Manga Review: Pokemon Black and White Volume 20

Pokemon Black and White Volume 20 presents the conclusion of the story arc that takes place in the Unova region.

Pokemon Black and White Volume 20
Written by: Hidenori Kusaka
Publisher: Shogakukan
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: February 3, 2015

Volume 20 opens with the battle going on between Zekrom (alongside N) and Reshiram (alongside Black). In order to be able to battle with Reshiram, Black must first figure out what’s in Reshiram’s heart. He’s fortunate to get some help in the form of having data installed on his Pokedex from research that has been gathered on the two Legendary Pokemon.

When I saw Looker and a couple of other characters getting into a hot air balloon, I was really wondering what the point of it was, since there was no way for them to truly help out, even with the Pokemon they had brought up with them. But when I saw that one of the passengers asked Black to hand him his Pokedex in order to add information, I understood that the hot air balloon was actually an important plot point. Once Black gets that information, he’s able to take it and turn the battle around.

But Black learns the battle isn’t over when he’s confronted by Ghetsis, the leader of Team Plasma. Over the course of this final battle, some truths about N and Team Plasma are revealed.

While most of Pokemon Black and White Volume 20 focuses on Black, White also has an important scene as well. In her scene, we learn what N had done before heading off to his final battle, as well as receive backstory on N’s childhood and how he ended up becoming part of Team Plasma. White also has a reunion with Gigi, her former Pokemon who went off with N in an earlier volume of Pokemon Black and White.

I appreciated getting the backstory on N, but I kind of wish we could have somehow gotten it a little earlier than we did. If this backstory had been revealed earlier, I would have more than likely found myself caring more about N in the long run. The way the story was written for the manga, N’s redemption almost felt like it was “too little, too late.”

And I have to say that I’m not entirely happy with how the Pokemon Black and White series concluded. It ends with a character having a change of heart, and Black and the others just watch this character ride off into the sunset. While this was an OK ending, it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. When the other arcs in the Pokemon manga ended, we were usually provided a kind of “epilogue” to show where the characters are at a little later after the final, climactic battle. Here, we didn’t get that. Instead, the reader is left to come up with their own ideas as to what happened. To me, it’s a little easier to guess what happens to White than what happens to Black. While Black may have ultimately defeated the baddies, I’m not sure that really counts as fulfilling his dream to win the Pokemon League. And since we don’t get to see anything beyond the final battle, the reader never learns whether or not Black truly achieved his goal.

As a reader, I admit to feeling a little cheated by this rather abrupt ending. I found myself wondering, “I spent all this time following these characters, and this is all that it led up to?” Oh well.

Readers who have enjoyed the Pokemon Black and White series and already have familiarity with the video games it’s based on may have an easier time accepting Pokemon Black and White Volume 20 and the ending of the series than I did.

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