The Ultimate Journey: Unveiling the Best Pokémon Show Series
Are you ready to embark on an epic journey filled with thrilling battles, heartwarming friendships, and extraordinary adventures? Look no further, because we're diving into the captivating world of Pokémon! From the beloved original series to the newest installment, Journeys, we're exploring the best Pokémon show that has captivated audiences worldwide. So, grab your Poké Balls and join us as we uncover the exciting chapters of this iconic animated series, where trainers and their Pokémon strive for greatness and forge unbreakable bonds!
Original Series (1997-2002)
Dub seasons 1-5: Indigo League, Adventures in the Orange Islands, The Johto Journeys, Johto League Champions, Master Quest
The original series, spanning from the first episode to Ash's preparations to leave for Hoenn, is a mixed bag. The first portion, set in Kanto, has a nostalgic charm and exudes energy. It's evident that the series was still finding its footing and figuring out its own rules, but this adds to the fun. The opening theme, with its iconic line "I WANNA BE THE VERY BEST, LIKE NO ONE EVER WAS," remains a beloved anthem.
Afterwards, the series becomes unwieldy. The detour into the Orange Islands, a setting not based on the games, is hit or miss. The Johto region journey can feel laborious, filled with events that don't contribute significantly to the overarching story.
Nevertheless, the series tells a compelling story about a determined boy from Pallet Town who aspires to be a Pokémon master and learns the importance of reliance and helping others. By the time Ash separates from Misty and Brock, it's clear that he has matured from the young and brash kid we first met.
Pokémon's original series arc is available to stream on Pokémon TV and for digital purchase on Amazon. Indigo League (season 1) is available to stream on Netflix.
The Indigo League, which kicks off the Pokémon series, remains one of the most beloved adventures in anime history. Its quality is unmatched. Each episode, despite often being filler, is filled with heartfelt and emotional moments. From Ash's encounter with an abandoned Charmander to the touching farewell to Butterfree and the unforgettable blizzard episode, the Indigo League is deserving of its reputation as one of the best anime seasons.
Adventures in the Orange Islands
As the second season of the Pokémon anime, Adventures in the Orange Islands faced the challenging task of following up an extraordinary first season. While it doesn't quite reach the same heights, it is still an enjoyable season with unique elements. Unlike other seasons that tried to sync with the latest games, this season primarily consists of filler content. It takes place in the Orange Islands and introduces new concepts like regional forms and Ash's first League Championship victory.
The Johto series falls in the middle ground when it comes to Pokémon seasons. It may not be as outstanding as the Indigo League, but it's far from the worst. The continued adventures of Ash, Misty, and Brock in the Johto Region are entertaining, and the addition of new Pokémon, like Cyndaquil, brings excitement. However, it doesn't build significantly on the success of the previous series and lacks the thought-provoking messages found in other episodes. Fortunately, the series starts to change things up in the next installment.
The final season of the Johto arc, Master Quest, offers a lot of significant events. Ash and his friends encounter legendary Pokémon, deal with Team Rocket, and compete once again in the Pokémon League. However, despite these notable moments, Master Quest falls flat compared to its predecessors. The battles are uninteresting, and the overall action feels mediocre. The only standout is the battle between Gary and Ash, but even that can't save the season from its lackluster competition.
Johto League Champions
Johto League Champions shares some of the problems seen in the previous two seasons of the Gen 2 arc. However, it has its moments, particularly with some exciting Gym battles and intriguing storylines, such as the highly anticipated battle against Whitney. While it may not be the strongest season, it ranks higher than the weaker sections of the Pokémon anime.
Master Journeys: The Series
Immediately following Journeys is Master Journeys: The Series, the second installment in the Gen 8 arc. While it slightly improves upon its predecessor, it still falls into the pattern of forgettable episodes. There are brighter spots, like the love for the Galar region and Chloe's story arc with Eevee, but the season doesn't break new ground in terms of storytelling.
The entire Gen 3 anime follows a formula similar to the Johto series. Advanced Challenge, the second part of the Gen 3 era, showcases the worst of the Hoenn region. With the novelty of Ash's new party members already explored in the previous season, Advanced Challenge fails to deliver anything remarkable beyond a few Gym battles. The content becomes predictable, and the series starts to feel stale by this point.
Advanced Battle serves as the conclusion to the Hoenn region. Ash participates in the Pokémon Conference, aiming to become the regional Champion but only making it to the top eight. However, what sets this season apart is the introduction of Pokémon Contests, which give May the chance to shine as a coordinator. Despite Ash's disappointing competition, the new tournament style and the conflict between Groudon and Kyogre elevate this season above its predecessor.
