Pokémon: The Animé – Indigo League & Adventures In Orange Islands (Kanto)

A TV evolution of concept potential from 8-Bit to world’s biggest franchise w. nice characterization, japanese vibrance, genre-diverse weekly adventures, lore/world expansion, viz aptitude, hilarious meta-comedy, & iconic ’90’s rock theme. 8.7/10.

Plot Synopsis: Young Ash Ketchum begins his Pokémon training as he reaches his 10th birthday. Things don’t go as expected for the youngster, who gets a Pikachu instead of a standard first Pokémon. Winning gym badges is also tougher than Ash thought it would be. He’s not alone in his quest for the badges, though, as former gym leaders Brock and Misty are by his side, along with some new friends.

*Possible Spoilers Ahead*

CLC’s Official Top 25 #PokémonTheAniméKanto Episodes: 1. The Ghost Of Maiden’s Peak, 2. Pokémon – I Choose You!, 3. The Breeding Center Secret, 4. The Battle Of The Badge, 5. Abra and The Psychic Showdown, 6. The Misty Mermaid, 7. The Tower Of Terror, 8. Mystery Of The Lighthouse, 9. The Ultimate Test, 10. Sparks Fly For Magnemite, 11. Beach Blankout Blastoise, 12. A Rivalry Revival, 13. The Pi-Kahuna, 14. The School Of Hard Knocks, 15. Showdown In Pewter City, 16. Lights, Camera, Quack-Tion!, 17. Battle Aboard The St. Anne, 18. The Bridge Bike-Gang, 19. The Water Flowers Of Cerulean City, 20. Riddle Me This, 21. Snow Way Out!, 22. Charmander: The Stray Pokémon, 23. Wake Up Snorlax!, 24. Round One – Begin!, 25. Pikachu Re-Volts

Official CLC Review

A Pop-Culture Revolution

A Video Game Taking The World By Storm, The Premiere Of The TV Show On Apr. 1, 1997 Aimed To Ground The Esoterica In Storytelling – And Succeeded: The Longest Running Animé Ever

Photograph Courtesy Of: TV Tokyo x The Pokémon Company

Back in 1996, Pocket Monsters was taking the world by storm. A once-in-a-century revolution had set ablaze pop-culture with the release of Red/Blue/Green/Yellow – a trinity of some of the greatest video games of all-time by the master-craftsmanship of a Satoshi Tajiri who’d spent a lifetime dreaming and ~decade developing the concept. Cashing in on the hype were corporate executives chomping at the bit like Mario 64 chainchomps – the easiest route first being a TV series and movie franchise invoking the power of cinema to flesh-out and three-dimensionalize the IP, characters, arcs, and creatures beyond the limitation of 8-Bit. True to its Japanese roots and origins by animé design, yet infused with cross-cultural/demographic appeal the world over, the weekly accompaniment of animation only further fueled the expanding wildfire – perhaps even helping prevent 5-minute-fame burnout before the fad had the chance to became a household name on the arrival of Generation 2 thunderously declaring franchise permanence beyond flukes. A TV evolution of concept potential from 8-Bit black-and-white Game Boy screens to the world’s biggest franchise by nice characterization balances, Japanese vibrance, genre-diverse weekly adventures from horror to sci-fi to action to western, lore/overworld expansion, visual aptitude, hilarious meta-comedy, iconic ’90’s rock theme, & structure laying the blueprint for the world’s longest-running animé just like its games did the series, The OG Animé is highly-addictive, effortlessly-watchable, pure Saturday-morning sugary-cereal crazed fun.

