Manga Review: Pokémon Adventures V 1 by Hidenori Kusaka & Mato @vizmedia


May Contain Spoilers

When I saw that the Pokémon Adventures manga series was being released digitally, I had to read ‘em all (sorry! bad pun). I am a huge PoGo fan, and I play the game every single day. I don’t want to tell you how much money I shelled out to go to PoGo Fest 2018 in Chicago to spend the weekend playing the game in the sizzling heat (Spoiler: it was so much fun and such a great weekend and I can’t wait to go again next year). I did play Pokémon Red and Blue way way back when they were first released, and I even got my mom hooked on the game. One of my favorite spin-offs is Pokémon Pinball, and I have high hopes that they will bring that back for the Switch – that would be so awesome and so much fun!

So, anyway, back to the manga. I never read the series before because I looked at them and thought  they were only for kids. My reading tastes and outlook has completely changed in the 15+ years I’ve been blogging, and suddenly, this series appealed to me so much. I am addicted to Pokémon and I wanted to give the series a go. I am so glad that I did.

Technical stuff first. Viz is releasing Pokémon Adventures monthly by story arc. The release schedule is:

July 24th:       POKÉMON ADVENTURES Vols. 1-7: RED & BLUE

August:         POKÉMON ADVENTURES Vols. 8-14: GOLD & SILVER

September:   POKÉMON ADVENTURES Vols. 15-22: RUBY & SAPPHIRE

October:       POKÉMON ADVENTURES Vols. 23-25: FireRed & LeafGreen

POKÉMON ADVENTURES Vols. 26-29: EMERALD

November:    POKÉMON ADVENTURES: DIAMOND & PEARL/PLATINUM Vols. 1-11

December:    POKÉMON ADVENTURES: HEARTGOLD & SOULSILVER Vols. 1-2

POKÉMON ADVENTURES: BLACK & WHITE Vols. 1-9

POKÉMON ADVENTURES: BLACK 2 & WHITE 2 Vols. 1-2

January:       POKÉMON Manga Movie Adaptations

Thanks to Viz, I have the first story arc for review. When I sat down to read the first volume, the first thing I noticed was how utterly adorable the art is. I love the art. It is expressive and cute, and really captures the look and feel of the Pokémon world. Pikachu is sassy and feisty, and I just wanted to pinch his chubby cheeks. Bulbasaur is one of my favorite pocket monsters, so I was happy to see that he is one of Red’s constant companions. Poliwhirl isn’t one of my favorites, but this monster type earned new respect for being a fierce protector of Red.

The story starts out with Red, our intrepid hero, encountering the evil Team Rocket, who are searching for a “Phantom” Pokémon. Red, who wants to be the greatest Pokémon trainer in the world, immediately sets off to find this mysterious Pokémon. He runs into Blue, who will be his rival in the series, and Blue kicks his butt. Now that poor little Poliwhirl is injured, Red needs to heal him, which leads him to Professor Oak’s laboratory. And before you can say Gyarados, Red is on his way, traveling the world to complete his Pokedex.

My first thought as Red, a young kid, travels from one far-flung city to the next was – where are this kid’s parents? Where is he getting money to pay for his travels? Where is his gear?? Surely he’s not sleeping on the side of the road without a tent with wild Pokémon roaming the land?? But that’s just the anxious adult in my talking, and I quickly shoved that aside. Who doesn’t want to set off on the adventure of their life, training to be the best they can be? I’m down with that!

This first volume nicely sets up Red’s personality, and his growing respect for his Pokémon. He and Pikachu don’t have  the best rapport to begin with, but as they face off with one adversary after another, Pikachu begrudgingly begins to obey some of Red’s commands. The little guy saves his trainer’s bacon more than once, something that Red needs to remember when he gets a little too demanding of his pocket monster.

Team Rocket is introduced as a nefarious society that experiments on Pokémon. Red interacts with them several times, and while he doesn’t always emerge unscathed, he does win the upper hand more times than not. Team Rocket isn’t the bumbling group I remember from the cartoon, so I’m curious to see how the story progresses with their evil plots and how Red interferes with their plans.

Brock and Misty make appearances, but Blue is the source of Red’s main conflict. The older boy is determined to prove that he is the superior trainer, but Red isn’t about to let that go unchallenged. I liked that even though they are rivals, they put aside their disagreements and worked together when Team Rocket threatened a town they were traveling through.

Overall, I really enjoyed this first volume. It’s cute, has fun Pokémon battles, and the art is topnotch. This is a series that I think any age reader will enjoy, and because it assumes no prior knowledge, you don’t have to be a Pokémon fan to enjoy it, either.

Grade: 4.25 stars

Review copy provided by publisher

About the book:

Adventures based on the best-selling video games! All your favourite Pokémon game characters jump out of the screen into the pages of this action-packed manga!
Red doesn’t just want to train Pokémon, he wants to be their friend too. Bulbasaur and Poliwhirl seem game. But independent Pikachu won’t be so easy to win over!
And watch out for Team Rocket, Red… They only want to be your enemy!

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