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Thursday, December 23, 2021

Pokémon Evolutions Episodes 5–8 Impressions

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - The first half, or Generations 4, 3, 2, and then 1. ...Well, their remakes.

Two months ago, I wrote about the first four episodes of The Pokémon Company's eight-part miniseries, Pokémon Evolutions. The series went on a hiatus until the start of December, and then since then, they have rolled out the second four episodes, with the last one releasing today. These are quite popular and high-budgeted affairs, and it's to cap off the 25-year anniversary of the franchise.

As a warning... these episodes spoil the games they are based on. Since the last four episodes focus on Sinnoh, Hoenn, Johto, and Kanto, their stories and lore shouldn't surprise you, because all of those games are quite old. However, if you're going through them for the first time (such as with the recent Sinnoh or Kanto remakes—and note that the Hoenn and Kanto episodes are specifically based on their remakes from the 2010s), then... that's just something to keep in note before watching. Without further ado:

The Rival | Pokémon Evolutions Episode 5—Sinnoh Region




Sinnoh's episode focuses on the rivalry between Barry (the protagonist's rival) to his father, the Battle Tower Tycoon Palmer, and Team Galactic Commander Jupiter. The latter evolved at Lake Acuity (incidentally, I'm at the Snowpoint City Gym in my Pokémon Shining Pearl playthrough right now) and then finished at the Spear Pillar. Barry notably picked Piplup in this canon... and I guess it's Diamond, given Dialga's appearance. Somewhat like the game it's based on, the episode leaves a lot of aspects of Barry's character to be subtle, and doesn't go into the “annoying” parts of his character (fining people for being late or getting in the way).

The Rival Pokémon Evolutions Barry Staraptor flies in Sinnoh
The pre-Palmer moments are all flashbacks to chronicle Barry's development.
But if Barry is developed when he battles his father, why is he sending Staraptor against Palmer's Rhyperior
when he should've just switched to Empoleon?
(But at least Staraptor beat Palmer's Dragonite! And probably Milotic.)


Anyway, this episode is notably shorter than the other ones, except Episode 3. But I guess all Barry cares about is getting affirmation from his dad, instead of being the toughest and, say, beating the protagonist.

The Wish | Pokémon Evolutions Episode 6—Hoenn Region




Hoenn's episode is the longest of the series, and also the one I care least about in this article, since I never got the Hoenn remake and never experienced the Delta Episode for myself. A large part of the episode is a lore dump from Zinnia (also known as the Lorekeeper) to May. ...Well, Zinnia doesn't seem to care about May listening, since May falls off a platform and Zinnia keeps going with her story without even turning around to see if May is alright. (And she kind of wasn't.) The episode really doesn't make Zinnia sympathetic with that action, despite her saying she wants to protect the world from a large meteorite.

Still, a big plot point here is that Zinnia's whole destiny was to get Rayquaza to Mega Evolve to destroy the meteorite, but she's actually not the chosen one, despite her being raised that way. May's the chosen one. So Rayquaza just kind of ignored Zinnia upon being summoned, but responded to May, whose canonical starter was Mudkip—now an Ice Punching Mega Swampert. I like the detail of May throwing an Ultra Ball, unlike the normal anime, which would have used a normal Poké Ball. Then I guess Zinnia's last role was to help train Mega Rayquaza with her own Mega Salamence before Rayquaza would have to deal with the meteor. ...Which is left unseen in the episode.

The Show | Pokémon Evolutions: Episode 7—Johto Region




This is actually my favourite of the eight episodes, and from the ending of the previous article, you can read that I was most looking forward to how they'd treat the Johto episode. You see, Johto doesn't really have much in the way of a storyline, and the lore is a bit limited, too. So the episode takes place in Johto's main lore location, Ecruteak City. The game protagonist does little more than to walk through a busy street corner with a lot of cute slice-of-life things going on, such as a Kadabra ice-cream vendor and this guy walking with a cute Miltank.

Pokémon Evolutions The Show Miltank Yanma Ecruteak City
...This isn't my favourite JUST because Miltank makes a cameo...

In Ecruteak, we're treated as audience members to a play put on by the Kimono Sisters telling about the Brass Tower and the Bell Tower and how Lugia and Ho-Oh were there. But then Lugia's tower was wrecked by a lightning storm. We get to see the special effects put on by the Kimono Sisters in re-enacting the legend, which are so realistic that an audience member's Totodile instinctively wanted to put out the fire effects put on by Flareon. The only other Johto lore they could've done was something about the creation of Entei, Suicune, and Raikou, which was already covered in Pokémon Generations. Anyway, by the end, the Kimono Sisters get a standing ovation, and Lugia (the real one) is swimming around for some exercise.

The Discovery | Pokémon Evolutions: Episode 8—Kanto Region




This is the last episode, which came out today. It tells of an end-game event in Pokémon Let's Go, Pikachu! with Green, and Trace running into the Cerulean Cave (known as the Unknown Dungeon back in MY day) only to find that the player protagonist, Elaine, has already captured the Legendary Pokémon Mewtwo. For her part, Green is kind of vicious to the Nugget Bridge NPCs, which is accurate to her in-game portrayal. All of her Pokémon from the game got to be represented, ultimately including Mega Blastoise. I'd say the episode is well-paced and fairly exciting from start to finish. It doesn't go into lore since Kanto is REALLY lacking in that, but instead has amusing and engaging action scenes, including the Victreebel Vine Whip crevice crossing. The message here isn't about Kanto's history, but about catching them all, which is what Kanto was about back in the day.

As for the second half, it's fairly representative of the interaction that the player character has with Green, though this time the episode is from Green's point of view, which really makes it even better. Green is not only dynamic, but also caring for her Pokémon. Unfortunately for her, Mewtwo is way too powerful and gets the best of her.


Pokémon Evolutions The Discovery Mewtwo Pikachu Elaine be Green's funny confused face
If you can't beat them, ask them to join you.


Oh, and Melmetal exists, I guess.

I did like these second four episodes a lot better than the first four. I don't think that's necessarily a nostalgic take... though maybe it is. I don't THINK I have a ton of Kanto nostalgia, and I don't even like Pokémon Let's Go but I liked the episode based on it, so I think I can keep those thoughts separately and just think about the animation on display. Let me know in the comments section if you think otherwise. Overall, I'm happy they exist... though I will say, I disagree with people's takes that they should cancel the on-going anime and replace it with this. Pokémon Evolutions was made to tie very closely with in-game events, while the anime has a lot more creativity and flexibility in building upon and expanding its world. That's a crucial thing that shouldn't be taken away! ...Though if people really just want the main anime's budget to be increased, well, wouldn't we all? Also, I do prefer the anime's voice-acting for the Pokémon, as opposed to the animal snarling in Evolutions.



Which of these episodes was your favourite? Did Pokémon have a successful 25-year anniversary in 2021? Again, let KoopaTV know in the comments section!

2 comments :

  1. That's great that Johto got something good finally because I have to live with the knowledge that gen 2 is the worst Pokémon games ever, poor Girafarig who came from that gen.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Shame that Girafarig aren't found near Ecruteak, or else maybe one would appear in the episode.

      Delete

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