Breaking away from tradition, the Battle Frontier arc offers a new challenge for Ash in the Hoenn region. It takes inspiration from the postgame content of Pokémon Emerald, with Ash facing off against the Frontier Brains. While some parts are skippable, such as the Pokémon Ranger filler, the focus on May's Contest journey and Ash's dominance in the Battle Frontier make this season an improvement over previous conclusions.
DP Battle Dimension
In Battle Dimension, Ash, Dawn, and Brock continue their journey as a well-established team. They gain new allies and face challenges from Team Rocket as Ash and Dawn pursue Gym badges and Pokémon Contests, respectively. This season stands out for its exploration of Dawn's character, showcasing her growth and emotional development. It adds depth and sympathy, making her one of the best characters in the Pokémon anime.
DP Galactic Battles
Galactic Battles remains one of the top seasons of the Pokémon anime. Even in its weakest season, it surpasses the majority of episodes in the series. The third season of Diamond & Pearl sees Ash, Dawn, and Brock in the valley part of their Sinnoh journey. While there aren't many exciting moments outside of collecting Gym badges and Contest ribbons, it provides a calm between the storms, balancing action and character development.
Sinnoh League Victors
Sinnoh League Victors marks the conclusion of the Gen 4 arc and stands as one of the strongest Pokémon Leagues. The rivalry between Ash and Paul reaches its climax, with Paul serving as one of Ash's most competitive opponents. The action is intense, especially during the Pokémon Contests featuring Dawn. This season learns from its predecessor and delivers compelling storylines alongside impressive battles.
Pokémon Black & White: Adventures in Unova/Unova and Beyond
The Pokémon Black & White anime series is viewed as one of the weakest generations. Adventures in Unova and Beyond, the final season of this arc, falls short in terms of plot resolution. The season starts with an intense battle for the Champion title but ultimately provides Ash's worst attempt yet at claiming victory. Additionally, partners like Iris and Cilan receive criticism for their poorly written and irritating personalities. This season may not be worth the investment of time.
Black & White: Rival Destinies
Rival Destinies, the second season of the Black & White arc, brings some promise but fails to execute it effectively. While it has its shining moments, such as participating in tournaments and the return of Dawn, it relies on subpar filler content throughout multiple episodes, resulting in a lackluster viewing experience.
Black & White arc (2010-13)
Dub seasons 14-16: Black & White, Black & White: Rival Destinies, Black & White: Adventures in Unova and Beyond
The Black & White arc of Pokémon faces the challenge of living up to the engaging storytelling found in its video game counterparts. Black/White and Black 2/White 2 offer compelling narrative and character development, elevating the series to new heights. Unfortunately, the anime adaptation falls short, failing to capture the inspiring essence of its game counterparts and instead feeling like a monotonous grind.
One reason for this disconnect is the nature of the show itself. The villainous organization, Team Plasma, advocates for Pokémon's liberation from battling. While thought-provoking in the games, it clashes against Ash and his friends' unending enthusiasm in the anime.
Additionally, the anime struggles to convey the wonder of the diverse Unova region effectively. The limitations of the medium prevent it from fully capturing the visual liveliness portrayed in the Nintendo DS games. Despite these shortcomings, the Black & White arc still holds a respectable place in the series.
Pokémon's Black & White arc is available to stream on Tubi and Amazon Prime.
Pokémon Advanced, the first season of the Hoenn arc, introduces a new region and new characters. While not perfect, it benefits from the novelty of these additions. Ash's interactions with siblings Max and May bring unique dynamics to their journey. The return of Brock and the introduction of Pokémon native to the Hoenn region add excitement to the season. It sets the stage for future developments and paves the way for some improvements.
Compared to other series in Pokémon, XY stands out for its quality. The addition of Generation 6 Pokémon, such as the popular Greninja, brings excitement. The story is a significant improvement from previous seasons, delving deeper into Ash's character and providing more development. The introduction of Serena, an adorable companion with a crush on Ash, adds depth and character growth. XY is a fantastic addition to the Pokémon saga.
XY Kalos Quest
Kalos Quest, the second installment in the Kalos region, takes XY to new heights. The focus on the dynamic between Ash and Serena adds a central theme that engages viewers with each interaction. Serena's character arc across this season showcases growth and complexity. Additionally, XY maintains its high-quality animation and delivers thrilling battles, especially during Gym leader fights.
