In my plans for 2022 post at the start of the year I stated my goals for this year. One of those goals was to read all of the Pokemon Adventures manga as I had started reading the first chapter in the series in 2021 and was really drawn in by how different to (and often darker than) both the games and the anime it was.
In 2020 I had previously read all the Discworld books by Terry Pratchett before, but I did this on my Kindle. Now that I’m a little more concerned of the issues around digital ownership I knew that I wanted to collect the physical books for my Pokemon read through.
I had managed to get a few Pokemon Adventures box-sets before I started my goal thanks to my local comic shop having a deal on them, although it would later turn out that I bought a completely different series (more on that later).
The Pokemon Adventures manga is split into chapters, each of which match a mainline Pokemon game (including remakes like Fire Red and Leaf Green etc) and for the most part there’s a box-set available for each of these.
My plan to tackle the goal was to then buy a box-set each month and read it with the aim of completing the entire series over the space of a year, ending in November 2022.
This plan went out of the window in February though due to issues getting hold of the books I needed and my own lack of self-control when it comes to goal completion, so as of March 2022 I’ve now read all the books available.
Catching ’em all
There’s a lot of Pokemon manga out there and the first hurdle I fell on was actually ensuring I had the right series.
I had originally thought I had bought the Diamond and Pearl part of the Pokemon Adventures storyline when I got my initial box-sets from my comic shop, but as I was researching Pokemon Adventures in order to buy the next chapter I became aware that the books I had bought were the confusingly titled “Pokemon Diamond and Pearl Adventures” books which are a separate series.
This left me with a bit of a problem as I had to quickly get hold of the Diamond, Pearl and Platinum chapter of Pokemon Adventures (it’s easier to tell them apart by the inclusion of Platinum in the name) but this didn’t go smoothly.
The first six chapters (which following the first, second and third generation games as well as the Fire Red and Leaf Green remakes) were relatively easy to buy as box-sets as I assume they’ve had reprints, but it was near impossible to track down a box-set for the next chapter Diamond, Pearl and Platinum.
I did finally find a copy of the Diamond, Pearl and Platinum chapter on the internet for a massive mark up which I stupidly agreed to given the self-imposed deadline that I had put on myself, but that order was cancelled because the website didn’t actually have the box-set in stock, instead they had hoped they could source it elsewhere in order to fulfil the order but even they couldn’t get hold of it.
So I instead ordered the separate volumes for the Diamond, Pearl and Platinum chapter with the first volume fortunately turning up in the first batch so I was able to start reading without missing my self-imposed deadline.
This experience triggered a bit of a panic shop in me as I then spent a month ensuring that I had all the other books I’d need in the future to ensure that I didn’t miss another deadline due to the unavailability of the books.
It was a good thing I did this too as the Black & White and Black & White 2 chapter appeared to have a similar problem with volumes two & eight of Black & White and volume one of Black & White 2 being especially hard to get hold of.
This issue was not helped by the fact that there are two separate collections of the Black and White chapter with a set of “mini-collections” available that cover the same story, but with less rounds per volume, so often a listing for those missing full volumes turned out to be the mini-collection volume instead (also these mini-collection box-sets are really expensive for essentially less content).
The scarcity of these books meant that one volume (volume eight of Black & White) was going for £75! I eventually got hold of these at a semi-reasonable price by tracking down ex-library versions being sold from the United States where the bulk of the price I paid went on postage, but this allowed me to get all three volumes for around £40.
However because I ended up with ex-library books I did end up reading the digital version of my Black & White volume two book because it was not in a sanitary enough state (it was pretty grim with food and bogeys on the pages) for me to want to read while I’m eating and drinking (there’s nothing better than a good book, a snack and a coffee).
I had to resort to the digital version of Black & White volume eight because that book hasn’t turned up yet (and is still estimated to turn up in two months time in May) and that was blocking me from completing my goal.
