Pokemon has been an integral part of the life over the past 18 years. And in that that time I’ve watched some 800-odd episodes of the franchise as well as dozens of movies and specials. But I’m 23 now and have the advantage of living in an internet age where I can watch anything, anytime I want. So naturally, Pokemon has lost it’s appeal to me over the years. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy a good episode of Pokemon from time to time, being the Pokemon master and anime otaku that I am, but the plot device of Ash constantly resetting at the end of each series is something I’ve grown bored with. His strategical know-how, his Pokemon’s proven power levels, and to a degree his memories and relationships with friends all reset – all while the following season gives him a similar stable of Pokemon and human companions to go on redundant adventures with. But Sun & Moon doesn’t feel redundant. In the first 2 episodes Ash joins a school on a tropical island and meets a few characters who don’t seem to have direct counterparts in other Pokemon series (and some of them are even pretty cute). Everything feels different, even the animation.
There’s been a lot of discussion in the community lately about whether the new Pokemon series looks better or worse than it has in the past, and for my money Sun & Moon has some of the most expressive frame-by-frame animation of the entire franchise.
I’ve never thought that Pokemon has looked bad overall, it’s just felt very restricted by the structure of it’s character designs and honestly generic overall aesthetic. Some two dimensional anime designs don’t move well within a three dimensional plane and Pokemon is one of the series that has this problem. XY and XYZ tried to partially fix this issue by introducing CG environments for its Pokemon battles so animators could focus more on the movement of the combatants and their Pokemon, but to me this often came off as nauseating to a certain degree. I didn’t like the constant wild zooms and character movement, . It also pulled the dramatic stakes down a notch when every trainer constantly flailed their arms and Pokemon were bouncing around the battlefield like Narusawa’s sloppy basketballs. That doesn’t help raise dramatic stakes when it happens in every battle.
Pokemon Sun & Moon is taking the franchise in a new direction – with an interesting batch of new characters seemingly unlike anything in the franchise before, totally new characters designs, a wildly different setting, and a combination of a variety of different animation techniques. At it’s core Pokemon has always been about the process of the adventure. Learning new things, discovering new places, meeting new people, evolving as a person. Ash might never become a Pokemon Master, but I know that, and deep down that isn’t what I want to see anymore when I put on an episode of the show. I want to see Ash go on an adventure. I watch to see him evolve. And I am happy with the exciting new direction that Studio OLM is taking the franchise in with Sun & Moon.
Thank you for reading.