The journey of Satoshi and his friends through the Kalos region continues! After Satoshi obtains his seventh gym badge, the group is moving toward the next town when Eureka discovers a mysterious Pokemon resting in her pochette. Soon given the name Puni-chan, it is one that even Satoshi and Serena's new Pokemon Zukan cannot identify. However, it quickly becomes apparent that Puni-chan is the target of a mysterious group clad in bright red suits known as Team Flare, aiming to capture the new Pokemon to further their agenda. But when Satoshi and the gang realize that the enigmatic organization has no intention of treating Puni-chan with any decency, they take a stand in opposition to Team Flare's plans, daring to fight back.
With Gojika's predictions looming above them, Satoshi aims for his final gym badge while Serena contests for her last Princess Key in order to be able to compete at the TriPokalon Master Class. But as Team Flare begins to move in search of the mysterious Z, the stories of Pokemon XY and Pokemon XY: Mega Evolution cross paths as Satoshi and his friends, along with Team Rocket, get caught up in a scheme that could put Kalos in great danger.
Pokemon the Series: XY&Z Review (CONTAINS SPOILERS)
It's not every day, I get to write a Pokemon review. It's always bittersweet, having a new generation of Pokemon come to an end. In the games department, X and Y was absolutely revolutionary for the Pokemon franchise. As for the anime, well... we just came off of the Black and White anime, which is widely considered to be the worst of the Pokemon anime. So X and Y had a lot of fixing to do? Does it succeed? Well, let's talk about that.
First off, I don't know how they keep doing it, but the Pokemon anime just keeps
getting better and better, in terms of animation. That's undeniable. Right from the get go, the new art palette (teehee) is a huge step up from the already amazing looking Black and White (which is the only amazing thing about that season). Not only to the colors look improved, but Ash looks significantly older in this series. Of course he's still in 10 year old limbo, but we can at least pretend that he's aged over time, with this one. I get that they want to have a 10 year old protagonist so that the majority of the Pokemon anime audience can have a character that they can relate to, but I think it'd be even more impactful to have that protagonist grow up, along with its audience. While he may not be doing that in the age department, he definitely did that in the personality department.
So in Black and White, Ash had completely lost and and all knowledge and skill he ever had, throughout the entirety of Diamond and Pearl. And considering D&P has an INCREDIBLY smart and deep Ash in it, Black and White back peddled like nobody's business! So when X and Y roles around and introduces this new, more confident Ash, I was really impressed. This Ash is more confident, courageous, intelligent, and acts as a mentor to his traveling companions. Usually that honor belongs to the older male traveling companion. But Ash does a really good job with this role, while also continuing to have growth and struggles of his own. It's by far the best Ash Ketchum in the Pokemon anime, and I'm REALLY sad that the small bits of the Sun and Moon anime that I've seen so far seem to completely erase that personality and rewrite Ash from the ground up, once again. But I guess we'll just have to wait and see if that's entirely true.
Speaking of starting from the ground up, like always, Ash has an entirely new traveling party in this new region. And for the first time since the Hoenn generation, Ash is traveling in a party of FOUR this time, as opposed to three. First off, we have the female playable character in X and Y, Serena. Right from the beginning, Serena is a very interesting character. When we get to see her and personal life, she seems very atypical, compared to all the other female traveling companions that Ash has had, in the past. First off, she doesn't start off with any Pokemon, or even with any plans to get one and go on a journey. She's just a girl living at home, who doesn't seem to be really involved in anything related to Pokemon. But the reason she has for going on a journey is actually REALLY interesting. You immediately become interested in her story and hope to see it go somewhere that Pokemon has never really gone, before. Unfortunately, this big suspenseful journey gets wrapped up pretty quickly and anticlimactically. But that doesn't stop Serena from being an absolute joy to have on screen.
Serena reminds me a lot of Dawn, in which she's a character that continuously grows in both victory and failure. She has her victories like every main character always gets. But it's not always like that. A lot of her victories involve overcoming obstacles such as people and past events that tell her she's not good enough. And I'm not just talking about jerkish rivals. I'm talking about parents who paved a predetermined path for her. I'm talking about legends in the industry of her dreams that tell her she has no hope of succeeding, simply because the great classics that came before her already set the bar and nobody will ever be able to top it, simply because it isn't a classic. Not only that, she has a lot of times where she DOES fail and it breaks her up. Seeing her in those darker states is one of the more emotional things to witness in the Pokemon series. But what's even more powerful is seeing her recovery from those moments.
