- Story by: Hidenori Kusaka
- Art by: Mato
- Translation: Kaori Inoue
- English Adaptation: Gerard Jones
- Miscellaneous Text Adaptation: Ben Costa
- Touch-up Art & Lettering: Wayne Truman
- Designer: Sean D. Williams
- Editor/s: William Flanagan (1st edition), Annette Roman (Viz Media Edition)
- Published by: Viz Media
The success of Pokémon is clear to see since the original Pocket Monster video games that were released in 1996 for the Nintendo Game Boy.
It’s popularity only grew further with the success of the anime series that followed the adventures of a young boy named Ash Ketchum as he sets of on his journey to become they greatest Pokémon trainer the world has ever seen. Of course we all know the iconic theme tune from that series and whether you know Pokémon or not, almost every individual in the world recognises the iconic yellow electric mouse known as Pikachu!
Not many people talk about the Manga series though which is closer connected to the video games as the protagonist, known as Red, travels to become a Pokémon Master whilst also attempting to beat his rival, Blue, who just happens to be Professor Oaks grandson…yeah…it’s basically Gary from the anime but it’s not Gary.
The world is inhabited by small creatures that live alongside humans. These creatures are known as Pokémon, or Pocket Monsters, and there are hundreds of different species that live throughout the land in caves, forests, and bodies of water. Each Pokémon has a form of elemental ‘type’, and certain humans train hard to become Pokémon trainers, by capturing and battling these creatures, which becomes easier when you understand the type matchups, meaning what each type is strong and weak against.
For example, a grass type Pokémon such as Red’s Bulbasaur, will be strong against water type Pokémon, but weak against fire type Pokémon. Check oht my review of the original games by clicking the image below for more information about type matchups.
As mentioned in the intro, a young boy from Pallet Town, called Red, has been given a Pokédex (a Pokémon encyclopedia) by the local Pokémon Professor, Professor Oak, and has been sent on a quest to fill the Pokédex with as much information on as many Pokémon as possible.
Along the way, Red will make new friends such as Misty, a young water-type Pokémon trainer from Cerulean City, as well as facing tough Gym Leaders such as Brock the rock-type Gym Leader from Pewter City. Although gym leaders and pretty girls will be the least of his troubles as Red discovers a group of troublemakers and criminals known as Team Rocket, who seem to be appearing in many of the same areas that Red is travelling to and from. Red will do what he can to hinder Team Rockets attempts at stealing other folks Pokémon as well as other nefarious schemes that they believe they can get away with.
Red will also make new friends in the form of the Pokémon he finds, such as a grumpy and rather tenacious electric mouse known as Pikachu. Together Red and his team will face many trials in order to continue his journey to become a Pokémon Master.
The story told within the manga is as fun and bubbly as the anime, but in some areas, the manga is so much darker, giving us elements to the franchise that many would never believe would be capable of being told within a franchise that is so child friendly in other mediums. In both the video games and the anime, one of the biggest elements that make Pokémon so child friendly, is that when the creatures battle, no matter how badly they are injured, none of them actually die, they simply “feint”. However, the manga takes the battling to a whole new level, as the attacks don’t just bounce off of the opponent, instead they can pierce a Pokémon’s body or cause even more serious damage.
For example, during a chapter set within Lavender Town’s Ghost Tower, Red and Blue are faced with a Gastly that can reincarnate the corpses of the deceased Pokémon that are buried within the tower, using them as puppets to attack anyone who enters the tower.
If that wasn’t bad enough, the two rivals are attacked by an Arbok (a large poisonous snake Pokémon) which nearly melts a Pokémon with it’s acid attack but when Blue orders his Charmeleon to attack, Charmeleon actually slices the Arbok in half, killing it.
This would never pass in the game or the anime series, so seeing it within the manga was rather shocking but it also felt like it added something that makes the books stand out from everything else in the Pokémon world.
Many of the characters are instantly recognisable if you’re already a fan of the games or the anime, such as Professor Oak, Misty, Brock, and of course Blue who was adapted in the form of Gary in the anime.
The Pokédex uses the pixilated art of the games when showing the information entries, which was nice to see as it helped build that connection between the manga and the games it’s being adapted from.
It’s strange to see the dark side of Pokémon but it was certainly great to see the designs of ‘Zombie’ Pokémon such as Psyduck who is creepy and highly disturbing if you were too see it in the next Detective Pikachu style movie.
With its darker content, though keeping the majority of the story fun and bubbly, this story is definitely one i’d recommend to older Pokémon fans. Those of us who grew up watching and playing the games and already know the content well.
Its definitely not one I’d recommend for children due to the darker elements but that’s always up to the parents themselves.
I’m definitely curious to see where the story goes as it seems Volume one has covered a lot already, as the chapters feel like episodes of the anime, skipping certain parts of the plot for time purposes and feeling rather fast paced, but I’m sure when the major plot points take place, it will take its time to give us the best of the action that fans love from Pokémon.