Pokemon: Season 1 – Indigo League – The Complete Collection Review
Back in 1998, around the time that Pokemon became a huge phenomenon, I played the Game Boy games and collected the cards religiously. I also watched the cartoon with my younger brother. Having recently acquired a Nintendo 2DS/ Pokemon Y bundle, I was excited to take a stroll down memory lane with Viz Media’s new release of Pokemon: Season 1 – Indigo League – The Complete Collection, featuring all 78 episodes of the first season.
The story begins with Ash Ketchum, aspiring Pokemon trainer, oversleeping on the day that new trainers are supposed to choose their starter Pokemon. Bulbasaur, Squirtle and Charmander are all taken by the time Ash arrives at Professor Oak’s laboratory, but the eccentric professor tells the young lad that there is still one available – the incredibly hostile, moody, untrusting Pikachu. As everyone knows, eventually Ash and Pikachu become best friends, but Pikachu’s refusal to obey Ash’s commands or stay in his Poke Ball leads to some very amusing moments in the opening episodes. It’s only when Ash protects Pikachu from a flock of angry Spearows that Pikachu recognizes his bravery and friendship, leading Pikachu to electrify the feathers right off of the rowdy birds in a true bonding moment.
On his journey to become the greatest Pokemon trainer who ever lived, Ash meets Misty, a stubborn tomboy from Cerulean City whose forte is training Water-type Pokemon, as well as Brock, who specializes in Rock-type Pokemon and wants to be a Pokemon breeder. Throughout Season 1 Ash and his friends travel to the world’s many Pokemon Leagues, as he grows as a trainer, earns badges, and foils the evil plans of Team Rocket who seek to capture Pikachu and any other rare Pokemon that the group manages to collect.
For a kid’s show from the late 90s, Pokemon has managed to hold up pretty well. There’s plenty of humor to be found in each episode, and Ash’s hunt for new Pokemon and battle techniques drive each episode forward as our hero meets new friends and battles it out with the insidious Team Rocket. Unfortunately the video quality has suffered over the years, as the video encoding on the included discs looks like a VHS rip or a badly compressed YouTube stream most of the time. Of course you have to keep in mind that it was formatted for 4:3 aspect televisions and that the animation cels have been rotting in storage for about 16 years now, so I can’t be too hard here. While the video and audio quality aren’t the greatest, it doesn’t take away from the great episodes found on this set. One other thing that diehard fans might complain about is the exclusion of a few banned episodes, such as the controversial Holiday Hi-Jynx, but I’m sure Viz would have included these episodes if they could.
In short, if you’re looking for the entire Indigo League series in one tidy, affordable package, and don’t mind the exclusion of a few questionable episodes, this is for you. Pokemon: Season 1 – Indigo League – The Complete Collection is a great repackaging of the first run of a classic TV show, which many of us have fond memories of. It would be great if one day Viz could go back to the master tapes and remaster everything for a Blu-ray release, but in the meantime this is the best way to re-experience a childhood classic. The set can be purchased now on Amazon for $54.98.