September 1st, 2013

Can I die now?

I'm the worst of the worst. Andrea's right. I'm nothing but selfish, indecisive, inconsiderate, and a full-on bitch. Yep, I said it. I don't normally curse, but this is an exception. I cause nothing but pain to everyone around me just because I'm too stupid, stubborn, and indecisive to know when to stop being a grade A idiot. All I do is jerk people around on a whim and use them as puppets. Can someone please tell my parents to disown me? Because I deserve it, and they deserve better than a stupid, worthless retard like me.
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Firechick's Manga Reviews: Pokemon Adventures, Red/Blue/Green Arc

Note: I only just started reading this Pokemon manga, and only have up to volume 5 so far. Because all the arcs in this manga feature entirely new characters and scenarios based on their respective game counterparts, for the time being, I've decided to review each arc individually, starting from the RGB arc all the way to the Black/White arc. Example: one review for first three volumes, another for the later four, one for the Johto arc, etc. I haven't read the entire manga series yet, but I will definitely give a review to the whole series once I've caught up. I don't know if I'll like all the arcs in the same way or prefer one over the other, so that's why I'm giving reviews for each arc, so I'll have a better idea on my personal preferences.

I give the first three volumes of this manga...a 90/100!

I didn't start reading manga until about 2005, around the same time I started watching anime in their original language. But while my first actual right-to-left manga was the third volume of Tokyo Mew Mew, my very first manga EVER was the Pokemon manga, which I found out very quickly was COMPLETELY unlike the anime...and I loved it! Unfortunately, the version I got was the flipped, censored version, and because I wound up getting more and more into anime, I stopped collecting it. Thankfully, my interest in Pokemon Special (or Adventures as it's called here) has resurfaced upon learning that the manga has much MUCH more going for it than the anime ever had, so I decided to get back into it...and boy, is it a nostalgia bomb for me! Heck, I still have the copy of the first manga book I ever bought (though I'm debating over whether I should get rid of it or not). But this review will only focus on the first three volumes. I'll save the rest of my nostalgic sentimentality for the entire series.

In a way, the manga starts off just like the anime. A young boy named Red wants to become a great Pokemon trainer. When he meets Professor Oak during an incident regarding escaped Pokemon, he receives his first ever PokeDex and one of the starters, a Bulbasaur. Red is ecstatic and decides to defeat the gym leaders and win the Pokemon League. But many things get in his way, like his rival, Green, Professor Oak's grandson and an arrogant little prick, Blue, a pretty girl who loves flirting and ripping people off their money (their names got switched in the English version to coincide with the American releases of the Red and Blue games, mostly because the original graphics for Red and Green were too ugly to work with American audiences), and Team Rocket, whose corrupt influence is polluting all of Kanto, with their experimenting on Pokemon and screwing their environments over, and they have much bigger plans in mind. Even some of the gym leaders are involved with Team Rocket in some way. Can Red and his friends and allies put an end to Team Rocket's tyrannical reign of terror and win the Pokemon League like he's dreamed?

Trust me, this manga is EXTREMELY different from the anime by a land slide, and you may not think so at first considering the cutesy looking art style. Just because something looks cutesy doesn't mean the whole thing looks all cutesy and saccharine (we learned that the hard way thanks to Madoka Magica. I wish people would do the same with Les Miserables Shoujo Cosette, as it really needs more love!). Yes, the art style is cutesy and chibi-looking, but not always, and when things get serious, boy do they ever! Though, personally, I think the cutesy looking art style works in this case, because we have innocent children befriending monsters and are full of hope, enthusiasm, and innocent ideals and beliefs, and that contrasts well with the dark, foreboding, stern, sterile, somewhat corrupt, and even ugly adult world they're living in, especially when we learn what Team Rocket has been doing to Kanto: experimenting on Pokemon, controlling cities, damaging the environment, etc. Oh, and unlike most anime or even manga for that matter where everything is resolved in the drop of a hat, none of these changes just automatically go away. There are lasting consequences. You know the oil spill and the nuclear disasters in Japan, right? Those still haven't been resolved yet, and even if they were, the after affects would still linger. This rule is being happily used here. By God, it's so refreshing to see environmental problems and consequences actually being taken seriously and as a genuine threat, rather than something that can be instantly resolved with magic or the power of friendship!

Don't think you're going to find clones of Ash Ketchum or those characters here. Unlike the anime, the characters here actually AGE and DEVELOP. Red starts off a bit too much like Ash at first, but he's actually smart and uses his Pokemon in smart ways. Plus, he knows his mission, learns lessons about life (and not forgetting about them for the sake of dragging on and on and on), and when things get tough, he knows when to put his desires aside, and not in a cheesy, preachy way either. Other characters like Green and Blue develop nicely too, in their own way, and have great backstories to further flesh them out. That's kind of surprising, considering the RGB arc is only three volumes long. Best of all, they're all smart and use their Pokemon in surprisingly clever and smart ways, and you never know what to expect. They use their Pokemon's abilities to their full potential. Seriously, was Kusaka a science major in college? Because the way he makes the characters use their Pokemon makes so much sense here. They rely much more on skill, strategy, and other factors, like the environment and the effects attacks of different types have on each other and how they can be used feasibly, rather than just brute force, lots of over the top yelling, and beam spams. The best, most awesome example of this is in the final chapter of this arc. It has to be read to be believed.

I can't really think of any real jarring flaws this series has, though one I noticed was that it's pacing is a little fast and brisk. We just go from one chapter to another without much transition in between, similar to Escaflowne, but unlike with the latter, the way it happens here makes sense, both in-universe and out. In universe because one character can't just stay in one place for too long (plus, in this case, unlike Escaflowne, the transition actually flows better), and in real life, it was mostly because Kusaka had to keep up with the new games that come out, so he can't just focus entirely on one adaptation of one game forever (unless it was deliberate, in the case of another Pokemon manga called Diamond and Pearl Adventure, which is NOT like Special, AT ALL), as people would have moved on to the next set of games. I did have one hissy fit over one of Red's Pokemon evolving differently than in the games until I read volume 5 today, which explained why, so I've calmed down about that. Plus, it does tend to suddenly introduce characters out of nowhere, but the manga makes up for it by developing them and giving them strengths, weaknesses, and fears, like ordinary people, so they're not total cardboard cut-outs.

It's only the first arc, but it's still a very strong start to a very strong and amazing manga so far. I can't wait to see what the other volumes will bring!

Next Review: Volumes 4-7 (Volumes owned so far: 4-5, ordered 6 just now)