Reading ’em all
Pokemon Adventures follows a similar storyline to the games and for each mainline Pokemon game there’s a corresponding chapter of the manga. Some of the chapters are quite large like the Black & White and Black & White 2 chapters (which have a shared storyline for 13 books) or can be as short as two books like the Heart Gold and Soul Silver chapter.
As a “gen wunner” I will always have a soft spot for the story of the Kanto region and the first chapter of the Pokemon Adventure arguably has a storyline that differs the most from the source material with half of the gym leaders being part of Team Rocket, there being scenes where Pokemon actually die, and it contains “Black Fog” which, because Haunter is my favourite Pokemon, makes this one of my favourite chapters.
The storyline of the Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald chapters were really enjoyable with the character Ruby focusing on the Pokemon Contests rather than battles (although he’s good at that too) which was a nice break away from the classic “get all the gym badges” motivation.
At the end of the Emerald chapter there’s a big battle involving all the Pokedex holders (basically all the trainers the manga follows) which was quite fun to read and the character Emerald had an interesting plot where he used mud from a Pokemon’s home region to calm them instead of battling and catching his own team.
The Sun and Moon chapter also had an interesting story, which similar to the games saw the plot change from the characters looking to meet the Tapu to travelling to alternate dimensions to fight risk of the ultra beasts.
I would say that the Diamond, Pearl and Platinum chapters were the weakest for me. I didn’t care much for the Diamond and Pearl characters who are “comedians” who accidentally mistake a rich girl as a tour guide for a trip they win.
I found those chapters hard to read because at the end of almost every round Diamond and Pearl practice this awful comedy routine which consists of explaining Pokemon mechanics with terrible puns and I felt this really took away from any of the more serious themes.
However the Diamond, Pearl and Platinum chapters do introduce Looker and his Croagunk which are involved in later chapters so it’s not all bad.
Inconsistencies in the collection
Based on the numbering of the volumes in the first six chapters it would appear that the publisher Viz viewed these volumes as one storyline, with the introduction of Diamond, Pearl and Platinum breaking that storyline but based on the Bulbapedia article for Pokemon Adventures and the shared storyline across all the chapters I don’t think this is the case.
Starting from Diamond, Pearl and Platinum the volumes are numbered based on the context of the chapter they’re in which arguably makes it easier to collect individual volumes as you don’t need to offset the volume number by the number the chapter starts at, but it does mess up the volume count for the overall Pokemon Adventures story.
In addition to the switch in volume numbering there is also a format change after Black & White 2 with the volumes changing both size (going from standard manga format into a square format) and the number of rounds they contain (essentially halving the number of rounds per volume).
These smaller number of rounds per volume are similar to the “mini-collections” for the Black & White chapter that confused me when buying the books for that chapter.
This format change means that while the X & Y and Sun & Moon chapters have 12 volumes in them it’s actually more like 6 volumes in the older format. The smaller volumes do make it easier to read in one sitting but it does also make the overall chapter more expensive as each volume is £4 instead of £7 but with twice as many volumes to buy.
Also it looks like after the square format change was introduced by the X & Y chapter, the books no longer have Pokemon Adventures in their titles instead referring to themselves as “a Pokemon Adventure special edition” on the back cover.
If you like Pokemon and want a more mature take on the Pokemon universe then Pokemon Adventures is a really good read, although I would recommend getting digital versions of the Black & White and Black & White 2 volumes as they’re a little hard to get hold of.
You don’t need to have played or be familiar with every Pokemon game to enjoy the Pokemon Adventures story. I haven’t played Black & White, Black & White 2, X & Y or Ultra Sun & Moon but was still able to enjoy those chapters.
Overall I think I spent around £300 buying the books in my collection, although I think if all box-sets and volumes were readily available I could have got them for even less.
Now I have the collection and I’ve read them all though I’m ready for the next volumes of the Sword and Shield chapter as I’m a big fan of the Galar region (being from the UK which inspired it) and there’s only two volumes available (with a third coming in May).