Pokemon Advanced Vol. #1: A Ruin With A View (of 8) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, August 04, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, July 20, 2004
What They Say
With his lifelong rival, Gary, abandoning Pokémon training for academia and his best friends Brock and Misty being called back home, Ash too may well have decided to set aside his goal of becoming a Pokémon Master... if not for discovering a distant land in with new Pokémon were being discovered in droves. Leaving all his Pokémon in the care of Professor Oak, Ash and Pikachu travel to the Hoenn Region, a land rife with mystery, adventure and more than a hundred new Pokémon he?s never seen nor heard of before.
Ash is off to another adventure, as he begins his journey to compete in the Hoenn League. What new friends and Pokémon will he encounter?
Featuring only an English audio track, this volume provides a simple but solid stereo track. There were no distortions, dropouts, or other problems. Everything comes through the center channel with no directional effects; action, dialogue, and music are balanced well providing an adequate experience.
The video provides an adequate experience; the transfer has no issues with artifacts, cross coloration, or print damage. While colorful, the picture feels flat and lacks much detail; it looks decent but just does not catch the eye much.
Torchic and Pikachu grace the front cover accompanied by a rather large series logo at the top. The volume number and title is at the bottom along with a sizeable banner indicating that the disc contains two bonus episodes. The back cover features the requisite screenshots, episode synopses, and disc information. Also included on the back is the Pokédex entry for little Torchic.
Inside is a one page insert with the chapter listings and the Pokédex entry for Taillow on one side. The opposite side contains only a brief advertisement for the Pokémon web site.
The menus are very simple featuring only a static image and no background music. They are quick and functional but also quite boring; at the very least, they could have looped a piece of the theme song in the background.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As the latest Pokémon adventure opens up, we are introduced to May; May is a young girl who is off to get her first Pokémon. She does not really want to be a trainer but sees it as an opportunity to travel the world. Meanwhile, Ash is on the slow boat to Littleroot Town hoping to find a center to cure Pikachu's fever.
Fate intervenes and has May getting caught up in Pikachu's cure; the end result is another frying of Team Rocket, the curing of Pikachu, and May acquiring Torchic. Both May and Ash are off to Oldale Town as their first stop on the way to the Petalburg City gym. At the Pokémon Center, they meet Professor Alden who is exploring the ruins there.
Apparently, there is a chamber in the ruins that acts as a bridge between the present and the past of the world of Pokémon. To open it, one needs four keys; apparently, a mysterious group has the keys and decides to kidnap the good professor. Ash, May, and Nurse Joy get locked in a storage closet (hmm... sounds like a Forum letter in the making...), but they manage to get out and unlock the chamber for themselves.
The rest of the volume plods along from Petalburg City to the forest outside of Rustboro City. Along the way, Ash and May pick up May's brother Max, a new Pokémon called Taillow, and an old friend in Brock. Team Rocket also gets blasted into orbit by Pikachu in every episode, while their boss drops hints about the mysterious Team Magma and Team Aqua working in the Hoenn region.
While I am well out of the target audience for this series, I can still see myself watching this if I were in the seven to nine year old range. The stories are simple and straightforward but do have their charm. The characters are cute, and Ash and his friends can be identified with by the target audience. Who hasn't been a kid wanting to go on a grand adventure with a pack of cool creatures?
What impressed me the most was the dialogue; it does tend to be a bit corny in places, mostly with some of Team Rocket's proclamations, but manages to be in character and understandable. It does not dip down into clichés or odd stereotypes; it allows the dialogue to flow naturally and sound true in both the ear of a child or an adult. The actors do tend to overact at times, but it is a kid's show and fits the content even if it sounds over the top to an adult.
The unbearable part for an adult would be the repetitious uttering of the Pokémon's names; hearing "Torchic", "Pikachu", and "Zigzagoon" repeated continuously over twenty minutes is just about my limit. With the adventure barely beginning, the opening episodes are used mainly to introduce the new characters and establish the tone for the story arc. There is not a lot of action, but the enemies for this arc have been established.
As an adult, it is difficult to review any Pokémon volume; clearly, the content is not going to be very engaging. However, I can objectively say that this would be something I would watch if I were a pre-teen consumer. It is cute and manages to
keep the dialogue from sounding awful. While the primary drive is to push the product line, the series does manage to slide in some good lessons about teamwork and friendship. Definitely something you could sit down and watch with young children, Pokémon Advanced keeps the franchise alive.
Mitsubishi 27" TV, Pioneer DVL-919, Sony STR-DE915 DD receiver, Bose Acoustimass-6 speakers, generic S-Video and audio cable
Mania Grade: C+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B-
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 3 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Viz Media
Running time: 110
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2