In a move that has excited all the Pokémon fans who have following the franchise since it was first released, The Official Pokémon Channel on YouTube has released a new series of shorts in the style of the much loved Pokémon Origins. Released regularly between now and the end of year, the episodes of Pokémon Generations will be in three- to five-minute installments and will focus on the key events from the Pokémon game series. While it doesn’t quite replace the anime, which is still primarily targeted at ten-year-olds despite all the adults that remain loyal to it, it’s a step in the right direction for all the ageing nerds who still dream of being Pokémon Trainers.
The first episode, The Adventure, begins in about as nostalgic a way as it could ever could, opening on the original starts of the first ever Pokémon game. That iconic Game Freak shooting star, followed by the Genger versus Nidorino battle that once seemed like the ultimate ever match, transports you immediately back to your childhood.
In fact, there is a full minute of the 3.45-minute-long short of greyscale, 8-bit gameplay as a pixelated little Red encounters his Pikachu for the first time in the wilds of Viridian Forest.
Successfully caught, it changes to an anime style that is very similar to Pokémon Origins, with a much more mature looking protagonist than Ash Ketchum and a decidedly rounder-faced Pikachu.
The rest of the short is a rapid montage of Red and Pikachu’s adventures, from their first fight against their first Caterpie, through every region and a ton of encounters with legendary Pokémon. It’s simple, silent and a joy to behold for fans who love the speed and excitement of the battle aspect of the show.
Pikachu in this episode seems to be the protagonist, as it shows the Pokémon’s development really clearly and effectively, from struggling to Thundershock a shoal of Woopers to Volt Tackling the crap out of Noivern and Volcarona, and always leaping back into Red’s arms.
The second episode, The Chase, departs more from the original show, really making it clear that this series is for adults. It tackles the seedy underbelly of Kanto and the crimes of Team Rocket from the perspective of a grey-haired detective working tirelessly on tracking down Giovanni and bringing the mob boss to justice.
Both the dialogue and the narration of the story in this one is a little clumsy. The dialogue could be down to awkward translation, but having Team Rocket’s history laid out to a man who likely knows it better than anyone is a bit of a lazy trope of filmmaking. Still, cramming all of Team Rocket’s Kanto storyline into one four-minute short makes that kind of inevitable.
Overall, it’s still a fun episode, showing the Pokémon police force in far more detail and doing far more serious work than you ever see Officer Jenny do, such as Fire Blasting down the walls of the Viridian City Gym to get to Giovanni.
It’s great to see Pokémon used for practical purposes outside of battle and to see them working as partners alongside humans in interesting new ways. It’s also fantastic to see Pokémon that aren’t the biggest or most powerful utilising their abilities in innovative ways, with sneaky little Magnemites helping out with the infiltration alongside the brute force Machamps and Arcanines.
Though it’s not perfect, the show is off to a good start and it’s going to be well worth looking out for the rest of the series.