Call me biased, but I have a special relationship with the first anime I ever watched. It spawned a childhood obsession with an anime, game series, and lifestyle that helped me to survive grammar school. It holds a special place in not only my own, but many other people's hearts. Whether it's the game, the anime, the manga, or all three people care about, it really is something special.
For 'hardcore' fans of anime, shows like this aren't something they would watch, especially if they didn't watch it around the time it came out. It's a family friendly show, a good thing for young kids who are interested in games and such, and it's something a whole family could enjoy. Just a warning though for families thinking about this, if your kids get into the show, they will probably want to play the games as well, so if you're thinking about watching it with your family, you should be prepared to spend a bit of money on it if necessary to buy them games or manga or episodes of the television show.
Pokemon brought something new to the table as a game series and an anime not seen before. Now, instead of just fighting monsters in an rpg style story, one could actually capture them in a ball, befriend them and take them around in their pocket wherever they wanted to go. It was a marvel concept, and when the games/cartoons firs came out, they were just as crazily fanned-over by people who enjoyed games and anime alike. Not only that, but it's popularity wasn't just for geeks and nerds, anyone who was anyone played it and knew what it was. Now it's fallen into obscurity a bit, no longer the focus of public eye, but only the focus of a fan base. However, when the first series came out, the show was in it's prime.(There's a bit of history for you)
Anyway, so the original season of the first show by far has the best story, introducing characters who, throughout the franchise, have remained popular in people's minds. It showcases the main character, a ten year old boy named Ash, as the protaganist, and through his adventures he quickly makes friends with Misty, Brock, and of course, the main pokemon Pikachu.
He goes around the region battling gym leaders, beating up Team Rocket Members, and going on various misadventures. Unlike in the games, legendaries and such aren't things that he catches on his own. The games and the show don't match up exactly, however, the show is good in it's own right, just as the games are.
The show as shown on the website is actually multiple sections in the overall gigantic pokemon anime itself, with new regions composing new seasons. Usually the anime follows the order of the release of the video games, so it's relatively easy to follow for players.
The animation is good, especially considering the anime was made in the late 90s with bright colors and good character design.
But the best part of the show BY FAR is the design of the pokemon themselves. They're varied, fitting and complex, and with 151(at the time of the initial show, over 700 now) different species, there's an insane number to catch, see, and set episodes around. With various types and colors, they vary in shape size and design in a remarkable act of creativity that, to this day, still impresses me. From the epic Charizard, to the adorable Pikachu, the show let's its pokemon shine in the spotlight with their amazing design.
Oh come on, everyone who EVER watched this show as a kid has to remember the opening song to the show. It's utterly iconic. The rest of the music is fine, but nowhere near as memorable as the original opening.
Unlike in the games, pokemon say their name in their speech patterns to talk rather than making sounds like animals as their forms in the games do. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing really depends on the person watching it, but it didn't bother me at all.
Voice actors are fine except for Ash at the beginning. His voice actor improves, but at first he just sounds like a snott nosed little kid. I know he's ten years old and that was what they were going for, but it's still an annoying quality. It gets beter with time, but it's still a bit of an earsore for the first couple of episodes.
Well, let's start with focusing on the big one, the protaganist in the anime who's been around for the whole time it's been playing: Ash Kethcum. Oh, and WHY IS HE STILL TEN?
Ash: As you would expect, he's a ten year old from Pallet Town with his adventure about to begin. He's clearly based off of the protaganist in the games, originally being given the option of charmander, bulbasaur, and squirtle as his first pokemon. He, however arrives late and instead of ending up with one of the three starters mentioned above, he gets Pikachu. His adventures are numerous, and he's a kind protaginist. However, he tends to either be overpowered or utterly incompetent in battlihg for the sake of the story, rather than actually having a steady growth rate throughout the series. He's probably the most frustrating characters in the show. Not very smart, but an average ten year old, I suppose. He's alright.
Misty: A tough girl. She trains water types, is kinda bossy, and altogether is a good character. She's the celadon gym leader.
Brook: The show's comic relief, he freaks out every time he sees a girl, and falls in love with all of them, particularly Officer Jenny and Nurse Joy. He stuck with the show almost as long as Ash did.
