, it fails for the most part due to not having a plot or any really good fights.

There are 6 chapters and they all have some kind of story going on. One of them has Nobunaga, the famed Devil King show up because he wasn’t invited to the party. Some of the heroes get him to come anyway though and they all have a fun party. There was a story with someone being tricked into thinking that Pokemon could evolve into food and training to surpass the guy. There were some comic relief characters who went intro the mountain, etc. You get the general jist of the story.

That’s not to say that there was absolutely no action. It was just kept in the background throughout and any action we got was quite brief indeed. What also holds the manga back is the artwork. Honestly, I thought it was rather sub par. Perhaps being in color made it that much easier to notice its limitations or if we’re being honest, maybe it just wasn’t very good to begin with. That may be more likely to be honest. It doesn’t seem as if the artist wasn’t skilled though. This seems like it was some kind of style and it just didn’t work well for me. It is neat that the whole thing is in color though, most manga never really get the color treatment.

The characters were okay, but all of them were rather generic. They all had personalities and yet they were completely forgettable. It was just fun trying to see how many names I remembered from the Sengoku Basara anime. Of course this version of the characters are certainly very different from the anime so it is really just them in name only. You won’t really have much to say about any of the characters by the time you’re done. This is one of the many weaknesses of the anthology format. You barely get to really meet any of the characters since they appear and disappear so quickly. The series not having a plot doesn’t help either, but there’s only so much you can expect from a one shot right?

I don’t want to be too harsh on the title as it is pretty short so there’s not a whole lot it could have done. There’s nothing downright bad about the manga so that is actually a good start. The worst aspect is the art and even that isn’t unbearable. The main problem is just that the title is boring. That is pretty serious, but it won’t automatically make this a bad manga either. I certainly don’t see myself getting the game anytime soon though. I’ve warmed up to the Fire Emblem style of combat, but not quite enough to buy a full game just yet.

I also have to admit that I’m not a big fan of the Sengoku cast in general. The anime/main series games are the only ones that have made them interesting. As much as I like the gameplay in Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors, the plots are extremely boring. I wish they had used the anime versions for this crossover as I guarantee it would have made the manga a lot more enjoyable. I almost hate to say this next part, but I would have even preferred it if the manga had added an original character to the mix. A random kid from Tokyo or New York or something who has a Pokemon and travels to the Dynasty Warrior era. That would have made for a much more enjoyable time than everyone randomly having Pokemon, but not doing a whole lot with them. It says something when Natsume’s Book of Friends is more emotional and entertaining at the same time compared to this one.

I think the series did try a little though as each chapter was over 50 pages. That means it’s roughly a 300 page series which is pretty good even if all of the “pages” are extremely small. Maybe the format was just built that way, but it feels like someone divided each page into 3 different pictures to make it look more impressive. I’ll assume this wasn’t the case as that seems just a little bit sketchy if you ask me.

Overall, This Pokemon manga is one that will likely be forgotten by everyone almost instantly. It is very short, has no plot, and the art isn’t very good. There are just no real reasons to actually sit down and read it except to add it to your collection of manga titles that you’ve read. I don’t recommend the title because it just comes across as pointless. That being said, if you do read it you can at least take solace in the fact that it didn’t really do anything wrong. It didn’t do anything right, but that’s just how it goes. I wish they’d go ahead and finish scanning the Reburst chapters. Now that was a Quality Pokemon series that even rivaled Adventures.

Overall 5/10

Pokemon Talent Showdown Review

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Time for another Pokemon adventure. Ash and friends were minding their own business when they notice a big crowd of people gathering around. It turns out that a big talent show is occurring nearby and Gary is even participating in it. Ash isn’t a big fan of contests, but Gary eggs him on and continues to insult Ash until the main character decides to bluff his way through it and claims that he already has a great act in mind. Can Ash think of an act that will actually defeat Gary’s or is it time for a slice of crispy, humble pie?

This adventure is a lot of fun because having Gary in the story is always great. I recently went back to check out most of his best moments and it’s easy to see why he’s such a fan favorite. The book does him justice as well since he actually had the slight upper hand against Ash. As Ash referenced, it’s a little odd for Gary to be so arrogant after Ash upstaged him in the tournament, but this is the fan favorite portrayal of Gary after all so I guess it’s to be expected. Either way I hadn’t been expecting a rematch between the two of them so that was really awesome.

The actual talent show wasn’t bad either. I felt a little bad for Ash since he apparently can’t sing or even play any instrument so he was given the smallest role. Still, Misty and Brock did help him out by coming up with their show so that was nice. I’d definitely assume that Gary is a better singer than Brock, but it’s nice to see that the Pokemon characters have such musical talent. The ending is a little cheesy though as the owner stated that this contest wouldn’t be about battling and just sportsmanship, but then Ash saves the day and he flips on that statement. I suppose having your life saved is a decent reason to quickly change up the results, but it still felt like Ash didn’t really earn his win. I guess that part could be pretty nostalgic to the original season as well though.

