Note: Review copy supplied by Manga Entertainment
Title: Pokémon – Partner Up With Pikachu!
Anime Studio: OLM, Inc.
Publisher: Manga Entertainment
Released: April 15th 2019
Get ready to partner up with Pikachu!
In these selected episodes from the Pokémon animated series we can see the sparks of an electrifying friendship develop between two beloved characters – Ash & Pikachu! This collection charts the ups and downs and the growth of the bond between them as they set out across Kanto with their new friends on an adventure to catch them all!
Pokémon – Partner Up With Pikachu! may be a no-frills release, but it’s certainly not a no thrills one, especially for those of us with a love of nostalgia. This cut-price release from Manga Entertainment collects four Pikachu focused episodes from the original series of the smash hit anime: Pokémon – I Choose You!, Showdown in Pewter City, Electric Shock Showdown, and Pikachu’s Goodbye. They come complete with the 4Kids dub and no extras.
So, how do they hold up? Well, as it happens, pretty well. The animation is a little dated now, with some scenes showing a demonstrable lack of frames compared to the modern run, but really, that’s the only potential issue. It’s easy to forget that the opening episode – in both the series and this collection – is actually a decent introduction to the franchise for fans. We get to meet Ash and his main rival and see some of their key personality traits, we meet long-term companion Misty, and we learn fair bit about the world they inhabit. The actions comes fast and fun, and you leave it ready to embark on Ash’s journey with him.
The second and third episodes in the set carry on in much the same vein, introducing us to Brock, type advantages, and the perils of evolution. And then, the final episode on the disc gives us one of the series’ early attempts at setting up a heartbreaking moment as Ash contemplates leaving Pikachu behind with other wild Pikachu. In that respect, the set is a great example of what the series was able to achieve in its early days and helps demonstrate how it became so popular in the first place.
There are also some interesting little things that you notice as the episodes progress too. For one, when we first meet Pikachu, she’s a little bulkier and resembles her Gen1 game counterpart, but by the end of the disc, she’s in her more recognizable, lean look. We also get to see the voice cast changes with Ted Lewis voicing James of Team Rocket in their first appearance on the disc but Eric Stuart taking over for the remainder.
For fans of the original dub soundtrack, you’ll be in for a treat musically too. Not only is that classic theme intact, but we get the Poke-rap at the end of each episode. It’s also worth noting that the second half of the set also demonstrates that, for the era, the show was capable of some bursts of decent animation. The final battle between Pikachu and Raichu for example makes use of perspective changes to give it a videogame feel that fits well with the action.
So, if you want a fun release that won’t break the bank, this budget title is a good shout. It features four decent episodes, shows some of the best parts of the series, and will tick all your nostalgia boxes with ease. 4 out of 5.