Serena goes through more growth and development in her journey than Ash was able to do in the first THREE generations of Pokemon! They didn't treat Serena like a side character. They made her important and an equal to Ash in the story. And not only does she look up to him for inspiration and admire him more than any other traveling companion in the past, but Ash also looks up to her, as well. We're always gonna have a soft spot in our hearts for Misty and I absolutely loved Dawn as a character in Diamond and Pearl. But I can easily say that Serena is the BEST female protagonist in the Pokemon anime's history!
And I'm happy to say that the great characters don't stop there! Ash's next traveling companion is the 5th gym leader in X and Y, Clemont. Who I constantly refer to as Clementine, because reasons. My favorite character in the Pokemon anime has always been Brock. He's both incredibly hilarious and he's also been such a great role model to the other members of the group. But throughout all the time we spent with Brock over the years, he never had a journey of growth in the anime. At least not one that was very prominent. The reason for that is because he didn't really ever need one. Being a well seasoned gym leader, he was incredibly smart and focused more on helping others, due to him kinda already having his life plan all figured out. But as soon as he discovered a desire to start something new, he went and did it, alone. So we never saw any of the struggles he may have had.
So now we switch over to Clemont, who is a gym leader just like Brock and also INCREDIBLY intelligent. But he isn't nearly as confident in where his life is headed and finds the desire to go on a journey to develop his skills and expand his horizons. And he gets that ambition from meeting Ash. Being a gym leader makes Ash look up to him, but Clemont returns those exact feelings in this random trainer that he just met. So they end up traveling together with a promise to help one another in improving themselves. Just like Serena, this made Clemont a lot more enjoyable to watch, since we get to see him grow, as opposed to just being the voice of reason. And while I still say Brock will always be my favorite, I can say that Clemont is the BEST male traveling companion that Ash has ever had. While his journey isn't as grand as Serena's, we still see a lot of growth that we've never seen in any male traveling companion before him.
Something I'm really glad about is that he wasn't as super nerdy as I initially thought he was gonna be. Ya, he's a sciencey inventor type of guy, but he's not really nerdy about it. The only thing I really didn't like is that his new inventions that got introduced almost every episode ALWAYS came with an overly detailed explanation on what they did and how they worked. And they were always followed up with Ash saying "WOW! SCIENCE IS SO AMAZING!" It was like having 2 Team Rocket mottos in every episode, and it just took up too much time, on top of it being super cheesy and not nearly as cool as the Team Rocket motto. But still, he has a ton of kick butt, awesome moments that make him seem really cool and not at all like your typical nerd trope. I also like how he's the first of Ash's traveling companions to actually get tired from all that walking and running around that they always do. I mean seriously! Ash and company have traveled the world by foot for over 20 years, and we JUST NOW get a character whose like "I'm too old for this!" Granted, it's probably cuz he's always lugging around a giant metal backpack, but still. It was a funny addition to his character.
Now like I said, this generation of the anime actually had FOUR traveling companions! The final member of Ash's group is Clemont's younger sister, Bonnie. Right off the bat, you're reminded of Max from the Hoenn anime. I actually like Max a lot more than most people do. I found him more interesting than May and he's also the main focus of my favorite episode in the entire Pokemon anime, "Do I Hear A Ralts?". So I was actually really excited to see another younger, non-trainer character join Ash's group. Bonnie is both absolutely hilarious and extremely adorable. At first, she does seem a bit much, with how she thinks every single Pokemon is "SOOOO CUUUUTE!". But she plays off of Clemont really well and has a lot of cute moments, herself. One thing she does is that she tends to go to every attractive girl she sees and asks them to "Take care of" her brother. Which then results in Clemont pulling her away, super embarrassed. Obviously this is just a re-skin of the Brock gag that we all know and some of us love. While it's not as funny as watching Brock's ear getting ripped off or getting poisoned to death but miraculously recovering from it, it's still funny to see.