The Soundtrack & Main Theme

From The Epic ’80s Rock Ballad By James Paige Of A Colorful Motivational Tale Since Become An Iconic Theme Of A Generation, A Soundtrack Extrapolating 8-Bit Originals Remastered

Photograph Courtesy Of: TV Tokyo x The Pokémon Company

From its opening drumroll and electric guitar arpeggio, the soundtrack of the original PKMN animé is special. The epic ’80’s-esque classic rock-ballad by James Paige feels like Motley Crüe, Van Halen, KISS, or Led Zeppelin – shockingly-reframed in a kids’ motivational tale of pure effervescence, singalong catchiness, personality, and energy like being hit by a Zap Cannon every time you hear that drum drop: a magic ~95% of other TV shows/cartoons lack in being able to grip you musically before the show even starts. There’s a reason the song has since [predictively] become iconic: one of the greatest and most famous theme songs in the history of television. The soundtrack as a whole is great and this theme is only a precursor to consistently high-quality musicianship, extrapolating beyond the 8-bit polygonal sonicisms of the original games to make a finely-tuned canvas of orchestration on melodies diverse enough to break your heart in the many emotional big character moments/goodbyes one moment, and make you laugh simply by Pink Panther-esque sleuthing bassoons signifying the presence of Team Rocket the next. The show utilizes clever features to grow/aggrandize its franchise acoustically as well, like a) ‘Who’s That Pokémon?’ quizzing the viewer by lone silhouette to challenge/encourage internalization and memorization of the names, types, morphology, etc. of the original 151 within the commercial breaks put to positive cash-flow/marketing use, and the uber-catchy b) ‘Poké-rap’ at the end of each episode. The visuals parallel this; no secret being the biggest challenge of a Pokémon TV series or movie, painting creatures of godlike elemental powers/abilities battling it out with thunderbolts, ice beams, earthquakes, flamethrowers, psychic energy, and more is a make-or-break task – in any era, let alone the comparative technological-nescience of the ’90’s with the budget of a TV cartoon by a near-bankrupt company finally able to pay its employees for the first time in the half a decade after R/B/G/Y.

The Creator As A Protagonist

Satoshi Tajiri As A 10 Year-Old: A Charismatic, Brave, Energy-Positive, [Com/]passionate Main Character The Series Could Evolve Around – As Electrifying & Potential-Rife As His Yellow Mouse The Animé Elevated To Franchise/World Icon

Photograph Courtesy Of: TV Tokyo x The Pokémon Company

The visuals also manage to paint a panegyric to nature through the portraitures of natural landscapes in the breathtaking real-world Japan-modeled Kanto region that serve as backgrounds. Rewatching the animé 25+ years later, it’s remarkable how well they were able to multi-dimensionalize and bring to life the concept of Pocket Monsters beyond the dual-staged chesslike [static] screen of the video games. Battles have a dynamism to them, epitomize the gladitorial excitement from the series’ opening Gengar v. Onix stadium match, eulogize the Japanese kaiju roots of the IP, and further highlight the badassery and genius of Pokémon’s creatures – balanced with accentuated cuteness elsewhere to proof-of-concept why the franchise boasts the greatest fictional concept of all-time. There are even some epic cinematography twinges like the Spearow confrontation in the original episode: a series delivering on its audiovisuals while also managing to be very faithful to the games in everything from its color-themed cities to trainer-lined routes to beautiful natural landscapes to even characters and cameos of our gaming adventure in Kanto. Beyond its sensory package, the indigo league animé thrives by its genre/tone-diversification and characterization. Most striking to us going back to revisit our beloved childhood series we spent many-a-Saturday morning in pajamas with sugary cereals in front of the TV watching – now with grown-up eyes and critical analytics – is how genre and theme-diverse the weekly adventures are.