XYZ serves as the pinnacle of the Pokémon anime series, hailed as one of the greatest seasons in animation history. This season excels in every aspect, from the introduction of Mega Evolutions and the conflict with Team Flare to the Pokémon League tournament itself. The action is bombastic and impactful, with the battle between Ash and Alain standing as the series' best. XYZ also boasts the strongest iteration of Ash's character yet, displaying genuine emotions and powerful writing. It is a non-stop thrill ride and an outstanding representation of the Pokémon anime.
Sun And Moon Series
The Sun and Moon series brings a unique charm by basing the region on the Hawaiian islands. The beautiful scenery and adorable Pokémon, like Rowlet, contribute to its appeal. However, the animation style sets it back. The unusual appearance of Ash and Pikachu makes it difficult to connect with the characters. Despite this flaw, the series still intrigues fans with its setting and characters.
Sun & Moon
The original Sun & Moon anime series takes a different approach by portraying a childish version of Ash attending school for the first time. This decision adds energy and comedy, injecting new life into the series. Additionally, storylines revolving around characters like Litten tackle challenging themes like death and abandonment, making this season stand out as emotionally impactful.
Ultimate Journeys: The Series
Ultimate Journeys: The Series surprises audiences with a significantly improved season compared to its predecessor in the Gen 8 anime. As Ash faces the ultimate test, competing against other Champions, the action reaches new heights. The fights are intense and among the best in the series. However, the season falls short in its storyline development, diluting some of the overall experience.
There's something off about Journeys.
I understand that they needed something new for Generation 8, but this series doesn't reach the same level of greatness as the others. I do enjoy seeing the areas of the Galor region and discovering the new Pokemon, but it just doesn't feel the same. There are numerous references to older regions, which can be nice occasionally, but in Journeys, it feels like too much.
And while I know that Pokemon is intended for children, the earlier shows always had moments that appealed to adults and taught valuable lessons to kids. I don't get that same experience with this series. Maybe it's because it's on Netflix or maybe it's something else, but I'll definitely be skipping this one.
Dub seasons 23-25: Journeys: The Series, Master Journeys: The Series, Ultimate Journeys: The Series
The most recent Pokémon storyline is quite different from previous ones, as it incorporates elements from its corresponding video games (Sword and Shield) while also serving as both a sequel series and, for now, a grand finale. The results aren't perfect, mainly because it tries to accomplish so many things at once. It combines monster-of-the-week adventures with a nostalgic world tour and various video game tie-ins. It also includes Pokémon Go-like missions, all leading up to the World Coronation Series.
As a result, after watching an episode of Journeys, you're often left with one of two feelings: "Okay?" or "Okay!" It's refreshing to see a Pokémon storyline that embraces its own mythology and builds upon the 25-year history instead of disregarding it in order to focus solely on the new additions that will sell the most video games. It makes you wonder what the series could be like if it could solely focus on that aspect, without the constraints of its current framework. Regardless, Journeys has some of the best moments in the entire series, and its animation, which retains a simplified design style from the Sun & Moon storyline, often looks stunning.
Pokémon Journeys: The Series (season 23) can be watched on Pokémon TV and Netflix.
Diamond and Pearl Series
But as much as I love Serena, no one can surpass Dawn. Or Diamond and Pearl.
Diamond and Pearl in the Pokémon series is iconic for several reasons. The game it's based on is fantastic, the anime has great episodes that explore deeper themes, such as when Jessie lets go of Dustox for love or when Pikachu questions evolution again for the first time since Season 1. Additionally, the companions are exceptional.
Dawn herself is a fantastic addition to Ash's team and brings a refreshing change after May and Max. While she's still a trainer, her main goal is to become the best coordinator in the Pokémon League. She's not the best and makes mistakes like normal heroes in fiction, which shows that it's okay to lose. She's resilient, strong, and adorable, and I'll always love her for being one of my favorite role models as a child. And let's not forget about Piplup, Turtwig, and Chimchar – they're all incredibly cute!
With a sprawling list of captivating series spanning over two decades, the Pokemon franchise has undoubtedly left an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of fans worldwide. From the beloved Original Series to the recent Journeys Series, each iteration has brought its own unique charm and excitement. Whether you're a fan of the classic Indigo League or find yourself drawn to the thrilling adventures in the Sun and Moon Series, there is no denying the enduring popularity of this beloved show. As we eagerly anticipate what the future holds for Pokemon, one thing is for certain - the power and magic of these pocket monsters will continue to captivate and entertain us for years to come. So pull up a chair, grab your Pokeballs, and embark on the ultimate journey with Ash and his incredible Pokemon companions. Gotta catch 'em all!
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