Bonnie actually plays a really important role in the anime, despite not being a trainer and thus not really being able to start a journey of her own, yet. She has a lot of episodes centered around her that range from cute to funny to "OH MY GOD IT'S SO SAD!!!!! ESPURR WHY!?!?!?!?!?" She gets even more important in the show's second half, known as XY&Z. First off, as if the jump from Black and White to X and Y wasn't impress enough, in terms of animation, the animation jump from XY to XY&Z is EVEN MORE mindblowingly amazing! Honestly, the episodes in XY&Z look up to par with the Pokemon MOVIES! And I don't mean the old ones, I mean the ones getting released right now! Seriously, this show is stinkin gorgeous and deserves respect for not only seeing how far the Pokemon anime has come, but also for simply being one of the best looking anime I've seen.
But ya. Back to Bonnie. In XY&Z, we find a mysterious, unknown Pokemon. Bonnie takes it upon herself to take care of it and give it the name "Squishy". Now Squishy actually plays a very important role in the show's story. But honestly, having a name like Squishy makes it VERY hard for me to take a lot of those intense moments at the end of the show very seriously. Regardless, Bonnie is thankfully never pushed to the side or treated too much as a mascot character. She plays a very important role and she's an absolute joy to watch. All 4 of the main human characters play off of each other so well. I can easily say that this is my favorite group of human characters in any Pokemon anime generation. They were all fantastic and I very much enjoyed going on a journey with each and every one of them.
And of course, Team Rocket. Unfortunately, they don't get NEARLY as much screen time and emotional episodes all to themselves as they did in Diamond and Pearl, but they still had a ton of great moments and were 1000 times better than they were in Black and White. As for the Pokemon characters... again, Diamond and Pearl has this show beat. Those of you who have seen Diamond and Pearl will probably understand and agree with me when saying that they had the BEST Pokemon characters in the history of the show. X and Y had some Pokemon that stood out more than others, but Diamond and Pearl made EVERY Pokemon important and likable. This show did not. Probably the most prominent one is Ash's Greninja. They tried REALLY hard to make Greninja the next Charizard. They REALLY wanted you to like this Pokemon. Did they succeed? Well... sort of? Greninja actually does a lot to make Ash more likable, as weird as that sounds. It's sorta hard to explain it all briefly, but you'll understand when you see the show for yourself, how Greninja makes Ash more involved in battles, as well as more deep of a character.
The music is classic Pokemon style. It's good, but nothing super memorable. The 3 opening theme songs are all great, however. The 1st one is just a remix of the original theme song that we all know and love, so that may turn some people on, right off the bat. The other 2 are really good and also really different, compared to the theme the past couple of openings seemed to have. I just REALLY wish they made the english openings longer than 30 seconds. I mean, come on! Kids aren't THAT impatient! Especially at 8:00 in the morning. I promise you! Now, like every generation of Pokemon, there's a butt load of cash cow movies, trailing behind it. X and Y has 3 movies attached to it, which I'll go over very briefly. The Diancie movie has an ending that'll probably scare some kids who are new to Pokemon. But if you've seen the first Pokemon movie, you know EXACTLY how the "BIG PROBLEM" at the end of this movie is going to get resolved. All in all, not worth the watch. The second movie stars Hoopa, who is one of the most annoying talking legendaries in Pokemon movie history. Not nearly as bad as Keldeo, thankfully. But still incredibly annoying to where I'll tell you to avoid this movie, simply because Hoopa is in it.
The last movie stars both Volcanion and Magearna, and I gotta be honest. This is the first Pokemon movie in OVER A DECADE that I can actually say wasn't absolutely terrible! It's still not as great as the oldies, but it was ACTUALLY fun to watch, which is something I can't say about any other Pokemon movie that was released within the past 10 years! Magearna is the best part of this movie. It's just a really cool Pokemon to look at. This movie made me love a legendary I probably never would've cared about, otherwise. They had moments that made me happy and sad, as well as whimsical and entranced in their story and just overall design. I would seriously recommend watching this movie just to see Magearna. This movie won't blow you away in the story department, but it's got SOMETHING, at least. So that alone is worth the watch, when compared to the past 10 years of shovelware Pokemon movies.
