I give the second arc in the Kanto series...a 93/100!
I was originally going to write a review of this later, as that'll be when my copy of volume 7 comes in, but I found volume 7 in my school library, so I got a library card and rented it, along with volume 8, so that proved to be a really lucky break for me! Remember in my review of the Red/Green/Blue arc that there's so much detail poured into everything? Yeah, this arc is ALL ABOUT detail, and I absolutely LOVE meticulous detail in everything! But that's not the only reason I love volumes 4-7. I may not be very far into the manga, but please give me the liberty to boast that this arc may very well be my favorite so far, even though it has its haters. There's lots of things I want to say about this arc, particularly about the new character Yellow, but I don't think they'd be able to fit into a review and they're pretty spoiler-riffic, so I'm gonna save it for another kind of post later on.
Continuing from where the third volume left off, two years pass, and Red returns to Pallet Town reigning as the winner of the Pokemon League, and has been receiving challenges left and right. One day, he gets a letter from someone named Bruno and goes to challenge him...but he never comes back. The only Pokemon of his who manages to make it to Pallet Town is his Pikachu, arriving in Professor Oak's lab completely injured and near death. He is saved, but then a blonde haired kid named Yellow appears out of nowhere and claims she's (yeah, it's not hard to figure out so I'm throwing it out there: Yellow is a girl!) on a mission to find Red. At first, Professor Oak doesn't know if he can really trust her or not, but then he sees that she's not like other trainers: she hates all forms of battle and she has strange powers no human should have, like healing wounds and reading a Pokemon's thoughts. After he sees what she's capable of, he gives her Red's PokeDex and sends her off to find Red. She isn't alone in her quest, as others are joining in her cause. But a particular group of trainers called the Elite Four are getting in their way, and it seems they have more to worry about than just finding Red.
Not much has changed since the first arc. The artwork is still very good and the attention to detail is still ridiculously meticulous and awesome. But what I like about this arc is that the pacing has improved and isn't as fast and brisk as the other three volumes are. It's easier to comprehend things this way, and it's often hard for me to comprehend new info since I'm autistic. Another good thing about this arc is that it focuses much less on trainer battles and much more on learning new things and the new, much bigger conflict at hand and what it would entail if the Elite Four aren't stopped. There's more time spent on little stuff like training, building relationships with Pokemon, strategy, and the aftermath of the events of two years before...and not much has changed since then. One thing I don't like about some anime or manga is that sometimes they focus too much on the conflict and later just outright solve it in a drop of hat and everybody's happy and nothing's damaged. Real life conflicts aren't resolved within a day, just like how the nuclear disaster in Japan hasn't been solved. It's SO UNGODLY refreshing to finally see a manga focus on how the conflicts of two years ago still affect everyone in their daily lives. Even Pokemon aren't spared from the effects of the disasters before and the ones to come. The manga also addresses issues such as pollution and how humans are destroying the environment with their industrial waste and trying too hard to make life convenient for themselves with technology by discussing how if certain Pokemon go extinct, others will follow, and plants and trees will do so as well. Even to this day, it's still a serious issue that needs to be addressed, as I learned in a college glass I took on extinct animals that humans have played a large role in making certain animals, which were once in abundance, go completely extinct, examples being the Passenger Pigeon, the Great Auk, the Quagga, the Dodo, and the Auroch. Yay, a manga that takes its conflict and the after effects on people and animals seriously!
