Pokémon Sun & Moon (First Impressions Review – EP 1 – 4)

Author: Atsuhiro Tomioka

Genre: Action, Game, Kids, School

Episodes: 4/TBA

Studio: OLM, Inc. (Team Kato)



Introduction

A day before Pokémon Sun & Moon’s official 3DS release, on 17th November 2016, the Pokemon Sun & Moon anime was aired in Japan to further hype the game’s release. When I saw the multiple trailers and screenshots of the anime, I thought that it was gonna be worse than the previous installments because of its jump to having the main protagonist, Ash Ketchum attend school instead of having to fight through the gyms, the Elite Four and champion of the region, and having his character design changed slightly. But after watching just the first few episodes, I took back everything I said about the trailers and screenshots because I personally enjoyed it.

 

Storyline Premise

Ash Ketchum travels to the Alola region after his mother’s Mr Mime won 3 plane tickets to the Alola region from the daily lottery. Professor Oak gave Ash and his mom a task to send a rare Pokemon egg over to his cousin who is the principal of a Pokémon school in the Alola region.

After visiting the Pokémon school and having made new friends, Ash and his mother set off for dinner. Their dinner time was interrupted however, as the island’s guardian Pokémon, Tapu-Koko, confronts Ash. Ash chased after Tapu-Koko and Tapu-Koko then presented him with a Z-Ring, an accessory capable of unleashing a powerful attack using the bond of a trainer and their Pokémon.

After this encounter, Ash decided to stay in the Alola region, in order to truly deepen the bond between him and his Pikachu, to further learn more about Pokémon, and to take part in the Island Challenges, an Alolan tradition where a trainer undergoes various trials to strengthen the bond between him and his Pokémon. He stayed with Pokémon Professor Kukui, a teacher at the Pokémon School. And with that, he attended the Pokémon school.

The story is almost completely different from the other seasons before this. Such as what I mentioned before with Sun & Moon not having any gyms. When I first heard that Ash was going to school, I was fairly disappointed because Ash went through many hardships and faced many challenges in the previous seasons. Season after season, they made Ash’s maturity grow and grow, and then they decided to put him in school. Though it may sound bad at first, the reasoning behind why he is going to school makes up for how absurd it sounds.

Verdict: A weird choice for storyline with a lot of solid reasoning to back it up.

 

Animation and Art

As for character design and such, nothing really changed aside from Ash’s and Pikachu’s face. They made their faces more cartoonish than the other characters. This choice might’ve been done to appeal to the younger generation more but I still don’t get why they would only “cartoonify” Ash and Pikachu. Even Ash’s mother and Professor Oak look the same as they were in the previous seasons.

Source: forbes.com

Source: forbes.com

Animation-wise, I have to say that I’ve seen some improvements. XY&Z’s animations were smooth and polished to the extent that even fast-paced battles were amazing to look at. It shouldn’t even be compared to by Sun & Moon because of Sun & Moon’s cartoony art design. But you still have to admit that there is a noticeable difference in animation quality between the two. Though, I wouldn’t say Sun & Moon has the best art design, it certainly has the best overall animation quality

Verdict: Fun-looking character design

 

Sound and Music

While the openings of XY and XY&Z were really intense and epic, the opening of Sun & Moon is more lighthearted and mellow. In my opinion, the music in Pokémon, in both the games and the anime, is meant to make you feel more attached to the story and set the atmosphere for the scenario in question. Sun & Moon’s opening doesn’t show a lot of intensity but rather it shows casualness, as aligned with the more casual feeling of Sun & Moon whereas the openings in XY&Z were very intense and showed competitiveness.

Verdict: Calming and less intense than the previous installments

 

Characterization

I feel as if they took Ash’s maturity and shoved it out a window of many missed opportunities. In Sun & Moon, Ash acts more like an actual 10 year old. But this, in my opinion, threw out a lot of opportunities they could have done with Ash. They could’ve make him actually grow up for a change and make the anime more like the origins Pokemon series for example.

As I stated before, as the previous series progressed, you could see Ash maturing, learning more about consequences and responsibilities and such. They even made his character just straight up look more serious in XY&Z.

Then, we have the side-characters, Lillie, Suiren, Mao, Kaki and Mamane. Most of which were originally the trial captains in the game. So far, they haven’t made a clear connection whether or not they ARE the trial captains in the anime yet as of episode 4 but rest assured, we are going to find out very soon. All of these characters also study in the Pokemon school and are Ash’s new classmates.

These characters are here to provide more aesthetics to the anime by giving it more base characterization and more opportunities for character interaction. I personally think it was a great idea instead of Ash having basically the same 2 or 3 partners on every journey he embarks on.

Source: nyafuu.org

Source: nyafuu.org

Conclusion

Overall, I’m pretty happy about how the anime played out. Just like the game, it has all the pros of what made its previous installments good and they’ve also changed a few things to make the new installment more relevant than the others. I’ve never been attached to a Pokémon series for so long simply because it was all mostly just battles upon battles upon battles and hardly any real plot.

But with the casualness of Sun & Moon, I think it’s safe to say I’ll be sticking to the series more often than the previous installments and I of course recommend you to watch the anime, especially if you played the game.

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