The Classic Animé & Japanese Aesthetics

A Visual Canvas Of Natural Landscapes & Genre Aesthetics With Globalist Legacy Popularizing Animé & Japanese Culture Through Pure Saturday-Morning Sugary Cereal Cartoon Glory

Photograph Courtesy Of: TV Tokyo x The Pokémon Company

Episodes balance everything from Old Spaghetti-Western Showdowns to Gang-Wars to Science-Fiction to Abandonment Parable to Animal Rights/Cruelty Exposition to Kaiju to Ninja/Spy Action to Superheroicism to Psychic Powers to a whole lot of horror: most impressive of the bunch being how it quite often goes dark and surprisingly-morose in episodes like Ghost Of Maiden’s Peak, Abra And The Psychic Showdown, Tower Of Terror, etc. For a series marketed ostensibly for a children’s demographic down to the 4Kids Entertainment, Inc. subsidiary at the end of each U.S.A. premiere translation, it’s quite maturely-written – and there’s a heck of a lot of enjoyment, sly references, repartée, double-entendres, dark themes, and rewatch-value for older viewers few childhood TV series manage to still entertain on. That’s not even taking into account the fact that the American 4Kids premieres consistently changed and kidified the original japanese scripts – including prevention of several episodes from even airing by controversy or too-dark tonicism like guns and sexed-up nudity. Heck, the entire franchise’s main characters nearly die in the first episode of the series – saved by a jaw-dropping scene of character-development that cemented its two major protagonists for a generation. The protagonist being a 10-year old version of the creator of Pokémon: Satoshi Tajiri [English: Ash Ketchum, renamed because Americans have trouble with foreign names] is a masterpiece Easter Egg – and a main character-crux the entire world of Pokémon can and did revolve around.

The Game’s Adventure, Evolved

For The Masterpiece Of R/B/G/Y, Its 8-Bit Stylization & Video Game Genre Limited Experience To 2D The Animé Fixed & Redeclared: The Greatest Fictional Idea Ever Dreamed

Photograph Courtesy Of: TV Tokyo x The Pokémon Company

We love, love, love Ash Ketchum – energy-bursting, charismatic, brave, hungry, gregarious, [com/]passionate ball-of-fire moxie and determinism you can’t help but root for and respect by how much the underdog from Pallet Town loves the creatures of its world. We’ve seen people argue they would’ve liked Red better or would’ve redesigned him from the start, but Ash is the perfect protagonist by Rocky-esque down-under spirit and incompetence – making for a far more interesting journey of characterization, storytelling, tribulation, and growth than if he would’ve just won every battle and trained his Pokémon effortlessly without problems from the start like Red does to become champion while barely breaking a sweat. Everything about Tajiri’s avatar is just perfect – Veronica Taylor’s spunky voice capturing his personality, the fact he’s clearly a main character of non-white Japanese origins rebuking the industry-catalyzed pressure to bow to white-conformist notions, his starter-synergized iconic outfit of red, blue, and green in a vest/hat combo rocking the costume scene ever since, etc.

The Birth Of The Franchise Mascot

Featured Only On One Route In R/G/B/Y Less Thhan Pidgey & Rattata, Our Favorite Electric Mouse Would’ve Been Nothing Without The Animé Recognizing Its Potential & Perfection – Buoyed By Sparky Characterization/Growth; Rocky Early Relationship

Photograph Courtesy Of: TV Tokyo x The Pokémon Company

That brings us to Pikachu. The now-icon of the entire franchise and series known omnipotently across the world as one of fiction’s most famous characters owes ~100% credit of presence to the animé. Our favorite yellow mouse with rabbit and squirrel biological characteristics – so pop-culturally famous, it’s the official symbol of the nation of Japan, representing them on the world’s biggest stages: Olympics, United Nations, & more – is only featured fleetingly for a few seconds on one route in the Red/Blue/Green/Yellow video games: less than even Pidgey and Rattata. The visionism to recognize the mascot-potential and archetypal perfection of the indescribably-adorable electric rodent is a lifetime achievement by the animé, one it’s no wonder was given it’s very own version of the video game after the TV series skyrocketed [that also redesigns the adventure to clearly-homage the animé]. This is made even better by the fact that Pikachu is.. kind of characterized as an a**hole at first. Ash and Pikachu are now obviously soulmate best-friends for a generation, but it didn’t start out that way – a rocky relationship so bad and mistrustful, Ash had to use rubber gloves to avoid 1,000V voltage electrocution, pull with a rope, and fight wild pokémon with his bare hands when Pikachu refused to obey and fight for him, instead napping on the sidelines in disobeyance.

