Pokémon Black and White DVD review, episodes 1-12

As is customary with the release of a new Pokémon video game, the television series follows. The Unova region is ripe for adventure, and as always, Ash is prepared to further master his Pokémon skills. Whether or not you’re prepared to go on this most recent journey will heavily depend upon how enamored you currently are with anything related to Pokémon.

Format: Animated, Color, NTSC
Region: 1 (Canada, United States)
Number of Discs: 2
Number of Episodes: 12
Publisher: Viz Media
Rating: NR (Not Rated)

Each episode of this series is mostly self-contained; meaning that you could watch just about any episode and not be missing out on too much. Along the way, Ash picks up a few new (human) followers, learns new Poké-tactics, wins battles, helps out those in need, and he learns a few life lessons too. There’s a new challenge confronting Ash and friends in each episode, and (surprise) it gets resolved by the end of the episode as well. Team Rocket, the duo that’s always giving Ash a hard time and repeatedly stealing Pikachu, is back in just about every episode too. There is an overarching plot that involves Team Rocket doing some dastardly deeds, and we’re given a small peek as it slowly unfolds. The evil plot by Team Rocket is a simple one: take over the world. There’s no depth there, but then again, that isn’t the reason people watch the Pokémon T.V. series.

Probably not unlike the old N64’s Pokémon Stadium, part of the reason people watch the show is to simply see their somewhat simplistic video game become more alive. The Pokémon and their abilities are brought to life in grand fashion, more so than their current video game counterparts. At times, typical Japanese manga-style action backgrounds bring more intensity to scenes and particular moves. They also put more emphasis on the character portrayed by not using the “real” background. Seeing all of the moves animated is a treat for fans, and rather than simply sticking with the small set of moves that each Pokémon has in the games, there are tactics and moves that keep fans guessing as to how battles will unfold.

For those of you who absolutely abhor any kind of dub, no matter how good it is, you’re going to need to avoid this DVD collection entirely. This collection of twelve episodes comes on two discs, and there isn’t any option for Japanese voice-overs, unfortunately. For those of you, like me, who are used to the dub of Pokémon, you’ll have no problem slipping into this latest foray. While the series probably won’t win any Emmy Awards, it’s good for what it is: a children’s television show. The lines are all delivered well, and the voice-overs are very consistent. In other words, no one sticks out like a sore thumb, and no one outclasses the rest of the cast. I find this cast to be quite tolerable, but that could be that it’s just because I’ve been used to them since the first season came out oh so long ago. The one thing I noticed (not having followed the series this whole time) is that Meowth now seems to have a different voice actor. The current one does an okay job, but I sort of missed hearing the old (probably annoying to most of you) Meowth.

As for extras, there aren’t any. There aren’t any behind-the-scenes looks, interviews, games, or non-english dub options. There are, however, many episodes to watch: twelve. That’s more than you’ll normally get in an anime collection, so this is either a blessing or a curse depending on how much you like extras.

If any of this review sounds familiar to you, like it could be applied to just about any set of Pokémon episodes, that’s because not much has changed, even since the first season. Ash is always helping people, finding new friends and Pokémon, learning new battle techniques, earning badges, and Team Rocket is always blasting off. For better or for worse, this is the Pokémon series we’ve known all these years. If you’ve never seen the anime series, and you like the games, it’s definitely worth looking into as it expands upon the framework that the games build.

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Ryan Southard
Ryan Southard 776 posts

Ryan Southard is a video game enthusiast, dissecting games down to their tiniest details. Whether it's new or it's old, as long as it's awesome, he'll play it. Follow him on Twitter at @Ryan_Southard <a href="http://nerdreactor.com/about/">Meet the Nerd Reactor Team</a>

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