Hey Pokémon fans! I have a great recommendation for YOU! The Pokémon Adventures Collector's Edition 1 is by far one of my favorite mangas I've read. As a huge Pokémon fan that grew up with the series (I have a tattoo of a Poké Ball), this manga was the perfect blast from the past I needed and a great way to show the newer generations of fans where Pokémon began.
As you would expect, the series follows the fabled Pokémon Trainer Red in his adolescent years learning about how to be a great trainer during his travels in Kanto. This version of Red is very different from how he’s portrayed in the games (the silent trainer waiting on top Mt. Silver). This Red is courageous, caring, intuitive and isn’t afraid to speak his mind. For starters, his battle style tends to use either the same type as the opponent’s Pokémon or one that works best with his surroundings. An example of Red’s genius battling moments was when Snorlax was hurled in the air by Machamp—he used Snorlax’s weight and momentum to deliver the most Earth-shattering double-edges in Pokémon history! Another detail I enjoyed was finding out that Red’s first Pokémon is actually a Poliwag instead of Pikachu or the Kanto starters! I found this so interesting because the Poliwag line is normally forgotten about in the games, so it's nice to see this line highlighted.
Not only does this manga exhibit creative battle styles, but it also features the ethics of scientific discovery and even DEATH! One iconic chapter that pops up whenever you search Pokémon Adventures manga is the creepy Lavender Town. As you would expect, death is around every corner, but this manga takes it to a whole new level when you see an Arbok slashed in half by Blue’s Charmeleon! This is just a taste of how different the manga is from the main series, which is why I personally love it as an adult!
The pacing of the manga is absolutely perfect. I couldn’t put the book down the first night I read it! It covers the entire first arc in the Kanto region, and introduces the classic characters from the first generation. Each character is illustrated with their own ideals and personalities that are glossed over in other Pokémon installments. And who doesn’t love the dichotomy of Blue and Red’s training style and perspectives?
Overall, I highly recommend this manga to any Pokémon fan. It’s the perfect addition to any collection, and the reread value is priceless. The art style is flawless, the plot is breathtaking—what more can I say other than I loved it! If I haven’t sold you yet on this manga, I’ll leave you with this: we see a small cameo of a future Pokedex holder in this volume.
I’m one of the “unlucky” kids who was shut off from Pokémon: I never had a Game Boy to play the games, and my parents banned me from watching the anime. Then, when I was in college and was finally able to experience both the games and anime, I felt… that I missed the boat. I'll get into more detail, so I'll just say this about the games and anime: The Pokémon are great, but everything else about the anime and games are lackluster. But there was one beacon of hope for me getting into the phenomena, and that was the manga Pokémon Adventures, which the creator of Pokémon has said "This is the comic that most resembles the world I was trying to convey." After reading the first collector's edition, I wholeheartedly agree. Pokémon Adventures is easily the best thing the Pokémon franchise has to offer. It does so by playing to the series' strengths and improves on the weaknesses.
This adventure focuses on Red, a brave and hard-headed kid who goes on a grand adventure to fill his Pokedex given to him by Professor Oak. I have to say, the story was way more compelling than I expected. While it starts as a simple adventure, Red eventually gets dragged into a conspiracy surrounding Team Rocket, and the stakes become immediately higher. We get into the ethics of genetic engineering, redemption, and the right to kill one’s own creations. Hidenori Kusaka took some great liberties with the story of the games and it's all the better for it.
"The likability of the characters helps the story."
Red is so enthusiastic about everything that it’s easy to root for him and his Pokémon. I love Red’s Pokémon; they all have personalities that differentiate them. Red’s Pikachu is a mischievous runt, and I love him for it. As a fan of Poliwhirl and Snorlax, it was great to see them not just in Red’s main group, but as real MVPs in Pokémon battles. Red’s rival, Blue, is also likable because he’s not a jerk like Gary Oak. Red and Blue clash not because one’s a hero and the other's a jerk, but because they have different personalities and approach to training Pokémon. Neither is presented as better than the other, and that’s ambiguity I would like to see in more children’s media. Also, side-character Green reminds me of Nami of One Piece in all the best ways. But where this series really shines is the fights.
The most distinct feature is the Pokémon battles. In the video games, you pick the Pokémon your enemy is weak to and steamroll them in maybe two turns if not less. In Pokémon Adventures, type weakness is a factor, but trainers also have to think about the terrain, spatial awareness, the psychology of the enemy trainer, and other tactical factors. Red is often the underdog in battles, making them much more intense and his victories more impactful. Not to mention Pokémon can actually die in battle. That’s right, we get to see Pokémon guts spill out in a manga made for children. While the anime will always have more visceral fight scenes, they aren’t nearly as smart, dynamic, or, quite frankly, compelling as the ones in Pokémon Adventures.
This is an easy must-buy for Pokémon fans, but what about the curious? I’d still recommend it because it does a good job showing what people “really” like about Pokémon, fills in the weaknesses, and elevates the source material. Now go collect all the volumes!
Pokemon Adventures Collector's Edition manga volume 1 collects volumes 1-3 in an omnibus format and features story by Hidenori Kusaka and art by Mato.
Red doesn’t just want to train Pokémon, he wants to be their friend too. That makes things even more complicated than usual as he travels through dangerous zones battling gym leaders for badges and discovering secret Pokémon along the way. Now he’s got to team up with his rival Blue and the thief Green to fight a common enemy. Can he stay focused enough to rise to the challenge?