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Review PE01: The Champion

Yash

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Goldfarb doing the music here is interesting. Is that the same for the Japanese version? The credits didn't list any other composer.
 

nickdt

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Lol. I love how this throws a spanner in the works for people who try to deduct the canon teams for the protagonist. Based on this, its Inteleon for Victor and then Rillaboom for Gloria, since Hop has Cinderace.
 
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I really enjoyed this one! I was afraid we were just going to get the Darkest Day plot again, but the somber aftermath and Leon’s inner struggles portrayed so masterfully without a single word really sold it.

Maybe this short isn’t anything groundbreaking in terms of plot, but it gives much depth and validation to a character who felt rather flat up until this point.

Also, can we talk about the amazing aesthetics? Wyndon feeling so alive and bustling, the energy and impact from Eternatus breaking out and the Wolves’ attacks, showing the whole stadium with the commentary hyping up the event, the quiet, moody lighting in Leon’s resting room brightened by Charizard’s warm flame... man, this is beautiful.
 

Rainbow-Rain

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Lol. I love how this throws a spanner in the works for people who try to deduct the canon teams for the protagonist. Based on this, its Inteleon for Victor and then Rillaboom for Gloria, since Hop has Cinderace.
Gloria doesn't exist in this Universe

The Rillaboom is Leon's lol
 

Rainbow-Rain

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Why is this gif is so funny to me? :ROFLMAO:
Tumblr_l_2261585438699928.gif
 

Neo Blaze

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Ehh... this episode was just stuff I've seen before and there wasn't much of a twist to it to make it more interesting to me. Not a great start but I can also see this being one of the weaker episodes to begin with given the recentness of Galar and its story. I'll choose to stay hopeful for the other episodes because the animation is obviously great (still not a huge fan of the artstyle though).
 

FinnishPokéFan92

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Ehh... this episode was just stuff I've seen before and there wasn't much of a twist to it to make it more interesting to me. Not a great start but I can also see this being one of the weaker episodes to begin with given the recentness of Galar and its story. I'll choose to stay hopeful for the other episodes because the animation is obviously great (still not a huge fan of the artstyle though).
This episode did focus on new stuff: how Leon reacted to the Eternatus event.
 

Neo Blaze

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This episode did focus on new stuff: how Leon reacted to the Eternatus event.
I never said there wasn't? I said there wasn't much of a twist to it. And nice that we got to see how Leon reacted to it, but to me personally that wasn't interesting enough to suddenly make me enjoy a story I've already seen a couple of times before.
 

Hidden Mew

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I thought that this was pretty good. I loved the visuals, especially the backgrounds, and seeing all of the Galar Pokemon in the background made me so happy. It does make me sad that we get more Galar attention from mini-series than the main anime though. Showing the events of the Darkest Day climax via flashbacks was a pretty smart move, especially when it kept the focus still primarily on Leon. Seeing Hop always make me happy too. I do love the moment Leon realizes that he couldn't capture Eternatus and made sure that Charizard protected Hop and Victor. It's one my favorite moments during the game since it showed how caring Leon is and how well he can communicate with Charizard.

I thought that Leon was still traumatized from the battle, which still might be the case given he was injured for awhile, but I can also see how he's realizing that he won't be able to defeat Victor. Victor and Hop were able to defeat Eternatus, even getting it to go into its Gigantamax form, and that's something Leon couldn't do. Seeing the battle unfold could have made him realize that he wasn't going to defeat Victor. Leon is usually shown to be a pretty happy and confident character, so seeing him dealing with these feelings while the announcer was hyping up their battle showed a different side to Leon. Charizard comforting Leon was rather cute too. It showed off their bond and how Charizard could pick up on Leon's emotions.

Even though Victor didn't get any lines and he was mostly kept in the shadows, I still liked that they gave him a different skin tone. That has been a customization option in the games for quite some time, so having more official works showcasing a protagonist with a different skin color is pretty nice. I hope that they'll do that more often in the future. It was pretty cool to see Zacian and Zamaznta take down Eternatus. I kind of like that Victor still caught Eternauts with a Pokeball, if only because people complained about Leon doing the same thing. Hop sitting right next to Cinderace was adorable too. I think that Rillaboom fits him more, but I'm also biased given that I chose Scorbunny in Sword.

I would have loved to see the battle, even though the outcome was obvious, but it didn't really hurt the short. The main focus was on Leon dealing with this upcoming battle and reflecting on what happened during the Darkest Day, so it was fine.

I think that this is a promising start to Evolutions. The story didn't feel rushed. I would have liked to see more, but they told a complete story in a short amount of time and that was still satisfying. I still haven't seen the Sword/Shield arc in Journeys yet. I really do need to catch up on the series, so I wasn't comparing the two adaptations of the Darkest Day. I'm not sure if that really helped since I think the shorter length and having Hop involved would make it distinct enough regardless from how Journeys adapted it, but it wasn't really an issue for me.
 

marshiyanmisuta

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I can see focusing on Leon's point of view, showing how badly he's affected by his defeat against Eternatus, as something interesting to cover. But this episode focused too much on Leon's failure to catch it and the protagonist and Hop's battle against Eternatus, things we already know and see before.
 

Audino1008

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Can't wait for the next episode... I love USUM so much.

Also, now we know why the backgrounds in Journeys feel so empty and lifeless. The animation budget went here. For some reason. Why did they do it, again? Free Web Series on YouTube aren't very profitable.
 

Alola

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Admittedly, I'm not the biggest fan of the Darkest Day. I thought it was a poor plot in the games and then we saw it rushed with a similarly poor execution by Ash and Go. So, having it represented again in this limited series feels like a waste, when there are Galarian stories that could have been told instead (given how the anime itself isn't doing the region or its culture any justice). I would have even liked to see several minutes of battling from Victor & Leon, or perhaps the emotional fight between Hop and Victor; the Isle of Armor with Kubfu, exploring with Peony, etc. We also just received a prior short animation episode of Leon, which elaborated on his character. So, this Galarian episode ended up feeling redundant with what we already know is a hallmark event of the region.

