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Review: Pokemon Adventures Ruby & Sapphire Volume 15-21

Ruby is a Pokémon trainer determined to have the most beautiful Pokémon and win all the Pokémon Contests in the Hoenn region. Sapphire is a Pokémon trainer determined to have the strongest Pokémon and win all the badges from the gyms in the Hoenn region. When these two cross paths, it becomes a race to finish first in 80 days—but with the mysterious Team Aqua and Team Magma causing trouble, will they be able to complete their quests in time?

Pokemon Adventures: Sapphire and Ruby Volume 15-22
Written by Hidenori Kusaka; Art by Satoshi Yamamoto
All Ages
Perfect Square, March 2013-May 2014
ISBNs: 978-1421535494, 978-1421535500, 978-1421535517, 978-1421535524, 978-1421535531, 978-1421535548, 978-1421535555, 978-1421535562
208 pgs, $9.99 USD

Pokémon is a multimedia franchise that has been going for 18 years. Starting as a video game, it has expanded to TV, movies, merchandise, and comics. Pokémon Adventures is a manga that brings the video game storylines to life. Ruby and Sapphire follows the games of the same name, pitting the trainers up against Teams Aqua and Magma and the legendary Pokémon the teams are striving to awaken.

Ruby and Sapphire’s first meeting gets off on the wrong foot right from the beginning. On his birthday, Ruby decides to run away from home to participate in all the Pokémon Contests, competitions for Pokémon to show off their beauty and grace. Along the way he meets Sapphire. She wants to be a trainer of strong Pokémon. The pair seem to be exact opposites, and after butting heads about whether strength or beauty is better, Sapphire challenges Ruby to a contest of their own. They each have 80 days, until Sapphire’s birthday, to complete their goals of winning all the contests and gym badges and return to the place they met to see who is better.

It’s not an easy journey to begin with, but it is further complicated as they keep running into the mysterious members of Team Aqua and Team Magma, who are trying to awaken the two legendary Pokémon Groudon, the Continent Pokémon, and Kyogre, the Ocean Pokémon. The leaders of Team Aqua and Team Magma have their own argument to settle.

I’d heard other people saying the Pokémon Adventures were really good stories, but I still wasn’t prepared for how much I actually like this series. Right from the start I liked the two main characters, Ruby and Sapphire, and the juxtaposition of the boy caring more for beauty while the girl was all about the strength. Ruby was very fastidious about caring for his Pokémon, from their looks to their moves. Even the food he feeds them is meant to enhance some part of their looks. Sapphire is more rough around the edges, as most tomboy characters tend to be portrayed, and she works hard to train her Pokémon to build up their strength and moves. Ruby and Sapphire actually have a lot in common, even if they are loathe to admit it. They are both tenacious and stubborn, unwilling to admit defeat, though sometimes that wasn’t a good thing.

Like all of the Pokémon Adventures volumes, Ruby & Sapphire is based on the video game, but it doesn’t strictly follow the storyline of the game. Ruby and Sapphire do go to all the major gyms and contests and meet all the important people like Wallace and Juan, but changes had to be made to make it a cohesive story and link places and characters that would have been the player’s choice.

I enjoyed the story Kusaka wove from the video game. There was a lot of good action and Pokémon battles. It started to go dark in places, such as Ruby’s selfishness to continue on his quest despite the devastation going on all around him as Groudon and Kyogre battled. THat almost costs him his Feebas Pokémon, Feefee. It does take a dark turn at the end, but there are still plenty of moments of light to keep it from going too far. Courtney, a member of Team Magma, switches sides to join forces with Ruby, and they make almost as good a team as Ruby and Sapphire. It almost ends tragically, but the surprise appearance of a rare legendary Pokémon turns things around for a happy ending.

A lot of legendary Pokémon make an appearance in this story besides the featured legendary Groudon and Kyogre. Absol, the disaster Pokémon, appears to try to warn people of the impending disaster coming their way. Absol is sadly misunderstood, as people mistakenly believe he brings the disaster and not the warning, but it was nice to see him understood by the reporters Gabby and Ty. Regis, a Pokémon that is actually three different creatures, is unsealed by Steven, the current Champion, to try to slow the two ancient legendaries down. The pivotal legendary is Rayquaza, the Sky Pokémon. He has the ability to quell the two ancients but is difficult to find and control. I really like the legendary type Pokémon, so it was cool seeing them all making appearances.

Whether it was intentional or not, the story has a strong theme of teamwork and working together, beyond the Pokémon-trainer dynamic. Ruby and Sapphire have to work with other Pokémon than their own, other trainers, and each other. It’s the last that they seem to have the hardest time doing. At first they don’t get along because of their opposing views. Later, it’s because they’ve come to understand and care for each other. Ruby tries to work with Courtney in order to keep Sapphire out of harm’s way. In the end though, it has to be both of them, together, to bring peace back to Hoenn.

The art is very open and friendly. Every character has a distinctive look. No one character could be mistaken for another, but I do like how Ruby looks a lot like his father Norman. The wide variety of Pokémon is great, especially for someone who isn’t familiar with the games. It’s a lot of fun seeing all the different types and what they can do.

Pokémon Adventures Ruby & Sapphire is a great series. It was hard reading the last two volumes, because I didn’t want the series to end. There is plenty of action and Pokémon battles to keep younger readers occupied, while the growth and development of the characters will satisfy more sophisticated readers. The story does have some darker moments, but it never gets too dark for its target audience. The ending is not only happy but satisfying. While fans of Pokémon will enjoy this series, it’s really something anyone can and should try. All of the volumes are available individually, but if you prefer to get your manga all in one shot, a box set is also available.

Review copies provided by publisher.

 

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Lori Henderson About Lori Henderson

Lori Henderson is a mother of two teenage daughters and an avid reader. She blogs about manga at her personal blog Manga Xanadu as well as contributing and editing for Manga Village. She blogs about all things fandom (mainly Doctor Who) at her other personal blog Fangirl Xanadu. She's been at it so for over 5 years now and counting!

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