Pokemon: Journey to the Johto League Champion Vol. #6 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: C+
  • Packaging Rating: C
  • Menus Rating: C-
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 3 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 19.98
  • Running time: 162
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Pokemon

Pokemon: Journey to the Johto League Champion Vol. #6

By Derek Guder     July 04, 2004
Release Date: December 02, 2003


Pokemon: Journey to the Johto League Champion Vol. #6
© Viz Media


What They Say
Our heroes continue their journey to the Johto League Championship! The road to ever-nearing Olivine City takes an electrifying turn as Pikachu recharges, a member of Team Rocket decides to call herself "Queen," and Brock falls in love. Sparks are in the air ? and in the Pokemon.

The Review!
Pokemon sticks to its well-established formula for this volume and proves that it remains a good, solid children's show.

Audio:
I was kind of hoping to be able to sample the Japanese dialogue, but only the English was available. Just about everyone should be familiar with Pokemon's dub from television is this is more of the same: consistent and pretty good, though Ash's voice gets a little annoying after a while. There isn't really any directionality or special flair in the audio, but all of the action is pretty much centered in the middle of the screen, as fitting a kid's show, so it doesn't need it either.

Video:
The video's a little soft. The colors aren't very crisp or clear, though this is only really noticeable on pans across brighter colors (like red). It's definitely better than broadcast or VHS quality, but not particularly great.

Packaging:
The cover is a collage of seven different pokemon from each of the seven episodes. The back has a few more images and the insert just lists the episode titles and chapter breaks.

Menu:
The menus are as simplistic as the packaging. The characters are simply displayed against a yellow background with options listed below or to the side.

Extras:
There are no extras, though the back cover lists chapters and subtitles as being "special features."

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
There are seven episodes packed onto the disc, and each follows pretty much the same basic premise: the group wanders into a new area, finds a mystery or a new challenge and then have some pokemon battles while Team Rocket tries to interfere. Ultimately, friendship and teamwork always triumph. Thankfully it's reasonably well executed each time and it doesn't get anywhere near as old as you might think. At least not right away.

The first episode gives the first pseudo-realistic look I've seen at what taking care of a bunch of pokemon would be. Brock falls ill so Misty and Ash take on his chores so that he can recover. They're worn out and eventually Team Rocket attacks with a plan to steal their pokemon, but are defeated.

It's poke-sumo wrestling for the next episode, which includes another first for Pokemon ? the first time I've seen a trainer use strategy beyond "Okay, Pikachu, now win the match!" We also get treated to one of my favorite pokemon as Snorlax comes out to play. It's a perfect match, especially since the prize for winning the sumo competition is free food.

Continuing the trend of surprising firsts, the third episode has an old man who can talk to pokemon. No one really believes him, and he gets caught up with some mobsters who pretend that they can understand pokemon as well. He reveals that he can't really talk to them ? but then he seems to be able to after all, so the issue's not entirely settled. Or maybe earnest and pure feeling transcend language barriers. Meowth from Team Rocket also shows an odd spot of kindness as well.

In the next story, an archeologist discovers an ancient artifact that allows the wearer to control all pokemon, but it falls into the hands of Team Rocket. All seems lost until our heroes uncover the item's weakness and manage to save the day. It's friendship and loyalty to the rescue again, as Brock's close relationship with his pokemon helps rescue them.

We're treated to a number of in-jokes and references in the next episode when Jack Pollackson's pet pokemon make a mess of a beautiful town by painting all the buildings in scribbles that may or may not be art. We learn that Pollackson uses Smeargle pokemon to create abstract art, but they've been uninspired lately. Team Rocket sneaks in to try to steal some valuable art and before everything is resolve, we learn that art is in the eye of the beholder, beauty is transitory and art can't be mass-produced or truly understood through TV and pictures.

Brock's dreams seem to come true when the daughter of a pokemon scientist falls madly in love with him in the next episode. Finally being on the other end of the chase, however, seems to scare him and he runs away like any good anime hero. The girl's affections are fickle, however, and she falls in with Team Rocket who use her to steam more valuable pokemon. They are unable to maintain the deception for long, however, and soon the girl's attentions are directed towards yet another suitor anyway.

In the final episode on the DVD, Ash and his Chikorita are accidentally trapped in an electric power station with tons of electric-type pokemon on guard duty. Of course Team Rockets finds their way in as well, and soon everyone is running all of the place trying to escape and stay out of the way of the lighting bolts the guards are slinging. Ash's courage and Chikorita's loyalty overcome the villain's treachery, however, and justice prevails.

In Summary:
Plenty of people hate Pokemon because millions of soccer-moms think that is all anime is and fans had to fight to get anime shelves separately from kid's releases in a lot of video stores, but it's hard to deny that Pokemon is actually a good show.

It doesn't feature the best animation or the deepest storytelling, but it's straightforward tales of friendship, loyalty, courage and perseverance are the bread-and-butter of children's entertainment. It's simple and solid, but not so much as to be intolerable to an adult. You can sit down and watch an episode or two with your kids and not be bored out of your skull. Things are repetitive from episode to episode, but Pokemon does what it's supposed to and does it pretty well. It may not be a Miyazaki film, but I'd be perfectly happy if my kids asked me to get this for them.

Features
English Language

Review Equipment
Panasonic CT27SX12AF 27" flat-screen TV; Koss KD365 DVD player; Onkyo TX-SR501 receiver; RCA 6-piece home theater speaker package; Component video and optical audio connections

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