Pokemon is known worldwide as one of the greatest childrens programmes of all time. It has earned that title with over a decade on the air and the millions of people who were touched by the show’s stories and characters.
Now in it’s 14th season, Pokemon has decided to go back to it’s roots, with Pokemon: Black and White. By stripping back the things that have become tired and old with the series and in it’s place introducing new elements tied in with what made the show so good in those early years, Black and White makes for what is the series’ freshest instalment to date.
Black and White like previous Pokemon series involves Ash Ketchem travelling to a new region in the world of Pokemon, this time a place called Unova. From the moment he steps off the plane onto this new continent he immediately encounters the legendary Pokemon, Zekrom, whose attack cause Ash’s Pikachu to become severely weakened in strength (unable to do electric attacks for a certain period of time). From right at that moment, we know that things are going to change with this series.
In the past whenever Ash journeyed to a new region, his Pikachu is mysteriously weaker than it was in the previous season. This was a major inconsistency that left a lot of viewers feeling that the series was simply recycling the same plot every time a new season begins, and they weren’t wrong. But with Black and White, from the get go, we are given a reason for why Pikachu is substantially weaker than before (it is necessary for Pikachu to be weaker in order for Ash to still have a challenge in this new region afterall). That is the first of many delightful changes in Black and White that make this new series feel so much more fresher than anything we have seen from the franchise in a long time.
So what else has changed with Black and White? Well, everyone’s favourite buffoons, Team Rocket, are now actually competent criminals with more dimensions to their characters than simply wanting to steal Pikachu from Ash. This is a major step for the series as not only does it give some room for new comedic material, it also makes Team Rocket actually interesting to watch. Which is something they have no been since somewhere during the Johto season.
There is a lot of new jokes told in this series that just could not be told back in the era of ‘Team Rocket blasting off’ humour and thank god for it. There was some genuinely humourous dialogue being thrown about between characters and Ash finally has gotten a chance to be funny again now that Team Rocket have taken a back seat to deal with their own storyline (uncovering a mysterious meteorite that their boss needs for world domination).
Not only that but the series is back to it’s roots of telling compelling story-lines, with a common theme underneath it all; Animals are often misunderstood by Humans. This message is one that plays often through-out the first collection of Black and White, with many Pokemon at first appearing to be ‘bad’ but ultimately turning out to have simply been misunderstood. This is a great message for children and along with the themes of friendship with animals these lessons are the things that make Pokemon such a great kids show.
Ultimately Pokemon: Black and White is a massive improvement in the plot department, compared to previous seasons and that is something that is incredibly clear through-out the entirety of this first collection.
Visuals and Audio:
Aesthetically, Pokemon has never looked better. With vibrant visuals and impressive art direction, Black and White makes for a very good looking season of Pokemon, better than anything we have seen from the franchise before. The character designs are all unique and memorable and the Pokemon themselves look great in full animation (Pikachu’s Volt Tackle attack looks absolutely stunning).
From an audio standpoint this feels like the point in which The Pokemon Company’s voice actors has finally gotten into their groove. It’s been a fair while now since they took things over from 4Kids and for the first time, it feels like the actors have finally gotten into the roles. The soundtrack is also great, especially considering most tracks are from the games themselves (something 4Kids did not do).
All in all this is the most superficially pleasing season of Pokemon and things can only keep getting better from here.
Unfortunately there isn’t much in the way of special features on this release, but for the asking price (around $20 AUD) you can’t complain, especially when there are 24 episodes in this collection. There is more than enough here to keep viewers satisfied, but it would’ve certainly been nice to have a few bonus features thrown in for that added bit of longevity.
Pokemon: Black and White Collection 1 is all in all a great release from Magna Pacific. It is undoubtedly the best Pokemon season in years and is nothing short of a crowd pleaser. This is a great show for children and is even good for the adults who had grown up watching the series.
There is a lot of things to like about Pokemon: Black and White, whether it is the refreshing change it brings to the franchise, the endearing new characters (Iris, Cilan and even Pokemon like Sandile and Oshawott), the adventure of it all or just the pure enjoyment that comes with watching Pokemon, this is a must buy for fans of the series or something for your kids.
Pokemon: Black and White is one of the series finest hours and as such should not be missed.