Final Score: 7.1
The Pokemon animated series has been on-going since 1997 when Ash Ketchum first started his Pokemon adventure with Pikachu through the Kanto region. Somehow the show has kept up its popularity and in 2013 Ash and Pickachu started a brand new adventure in the region of Kalos. I can’t be the only one trying to figure out if Pokemon still has anything original left to do after 16 years, can I? Is there really anything new or fun left for XY to even do? Well let’s find out.
Like all of the series after Kanto, Ash decides to travel to a new continent in order to participate in the Pokemon League. This time Ash and Pikachu are all alone as they travel to Kalos (the second franchise to not feature Brock or any other previously used character). Ash doesn’t travel alone for long though because he soon runs into Clemont and his sister Bonnie while in Lumiose City. Clemont is both the Lumiose City gym leader and a scientist who was kicked out of the gym after a robot he created malfunctioned. After Ash is also kicked out of the Lumiose City gym, Clemont and Bonnie help him as a way of apology. With no way to get back in the gym, Clemont and Bonnie decide to travel with Ash.
Also joining Ash on his Kalos adventure is old friend and new trainer, Serena. After attending Professor Oak’s summer camp as a child, Serena has spent years hoping to meet Ash again. Unfortunately Ash doesn’t remember Serena but she isn’t willing to give up on her childhood crush and joins the group anyway. Serena is a fashionable girl who has spent her life training to be a rhyhorn racer like her mother. Despite this Serena isn’t sure what she really wants and becomes a trainer as a way to figure things out. Luckily Serena and her partner Fennekin find their dream in Pokemon Performing, a female only Kalos competition that has trainers and their pokemon working together to entertain. With Serena’s dream to become Kalos Queen, she grows stronger and stronger throughout the series.
I’m actually quite a fan of the companions Ash got this season. I’ve never really enjoyed having gym leaders joining Ash (one reason I’ve never watched the Black and White anime) but thankfully they took the time to give Clemont a reason for joining Ash. Clemont himself is an interesting trainer and while his inventions can get annoying they’re more often amusing. Clemont’s sister Bonnie was my favorite pretty much from the beginning. I’d say there’s a reason but really I just think she’s cute. I’m also happy to have another kid in the series since I really enjoyed Max back in Advanced. And then there’s Serena. I’ve seen a lot of people hate on her but I don’t see the problem. Maybe it’s her crush on Ash? But really he’s too oblivious for it to go anywhere. Besides I’ve really enjoyed watching her grow as a trainer and the Pokemon Performing, despite being a modified contest, is both really interesting and extremely well animated. Actually, all of XY has been really well animated. Pokemon battles, Jesse and James’ speeches, and the performances all feature really good animation that I didn’t expect when I turned XY on.
The story of XY is pretty standard for Pokemon. After all Ash is trying to collect gym badges and Team Rocket is still there trying to capture Pikachu. But don’t think that the repeating plot is a turn off for this particular Pokemon series. Kalos is a region full of really interesting cities, new ways to battle, and other areas of interest that give Ash a lot of new encounters both with pokemon and people. I was pleasantly surprised as I made my way through the series both at how fresh it felt and at the inclusion of several game events I wouldn’t have suspected. The Battle Chateau is one such place I never expected them to put into the anime as well as the Cosplaying Pikachu.
I was also surprised by the battles in XY. Even after 16 years, Pokemon is still managing to make interesting gym battles for Ash. Ash’s gym battle against Grant, just the second gym battle of the series, has Ash pulling off some ridiculous stunts in order to win and every second of the battle is fun to watch. Outside of Ash’s gym battles, I felt like XY didn’t have enough battling. Serena did have a few battles and Clemont’s training and eventual gym battle versus Ash is probably my favorite battle in the series (but it’s still a gym battle). But other than these instances there just wasn’t enough battling between other people and our group of characters. In fact most of the time when they were traveling the only battling we had was against Team Rocket.
And let’s be real, who isn’t sick of Team Rocket still being the villain at this point? When the X&Y games have a perfectly fine evil group, Team Flare, do we really need to keep bringing back Jesse, James, and Meowth? I’ll admit they had some good moments, especially when the show takes them seriously, but that hardly happens. Instead they spend most of the time being the usual worthless villains they’ve always been.They are honestly the worst part of an otherwise enjoyable entry into the Pokemon animated franchise.
Now it’s time to watch XY & Z since XY left of immediately after Ash gets his seventh gym badge. If I remember right Team Flare is going to make an appearance in the next series so that should be fun.