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Review The Alola Arc...An Epilogue

csrdevil

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Hey guys. It’s me again.

To begin with I would like to apologize that it has taken so long for me to come up with a follow to my last thread which was a long, long, time ago. I promised a view, indeed a mid-season review for the Alola region in my last post (from like forever ago) and did not follow up on my promise. Sadly there was not much for me to write about as I only had bitter criticism for the way the Alola arc was covered. But that is just me, and I don’t want to upset any diehard Pokemon fans (even though I myself am one) by insisting that the show has become sub-par. That is just my opinion. But something happened this past Sunday, and it seems like an appropriate time to finally write the briefest of well…not a review…but and epilogue for the Alola arc, even though the show still has a few more episodes left in it.

Nevertheless, before I begin it is important that you read the warning below.

The following content below will contain major spoilers if you are not up to date with the Pokemon anime. Especially viewers who watch the English dubbed version will be quite a bit behind. So please do not go through the contents of this article if you do not want your Pokemon Sun and Moon experience ruined.
  • New Pokemon Saves Pokemon every time
It’s hard, but the ability to imagine a whole roster of new Pokemon for every region has been, I feel, one of the saving graces of this show. At least for older viewers and fans like me, and not to mention the legion of younger fans it has gained over last three or so, years at least since the inception of the Kalos arc that is. Our hero was given eternal youth, seemingly locked at the age of 10, before given remake after remake until the anime threatened to become tasteless before it actually did that is. But at least he was given refreshed opportunities to discover and potentially capture new Pokemon. It was one of the few things I looked forward to as I dreaded everything else, like what other cockamamie the developers have dreamed up after mega-evolutions.
  • I Am Sorry Z-Moves And Mega Evolutions Will Never Be My Cup Of Tea
And now I am about going on a rant which I think will enrage even the stalwarts of the anime, as well those (new generations of fans) who have taken to phony gimmicks like Z-moves and mega evolutions and will never know what Pokemon battling, true Pokemon battling is all about. As rumors of the show ending are rife, the time has also seemingly run out for me to convince them. But I will have one last go.

In the 22 years the show has aired so far (I have been watching it for the last 15 years, because I was just two years old when it first aired, duh…) I have a lot of fond memories of the series. I was especially proud and heartened to read a report on BBC news this morning where a lot of people who suffer from mental health issues, abandonment issues gushed about how the show helped them cope with all these problems in their youth. Many said that that Ash’s indomitable spirit, his uncanny ability to take a rollicking and still keep going inspired them. I know I myself am one of them. The show has produced some of the most beautiful, awe-inspiring moments in Japanese anime in general, and is up there in my opinion with the likes of Gintama, Stein’s Gate, Naruto, Bleach, FMA, etc. But then mega evolutions and subsequently Z-moves happened and left a sour taste in my mouth. Having sat through the Kalos region and now nearly the entirety of the Alolan arc, I will never be able to get rid of the dopey chants, the clumsy movements required to make a Pokemon mega-evolve or unleash a Z-move as they have now been burned into my head for all of eternity. Z-moves though takes the level of vapidity even further with the suite of dim-witted physical maneuvers required to make a Pokemon, which is probably not even on level 20 (referencing Pokemon games here) unleash a move which is potentially capable of taking out a legendary Pokemon. I frankly again find the whole notion ridiculous and it completely undermines the foundations of what Pokemon battling was built upon, that is hard work and training. Pokemon battling still today, even amidst all that idiocy is one of the few things my eyes light up for whenever I come across it in the show. But sadly mega evolutions and now Z-moves even stole that from me. Guys don’t get me wrong here, these trinkets are frankly fascinating to come across and experience in video games like the Pokémon TCG online where I have spent countless happy hours tinkering with Z-moves and mega evolutions. But it just completely destroyed what Pokemon was essentially all about and I will forever associate them with the worst part of the Pokemon saga.
  • The Alolan Arc Meandered Too Often For My Liking
Imagine fillers right, your typical episodes whereby the developer or the anime developers, or indeed the manga writer (many anime are adaptations of their manga counterparts after all) introduce a side story, side mission, or side arc to briefly take the focus off of the main arc for a while. Now imagine a lot, and I mean a lot of fillers and put them together and you may just end up with something like the Alolan arc. At times it was just excruciating to watch Ash go through his paces. Even whenever he came up against an Island king or Queen, the penultimate prize was just a Z-crystal and by extension the prospect of enacting tasteless Z-Moves. This left me even more enraged and frustrated. Please do not get me started on the Ultra Beast hunts. I cringed every time they went “Ult-Roger!”

