Pokemon is a franchise that has been going strong for nearly 15 years in the US. What started as a video game RPG has become a merchandising empire with a TV series, movies, toys, a trading card game, and comic books and manga. The manga is further split between two continuities; the Pokemon Adventures, Diamond and Pearl, and Diamond, Pearl and Platinum follow the video game story, while the movie adaptations follow the TV show continuity. Most of the movies have been extended TV episodes featuring rare, “Legendary” Pokemon, and the three movies from the Diamond and Pearl series make a story of their own. While they can each be read separately, they create a richer story when read together.
Pokemon Diamond and Pearl Movie Trilogy
The Rise of Darkrai
Giratina and the Sky Warrior
Arceus and the Jewel of Life
By: Ryo Takamisaki; Makoto Hijioka; Makoto Mizobuchi
Viz Media; June 2008, May 2009, February 2011
ISBN: 978-1-4215-2289-0, 978-1-4215-2701-7, 978-1-4215-3802-0
191 pgs., $7.99
The Pokemon movie adaptations follow the heroes from the Diamond and Pearl TV series, Ash, Brock, and Dawn. They are traveling through the region of Sinnoh, where Ash is still training to become a Master Trainer, though in these volumes, they seem to be sightseeing. Each title follows a similar plot: Ash and his friends arrive in a town where Legendary Pokemon begin showing up and causing havoc. It is then up to Ash and his Pokemon Pikachu to stop the Legendary and bring peace to the people and Pokemon.
And what is a Legendary Pokemon, you may ask? Legendary Pokemon are special creatures in the Pokemon universe. They are bigger than normal Pokemon, and they can’t be caught. There is also usually only one of their kind, and they have special powers. Darkrai has the power to move through shadows and even become one himself. Dialga has the power to control time, while Palkia can control space. Giratina is the ruler of Reverse World and can travel through mirrors and other reflective surfaces. Arceus is the most powerful of them all. He has the ability to create dimensions, and he is said to have created Dialga, Palkia and Giratina as well as their respective dimensions. Through the power of his Life Plates, Arceus can defend against any Pokemon attack, or by choosing a select few, create a jewel that can bring life to barren land.
The Rise of Darkrai, Giratina and the Sky Warrior, and Arceus and the Jewel of Life each tell their own stories about their respective Pokemon. Darkrai pits Dialgia and Palkia against each other, endangering Alamos Town and bringing Darkrai into the fight while Ash searches for a way to calm them. Giratina sets said Pokemon against Dialgia and Palkia for polluting his Reverse World during their fight, leading Ash to calm his anger. In Arceus, betrayal by a human in the past sets Arceus on a path of judgement against all humanity in the future. It is up to Dialgia, Palkia and Giratina to try to hold him back while Ash and his friends search for a way to curb his anger.
Of the three volumes, I liked Arceus the most, followed by Darkrai. They are both straight up action with some humor thrown in here and there, usually from either Brock or Team Rocket. Giratina feels like it was adapted to appeal to a younger audience. The humor is really played up, sometimes ruining the dramatic mood that had been set up. This is reflected in the art as well. Giratina’s art is more cartoonish and exaggerated, especially when compared to the other two volumes. Sandwiched between Darkrai and Arceus, Giratina comes off as the weakest of the three. It does have a good story, but the emphasis on humor lessens its impact.
I also really liked how well these volumes fit together. Usually, the movies (and their adaptations) are stand-alone stories that might relate back to the series, but this was an ambitious story to carry over three movies released a year apart. The connections are subtle and are kept in the background to the main story until Arceus, where are the pieces are put together. While these three volumes will read just fine by themselves, reading them as a mini series is a much more rewarding experience.
These volumes also share a theme, that anger can blind one to the truth. Dialgia and Palkia’s battle begins when their two dimensions touch and they react violently to each other, each thinking that the other is attacking. Darkrai is misunderstood by the people of Alamos Town, and their fear turns to anger against him. Giratina is angry at Dialgia and Palkia at their polluting of his dimension, and Arceus blames all of humanity for the betrayal he suffered at one human’s hand. Their anger clouds their hearts and judgement, sending them on their rampages. But once their anger is lifted, usually with Ash’s help, they can see the truth. In Arceus, Dialgia, Palkia and Giratina resolve their differences so they can work together to stop Arceus. This leads to what is my favorite scene in these volumes, of the four legendaries standing together. It’s a great moment.
All three of these books are rated for all ages and would fit well into any elementary and middle school library or collection. There is nothing objectionable in the volumes. There is some fighting, but it’s mostly between Pokemon, and no one dies (other than for dramatic effect.) I would recommend these books for both boys and girls. There is plenty of fun, action and adventure for all.
(I’d like to thank my youngest daughter Krissy, as my personal Pokemon expert, for helping me to better understand the Pokemon in these volumes.)
Review copies provided by publisher.
Images © Viz Media.