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Thursday, October 21, 2021

Pokémon Evolutions Episodes 1–4 Impressions

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - The first half, or Generations 8, 7, 6, and then 5.

In September, The Pokémon Company International announced a new, limited animated series: Pokémon Evolutions. They have eight episodes, one for each generation or region. The first four (starting with Galar) have now been released, and there's a break in the schedule where there won't be another episode until the start of December, and then they'll release one every week to finish it off before the end of 2021.

The concept is similar to Pokémon Generations, except that was back in 2016 when there were only six generations (I think it was to celebrate the 20-year anniversary while now we're in the 25-year anniversary), so they gave each region three episodes. There's less episodes this time. It's also a little similar to the Pokémon: Twilight Wings mini-series dedicated to world-building in Galar. I think that means every region has had previous special animated attention except for Alola. Oh well. Let's see what I think of the first half of Pokémon Evolutions!

By the way, the episodes definitely spoil end-game plot details of the games they're based on. It turns out that's their entire purpose, actually! Just a warning.

The Champion | Pokémon Evolutions Episode 1—Galar Region

This episode is obviously based on Leon the Galar Champion. He was also the focus of much of the activity in Twilight Wings. Oh, and his Charizard is in this too, because of course. I wonder if we'll see more Charizard in the other episodes too.

The episode goes into Leon's thoughts (though I don't really know what he's thinking besides that he's incompetent), as well as the climactic showdown with Zacian and Zamazenta against Eternatus and Eternatus's Eternamax form in the modern Darkest Day. Apparently it's canon that the silent main character plays Pokémon Sword and picked Sobble→Inteleon as their starter.

Maybe it's because I have zero attachment to Galar (I boycotted Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield and stuck to that) but... I found nothing to really like in this first episode. Ouch. Moving to the next one?

The Eclipse | Pokémon Evolutions Episode 2—Alola Region

Since Alola hasn't ever received an animated production like this before, there's a lot at stake for this episode to be good.

It starts with the beginning events of the game with Lillie having flashbacks to Lillie and Nebby on the bridge, getting further flashbacks to her cold mother, Lusamine. Then it skips to the climactic moment where Lusamine opened up the Ultra Wormhole, with Lillie then having to save her mother with the aid of the silent protagonist. Nebby (Cosmoem) evolved into Lunala.

This episode is clearly based on the Pokémon Ultra Moon, given that the episode boss is Necrozma and not Nihilego. Necrozma eventually defeats and absorbs Lunala, transforming into Dawn Wings Necrozma. Eventually, the protagonist offers to do something, but the episode ends by then in a cliffhanger never to be followed up on. Well, at least not in animated form.

The Visionary | Pokémon Evolutions: Episode 3—Kalos Region

Following the trend of the other episodes, this episode focuses on the climactic legendary summon of Xerneas, as Team Flare boss Lysandre wishes to use Xerneas to power a doomsday device to obliterate the world. Unfortunately for him, the silent protagonist already has Xerneas (so this is Pokémon X), who Moonblasts Lysandre's Mega Gyarados to knock it out, sending Lysandre into a salty rage. Perhaps if he didn't Mega Evolve it, it wouldn't have been a super-effective one-hit knockout. Lysandre then reflects on what lead him to this point, his desire for Kalos to remain beautiful.

Lysandre then tries to grant immortality to everyone, which no one wanted. ...And it's unclear if it was granted, or what happened to Lysandre afterwards. Presumably it failed and he's dead, since there's a Holocast in his memory after.

The Plan | Pokémon Evolutions: Episode 4—Unova Region

At least this episode starts in a more interesting way, from Ghetsis's perspective as he's flashbacking on how he found N and made him Team Plasma's king.

The scene then goes to the famous Team Plasma propaganda gathering at Accumula Town, where the main protagonist (and her Tepig) watch the speech about Pokémon liberation.

Fast-forward to N reawakening Zekrom with the Dark Stone, which makes this Pokémon Black. N then easily defeats the pathetic champion Alder and his Volcarona, as well as his whimpering pleas to not separate people and Pokémon. The episode ends with the protagonist about to summon Reshiram for a fight against Zekrom.

Pokémon Evolution The Plan N's Zorua Darmanitan nature forest happy
As of breaking news today, both Zorua and DARMANITAN have regional variations outside of Unova!

I liked this episode the most because it's the furthest away from just being an animated version of in-game cutscenes. Of course, really everything here is retreaded and doesn't embellish on our understanding of the regions’ history or happenings—unlike the Pokémon Generations series which took game events and added onto those. I think that's a wasted opportunity.

You should expect another one of these articles at the end of December when the last four episodes are published. Let Ludwig know in the comments section if you're fine with the lower level of ambition in Pokémon Evolutions. He mostly wonders what will happen in Johto, because he doesn't know what one would consider the end-game moment there.

Here is the article with the final four episodes!

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