The Globalization Of Animé

Though Cute & Vibrant Enough For Target Young Demographics, Plenty Of Epic Fare, Dark Themes, & Mature Subtext For Older Viewers; The Series ~Most Popularizing JPN Culture & Animé On TV

Photograph Courtesy Of: TV Tokyo x The Pokémon Company

That noontime siesta is rudely-interrupted by the gangsters of the pokéworld: Spearows bringing our heroes to the brink of destruction. Ash sacrificing himself post-soliloquy against the foreshadowing thunderstorms and a crescendoing orchestral ballad makes for an all-time great TV/animé moment of maximum epicness – one of brilliance in showing-not-saying convincial trust-earning proving to Pikachu his love for him and inspiring him to save them with a lightning strike for the ages, electrifying the sparrows and jumpstarting a friendship of a generation an entire franchise could be built on. The major characters of Pokémon’s animé are absolutely sensational; a canvas and chemical formula so painstakingly-crafted, perfect, and balanced, it can [like its gameplay’s one the series’ gameplay has never had to even majorly diverge from for 20+ years and generations of billions in revenue] and has taken the series through over 1,000+ episodes wherein most TV series can barely get through 10 in one season. The spunky, water-loving redhead charm of Misty is a perfect female protagonist – one whose fiery personality masks romantic feelings for Ash in quite likely the biggest and most rootable ‘ship in the history of cartoons [and one of the biggest in TV. Period. Jim and Pam from The Office level]. Their chemistry is so fizzy, fire/water elemental dynamic so balanced, and love/hate reciprocity so good masking deeper complexions you can feel in every frame but neither wants to admit, this is a love-arc for the ages – one hinted at magnificently by the writers with warm, jovial teases of butterflies from their first fateful meeting on the waterbank.. and even given a conclusive answer of the original animé’s plan for the couple in the Japanese promo for Pokémon: The First Movie.

The Diversification Of Tone/Genre

Diverse As Its Original 151 Creatures, Genres From Westerns To Sci-Fi To Kaiju To Coming-Of-Age To Ninja To Romance To Action/Adventure To Horror & Foremost: Comedy

Photograph Courtesy Of: TV Tokyo x The Pokémon Company

The promo shows a grown-up Misty with a child bearing her bangs and Ash’s exact facial characteristics, playing with a close-friendship Pikachu as the dialogue states her father is out being a Pokémon trainer. Though never officially confirmed, there is no doubt this signifies Ash and Misty get married and have children in the future: a planned flash-forward finale for the animé post-movie if it had not been renewed for a S2 and Generation 2 in Johto; a true series finale of remarkable viewer-satisfaction only retconned to keep the animé running through future gens. Misty’s cerulean magnetism and fiery redhead valor also makes her a strong female protagonist, whose personality and squabbles alongside the similarly-immature Ash are grounded [pun-intended] by the mature and rock-hard firmness of Brock.. at least, until he sees a beautiful girl and gets thirst-trapped by insatiable lover boy simp energy in one of the funniest running-gags on the show. The interplay – again, having the visionism to take two normal/run-of-mill gym leaders from the games and make them main beloved main characters foundation to the core of Pokémon we simply couldn’t imagine the series without – is phenomenal characterizationally: a trinity of main characters for a lifetime to journey on an adventure of 1,000+ episodes. They’re not only personality-balanced, but majestically voice-acted [the definitive version of each character, especially Veronica Taylor as the only true Ash in CLC’s vote and one of the greatest & most iconic/irreplaceable voices definitive of childhood] and culturally-diverse too: a white ginger girl, Japanese main character, and Black/Asian-mixed guy.