The whole storyline, as I have stated previously before (in my other posts) has steadily lost any maturity instead of gaining any when compared to something like Naruto or Digimon. It has now come to the point where the show caters completely for its younger fans, which is fine. I can be jealous, disappointed all I want but I really could have lived with even that had the show demonstrated some form of continuity at least. But the lack of progress sadly is epitomized by Ash Ketchum’s perpetual reincarnation as a ten-year-old, every bloody time a new arc rolls around. Will Galar be the same?
  • Once You Look Past The Rubble The Quality, The Potential Is Still There…
I am sure even the most skeptical Pokemon fans will agree that one of the many joys of watching Ketchum battle was his ability to think outside the box. And in flashes, he has still demonstrated that. Just think about the battle he had with Hapu or Misty in the cerulean gym. And even in this edition of the long-awaited saga our hero has managed to make some priceless acquisitions namely his Lycanroc and Torracat who truly look the part of strong, reliable Pokemon. Melmetal sadly probably does not count as I suspect Ash will probably leave it behind. But there is still a ways to go including the upcoming cringe-worthy episode featuring Guzzlord and every Z-move imaginable. So we might yet end up being surprised when it comes to Melmetal. But I digress. At times, you can just see it, see Ash’s brain whirring, his unique ability of outside the box waning but not lost altogether during a battle. but then he resorts to brute force methods like the Z-move to end a battle and it is just not something I associated with him, ever. Alas, it is a fantasy made up world controlled by people I have no influence on. So I can’t have everything as I want it to.
  • League? What League?
And finally I know you have been waiting for this, so I am just going to go ahead and say it. After 22 years, nearly 1100 episodes, 7 regions, 8 Pokemon leagues (including the Orange Islands of course, excluding the Battle Frontier) Ketchum finally lifts a major Pokemon League trophy. Or does he?

Not to spoil everyone’s moment of elation here, but the Alolan League is frankly nothing like any of the past Pokemon Leagues. Indeed referring to it as a league seems a bit stretched, given that it felt like a family affair more than anything, whereby a nation’s (Alola’s) inspired visionary (Kukui) and was conveniently backed by billionaire investors (Aether Foundation). Having said that I did enjoy the chaotic but thrilling Royal Rumble elimination format.

But if you ask me, a round of 16 matches contested between two trainers who have literally just gone through hell to make it to the knockout stages only to be allotted just one Pokémon each, is utterly unacceptable. Round of 16 matches in almost every Pokemon League ever shown in this anime so far (please correct me if I am wrong here) traditionally consisted of at least 3-vs-3 battles. The Johto Conference in fact (and probably Hoenn as well I cannot remember) featured full 6-vs-6 battles beginning from the knockout stages. While the “one Pokémon” allotment was barely acceptable to me during the round of 16, I raged at the top of my lungs when trainers continued to be allotted a solitary Pokemon each, even during the quarter-finals. This I thought was completely unfair and further takes off the gloss of Ash's inaugural Pokemon League win. And while there still some quality battles here, admittedly, the format and the way it was conducted was grossly unsatisfactory. I was disheartened thus to see several news outlets including IGN, BBC report Ash as a “Pokemon League champion” when in reality has won a tournament which does not even come close to the magnitude of the leagues he has contested in the past.

While he technically is one now (a “champion”), I find it hard to take full satisfaction from watching Ash win a lackluster league like that and be declared even a Pokemon master by some outlets would you believe.

Have people simply forgotten he has failed at trials (no pun intended) infinitely harder than the one he has overcome now? Have you forgotten that he has actually competed and lost in infinitely more sophisticated tournaments in Kanto, Johto, Hoenn Sinnoh, Unova, and Kalos respectively? If so how does winning a league like that finally help him realize his lifelong dream? How is that acceptable to a trainer who once declared he will become the greatest there ever was?

