Manga Review: Pokemon XY Volume One

Pokemon XY Volume One introduces the Kalos region, as well as new protagonists X and Y and their group of friends.

Pokemon XY Volume One
Written by: Hidenori Kusaka
Publisher: Shogakukan
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: December 2, 2014

X is the main character of the series, and he was once a highly skilled trainer who won the Junior Pokemon Tournament. This turned him into an overnight celebrity, but he couldn’t handle being hounded by the media or being in the glare of the spotlight. X no longer does anything with his Pokemon and just locks himself in his room. This is the complete opposite of what we normally see for the male protagonist in the various Pokemon series, since the male protagonist is usually gung ho about trying to become the best in their Pokemon league. In this case, X got his taste of fame at a very young age, before he had the maturity and ability to deal with the attention and the pressure. It’s actually a refreshing change of pace for the male protagonist’s personality, and this is probably the closest that the Pokemon series will ever come to having an emo character.

The female protagonist is Yvonne, who goes by Y for short. She keeps trying to get X to come out of his shell, but he continually refuses. Y has her own issues, since her mother is a famous Rhyhorn racer and everyone assumed she’d grow up to follow in her mother’s footsteps. Instead, Y has gone on to become a Sky Trainer trainee in order to do something that was the complete opposite of Rhyhorn racing. Y also has a dislike for the media and the paparazzi due to what she saw X go through. While we may have seen children of famous people in the Pokemon world, we usually don’t see them actively trying to distance themselves from their famous parent and not getting along with them very well. I also find her dislike of the media and paparazzi to be a realistic reaction as well, and it shows how much Y cares for her friends.

But X and Y weren’t simply friends with each other; they grew up as part of a group of five friends. The other friends are Trevor, Tierno, and Shauna. Trevor hopes to become a Pokemon Researcher one day, Tierno is a big boy training to become a dancer, and Shauna dreams of becoming a Furfrou Groomer. In this first volume, the only other one of the friends besides X and Y that has any real importance is Trevor. Hopefully Tierno and Shauna will play more important roles in future volumes of Pokemon XY.

Trevor receives three Pokemon in Pokeballs from Professor Sycamore, which Trevor hopes will help X turn back into the person he used to be. But before he can deliver them, the Legendary Pokemon Xerneas and Yveltal arrive and begin fighting. X finds himself being dragged into the situation when a bracelet he’s wearing reacts to them and draws the attention of Team Flare, the main baddies of Pokemon XY.

After X’s Pokemon Li’l Kanga undergoes a mysterious transformation and drives away Team Flare, they see that Vaniville Town, their hometown, is essentially destroyed. The five friends start a journey to go see Professor Sycamore in order to try to get some answers about what just happened. Near the end of the volume, they make it to an inn at Aquacorde Town, where something surprising happens to the group.

For the most part, Pokemon XY Volume One is simply introducing the characters, laying the foundation for the story, and getting the series going. The first battle, which takes place between Xerneas and Yveltal, is primarily there to force X out of his room and to set the journey for the five friends in motion. There’s an action sequence that takes place in Aquacorde Town that establishes that Team Flare is following X and the others due to the bracelet that X has in his possession. Since Pokemon XY is being released in smaller volumes first, just like Pokemon Black and White have been, the story takes a little longer to get going, since you only get to read three chapters instead of the amount of chapters that appear in the regular sized Pokemon manga releases. I also made this complaint about Pokemon Black and White at first, but as that series progressed further into the story, the shorter volumes didn’t bother me as much. I expect that the same will hold true for the Pokemon XY manga as well.

When it comes to the art in Pokemon XY Volume One, it has Satoshi Yamamoto’s look that has come to be associated with the Pokemon manga franchise since he stepped in and began illustrating the series. In other words, there really isn’t anything at this point to make the art in Pokemon XY to stand out when compared to Yamamoto’s work in Pokemon Black and White, Pokemon Adventures Diamond and Pearl Platinum, or his work in the main Pokemon Adventures series. When it comes to character design, I have to admit that I have to remind myself that Trevor is a boy, since the design of his facial expressions and hair make him look more feminine than I would have expected for a male character.

Even though the art may not have much to make it stand out, the changes in the character types and dynamics are very noticeable in Pokemon XY. I believe that these character changes have a lot of potential to bring new elements and plot directions to the Pokemon manga series, which, I have to admit, are needed to help keep the franchise from becoming stale. With the three chapters of Pokemon XY that I was able to read in this volume, it appears the series may have the potential to bring something new to the Pokemon manga. I hope that future volumes of the series will be able to manifest the promise that I saw in Pokemon XY Volume One.

If you’re a fan of the various Pokemon manga series, you’ll probably want to give Pokemon XY Volume One a shot. While this series shows some differences from its predecessors, it still contains a lot of the same basic elements that readers have known and come to love in the Pokemon series.

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