Pokemon Advanced Vol. #2: Tree's A Crowd - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: C+

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Info:

  • 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
  • MSRP: 14.99
  • Running time: 110
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Pokemon

Pokemon Advanced Vol. #2: Tree's A Crowd

By Luis Cruz     August 16, 2004
Release Date: July 20, 2004


Pokemon Advanced Vol. #2: Tree's A Crowd
© Viz Media


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...

Episodes: "A Poached Ego", "Tree's A Crowd", "A Tail with a Twist"

The Review!
Looks like Team Rocket is blasting off again! And they manage to provide a nice surprise in one episode before doing so.

Audio:
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.

Video:
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.

Packaging:
Treecko and Cacnea 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 the aloof Treecko.

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.

Menu:
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.

Extras:
None

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Ash and company are still walking their way through the Hoenn Region to reach Rustboro City and Ash's first gym battle. Rustboro City must be quite some distance away as they seem no closer to it after five episodes. But this is all about the journey and what new Pokémon they can find.

As they wander through another forest, Ash and the gang come across another Pokémon center. Here they learn two important fact; first, there is a poacher in the surrounding woods who is illegally trapping Pokémon. Second and more importantly, the Hoenn region is home to at least a dozen versions of Nurse Joy. They are all sisters and identical in almost every way; in fact, the Hoenn region's police force is also a set of identical women named Officer Jenny.

Ash and the gang have no time to pen a Forum letter about this strange fact, as they are more concerned about the poacher in the woods. However, it is Team Rocket that comes across him first.

Rico is trapping all poison Pokémon in the woods, and Team Rocket has stumbled across his caged catch. Seizing the opportunity to add to their collection, Team Rocket tries to take Rico's stash for themselves. Rico catches them, and a battle ensues. Team Rocket is clearly outmatched by Rico's giant electric dinosaur Pokémon; rather than run, Team Rocket manages to free Rico's prisoners and tells their long-time companions of Weezing to take the prisoners and leave without them.

It is a touching moment as Weezing and Arboc look back sadly at Team Rocket; they are touched by the Team's self-sacrifice and are saddened because they know they will never see them again. This was a surprising moment for a show based around a merchandising juggernaut. It is an interesting dichotomy to watch a trio of individuals dedicated to destroying the lies of truth and love exhibit a self-sacrificing version of love to protect their Pokémon and a group of Pokémon that they did not even know.

The episode takes things a step above the black and white, friend and enemy lessons the bulk of the series uses; it introduces some moral ambiguity to the audience by showing the so-called villains acting like heroes. Granted, this point will fly over the heads of the target audience, but it provides a good in-road for active parents to engage their children and start working out those higher reasoning functions.

The remainder of the volume falls quickly back into the old formula. Ash and Pikachu help a Treecko try to save his dying tree home. This results in Ash picking up a new traveling friend, as the Treecko battles Pikachu and loses. Team Rocket picks up a Cacnea and Seviper to replace their Arboc and Weezing. A haunted mansion turns out to be inhabited by a group of displaced Shroomish teaching us all a lesson that our natural resources need to be conserved. Finally, Ash faces a cheating gym owner that has stuffed a bunch of other Pokémon into his poor Pelipper's prodigious beak.

While there are some interesting messages in the last four episodes, none of them come close to the first episode in terms of complexity. The episodes are still fun enough for the kids to watch; the dubbing and script also continues to be one of the better produced children's import programs around. None of the characters have a clichéd feel to them, and they all talk normally rather than in some dated slang. Still not my preferred viewing material, Pokémon Advanced manages to be something a parent can watch with his child without cringing too much.

In Summary:
The volume opens up strong with a thought provoking story featuring Team Rocket; the remainder of the volume drops back to standard "find a new Pokémon" idiom but manages to provide some lessons on honesty, cheating, and resource conservation. The dub continues to be something a parent can easily watch with their child, as long as they can hold up under the strain of hearing every Pokémon utter their name fifty times in one episode. While not something I would go out of my way to watch, Pokémon Advanced is a cute title that I could easily have on in the background during a weekend of chores.

Features
English Language

Review Equipment
Mitsubishi 27" TV, Pioneer DVL-919, Sony STR-DE915 DD receiver, Bose Acoustimass-6 speakers, generic S-Video and audio cable

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