Warning: Potential Spoilers
The Pokemon anime burst into the popularity scene back when it release in the 90’s, and since then, Ash and friends have traveled across various regions in what apparently was less than a year. Nevertheless, the game of Pokemon has always been quite popular since its inception of Red, Blue/Green, and Yellow versions. With its addictive, catch ’em all gameplay and slight incremental upgrades with each version, Pokemon has claimed a spot as one of the most, if not the most, beloved video game franchise in the history of video games. Although Ash’s journey never really did follow the game’s canon, after years of Pokemon adventures, we now have a special series of episodes centered around the original protagonist, Red.
Pokemon: The Origins is a 4-episode special covering the events found in Pokemon Red/Blue/Green versions, and it pays tribute to the history of Pokemon, as well as introducing a future mainstay mechanic that will be introduced through Pokemon X and Y. Since this isn’t a short, 13-episode series, or a seasonal 25-episode series, quite a few things have been cut, such as most of the gym leader battles and the journey from one town to another. Of course, if the original Pokemon anime was any indication, if we did see Red’s journey from one town to another, we’d probably have quite a few monotonous strings of episodes with mostly irrelevant information spread throughout.
With that said, the pacing is quite good, although we’d wish that we could see more of Red’s journey aside from the few major points highlighted within the special. The first episode is relatively simple and straightforward: the anime introduces you to most of the main characters and explains the story in a pretty good amount of depth. The sub-arcs within the special are indeed integral to the story, but we can’t help but feel that there should’ve been more that could’ve been added to the series.
The rivalry between Red and Green stays faithful to the games; although its childish, what would you expect? These are a couple of 10-year-olds fighting against each other in a friendly rivalry. The anime itself does a great job fleshing out their relationship as they run in to each other on their separate-yet-common journey.
Even Team Rocket, although portrayed as minor annoyances that wreak havoc among the common people, have a better personality than the ones found in Ash’s anime arcs–combined. There’s not much to say about them, but Giovanni was definitely given more of a personality than Meowth’s dream guy (reverse bestiality?).
The art style is definitely retro-styled, with clean, thin lines and soft colors scattered throughout the series. It’s definitely reminiscent of the classic Pokemon art as well, but it also combines some incredible modern day animations that you’ll just have to experience for yourself. Sure, it’s nothing like Attack on Titan’s climactic fight scenes, but it is something pretty unique to Pokemon (we’d wish it could be integrated with the actual Pokemon anime!).
Overall, Pokemon: The Origins is an incredible, but short, anime special that pays tribute to the story of Red. It’s well-done, but it does feel a bit rushed at times. The story moves at a breakneck pace, and only those who’ve played the original games can really get a feel for what’s really going on in between the main sequences, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. This special was aimed for the millions of players who’ve played the original games, and it’s a nostalgic trip that mixes the old with an introduction of the future. It only makes us wonder if we’ll see subsequent sequels based around the main protagonists from the other games, after all, who wouldn’t want to see Gold face up against the dark, veteran Red?