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The Club - Pokemon: Path to the Peak Episode 1 Review - Card games in reality

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Ava and Joshua play, surrounded by the club
An animated series about the Pokémon Trading Card Game? I’m intrigued! How was it? I quite liked it! It’s rare to see the TCG side of Pokémon get this type of content, so I’m sure a lot of TCG players are thrilled. For me personally, while I like collecting Pokémon cards, I’m honestly not that much of a card game player. Having said that, I did play the old Trading Card Game Online for a time and did thoroughly enjoy it, so maybe I should try playing a few games in the new Trading Card Game Live when I get the chance.

(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.

Joshua wants to battle!
Seeing Ava trying to get used to her new school and trying out new things and failing is something that's easy to relate to. Kids always try something new and see if they like it or not, because that’s how they grow. I’ve tried a lot of things before coming to where I am now as a writer, so I can relate to Ava on that matter. However, I am a bit envious that there’s a Pokémon club in school. Maybe I’d be less of a dweeb back in my youth if there were people that enjoyed Pokémon like the people in the club.

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.

Ava with her partner Oddish
I do like that Ava’s main Pokémon is Oddish. It’s an unusual choice and I always appreciate when Pokémon animated content chooses the less popular Pokémon as a main partner; the last time I’ve seen an underrated Pokémon be used as a partner Pokémon was the POKÉTOON episode, Blossom’s Dream, where Blossom’s partner was Nidoran. I do wonder if Ava will plan on evolving her Oddish to improve her card battling skills. Joshua’s partner is Jolteon and Celestine is Mismagius. They’re interesting choices.

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!


Bulbanews Writer
I don't think I would expect this to be accurate to the TCG. Pokemon animation is known for flubbing the rules to make for exciting matches. However, I do think the episode very much sells the fantasy of the TCG, with dramatic reversals and powerful plays. Also, since the stadium is depicted as being in a white void, I wonder if Path to the Peak and TCG Live were developed in tandem, at least to a certain extent.

I thought the episode was good, but in my initial watch, I actually lost track of Ava during the club montage. I guess the fact the first shot has her in beekeeping gear threw me off.

Joshua was a highlight for me, because I liked the idea of him being so enthusiastic about a new member that he rushes through the rules and forgets that he probably shouldn't play a combo deck against a new player.

I was actually hoping that Pokemon ex would be depicted as distinct from regular Pokemon in some manner, so I was disappointed that this didn't happen. How all of the special mechanics relate to each other flavorfully has been one of the TCG's great mysteries, but Path to the Peak probably isn't answering that.
I don't know much about TCG in general, but I do appreciate your opinion on TCG and types of cards.

The beekeeping outfit did throw me off too, honestly. I had to watch that segment twice before realizing it was Ava trying out different clubs. What kind of school has a beekeeping club?
What kind of school has a beekeeping club?
It's not the most far fetched idea. One of the schools I went to had a beekeeping club (I was not a member), and a google search pulled up some other examples. There are even organizations which encourage schools to start clubs, apparently.
I agree with everything you said here. Especially the music, it's done by the same people behind the anime. It's always interesting to see them score something besides the show and yeah, they adapt really well to this! I haven't gotten into the TCG, maybe this could do it for me.
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