This book probably had the most action out of all the Pokemon books I’ve read so far so as you can imagine it is also my favorite one. Pokemon action is just a blast to watch and I definitely picture the fights in my head as they go. I forgot that Gary had a Charizard or if they just made it up for this adventure but that’s certainly interesting. It’s a little disappointing that Charizard was losing to Alakazam, but psychic types are some of the only ones who can give him a real fight so I can live with it. The stakes were definitely pretty high. I think Alakazam could definitely beat Psyduck though. Psyduck’s confusion certainly is great, but it takes forever to use and no opponent should actually just stand there and wait to be attacked. Gary’s confidence let this happen, but it wouldn’t be viable on most opponents.

Ash also fought another performer earlier as she thought he stole her Seel so she retaliated by trying to beat him up. I guess she was determined to get the truth out of him, but beating Ash in a Pokemon fight is no easy task. I think Ash is a little too quick to return his Pokemon during the battles here, but when you have Pikachu at the ready I suppose it’s no big deal. I also didn’t mind that the battles got more screen time than the actual show because that part was certainly more exciting for me.

As always the pacing is really great for the book. Since it’s so short everything has to happen quite rapidly which always makes for great results. Ash really can’t catch a break as a result, but it also shows how he is able to think on his feet. There’s never a dull moment and so you’ll be engaged from cover to cover. It certainly won’t take you long to finish this book anyway so it works out well.

Overall, This was a really good Pokemon story. All of the characters were itching for a fight and Ash was always ready to oblige. He may not have won all of his matches instantly but at least he reacted right away and acted reasonably experienced. I’d love to see an old school Pokemon movie that takes place around here where Ash just takes on trainers. It would be a lot of fun and I miss his old school lineup of Pigeot, Charizard, Snorlax, and the others. It was just a very balanced team even if Bulbasaur and Squirtle may hold the team back in attack power since they’re still in their first forms. They really haven’t been looking good in these books so far but maybe that’ll change soon. Charizard and Pikachu have really been doing all of the work. If you haven’t checked this story out yet, then you should definitely change that ASAP.

Overall 8/10

Pokemon: Race to Danger Review

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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: Journey to the Orange Islands Review

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It’s time for another quick Pokemon chapter book. This one brings us back to the beginning of the Orange Island adventures. Ash may have conquered the Pokemon League or at least that’s what you’d assume from how he talks about it in this book, but there is a new challenge around the corner that he cannot resist. Before starting the tournament he runs into a Lapras who is in need or a rescue and a Professor who may be in over her head with research. Ash is ready to save them all, but can he also stop Team Rocket from kidnapping Pikachu?

It’s always nostalgic to take a look at the good ole days of Pokemon. The newer adventures are fun enough (Although Sun and Moon is a downgrade) but the classics are classic for a reason. It’s great to see Ash just show up and take down 3 bullies in a single blow. He didn’t have time for one liners or panic attacks, Ash just got the job done. That’s why he’s the hero of legends. Ash doesn’t play games when it comes to cleaning up shop and I wouldn’t expect him too. Ash is also pretty straight forward here as he openly cringes depending on the situation. I’m not kidding, on page 2 he cringed and that’s when I knew that I was in for quite the ride. It was a good way to start things off.

There are really two main adventures here although they continue into each other pretty seamlessly. The first adventure has the kids stop by Professor Ivy’s lab to pick up the GS ball. For some reason it is impervious to teleportation so they are supposed to bring it to Professor Oak. Brock decides to stay with Ivy so he can become an official Pokemon breeder. Ash and Misty are pretty okay with this and head off, but Team Rocket tricks them and they get launched pretty far away. That’s when Ash notices the bullies and takes them down. A kid named Tracy shows up to join the crew and Oak allows Ash to forget about the GS ball so he can just have fun entering the league. Oak’s a pretty nice guy. The adventure is On!

Naturally this was a pretty big moment in the anime since Brock had been around for so many episodes. That being said, he was always the worst of Ash’s friends as he never kept his head in the game and was always holding the team back. He may have been the team’s cook, but I couldn’t get around to missing him. His replacement wasn’t exactly a fan favorite though as Tracy can be extreme in his own way. He notices some kids bullying Lapras and decides not to do anything about it because he’s busy sketching. That’s very shady right off the bat and he basically forced his way into Ash’s inner circle. Ash was totally against having Tracy on board but the decision was taken out of his hands. It was all pretty sudden. Tracy will have some work to do to get past his initial appearance and since he isn’t much of a fighter, that’ll be tough. Misty doesn’t do much here, but I’m sure she’ll have more of a role in the next few volumes…possibly. Technically Ash’s Pikachu is really the only Pokemon to get a big role. Ash doesn’t even use his others. Jigglypuff looks pretty good as she shows up to take names. I really miss the days when she would come out of the blue and just start singing. That was a quality running gag.