Jesse, James, and Mewoth: The little funny villains of the group with incredibly memorable enterence and exit dialougue. Always trying to capture pikachu.
Gary Oak: As Professor Oak's grandson, he's set up perfectly as Ash's rival, and is the counterpart of Green(Blue?) in the original games. His personality is his character perfectly.
While this is one of those shows older people who haven't watched it before might not appreciate, it's definitely good to play.
I remember watching the very first episode of the series and having a very good impression of the show at that time. It was practically the first toy-promoting series in my country, I had no access to the internet back then and everybody was playing or talking about Pokemons. So for some reason I expected a lot from this series. Something like an elaborating battle system, or a complicated story, or epic showdowns. After all, the games were supposed to be RPGs, and that meant all I described. I never imagined it was just farming EXP and taking part in tournaments with zero character immersion or progress. It was all just cold statistics; a thing that I hardly see as role play.
On the other hand, this anime is far more complicated than it originally appears to be. It is not just a silly adventure with animals; it is a very successful way of BRAIN WASHING! Surely, you must have sensed some weird things coming out of this show. Like, making you categorize stuff, thinking in a turn based way, or letting your 10 year old kid travel around the world to hunt animals. I must also point out that no matter how cartoony its violence is, it is still a show where you order tamed animals to damage other animals, just so they will be very injured to escape. Then you imprison them in little spheres and you force them to obey all your commands, just so you can have your own private zoo of imprisoned animals, purely for collectible reasons. Yet the show will insist on telling you that this way you become their friend. Furthermore, you need to earn badges from all around the world, just so you can brainwash your stronger captured animals into accepting you as their alpha male. Isn’t that all too scary?
What is even scarier is how the lead character wants to become a Pokemon trainer. Well how exactly is that achieved if all he does is HUNTING the poor things down and not TRAINING them? Furthermore, where is this alleged training he is talking about? Training means to teach someone something. That means progress and gradual maturity, development and permanent achievement. Yet the show lacks all that completely. Oh sure, he gets more Pokemons, and some of them do evolve and learn new attacks. He also takes part in several tournaments and gains lots of experience though his victories or losses. Does all that matter by the time the next season begins? He is still back to square one, ready to repeat the progress for yet another time. If this show had the slightest sense of realism, Ash would by now be 50 years old, with an IQ of 170 and his Pikachu would be a Lv.100 Raichu, beating every minor enemy with a simple attack. But you don’t see any of that; they are still the same immature kids falling for the exact same traps again and again, weak no matter how many battles they win (with EXP or just learning from their mistakes), sadistic collectors like they always are. All progress is negated by the end of the season, if not by the same episode.
So ok, it’s a show for little kids and all that I state are not important. As if little kids care or even figure out all that I described above! How about just watching the show and that’s it? … No, that is impossible because the show is TELLING you to do things. If not to buy Pokemon merchandise, then to treat animals as machines, tools whose will you are meant to break though violence and order them around and believe that this way you are their friend. Like a drum player next to a dancing bear. Do you know how bears learn how to dance?
I really don’t believe all those who claim that this show is teaching kids how to respect nature. There is absolutely no respect in hunting them down, taking them away from their natural habitats and forcing them to learn any trick you want so you can show off in some fighting tournament, where you just yell at them while they are fighting to death with one another. Some say that this is basically means to teach them team management and respect to teamwork but last time I tried to be trainer, my trainees were not retards who could only speak one word and locking them up in some dark room did not haste their learning progress. They also say that it teaches them to be antagonistic with other kids, so they will strive to improve on their own if they want to win no matter what. Too bad that means you need to keep giving them money so they can go buy better cards or newer videogames and then mock and bully other kids who don’t have that yet, so they can go nag at their parents to do the same. And exactly how educational is to teach kids through Pokemons the fundamentals of elements (like fire beats ice but loses to water)? That is not practical at all; it is just a way to make them learn how to play videogames and become chronic gamers. Even if metaphorically it is meant to teach them that everything has its advantages and disadvantages, that still practically tells them to EXPLOIT OTHER PEOPLES’ WEAKNESSES AND BIND THEM TO YOUR WILL! So you can be your own 10 year old Dark Lord with his personal gang of one-word shouting Ring Wraiths. Would you want your kid to learn all that?