The Trinity

The Best 3 Characters In PKMN History In Overworld Of R/B/G/Y’s Legendary Cast Cinematized; A Balance Of Chemistry & Personality As Elemental As Its Type-Charts

Photograph Courtesy Of: TV Tokyo x The Pokémon Company

The rest of the main characters of the series – again – nod to the original games, but are extrapolated to three-dimensional cameos of cartoon pleasure and unforgettable characterization. Nurse Joy is beyond just the jovial presence greeting us at Pokémon centers: a sweet-and-saccharine recurring cameo caring deeply about her job and the health of her monstrous patients, Officer Jenny is a surprising injection of robust feminism leading the entire overworld’s police force [with her doppelgänger cousins stationed in each city as a meta-joke commenting on the games’ similarity in cameos across regions], Gary is even more of a cocky douchebro than R/B/G/Y, etc. Gym leaders are given backstory-exposition and depth as well. Sabrina being a prodigal psychic-child of loneliness and fractured-duality so sharp, she physically split herself into two and turned her own parents and any losing challengers into dolls her younger self only wanting friends could play with is the best of the bunch – a masterpiece of heartbreaking, wildly-mature, and even dark themes it’s striking to see in this type of show, alongside otherwise perfect archetypes Erika’s shy and plantlike fragility and Lt. Surge’s electrifying veteran bawdiness. The animé comprehensively further proves why Generation 1 has the best franchise characters of all-time, and lifts them near-perfectly while giving new flavor and layers. The creatures are just as much characters as the humans in the PKMN animé.

One Of The Beest Villains Of TV

An Injection Of Pure Comedy Masquerading As The Villain, A Magnificently-Vocalized, LGBTQ+-Liquid, Hopelessly-Incompetent, Meta Second-Trinity Of Perfectly-Balanced Characterization: A Socially-Commentative Remix Of Red/Blue’s Evil Antagonists W. Themes Of Millennials And Capitalism

Photograph Courtesy Of: TV Tokyo x The Pokémon Company

From Psyduck, the lovably-awkward/inept chubby-clutz amongst the funniest characters in the series, to the ghastly shrieking-lady trainer-snacking Victreebel to adorable mousiness of Pikachu to humorous social-commentary of Jigglypuff as the entertainer no one wants to hear and falls asleep during her act as a proto ‘check out my soundcloud’, the Pokémon are given top-tier characterization. This goes further to the starters: Charmander being the victim of cold-hearted abandonment and abusive relationship allegory learning to love and trust again, Squirtle being a mischievous gang-leader of the Squirtle Squad acting out of internalized inferiority-complex by abandonment and masculinity themes finding himself enough to quit the tough-guy façade with Ash, Bulbasaur being protector of a sick-and-injured hidden village and creatures like a metaphorized nature, Charizard’s humorous hubris and overpowered flame-charged refusal to listen to Ash as a low-level trainer, etc. They all eventually learn to trust Ash and become mainstays on his team through fantastic character-arcs, and this is paralleled by many impressive storylines and alternative character-pokemon as well – such as allegorical parables like Erika’s Gloom teaching to evolve past stereotypification and defense mechanisms scripted as a bad smell and Lt. Surge’s Raichu showing that bigger and stronger isn’t always better. This is all nothing, though, in comparison to the series’ best characters and achievement: Team [Not-So] Rocket.

The Romance Teases & Emotion

The Ultimate ‘Ship Of TV Cartoons & One Of TV’s Most Rootable To-Date, A Dream Couple Hinted With Maximum Delicacy & Secrecy: Ash x Misty Alongside A Plethora Of [Very] Emotional Ep’s

