Reviewby Carl Kimlinger, Aug 30th 2008
Pokemon: Diamond & Pearl
Dub.DVD 1-2 - Box 1
Ten-year-old Dawn is dead-set on becoming a top Pokémon Coordinator, just like her mom. Like any good apprentice, she immediately leaves home to master her new trade. Though she quickly gets lost, she eventually makes it to the local Pokémon Lab, where she is to team up with her very first pokémon. It turns out to be tougher than she thought to befriend the little creatures, but soon she and her new penguinesque partner are set to begin their training journey. When the pair end up rescuing a newly-arrived Pikachu from Team Rocket, they're also set on a crash-course with Ash Ketchum, Pokémon Trainer extraordinaire, and his easily-smitten buddy Brock. Much Poké-smackdowning and Poké-tournamenting ensues, and faster than you can say onomatopoeia, the new pokémon are flowing like whiskey at a Irish wedding.
Want to know what it's like to marathon seventeen episodes of Pokémon? Yeah, not many people do. But in case there's someone else in the world crazy enough to try it, imagine yourself as a hamster running inside a wheel as it flashes images of spunky kids meeting, fighting and making friends with people and poké>mon...over, and over, and over again...for six hours. If you're a young and naive hamster, and every nook and cranny of that ever-spinning wheel is a new and wondrous territory to explore, then those six hours will be a bliss of entertainment. If you're an old and bitter hamster, those six hours will transform you into a rodent psychopath willing to maim the first thing that dares utter anything that sounds even remotely like "pikachu" within your earshot.
And if you couldn't have guessed that without having watched even a single episode of Diamond and Pearl, then perhaps it's time you stopped living under a rock and interacted with the outside world a bit. The Pokémon formula has been set in stone for however many dozens of centuries the franchise has now persisted. Ash and buddies wander around, meet a new poké>mon or poké>mon trainer, fight, make friends, and then use their newfound Power of Friendship to stave off an attack by the nefarious Team Rocket. Armed with this box set, you can watch the formula recycle itself ad infinitum until your eyes spin in your head like the wheels of slot machine and line up triple-Pikachu jackpots. Eventually even the tournaments are a relief, a blessed pause in the cerebrum-liquefying formula as Ash and company square off against destined rivals for an episode or two.
Naturally not everything remains the same. The Pokémon marketing machine grinds out new poké>mon, fuel for the "gotta get 'em all" fire that keeps the franchise running even years after the phenomenon has passed its prime. And one has to admit, the little fellas are awful cute—the "love affair" between Pikachu and Buneary is syrupy enough to keep you in pancakes until you die of heart failure. The big change this time around, besides the usual change in scenery, is the introduction of Dawn, a spankin' new poké>mon enthusiast who ends up joining Ash's entourage. Dawn is cute and peppy (what did you expect, ugly and apathetic?), but perceptive adults with at least three functioning brain cells will notice that her dream of being a Poké>mon Coordinator—a job that involves wearing cute party dresses and ordering poké>mon to execute cute dances—smacks of a blatant baiting of the lucrative tween girl market.
Which is exactly why the series' intended audience of naive young hamsters will eat it up. It is, after all, marketed directly at them. It's colorful, silly and lively (if insanely simplistic and cheap) and they won't mind a whit that its tin-eared score sounds like exactly what it is: bad video game music. Parents will appreciate the absolute lack of objectionable content (aside from the promotion of animism) and the series' impeccably PC message of friendship, cooperation and acceptance. Not that they'll enjoy it themselves. The only real light in the darkness for those adults unlucky enough to be forced to sit through it—aside from the occasional flash of dazzling CGI—is Team Rocket. Silly and repetitive they may be, but their humorously rhymed dialogue is the one outstanding feature of an otherwise standard (if thoroughly serviceable) dub, and their self-referential witticisms are the only genuine laughs to be had.
As is Vizkids' wont, this set is quite devoid of extras. That includes extraneous baggage like a Japanese language version, as well as previews and even clean opening or closing themes. Though given that listening to English-dubbed Pokémon songs is like playing Russian roulette with music, perhaps that's for the best.
Overall (dub) : C
Story : C
Animation : C+
Art : C
Music : D-
+ Fine for kids.
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