And speaking of a show for children, why is there an ever-horny guy named Broke, who tries to seduce every single girl that he comes across and then runs away in the end of the episode? What kind of messages does that give to your children?
Ok, let’s just stop trying to see behind the scenes and just enjoy the show as it is. No subconscious messages or whatever; just plain mindless entertainment. The series was fine for awhile while they were introducing the characters and I still had no clear image of what is going on in the story. But after 20 episodes I just started to lose interest as the repetitive plot and the ACTUAL lack of progress was getting to my nerves. Sure, it is a show for kids and it was never meant to be great in any of the things I expected; but then there was Digimon, which had exactly all that. It’s not like there is absolutely no way to have a show with an interesting plot, developed characters, twists, showdowns, whatever. Yet the franchise is reaching almost a thousand episodes after all these years and you still have the exact same story, the exact same episodic nature, the exact same characters, and the exact same Team Rocket catchphrase. On the other hand we have Digimon and many others which are a lot more.
And wait a second, isn’t this supposed to be adapting the games? If so, then why don’t the characters level up like in the games? Fail adaptation is fail. And wait a second … second, why are you gaining EXP only when you win and not when you lose? By default experience comes through learning from your mistakes.
Ah, I returned back to the scenes again. Oh well, I might as well take a look at the stage. Visuals and soundtrack are ok for a children’s show. But the dialogues… 70% of them are identical catchphrases and repeated animal sounds. Ok, some times they spice up the same words by making them sound a bit different but that hardly makes a difference in the structure of the show; it is just for aesthetic reasons. I am also not sure how I perceive a world where each city has an identical nurse and police woman. Man, their parents must have some sort of cloning factory because there is no way they have given birth to a millionth-lets (that is like triplets but on a scale of a million). In fact, everything seems to repeat in this show, from the plot, to the people, to the Pokemons. It is like a bad dream that repeats and you can’t wake up from. That makes everything feel bad.
This franchise is the Limbo of mentality and a palace of commercialism. You enter as an innocent kid and you come out as some sort of sadistic hunter who loves to run away from home, torture animals, waste money on collections and bullies those bellow it. It makes you think like a machine, working in circles, an infinite loop of repetitive actions performed in perfect turn based order, an obedient cog in the ever-hungry colossal machine that is capitalism. I strongly disapprove it and recommend Digimon or even Dennou Coil over this crap. I also recommend watching the Chinpokomon episode in South Park, which is an amazing parody of this franchise.
Pokemon was born out of Satoshi Tajiri’s love for catching bugs with a net, and has since become a massive world-wide phenomenon that reached every corner of the globe. It spread like a contagious disease making young kids (and even adults alike) cry out brilliant lines at their GameBoy screens like: “Pikachu, use Thunderbolt!” or memorizing very useful data like the Strength of a level 13 Bulbasaur. This fad was seemingly here to stay. Unfortunately, those happy times are long over, and those same kids who knew the evolution of a Psyduck, when they couldn’t even remember all 50 states of their own country, left Pokemon in the dust. However, the impact that it once had can still be felt on the still ongoing anime series that has more than 600 episodes.
Story: (3/10) With a surprisingly simplistic plot, this show captured the attention of kids all ages, which left many people scratching their heads. How can such a depthless show such as Pokemon have so many fans with a superficial plot like that? Addiction? Loyalty to the games? Affinity to furry creatures? Perhaps, but the Pokemon anime had one thing going for it – enjoyable humor. With hilarious three-dimensional villains, a likeable cast of main heroes, a plot that was simple, but fun, exciting battles and a large ensemble of cute mascots and even a reference to Revolutionary Girl Utena in episode 28 named ‘Pokemon Fashion Flash’, this show seemed like a winner.
What went wrong then?
Its popularity, of course. Other anime have been ruined by it like Inuyasha and Dragon Ball Z, but the complete destruction of an anime thanks to its fans was even more evident here. What used to be a fun kid’s show that didn’t underestimate the intelligence of its viewers, became boring drivel of pure yawn-inducing morals only fit for little children under five; its flawed, yet amiable characters, transformed into these bland cardboard cut-outs whose only purpose was to smile dully at the camera and shout needlessly at Team Rocket every time they saw them (in other words, every episode); the dumb, but funny jokes got even lamer, and the prominence of new Pokemon took the spotlight from the human characters, and turned this show into an utter slop. Game after game – season after season, Pokemon became this endless cycle of irrelevant side-plots that constituted of Ash, Misty and Brock helping vapid trainers who had the ‘Pokemon-of-the-day’.