Photograph Courtesy Of: TV Tokyo x The Pokémon Company

Team Rocket might just be the best part of Indigo League: one of the best villain teams in TV history. The cornerstone of the series’ hilarious comedy-stylization brings weekly slapstick, tongue-in-cheek humour, vaudeville, wordplay, and failure to the adventure by their side-splittingly inept, bankrolled-by-criminal-organization plans to capture Pikachu that fail in new spectacular ways for over 52 weeks straight! Every week they fail, it gets funnier – a running joke for the ages of anime history befit with meta-brilliance [e.g.: ‘How did you guys escape?’ ‘That’s a secret; the writers can’t figure it out either’] and characterization-balance that evokes pure smiles every time you hear that sleuthy Pink Panther-esque oboe/bassoon theme signifying their presence. They serve as a double-reflexive underdog it’s easy to root for; Ash is already an underdog from Gary and the rest of the nameless Kanto trainers he’s constantly behind against for a protagonist that plays on our classic USA desire to see the average joe win one day, but Team Rocket are yet another one even lower on the totem pole by how comically-incompetent they are as thieves who have failed to steal even a single Pokémon, perpetually more concerned with spewing a goofy, fun motto every time they appear than even once successfully competing a bad guy mission or accomplishing their mission.

Every New Feature ~Ever Introduced In PKMN, Featured In An S1 Episode

Shiny & Future Gens (Ho-Oh), Dynamax (Dragonite At Lighthouse, Mega-Evolution (Gyarados), Terastralization (Crystal Onix), Regional Variants/Formes (Psychic Surf Pika), Etc. All Introduced And Featured In S1 Episodes: Prognostication Pudding-Proof Of Imagination And Genius Of Indigo League, Like R/B/G/Y In Gen. 1 Laying Foundation & Blueprint For Next 10+ Years Of Generations

Photograph Courtesy Of: TV Tokyo x The Pokémon Company

The narcissistic self-delusions of vainglory and bossy pants-wearer of the group Jessie, high-squealing farcical capriciousness of the wealth-rejecting James [impressively voice-acted by the same James Stewart who plays Brock & easily our favorite character of the entire show besides Ash], & New York/Boston-accented tough guy love-lost tragicomedy of Meowth are simply perfection in balance and genius chemical-formula dynamic that works for 1,000+ episode lengths just as much as its main character one does: a second trinity within the same show. Also of worthy exposition is how Team Rocket was far ahead of its time, and packed with depth behind-the-scenes. They flip traditional gender-roles not only characterizationally by not only how Jessie’s girlboss pugnaciousness/leadership is more in-line with male antagonists and James is more of a subservient and gentle malewife, but even externally by touches like subversively-colored hair and frequent crossdressing [proudly, as well]: LGBTQ+ representation sneaked impossibly into a kids’ show motif back in the less-progressive ’90’s. I used to think Team Rocket was just funny growing up – but now realize how geniusly they were scripted beyond comedy, not only representationally, but also metaphorically. Team Rocket has seen a resurgence of popularity in The Social Media Age, perhaps by young generations recognizing similarities, relatability, and projections between themselves and Jessie, James, & Meowth. The Team Rocket trio’s incompetence, pretentiousness, entitlement, and work-fun balance, sadly, evoke allegorical comparisons to Millennial characteristics, as has been humorously memeified extensively in the poké-community.

One Flaw: The Orange Islands

The Tropical Island Motif Is A Great Adventure Eventually-Fixed In Generation 7: Alola, But Here Limited & After 60+ Same-Episodes: Tiresome