That said, I still appreciated and enjoyed the video though!
  • As several users have mentioned, the animation was gorgeous. Wyndon looked exactly how I envisioned a Pokémon London to be, something I felt both the games and the main anime did not capture; having family there myself, the sullen grays and the rain felt both realistic and nostalgic. The Eternatus battle looked visually impressive as well and the more mature art style for the human characters was appreciated. And my goodness, Leon is swole - could that shirt be any tighter?
  • The Pokémon! Like with Twilight Wings before it, we got to see the daily unity and presence between Pokémon and people in Galar. I liked how Pokémon had seats to the Championship Battle and certain characteristics were clearly displayed despite seconds of screen time, such as Toxtricity's strumming its organs or Rillaboom drumming.
    • My favorite part was seeing Inteleon, who looked positively amazing. It did Snipe Shot the proper way, nictitating membrane and all. And notice how effective it was despite being a resisted hit? It may seem alarming until you recall that the species purposefully attack their targets weakest points with the help of said membrane - which explains why Eternatus keeled over the way it did! I also like how it flew Victor to Eternatus' Poke Ball; I just love when species' details like that are animated.
    • I found it interesting Hop had Cinderace present to watch his brother and best friend's battle, but not his actual Starter, who he poignantly just used against Eternatus. But it's not a complaint as I love Cinderace; seeing all the Galarian Starters was great. They're also the only group where I feel any of them could be with Victor/Gloria or Hop.
    • That Leon and Charizard moment was nice to see; I really liked the subtle cinders from Charizard's flame that lit up the dark room. Reassuring his Trainer with the Champion cape without words or voiced affirmations was an effective narrative choice in my opinion - it showed their bond on a level different from them just clobbering opponents in battle, all the time. Also, kudos to Leon having tried to use Aegislash before Charizard, for Eternatus - a smart decision considering type matchups.
  • This is just some musing, but I think it's clear that Leon was quite shaken up from the Eternatus fight. Regardless of it's him realizing that Victor & Hop are better/stronger than him, or him feeling like he couldn't do his job for the first time since becoming Champion, it looked a bit like some kind of trauma...which makes me question his mental space when battling for said Championship. We all know he loses, but in this universe, is his loss fair, so to speak? Was he in the right frame of mind given everything that just happened, with his and his brother's lives having been on the line? I just think it's fascinating to consider; clearly this isn't the case in the games (as he even positively remarks should you choose Eternatus to battle him) and several days even pan out narratively, but here I think him not getting the time (or possibly help) to process the events before going back to his job is something they should have explored in the games. Not everyone can face an Eldritch Abomination and emerge from the ordeal sound.
  • All the main characters for this short were brown skinned, which I think was absolutely beautiful.
 

Epic Spheal

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I have mixed feelings on this episode. As a Leon fan I'm of course happy that this really went into detail about Leon's inner struggles. Especially since the game glosses over the fact that after failing to catch Eternatus he would understandably be feeling some sort of way. So seeing it focus on his struggles was nice to see and there was a lot of symbolism to be had in this episode. Also it was nice that Hop and Victor got a chance to be the heroes of the Darkest day since they both got robbed of this in the anime, and it's looking like Hop will get robbed of this in Pokespe. Also brown skinned Victor made this episode for me because it's nice for the official media to recognize the POC protags.

But on the other hand this episode didn't wow me as much as say the Twilight Wings episode. I think as many other people mentioned, it hurt that it was once again centered around the Darkest Day. Like I enjoyed how the Twilight Wings Episode which also had moments that reflected Leon's character underneath the unbeatable persona, it was centered moreso on that exhibition match between him and Raihan. That and it that reflection wasn't so much Leon's POV but other characters (Opal and John). Like I think for me personally it was more interesting to see in universe characters recognize Leon's humanity/vulnerability than seeing Leon reflecting on it, because you know deep down he is aware of his own humanity.
 

Esserise

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There are definitely some great animation moments, such as the opening view of Wyndon, Charizard’s flame lighting up the darkened locker room, and the warping effect on Eternamax getting sucked into the Poké Ball. I also like how Leon’s Charizard has a slightly more grizzled look than we usually see on other Charizard. You can see in its face that it’s been through a lot of battles at his side. (Also, Inteleon sniping Eternatus’s jaw is great. Inteleon’s cool factor just went up.) All that being said, I thought the shots of the stadium audience felt very stiff.

But unfortunately, this was even more of a letdown in the story department than I thought. My initial concern was that we’ve already seen the Darkest Day climax featured very prominently twice already, so a third shot-for-shot remake of the scene wasn’t particularly a exciting prospect. Now, imagine my surprise when it turns out that they’ve actually figured out a great solution to that problem: A flashback with Leon reflecting on the experience is, on paper, a really clever idea for a showing the scene from a fresh perspective while also affording a level of personal interiority that the games, as a medium, can’t really explore as well.

But then they… didn’t give him an interior monologue or discernible thoughts whatsoever, thereby completely fumbling the novel solution they’d just set up. To me, that feels even more disappointing than if this episode had fallen in line with my low expectations of just retreading the basic scene directly.
 
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Almonds

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The ball capture and release animation looked good. The battle animations... they felt too slow.

I did like all the different expressions from Leon - especially what looked like vulnerability as he remembers his failure to deal woth Eternatus and protect Hop.

By the way, Leon ordering Charizard to protect his brother and the protagonist while he gets blasted by the attack was so hardcore. Gotta respect that.
 
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