Red, Blue, Green and Yellow

Pokemon. I’m sure by now, we’ve all heard of the term. And whether it be through the anime, videogames, or those sermons telling you how devilish the series’ undertones are, I think we can all agree that pokemon in any and all forms has made its way into our pop culture.

But one form of media most American fans may not be aware of is its manga form. Back in the early 2000s, the US started to dabble in bringing some manga titles over stateside. I remember back in the day when I’d go to the Stanford shopping center and find these Pokemon Adventures paperback manga the size of a textbook (not in terms of width, mind you, so I guess a more accurate comparison would be to a “Where’s Waldo?” book) with a chapter or two telling of some stories based, not on the anime, but going straight to the source and having its stories based on the videogames themselves.


Every week, I would check out that very corner of the bookstore to see if there would be any more chapters available. And in some cases, I would even go as far as buying those crazy big books, taking them home and re-reading protagonist Red’s wacky adventures ranging from getting lost in the Safari Zone to entering a cycling competition only to meet a Snorlax road block in the middle of everything. It didn’t matter that there would be massive holes between the chapters I read (at this point, I think I was under the impression that only select events from the videogame would be made into manga form, skipping humongous chunks as the author/artist pleases); as long as the story was interesting, and did a good job of fleshing out the already ginormous world that was created in the videogames, I was plenty satiated.

So, a few years pass, and Pokemon Adventures becomes nothing more than a memory. Note that at this time, manga has finally hit the mainstream in the states and I became more preoccupied with other titles (you know the ones: DBZ, Naruto, Yu Yu Hakusho, Bleach…), and apparently, so did Viz, the company in charge of cranking out these titles for the American audiences, since I didn’t hear another word about the series for quite some time.

It probably wasn’t until a random chance amazon.com search that I even got back into the series. Whether it was from the site’s search suggestions or because I randomly remembered the series and wanted to revisit it, I forget, but whatever the case, I remember being completely shocked to find that Viz had released entire volumes worth of Pokemon Adventures. Finally being privy to such awesome knowledge, I just had to hunt down these volumes to add to what will eventually become a rather large collection of manga. And of course, the order of events was still not a concern to me. I remember reading the Red/Blue/Green story arc from last, to middle, to first. The same goes for the Yellow story arc, though in that case I ended being completely lost, since the manga started to verge from the videogames on a noticeable level. I mean, the Elite Four being an evil organization? Red getting lost with some androgynous character replacing him as the main protagonist? Blasphemy! But either way, I ended up hunting down each volume Viz released, which ended with main character Yellow’s story at volume 7. So that was it; a nice short collection of volumes telling the story of various characters based on one of my favorite videogames has come to a close. If I didn’t know any better, I would have just assumed the manga ended there and gone on with my life.

Sorry, life; I’m sure if you were somehow personified, you’d be pretty pissed off at me and refuse to go to any of my birthday parties ever again.

Further looking into the series, and with the birth of Wikipidia finally reaching topics as obscure as manga series, I realized that the series, originally known as “Pokemon Special,” is still an ongoing series, spanning 30+ volumes. However, with manga scanlations for the series being pretty much non-existant to my knowledge, the best I had to deal with were story arc summaries—stuff about a Gold and Silver character with later references to the older cast just made me want to hunt down those later parts of the series even more, but to no avail… that is, until I just recently decided to do a search for it again. (note: this author does not condone the distribution of licensed manga)

Alright, so having reached volume ten of the series, I gotta admit that I thought the earlier chapters were much more entertaining. Later chapters just seem like the author is trying too hard to tie everything together and still having it connect to the videogame stories. And with an all-too-fast pacing as well as a new cast I can’t really get a close connection to, I must say that so far, I’m just reading the series just for the sake of getting to the end… y’know, kinda like Naruto and Bleach.

Going through later chapters, I finally reached a wall of sorts. It just so happens that the scanlators of the series were actually given a “cease and desist” from Viz, leading people to assume that Viz has taken an interest in the series once more, and maybe even releasing the series past volume 7 this time…?

With the series going through a resurrection of sorts with the new videogame remakes, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. There were also some inklings of this from Viz, themselves, having released “Best of” versions of the Red/Blue/Green arc and Yellow arc of the series.

From what I saw flipping through those volumes, they seem to be the same chapters from their older releases (even flipping the chapters to read from left to right) only skipping some of the “filler” portions and keeping the size of the volumes to match those of their current manga. Not the best move, but still, something.


It wasn’t until just recently that I’d see a couple true re-releases of the older Pokemon Adventures volumes. In fact, I was even considering picking up a volume just for the sake of comparison, but considering my level of interest in the series as well as some problems I found skimming through things, I just couldn’t see myself taking the time to make a double-dip purchase—sorry!

Flipping through the re-release of the third volume, my all-time favorite volume of the series, you could immediately see a good number of pros to buying the series. For one, the pages are kept so you read them from right to left. Second point, and a biggie at that, was that they left the pages at the beginning and end of the volumes covering which locations on the Kanto map were covered in which chapters as well as the main characters’ pokemon lineup and what level each one is at, at that time—things that weren’t included in Viz’s original run of the series.

However, with the good, there’s also gotta be the bad. Already having my suspicions, I flipped to a certain match in the series that got a bit suggestive near its conclusion and, to my quasi-surprise, I found that some censorship and re-writing was amuck. Granted, I know that the states has their own boundaries for what the kiddies these days are allowed to read, but really… even though it’s got the “Pokemon” name attached to it, I think any story that shows a snake getting sliced in half, spirits re-animating what is clearly shown as rotting flesh as well as evil corporations extracting DNA from their own workers for the sake of the completion of a new species at the least warrants a slight “T” rating. And if you really want to get technical, chapter titles are still not true to the original, which always started with a “vs.” followed by the name of whatever pokemon was featured in that chapter. The names of two of the protagonists have also been kept switched as in the original printing. I guess us Americans still have a problem giving the female protagonist a “masculine” colored name…?


Still, overall, I’d say those are understandable changes (honestly, I doubt there’ll be enough censorship in a series like this for it to affect the purchasing of volumes I don’t have) and I highly suggest you pick up on the series.

Oh, and with signs finally showing that Viz is following through past the 7th volume of the series, I think poke-fans everywhere should be rejoicing by now.

I’m no expert on the history behind this series, but going through a certain forum where I found out about the 8th volume’s release in the first place, I noticed that I wasn’t the only person interested in the series. In fact, it turns out that entire regions of the planet were interested in the manga series to the point that they actually continued on with releasing volumes while little ol’ us kept getting shafted in the states. From what I’ve read, some fans would go as far as paying major bucks to import these later volumes just to keep up with a series that had long been forgotten by the states until just recently. So, including the scanlators, that makes a total of three different English translations of the same series, making for quite the number of possible name switcheroos here and there once the US releases start to get caught up. And while this has led to more questions being asked than answered, I’m just glad my oldentime seven volumes of the series can soon be accompanied by the following 20+.

external links:
Pokemon Special Official Website: Everything’s in Japanese, but boy howdy are the pictures purdy!

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About daemoncorps
Gabe (daemoncorps) has been writing about anime and the like since 2005, but has been babysat by it for much longer. He primarily spends his days distracting himself on twitter or writing for Fandom Post until he realizes he has a weekly webcomic (tapastic.com/series/scramblebouquet) to work on. He also just finished writing his first full-length graphic novel about unemployment (https://tapastic.com/episode/293804).

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