Author: Hidenori Kusaka
Publisher: Viz Media
Rating: All Ages
Release Date: June 2010
Synopsis: “On her search for famous Pokémon trainer Red, Yellow Caballero finds both human and Pokémon friends–and enemies. Now Yellow must team up with other trainers, gym leaders, and even evil Team Rocket to fight the Elite Four! Yellow Caballero, prepare to battle the Elite Four’s top trainer, Lance…!”
Red returns to the team in full force in this volume, bringing together the cast that’s been evolving up to this pinnacle point of the series to date. After following his adventures in the earlier volumes, it’s been interesting having Red in the background this entire time while following Yellow. It’s proven even more so because of the near legend-like status he’s earned for himself in the process. While the familiar face’s return is enjoyable, he also doesn’t overshadow everything (or everyone) that’s already present. Blue continues his battle with the ghost-wielding Agatha, Green with the psychic-powered Sabrina and Yellow working with Blaine to reach the final boss.
As always with this incarnation of the franchise, prepare for a few scenes that will may be cause for a double take, especially with the cute art style. Pokemon battles continue to thrive with an unexpected sense of realism, as far as fighting with small trained creatures you contain in hand-sized cases can get anyway. The trainers battle the opposing Pokemon as much as their Pokemon do, and take the hits to prove it. The real danger of the situations they find themselves in, be it in the middle of a lava flow or overtop a boiling pit of electrically charged water, provides a whole new level of suspense to the battles when it really feels there’s something at stake. It’s not uncommon for a trainer to leave a battle scraped, cut, bruised, burnt and maybe with a few broken bones for good measure.
This volume’s pinnacle battle is that of a fight against Lance – the strongest member of the Elite Four and a trainer of dragon Pokemon. Utilizing the power of the gym leader badges and a giant power amplifier, he unleashes a powerful, though mysteriously unrevealed Pokemon, with intent to claim it and destroy the world. Through a series of surprisingly not-inevitable events, Yellow ends up being the one left to face off against Lance. The battle between a team of first-level Pokemon and a professionally trained group of dragons definitely leans one-sided but the little-trainer-who-could continues to persevere with refreshing ingenuity. Granted the final strike is a little cheesy with a sort of everyone-lend-me-their-generic-power-to-defeat-the-enemy cop-out but the lead-up to the moment still helps it succeed with the intended climatic resolve.
When you step back and look at it, there’re so many characters in this volume now that all the different factions of the story have come together. You have the leads – Red, Blue, Green and Yellow – while also the head members of Team Rocket, the Elite Four and those they’ve all encountered along the way, from the gym leaders to the more personal of travel-acquaintances such as Bill the Pokemon expert. Despite the bulky cast, it never feels like it falls victim to over cluttering. The design of each is so distinct and their activities so individually defined, while still remaining a piece of the greater whole, that everything just works smoothly scene to scene. They all bring their own to the table – whether it’s being funny, admirable or just downright creepy.
Unfortunately this extra-thick volume of Pokemon marks the end of Yellow Callibro’s Pokemon journey, or at least our following of it as the story’s forefront focus. While fans of the series will still be pleased to have more to look forward to, the loss of such an amiable character definitely hits home as a loss. Talented, determined and cute as a proverbial button, Yellow was a fine Pokemon trainer and a great lead character. End scenes between Yellow and Red also prove heart-mushingly adorable – alas the one-sided love!
Remaining a finite balance of action, humour and franchise-familiarity, Pokemon Adventures brings together all the entertaining aspects of Pokemon past the gotta-catch-em-all material. Perfect for the existing fan or someone from the outside looking in, the series is still a bundle of entertainment and highly recommended for a fun, high-energy read. It’s already sad watching Yellow and the group go their separate ways from us but hopefully our next group of heroes – Silver and Gold – will offer all the same charm that made the original story such an addictive endeavour.