Pokemon: Scyther, Heart of a Champion Review

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It’s time for a retro Pokémon adventure. This one definitely adapts some intriguing adventures that make you wonder just how strong the Pokémon really are. Despite the power level moments being puzzling this is still one of the better books since there is a lot of action. As usual there are two stories to be found here so I’ll talk about both of them.

The first story has our heroes walking through the forest when they encounter an injured Scyther. It apparently lost a battle for clan leadership since he is old now and has been cast away. The rules for the clan are that you have to leave if you lose. It’s pretty sad for Scyther but when you remember that he has done the same to many others (Since it’s referenced that he has won many times and only lost this one due to age) then the sympathy goes down a little bit. Still, he wants one more chance to fight for leadership so in the meantime Tracey captures him. Scyther isn’t pleased to say the least but then Team Rocket shows up so they will have to grudgingly team up.

Scyther has always had a cool design but I don’t like what they did with him in the show. I don’t think Pokémon should ever become senior citizens, especially since that whole concept seems to vanish later on. Just as importantly, they could have made him old without making him ancient. That would have made him much better if you ask me. As it stands, he is old but still gets a lot of hype and is treated as a very strong Pokémon. He was saved by the guy who overthrew him though and so I can’t buy into him being an actual rival for Charizard. I suppose none of this is Scyther’s fault though and I can’t be mad at him for still being feisty and ready for combat.

It’s not a bad story and in fact it’s a pretty important one since Tracey finally gets a new Pokémon to fight at his side. It’s pretty straightforward though as Team Rocket is the only threat here and you could argue that they have never been a threat before so why start now? The fact that the book implies they were about to win is pretty funny if you ask me. I do like that Ash was the first to think of the idea of capturing Scyther in order to take him to the Pokémon Center. This is the main character that I grew up with. A kid who was always jumping into action as opposed to being confused.

The big story of the volume has Ash and friends enjoying a good time when a trainer shows up to challenge him. The guy thinks Ash looks tough so he will make for a worthy opponent. Ash agrees and goes up against this guy but his Pikachu gets downed in a single hit and Charizard does no better. In fact, Charizard loses so badly that his life is in danger now so Ash might have to rethink using his Pokémon in such dangerous fights from now on…or quickly go for the rematch.

The elephant in the room here is that a Pokémon should certainly not get near fatally wounded from a single attack. Not to mention that it was an ice attack against a fire type. Many solutions will pop into your head like why doesn’t Ash put Charizard in a Pokeball and run to the Pokémon Center or whip out a Hyper Potion. I feel like the Pokeball trick didn’t work in the anime and the book may have mentioned that but this is just as strange. Why wouldn’t it work? If objects like ice can block a Pokeball’s power then that really is a pretty big problem. If Pokémon fights really are this dangerous then it does give N and his followers a leg to stand on when they say that Pokémon fights are barbaric and must be stopped. Their lives are clearly being put at risk in every fight if this episode is to be believed. Either way I always thought their ideology was pretty interesting but let’s stay on topic.

The only lesson Ash learns from this is to go right back and fight the guy again. Sure, they dodge this time but what if the attack had actually landed? Then they would have been in the same position only Charizard would be a lot weaker this time around. Ash should have either turned down the fight or brought out Pikachu again. As an Ash fan part of me is glad he didn’t turn down the fight but the stakes sure increased here. I thought in the anime he only reason the Poliwrath was so strong was because he had on some kind of equipment that boosted his attack but maybe I was misremembering since here he book treats the belt like a normal one that isn’t actually affecting the fight.

Finally I also have to question how Pikachu was so thoroughly humiliated in this fight. Sure, the Thunderbolt didn’t work and that was the first cause for concern. Even ignoring the type advantage, Pikachu should be at a crazy high level by now. Then Pikachu should still be quick enough to dodge the counter blow and durable enough to endure it. Pikachu was incredibly lowballed in this episode for the plot’s and as a loyal fan that was a little disappointing. Controversial Opinion time, I think Pikachu could take down Charizard in a fair fight. Still, ignoring this, it was cool to have a new trainer who could fight at such a high level. It’s too bad he never appeared again since the guy was definitely skilled. Having him show up in the next Pokémon League Championships would have been a really cool way to go about it.

Overall, this is definitely a pretty good Pokemon book. Both stories are fun and hold up well in their own right, but the second story is definitely the best one. Most of the story is about the big fights and we finally have a Poliwrath who is looking good. That Pokémon has a great design so I am certainly glad to see him getting the hype he deserves. This part of the Pokémon anime is still nostalgic from the good ole days and I look forward to the day when the anime gets back on track from this Sun and Moon saga. It’s stayed it’s course and we need more serious fights like the one this volume has. The suspense and drama have vanished in the newer episodes.

Overall 7/10

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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