Pokemon Openings 4-6 Review
We've already examined the first three introductions to the Pokemon anime; today, we'll tackle the next set of animations. This opening is interesting in that some seasons (and intros) of it are great, while others are pretty terrible. Don't worry, we're not quite to the awful ones yet; today's are surprisingly good. But don't take my word for it, see for yourself what you think of some of Pokemon's oldest openings!
Season 4 Intro (Johto League Champions)
Season 4 continues the adventures of Ash, Misty, and Brock as they explore the wondrous land of Johto (which they began traversing in Season 3). The beginning of the intro reuses some lyrics of the classic Season 1 opening (I want to be the very best, like no one ever was.) I personally don't find the singing to be as good, but I wouldn't call it bad, either. We do get some shots of many awesome Pokemon, like Lugia, Charizard, Moltres, Blastoise, and Scizor; we also get to to see brief flashes of the Gym Leaders and their Pokemon, who Ash must defeat to earn badges. The quick view at 0:25 of all the Gym Leaders, partially silhouetted, also looks great. There are definitely some good things about this intro, but sometimes I feel like it's trying too hard. Yea, maybe I'm over-analyzing here, but this opening came at about the time the kids who first loved Pokemon were growing into teenagers and high schoolers. Pokemon fell out of popularity; it became something for nerds and children. Thus, this intro seems to be focus solely on "cooler" Pokemon, and features a very competitive song. Older intros had a few competitive lyrics too, but they'd throw in upbeat verses like "you're my best friend" and "each time you try, gonna get just a little bit better." This one mostly talks about being a winner and proving your worth through victory. There's nothing necessarily wrong with that, but it seems to sacrifice a little of the charm and adventure of the past animations. Plus, the song is kind of an outright lie. Born to be a champion? Look, I enjoy Ash as a character, but I'll be the first to tell ya his tournament win record is not good; the only thing he's a champion at is never aging. All in all, not the best, but I did enjoy revisiting this introduction.
Season 5 Intro (Master Quest)
Master Quest is the third season to feature the land of Johto. Here, Ash, Misty, and Brock finish their adventures in the region; Ash competes in the Johto league (also called the Silver Conference), finally settles things with his rival, Gary Oak, in a Pokemon match, and encounters some unusual Pokemon, including a baby Lugia. He also says goodbye to his companion Misty, who has stuck with him throughout the show so far. Maybe she got tired of taking second place to a yellow rodent. Anyway, the intro's tone bares more similarities to the first three than the fourth; it's more about aspiring and working hard to be a master, rather than having been destined to win. I enjoy the confident yet friendly vibe it radiates, and (as usual) we get some nice shots of amazing Pokemon. The imagery of Ash running up an almost-unending stairway is also interesting, and we see him gaze into a stadium, as he did in the very first intro. Thus, this opening both recalls the glory days of Pokemon and offers new music and animation, so I think it's pretty great. Maybe not as well-known or nostalgic as some older openings, but certainly well crafted. Oh, and at the end of this season, Ash gets some new clothes and drops off each and every one of his Pokemon, except Pikachu, at Professor Oak's laboratory; he wishes to start fresh in the land of Hoenn, featuring new Pokemon and a new opening!
Season 6 Intro (Advanced)
Season 6 has Ash venture into a new land, accompanied by Brock, May, and Max. Brock is the same girl-crazy mentor as always, and you can see more details about new companions May here and Max here. Many fans left at this season; some grew too old for the show, others were angered by Misty's departure and Ash's abandonment of most of his team. Also, I prefer Ash's old getup to his new duds, but that's a minor issue. The show isn't my favorite season, but it's not that bad. Ash catches some cool new Pokemon, we're introduced to Pokemon Contests (similar to battles, but graded by judges), and we see Ash both advance (get it?) his own quest, and teach newcomer May the basics of Pokemon training. Anyway, the intro's music starts off pretty annoying, but after about the first ten seconds, I think it gets much better. We see a lot of the new Hoenn Pokemon in their natural habitats, we get some focus on May, and we glimpse some new legendary Pokemon. I particularly applaud the last few seconds, as Ash confidently looks into a sunrise, reminding us of his hope and dedication. And once you get past the start of the music, I enjoy the song; it seems to explore a new style while retaining a whimsical tone. For example, listen to the way the word "hero" is repeated in a techno-like manner at 0:20; it's nice to see Pokemon try some new ideas. Minus the mediocre beginning, this is a great intro for a decent show.
Which is the best introduction?
You could make a surprisingly strong case for any of these openings to be the best. Like no opening ever was. However, I'm gonna say Season 5's (Master Quest) barely wins against Season 6's (Advanced), which itself narrowly defeats Season 4's (Johto League Champions). Honestly, I enjoy all of them, and I hope you did, too.
Well, we made it through three more Pokemon openings! Misty may not have survived the trek, but we picked up some loyal friends along the way. Oh, and Max joined us, too. Come back soon for more Pokemon reviews, quizzes, and countdowns, and thanks for reading!