I'll admit, I may be biased because I don't like the Pokemon anime in the least. However, the Pokemon Red Version was my first GameBoy game ever. I was only 7-8 years old, and I remember being very confused as to why the plot line for the show was so different from the game. I later got the Pokemon Yellow: Special Pikachu Edition game, which was marketed as having some touches that were intended to be more faithful to the show, but in reality, even the Yellow version has only little in common with the anime show.
(And yes, I do regard Pokemon Yellow as one of the greatest hand-held games of all time, with only two minor drawbacks. The first of these being the inclusion of the way-weird Jesse and James, and the second being that Pikachu's cry was altered to saying its name rather than the original cry that Pikachu has in Pokemon Red and Blue. I do very much like the other changes, such as improved artwork and the interaction with Pikachu.)
When I grew out of liking the show in a few years, my parents were kind of confused why I still played the games so much and never seemed to move past them. Little did they realize that comparing the Pokemon Games to the show is like comparing apples and oranges.
(And frankly, I really don't even like the word "Pokemon" as a title for the games and I wish the games were just called "Pocket Monsters," come on, that's not so hard to say. Partly because it's just a better sounding name in my opinion, but also partly because the games should be very distinguished from what aired on Kids WB on February 13th, 1999. And just in case you didn't know, yes, the games came before the television show. You probably already knew that if you're reading this review though.)
The Pokemon Origins TV Special is Pokemon Red and Green (Blue in the USA) adapted into an anime. The differences in plot are only minor and are probably only even there in the interest of making everything fit into four short episodes. Interestingly, each of the four episodes has a different director, and they all do a very good job. *Very Minor Spoiler Alert!* There also happens to be an ode to the newest generation towards the end.*End of Very Minor Spoiler*
Red is a likable enthusiastic protagonist (very unlike Ash) and seems to be a good representation of the eleven-year-old Pokemon league champion that we all remember, albeit now he finally talks. Green (the Rival) is very similar to how he was games, but maybe just a hair less obnoxious (which isn't saying much, but he doesn't say "Smell ya later").
The animation is top notch, the recreation of the towns and settings from the GameBoy games is superb, and they even went above and beyond with the cool intro sequences of a GameBoy selection screen, the HP bars as Pokemon are battling, and the fact that the Pokemon don't say their names out loud as their cry, but instead make noises like they do in the games. All of these things are to be commended. You are really given a sense of how different the characters and worlds of Red and "Ash" truly are.
The only depressing thing that keeps this from getting a perfect 10/10 score is the fact that it's only a television special, and not a full on anime series. Although this special does a fantastic job of summarizing the plot in four twenty-five minute episodes, this time constraint means they have to skip over a lot of parts of the games that would have been so fun to see. At the beginning of the second, third and fourth episodes, we see a brief summary of these events that those of us who grew up on the games are familiar with. Merely stating that such things happened just isn't quite enough, I would've loved to see these things played out, especially if it had been done with an equal amount of skill as the parts they did elaborate on. And worst of all, this results in there having to be a few minor plot changes from the games to make it fit the time block as I mentioned earlier.
But I won't let that stop me from being delighted. Who knows? This is the first review on IMDb, but maybe this will catch on. Could we possibly be treated to a similar special about the generation II games (Gold and Silver)? That would be fantastic!
In conclusion, may Red be known as the Pokemon League Champion, NOT Ash!
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