Pokémon Adventures Vol 1
Hidenori Kusaka & Mato
When I was a kid, I absolutely adored Pokémon. I had Pokémon blue on the gameboy though I was more of a fan of the anime, and had clothes, toys, cards, plushes, even bouncy balls all emblazoned with the various characters. I also had a handful of issues of the Pokémon manga series, Pokémon Adventures which I enjoyed, but which presented a very different version of the world than I was used to.
When I hit my teens my love of the series waned and to this day, while I’d still consider myself a fan of the first generation, I know very little about where the series has gone since. I’ve been interested in getting back into it though and my first step to doing so was tracking down the first volume of Pokémon Adventures to see what I thought about it several years on.
The first thing to note about Pokémon Adventures is that, while it takes hints from the anime, such as Ash’s friendship with Misty and having Pikachu as a main character, the series definitely takes its inspiration from the games. Ash and Gary revert to their original game universe names of Red and Blue and characters like Brock and Misty who became regular side characters in the show, for the most part, revert back to their original Gym leader positions.
I really like this version of the Pokémon universe, it seems to get the best of both worlds, the original characters from the games and the additional narrative benefits of the anime series. The whole thing feels like a novelisation of the games and that’s something I’m all for.
The story itself is a decent blend of serious and comical stories. The more important narrative driven stories arc across several issues giving them enough time to play out effectively, with occasional one off issues dealing with more light hearted subjects like a bike race or Red meeting Joey, a scientist who, in a parody of the fly, has had his mind placed in the body of a Ratata.
My favourite story in this first volume was the lavender town arc which is a dark take on the, already pretty creepy level from the original game. It sees Red do battle with some pretty horrific zombie Pokémon as well as Blue’s Charmeleon killing an Arbok by cutting it in half.
Mato’s art is fantastic, the style is cute overall, pretty reminiscent of Astro Boy in fact, but still manages to work well during dramatic scenes and battles. As for the battles, the art is dynamic but easy to follow. It’s easy to make out what’s happening during the fight scenes and they’re never too cluttered which is a problem I often have with manga. Here, it manages to be cinematic with great pacing throughout.
While this first volume of Pokémon Adventures hasn’t quite reignited my love of the series like I hoped it would, it’s still a very fun read and I’ll definitely pick up the next volume. If you’re new to Pokémon and looking for a way into the series I’d highly recommend it, and if you’re already a fan who hasn’t picked it up, get it now.