Pokemon is a series that has lasted years as a long running anime series. Many of us grew up following Ash & Pikachu on various adventures across the different regions of the Pokemon world. I fondly remember vividly memories of the original three seasons and loved the show growing up. Today I continue to watch the series and in late 2016, Pokemon got a new season for the anime branch of the IP.
Linking with the launch of the ‘Sun & Moon’ games on the Nintendo 3DS, Pokemon Sun & Moon got it’s own anime series that as of this writing currently aired thirteen episodes. Today I will be talking about why I am enjoying the series so far and highlighting aspects of the show I feel are some of the best in the series anime run.
After the events of Pokemon X, Y & Z, the Pokemon Master who consistently losses the Pokemon League goes on a vacation with his mother to help deliver a special Pokemon Egg to an island. After being amazed by the new Pokemon on the Island, Ash encounters various students of a place called The Pokemon School and ends up impressing one of the legendary Pokemon on the Island. This legendary Pokemon gives Ash a Z-Ring which can enable him to use powerful attacks when he has Z-Crystals inside it.
So rather then go on adventures with some friends, he is just living with the Professor of the Island and is attending the Pokemon school all the while completing Island Challenges to get more Z-Crystals. The set up is very different from past seasons of the anime but I like this change of tone. Rather than things feeling formulaic, the overarching story feels like Ash is just living his life and hanging out with his new friends.
What makes this work is Ash feeling both mature from past adventures he went on while also having a more ‘child-like’ side to him. Encountering new things on the Islands, meeting new Pokemon or just having fun; Ash is just having fun. Not having a set goal in place helps create a sense of ‘slice of life’ styling to the overall series. Another aspect helping this is the cast of characters in this new season of Pokemon.
Ash isn’t alone on the island with a Professor that is quite nice to everyone (he is cool enough to let Ash live with him despite even calling him casually a ‘freeloader’), a talking Rotom Pokédex that is really funny and his friends that the Pokemon school being quite different from one another.
Kiawe is a good example of this, as not only is he a powerful Pokemon Trainer who has a Z-Ring & Crystal already but also is quite hard working. He warms up to Ash not long after meeting him and one episode focusing on him gives greater insight onto why he works so hard. Another good example is the character of Lillie who in the game of Sun & Moon has a major role story-wise. She loves Pokemon and knows a lot about them, but simply cannot touch them for whatever reason. Her growth as a character is slower compared to others, but little hints in her solo episode imply that we will learn more about her later in the series.
Team Rocket returns and they are really funny in Sun & Moon. Similar to how they acted in X, Y & Z The Series, they are after Pikachu and want to capture tons of Pokemon. But little differences make them and new dynamic within the team very enjoyable. New Pokemon joining them like Mimikyu who loath’s Pikachu and a Bewear that completely changes the ‘Blasting Off Again!’ element really adds to the characters.
The overall world of Sun & Moon itself is a treat to look at and that is largely thanks to a radically different animation style from past Pokemon Anime Series. It has a look stylized with bright colors, varied character expressions and very impressive animation that is quite fluid. It’s far less series compared to X, Y & Z The Series but it works given the more light hearted tone in this new series of Pokemon. Music is just as impressive, with many tracks having quality remixes of iconic Pokemon tunes while also having new tracks adding atmosphere to the series.
Regarding the voice acting, I mainly have been watching the series through it’s Japanese Dub but I watched some episodes in English. The Japanese cast match the characters quite well and Ash being more carefree lets his voice actor emote more then before. With the English Dub, it sounds quite good and I enjoyed hearing much of the cast from X, Y & Z return to voice characters like Ash, Jesse and James but the new characters sound great with their English voices.
Pokemon Sun & Moon is a solid series so far and for the currently released episodes thus far, it’s a series I highly recommend you watch. Either in English or in Japanese, it’s a series that does a lot right and while different from prior Pokemon Anime Seasons, different doesn’t always means bad. The differences do a lot to make it not only feel unique but something continuing the high quality present in the X, Y & Z series.