(Please note: This review contains spoilers. If you haven't watched the episode yet, take 10 to watch it now before reading on!)
So how was the first episode of Pokémon: Path to the Peak? I enjoyed it! Seeing a main character get accustomed to their new school and then finding something they thoroughly enjoy doing is a fairly standard plotline for a kids-oriented show, but it's always nice to see, and it works well here with Ava. Seeing a Pokémon animated show that takes place on our Earth is a first for me though, and it's actually not bad at all. It shows that Pokémon is not afraid to experiment. I think that the show taking place on Earth does help with the realism factor, in the sense that it might be hard to make a TCG anime that revolves around the fictional universe when Pokémon and humans work side by side. So yeah, I’m saying that it’s innovative.
The supporting characters were also well written. Joshua is a good player; he’s a bit of a rival character, but he’s a nice guy. He doesn’t bully Ava or anything, he’s just there to let her know how fun TCG is. Ava was frustrated at first, but thanks to Joshua, she found her calling. I also like the relationship between Ava and her dad. The fact that her dad knows how to play the card game and helps his daughter. Since the box belonged to her mother and her father knows how to play the game, I do wonder if her parents were once TCG players. I hope this gets explained later on. Celestine was introduced at the end, so I can’t really give an opinion on her. From first glance, she seems to be the mean rival that most Pokémon games have; Joshua would be the nice rival equivalent.
The animation was really good. I’m more familiar with animation created by people in Asian countries, so to see an anime created by Western people is pretty novel to me. Despite the novelty, it’s still good. I love the fluidity. My favorite part is where the cards float around Ava in her imaginary meadow. Animation is not an easy feat. I can tell the artists worked hard for this project and I want to applaud them for making this beautiful.
The music was good. I quite liked the background music used during the second Ava vs Joshua match. It’s fast and perfect for action scenes. I also liked the music used when Ava is in her imaginary meadow. My only gripe with the music though is that the sound effects were so loud I can’t hear the music.
The voice actors are mostly people I'm only hearing for the first time. Ava's voice actress Nyara Afshar seems like a relatively new actress from what I've looked up. Joshua's voice actor is AJ Beckles, who voiced Hop in Pokémon Journeys. Celestine's voice actress Abby Espiritu voiced another purple haired girl in Romin from Yugioh Sevens. Ava's mother is voiced by Nazia Chaudhry who voices Nyla from Gundam - The Witch From Mercury and her dad is voiced by Mick Lauer who voices Looker in Pokémon Masters. I think they're all doing a very good job with the voices. They're expressive and give the characters life!
There seems to be four episodes. The first was being in the club. The remaining three episodes seem like they'll be revolving around competitive TCG play, so I’m curious to see how that will all unfold. For all the TCG players or card game enthusiasts out there, do you think this show is doing the card game justice? How accurate is it to the actual card game? Please let me know what you thought of the overall episode!