Photograph Courtesy Of: TV Tokyo x The Pokémon Company

Their financial situation and dynamic also breathes themes of capitalism and generational gaps: 20-something year olds in major debt working for little to no pay [every new college graduate can relate] for a tyrannical boss whom they desperately want to impress and receive praise/promotions from, but doesn’t respect and even views the low-level workers as expendable/non-important. Hilarious *and* smart! If we’re talking legacy, innovation, and multi-culturalism too, the Pokémon animé holds major legacy in TV history. It’s quite arguably *the* series that opened the world’s eyes outside of Asia to the brilliance of Japanese culture and animé as a genre and beautiful artform pop-culturally, growing it to the phenomenon it is today by Gen. Z/Millennials who likely got their first-ever taste from Pokémon [along with Dragon Ball Z earlier, but Pokémon is 10x bigger]. Now, the original 52-week run of the Pocket Monsters animé is near-perfect and easily tracking in the 9.2/10+’s… but it’s tainted by its requisite conclusion in the exponentially-inferior Orange Islands. The Orange Islands arc and decision makes absolutely *no* sense. The area isn’t even in original canon and has ~nothing to do with Kanto or any part of the previous series; it feels like a completely separate arc of proto-Alola six generations before so [and infinitely inferior in every way]. It’s a peculiar, idiosyncratic plot-decision filled with shortcomings and half-baked ideas – but what it does right, it does very well. There are plenty enough classic episodes feeling right out of and even competing with the best Indigo League had to offer: ones that flesh out the characterization with backstories exploring character origins and raison d’être like Go West Young Meowth, ones that revisit and remix old Kanto experiences like The Misty Mermaid, meta ones like Lights Camera Quack-Tion!, emotional story pieces like Snow Way Out and The Pi-Kahuna, ones that expand the lore like To Master The Onixpected and The Puzzle Of Pokémopolis, tons of battle-focused episodes like its phenomenal Drake battle multi-parter finale arc, and ones that highlight some of Gen 1’s biggest names: Charizard, Blastoise, Lapras, and Snorlax.

A Bizarre Character-Switch

Most Vexatious About Orange Islands Is The Awful Character-Swap From Brock To A New Guy Of Sketchable Acclimitization: Tracy

Photograph Courtesy Of: TV Tokyo x The Pokémon Company

Each of what would be widely-considered the Top 5 Kanto Pokémon is given their own arc/showcase – from Beach Blankout Blastoise to Charizard’s blazing volcanic fight against Blaine on Cinnabar Island to Ash [finally] getting a few more epic monsters on his roster to take through the rest of the gyms and into The Indigo Plateau and Orange League. The battles are fantastic too – and we love love love the decision to finally have Ash win a championship (we just wish it was in a more important tournament)! The lead-ins to Mewtwo Strikes Back and Generation 2 are palpable – a breathtaking return to Viridian Gym that spooks even Gary into silence at the sight of armored Mewtwo’s godlike powers and the appearance of several G2 icons like Togepi and Marrill by a new trainer. Now to the many negatives: we *hate* Tracy Sketch’m – well, we don’t hate him as much as the handling of him. A watered-down, whitebread/mayo personality that feels like a product placement for some kind of sketch game [one that never came out? Todd would’ve made more sense seeing how Snap became a big spinoff hit for the series on N64], he’s not horrible and has a decently-interesting team of Scyther, Marill, Venonat, etc. – but is a wildly-forgettable and ~boring, safe character shoved upon us by the inexcusable, badly-executed, borderline-insulting replacement of Brock. Though he returns at the end of the season to save us going into Generation 2 (thank God), the decision to leave the team for some rando-girl’s lab after a one-time meeting is underwhelming and is meaningless shock-value trying to fix something that was far from broke. Was there litigation or financial troubles? Did studio-execs not like the actor? Previous or otherwise engagements? No; those excuses wouldn’t even have worked seeing how Eric Stuart obviously stayed in the booth every week voicing James, so why couldn’t he have done Brock too while he was there?

A Phenomenal Ending Arc

The Orange League Finale Vs. Drake Is The Elite Four We Never Got In Indigo League & Supplies Epic Battle Action Of Any Pokéfan’s Dreams; Clean Character-Arcs And Tranisitons To Johto