Back to the anime, the XY&Z portion of the show is sort of a movie, itself. I may just think that because of how deep these characters are, but the final episodes at the Pokemon League, onward are actually really intense. Now, I'm gonna start talking about the outcome of the Pokemon League and what happens after that. So if you don't wanna be spoiled, I'd recommend skipping to the final paragraph. So with all the growing Ash had in this journey, and with these specific Pokemon on his team being SIGNIFICANTLY more powerful than teams he's had in the past. I truly believed that this would finally be the generation that has Ash win the Pokemon League! I thought it was finally time! However, he had some tough competition. There's this SUPER FRIENDLY rival of his named Sawyer, who is honestly one of the more annoying characters in this show (and voiced by Pikachu in the Japanese version). And there's also a character named Alain. Alain actually has his own series of spin off episodes that got released throughout the X and Y anime. I won't spoil what they're about, but it's pretty interesting stuff and gives you an idea of what a Pokemon anime without Ash would be like. Honestly, it was cool. And as much as I liked Ash in X and Y, I wouldn't mind seeing the world of Pokemon through someone else's eyes.
But throughout that side series, you see that Alain is a ridiculously powerful trainer. He eventually meets Ash in XY&Z and the two of them become friends and wish to battle each other in the Pokemon League. Ash gets his wish when he goes up against Alain in the FINALS! This is the first time in Pokemon HISTORY that Ash has made it to the FINALS in the Pokemon League! I truly believed that this would be the time that Ash would come out on top. And throughout the whole battle between him and Alain, they make it all seem like it's going to come true. Ash and Greninja are in COMPLETE control of the battlefield, whenever they're working together. They make Greninja INTENSE and you just KNOW that they're gonna win and Ash is FINALLY going to win! .........but he doesn't.
As ends up losing to Alain, even though the final attack is done by Greninja, who ends up fainting from exhaustion. This was the most frustrating part of the entire show. This was the PERFECT time for Ash to finally come out on top! I know the show creators have said that if Ash ever won the Pokemon League, his journey would be over. But I KNOW that's not true! Ash wouldn't just go home and stare as his 1st place trophy for the rest of his life, whenever he won it. He would go out to a new region to find new Pokemon and go to new places and take on a new challenge. He would NEVER end his journey, as long as there's still new places to explore in the world of Pokemon. He won 1st place in the Orange League! Did he stop his journey, then? Nope! He became king of the Battle Frontier and was even offered a position as one of the Frontier Brains! Did he take the position? Nope! He continued his journey around the world! So ya. It's nonsense to say that Ash isn't allowed to win, or else his journey would be over. He DESERVED to win here and it would've been a perfect end to an incredible journey with a character we all grew up with.
But whatever. Alain wins the Pokemon League. But the show actually doesn't stop there. Out of nowhere, the final battle with Team Flare begins. And it's one of the most epic battles with an evil team in Pokemon history! Team Flare's ambitions are explained in a way that makes them seem a lot more intense and fierce, as opposed to how they were explained in the games. They made Team Flare both incredibly evil and genuinely frightening. So it's up to not only Ash, but Serena, Clemont, Bonnie, and the unsung heroes of Pokemon, Team Rocker, to stop Team Flare and save the Kalos region. All of them play a huge role in this final battle. Clemont and Bonnie have very deep and emotional moments that were both very sad and incredibly dark for Pokemon standards. Serena didn't stand out as much as they did, but considering how much her character rocked the rest of the show, I say she gets a pass. As for Ash...
Let me just say this. The voice actors of both Ash and his traveling companions deserve recognition for how stinkin awesomely they voiced these last couple of episodes. It's honestly some of, if not the BEST moments of voice acting in the Pokemon anime's history. Ash sounds truly intense and is able to send chills down your spine with his words, alone. Clemont does just as good of a job as Ash with that, and Bonnie goes from cute mascot, to downright heartbreaking. Seriously. I know a lot of us were real uppity when the Pokemon dub got handed over to a new company and all the voices got changed. But I loved their work in Diamond and Pearl, onward. And now that they've been doing the dub LONGER than the original dub, and seeing the performances they gave with these last few episodes of XY&Z, I applaud the heck out of every single person who worked on this show. You all seriously did an amazing job and you should be truly proud of your stellar performances.
