Manga Review: Pokemon Adventures Volume One

Pokemon Adventures is a manga based on the Pokemon video games. For the first volume of the manga, the story was written by Hidenori Kusaka and the art was done by Mato. Vizkids, an imprint of Viz Media, holds the North American rights to distribute the manga in the United States. This English adaptation, which is presented as an “unflipped” release, was done by Gerard Jones, with a translation done by Kaori Inoue. This edition of the manga was published in 2008. Pokemon Adventures is rated “A,” which means it is suitable for readers of all ages.

Pokemon Adventures Volume 1
Written by: Hidenori Kusaka
Publisher: Shogakukan
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: June 2, 2009

My main familiarity with Pokemon comes from the anime series, so this manga has a very different feel for the Pokemon property for me. Instead of Ash, the main character is named Red; however, the way he is dressed, it’s obvious that he’s the equivalent of Ash Ketchum. His rival, Blue, is the manga and video game equivalent of Gary Oak. Professor Oak, Misty, and Brock also appear in this volume; they look rather similar to their anime counterparts, and also have the same names. The cities that Red visits match the cities in Kanto that Ash visits in the anime series.

If you are familiar with the Pokemon anime series, you will notice some similarities in the elements between the anime and the manga, but the story being told is rather different. There are also some differences between the elements that appear between these two different media. For example, the Poke Balls in the manga have a clear top, so a trainer can see exactly which Pokemon is in the ball. To me, this idea makes sense. I’d always wondered in the anime how a Pokemon trainer would know which Pokemon is in a ball that he or she throws out, since there’s no way to see which Pokemon is inside, and there’s no visible markings that label which Pokemon is in which Poke Ball.

Another difference is that Red doesn’t start out with Pikachu. At the beginning of the manga, he already has a Poliwhirl. He encounters Pikachu later, and it takes longer for Red and Pikachu to establish a relationship than it did for Ash and Pikachu to establish one in the anime. Team Rocket also makes a significant appearance in the manga; however, Jessie, James, and Meowth have not made any appearances when Team Rocket shows up. One other difference I noticed is the fact that the manga acknowledges that the Pokemon creatures do eventually die; this is something that the anime never even touches on. Near the end of the first volume of Pokemon Adventures, Red encounters a man who is mourning the death of his Pokemon creature at a grave.

The art style is definitely unique when compared to the anime series. Overall, the layout of the manga looks pretty decent, except for when there’s a scene with major action going on. This would be in regards to some of the Pokemon battles, especially when fighting with Team Rocket. In these more action heavy scenes, some of the pages look rather “busy,” which includes more text that is usually bigger than the other text that appears in the manga. These “busy” panels can be a little distracting and jarring when you’re reading the manga.

If you decide to read Pokemon Adventures and are already familiar with the anime series, you need to try to go into these manga volumes without expecting what you saw in the anime. If you already have familiarity with the Pokemon video games, then it’s likely that the changes between the manga and the anime probably won’t be nearly as jarring as they were for me. Even with that, I thought the manga has a very interesting take on the Pokemon universe.

I wrote this review after reading a copy of this manga volume that my older daughter checked out through the King County Library System.

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