Again I am taking nothing away from his achievement, it is stellar in its own way. I just think it is not the fitting end (if it is the end for him) that Ash Ketchum or we the fans deserve. Ideally, had the show adopted a semblance of continuity, people like me would have liked to see him go back, train hard and have one last crack at all those leagues he lost in and gain redemption for all the bitter disappointments he suffered there. Such as being betrayed by his Charizard in the Indigo Plateau, beaten by an unknown quantity in Harrison’s Blaziken, outclassed by a frankly astonishing Meowth in the Hoenn League, low blowed by Tobia’s invincible Darkrai, embarrassed by Cameron with just 5 Pokemon in a 6v6 battle, or left heartbroken by Alain’s Charizard. Had he been given the chance again to revisit and potentially usurp them and win it all, I would have had the closure I need after sticking with this show shamelessly for the last 15 years. As it stands if they close off Ash Ketchum now, I would only be left with an indescribable regret, not to mention left wondering what could have been.
  • Anime To Reboot Completely?
Over the course of the Alolan arc, I have watched countless Reddit thread, posts, and forums full of speculation that Pokemon is taking a new direction and that Ketchum won’t be a part of it. If this is the end of the road for him and the developers have actually teased in some way that it may be the case, I for one will be utterly disappointed and sad to see him go. I cannot imagine Pokemon without him and Pikachu alongside him and will truly be devastated and heartbroken. But in this instance, I remember Satoshi Tajiri once also said that once Ash wins something it might mean the end for him (he actually stated it might be the end of Pokemon itself, but that is not happening anytime soon). If that is the case at the very least, fans will finally see him leave with the last laugh.

As for speculation, I am not much for that, but the latest teaser trailer from the company (details of the new anime will actually be revealed this coming 29th of September so you won’t have to wait long) points out that the anime might not be focusing on the Galar region alone, which is the base for the new Sword and Shield games due to be outed in November. Instead, the series will apparently make use of all the regions discovered so far in the Pokemon series (no I am not gonna name them again, read them from above!) and design an arc around them. Reports also suggest a new protagonist might be at the helm which again will be devastating for me and something I will probably never get used to (cue ‘Boruto-Next Generations’). It will also potentially feature a completely redesigned cast and animations.

Amongst other rumors, some credible ones are that the developers are struggling to churn out newer Pokemon for each generation which is understandable. It is much easier to recycle existing sources rather than redesigning a whole new roster. It is after a very financially, physically, mentally draining task to operate an anime show after all and I am actually sympathetic in that respect.

Other rumors also suggest Ash and Pikachu might remain at the helm and that the new season will be an arc whereby Ash finally has a chance gain some revenge and potentially win the leagues he has lost in. Interestingly there are other rumors that the new arc might be based on the recently rebooted versions of Pokemon movies. But Perhaps the most indigestible rumor of all might be that the new series might actually adopt full-blown CGI and go ‘Disney Pixar’ style like the upcoming “Mewtwo Returns” reboot movie.

Anyway, take what I have written with a pinch of salt and wait till what happens at the end of September.

Anyways ladies and gentlemen that is for today, and probably for a long while again! I just felt like I had to get some things off of my chest after I came across all these reports this morning bearing photos of Ash and captioning him a “Pokemon Master” of all things. I hope you did like what I wrote and I am sorry if I ranted a bit too much. But I hope amidst all that my love and passion for Pokemon have shone through. See you guys in the next, next one!
 
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csrdevil

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Hau being treated as he was is pretty much the SM anime's gravest sin in my eyes. Forget the pacing; treating such a lovable character like THAT is just horrible.

But I suppose I can forgive it now...barely...
It was not just Hau, I felt for every single trainer who went through the Royal rumble format, which was the only acceptable aspect of the tournament's whole format. But to then allow only 1 Pokemon each trainer, all the way up to the quarterfinals? And then just 2 in the semi-finals? I just think it was absolutely shambolic. To be honest league tournament starting from Unova began feeling a bit rushed in my opinion. In Kalos for example, Ash's opening match was not even shown! I was outraged. It was the first time in the anime 22 year history that the preliminary round was not even shown. I ask you where is the fun in that?
 

Almonds

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In Kalos for example, Ash's opening match was not even shown! I was outraged. It was the first time in the anime 22 year history that the preliminary round was not even shown. I ask you where is the fun in that?
After watching Ash vs Sawyer and Ash vs Alain... I suspect that they might have poured their budget into those four episodes for the visuals.
 
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