In conclusion, Pokemon X and Y is FANTASTIC. It was a million times better than Black and White, the animation is the best it's ever been, the main human characters are absolutely incredible, and the ending of this series was everything that the ending of Black and White should've been. I still think that Diamond and Pearl wins by a hair, in terms of story and overall cast, however. Both of them are fantastic and the absolute highlights of the Pokemon anime. If you've been out of the Pokemon anime for a long time and don't really think it's worth returning to, I can tell you with total confidence that you WILL like X and Y. As long as you can accept that all the Pokemon and characters and their voice actors from your childhood aren't there anymore, X and Y will prove to be something truly special and something that can be enjoyed by every Pokemon fan, as well as fans of anime, as a whole.
First off, a little background. I have been watching the Pokemon anime on and off since I got into the franchise. I watched a few episodes of the original series, some from Hoenn and nearly all of Sinnoh, but ditched the show in Unova for reasons most people already know (aka that series sucked). I wasn't planning on watching Pokemon XY since I found the games pretty underwhelming, but one day, my computer broke so I had to wait a few weeks for it to get fixed. During that time, I did what any person would do in that situation: watch anime. I was going
to rewatch the Sinnoh series since I remembered it being pretty good, but then I saw an episode of Pokemon XY about to start on my TV, so I figured, "Why not watch an episode?" Surprisingly, I found myself enjoying the episode a lot, so I spent most of my time that week binge watching every episode of Pokemon XY that was out at the time. By the time I was finished, Pokemon XY&Z had begun airing. Now, Pokemon XY was pretty average anime overall, but XY&Z was amazing! Let's talk about why this series was, and probably will forever be, the greatest season of Pokemon.
Story: The story of this season was so well structured and the development of the plot and characters was great! I'll get more into the characters later, but I think that this season had some of the most emotional episodes of Pokemon ever. Of course, everyone remembers "Pikachu's Goodbye" from the original Pokemon series, which was incredibly sad, and I could probably think of some other example if I thought about it more, but XY&Z has brought me to actual tears on several occasions, which I won't go into as to not spoil it from anyone. XY&Z also had the best villain arc in Pokemon to date. Even as the series is ending, you can still feel the effects of Team Flare's actions on the protagonists. I'm going to stop myself here so I don't spoil anything, but I'm just going to leave it with this. The setup of events in this series is great, and when you finally reach the payoff of it all, even if you already know what's going to happen, not only does it hit you in the feels, but it hits you hard. Episode 41 (I'm pretty sure that's the episode) in particular has some fantastic payoff moments, that even though I know what's happening, I still get a little choked up each time I watch them. 9/10 right here.
The art in this series is also fantastic. The animation in some of the battles, particularly Ash vs Sawyer and Ash vs Alain in the Kalos League, is really amazing. Definitely the best the Pokemon anime has ever looked. You can really see the detail that went into to every attack that every Pokemon uses, and it looks freaking great. It's so great that I am running out of adjectives to describe this series! As for how the characters look, each of them has their own unique and interesting look that tells you a lot about who they are. For example, Alain's design has the same colors and a similar style to his ace Pokemon, his Mega Charizard X, which tells you a lot about their relationship without you having to go watch the Mega Evolution specials (even though you totally should). The art gets an 8/10.
The music and voices in this anime are all fantastic. Well, kind of. You see, I watched the subbed version of XY&Z, and I rarely watched subbed anime unless the dub is really unbearable. From what I just said you can probably guess how I feel about the dub. The intro music to XY&Z in the sub is upbeat and fast-paced, which makes it perfect Pokemon like Greninja, who gets a ton of battles this season. The intro music in the dub however, is slow and doesn't fit well with the battles. When Greninja is jumping all around the battlefield firing off Water Shurikens, you would expect the music to be fast, like it is in the sub, but the dub kind of throws that away. Then there is the voices of the characters, I haven't seen much of Ash's dub voice actor in XY&Z, but I did watch a few battles dubbed just to see how well the VA did, and it was not good at all. The English VA for Ash just doesn't have the energy and emotion that the Japanese VA does, which is important for this series. Also, Sawyer's dub voice is unbearable. That's all I have to say here. Since I watched this series subbed though, I still give it an 8/10.