Photograph Courtesy Of: TV Tokyo x The Pokémon Company

The plot-hole and disappointment of losing one of the series’ best and most iconic characters is as strange a quandary as its plot-motif. The idea sounds good on paper – islands and tropical environments are the most beautiful settings for the adventurousness core to the world’s heart and it does make a few smart decisions like exploring the surfing beyond HM’s and featuring more biological exposition like food source prompting micro-evolutionary changes on the island of pink pokemon. However, it’s executed horrifically: way too similar and bland. The islands are pretty much all the exact same, and for 60+ episodes.. a tiresome, low-reaching, one-note, boring drag that feels like a huge letdown after Indigo League. We could’ve just ended a phenomenal Kanto run the same way it began without this whole Orange Islands schtick that brings siphons energy and vivacity. Great features like the aesthetic serving as a soft-intro to Johto, more teases of Ash and Misty’s budding romance with spicy quotes like ‘could a kiss really change a person?’ ‘we’ll have to find out..’, and comical obliviousness of Ash to her crush on him with quotes like ‘Romance is the most important thing in the world!’ ‘Not more important than catching more Pokémon!’ in addition to its aforementioned pros do make it a passable/overlookable flaw, but it definitely taints the experience of the Kanto anime.


A TV Animé Of Legacy & Importance

A Proof-Of-Concept With Great Characterization, Japanese Vibrance, A+ Vocal Acting, An Iconic Theme, Visual Dynamism, & Genre-Diverse Weekly Adventures, The OG Animé Was Instrumental In Evolving The 2D Video Game To World’s Biggest Franchise – & Entertaining To-Date

Photograph Courtesy Of: TV Tokyo x The Pokémon Company

Overall, The Gen. 1 Pokémon Animé is a huge reason Pocket Monsters has become the biggest media franchise of all-time. Not an overstatement, the original 52-week run was instrumental in proof-of-concepting the IP beyond 2D and mechanizing the evolution of its view by the general public, breathing new life and flesh out the idea and characters of the pop-culture revolutionizing video games: Red/Blue/Green/Yellow. The weekly adventures are genre-diverse inn everything from westerns to horror to comedy to sci-fi, villain hilariously-remixed into a socially-commentative criticism of big-business capitalism and millennialsbefit with slapstick and Pikachu-capturing incompetence, soundtrack iconic from its opening rock power-ballad theme, and visual capability impressive in extrapolating the dual-staged chesslike stillness of the VG screen-version to real-life battles of godlike creatures wielding thunderbolts, flamethrowers, ice beams, and earthquakes. All of this is nothing, though, compared to the series’ heart on its sleeve and best achievement: characterization. The Pokémon Animé established not only one, but two trinities of characters – both protagonists [Ash, Misty, and Brock – a perfect elemental/type balance like its monsters in personality under the experience of the creator of Pokémon as the main character] and antagonists [Jessie, James, and Meowth – an LGBTQ+-liquid, gender-role flipping team villain balancing social satire and comic book mischief with comedy]. The Pokémon themselves get great characterization too: from abusive relationship allegory in Charmander to masculinity exposition in Squirtle’s Squad to the disrespected singer Jigglypuff to lovably-awkward pudgy-clutz Psyduck to the face of the franchise lifted like the rest of its characters from a potentially-forgettable side cameo in the games to superstardom on a global scale: Pikachu. The only flaw of the animé, though its a sizable one, is forsaking a clear-cut ending to go to a bizarre, canon-violating, premise-tiresome, episode-overlong tropical Orange Islands arc that makes dumb character changes and siphons energy/authenticity from the perfect accompaniment TV series to the original games. Of course, this is easily overlookable in the grand scheme and an animé that holds a dear place in ’90’s kids’ hearts and still [incredibly-and-impossibly unlike the vast majority of demographic shows] holds up even watching it back as a full-grown adult 20+ years later. A TV evolution of concept potential from 8-Bit black-and-white video game screens to the world’s biggest franchise by fine characterization, Japanese vibrance, genre-diverse weekly adventures from horror to sci-fi, lore/overworld expansion, visual aptitude, hilarious meta-comedy, & iconic ’90’s rock theme, The OG Animé is legendary kids’ entertainment and pure saturday morning, sugary-cereal crazed cartoon magnificence.

Official CLC Score: 8.7/10