Pokémon is one of the most well-known and successful video game franchises of all time, but it's far more than just a series of games. Just as iconic to those who grew up in the '90s is the Pokémon anime series, which has been running ever since for numerous seasons. There are also a lot of Pokémon manga that follow different trainers and Pokémon throughout the franchise's multiple regions.
The Pokémon franchise is admittedly immense, with even the most ardent fans needing help traversing the over 20 years of anime and manga. Some of these are easier to come by than others, but all offer different perspectives on how the world of Pokémon works. Here's a look at the Pocket Monsters' adaptations over the years and where they can be bought, read and streamed.
The Plot of Pokémon
The broad story of the franchise features a young boy (sometimes called Ash and other times Red) who embarks on a journey to become a Pokémon trainer. This involves choosing one of his own Pokémon as a "starter" at the beginning of his adventures and battling various other Pocket Monsters in the wild. The trainer's trials also involve fighting other trainers and their Pokémon -- namely, the professional Pokémon Gym Leaders. From there, the Elite Four can be fought, with whoever defeats them being crowned the regional champion.
Typically adding to the plot is some sort of evil team, with Team Rocket being the most consistent. Although often shown as being comedic in nature, they're on occasion far more serious and dangerous in their terrorist activities against both humans and Pokémon. The trainer also befriends other trainers native to the region in which the stories take place, with rivals such as Gary/Blue circumventing their every step.
Where to Read the Pokémon Manga
To say that there are an overwhelming amount of Pokémon manga to read and catch up on is the understatement of the century. The first of these, Pokémon Adventures, was first released in 1997. Having amassed 59 total collected volumes, the series is still ongoing to this day. Also popular are the iconic four-volume series Pokémon: The Electric Tale of Pikachu and the more shojo-oriented Magical Pokémon Journey. Beyond these, there are over 20 other manga in the franchise that have been localized and translated into English, many of them following different cast members and adapting various seasons of the anime or video game entries.
Series creator Satoshi Tajiri once remarked that Pokémon Adventures is the closest the franchise has ever gotten to his original vision for it. The series can be read digitally on the Comixology platform, while physical and online retailers like Amazon also carry the books. Sadly, a lot of the earlier adventures such as The Electric Tale of Pikachu are hard to track down and somewhat expensive when they are. Thus, the main series is the best bet for reading Pokémanga.
Where to Watch the Pokémon Anime
The Pokémon anime began in 1997, around the same time as the manga adaptations started. Following the young Ash Ketchum and his Gym Leader friends, the series traverses the original Kanto region before venturing to the settings of Gold and Silver, Ruby and Sapphire and later games in the franchise. The current iteration of the anime is Pokémon Journeys, which is a soft reboot of sorts. It reimagines the early days of Ash Ketchum while showing him traveling around all of the franchise's regions, including that of current generation games Sword and Shield.
The franchise's website is one of the main portals to watch the anime's many episodes, but it's also available on some of the more mainstream streaming platforms. These include Disney Now, Netflix and Hulu, with Amazon Prime allowing viewers to purchase individual episodes or an entire season at once to stream. Many of the aforementioned retailers carry DVD and Blu-ray collections of both the anime and the many films as well, with Walmart, Target, Right Stuf Anime and Amazon likewise selling them. With over 20 years of Pokémon movies and seasons to stream, now's definitely the time to sit down and watch 'em all.
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