Characters! The best part of this anime. Let's take it one at a time. Ash, our main character, is a lot smarter and a better battler than he has been in previous regions, and you can really tell how much he cares for his Pokemon. This theme of Ash caring for his Pokemon was established way back in the 2nd episode of Pokemon XY, and comes full circle with Ash-Greninja in XY&Z. That is just awesome. Speaking of Greninja, let's give him his own little space here. Ash and Greninja's bond is a major part of XY&Z, and something they have been building up to since Ash originally caught Froakie way back in the beginning of XY. You can really tell how much of a struggle it is for both Ash and Greninja to handle the power they gain this season, especially after a particular streak of losses half-way through the season, which I won't spoil. Even though I don't like the way Ash and Greninja's story ended, it was a still a bittersweet moment for Ash's best Pokemon. Next is Ash's companion, starting with Serena. Serena is one of the best travelling partners for Ash, and she has a character arc that no other female companion of Ash's goes through. Hell, she even changes her design half-way through XY. What!? Literally, no one else does that. Ever. She has a lot of very powerful and emotional scenes throughout XY&Z, however I can't say more due to spoilers. Although, she has got the best ending to any female companion's story ever. Those who have seen it know what I'm talking about. I really hope Serena comes back at some point in the Sun and Moon anime. Next is Clemont and Bonnie. There's not really much to say about Clemont, as his character arc with Ash was pretty much dealt with back in XY, and Bonnie is usually just an annoying character who has a freaking legendary Pokemon in her bag. Although, I have to say, her role in the Team Flare arc was sad and amazing. One of the best moments in the whole series. Finally, I'll cover Ash's rivals, Sawyer and Alain. These two serve as interesting counters to each other. When we first meet Sawyer, he is weak and a bad battler, taking down every note he can to try and become stronger one day. Ash acts as a teacher of sorts to Sawyer, guiding him to becoming a better trainer. Overtime, you can really see the progression of Sawyer as he becomes a better trainer. I really loved the idea of Ash helping this weak Pokemon trainer get stronger, only to realize that Sawyer has become even more powerful that Ash in some ways. It's stuff like that that make Ash and Sawyer's last battle my personal favorite in all the seasons of the Pokemon anime. Alain, on the other hand, meets Ash already leagues ahead in terms of strength. So, we got Sawyer, who started as weak trainer, slowly becoming stronger than Ash and Alain who is already stronger than Ash. These two characters are fantastic rivals to Ash, and I love the ending of both of their final battles with Ash (okay, I didn't love the ending of Ash and Alain's battle, but the rest of XY&Z is so great that can't really feel good about hating on this one point, even though the end result is very frustrating). Characters get a 9/10.
I absolutely loved this season of the anime if you can't already tell. It has emotional moments, amazingly animated and energetic battles, and still has the humor and fun that you'd expect from a Pokemon series. Even the filler episodes were fun to watch! There is not really much else that I can say that I haven't already said. 9/10 in the enjoyment category. I looked forward to this anime every week when it came out.
If you've been wanting a more mature story out of Pokemon, while this may not be exactly what you're looking for, it is still great and takes on some themes that are pretty mature, just not in the same way that an actual adult anime would. With the previews for the Sun and Moon anime having already came out, I am not liking the chances for us to get another fantastic season of Pokemon. No matter how bad, or good the Sun and Moon anime turns out to be, we can still always turn to XY&Z, the best season of the Pokemon anime.
The 4 main characters are absolutely amazing and I actually cried when I saw the last episode when everyone says goodbye, it made me so sad thinking that I will never see this art style nor Serena, Citron and Yurika as companions ever again, it can get boring at times or a bit childish (but it's aimed to children so no point putting it as a negative) but for being the pokemon anime and definitely aimed at children this season has a lot of depth and character development, I absolutely loved it and even though I wouldn't watch it again (personally took me a lot
of effort to watch it all) I highly recommend it to anyone that loves Pokemon.
Wow. Where to even begin? Usually, it's a recipe for disaster when a show has already been hyped to death by the time I get around to watching it. But for the entirety of XY&Z, my opinion swung between 'Huh, this season IS pretty good' and 'Is this really still Pokémon?'
I first started to get the impression that this season could be something really amazing around episode 10. I'd been worried that Team Flare's inclusion would seem rushed, but their plot was really well done. I didn't think Zygarde was a thing until Sun and Moon, but in hindsight, this actually tied into their schemes
a lot better than their plot in the games. (Honestly, I'm still not really sure what the giant and his Floette had to do with anything.) And yes, Bonnie taking care of "Squishy" was just a little too cutesy a lot of the time. But they did a great job of making Team Flare seem actually threatening. Like I said, episode ten was genuinely moving, which I don't usually expect from Pokemon. Not stemming from anything serious, anyway. That image of the kids sitting around the campfire, struggling to come to terms with their feeling powerless to protect a friend... It was the first indication that XY&Z was going to be something really special and not just the standard Pokemon fare, even dramatic as that can be. And the writers didn't disappoint.