One thing I have to wonder is if the author has to recap what everything is at the beginning of every book or just for each region. For example, we’re reminded what a Pokedex is and the author describes everything as if we’re seeing it for the first time. The book’s fairly short and even then these scenes are really quick, but it does seem like you’ll lose valuable page space this way. In the end, I have no real complaints with the pacing though. The book flies by and it’s an engaging read from cover to cover. If I had any small complaint, it would be that this book is light on action. Pikachu’s one hit win and Geodude’s one hit win were basically the only battles in the book. Props to Team Rocket for tricking the heroes the same way twice in a row. Since the book cuts out the filler it almost literally occurs back to back. At least Ash didn’t go down without yelling for his food first.

Overall, This was a good volume of Pokemon. It could get a little dark like with the Lapras chapter and it’s easy to forget that the stakes used to be so high. Even Ivy almost died because of Pokemon spores gone wild. I have a feeling they’ve been nerfed to just knock you out in newer episodes. That being said, Ash is even more intense than usual in this volume and it’s just nice to have the old gang back. The show really had a lot of depth and emotion at this point. I still prefer almost all of the other regions to Orange Islands, but I like to just think of them as the lost episodes of Kanto. Think of it like an epilogue story and it works a whole lot better. No Gary this time, but he’ll return soon enough. If you haven’t read the book yet, now’s a good time to do so. It’s a pretty nice way to read through two episodes and it covers all of the important parts so it’s a quicker way of getting caught up with the anime.

Overall 7/10

Pokemon Sun and Moon: The Pokemon Training School Challenge Review

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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

Pokemon the Movie: I Choose You! Review

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It’s time for a one shot manga that helps get you ready for the latest Pokemon movie. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing that one get dubbed since it’s going to bring back all of the old Pokemon nostalgia. The manga takes the interesting choice of making it a flashback that Alola Ash is having. It would sure be some twist if the movie is just a dream that Ash is having, but fans would certainly not like that. It’s a fun enough story and does what it can with the 20 pages that it was allotted.

Lets start with the story in the current timeline. Ash is still a little too happy and comic relief esque in the new region if you ask me. He doesn’t have a lot of time for his shenanigans, but still manages to get consistently wrecked by the Totem guardian. It seems like these Pokemon are effectively the gym leaders of the region. Still, Pikachu doesn’t go down so easily and manages to take the opponent down in one hit. This is how I picture every fight with Pikachu to go down by the way as he isn’t known as one of the strongest Pokemon of all time for nothing. He’s in a whole other league and has certainly been trained long enough to be ready for this. I’m not sure about the whole Z move thing that the heroes spam nowadays though. The pose isn’t really necessary and seems like it’ll just leave you open during a fight. I also don’t think Pikachu should even need it.

In the flashback, the chapter plays it pretty straight regarding Ash’s origin. He wakes up real late and after struggling to get out of bed finds out that all of the Pokemon have already been taken. Pikachu is still here though so Ash decides to take him, but the Thunder Mouse doesn’t like Pokeballs. Honestly, I can totally understand the sentiment since it takes away your freedom. Ash allows this since he doesn’t have much of a choice and picks a fight with a Spearow by accident. Ash gets wrecked again, but fortunately Pikachu saves him just like in the modern day timeline. Pikachu was always the MVP of the Pokemon anime and it’s good to be reminded of this. Where would we be now without the little guy eh? It’s a fun story and while they didn’t change anything, it’s been a while since I’ve seen this so that’s cool. I definitely wouldn’t mind a faithful manga adaption of the anime that follows Ash and pals. That would have a lot of potential.

The art is all right. You can tell that this is a tie in as it isn’t anything all that special or detailed. The characters are easily recognizable and the art is simple which helps with the fights. That’s about all that I can say for it though. It just doesn’t feel like there was a whole lot of effort behind it. I have a feeling that this chapter was churned out really quick to make it in time fr the movie. That’s not necessarily a bad thing and I’m glad that we have it, but I always feel like they should at least make this into a full volume as opposed to just one chapter.

Overall, If you’re a big Pokemon fan then you should check this out. It’s a good way to get you hyped for the movie. It’s essentially your standard Pokemon story so it’s not going to change your world or anything, but just seeing the familiar faces and environment again should be enough. I’m ready for a big Pokemon manga as the Adventure chapters only come out once in a while and most of the other titles are either finished or in the same boat. I want a weekly Pokemon manga that I can look forward to every week. Considering how popular the franchise is, I’m surprised that we don’t have one yet. Ah well, maybe one day.

Overall 7/10