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Pokemon Openings 1-3 Review
Very few kids weren't obsessed with Pokemon in the late 90's. We were practically glued to our televisions and GameBoys, eager to experience more Pokemon. Each episode of the anime opened with the classic theme song, and signaled that we were about to watch more of our favorite show. Like most programs, as time goes on, Pokemon's openings transform to reflect the new characters and settings. We're nearing 900 total episodes across all seasons; I wouldn't be surprised if we reach one thousand within a few years. But for today, we're going to view and rate the first three intros to the Pokemon anime! Which do you find to be the best?
1. Every Pokemon can be encountered in a "Shiny" mode, an incredibly uncommon appearance with an altered color scheme.
2. Please pardon the groan-inducing pun.
3. For American audiences, yes, this is the first intro. Japanese viewers had an alternate (and, in my opinion, less engaging) animation as their first opening. It's not bad, just less flowing and concise.
Season 1 Intro (Kanto)
The very first opening begins with the familiar "I want to be the very best.. like no one ever was." This played throughout Pokemon's debut season, where Ash, Misty, and Brock traveled throughout the Kanto region, searching for new Pokemon and collecting Gym Badges. My favorite part of this intro is probably smack dab at the beginning. Call me sentimental, but the glimpses of rare Pokemon Mewtwo and Mew, plus Ash standing alone in a stadium, can always inspire feelings of wonder and amazement. And Mew, normally pink, appears blue; is this its super-rare shiny form1? Anyway, the rest of the animation shows several Pokemon, various action scenes from the series, and our main cast of characters. It definitely displays some of the coolest first generation Pokemon, including Charizard, Zapdos, Haunter, and Gyrados. The song's incredibly catchy2; I recall many high schoolers having it on their mp3s years later. Of course, at that age you wouldn't tell anyone you listened to it, fearing a social stigma, but it was still there. Interestingly, the lyrics to this opening are written in a first-person perspective; the singer uses "I" instead of speaking Ash's name. This likely drew us in further, allowing us to imagine ourselves as a Pokemon Master worthy of epic ballads. In short, the first3 intro largely succeeds, offering a quick glimpse at the joys to be found in Pokemon.
1. Feel free to see which character fares better in a companion countdown!
2. Seventeen seconds in, we clearly see Ash wins his next three badges. I mean, you could probably already guess he's gonna get them eventually, but it's still unveiling the plot a bit.
3. (Spoiler alert) If you're tired of seeing Ash lose most of his tournaments, check out his awesome 6 against 6 Pokemon battle that concludes the Orange Islands arc. He battles Drake, and at one point in the long match, the two contestants' powerful dragons, Charizard and Dragonite, clash.
Season 2 Intro (Orange Islands)
After many adventures in Kanto, our heroes decide to travel to the Orange Islands to tackle a new set of challenges. The Orange Islands are unique in that, unlike other regions, we have no official video game that allows us to explore the area. Upon arrival, Brock leaves the group, and newcomer Tracy Sketchit acts as his replacement1. The updated intro features new shots, new characters (plus some familiar faces), and a new song titled "Pokemon World." The song is.. interesting. I like the majority of it, but it gets more annoying at some parts ("So you wanna be a master of Pok-emon"). The opening features some cool Pokemon, like Squirtle, Charizard, and Scyther, and also reveals some minor spoilers2. A small complaint is that only a bit of the Orange Islands territory is revealed; the intro focuses mostly on individual characters and their monsters. For these reasons, I don't enjoy the song or animations quite as much as the first opening, but it's still a catchy tune and a nice introduction to the sometimes-forgotten Orange Islands quest. This theme does a decent job of catching our interest, and I definitely recommend Season 2 to fans of the Kanto journey3.
1. More recently, the remakes Heartgold and Soulsilver took players to the beautiful world of Johto.
2. Is it just me, or is Ash's rival, Gary, cosplaying as Ichigo Kurosaki from Bleach at 0:25? Speaking of Gary, he and Ash eventually have a dramatic 6 on 6 battle in Johto to settle things once and for all.
3. In a small but appreciable reference to the games, the start of this intro features a Poke Ball against a gold and silver background.
Season 3 Intro (Johto Journeys)
Brock's back! Season three takes Ash, Misty, and Brock to the new Johto region, filled with many new creatures to collect and ensla - er, I mean befriend. Johto can be explored in the Gold, Silver, and Crystal video games1, so players tend to be more familiar with it than the Orange Islands. Anyway, this intro's one of my favorites. Similar to the first, it begins with a shot of two new legendary Pokemon, Lugia and Ho-Oh. Shortly after, we get some nice focus on our main trio and Pikachu, and then many views of the forests and mountains of Johto. We also see glimpses of various new creatures, and near the end, an awesome shot of the new legendary Suicune. Also, Mew and Mewto make a quick appearance, and then the intro ends with our heroes and many Pokemon standing together. All the while, the catchy and uplifting "It's A Whole New World" song plays. Getting to see familiar faces2, the new land, some mysterious creatures, and a sweet tune makes this perhaps the best Pokemon introduction3. Johto Journeys is a great season to watch, too. Ash keeps some of his previous monsters while adding new Pokemon to his team, and the humor and fights are as good as ever.
Which is the best introduction?
I'm quite fond of all of these intros (unlike some following Pokemon openings; we'll get to those another day). Kanto's is probably the most nostalgic for many of us. However, Johto's seems to be slightly superior, followed by Kanto's, and then the Orange Islands opening. Regardless of whether you agree, I hope you enjoyed taking a look back at some of the beginnings of the Pokemon anime. Come back for more Pokemon countdowns and quizzes, and thank you for reading!
Want more Pokemon nostalgia? You can take a quiz to determine which original monster suits you here!