Oftentimes, when a character, particularly a main character, gets put on a bus, a new character randomly comes out of nowhere to take their place for a certain amount of time, and more often than not, they're not very well received. Sadly, as I've found, Yellow has her fair share of haters, who call her a Mary Sue or accuse her of being perfect or a creator's pet. Honestly, I've found solid evidence that both of these claims are completely false. Sure, she has powers, but most of the time she doesn't have full control of them, and she doesn't use them that much until the end of the arc, and when she does use them too much, they suck out some of her energy and make her fall asleep for a while. Plus, even though she's not very strong in terms of her Pokemon's levels and her Pokemon team in general, she does know how to put her Pokemon's abilities to really good use, and some of the strategies she comes up with are really smart, though not completely fool proof. (I'd go into more detail, but I'd have to go into spoilers so I'll save that for a different post) Heck, two of the Pokemon she catches outright attack her at one point in the story, and it's not like everybody just blindly praises her up the wazoo for any slip up she makes. Personally, so far, she's my favorite character, possibly even my number one favorite Special character! Why? No, I'm NOT glorifying her. I like her because she's kind of everything I like in a girl character: sweet, kind, cheery, a little shy, but strong willed, smart in some areas and not so much in others, determined, doesn't always solve problems for everyone, she knows what she wants, tries to get herself and her Pokemon out of any situation by any means necessary, and even though she doesn't like fighting, she knows not everyone will agree with her and will fight if she has to. Seriously, wouldn't you rather have her as a main character than, oh, I don't know: Tagiru from Digimon Xros Wars? Miaka from Fushigi Yuugi? That girl from Amnesia? Shu Ouma from Guilty Crown? Chibiusa from Sailor Moon? I didn't think so. Well, I do agree with some fans that her powers do kind of make things a little bit too convenient for her at times, and the way she used them at the end did feel a BIT like a Deus Ex Machina, but I've seen worse so I don't have any problem with it. In a nutshell, I like her and both her charms and faults.
It's also not like she does EVERYTHING in this arc either. Other characters we know and love still have a very strong presence in the manga, like Blue, Bill, the Gym Leaders, Team Rocket (who are seriously MUCH more threatening and convincing in the manga than in the anime. Awesome!), and even the Elite Four. Speaking of which, Kusaka seems to love going against game canon (and even fanon), as instead of making the Elite Four righteous heroes, he made them evil. Personally, I kind of like this idea, mostly because it gives them more of an edge and is something different. And they're not just typical cardboard cut out villains either. For the most part, they stick to whatever plans they come up with, and they actually succeed at carrying them out and thwarting the hero's attempts to stop them, which is usually the other way around! God, yet another refreshing thing to see! Even the Elite Four are compelling and interesting in their motives for acting the way they do, and none of it is ham fisted or force fed either. The only member who hasn't gotten much development is Bruno, but that's okay. I think the Elite Four here are great villains, as they don't just sit around and look pretty and threatening. Instead of telling us they're threatening, they actually show that they're threatening, and prove it with the things they do to Kanto over the course of the manga, and, really, it is GLORIOUS. Also some positive things about this arc before I close off: it explained how Red's Poliwhirl evolved into a Poliwrath, something I had a problem with in the previous arc, and it redeemed a character I hated in that arc too, though in a weird way.
Well, that's my review of the Yellow arc, my current favorite arc, so far. Let's see if any of the other arcs can surpass it, if I have the time and money to get more of the books, that is. As of now, I managed to read volume 8, and...really, I'm surprised people are hating on Yellow when nobody I've heard of has shown any hate for Gold, and, honestly, so far, I FREAKING HATE GOLD!!! I'm only one volume into the GSC arc, yet I already can't stand him! He's downright intolerable! He's annoying, stupid, selfish, arrogant, loud, ridiculously incompetent, too hot blooded for his own good, he throws himself into any situation, solves them in the stupidest ways possible, has selfish ulterior motive for EVERYTHING, is always boasting about how good he is even though everyone else in the manga disagrees, thinks he's right about everything, and he practically DEMANDED that Professor Oak just hand him a PokeDex even after the latter bluntly (and awesomely) told him right to his face that he's not worthy of receiving a PokeDex, simply because he's so rash it makes Ash look like a saint, yet Gold still got a PokeDex anyway! Seriously, I could barely read the first volume of the GSC arc, he's that annoying! Red wasn't this stupid! Heck, BLACK from the BW arc acted way better than he ever did! He didn't just demand he get a PokeDex from Professor Juniper, and even though he was slightly selfish at times, he's never ungrateful, and knows when to show restraint and be civil. My God, and I hear people say the GSC arc is the best arc in the series! If Gold is going to act like this all throughout (I need the rest of the volumes to be sure), then I'm going to have a VERY hard time believing that.