Pokemon tried to bring all its former glory with the Advanced Season, where everything was fresh and new and included the addition of two new characters – May and Max to the main group. But after viewers endured more than hundreds of fillers, this was not the kind welcome its producers expected.
Characters: (5.5/10) There are many character archetypes here: You have the reckless, but determined hero (Ash), the tomboyish, but sensitive girl (Misty), the perverted mentor (Brock), and the cute, stock mascot (Pikachu). You've seen them all in countless series, and are nothing special. But, for those who grew up watching this series, Pokemon's characters still hold a special place in one's heart because of their likeability.
The 'villains' here have more personality than the above (especially James - he's shamelessly flamboyant, loves art and dance, and has a great fashion sense), but they're not ground-breaking or entirely original. There are many other characters in this show, but they're so unremarkable that they don't even deserve a mention.
Animation: (5/10) I won't spare any words - Pokemon's animation is nothing short of terrible. It has reused backgrounds, repeated footage, unrefined character designs, and more still shots that you can choke at. The animation score is 'high' as it is because the designs of the original 150 Pokemon were brimming with creativity, and they're still undeniable icons that even people who don't know about the show still recognize to this day.
Sound: (7/10) While the dub is nothing outstanding (except for James' voice - he's hilarious), it's still bearable. As for the japanese version, Ash - or Satoshi, if you will - has a female seiyuu, Matsumoto Rika, who does an exceptional job. Though Misty's (Kasumi's) voice is shrill and annoying, and Team Rocket are nothing amazing, the original voices are quite good.
While you may not like the English openings (though you cannot deny that the first opening can stick to your mind for days on end), the Japanese ones are excellent: 'Mesaze Pokemon Master', 'Ok!' and 'Ready Go!' are all great.
Overall: (5/10) For critics and fans of the show I have one thing to say - accept Pokemon for what it is. It's a childish, cheesy, and silly show full of exaggeratedly haughty morals with no concrete plot, and yet, a good anime for kids. It's also a classic - it was the first anime to launch the whole monster-capturing concept.
Just ignore the obvious money-making aim that the whole show has, instead of being solely an innocent children’s show.
You’ll like Pokemon more that way.
(30.75%) NOSTALGIA vs REALITY:
Before I start this review, I'd like to point out that if you are a huge nostalgic fan of this show and have the slightest idea that my opinion might be different than yours, then you're probably going to hate this review. With that out of the way, the Pokemon anime is an overrated piece of crap.
Now, before you start having a heart attack, What can I say about Pokemon? Being born in the 90's, ever since I've been in school, I've been a fan of the Pokemon franchise. It started out in 1996 as the famous repetitive sequence of two games, each named by a color or some kind of rare metal or gem. Then, it usually follows within the next year with a spin-off game with the same gameplay, but with extra story our more pokemon, or a new city. Every time a new generation of games comes out, it is usually one of the most popular games for at least the next year. The difference between Pokemon and many other Japanese RPGs is the number of playable characters. Normally, RPGs up to this point would consist of around 4 to 12 playable characters, 20 at most. Pokemon, on the other hand gives the player a choice of over 150. Also, every time they come out with a generation they add about 150 more characters to its already enormous cast. The games were such a success that they incorporated it into a trading card game and eventually into an anime. When it came out as an anime, basically any fan of the franchise watched it. With it still going on today and still making new episodes today, it is widely known as the longest running and still counting anime show ever.
