Pokemon Adventures 1
August 5, 2010
Hidenori Kusaka – Viz – 2009 – 35+ volumes
True fact: Toshihiro Ono’s (hilariously censored) Pokemon manga was my introduction to Japanese comics. I’ve been a fan of the Pokemon games longer than I have manga, which is hard to believe at this point. Back then, I also read the individual issues of Magical Pokemon Journey, mostly because I was so horribly desperate for girls’ comics (I was far, far too old to be reading them). Pokemon Adventures came out with those two all those years ago as well, but I skipped over it at the time. I found out later it was considered the best. Viz recently re-released this from the beginning, and I finally swallowed my pride and decided to pick it up. While I do love Pokemon, I also have a healthy dose of shame that goes along with saying anything about it.
I liked it. I genuinely liked it. Much like the games themselves, the first volume of this was highly polished and made to appeal to as wide an audience as possible. The storytelling style is extremely simplistic, but it is genuinely fun to follow the characters around on all the different little side quests they engage in. There’s not a lot of overarching plot, either (Red wants to be the best and complete the Pokedex for Professor Oak), but I think it benefits from that since the episodic chapters are so oddly diverse and fun to read. It also follows the plot of the game really closely, too, which may put it in a different category entirely (episodic, but pre-determined?).
In any case, it’s fun, and really kid-friendly without being intolerable for adults. This is a hard balance to strike, but this does it pretty well. Again though, that’s probably to be expected of an adaptation of a game that appeals to such a wide audience.
Basically, Red starts off in his hometown as a big fish in a little pond, thinking he knows everything about Pokemon. He runs into Blue, who has a lot more experience than Red, and after being humbled by him and a new acquaintance named Professor Oak, Red decides to take his Poliwhirl and embark on a mission to catch all the Pokemon in the world. Along the way, he makes friends with a lot of Pokemon, escapes Team Rocket twice, goes looking for a Moon Stone, participates in a Gym tournament for a badge, breaks up a Pokemon smuggling ring, and befriends a strange girl he helps out of a tight spot. Said strange girl and rival Blue serve as the only characters that reappear from chapter to chapter aside from Red, but it’s mostly all focused on Red and the pokemon he catches and trains. All of this is interspersed with little Pokemon factoids and battles and whatnot, so fans of the game (likely small children) looking to find their favorite ‘mons won’t be disappointed.
The art is also clean and easy to read… I can’t say I take issue with any part of it. Again, it is a little simple, and perhaps I’m fond of it because I beat that first Pokemon game so many times that everything here is very familiar to me and I take comfort in it. Whatever the case, I’m sad I only picked up the first volume, because part of me does want to snag the rest of the available ones and play catch-up, just to see how Red fares in the other gyms and against Team Rocket and the Elite Four and whatnot. It sounds strange, even to me, since I so rarely am eager to pick up new volumes of even the best kids series I’ve read… but all the same, that’s the power of Pokemon. If you have any love at all for the game, no matter your age, you might consider taking a look at this.