Pokemon Advanced Vol. #7: Abandoned Ship (of 8) (Mania.com)

By:Luis Cruz
Review Date: Friday, February 25, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, January 25, 2005

What They Say
Just One of the Geysers
Ash returns to Dewford Gym, and this time will not back down against his rematch with Brawley. Will he win a badge against this challenge?

Abandon Ship!
En route to Slateport City, Ash and his friends come across an abandoned ship. Once on board, they help a trainer search for his long-lost Pokemon.

Now That’s Flower Power!
May begins preparing for her very first Pokémon contest. Then, she meets Drew and they soon become rivals when she competes with his lovely Pokémon Roselia.

The Review!
May gets a chance to shine in the latest iteration of Pokémon Advanced.

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 there just is not much detail to catch the eye.

Hariyama and Swampert 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 sizable 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 Hariyama.

Inside is a one page insert with the chapter listings and the Pokédex entry for Swampert 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.

Included with this volume is a bonus DVD; on the DVD is one whole episode from the Master Quest series. The only other items on it are two clips that total to a three minute commercial for the card game.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Having watched the episode of Master Quest that was on the bonus DVD, it is clear that the Pokémon franchise is riding one horse and just dressing it up differently for each season. Each season boils down to Ash training and fighting while his friend of the month tags along to do their own training and battling. This volume highlights the friend's, May in this season, battles in an attempt to break up the monotony of Ash's life.

Before we get to May's exploits, Ash first has his rematch with Brawley in an attempt to win his second Hoenn region badge. Having learned from his past mistakes, Ash manages to use his Pokémon strategically to take down Brawley's Machop and Hariyama. With his second badge in hand, the gang moves through a throw away episode that sees them traveling to Slateport City via a boat.

Along the way, Team Rocket's antics leave them stranded in the middle of the water and out of fuel. Eventually, they float near a ship that has run aground on a sandbar. On this boat, they meet Tommy, a boy who was on the ship the night it ran aground. In the confusion of that night, he lost his own Pokémon and has returned to look for it. In the end, they find Tommy's Pokémon and all learn another lesson about friendship. The only amusing part in this episode was the running kinetic ball gag as each member of Team Rocket and Ash's gang were captured and tied up.

We finally come to a two part story that centers around May's first Pokémon competition. While practicing her routine, she meets another competitor named Drew; Drew insults her abilities making May determined to work hard enough to beat him. Some standard training and antics take place until the day of the competition arrives.

May is naturally very nervous but manages to calm her nerves and make it through the preliminary round. The plot gods then demand that next round pits her in a battle against Drew. Unfortunately, May's nerves get the best of her in this round and cause her to lose to Drew. Despite this setback, May realizes that losing may hurt but that you can learn from losing as much as winning. As she watches Drew go down in defeat in the next round, she vows to train even harder so that the next battle between her and Drew will not be so one-sided.

It was a refreshing change to have a few stories dedicated to someone other than Ash and his never-ending quest for badges. Also, having the lessons learned being something other than "friendship is a good thing" helped make this volume a bit more bearable to watch. However, it does not change the fact that nearly every episode is identical to the previous one. There just is not enough story or substance to really make this entertaining over the long haul.

In Summary:
We are now seven volumes into the series, and it has already worn thin with its repetitive gags and plot devices. This volume does provide a bit of a break in the monotony by focusing on May and her attempts to overcome her fears and nervousness, but it just does not differentiate itself enough from the same situations Ash goes through. If the series put more focus on the Team Magma and Aqua plot, this could be a more entertaining series.

English 2.0 Language

Review Equipment
Mitsubishi 27" TV, Panasonic RP-82, 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: C+
Age Rating: 3 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Viz Media
MSRP: 14.95
Running time: 110
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Pokemon