(10.80%) STORY: (2.4/10)
None of the elements that made the games so good could possibly be adapted into anime form. The story for the pokemon games were pretty crappy compared to other RPGs, which in a game, is OK. In order for there to be a basic story, the audience would need three things: A goal that the main character tries to achieve, why he or she is trying to achieve it, and how he or she goes about achieving it. That being said, the story starts off with a ten year old kid named Ash Ketchum getting ready to start off a journey to work towards his goal of being a Pokemon Master. That would be a legit goal, except for one thing. What the heck is a Pokemon Master? That's just it, they never explain what a Pokemon Master is. I assume it is someone who beats the Pokemon League. It might be someone who catches all the Pokemon. I don't know, but there are still two more problems that branch from that problem. What's a Pokemon? I don't know, they never explain it. Many people think it's their world's substitute for animals, but that can't be true, because the was a scene in it where they are in an aquarium with fish that were clearly not Pokemon. So, we're forced to accept that these creatures exist. The other problem, I will talk about later. Why does Ash want to be a Pokemon Master? Why do other characters want to be a Pokemon Master? Because it's fun, I guess. Is it just a sport and he just wants his name on television? Was his dad a Pokemon Master and he wants to be like his dad? Does he even have a dad? He has a mom, but she doesn't care about him, seeing as she lets a ten year old kid travel around the world by himself with a pet mouse. How does Ash accomplish his goal of being a Pokemon Master? I don't know, he isn't one yet. What? You mean it's episode 689 and he isn't even close to being one yet? Yep. As a Pokemon trainer, Ash sucks. It takes him around 3 times to beat a gym leader, he doesn't even rank in the Pokemon League, and on top of that, he only catches about five Pokemon throughout the whole show. Not only that, whenever he goes over to the next region, the only Pokemon he brings with him is Pikachu. So you'd think that bringing Pikachu along would mean that Pikachu having a lot of experience with the previous region would have no problem beating the crap out of the new region's trainers. Wrong! Apparently when you transfer to another region, your Pokemon experience is erased. Wait, that can't be right, because I've played Pokemon: Heart Gold, which lets you bring any Pokemon from Kanto to Johto without an experience deduction. HOLY PLOTHOLE! There is just so many plotholes in this story that this page would literally never end if I talked about them all. In fact, let's move on.
(12.60%) CHARACTERS: (2.8/10)
This is usually the spot that saves the show's score on a review. However, that's not the case for this anime. The characters are as bad as the story and about as interesting as cardboard. I already mentioned how dumb Ash was and his mother. Misty is no better at all. She is basically your generig anime tomboy girl, which back then it probably wasn't that much of a popular stereotype, but she never really left an impact on me. Also one thing I do remember about her is just what a freakin jerk she can be. I mean, these characters are supposed to be friends, right? Which brings us to Brock. How do I explain this train wreck of a character? A bunch of random character traits pulled out of a hat. Brock seems like he'd be the most sophisticated character, and is usually the voice of reason when a conflict arises. What's wrong with him? He's blood-thirsty pervert that hits on anything with breasts. Because any kid's show can't exist without one pervert. This may not seem like a problem at first, but this is a kid's show. If this is the character that started the "likable pervert who can occasionally be inteligent and bad-arse" stereotype, then it's a miracle that it survived long enough to get to Miroku from Inuyasha and Inashi from MAR. Then there's the villains. Team rocket, namely Jessie, James, and Meowth are the worst example of villains you could think of. The whole point of a villain is to make the story more interesting and exciting, but the show is not going to get more exciting if you can predict the outcome of every episode. The only character with redeeming qualities, a good personality, and that didn't annoy me was actually Pikachu. At least he showed some varying personality.
(7.35%) ATMOSPHERE: (7.35/10)
Even for a show that started in 1997, the animation wasn't all that great. Exceptions are the battle scenes, which were cool for the most part, but some attack animations took longer than they should have. The rest is reflective on how old the show is.The music is just about the only good thing about this show. This is where the nostalgia breaks free. All of the music you hear in the games will be in the show at some point. The opening theme to this season is cool and nostalgic, and even though the show is bad, the opening theme is so cool that it almost gets me hyped up to watch an episode. I love all of the music from every pokemon game and all the arrangements for the show, too.
This show gets a score of 4.25 after doing the math. This is not the best show to watch if you want the basic plot elements and good characters. If you're watching it for nostalgic value, the by all means, go ahead. But I wouldn't watch it for any other reason than that.
I thought it was great, but overall I thought the battle scenes were kinda cool, but to be honest the part I really hated about this show was the emotional scenes, but yeah, I liked this anime for the most part. I've loved it since I was 7, so it's kinda like a favorite, I still love it and think it's awesome.