Pokémon Adventures, also known as Pokémon Special, is an odd yet charming recurring manga series that fans hold dearly. Created by Hidenori Kusaka in March 1997, Pokémon Adventures adapts from the core series of games into an intense and exciting new world full of memorable characters to embark on. The series started with Red and Blue and recently wrapped up its Black 2 and White 2 Chapter, which was postponed several times. Through good times and bad, this collection stood the test of time to be the best like no one ever was.
Pokémon Adventures is an anthology series that encompasses each Generation. The series started off with Red in the Kanto region aiming to defeat his rival Blue and become the Pokémon League Champion. Simple enough, right? That’s basically the plot of the games as well. However, where the manga differs is in execution of characters, battles, and yes, story.
It’s fair to say the Pokémon games are not synonymous with strong narratives (excluding Black and White). The objective of the games is normally find Pokémon, beat up evil team, become champion, complete Pokedex, move on to the next game, rinse and repeat. This extends to the anime as well. Pre-Sun and Moon, the Pokémon Anime follows Ash as he collects eight gym badges with Pikachu until he inevitably loses a league and moves on to another region. Pokémon Special differs from both the anime and games by switching up protagonists and infusing battles with a new set of rules. Adventures also follows a new protagonist each chapter and provides them with unique motivations, personality, and goals to strive towards.
Red wants to be the best Pokémon Trainer in the world, Gold wants to become a Pokémon breeder, Kris wants to complete the Pokedex, and Ruby wants to win all the Pokémon contests. These are aspects in the games the player can do all at once. However, by giving these different goals to multiple characters, it creates an entire cast and new world to play around with. And when they all inevitably come together to fight the giant kaiju Kyogre in the Emerald Chapter? Talk about a truly epic fight.
This is not your little brother’s Pokémon experience either. There are times in each chapter where people and Pokémon die. Hell Red is haunted by a zombie Psyduck in Lavender Town while facing off against a possessed Blue. This publication resonates with older Pokémon fans for more mature narrative elements and focus on character arcs. For better or worse, Red, Gold, Black, etc all have different personalities that separate themselves from each other.
Adventures is not afraid to take risks and do things different. May in particular is re-envisioned as a Tarzan-inspired jungle girl named Sapphire, whereas in the anime, May and Dawn are contest coordinators. It’s incredibly awesome to see a story where female Pokémon trainers are the main characters competing for the main gym challenge.
While the characters are infused with energry, so are the battles. The Pokemon fights leap off the page with tremendous energy and exciting angles. Trainers are attacked by Pokmeon as well, showing there is more to this world than pressing the A button. Every fight looks captivating and is filled with personal stakes, driving the plot forward. There’s never a dull moment, and every chapter furthers an arc. Every new Pokemon added to the team will play an important role later.
Satoshi Tajiri, creator of Pokémon, has approved of the series, stating that it most resembles the world he envisioned. Compared to the other Pokemon mangas I’ve researched for this article, this is definitely the publication to read for Pokemon fans. Other Pokémon Mangas are either filled with sexual fanservice or are written exclusively for adults. Adventures captures the whimsical environments from the games as well and provides an alternative for fans dissatisfied with the anime and games.
People who want another method to experience the wonderful world of Pocket Monsters should check this series out. It features an ensemble of great characters and their partner Pokémon. It also takes full advantage of Legendary and Mythical Pokémon by placing them front and center while giving them more attention and development. Catch it while you can — this series is the very best… like no one ever was.
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