Howdy people of the internet, time for me to give you an anime review on this chilled out Sunday. Today I’ll be reviewing Pokemon: Origins, an anime that I’ve been meaning to watch since before Pokemon X &Y came out, but because of my attachment to my 3DS and my uni work I hadn’t gotten around to watching it until now. Now I’ve watched it all in Japanese with subtitles so I won’t be covering the English version, nope, this’ll be a review in its purest form. Okay let’s get started.
So the story in Pokemon: Origins is basically a TV special that unlike the current (and quite poor) on-going Pokemon TV series, Origins is more faithful adaptation of the first generation of Pokemon games, Pokemon Red and Blue (Green in Japan). Origins follows the adventures of the boy known as Red along with his first Pokemon, Charmander and as the travel across the region of Kanto they will do battle with his rival Green, taken on Gym Leaders, taken on the evil Pokemon organisation known as Team Rocket and all that other good stuff along the way.
As an adaptation of the original games, Pokemon: Origins succeeds on nearly every level. The special is broken down into four main parts; “Red“, “Cubone“, “Giovanni” and finally “Charizard” and within each episode there was a specific plotline to follow related to the name of the episode. As soon as this first episode starts up you’re hit with nostalgia. The people behind the anime knows its source material and it knows its audience and anyone who knows the game will see that Origins is chalked full of references big and small. Everything from Professor Oak showing up at the beginning to the various Pokemon locations to your run-ins with Team Rocket and the Gym Battles, it’s all there and it is nostalgic perfection. There are so many aspects ripped straight from the games to the point where I think even some of the dialogue the characters say is exactly like the game, the level of commitment to the source material is pretty insane.
Now as I said before this is an adaptation, so as per usual there were a few liberties taken with the source material. Since this special follows Red’s adventures, they had to flesh out the character so we have to watch him win, fail and grow as a trainer and while it works for the most part, there are a few conventional and convenient anime cliché moments that keep this from being better than it is.
In terms of characters there’s only really two main people to follow and that is Red and Green. Red is the star of this TV special. He’s a fiery little boy with dreams of completing his Pokedex, but at first he doesn’t have the right skills, he’s not a very good trainer as he doesn’t know the basics and has to learn as he travels and over the course of the four episodes he grows and become a more confident and capable trainer. Red for the most part was a fun character, but he was probably one of the key elements that made me dislike Pokemon: Origins for this one simple fact: he’s an idiot. My god, I have never seen such a failure of a Pokemon trainer in my life (not since Ash Ketchum). Seeing this boy struggle and fail was so painful to watch. Red doesn’t know type advantages, tries to capture another trainer’s Pokemon and doesn’t seem to fully understand strategic battles. Maybe I’m being harsh on him because he’s a newbie, but my god his foolish just pissed me off.
Outside of Red there is of course Green. Anyone who knows the games will remember this guy as the little prick who came across every once in a while who was very overconfident and insulted you at every turn. Green in this adaptation was great, he was the best kind of rival who was smart, faster at learning the ways of Pokemon and was always one step ahead of Red.
Everyone else is either a supporting character or a side character. The appearances of Professor Oak, Brock, My Fuji and Giovanni were all pretty interesting and nice and were for the most part in line with what was in the games.
Presentation-wise this is just some really awesome stuff. OLM, Production I.G and Xebec are the studios behind the creation of this special and their work is nothing short of wonderful. Of course there’s been an animated TV show for Pokemon since the late 90’s, but Origins feels far more accurate to the games with more active (and sometimes violent) Pokemon battles, wonderful drawn characters and incredible locations and the attention to detail is SO good! But what could be considered even better is the music, oh my god the music done by Masafumi Mima is GORGEOUS! The composer has taken the majority of the songs from the games and re-imagined them with a more realistic set of instruments and the end result is one of beauty! Almost every song you could imagine from the games has made it in, from the Gym Leader theme to the Lance battle theme to Green’s theme (my personal favourite), it’s all there and it kicks ass!
In conclusion Pokemon: Origins is one hell of a nostalgia trip for fans of the first generation of Pokemon and is probably the most accurate portrayal we’re going to get in terms of an animated adaptation of the video games. This four-part special, while short, captured the essence of the games through the characters, locations, music and of course the battles too. While isn’t perfect due some inaccuracies and Red’s poor trainer habits and character flaws, otherwise this a bit of anime fun no fan should miss out on.
Rating: 7.5/10 (A good, nostalgic adaptation of Pokemon)