There are just so many things to praise here. Likable characters continuing to be developed? Excellent. Ash and Greninja having a Digimon Tamers-esque connection and power? Never something to complain about. Giving Steven a role to play after totally stripping him of his importance in his own season? Yes. Any time. And the new characters really grew on me. Alan was mysterious but not overly angst-ridden or edgy. Sawyer was an interesting case. I started out not thinking much of him one way or another, but in the end, I wouldn't have been disappointed if Ash lost that battle and Sawyer ended up becoming champion. He grows so much in such a short time and has one crucial skill that Ash lacks-- adaptability. To this extent, anyway. A lot of this season kind of became about showing off all the mega evolutions, and I know they make sure we know it requires a strong bond between Pokemon and trainer, but honestly, I would have loved to see that sort of raw power overcome by a really good strategy.
Honestly, parts of the Pokémon League itself felt a little rushed. I mean, we all knew who the important players were going into it, but the beginning stages with all the competitors help to really give it the feel of a tournament. And this season it was literally opening battles one episode, semi-finals the next. We don't even get to see all of Ash's battles in full. But honestly, even that is a little hard to complain about when the end of the Pokémon League blends so effortlessly into the major plot of the story. And damn was the final arc done well. I mean, all the regional villains' plans are at the world-takeover/destruction level, but usually it feels like they really only affect Ash and his friends. I love that everyone had a role to play here. I've always been of the belief that kids' shows are at their best when the material isn't treated like it's for kids. You know, the danger dumbed down and made to be obvious that the heroes are going to triumph. Everything was just as dramatic and high-stakes as it should have been. The writers played all their cards so well. I was getting actually emotional over the comic relief/plot device robot! (Seriously, though, that scene-- with the dramatic music playing instead of the explosions-- was done particularly well.) And Clemont! How is it that we spent twice as much time with Brock, but I am twice as attached to Clemont? I know I'm gushing. But I don't think I can truly impress upon you how good those final episodes got. I mean, the gym leaders all band together to form a sort of elite Pokémon army. Do I even need to say anything else?
And the conclusion of Serena's character arc impressed me as well. I think it's safe to say she's grown the most of any character, and the fact that her journeys are going to take her into the contest realm kind of smoothed out any lingering dissatisfaction I had. I still can't really respect the showcases... The judging is so subjective (and open to so much bias, because let's be honest, everyone is going to vote for their friends, regardless of whose performance was actually the most impressive), and particularly in Serena's case, it's literally just a trainer and their Pokémon prancing around on stage. But I think it's a good starting point to get into the world of contests. But mostly, Serena going off on her own is just so satisfying to me. She was so aimless starting out. I know her reasoning for splitting off from the group was almost identical to May's-- that she needed to really be able to depend on herself-- but it feels more impressive for Serena. I kind of mentioned in my last review that the basis of her character was just this shallow love interest for Ash. It was nice to see her grow into a full-fledged character. Someone who greatly admires Ash but isn't totally lost without him.
Ugh. I just love it all so much. I've decided to take a break from Pokémon for a while-- maybe start similar journeys back through my other childhood shows-- but now I almost don't feel ready to move on. Congratulations, Pokémon. You started out as just a kids show that had some good moments but was mostly just good for background noise while I took notes... but have become something truly great. I feel like this season could honestly stand on its own as a great anime, without the need of the Pokémon franchise's history of success. This has been a long journey for me. And I'm happy to say that at the end of it all, it feels like it was worthwhile.
Over the years, Ash Ketchum (Satoshi) has traveled to many different regions in the Pokemon world. Each new region brings a new generation of Pokemon with it and the anime features Ash and his pal Pikachu catching a new team of Pokemon with each new adventure.
Prepare for trouble! There's a deep history of Team Rocket that some Pokemon fans aren't familiar with, whether it's members that weren't introduced in Western media, or what rank the members happen to be. Let's blast off into the history of Team Rocket!