Story by Hidenori Kusaka
Art by Mato
Translated by Kaori Inoue
Lettering by Wayne Truman
Original Series Miscellaneous Text Adaptation by Ben Costa
Original Series Design by Sean D. Williams & Sam Elzway
Original Series Editing by William Flanagan & Annette Roman
Collector’s Edition Production Art by Christy Medellin
Collector’s Edition Design by Julian Robinson
Collector’s Edition Editing by Joel Enos
Pokémon continues to be one of the most influential franchises in the world. While many people are familiar with the iconic anime and games, Pokémon has a prominent place in manga as well, and one can look no further than Pokémon Adventures. This manga takes heavy inspiration from the Pokémon games, but crafts a new and creative story Pokémon Adventures Collector’s Edition re-releases this fantastic series in omnibus volumes, allowing readers new and old to experience its brilliance.
Pokémon Adventures centers on Red, a young boy from Pallet Town who sets out to become a Pokémon Trainer. After receiving a Pokédex from Professor Oak and leaving on his journey, he encounters swarms of Pokémon, a powerful rival, and the villainous Team Rocket.
What’s most striking about Pokémon Adventures is its faithfulness to the Pokémon games. The general premise of the story is nearly identical, and even game mechanics such as HP and levels remain intact. That said, Pokémon Adventures slowly starts to carve out its own identity. For instance, Team Rocket are more active antagonists than they were in the games. While Red’s journey initially focuses on him trying to collect gym badges, as his interactions with Team Rocket intensify, the story slowly shifts towards his conflict with them. Several gym leaders turn out to be members of Team Rocket themselves, supporting the shift in focus by reimagining these characters as antagonists and adding higher stakes to the battles with them. These new dynamics makes the Pokémon world more complex, and it allows Pokémon Adventures to give its readers a genuinely new experience.
As expected, most of Pokémon Adventures’ cast originates from the Pokémon games, but their characterizations are quite different. Red’s main rival is Blue, the grandson of Oak and a fellow Pokédex holder. While Blue’s personality tends to clash with Red’s, he doesn’t have the same arrogant personality as his game or anime counterparts. Blue has confidence in his own skills, but he’s also level-headed. The series also establishes that Blue and Red are closely matched in skill, which makes their rivalry feel more genuine. The most interesting addition to Pokémon Adventures is Green, who is based off an unused female trainer design from the original games. Green is a mischievous thief, using her talents to find rare Pokémon and valuable items. While Green isn’t the strongest trainer, she’s very resourceful outside of battle. She is seen countless times outsmarting both Red and Team Rocket for her benefit, making her a consistent source of entertainment in the story. By taking liberties with the series, Pokémon Adventures creates characters that feel unique, and it’s a wonderful sight.
Mato’s artwork is one of the immediate draws of this manga. The series closely replicates Ken Sugimori’s designs from the games, making it easy for new fans to transition to the series from other mediums. The series also does a fantastic job of depicting the world of Pokémon. Each of the routes and towns look how you’d expect, and Red’s interactions with Pokémon feel natural. Battles are also central to Pokémon, and Pokémon Adventures is no exception. In one of their author’s comments, Mato mentions that since battles are static in the games, they needed to consider how to depict the Pokémon fights in an interesting manner. Combat flows at a smooth pace, with every Pokémon attack having distinct characteristics. It feels like the Pokémon games have come to life and it’s an absolute joy.
The Pokémon Adventures Collector’s Edition isn’t drastically different compared to other Pokémon Adventures releases, but the few minor changes are valuable. Being an omnibus edition, this volume contains the first 3 volumes of the original release. The book covers the entire Red & Blue arc, allowing it to work as a self-contained story. The cover also has a sleek design, and the pages themselves use higher quality paper that give the book a more premium feel. Another nice addition is the series of color pages at the front of the book, serving as an extra goodie for fans. Still, it’s worth noting that the translation and lettering for this release is largely identical to that of Viz Media’s second edition release from 2009. This means that some inconsistencies still remain in the Collector’s Edition, such as Red’s Pokémon not having their proper nicknames. It’s a shame that these corrections weren’t made, but it by no means ruins the experience. Pokémon Adventures Collector’s Edition looks and feels great, and is a worthy addition to any Pokémon fan’s collection.
Pokémon Adventures Collector’s Edition is a solid entry point for new readers and a fantastic release for avid fans. The series’ story still has a ton of charm and the Collector’s Edition has a premium quality that can’t be beat. I’m excited to collect ‘em all!