Pokemon Season 15: BW Rival Destinies Collection 1 Review

After 15 seasons, Pokemon is still going strong and if it tends to feel a little formulaic it's probably because it is. That said, why change a winning formula?

New foes, new friends, and dozens of never-before-seen Pokémon await Ash and Pikachu as they continue to explore the Unova region! It won’t be long before Ash finds himself up against the ultimate battle challenge: Alder, the Champion Master of Unova! Ash’s friends face their own trials as one fights for the right to continue her travels, and another confronts a returning challenge from the past. And it will take the combined strength of Ash, Cilan, and Iris to save an island from the clashing forces of three powerful and mysterious Legendary Pokémon! All that and Ash still has Gym badges to earn if he hopes to make it to the Unova League—can he prevail against Gym Leaders like the electrifying Elesa and no-nonsense Clay? - Beyond Home Entertainment

After 15 seasons, you know exactly what you're in for with Pokemon. Ash and a smattering of other support characters venture into a new town, battle new trainers and get their butts kicked a couple of times before winning a case full of badges, befriending some brand new Pokemon and so on and so forth. Sure, you may know what you're in for but you should also know that you're in for a whole lot of fun. Another thing to be mindful of is that after 15 seasons, 30-something year olds aren't the primary audience. The beautiful thing about Pokemon, especially the Rival Destinies, is that it's completely accessible to brand new audiences. Just through pop cultural osmosis, everybody on earth knows what Pokemon are and especially who the super cute Pikachu is. What's even better is that Rival Destinies has gone out of its way to maintain relevance. 

New viewers, young and old, will absolutely love Pokemon as long as what they're expecting is Pokemon. If you watch this expecting Evangelion or Ben 10, you'll be bitterly disappointed and quite frankly, you're a wee bit silly. Pokemon is wholesome viewing which, apart from stylised cartoon violence between characters, should be a family favourite. For long time viewers, the adventures of Ash and Pikachu have never been more exciting and neither has the animation quality. Gone are the days of soft line work and dull colours. Rival Destinies is bold, bright and has animation that rivals many other long running anime series. A nice addition to the overall quality of the series are battle cut scenes which show signature moves of the Pokemon. While these scenes have been used in the past, they've never looked this good. In fact, it's truly a pity that this series wasn't released on Blu Ray.

Like all good kids series (I say kids series but loved it myself), Pokemon Rival Destinies has a story to tell beyond the main script. That is to say that these are modern day versions of Aesop's fables. For example, in the double episode "Stopping the Rage of Legends", Ash and the gang must find a way to restore a mysterious island to its former glory as the home of all revival herb farming. On the island, Ash befriends legendary Pokemon Landorus, Thundurus and Tornadus and teaches them a thing or two about brotherly love and teamwork. While it's not exactly subtle, it adds more moral value to the series than a simple monster of the week series.

With better quality animation than any Pokemon series before it, Pokemon: BW Rival Destinies is a treat for the eyes. But more importantly, this series seems to have moved with the times by introducing Elesa, a classic Japanese pop idol. She's a clotheshorse, canary and all round camera chameleon. While it may be formulaic, Pokemon is in no way stale and still maintains the level of fun as season 1.

Pokemon Season 15: BW Rival Destinies Collection 1 is available on DVD now from JB Hi-Fi and other good retailers.

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