The Pokémon Ash Ketchum’s anime has ended, and the dawn of a new era has arrived. And it’s definitely a new era, as the Pokémon Horizons anime reboot sets itself apart from its predecessor with a story line and an interesting cast of characters.
While the original Pokémon anime goes through various stages, it mostly sticks to a fairly predictable set of patterns: the majority of episodes are character of the week, with little to do with the ongoing plot; The ongoing storyline rarely goes beyond “collect badges and enter tournaments” and when it does, it’s short-lived before returning to the status quo. And, with Ash and Pikachu being the only constants in the Pokémon anime, there’s little opportunity for character development, though it does happen from time to time. However, Pokémon Horizons reversed all of that with its two-part premiere, showing that it’s definitely a new take on the Pokémon anime concept.
Pokémon Horizons opens up a new world of storytelling
The first two episodes see Riko arriving at her boarding school in Kanto, choosing a starter (who turns out to be Sprigatito), and pondering the pendant she was given by her grandmother. But as it turned out, there were people who knew about her pendant and wanted to have it for themselves. In fact, there are two groups looking for Riko in the school, but the mysterious and seemingly sinister Amethio found her first. He tries to ask her to hand over his pendant, but she resists, hiding out the window of her dorm room. When Amethio and his minions confront her, the new Professor, Friede, rushes in to save her. Riko’s pendant quickly transforms into a new Pokémon (similar to the legendary Terapagos), revealing why it might be so desirable and that Friede was able to evacuate her to the spaceship. Amethio’s crew follows, and they have an epic confrontation aboard the spacecraft during a storm. Amethio’s group escapes without the pendant, but with Sprigatito, causing conflict for the next episode.
The big difference from previous Pokémon anime is that this is obviously plot-driven. The pendant is an item that makes the characters want to protect or get it, and that’s why Riko comes into contact with Friede and the crew of the spaceship. By the third episode, the original Pokémon anime had fallen into character of the week territory, but Horizons had established a storyline that would continue. This serialized approach is very different and frankly, it’s what many older Pokémon fans have been asking for for years. The premiere also gives both villains and heroes a chance to impress, which hopefully means Amethio’s crew won’t end up being as underperforming as Team Rocket. Riko has also proven herself to be a very different type of protagonist from Ash, one with a lot of doubts and hesitations that she will obviously need to overcome. The score also deserves recognition, as the music is much more epic and relevant than what anime usually gets.
Although it’s only been two episodes, Pokémon Horizons already has a very different feel to the original Pokémon anime, and it’s just the breath of fresh air that the anime side of the franchise needs. With any luck, Pokémon Horizons will maintain a slightly more intense tone and focus on the story, and ultimately become the anime fans have been waiting for.