2013 was a big year for the Pokemon franchise. If you're even just a casual gamer, you know what I'm talking about. Pokemon X & Y debuted. Not only did it revolutionize the gamplay, it also brought in a lot of newcomers to the series, such as myself. Like a lot of people, I grew up watching the early seasons of the Pokemon anime. I believe I stopped at around Diamond and Pearl. The problem with the anime is that after the Johto Region Tournament, the show didn't really go anywhere. Worst, Ash seemed to have lost all his character development from the past seasons. After Advanced, the show was just a turnoff to longtime fans. Enter Origins. a one-shot being a new adaption from square one. Yes, 'Red' from Pokemon Red Version is the star. For the first time in a long while, a Pokemon anime looks epic. Origins is definitely a great watch. It's a testament to how a Pokemon show should be done.
The story is adapted from the franchise's first game. The main character Red wants to become Pokemon Champion. Along the way he's sidetracked with other things and constantly running into his rival,
And that's perhaps the only major problem with this special, the pacing. You can't fit a whole game with 8 gym battles in just 90 minutes, or four episodes. You need at least a season of 13. Honestly, this would have been better as a show than one-shot OVA. Red tells us by narration in-between episodes all of his accomplishments. It feels rushed, even his battle with the Elite Four we couldn't see in all its glory. We also didn't get to see how Red's first encounter with Giovanni went down. A lot of the good stuff is just simply done by quick narration.
It's hard to nail down the personality of a silent protagonist from a black and white video game from the 90's. Red pretty much is the same as Ash Ketchum from the earlier seasons, a trainer that loves his Pokemon and does the right thing. Blue is a big jerk throughout, which is expected. But wow, walking away from helping the secretary? He goes from being cool rival to unlikable antagonist. Giovanni is very similar to his anime self, except he's actually less Dr. Eggman and more like a villain. His turnover to disbanding Team Rocket was kinda sudden, (again, this plot development would have benefited from being a series) but nonetheless he was solid.
One of the best things this OVA generates is genuine emotion. In 90 minutes, it showed more emotion than the entire 17 season anime! Cubone's story was incredibly done. But, easily the best thing is that the fights are utterly fantastic. Actual punches are seen on screen and there's a sense of epic-ness the anime fails to portray. This is a testament to how battles in Pokemon should be done. And finally, one of the biggest hyped things was the inclusion of Mewtwo and Mega Charizard. Once again, the fact that it's only 90 minutes doesn't give Mewtwo enough time to have a proper story. But, Mega Charziard was definitely awesome and the fight between the two was just as good as a Dragon Ball Z battle.
Overall, Pokemon Origins is a refreshing new take on the classic game. There's no denying that the anime has turned into a repetitive mess, (at least the current XY anime is so far solid) so it's nice to see a more mature and 'epic' thing. The only real problem is there isn't enough time to invest in a lot of the plot points. Most of the gym battles are done through 5 second narrations. But despite that it's a great watch. Finally Pokemon fights are epic and on par with high-tier anime battles. It's a shame it's a one-shot, hopefully we'll get more down the road.